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Sneak peek at our latest issue

Another week is ending, which means it’s time for a new issue of the Progress Times.

Below is a sneak peek at some of our biggest stories, which include the possibility of a runoff Mayoral race in the city, how an MCISD Elementary student participated in Autism Awareness Month, the suspension of a Palmview program dedicated to helping victims of violent crimes and more.

Check out a sneak peek of these stories below. To read the full stories, pick up an issue of the paper tomorrow wherever our newsstands are available.

20180511 MissionRunOffMail-in ballots could swing Mission mayoral race —if they’re actually in the mail
By Dave Hendricks

Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas fell just three votes short of victory on Saturday, according to preliminary election results, likely sending him to a runoff with City Councilman Armando “Doc” O’caña.

While the Hidalgo County Elections Department ballot board will meet Friday afternoon to review provisional ballots and mail-in ballots, Salinas said he doesn’t expect them to make a difference — and he’s already preparing for the runoff.

“Four years ago we did the same thing and ended up with more votes in the runoff,” said Salinas, 71, a rancher and land developer. “Those things happen when you have three people running. It’s very hard to win without a runoff.”

Salinas, who’s running for a sixth term, received 49.97 percent of 6,174 ballots cast, according to preliminary numbers published by the Elections Department. He fell three votes short of a majority.

O’caña placed second with 41.63 percent of ballots cast.

They trounced businessman Jaime Gutierrez, who placed a distant third.

Between them, though, Gutierrez and O’caña had support from the majority of Mission voters.

“Some people want change,” said O’caña, 64, a La Joya school district administrator and member of the City Council. “A change in operations and a change in direction.”

If all the voters who want change support him, O’caña said he’ll win the runoff.

The ballot board will meet Friday afternoon to review provisional ballots and mail-in ballots for May elections across Hidalgo County.

After reviewing the provisional and mail-in ballots on Friday afternoon, the Elections Department will send the final numbers to the City of Mission. The ballot board meeting will determine whether or not the mayoral race results in a runoff.

Mission Student Advocate for Autism Awareness: Meet Alvaro
By Jamie Treviño

A daily commute has led to Hilda C. Escobar/Alicia C. Rios Elementary School gaining a first grade advocate for autism awareness.

Before school every day, Alvaro Ramirez and his mother Naila Flores-Ramirez take a longer route to the elementary before drop-off, so he has more time to read.

On the morning of April 1, the beginning of Autism Awareness Month, Alvaro was reading “All My Stripes,” an educational children’s book by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer, about Zane the Zebra, a special foal who happens to have autism.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, autism spectrum disorder is “a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior” and “there is a wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience.” It covers several conditions, including challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as individual strengths and weaknesses.

Alvaro was diagnosed with autism in 2016, and found a new understanding of the spectrum, and who he is as a person, from “All My Stripes.”

“I began to learn more about myself,” Alvaro said. “We [Zane and I] both have autism, and he’s the one that taught me about myself.”

DPS plans to open ‘Law Enforcement Operations Center’ in La Joya
By Dave Hendricks

The Texas Department of Public Safety plans to open a “Law Enforcement Operations Center” in La Joya.

Located north of the La Joya library on Palm Shores Boulevard, the building will provide office space for 30 state troopers.

The Texas Facilities Commission approved a 10-year lease agreement with the developer — construction magnate Alonzo Cantu — during March.

“We’re very happy about it,” said La Joya Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas.

The Texas Legislature budgeted nearly $3.2 million for the building last year, a significant commitment during a tight budget cycle.

Palmview crime victim liaison program suspended
By Jose De Leon III

The Texas Attorney General’s Office has placed a financial hold on an account containing $42,000 in state funds dedicated to assisting victims of violent crimes in the city of Palmview.

The suspension of the Palmview crime victim liaison program, according to interim City Manager Leo Olivares, is a consequence of the city being suspended from the federal asset forfeiture program.

Olivares said Monday the city received an email dated May 3 from the Office of the Attorney General saying the city’s crime victim liaison program was being placed on financial hold.

“The Office of the Attorney General has become aware of potential financial management issues of Office of the Attorney General (OAG) grant funds,” the email stated. “This email serves as notification that your grant has been placed on financial hold while these issues are investigated.”

Though the email didn’t list the program by name, a representative from the OAG confirmed on Tuesday the program being affected was the Palmview crime victim liaison program-which received $42,000 in state funds last fall.

“We’d obviously like to get reinstated as soon as possible. It’s a good program and the community benefits from it,” Olivares said.

Auditor: Agua SUD ran $1.3 million operating deficit last year
By Dave Hendricks

The Agua Special Utility District ran a roughly $1.3 million operating deficit last year, according to an audit approved by the board on Monday.

Ricky Longoria, a partner at McAllen-based accounting firm Burton, McCumber and Longoria, briefed the utility board on the audit Monday afternoon.

“I would ask you all, just as you move forward, to pay attention to those numbers because that is what I consider to be your bread and butter, right? You all bill for your services for water and sewer. And there is a cost associated with providing that service. And so, ideally, it would seem to me that you would want that to be break even or positive, right?”

Longoria recommended the utility board discuss the operating deficit with management.

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