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General Interest

Election contests head to court

20140411 Election-contestA hearing on a plea to jurisdiction that could dismiss the election contest filed by Rey Ortiz, candidate for 92nd District Court, and Marla Cuellar, candidate for County Court-at-Law No. 8, is scheduled for today.

Attorneys for Omar Maldonado, who won the race for County Court-at-Law No. 8, and Luis Singleterry, who came out on top in the 92nd District Court race, filed motions for a plea to jurisdiction asking that the case be dismissed.

“Not a single voter has been identified as casting an improper vote (or that such improper vote was in favor of Contestee),” Maldonado’s motion states. “Nothing in the pleadings affirmatively indicate that anything improper occurred in this race.”

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Hidalgo County appoints new sheriff

20140404 Eddie Guerra Appointed Sheriff KO 7162Eddie Guerra, constable of Pct. 4, was named interim sheriff Wednesday after Hidalgo County Commissioners Court accepted Lupe Treviño’s resignation.

Guerra, one of 12 who applied for the position, will serve in the post until a special election in November. In the meantime, county precinct chairs from both parties will make nominations for candidates to face off in November. Guerra said he hoped to be one of them.

“If I don’t, I’m out of a job,” he said.

Guerra planned to meet with the command staff Thursday afternoon.

“We’re going to start restoring accountability back in the sheriff’s office,” he said. “We’re going to start holding the deputies accountable for their actions from now on. We’re not going to make any excuses. My work begins now.”

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CBP brings additional resources to RGV to target criminal networks

20140404 BP-storyMcALLEN—As part of the South Texas Campaign, Customs and Border Protection has brought in additional resources and more than 100 Border Patrol agents to the Rio Grande Valley Sector to assist with the targeted enforcement efforts against transnational criminal organizations.

Utilizing a flexible and unified workforce, the STC is mobilizing resources to supplement the manpower currently in the Rio Grande Valley. In addition to personnel already deployed in from Laredo Sector; agents and vehicles have been temporarily reassigned from California and Arizona.

This risk-based approach enhances enforcement efforts and aims to disrupt and degrade criminal organizations that are responsible for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs throughout the South Texas Corridor.

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Candidates question election results

Hidalgo-County-SealThe first day of early voting for the March primary, Benito Garza attempted to vote in favor or Rene Guerra; however, every time he attempted to check off Guerra’s name, it would check off another candidate.

He went back to the beginning of the ballot and started again. The same thing happened, and he requested help from election officials, and it took two people to cancel his ballot, so he could start on a new machine. He eventually was able to vote for his preferred candidates.

Garza detailed the experience in an incident report that is now at the center of a countywide controversy over whether the electronic machines have been maliciously tampered with or have otherwise malfunctioned.

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Plans underway for State Highway 365

Hidalgo-County-SealA construction contract for the first portion of State Highway 365 is scheduled to be awarded in September, according to Dennis Burleson, of the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority.

Reporting on the short-term strategic plan for the project, Burleson told the commissioners court the first portion of the international trade corridor, which will stretch from Pharr to Madero when complete, will be centered at the Pharr international bridge.

According to the information provided, the construction of segment three, a 1.84 mile length of Texas 365 (non toll) road project will be let in September and construction should be completed by June 2016 at a cost of $25.3 million. This includes federal funds of $1.5 million, state funds of $5.6 million, local funds of $18.2 million.

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Hidalgo County election equipment to be impounded

Hidalgo-County-SealDistrict Attorney Rene Guerra filed an application Wednesday to impound Hidalgo County’s voting machines as well as election records for the March primaries after 12 candidates requested a forensic analysis of the machines.

“It has been brought to our attention that numerous inconsistencies and discrepancies have appeared in our analysis of each candidate’s races,” states a letter signed by 10 candidates.

It was signed by Paul M. Vazaldua Jr., who ran for justice of the peace, precinct 2, place 2, and received just 5 percent of the votes; Mari Regalado, who garnered 23 percent of the votes in the race for District 26 state representative; Marla Cuellar, who received 42 percent of the vote in the race for County-Court-at-Law No. 8; Reynoldo Ortiz, who lost the race for 92nd District Court Judge with 30 percent of the votes; Elvia Rios, another justice of the peace candidate, who lost with 8 percent of the votes; Juan R. Partida, who, in the race for 275th District Court Judge, garnered the most votes (49.52 percent) but not enough to avoid a runoff; Mauro Barreiro, who ran against Partida and received 22 percent of the votes; Homer Jasso, who received the most of the of the votes in the race for justice of the peace, precinct 4, place 2, but also failed to avoid a runoff; Eloy Treviño, who garnered 18 percent of the votes for justice of the peace, precinct 2, place 2.

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Congressmen get first-hand look at RGV

20140319 RGV-Partnership-chat 1603When U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, went to his first budget meeting at Congress, the certified public accountant brought a calculator with him.

“A lot of people looked at me like, ‘What is that?’ And then I had an idea of what the problem was,” Flores joked about balancing the budget at a conversation over coffee hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.

U.S. Reps. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, and Mike Conaway, R-Midland, also sat down with moderator Sergio Sanchez of News Talk 710 KURV.

“I think spending cuts can get us halfway back to a balanced budget,” Brady said. “But we’re going to need a much stronger economy to finish the job and start paying down our debt.”

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Participation in Operation Lone Star 2014 gets county approval

Hidalgo-County-SealHidalgo County Commissioners Court agreed to participate again in Operation Lone Star in August at the request of Eddie Olivarez, director of Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, at a Tuesday meeting

The purpose of the program is public health preparedness and response.

Olivarez said other organizations involved in Operation Lone Star are the Texas Department of Health, the Texas military, and the U.S. National Coast Guard, along with local partners from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, South Texas College and local technical schools.

The program includes two interlocal agreements between Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District and La Joya ISD. It also includes an agreement between Remote Area Medical Foundation and the County of Hidalgo to provide expanded medical services to residents of Hidalgo County.

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Page 7 of 45

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