Rick Kelley


Harlingen airport makes jet bridge upgrades

Valley International Airport is currently installing the sixth passenger boarding bridge at Gate 1, an $800,000 addition which will ease crowding as airlines jostle for a position to load and unload passengers. Passenger boarding bridges, or jet bridges, are the fixed rectangular tunnels which allow airline passengers and crew to board and disembark from planes once they taxi up to the terminal. “What this gate does is allows for the growth of the airport, and our enplanement numbers over the last couple of years have seen a double-digit increase,” Bryan Wren, assistant director of aviation at VIA, said. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Valley jobless rates hold steady at 5-6 percent

The Brownsville-Harlingen jobless rate held steady for October at a low 5.2 percent, the same as the previous month. In the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area, the jobless rate dropped from 5.8 percent to 5.6 percent for October. The unemployment rate in both Valley areas was basically unchanged from a year ago. Statewide the jobless rate held steady at 3.4 percent in October, marking the fifth straight month of record low unemployment which began in June. It continues the state’s lowest unemployment rate since tracking these numbers began in 1976. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Some leery about hiking passenger airport-use fee

Legislation in Congress is seeking to raise the price of airline tickets by lifting a ceiling on what is called the passenger facility charge, now capped at $4.50 per ticket per leg of a flight. The fees are useful to airports as quickly accessible funds for improvements, including an airport’s share of matching funds often required to receive Federal Aviation Administration grants for resurfacing runways and other major, multi-million-dollar projects. A bill filed by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) would nearly double the amount airports can charge for the PFC to $8.50, although there has been talk during the debate to eliminate the cap altogether, allowing airports to charge what the passenger traffic will bear. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Census Bureau looks to fill 4,000 Valley jobs in next six weeks

The U.S. Census Bureau is revving up its hiring process in the Rio Grande Valley, hoping to accumulate more than 8,000 applicants to fill more than 4,000 jobs during Census 2020. The official Census 2020 count begins on April 1, but bureau officials need to identify and hire workers prior to training which will occur early next year.  “We’re looking to take 8,391 to be exact,” said Albert Morales, partnership specialist for the Census Bureau in Hidalgo County. “Applications are what we’re taking because we need to hire 4,000 people. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Boulevard gator: Sunning reptile creates stir at KOA on Island

HARLINGEN — He was just looking for a little hot action. When it’s 53 degrees and you’re cold-blooded, a sunny spot next to Padre Boulevard...

Quail numbers high as season opens today

HARLINGEN — While the number of hunters pursuing quail continues to drop, state biologists say this year wing shooters in the South Texas Plains region who do reach the field will find bobwhites in abundance. Quail season begins today and runs through Feb. 23. “Habitat and weather can cause dramatic shifts in bobwhite and scaled quail populations from one year to the next,” said Robert Perez, quail program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Although last year’s quail season was not very productive, quail have an uncanny ability to quickly bounce back when conditions are good. Thanks to favorable weather conditions earlier this year, hunters can look forward to productive quail hunting across most of the state this season.” Read more at themonitor.com

Workforce agency re-launches jobs site

As Texas keeps rambling along with its all-time low jobless rate of 3.4 percent, the Texas Workforce Commission has re-launched a website for job seekers and employers trying to navigate the tight jobs market. Texas Workforce Commission members, after touring the state and receiving feedback about the current employment market, decided to bring back the www.WorkInTexas.com website. This week, the site listed more than 800,000 job openings across the state. Job seekers can post resumes, and the site had more than 75,000 active resumes. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Bealls begins rebranding process as it becomes Gordmans

HARLINGEN — Don’t be fooled by the big “Closing Event” sales posters on your local Bealls department store. The retail chain is merely re-branding its...

New federal ID requirements to take effect within year

HARLINGEN — Unless it is delayed again, in less than a year you might be in for a big surprise when you attempt to board a plane at an airport. On Oct. 1, 2020, a law passed by Congress way back in 2005 will take effect, mandating new identification procedures to board flights or enter federal buildings or facilities when ID is required. The current Texas driver’s license or state identification card you probably use now won’t work unless it’s a Real ID-compliant license or card, which you can identify by the yellow star in the upper right. There are alternatives, such as a passport, but many travel experts and airport officials are concerned there will be confusion and frustration when the law bites. Read more at The Monitor.com.

Rio Reforestation event set for La Sal del Rey next Sunday

Rio Reforestation celebrates its 28th year on Oct. 19 with 17 acres ready to plant with native trees and shrubs at the La Sal del Rey site in northeast Cameron County. Over the course of its history, the volunteer effort coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has restored 775 acres of the Valley’s wild areas to a pre-agricultural state. “We have people come to Rio Reforestation every year, so we have our regulars,” said Gisela Chapa, refuge manager at the USFWS’s Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. “And we also have new people that haven’t been to Rio Reforestation. I think that it gives people in the community an opportunity to see that there are areas set aside for conservation that still don’t have the habitat needed for conservation, and that we’re trying to catch up in losing all that habitat many, many years ago. We’re trying to bring it back.” Read more at The Monitor.com.