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General Interest

Sergio Muñoz Jr. appointed to Transportation Committee

Sergio-Munoz-JrAUSTIN—With the eyes of Texas poised on the State Legislature as it makes a fourth  attempt to settle badly needed transportation funding, House Speaker Joe Strauss Wednesday appointed State Representative Sergio Muñoz Jr. to the Select Committee on Transportation Funding.

The committee is tasked with creating a consensus funding solution for the state's aging transportation infrastructure.  The challenge is to create a funding mechanism that allocates significant revenue, in the neighborhood of $1 billion per year, to the state's transportation infrastructure, without increasing taxes or fees.

With two special sessions now under their belt, Governor Rick Perry has called a third special session of the legislature to settle the issue.  Perry's legislative call came just minutes after the House and Senate adjourned the second special session without a solution to the transportation funding issue.

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Preventing malware infections

20130802 MalwareMalware includes unwanted programs, such as adware, spyware, and viruses, that get on a computer or laptop. Adware causes pop-ups and other unwanted advertisements that attempt to sell something to the computer user. Spyware tracks the user’s computer activity, such as the websites that are visited, and reports it back to an unknown recipient. Viruses may corrupt files, slow down your computer, or damage your computer to the point that it will not even boot up.

A computer can be infected by malware through simple activities such as browsing the Internet, downloading a file, opening an email attachment, or using a USB drive that has been infected by another computer. In order to prevent malware infections, you should always have strong antivirus protection on your computer.

When you purchase a new computer, you will probably receive a free 30- or 90-day antivirus trial. When the trial ends, you can purchase a yearly subscription for the antivirus that came with your computer or for a different antivirus product. Some of the highest ranking antivirus products include Bit Defender Antivirus Plus, Kaspersky AntiVirus, AVG Antivirus Professional, and Norton Antivirus. These antivirus subscriptions usually range from $30 to $60 a year.

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County pursues funding for indigent healthcare

Hidalgo-County-SealHospitals in Hidalgo County may be receiving up to $25.2 million in Medicaid reimbursements this year, which has historically been left on the table. The hospitals are paying an assessment of $10.5 million through the newly created County Healthcare Funding District to qualify for the federal funding, which will reimburse that amount plus a $1.40 or greater match for each dollar paid in.

The Healthcare Funding District is expected to capture up to $200 million over the next two and one-half years in federal funding for uncompensated indigent health care in the county.

Legislation passed last month in the Texas legislature authorized the formation of Healthcare Funding Districts in Hidalgo, Cameron and Webb counties. Senate Bill 1623, authored by Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, allows the county to establish an assessment fee on local hospitals. That fee is put into a Local Provider Fund and used for local payments required to draw down federal matching dollars for uncompensated indigent healthcare services.

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Governor, UT leaders celebrate new university

20130719 Gov-Perry-Signing-UTPA featureEDINBURG—Governor Rick Perry joined the University of Texas System Regents Chairman Gene Powell, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, several key Texas legislators and UTPA and UTB presidents to celebrate the creation of a new UT university and medical school in the Valley. The officials gathered at the University of Texas-Pan American Tuesday as Perry ceremoniously signed copies of Senate Bill 24, the legislation that authorizes the creation of the new university.

In introducing Perry, UTPA president Robert Nelson said Perry fought the fight for the bill and is ready to get this done.

For too many years the Border Region of the state was kind of a thought that came and went, said Perry.

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Ringling Bros. Circus comes to town

20130719 Ringling-Bros Dean-KelleyHIDALGO—Dean Kelley explained at only 4-years-old, he knew he was destined to be an entertainer. After seeing clowns performing for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for the first time, he knew that’s what he wanted to be – a circus clown. Where else could adults jump around and have so much fun?

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Fully Charged Gold Edition show opened this week at the State Farm Arena on July 18 and runs through to July 21. Kelley said 2013 marks the 144th year of the circus’s run, though each year their show is unique.

“We do anywhere between 250 and 300 shows per year,” Kelley said. “Fully Charged is a show Hidalgo hasn’t seen. We have a strong man, Battulga Battogtokh, he is a direct descendent of Genghis Khan. He balances telephone poles around his body and juggles bowling balls.”

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TxDOT unveils Interstate signs in Pharr

20130715 Interstate-sign-unveiling AF  0037PHARR—Local, state and federal officials celebrated on Monday as signs were ceremoniously unveiled, officially designating the first 100 miles of interstate highway in the Rio Grande Valley. The new interstate highway segments are the fruit of a 20-year effort to bring an interstate highway to the Valley.

The first signs were placed in Pharr Monday, marking the Interstate 69 East, Interstate 2 and Interstate 69 Central.

Former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar and the Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin were all in attendance for the unveiling of the new signs.

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County approves Healthcare Funding District

Hidalgo-County-SealThe Hidalgo County Commissioners Court Tuesday approved formation of a county Healthcare Funding District. The district will provide a mechanism for hospitals in Hidalgo County to receive federal matching funds to reimburse them for indigent healthcare services. Through the district, local hospitals will have access to Medicaid reimbursements not previously utilized here.

According to Hidalgo County Director of Health and Human Services Eddie Olivarez, the new Healthcare Funding District could provide access to up to $310 million in funding for indigent health care. This figure includes a local contribution and federal matching funds. The district will collect a fee from hospitals in Hidalgo County up to six percent of the hospitals’ aggregate net revenues. Once these fees are collected, they will be administered by the Hidalgo County Healthcare Fund District managers (Hidalgo County Commissioners). Through a federal funding match of approximately $1.50 for every $1, the county will then receive additional funds that will be distributed among Hidalgo County hospitals as reimbursements for indigent care. The legislation that authorizes this funding mechanism expires in two years, however.

OWLS (Objective Watchers of the Legal System) Virginia Townsend told commissioners to keep in mind that after the two years expires, the burden would shift to county taxpayers to pay an additional tax to replace the indigent care fee that is to be borne by the hospitals now.

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Bull Riders compete at Arena tonight

20130712 PBR JB-Mauney-FAR 8586 featureHIDALGO—This is the most dangerous sport in the country, Reece Arnold, general manager for Wolf Creek Cattle Company, said of professional bull riding. Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013, and will bring their professional bull riding competition to the State Farm Arena on July 12-13.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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