Francisco E. Jimenez

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Francisco E. Jimenez is a multimedia and general assignments reporter for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956)683-4433, or at fjimenez@themonitor.com.

DPS increasing law enforcement over the weekend

Amid a curfew in place for Hidalgo County and Cameron County, the Texas Department of Public Safety will increase enforcement over the Fourth of July weekend. Lt. Christopher Olivarez said that they do not anticipate as much traffic as in recent years, but they are prepared for individuals who still choose to drink and drive. “Of course you’re still going to have individuals that try to go out,” Olivarez said. “They might be drinking at home or at a friends house, they try to get behind the wheel and start to drive. I’m sure we’re still going to see some of those types of incidents.” Read more at The Monitor.com.

Pharr to livestream 4th of July fireworks

The city of Pharr will be streaming a live fireworks display Saturday in celebration of Independence Day. The city usually hosts Fourth of July events with firework displays, but due to the pandemic, the city has decided to celebrate America’s Independence Day virtually. “ Per Governor (Greg) Abbott’s order, that can’t happen,” Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez said about hosting the annual fireworks display. “We plan it every year. It’s been in the works for months, but at the end of the day, public safety comes first.” Read more at The Monitor.com.

Pharr ‘removes’ police chief; names interim

The city of Pharr announced that Police Chief Jose A. Luengo has been reassigned, effective Thursday. Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez confirmed the news Thursday afternoon and spoke highly of Luengo. “Chief Luengo is a family man and a well educated man. In my book, he is a wonderful human being and has been an outstanding chief of police officer who has done wonders for our great city of Pharr,” Hernandez said.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

School of Medicine welcomes its 2024 class in virtual orientation

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine welcomed the Class of 2024 with a virtual orientation Wednesday, beginning a new journey in what is now a new world. The new class rendezvoused on the video communications program Zoom, and were welcomed by Associate Dean for Student Affairs Stanley Fisch and Director of Admissions Mayra Martinez. The traditional White Coat ceremony was rescheduled for another time so that friends and family of the new medical students could attend in person. Read the full story at themonitor.com

3,685 ballots cast on first day of early voting in Hidalgo Co.

COVID-19 did little to hinder the number of people who cast their ballots in Hidalgo County on Monday, the first day of early voting in the primary runoff election. Monday’s early voting drew 3,685 ballots cast, including 3,383 voting in Democratic races and 302 voting in the Republican. By comparison, the 2018 primary runoffs saw a total of 3,079 votes cast on the first day of early voting, on May 14 of that year. On the ballot for the primary runoff election then was the race between Andrew White and Lupe Valdez for the Democratic nominee for governor, among others. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen Medical Center opens new COVID-19 wing

While reports of a dramatic increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations have sparked concerns about capacity at hospitals across the state, McAllen Medical Center still has plenty of room here to accommodate those needs as well as non-coronavirus patients. At least that’s the case now that the South Texas Health Systems hospital has retrofitted a wing entirely dedicated to the pandemic. The wing now adds 36 new beds for coronavirus patients and took about three days to complete. Chief Operating Officer Doug Colburn was careful to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean there are as many rooms. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mission school district raises staff salaries

The Mission school district is increasing the salary of all employees come July 1 in an attempt to bring teaching and non-teaching staff up to market averages. The new pay was approved by the board of trustees for teachers, auxiliary employees, instructional assistants, clerical, technical and administrative employees. Work to improve employee salaries began two years ago, when the board hired Carol G. Perez as superintendent. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. issues social gatherings limit, curfew

Hidalgo County announced Thursday that a total of 210 people have tested positive for coronavirus, continuing a trend of several hundred cases reported in recent days but 163 less than the previous day. The 210 new cases come on the same day that Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez signed an order limiting social gatherings in the county to 10 people or less and implementing a curfew in response to a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Church prays over 300 local law enforcement at service

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville held a Blue Mass here Wednesday for first responders throughout the four counties of the Rio Grande Valley. The Mass was held at 12:15 p.m. at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle in San Juan with over 300 first responders in attendance. The Blue Mass Committee helped organize the Mass. The committee, of which the diocese’s bishop and auxiliary bishop also serve, is made up of representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, and multiple agencies throughout Hidalgo County. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Police: Teen runaway’s kidnapping, assault stemmed from Snapchat

Two men are in custody after they were discovered to have a runaway in their vehicle, and are now being accused of crossing state lines to kidnap and sexually assault the victim, police here said during a news conference Tuesday. “We don’t do this very often, and we try not to necessarily call you out unless it’s something we think is important,” Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said as he addressed a room full of media at the McAllen Police Department. “This is a case that we think is hugely important.” On Sunday morning, at about 9:30 a.m., a parent contacted McAllen police to report that her 13-year-old daughter had run away. Read the full story at themonitor.com.