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Current Conditions:
Partly Cloudy, 79 F

Forecast:
Fri - Scattered Thunderstorms. High: 91 Low: 77
Sat - Thunderstorms. High: 90 Low: 78
Sun - Partly Cloudy. High: 96 Low: 77
Mon - Mostly Sunny. High: 95 Low: 77
Tue - Scattered Thunderstorms. High: 94 Low: 77

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General Interest

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.

Read more: State braces for students to go back to school

   

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.

Read more: Free, expanded STC Jag Express service begins Aug. 18

   

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.

Read more: Commissioners consider capital improvement requests

   

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.

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

   

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.

Read more: Sheriff Candidate forum held at UTPA

   

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.

Read more: Hospital district to be on November ballot

   

Sheriff candidates sound off in forum

20140718 Sheriff-Candidates featureThe fate of the office for the top law enforcement officer in Hidalgo County could lie in the hands of 53 people.

It creates a much different challenge for candidates looking to get on the November ballot. Lupe Treviño, former sheriff, who was reelected in 2012, abruptly resigned from office in March and subsequently pleaded guilty to laundering drug money. The commissioners court appointed Pct. 4 Constable Eddie Guerra to the spot to serve until January.

Because Treviño resigned after the March primaries, it’s up to the precinct chairs in a heavy democratic-voting county to choose candidates to run for the seat in the November election.

Read more: Sheriff candidates sound off in forum

   

Chief appraiser: County following state formula on mobile home property values

Hidalgo-County-SealAfter protesting, Winter Texan Dale Miller was able to get the property appraisal on his mobile home at Paradise Park in McAllen nearly cut in half, but he fears other Winter Texans won’t be so lucky.

In order to protest appraisal values, property owners must show up for a hearing during the summer, during the off-season.

But in a recent meeting with the Hidalgo County Chief Appraiser Rolando Garza and the OWLS (Objective Watchers of the Legal System), Miller was told the county is following state law.

Read more: Chief appraiser: County following state formula on mobile home property values

   

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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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