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Pct. 3, Hidalgo County break ground on Juan ‘Chuy’ Hinojosa community complex

Rural families to gain better access to healthcare, education

Hidalgo County and Precinct 3 broke ground Tuesday morning for a community complex to provide rural residents with district resources.

Sen. Juan ‘Chuy’ Hinojosa and Pct. 3 Commissioner Everardo ‘Ever’ Villarreal (center) stand with Hidalgo County representatives, Alton city mayor and commission, and construction staff on Tuesday, February 13, 2024. Photo by Maria Ruiz/Progress Times.

Across the El Paraiso Colonia in Alton, the center will have a health clinic and a resource center. It will tend to over 16,000 households who live within a 2-mile radius of the northern part of the city.

The community center will include classes, tutoring, and counseling services provided by nonprofits. The county will be partnering with the Mission Consolidated Independent School District and La Joya Independent School District to offer services to their students.

Inside the center will be a functional kitchen to make meals and space to act as a shelter for residents who lose power or water during natural disasters.

The plaza is named after Sen. Juan ‘Chuy’ Hinojosa, who was in attendance. The senator turned the dirt alongside Commissioner Villarreal, Precinct 4 Commissioner Ellie Torres, and Alton Mayor Salvador Vela.

“Driving up here from McAllen, I saw casitas, familias, qué ‘tan pobres. Que necesitan ayuda,” said Hinojosa. “That’s why we, as public officials, are the staff committed to service and support.”

The senator brought attention to the socioeconomic effort of local leaders, pointing out Alton Mayor Salvador Vela, who has served the city since 1990.

“You’ve been in public office for quite some time. We have seen the growth that’s taking place here in Alton,” said Hinojosa. “We work to make this area of Alton, the Hidalgo County, [and] the Rio Grande Valley as a whole.”

The Senator Juan ‘Chuy’ Hinojosa Community Complex will open to the public in 2025.

“I’m very excited to not only provide a better system of health for our residents but also be able to educate them so they can find better jobs and support their families,” said Pct. 3 Commissioner Everardo ‘Ever’ Villarreal.

The $8M budget toward construction comes from the Hidalgo County ARPA (American Plan Rescue Act).

“We took advantage of it right away since it is for the health and wellbeing of our community,” said Villarreal.

The upcoming Hidalgo County Health Clinic will include immunization services and check-ups to provide health accessibility to those who cannot drive to city limits for minimal medical services.

“This area here, it’s very much an area that can benefit from preventative health education, helping deal with diabetes…high blood pressure,” said Hidalgo County director of health Eddie Olivarez, who mentioned Alton’s high percentage of elderly residents and the influx of young generation citizens who can get educated about health.

Alton resident Elizabeth Rodriguez-Marquez, a former community coordinator with La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), worked with Pct. 3 as an outsource for what rural neighborhoods and colonies needed from the county, bringing the spotlight to the El Paraiso Colonia.

“When I began organizing, I was attracted to this neighborhood, first of all, because I am a resident that lives not too far from here. And being outside of the city limits, there’s a lack of resources,” said Marquez. “This was a project the residents have been advocating for — for a long time. This is going to serve the needs of so many people in the area that cannot go into the city limits.”

1 Comment

  1. Nando on February 28, 2024 at 12:37 am

    I know several manual labor workers who have no insurance and sometimes resort to yanking out their teeth out by tying a string to the infected tooth and a door. They live not too far from this place and I want to thank Senator Chuy Hinojosa and precinct three Commissioner Ever Villarreal for this honorable effort. Que Dios los bendiga.

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