Starr Co. appoints new health authority

Starr County has a new local health authority just a few days after Dr. Jose Vazquez resigned from his post over a disagreement regarding fair compensation.

Dr. Antonio Falcon, 68, accepted the role and was sworn in during a special commissioners court meeting Friday morning, after the county commissioners unanimously voted to appoint him.

Vazquez abruptly resigned on Monday after the majority of the county commissioners rejected a proposal by Starr County Judge Eloy Vera to grant him a contract with a $120,000 annual salary.

During that commissioners court on Monday, County Commissioner Eloy Garza made it known he had already been in contact with Falcon who had offered to take the job for free.

Following Falcon’s swearing in on Friday, Vera clarified that Falcon will continue to receive the $500 per month that Vazquez received.

“That’s not a salary,” Vera said in Spanish during a news conference. “That’s only because we need to have a contract and we need a doctor.”

“It’s a token amount just to have the contract,” Vera added, though Falcon said he would donate the entirety of the $500 to Starr County Memorial Hospital for the purchase of medicine.

Born in Edinburg, Falcon has lived in Starr County for 43 years.

He served on the Rio Grande City school board for nine years, the hospital board for six years and other state and federal boards.

Though wanting to help the county, Falcon said he doesn’t intend to hold the title for very long.

“This is a real critical time and I hope to stay a few months but I don’t want to do this permanently,” Falcon said. “I was mostly wanting for the county not to be without a health authority during these very difficult times.”