With Texas slated to receive just over $4 billion to fund flood mitigation projects, representatives from the Texas General Land Office have been holding hearings across the state seeking public input on how best to use the money. The $4.3 billion — which will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development via Community Development Block Grants — is Texas’ allotment of some $28 billion in nationwide disaster relief funds appropriated by Congress in 2018. Typically set aside for housing and other disaster recovery efforts after a storm, this is the first time HUD monies have been set aside with the specific purpose of focusing on flood mitigation and prevention, explained Brittany Eck, the GLO’s communications director for community development and revitalization. Read the full story at themonitor.com.
Criminal mischief, canine catastrophe, or something else entirely? That’s the question here after Mayor Alma Moron woke up two days before Thanksgiving to find her vehicle damaged in her driveway with a puddle of fluid spilled on the ground. Moron, who works as an educator in Edinburg, had arrived home safely the night before and was set to enjoy the holiday time off with family. She had gone about her normal routine: parking her car and locking the gate to her property in the tiny sugar mill town in far east Hidalgo County. Read the full story at themonitor.com.
It was a birthday bash to remember as hundreds of people lined Texas Boulevard here on a sunny and cool Saturday morning to await the start of the Weslaco Centennial Christmas Parade. The parade — which featured decade-themed floats from the 1920s to the present day — was just one in nearly a week’s worth of events meant to celebrate the city’s centennial anniversary. From the parade, to a 5K fun run, to a barbecue cook-off, to lectures on local history, and even the production of a documentary, the celebration has included something for everyone. The birthday celebration continues through Tuesday evening, when a closing ceremony and fireworks show will be held at Bobby Lackey Stadium at 7 p.m. Read the full story at themonitor.com
He should have been preparing to enjoy his last Christmas break as a high school student. He should have been planning for graduation in May, and anxiously awaiting a letter from the University of Texas – San Antonio to arrive in the mail letting him know that he’d been accepted to college. He should have been pursuing his dream of becoming a police detective. But, he’s not. Instead of celebrating his 18th birthday this week, his family is mourning his death from a rapid-growing, unrelentingly aggressive brain cancer that left a hole in their hearts as surely as it stole his life. His name was Daniel Rodriguez. Read the full story at themonitor.com.
The federal bribery case against a McAllen hotelier is on hold pending concerns that his defense attorney may have a conflict of interest in continuing to represent him. Hotel owner and operator Sunil Wadhwani appeared in federal court Monday afternoon for what should have been a final pretrial conference before jury selection was slated to begin Tuesday; however, the case was temporarily derailed after federal prosecutors raised conflict concerns regarding Wadhwani’s attorney, Michael Wynne. The issue superseded several others that could also have resulted in delays, including motions by the government to declare the case complex and to seek a continuance. Though the government’s motions remain under seal, some of their details came to light via responses Wynne filed Monday morning in opposition to the government’s efforts. Read the full story at themonitor.com.
A community activist is saying his arrest here Tuesday evening was fueled by political retaliation in response to his criticism of the Mercedes city commission. Israel Coronado — a prominent and vocal fixture of Mercedes meetings — was arrested here shortly after he left city hall and while the commission was still in session. Speaking just hours after he made an initial appearance before a judge and posted bond Wednesday, Coronado said he felt targeted and “hunted down.” “This was definitely a political attack. I have been very vocal against the mayor, the mayor pro-tem, as well as the chief of police, where I have pointed out many of the deficiencies that keep happening left and right in our town,” Coronado said of his arrest. Read the full story at themonitor.com.
McALLEN — Five men and women facing federal charges of bribery — and in one instance, sexual abuse of an inmate — have pleaded...
Five men and women facing federal charges of bribery — and in one instance, sexual abuse of an inmate — have pleaded not guilty and will soon be released on bond. Charges against a total of six former employees of the East Hidalgo Detention Center were announced late last week by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Five of those individuals appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Juan F. Alanis for arraignment and detention hearings Tuesday and Wednesday. The sixth — 25-year-old Domingo Hernandez of Mercedes — made an initial appearance in New Mexico and will be arraigned here soon, according to a news release. Read the full story at themonitor.com.
Just after hundreds of twinkling lights flickered on to the approving murmur of the crowd, a crack-pop-boom of professional fireworks filled the air behind the city of Mercedes’ newest community attraction: its rare ribbon Christmas tree. With the warm yellow glow of the tree’s lights illuminating their upturned faces, the crowd watched the fireworks. Some angled for the perfect selfie with the tree and the fireworks in the background, while others stood in mute awe. The celebration on the expansive lawn of the Mercedes amphitheater — which, itself, is new to the small city — was the culmination of a festive night meant to officially kick off the holiday season. “ We’ve been working hard to give our citizens good things,” Mercedes Mayor Henry Hinojosa said proudly as children from the city’s schools performed dance routines and Christmas carols on the amphitheater’s stage. Read the full story at themonitor.com
The fifth person to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017 was in the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday to meet with border officials and tour new border wall construction south of Donna. Chad Wolf — formerly the acting Undersecretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans — was tapped by the president earlier this month to succeed Kevin K. McAleenan as acting DHS secretary. McAleenan, himself formerly the director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, resigned as the head of DHS after approximately seven months in the Cabinet position. Prior to McAleenan, the department was led by Kirstjen Nielsen — the most recent secretary to receive Senate confirmation, Elaine Duke and John Kelly, who was appointed when Trump first took office. Read the full story at themonitor.com.