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County discusses animal vendors along highways

EDINBURG — A Hidalgo County official this week traveled to Austin in support of a bill that would prohibit vendors from selling livestock along the roadside.

A previous bill, which would have addressed the problem here, was vetoed by the governor because of other considerations in that bill.

On Tuesday, Raul Sessin, planning director for Hidalgo County, told county commissioners he was to travel to Austin on Thursday to address the problem.

Judge Ramon Garcia asked if the new bill would prohibit the sale of dogs and cats. He said staff at the Palm Valley Animal Shelter euthanize many animals yearly and considered roadside vendors running “puppy mills” to be a major source of the problem when it came to unwanted animals.

Garcia said that some of the animals being sold along the road were sick and later abandoned by their owners. The cost to the county was about $400,000 per year, he said.

Attempts to reach staff at the Palm Valley Animal Shelter were unsuccessful at press time.

The new bill gives the county the authority to regulate sales that occur along roads in rural parts of the county if the speed limit is 40 miles per hour or faster or in a public parking lot. This includes the sale of food and other merchandise including live animals defined as livestock; Sessin said he would have to find out if dogs and cats were considered livestock.

The bill also states that all vendors would have to be no closer to the roadside than a distance equal to have the wide of the right-of-way adjacent to the highway.

Virginia Townsend, a member of the Objective Watchers of the Legal System (OWLS), told commissioners the best way to observe how dangerous it was to have vendors so close to the roadside was to drive down Highway 107 near the flea market on a Saturday. Vendors often crowd the roadsides and cars stopping to shop don’t pull completely off the highway because the vendors are so close to the road, she said.

In other items:

• The commissioners were told S.B. 1318 dealing with transportation projects was considering adding an additional $10 auto registration fee for the Regional Metropolitan Authority (RMA), of which $5 would go to road and bridge development in Hidalgo County.

• A resolution supporting a medical school in Hidalgo County prompted OWLS member Fern McClaugherty to ask if the initiative would creat a new tax for Hidalgo County residents. She asked if it were possible to make it a sales tax instead of a property tax so that everyone would share in the payment of the cost rather than only property owners.

• The commissioners were told improvements at the county courthouse for the modular courtrooms added to the facility should be completed by May 26.

• Under the 2013 bond series, engineering services L&G were approved for the La Joya Watershed project in the amount of $88,524.98.

• A work order authorized for the Delta Watershed Project as approved for TEDSI in the amount of $38,000.

• Commissioners approved geo-technical studies for the East Donna Drain, the Weslaco Drain Lateral, the South Mercedes Lateral and the Mercedes Lateral. Each study will cost $25,000.

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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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