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General Interest General Interest

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.


Drainage District concerned over stalled Peñitas levee project

Hidalgo-County-SealWhen the July 2010 floodwaters of the Rio Grande River washed away part of the earthen levee protecting the Peñitas pumphouse, much of the area south of the expressway was in danger of flooding. Had the levee given way, the pump station supplying drinking water for the McAllen-Edinburg area would also likely have been ruined.

Trucks and heavy-duty equipment were immediately called in and emergency crews worked through the night to save the levee, sparing a widespread area, including south Mission and south McAllen, from flooding. While the temporary repairs were sufficient to save the pump station, more permanent repairs were needed. Three years later, those repairs are stalled.

Godfrey Garza, manager of Hidalgo County Drainage District #1, Monday expressed concern over the uncompleted levee project under the jurisdiction of the International Boundary Water Commission (IBWC). The major area of concern mentioned is the rehabilitation of the area around the Peñitas pumphouse.


Upcoming county elections will require voter ID

20130830 Voter-IDYvonne Ramon, Elections Administrator for Hidalgo County, told the Hidalgo County Commission in their Tuesday, Aug. 27, meeting, the upcoming Sept. 14 elections the county is managing would be the first to implement the new state requirement for voters to have photo identification in order to vote. The four elections where the system will be piloted will be the Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District (ISD), the City of Edinburg, Edinburg Consolidated ISD, and La Villa ISD.

The State of Texas will accept seven different types of identification cards in future elections. The first is a valid Texas driver’s license. The driver’s license must be current or must not have expired more that 60 days in the past. If the address on the driver’s license does not match the voter registration information, he voter must complete a “Substantially Similar Name Affidavit.”

The second is an Election Identification Certificate (EIC), issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety. It must also be current or not expired for more than 60 days and if the address does not match the voter also complete a Substantially Similarity Name Affidavit. The Texas Personal Identification Card, also issued by DPS, has the same requirements. Voters may also use their concealed handgun licenses or a valid United States passport as identification to vote with the same time and name requirements. A United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph will also be accepted.


County Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios announces re-election campaign for Precinct 2

20130830 COUNTY Commissioner HectorTitoPalaciosPHARR – County Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios hosted a campaign kickoff event and formally announced his candidacy for re-election Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in McAllen. Palacios will seek a fifth term for the democratic primary election held in March 2014. Palacios has served as County Commissioner of Precinct 2 for the last 14½ years. Precinct 2 encompasses the communities of Pharr, San Juan, McAllen and Hidalgo.

Commenting on his re-election campaign, Commissioner Palacios said, “I have been honored to have served the people of Hidalgo County. I’ve enjoyed my many years of public service and believe that my vision has come to fruition with sound fiscal responsibility and dedication to quality service. I believe that we have produced programs and projects that have enhanced the lives of many people in our precinct. I want to continue with my vision for the next four years.”


Back-to-school: Increased driver caution urged

20130823 BacktoSchoolMISSION—Monday, Aug. 26 is first day of the 2013-2014 school year for Mission CISD, Sharyland ISD and La Joya ISD. With schools back in operation, drivers are asked to watch for school zones and slow down for the safety of the children. And remember that cell phone use is prohibited when driving in a school zone.  

To avoid accidents, drivers should follow reduced speed limits in school zones and be cautious of students who travel on foot, by bicycle and school bus. In 2012, a 3.2 increase was found in pedestrian fatalities and a 19.1 percent increase in bicyclist fatalities.

Tips to driving safely: Pay attention-put your phone down; obey posted speed limits; be on the lookout for bicyclists on the highway and at intersections; when passing a bicyclist, move to another lane, if possible and offer plenty of room; be on the lookout for and yield to pedestrians and watch for children who may dart across the street to catch a school bus.


Border Patrol agents seize nearly 9 tons of marijuana in 2 days

20130823 BP RGV-1EDINBURG—U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector confiscated an estimated $14.3 million worth of marijuana in multiple seizures over Aug. 15-16.

Agents assigned to the Falfurrias Checkpoint made the largest seizure on Aug. 15. During an immigration inspection of the driver of a tractor-trailer, a Border Patrol K-9 detected the presence. Agents found more than 10,300 pounds of marijuana hidden inside the trailer.

Another large seizure occurred on Aug. 16 when agents assigned to the Rio Grande City Station spotted a truck traveling away from the Rio Grande. When the driver of the pickup spotted Border Patrol agents and a helicopter from the Office of Air and Marine, he made an abrupt U-turn and sped back to the river.


County, City of Edinburg discuss new courthouse

Hidalgo-County-SealEDINBURG – County commissioners and Edinburg city council members met this week for a workshop to discuss the plans for a new courthouse. The main topic was financing for the now $113 million project.

Last year, the price for a new courthouse was projected at $76 million for a seven-story, 294,000 square foot building. Estimates this week were $92 to $96 million for a nine to 11-story building. Total costs, including engineering, schematic designs and construction, would be around $113 million said Brian Godinez with ERO Architects, the firm working on the schematic designs for the project.

True costs would not be available until the schematic designs are finalized – a process that could take up to two years. After that, construction time could take up to 36 months.


Hidalgo County expands Scofflaw Program to recoup outstanding county and district court fines and fees

Hidalgo-County-SealEDINBURG – In an effort to further recoup monies owed, Hidalgo County began denying vehicle registration services to residents with felony or misdemeanor fines and fees that are 90 days past due.  This new addition to the County’s Scofflaw Program aims to expand efforts to enhance collections by catching “scofflaws” who have skipped out on their obligations.  The expanded Scofflaw Program took effect beginningAugust 14.

Hidalgo County commenced the Scofflaw Program in October 2012, denying vehicle registration services to residents who had outstanding and overdue fines and fees owed to justice of the peace courts; since the program’s inception, over $1 million has been collected either via the online pay portal or at the justices of the peace offices directly.  

The Texas Legislature approved the Scofflaw Program in 1997, which allows county tax assessor-collectors to deny registration of a vehicle if they receive information that the registrant owes the county a past due fine or fee.  The program is a mechanism for counties to chastise “scofflaws,” defined as “contemptuous law violators,” as a means of recouping money that is owed.  


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