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General Interest General Interest

Trooper Eduardo Chavez Memorial Highway

20140829 IN Trooper-Eduardo-Chavez-highwayAt a roadside ceremony near the Starr/Hidalgo County Line, State Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr. unveiled a roadside marker dedicating a five-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 83 as a memorial to fallen Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Eduardo Chavez.

Surrounded by family of Chavez, state and local leaders and fellow law enforcement officers, Muñoz officially recognized the five-mile stretch, starting near the Starr/Hidalgo County line and proceeding northwest to Farm-to-Market Road 2360, as the “Trooper Eduardo Chavez Memorial Highway."

Among those in attendance were Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, Texas DPS Regional Commander Jose Rodriguez, Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. "Eddie" Guerra, Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra, Pct. 3 Constable Larry Gallardo and Pct. 4 Constable Atanacio "J.R." Gaitan.

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Bats spotlighted at Bentsen State Park

20140823 Bentsen Park Bats lg-04The bat signal was on at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission Saturday evening.

Bats were the topic of discussion during the most recent edition of the park’s Creatures of the Night interpretive program.

With 11 different species calling the Rio Grande Valley home, helping the public better understand these underappreciated–and oftentimes feared–winged creatures of the night that make up the second largest order of mammals in the world was the program’s goal. Led by Park Ranger and Interpreter Roy Rodriguez and Jesus Franco, assistant coordinator of the Rio Grande Joint Venture (a conservation partnership), Saturday’s program began with a PowerPoint presentation featuring the “A, B, Cs” of bats followed by an outdoor demonstration of the process biologists use to document vital information about them. Information that includes, but is not limited, to their species, sex, measurements, weight and overall health.

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County increases projected revenues for 2015

Hidalgo-County-SealProjected revenues for 2015 were increased from $172 million to $176 million in the third budget workshop held by Hidalgo County Commissioners Court.

At the same time, Budget Director Sergio Cruz decreased the projected shortfall from $16 million to a projected shortfall of only $35,548. At the last workshop, Cruz suggested reducing operating expenditures, the amount of money set aside for indigent health care and COPS grant employees to save $9 million.

Wednesday, Cruz found $7.5 million in additional revenues to cut the shortfall even more. Additional revenues include $2 million for the sanitation permit, $500,000 from a land sale, $2 million from salary savings, and $1 million each from third party collection, lapsed operating expenditures and additional revenue.

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County requests RFQ for architects for new courthouse

Hidalgo-County-SealThe Hidalgo County Commissioners Court authorized administrators to advertise for architects with extensive experience in the design, construction, and related services of judicial and courthouse facilities.

There was no discussion on the proposed new courthouse, only an approval of the request for qualifications.

Alex Palacios, of Prodigy Engineering, told the court the construction manager for the new Hidalgo County Administration Building is asking for two additional weeks to complete the project. Palacios did not give a date for final completion.

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Citrus leaders plan disease response

20140822 AREA Citrus-greening 0077WESLACO–Citrus growers must be proactive to save the $150 million Rio Grande Valley industry as a deadly disease continues to spread in the region, representatives of Texas Citrus Mutual emphasized at a news conference Wednesday.

Florida recently reported 80 percent of its trees are infected with citrus greening, threatening the $9 billion industry in the state.

Meanwhile, Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual said in the last few days, 130 newly infected trees have been identified, most in one or two groves. That brings the total confirmed infected trees to nearly 640.

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MRMC unveils ‘journey wall’

20140815 MRMC 60th-Anniversary 2896Pillars of Mission Regional Medical Center as well as the hospital’s history are commemorated on a “journey wall” unveiled Friday in honor of the nonprofit’s 60th anniversary.

Javier Iruegas, CEO of the hospital, said he expects the hospital to add to the wall in the coming years.

“These individuals were key to what we call courage … to help us reach that milestone in our most recent history, and for that courage and for saddling up in spite of what was happening at the time to go out and go to Washington and try to help secure funding for us,” Iruegas said.

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County studies $18 million deficit budget

Hidalgo-County-SealHidalgo County Commissioners Court held a special workshop Tuesday to continue studying a projected $18 million budget deficit.

Last week the budget deficit was listed as $12 million; however, changes in figures showed the deficit at $18 million in the second workshop.

Still county leaders think they can cut that shortfall down to $5 million, and Budget Manager Sergio Cruz presented several ways of reducing the proposed budget, which included cutting countywide operating expenditures $5,991,560, and a reduction in work force of four percent, saving $3,155,449.

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Police chief reassures Winter Texans: RGV is safe

20140815 Winter-TexansMany Winter Texans have been calling their RV parks and the local chamber of commerce offices asking if it is safe to come back to the Rio Grande Valley this fall because of the influx of immigrant youth and children. National media has given many the impression that the border is running wild with immigrant children all over the place.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on July 21 issued an order to deploy 1,000 Texas National Guard members along the border to assist the Texas Department of Public Safety with law enforcement efforts along the river. Since then, the numbers of illegals crossing the Rio Grande have dropped dramatically.

A few days later during a drive to San Antonio, I counted 26 Department of Public Safety (DPS) vehicles headed toward the Valley. There were also four tanker trucks for the state guard and each was pulling a trailer that appeared to carry all-terrain vehicles.

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