Dina Arévalo

Dina Arévalo is the editor of the Mid-Valley Town Crier and covers Weslaco, Donna, Mercedes, Progreso and the Delta area for the Crier and for The Monitor. She can be reached at darevalo@mvtcnews.com or (956) 683-4441.

Riverbank eroding at site of private border wall

Just months after a private developer constructed a 3-mile long stretch of steel bollard fencing along the Rio Grande south of Mission, opponents of...

Mercedes mayoral candidate sues city, officials

One month after a charge of disrupting a public meeting was dropped against him, Mercedes mayoral candidate and community activist Israel Coronado has filed...

Weslaco reverses course, cancels July 4th fireworks

Less than a week after the Weslaco City Commission approved holding a Fourth of July fireworks display at a park that would be closed to the public during the event, city leaders reversed course and have instead canceled the holiday display. The decision came via a split 4-3 decision during a special meeting of the commission Monday evening. At the heart of the decision were concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the potential burdens the event would place on the first responders tasked with maintaining public safety. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mercedes, former city attorney locked in legal battle

The city of Mercedes has embroiled itself in a bitter legal battle with a man who once served as its chief legal counsel, lobbing multiple allegations against the man in a trio of lawsuits, including attorney malpractice, fraud and breach of contract. The city filed the three suits in recent months against Juan R. Molina, who served as Mercedes’ city attorney for 14 years until his resignation in January 2019. Molina has fired back, calling the litigation “a political witch hunt, and an attempt to burn at the stake (Mercedes’) perceived enemies.” The attorney also claims the suits are an attempt by the city to commit a fraud of its own in relation to two plots of land it sold in 2011 and 2012. However, Molina isn’t the only defendant being sued by the Queen City. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Weslaco mulls July 4th fireworks at closed park

Whether the skies over Weslaco will be filled with the crack, pop, boom of fireworks this Independence Day despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a question that remains unanswered even though city leaders voted to approve the event during a commission meeting Tuesday. Just two days after approving the holiday fireworks display in a 3-2 vote, officials now say they will revisit the issue during a special meeting Monday afternoon. Mayor David Suarez and Commissioner Letty Lopez voted against the display. Commissioners Josh Pedraza and Jose “J.P” Rodriguez did not attend the meeting. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Parties seek delay in Weslaco bribery trial

Just four days after McAllen’s three U.S. district judges jointly issued a special order delaying all federal jury trials through July 3, the two sides in the Weslaco water plant bribery trial — slated to begin jury selection July 7 — have reversed course and asked to delay those proceedings until at least November. The news came via a motion for continuance submitted jointly by the prosecution and defense on Friday — just two weeks after the two sides filed a motion requesting a status conference where they hoped U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez would outline her strategies for holding a trial amidst an ongoing pandemic. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Federal jury trials suspended until July

In the wake of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, civil and criminal jury trials have been suspended in federal court until at least July 3. The news came after the three federal judges who preside over the McAllen Division of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas jointly handed down a special order Monday. "All jury trials (criminal and civil) scheduled to begin from this date through July 3. 2020, are continued, to a date to be reset by each presiding judge,” read the June 1 order handed down by U.S. District Judges Ricardo H. Hinojosa, Randy Crane and Micaela Alvarez. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Mercedes commissioners, mayor clash over emergency order

The city of Mercedes’ COVID-19 emergency declaration expired last week after a disagreement between the mayor and two commissioners resulted in a 2-2 deadlock vote during an emergency meeting Friday. Residents must still abide by regulations and social restrictions outlined in emergency orders issued by Hidalgo County and the governor’s office. There was only one actionable item on the agenda for the meeting, which lasted just four-and-a-half minutes: voting on the seven-day extension of the city’s emergency order, including amendments added to the order following the relaxing of restrictions as outlined in Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-23. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Fourth former La Villa guard pleads guilty

A fourth former employee of the East Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges last week. Domingo Gonzalez Hernandez, 25, of Mercedes, appeared for a rearraignment hearing Friday, where he changed his plea to guilty to one count of bribery of a public official after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend lowering the offense by two levels on the federal sentencing guidelines, a copy of the plea agreement indicated. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Pandemic fuels questions in Weslaco bribery case

Federal prosecutors want to know how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect their plans to take three men to trial on charges that they spent years conspiring together to profit off the $38.5 million rehabilitation of the Weslaco water treatment plant. To that end, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez handed down an order Tuesday agreeing to the government’s request for a status hearing on the case, which is set for jury selection on July 7. The parties will meet for that status conference — in person, or via videoconference — on June 16, the order reads. The three defendants awaiting their days in court include former Precinct 1 Hidalgo County Commissioner Arturo “A.C.” Cuellar, Weslaco businessman Ricardo Quintanilla, and Daniel J. Garcia, an attorney from Rio Grande City. Read the full story at themonitor.com