The 85: PVAC overcoming many obstacles to improve live-release rates

Marshall’s intake paperwork identified him as a Shepherd mix, but one wouldn’t know by looking at him. Dry cracked skin covered his head and frail, skinny body. Ribs protruded from his emaciated torso. “Smells like mange,” said an intake staff member on June 5. His dark, hairless tail swung behind the two-year-old dog who walked on a leash like he’d done it before. Despite his poor condition and “severe skin infection” staff noted, Marshall was friendly and cooperative during the process. Read the full story on TheMonitor.com.

Man arrested for sexual assault, escapes custody

A man under arrest for sexual assault escaped from police custody in Progreso and fled to Mexico earlier this month. Adrian Edwardo Garcia, 26, is charged with one count of sexual assault, a second degree felony, and one count of escape from custody in connection with an incident that began on Aug. 3. According to a criminal complaint, Progreso police received a call just before 6:30 a.m. Aug. 3 from a woman who wanted to report that her friend had been sexually assaulted at her home. Read the full story on themonitor.com.

As some in South Texas make aggressive drainage improvements, Pharr takes different approach

Following significant rain storms in recent years that led to thousands of damaged homes and businesses, some in South Texas have made aggressive moves to alleviate flooding and improve drainage. The city of Weslaco this year asked its voters to pass a $10 million bond, and it was approved. Last year, following the June 2018 storms, Hidalgo County asked voters for $190 million for drainage, and the measure was overwhelmingly approved. Just before the storms, McAllen voters in May 2018 approved a $22 million bond for drainage improvements. On Monday, Pharr took a different approach. There was an agenda item for commissioners to vote on whether to hold a bond election for drainage improvements in November. City Manager Alex Meade and city staff had recommended approval for a bond “designating, acquiring, constructing, renovating, improving, upgrading, updating, and equipping drainage and flood control improvements and facilities at various locations within the City of Pharr.” Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Edinburg man sentenced for 2015 double homicide

A 26-year-old man received a 45-year prison sentence Tuesday morning for his role in a drug deal that ended with the death of two men found dead in a burning car along a canal near Delta Lake in May 2015. Edwin Adrian Salinas, of Edinburg, said nothing as state District Judge Marla Cuellar accepted his guilty plea to two counts of murder and handed down the near five-decade sentence. The state agreed to dismiss one charge of capital murder in exchange for the guilty pleas. Salinas had initially been charged with three counts of capital murder. Salinas admitted to participating in the May 1, 2015, murder of Jose Luis Salinas Torres, 23, and Lazaro Alejandro Martinez Esparza, 26, who had both been shot in the back. 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.

Double homicide trial postponed for more tests

A 25-year-old Mission man’s jury trial on accusations he shot two women to death during a drug deal gone wrong days before Christmas in 2015 is on hold after a judge learned an officer involved in the double homicide investigation may have had a relationship with one of the victims. Guadalupe Garcia Vela appeared in court Thursday afternoon with defense attorneys Nereyda Morales-Martinez and Regina “Regi” Richardson who requested that the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office explore whether the Palmview Police Department has a policy that would allow prosecutors to conduct ballistic testing on the officer’s service weapon. Authorities never found the weapon police say Vela used to gun down Yvette Garza and Natalie Hernandez on Dec. 20, 2015, the Thursday hearing revealed. He has been in jail since his arrest in January 2016, and has pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Suspect in shooting has lengthy criminal record

EDINBURG — A 37-year-old man with a criminal history that spans two decades in Hidalgo County will face a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted in a shooting case related to a failed plot to abduct undocumented immigrants. On Thursday morning, Jesus Javier Solis pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted capital murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, deadly conduct and engaging in organized criminal activity. Solis is charged with six others in the case following a May 31 shooting that left a man with non-life threatening injuries to his right arm and the left side of his face. Read more at the monitor.com.

USDA grants $150M for rural communities affected by natural disasters

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $150 million in grants to rural communities affected by natural disasters, including those in Hidalgo County. In a new release, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, announced the grants may be used for relief in areas affected by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding. “I thank the Administration and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue for making this aid available for our rural communities who were affected by devastating flooding in the recent past,” Gonzalez said. “I encourage those in Hidalgo County who were affected by these natural disasters to take full advantage of these resources.” Read the full story on themonitor.com.

Two-day Fiesta de Palmas to celebrate Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East

The McAllen Convention Center will be divided into four sections this weekend: Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. These four regions are the theme of the 14th annual Fiesta De Palmas celebration, which was formerly known as PalmFest. Presented by the City of McAllen and The Mexican Consulate, festivities of the highly anticipated event will run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Convention Center, located on 700 Convention Center Blvd. Featuring entertainment from around the world, the mission of Fiesta De Palmas is to celebrate the diversity of Rio Grande Valley and educate attendees about what makes each of the four cultures unique. Admission fee is $5, and free for anyone under 12 years old. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Last defendant in cocaine case sentenced

The final defendant in a drug conspiracy case was sentenced Tuesday.   U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced the fifth and final defendant, Mario Gerardo Elliard-Garcia, to a 28-month prison sentence in connection with a drug conspiracy case involving the man and four others.  Elliard-Garcia, 35, joins Karla Yuliana Hernandez-Dominguez, 35; Joan Alejandro Armendariz-Fuentes, 36; Claudia Vanessa Arias-Torres, 27; and Alfonso Torres Jr., 24, all of Mexico, and all sentenced earlier this month.  Elliard-Garcia and Hernandez-Dominguez, who each pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in July, were the last two defendants to plead guilty, court records show.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.