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General Interest

County scrambles to get $9 million for indigent health care

Hidalgo-County-SealA demand from Hidalgo County Clinical Services that Hidalgo County pay the entire $9 million promised for services to the indigent for next year by the first week of June sent Hidalgo County Commissioners scrambling to determine where the money was coming from in the Tuesday, May 20, meeting of the Commissioners.

This is the money sent to the state yearly to be multiplied by the state formula to provide more funds for indigent health care. Usually the money is fully returned with half as much added for indigent health care in Hidalgo County because so many citizens need indigent health care services.

Personnel from the staff of Eddie Olivarez, director of Health and Human Services, explained in past years the money could be paid in quarterly payments.   However, no quarterly payments had been requested this year. The county had set aside $5 million in the budget, and had accumulated another $1,64,000 to add to the initial figure. Staff was counting on having the fourth quarter drawdown to fund the rest of the money, a sum of almost $2.4 million.

Read more: County scrambles to get $9 million for indigent health care

   

Operation Interdependence Kick-Off event is May 22

20140516 Operation Interdependence 2012-OI-Kick-Off-EventMcALLEN, TX – IBC Bank and the National Professional Hispanic Organization (NHPO) – RGV Chapter, along with other organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of McAllen, KURV, Texas Regional Bank, STC Veteran Affairs, and the RGV Partnership, have teamed up to support the Operation Interdependence (OI) – RGV Campaign. OI - RGV is a community-based project led by a committee that raises contributions to make and send care packages for active US troops overseas. Between now and July, OI is accepting donations of general care items and letters of support for the annual send-off to soldiers.

The official Kick-off Event is Thursday, May 22, at 10 a.m. hosted by IBC Bank at 1 S. Broadway in McAllen. The event is open to the public and attending this event will be many community, city and county officials as well as military veterans and their families. In addition, a series of fundraising mixers will also be held where supplies and/or monetary donations can be made to help make this campaign possible. Participating McAllen businesses include Fromage Bistro & Wine Lounge, Pepper’s at Uptown, Koko’s Café Uptown, Santa Fe Steakhouse and Remington’s Restaurant inside the Embassy Suites. Several businesses such as the Boys & Girls Club of McAllen, IBC Bank, Texas Regional Bank, Gym at Uptown and Tierra Dulce will also serve as a “donation drop” for this campaign. Donations can also be dropped off at the Progress Times newspaper, located at 1217 N. Conway, Mission.

Read more: Operation Interdependence Kick-Off event is May 22

   

County initiates Operation ‘Safe Communities’

Hidalgo-County-SealHidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 32 people during Operation “Safe Communities” last week, according to a news release.

Beginning at 5 a.m. Monday, May 5, and ending Friday, May 9, at 1 p.m., the initiative was a joint effort by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to apprehend gang members involved in criminal activity and disrupt gangs that present a significant problem to the communities in the county.

During that time, 41 people who were in the country illegally were discovered and 55 warrants were executed on charges ranging from possession of a controlled substance, aggravated robbery, burglary of a habitation and sexual assault. Fourteen people were already in custody in federal or state facilities, and two were determined to be dead.

Read more: County initiates Operation ‘Safe Communities’

   

H-E-B honors AMJH teacher with Lifetime Achievement Award

20140509 Rosbel-Pena-HEB-AwardMISSION—More than 20 years into his teaching career, Rosbel Peña always pushes his students to give their best.

He said his father always told him he could continue a life in the fields or get an education. Between spending his childhood working in fields and teaching math at Alton Memorial Jr. High School, Peña has always had education at the forefront of his mind.

As a result of his work, the math teacher was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in secondary schools Saturday through the 13th Annual H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards.

Marilyn Schmidtzinsky has been a judge in the H-E-B program for the last 13 years, and said the judges go through lengthy debates after interviewing candidates to find a winner, but she described Peña as a champion for kids.

Read more: H-E-B honors AMJH teacher with Lifetime Achievement Award

   

County delays releasing public information

Hidalgo-County-SealNathan Schwarz protested the lack of cooperation of the elections department during an open forum Tuesday at a meeting of Hidalgo County Commissioners.

Schwarz is a member of a group of citizens that has been trying to ascertain public records over recent elections to determine if there is voter fraud in Hidalgo County.

Schwarz told commissioners last month he had requested copies of public records under the Texas Public Information Act. His requests included the following dates: Sept. 17, 2011; Nov. 8, 2011; July 31, 2012; Nov. 6, 2012; May 11, 2013; June 22, 2013; Nov. 5, 2013; and Mar. 4, 2014. The information he requested accounted for event logs, system logs, the actual vote cast records and the results file, among other things.

Read more: County delays releasing public information

   

Garza may stay as consultant for Hidalgo County Drainage District

Hidalgo-County-SealGodfrey Garza said Tuesday that if the compensation was right, he would be willing to stay as consulting director of the Hidalgo County Drainage District until current bond election projects are completed.

Garza said this at a meeting to discuss what requirements would be necessary for a person to replace Garza in that role.

Commissioner Joel Palacios of Edinburg was in favor of Garza staying until the projects were completed instead of trying to bring in a new employee during the middle of them.

One of the requirements recommended by Garza was the person hired to replace him should be an engineer. Garza is not an engineer, but he has been with the drainage district for 19 years and rose through the ranks before his retirement.

Read more: Garza may stay as consultant for Hidalgo County Drainage District

   

Judge grants summary judgment in Hidalgo County State Representative District 36 election contest

Hidalgo-County-SealDistrict Judge Robert Blackmon granted a summary judgment filed by State Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr. on an election contest for the March primaries Monday morning.

Rolando Rios, attorney for Mari Regalado, who filed the contest, had asked for a continuance, arguing that the information his client needs for the case will come to the light in the next few weeks. A grand jury, he said, has requested a forensic analysis of the voting machines used during the primaries. Hidalgo County Commissioners Court placed an item on Tuesday’s agenda to approve $110,000 of the district attorney’s forfeiture funds for the endeavor.

Read more: Judge grants summary judgment in Hidalgo County State Representative District 36 election contest

   

Lawmen get prison time

Hidalgo-County-SealThe courtroom full of loved ones sat in silence, with the exception of the occasional sob, sniff or gasp, as one-by-one members of the Panama Unit and their cohorts were sentenced to federal prison.

“There are no words that I can say that can undo the wrong that I have done,” said Alexis Espinoza, former Mission police officer, as he asked for leniency. “I have let everybody down, especially the court. I have a 5-year-old little girl I’m not going to see grow up—all because of greed.”

He was one of the last of nine law enforcement officers and two drug traffickers sentenced this week as a result of the corruption of the Panama Unit, a narcotics task force headed by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and housed out of the Mission Police Department.

Read more: Lawmen get prison time

   

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