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Light Rain, 82 F

Fri - Scattered Thunderstorms. High: 91 Low: 78
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General Interest

Insurance costs rising for Hidalgo County

Hidalgo-County-SealThe cost of insuring personnel for Hidalgo County and the drainage district is rising.

Gary Looney, Hidalgo County’s health benefits consultant, gave a presentation on Alamo Insurance costs at Tuesday meeting of the Commissioners Court, explaining increased costs. Looney projected the total costs to be $24.5 million, which is paid by Hidalgo County and premium charges to employees. The county pays the cost of the base premiums for employees. If the employees want higher-level coverage or insurance for their families, they must pay additional premiums themselves.

To keep costs for the county down to a manageable level, budget officers recommended increasing the deductible in the base plan from $1,000 to $1,250. Also, the office co-pay for base plans would be $25 for a primary physician and $35 for a specialist. The in-hospital co-pay would rise to $350, a $100 increase, and the cost of the basic plan for a family will be $332.40, an increase of $55.40

Read more: Insurance costs rising for Hidalgo County


Rail lines are ‘the missing link’ in Valley transportation

Hidalgo-County-SealThe rising cost of toll roads and parking is making owning cars prohibitive, Andrew Cannon, of the Hidalgo County Rail Commission, told Commissioners Court on Tuesday.

Cannon described rail lines as “the missing link” in the Valley’s transportation system. He denied that the bus routes overlapped the rail district and said they would work together in the future to move people to their destinations. Admitting the Rio Grande Valley was set up very differently than other parts of the county, Cannon also said the Rio Grande Valley Development Council supported the work of the rail commission as a viable source of transportation 20 to 25 years from now.

Judge Ramon Garcia said it is the duty of the Hidalgo County commissioners to plan for the future and if the government was mandating rail lines, it was their duty to support the action.

Read more: Rail lines are ‘the missing link’ in Valley transportation


Mission museum inducts Wall of Fame honorees

20130912-Mission-Historical-Museum-Banquet dy-047 featureEducators like Romulo D. Martinez, Maria Lydia Rodriguez, Rosa M. and Gustavo Zapata affected the lives of thousands of students over multiple decades. Nancy Vaughan Shary Cheever organized a movement to keep watchful eyes on local government and courts, and Joseph Michael Roseland bridged the gap between the private and public sectors, as a business owner serving on a variety of boards.

All were recognized for their work in the community by the Mission Historical Museum as the 2013 Wall of Fame honorees at a banquet Sept. 12.

Ben Olivarez, chairman of the museum award committee, said he came up with the idea when he chaired the museum board. To qualify, the honoree must have lived in or worked in the community for 30 years or more.

Read more: Mission museum inducts Wall of Fame honorees


Juan Diego Academy holds ribbon cutting for new gymnasium

20130905 JDAcademy-gets-new-gym AF  1164 featureMISSION – K-lee Flores, a junior and volleyball player at Juan Diego Academy in Mission, was brought to tears when she saw the school’s new gym for the first time.

“I’m an athlete, so just the fact that we will be playing volleyball in here is an excitement,” Flores said. “We were all singing the songs and tears came to my eyes because when this started, there wasn’t even grass here. Now we have grass and this beautiful gym. It’s just amazing how far we’ve come in the last three years.”

More than 100 people were at the academy Sept. 5 to celebrate the opening of the 17,000-square-foot gymnasium, which includes classrooms and changing spaces. Students, staff and visitors celebrated the ribbon cutting through song, and a blessing from Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville.

Read more: Juan Diego Academy holds ribbon cutting for new gymnasium


Hidalgo County agrees to pay portion of indigent health care debt

Hidalgo-County-SealThe Hidalgo County Commissioners Court agreed to consider paying hospitals $1 million of past due debt for indigent health care, a fraction of what is owed from 2011 and 2012, after a lengthy debate Wednesday afternoon.

Another $8 million from the county is required by the federally mandated 1115 Waiver for indigent health care.

Judge Ramon Garcia had suggested in a previous meeting that the $2.7 million owed by the county for 2012 and the $2.1 million owed from 2011 would be forgiven if the County funded the entire $8 million.

Wednesday, Carlos Zaffirini Jr., on behalf of the Hidalgo County Clinical Services, suggested the county pay the $2.7 million and the hospitals would forgive the $2.1 million.

Read more: Hidalgo County agrees to pay portion of indigent health care debt


Six UTPA faculty members receive coveted UT System Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award

20130913 UTPA  outstanding-regentsEDINBURG—Six faculty members at The University of Texas-Pan American have been selected by The University of Texas System Board of Regents to receive the prestigious 2013 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award (ROTA), one of the nation's largest monetary teaching recognition programs in higher education.

The UTPA ROTA recipients - among 63 faculty members honored in the UT System's nine academic institutions - are:Dr. Karen Lozano, Julia Beecherl Endowed Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering;Dr. Dumitru I. Caruntu, associate professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Biomechanics Laboratory;Dr. Maria Cristina Villalobos, professor, Department of Mathematics and director of the Center for Excellence in STEM Education;Dr. Marci R. McMahon, assistant professor, Department of English and Mexican American Studies graduate studies director;Dr. Michael Abebe, assistant professor, Department of Management andGustavo Dietrich, lecturer, Department of Computer Science.

The annual awards are presented to faculty members who have demonstrated extraordinary classroom performance and dedication to innovation. This year $1.6 million will go to outstanding faculty members. In July, 39 faculty from the U.T. System's six health institutions were also honored, bringing the total awarded by the Regents to $2.6 million.

Read more: Six UTPA faculty members receive coveted UT System Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award


Celebrating Mexican Independence Day Sept. 12

pt-square logoThe City of Hidalgo invites the public to mark Mexican Independence Day with a special celebration on Thursday, Sept. 12.

The event will feature food, refreshments, artisans and live entertainment, as well as, the traditional "El Grito," beginning at 4 p.m. at the Hidalgo Memorial Pavilion, 610 Patsy Drive. 

For more information, contact Hidalgo City Hall at (956) 843-2286.

Read more: Celebrating Mexican Independence Day Sept. 12


Peñitas White Wing Festival kicks off next week

City-of-Penitas-logoThe 2013 Peñitas White Wing Festival gets underway on Sept. 11, beginning with the crowning of Miss Peñitas White Wing queen and her royal court, followed by the 5K run/walk on Sept. 14 and culminating on Sept. 21 with the grand finale festivities.

The pageantry begins next Wednesday with the selection of the royal court at the La Joya ISD Fine Arts Center, 604 N. Coyote Blvd., at 7 p.m. Along with Miss Peñitas White Wing Queen, girls ages 16 to 19 will compete for the titles of Princess of Mourning Dove; Princess of Inca Dove, ages 7 to 10; and Princess of Rock Dove, ages 4 to 6.

The following Saturday, the 2013 Community Wellness Run/Walk begins at 8 a.m. Pre-registration is $10 through Sept. 11; late registration is $15. Race day registration begins at 7 a.m. at the starting point at the Peñitas Veterans Memorial Park, 1111 S. Main St. T-shirts will be given to the first 100 persons who sign up.

Read more: Peñitas White Wing Festival kicks off next week


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