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Alton to get fire equipment, swears in new municipal court judge

Alton LOGOThe Alton City Commission agreed to move more than $230,000 toward the purchase of fire equipment in a quick meeting Tuesday evening.

City Manager Jorge Arcaute also announced the city has received three grants totaling $75,000, mostly for a radio system, from the Lower Rio Grande Development Council. He said construction of the building is behind schedule, but steel beams were delivered this week for the structure and it should move forward now.

The $230,000 is coming from leftover funding provided by Urban County and originally slated for street improvement projects from 2009 to 2012.

But the crowd at the meeting Tuesday that caused city officials to bring in additional seating wasn’t there to hear about the new fire station. After the city commission adjourned its meeting, Patricia O’Caña-Olivarez was sworn in as the city’s alternate municipal judge. O’Caña-Olivarez, also a member of the Mission Consolidated Independent School District School Board, said she and her family were raised to be a part of the community.

“To some it may not mean much, but to me it means the world because it allows me to touch people in other different capacities than what I do now,” O’Caña-Olivarez said to a room filled with her friends and family.

Attendees included MCISD Superintendent Ricardo Lopez, State Rep. Sergio Muñoz, former District Judge Ricardo Rodriguez and District Judge Rose Guerra Reyna.

“I always have said to many of y’all, if not all of y’all, that one day I would be wearing a black robe,” O’Caña-Olivarez said. “This is my stepping stone to be able to wear that robe, and I will wear it proudly.”

Judge Reyna said she wasn’t surprised to see so many people in support of O’Caña-Olivarez.

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Reyna said. “She’s humble; she’s down to earth, and she doesn’t forget where she comes from.”

Arcaute said O’Caña-Olivarez has made a name for herself as a public servant in the area, and said she was a good catch for the city, which has been looking for a third judge to alternate into the rotation. Municipal Court meets Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and there is an on-call schedule for judges to come in as needed by police for arraignments.

“She brings a wealth of experience in the family law side,” Arcaute said. “And we have quite a few juvenile cases.”

Several times when addressing the crowd, O’Caña-Olivarez was moved to tears, prompting some to help her finish her sentences and drawing a round of applause.

“You’ll never know what this opportunity means to me,” she said. “I’m so very grateful because this community is a small community, but it’s a growing community, and it’s a very humble community.”

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