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“In spite of the recent rains, the water crisis in Hidalgo County is not over. While the rains may have helped the farmers, the water level in the dam is still under drought conditions,” said Oscar Montoya, Hidalgo County Emergency Management Director. “Long term solutions to the problem are still needed.”

Montoya went on to say the recent hurricane preparedness seminar was well attended by representatives from cities and counties and the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). According to Montoya, some of the discussion centered around how flood waters from storms could be retained and used to help in future drought situations instead of allowing all the water to flow to the Gulf of Mexico, as it did two years ago when the Rio Grande flooded.

Montoya told the Progress Times several options were under consideration. One option might be to build a dam further south than Falcon Dam. However, no one knows when another flood might come to fill it and for many it did not make sense to spend a billion dollars on a dam that might not be filled for many years.

Constructing of a desalinization plant might be another option. The plant could provide water for cities in crisis time but would not produce enough water to address the agricultural need for water.

Montoya said the planned lake in the Delta area would not only provide flooding relief, but it would also be an added source of water during dry times for areas that are having some of the greatest problems currently. But it would not be large enough to solve all the water shortage problems.

Emergency Management agencies across the Valley and the TWDB will continue to look for better solutions to the water problems.

43 New Employees Added to Sheriff’s Dept.

In other action the Commissioners approved staffing for the new Weslaco substation for the sheriff’s department. Employees included nine sergeant positions for the sheriff’s office. Three deputy sheriffs were listed along with one lieutenant, one administrative assistant IV, and eight administrative assistant I positions for the sheriff’s office side of operations.

There were five additional sergeants and 18 detention officers for jail operations. The total cost for the 43 new employees from July through December was estimated to be $1,351,000. Figures for an entire year were estimated to be $2.1 million. Costs were included in budget planning for the year.

Under Health and Human Resources, Eddie Olivarez tasked the commissioners to approve a letter to the Health and Human Services Commission to issue payment for all past and future uncompensated care to providers. This is the money the county is required to provide, which is multiplied by the federal government and returned to providers within the county.

The commissioners signed a resolution in support of Spacex to allow a commercial launch site to be built on Boca Chica Beach in Brownsville.

A request by Urban County for permission to purchase fire equipment for the City of La Joya in the amount of $15,137 was approved.

L&G Engineering was awarded a contract for engineering services on an upcoming project on Ware Road. Cameron County Commissioner Sophia Benavides, in whose precinct Spacex would be located, asked for the resolution of support. When a launch is going on, Boca Chica Beach would be closed until it was over.

According to information provided by Benavides, if the Brownsville site is approved, employees would earn wages 30 percent above the average weekly wage for the city and approximately 50 percent would come from the local workforce, living within a 20- to 40-mile radius of the site. Spacex could put millions of dollars into the Brownsville and Valley economies.

In addition, as much as $100 million could come from tourism by visitors expected to come to view the estimated 12 launches per year. It is also anticipated these tourists would take part in local ecotourism activities, spend time shopping and stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants, benefiting the entire Valley.

During the Hidalgo County Drainage meeting held prior to the county commissioners meeting Godfrey Garza, consulting director of the Hidalgo County Drainage District, asked commissioners to rescind the action requiring contractors to have $2 million in insurance per project because this requirement would raise costs on all of the bond election projects. Garza also said the request for additional insurance above what is usually required is causing insurance agents to question what is happening in the Rio Grande Valley.

A public workshop will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, June 6, on election security. The location is to be announced.

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