Rick Kelley

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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.

Valley receiving $4.3B for disaster recovery

Valley stakeholders are seeking a portion of $4.3 billion in federal funds to be distributed in Texas for disaster events from 2015 to 2017. The vast majority of the money, $4 billion, is going to areas hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. But $300 million is on the table for other Texas counties for disaster events that occurred between 2015 and 2017 as well. “What happens now is Texas GLO (General Land Office) has been tasked with creating an action plan,” said Ron Garza, executive director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. “The final part of the action plan is the method of distribution. It actually frames how those monies get distributed to the region. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Valle Vista mall opens with all lights blazing

HARLINGEN — Valle Vista mall opened bright and early. The city’s largest shopping center apparently reached an agreement over a past-due power bill and on...

RGV Explore seeks to be one-stop shop for destination information

WESLACO — A regional marketing idea regarded by proponents as a “one-stop shop” for revealing the Rio Grande Valley’s attractions is finally making headway. Explore...

Utility threatens to cut off Valle Vista’s electricity

A notice taped to an entry door at Valle Vista mall says the facility’s electrical power is scheduled to be cut off Monday for non-payment. The posting to Valle Vista Mall Realty Holdings LLC by Reliant Energy, required under the rules of the Texas Public Utility Commission, reads: “Electric service to this establishment is scheduled for disconnection on 09/30/2019 due to non-payment.” A spokesperson for Reliant confirmed the document is legitimate and that the company has been working with mall operators regarding their account’s past-due balance. read the full story at themonitor.com.

New-look wildlife refuge to show off upgrades

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge’s horrible, no-good entrance road has been repaved into a smooth-as-glass thoroughfare. To celebrate, the refuge is planning a blow-out week for visitors beginning Oct. 12 which includes birding walks, bus tours, tours of the remodeled visitor center, food trucks, arts and crafts and biking. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Walmart to expand grocery home delivery nationwide

When it comes to buying groceries, it looks like the rest of the country is finally catching up to the Rio Grande Valley. Walmart this week announced plans to expand its pilot program, Delivery Unlimited, from four test markets — Miami, Salt Lake City, Tampa and Houston, including several stores in the Valley — to 1,400 additional stores this fall. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Success of RGV tire recovery efforts leads to even bigger dreams

The success of the Valley’s three-year “Road to Recycling” tire collection efforts is spurring a more intensive effort to help alleviate one of the environmental plagues of the region. The Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council is pursuing a study to be performed by UTRGV’s civil engineering department to assess the feasibility of a state-supported tire recycling program on a far larger scale than is currently possible. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

TxDOT showers Valley with $1.1 billion windfall

If the merger of the Rio Grande Valley’s three metropolitan planning organizations was a roll of the dice, the region just raked in the pot. TxDOT Transportation Commission members in Austin have made their decision on highway funding for the next decade, and Hidalgo and Cameron counties will receive $1.1 billion in a massive infusion of highway funds which will transform mobility in the Rio Grande Valley. The Unified Transportation Plan, or UTP, passed last week allocates $77 billion to highway improvements across the state of Texas, and includes approximately $368 million for Cameron County and $750 million for Hidalgo County. Read the full article at themonitor.com.