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General Interest

Longoria files for reelection

Oscar-LongoriaState Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-La Joya, officially filed as a candidate for re-election in Texas House District 35, which encompasses parts of Hidalgo and Cameron Counties.

“It is a tremendous honor to serve the people of District 35 in the Texas House of Representatives,” Longoria said. “I’m honored and humbled that the people of Hidalgo and Cameron counties have elected me once before and my hope is that I have earned their trust for another term.”

During the 83rd Legislative Session, Rep. Longoria was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee, where he serves on the sub-committee for Articles I, IV, and V, and as vice chairman of the Budget Transparency and Reform sub-committee. He is also an appointed member of the Investments & Financial Services Committee.

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County discusses courthouse woes

Hidalgo-County-SealIn light of recent evacuations at the Hidalgo County Courthouse, emergency procedures were critiqued at the Tuesday meeting of Commissioners Court.

On Friday, Nov. 22, the courthouse was closed for almost two hours when there was a major power outage in the area leaving the courthouse and surrounding area in darkness. Employees who work in locations without light and air conditioning were told to leave and come back later when it was determined the problem would not be fixed quickly.

The following Monday the heat at the courthouse was turned on after a long period of time. Dust on coils caused a burning smell and smoke was reported coming from vents on the second floor. Again employees were told to vacate the building by the sheriff’s department, which is in charge of evacuations. They returned two and a half hours later after the fire department determined there was no fire. The smoke and burning smell was coming from the dust burning off the dirty coils.

In both cases employees waited outside until they were told the problem could not be fixed until a certain time and they should leave or leave and come back later.

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Border Patrol agents educate truck drivers

20131206 RGV BP-2BROWNSVILLE— The Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector’s Combined Enforcement Unit addressed more than 80 commercial truck drivers Nov. 29 as part of an initiative called “Texas Hold ’Em.”

The initiative is a collaborative effort between the Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety that aims to reduce the trafficking of contraband in commercial vehicles such astractor-trailers, buses and freight carriers by using existing state laws to revoke the commercial driver’s license of a person convicted of a smuggling-related offense.

According to the Texas Transportation code, a person who holds a CDL is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life if convicted of using any motor vehicle during the commission of a felony.

At the request of a Brownsville trucking company, Border Patrol agents educated drivers on the dangers associated with transporting contraband as well as the consequences of a smuggling conviction.

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Hearing held on health care funding at county

Hidalgo-County-SealA public hearing on proposed health care funding for the Hidalgo County Health Care Funding District was held during the Tuesday, Nov. 26, meeting of the Hidalgo County Commissioners. Unfortunately, Health and Human Services Director Eddie Olivarez said the final figures had not yet been handed down by the state so there was not a final amount to tell commissioners. The amount levied by the state will affect the amount of money for indigent care that Hidalgo, Cameron and Webb Counties, the three poorest counties in the state will receive for indigent care.

Senate Bill 1623 works with a fee on hospitals rather than residents, which is the basis for the revenue that the counties will receive based on the fiscal year 2010. Olivarez said that the final figure was not yet ready but Hidalgo County would receive 2.7 to 3.5 percent of all funds set aside for indigent care throughout the state. Revenues for membership hospitals would be $1.2 billion and there would be up to 120 days to collect the revenues after the numbers are finalized. The percentage collected by the county would be multiplied by $1.50 for every dollar. For every $1 put into the pot, the county will receive $2.50.

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Veterans, families dedicate American Spire of Honor

20131111 VETERANS WAR MEMORIAL Spire of Honor Dedication JSilva  3228It took 25 years, but the perseverance and leadership of Col. Frank Plummer paid off this Veterans Day as the community dedicated the 105-foot American Spire of Honor at the Veterans Memorial of Texas in McAllen.

"This spire represents the courage, spirit and the valor and the sacrifices of all the men that have been killed, and women of course," Plummer said. "Approximately 1.4 million Americans have been killed in all the conflicts."

That means, Plummer said, about 5,400 people have died every year for the past 238 years of liberty.

"Freedom is not free," he said.

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New Mission church opens doors to community

20131107 LDS CHURCH Open House Mission Chapel JS 0016Raul Garcia was searching for answers as a young teen in El Salvador. He wanted to know why he was here on Earth.

What would happen when he died?

There has to be something more to life, Garcia thought. He asked the pastors at his mother’s protestant church, and they couldn’t give him a satisfactory answer. Around the same time, missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints befriended Garcia’s sister. Garcia said those missionaries were able to tell him about a plan for salvation and explain premortal life, the belief that people are made spiritually in heaven before they are sent to Earth.

“To me, it was like, ‘Wow.’ That’s what I was looking for, is there life after this, too, and they were able to answer,” Garcia said. “I’m not here just by chance. There has to be something, a reason that I’m here, and they were able to explain to me the purpose of my life and where I was going.”

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County hears presentation on getting a share of British Petroleum’s Restoration Funding

Hidalgo-County-SealHidalgo and Willacy counties could qualify for millions of dollars paid by British Petroleum to help the Gulf Coast recover from an oil spill the 2010.

Tuesday, the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court listened to a presentation by Hugo Berlanga on how the county could qualify for a portion of the British Petroleum Restoration Fund. Berlanga said if hired to do the job, his firm would pursue funding for Hidalgo and Willacy Counties from monies in the Restore Act, estimated to produce between $3.526 billion and $11.8 billion in restoration funds across the Gulf Coast states. Texas’s share of the funds would have two streams. One is an infrastructure component (set at no more than seven percent of the money) and the other is an environmental component.

Berlanga said criminal settlements of $2.8 billion already allocated eight percent of the money, or $224 million, to Texas. All of this money will go into the environmental component. The Natural Resource Damages Act is estimated to be $5 billion and will be dedicated to environmental components.

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Edinburg arena to take after Houston’s Toyota Center

20131108 EDINBURG New-arenaEdinburg leaders said an 8,500-seat arena planned to open in the next few years will be a smaller, nicer version of the Toyota Center in Houston with high-tech equipment, comfortable seats and first-class dining.

Owners of Rio Grande Valley Vipers will foot the bill for the $50 million, 115,799 square-foot facility. It’ll be built on 40 acres east of Interstate 69C on Alberto Road. There also will be pad sites for a hotel, restaurants and additional parking.

City leaders and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation announced the project in partnership with the Vipers at a news conference last week.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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