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General Interest

Police chief reassures Winter Texans: RGV is safe

20140815 Winter-TexansMany Winter Texans have been calling their RV parks and the local chamber of commerce offices asking if it is safe to come back to the Rio Grande Valley this fall because of the influx of immigrant youth and children. National media has given many the impression that the border is running wild with immigrant children all over the place.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on July 21 issued an order to deploy 1,000 Texas National Guard members along the border to assist the Texas Department of Public Safety with law enforcement efforts along the river. Since then, the numbers of illegals crossing the Rio Grande have dropped dramatically.

A few days later during a drive to San Antonio, I counted 26 Department of Public Safety (DPS) vehicles headed toward the Valley. There were also four tanker trucks for the state guard and each was pulling a trailer that appeared to carry all-terrain vehicles.

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County to hold election on hospital district

Hidalgo-County-SealThe Hidalgo County Commissioners Court called for an election Nov. 4 for voters to decide on the proposed new Hidalgo County Hospital District.

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa addressed the court Tuesday before the vote to call the election, reminding them that without the proposed hospital district, the county might be responsible for all of its indigent care costs, at a price higher than the proposed hospital district.

Last year, Hidalgo County paid $8 million to the government for indigent health care. The money was then multiplied by a figure so that more money than was paid out came back to help Hidalgo County meet high costs of indigent care.

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State braces for students to go back to school

tax-free-shoppingThis year’s Sales Tax Holiday is today through Sunday. As in previous years, the law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.

Information from local school districts on school supply requirements as well as immunizations can be found in the Back to School special section published in today’s edition of the newspaper.

Subject to the criteria explained below, all sales of qualifying items made during the holiday period qualify for the exemption, including items sold online, or by telephone or mail. Lay-away plans can be used again this year to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.

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Free, expanded STC Jag Express service begins Aug. 18

20140808 JagExpressOne of the biggest obstacles Rio Grande Valley college students face when they try to continue their education is transportation. In response to the community’s need, South Texas College and Valley Metro have partnered to provide free transportation between all five of STC’s campuses with the expansion of the Jag Express Intercampus bus service beginning on Aug. 18.

“Students will be able to utilize the transportation that’s being made available to them through the Jag Express Intercampus bus service for free and it’s also a means for them to save on their finances,” said Mike Carranza, Associate Dean of Student Financial Services & Veteran Affairs. “Now that we’re doing this, all five campuses will be connected. This is just a starting point for something bigger and for future expansion.”

The Jag Express will have three bus lines and cover five routes from STC’s Mid-Valley Campus in Weslaco to the Starr County Campus in Rio Grande City. The bus service will run from Monday to Friday and is open to the public. Students with a valid STC ID card will be allowed to use the service for free and transfer to other Valley Metro systems.

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Commissioners consider capital improvement requests

Hidalgo-County-SealHidalgo County budget officers received about $342 million in requests for capital improvements within the county, Sergio Cruz, finance director, told commissioners court at its Tuesday meeting.

Cruz broke the number of requests down, saying the costs for requests for building projects amounted to about $281 million while equipment was figured at nearly $18 million. Road construction and repairs was the next largest request at just under $37 million, and infrastructure needs were figured at $822,300. Technology was figured at more than $5 million.

Cruz told the court the recent refinancing of bonds freed about $21 million to address these needs. There also was a contingency fund equal to about $3 million for capital projects.

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RGV Sector brings in nearly 150 seasoned agents to help secure border

20140724 Anzalduas Park Illegals Custody lg-10McALLEN – One hundred and fifty experienced Border Patrol agents have arrived to the Rio Grande Valley Sector to bolster targeted enforcement efforts and supplement current manpower.

“All part of the South Texas Campaign, Customs and Border Protection has brought seasoned Border Patrol agents with a wealth of knowledge and experience that will prove valuable in securing the border,” said Chief Patrol Agent Kevin Oaks. “They are well-trained and equipped with the skill-set necessary to operate in a border security environment.”

This risk-based approach enhances enforcement efforts and aims to disrupt and degrade criminal organizations that are responsible for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs throughout the South Texas Corridor. The ongoing increase in additional agents gives local field commanders the ability to deploy resources to areas where the risk is greatest. Experienced agents from other sectors are able to perform processing duties and other tasks, which frees up local tenured agents to provide security along the immediate border.

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Sheriff Candidate forum held at UTPA

20140723 SHERIFF CANDIDATE FORUM UTPA JMB 4250Six candidates seeking their party’s selection to be on the November ballot to elect a new Hidalgo County sheriff appeared at a candidate forum hosted by the UTPA Department of Criminal Justice at the Edinburg university campus Wednesday afternoon.

Seeking the Democratic Party’s selection to appear on the ballot this fall are Juan Gonzalez, Eddie Guerra, Frank Guerrero and Geovani Hernandez.

The sole Libertarian nominee is Vince Ousley and the only Republican candidate attending the forum was Al Perez. Israel Pacheco, who was seeking the Republican’s spot on the ballot is said to be ineligible.

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Hospital district to be on November ballot

Hidalgo-County-SealState Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa addressed Hidalgo County Commissioners in their Tuesday, July 22, meeting, telling them creation of the proposed hospital district is required if the county is to receive proper funding for indigent care. The state legislature met in Austin recently to approve placement of a hospital district on the November ballot.

Hinojosa said the hospital district would create a new tax that would be capped at $0.25 per $100 valuation. Estimates of the tax had been as much as $0.75 but Hinojosa said that amount would not happen. But it will not start at $0.25, he said. The proposal is a tax of $0.08 to $0.10 per $100 valuation. This tax will raise funds to take the place of the annual $8 million of the budget the county must now pay for indigent health care as this cost would be taken over by the health district. When the hospital district is created the county could then lower county taxes or use that money for other purposes.

The senator said Hidalgo, Cameron and Web Counties are without a hospital district, like most areas receiving money for indigent health care. Many large metropolitan areas have an entire hospital dedicated to indigent care. Valley counties work with private hospitals, as there are no public hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley.

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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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