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Commencement ceremonies held for jubilant UTRGV grads

“My sister!” “My daughter!” interjected Lucy Cascos. Cascos and her son, Dr. Sergio Martinez, had come to see his sister — and her daughter — Alexa Cascos graduate from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The winter commencement ceremonies at the Harlingen Convention Center began at 9 a.m. Friday for the 180 students in the College of Liberal Arts. Alexa, age 20, was graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

CBP encouraging expedited opportunities for cross-border travelers

Customs officers at the Anzalduas, Hidalgo and Pharr international bridges are advising the traveling public on options to help expedite cross-border travel during the holiday season. “In the days and weeks preceding Christmas and New Years’ holidays, CBP officers at our international bridges experience significant increases in vehicular traffic and tourist permit traffic,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, who is in charge of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection operation at the three bridges. “Our proactive facilitation measures, including encouragement of filing I-94 applications online along with SENTRI and Ready Lane usage, will help to increase efficiency and mitigate wait times during these peak travel periods.” These permits can be obtained online via http://i94.cbp.dhs.gov. CBP is also encouraging travelers to obtain radio-frequency identification technology-equipped travel documents, such as new versions of passport cards and “resident alien cards” so they can use expedited lanes when crossing. Border wait times can be monitored through the BWT app on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Inaugural Illumina Fest captures holiday cultures around the world

The city of McAllen kicked off two days of events with its inaugural Illumina Fest on Friday evening. Illumina Fest is an art and music celebration that pays homage to the various ways that cultures around the world observe the holidays. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

More defendants plead not guilty in work commission fraud case

Three more defendants enter pleas in connection with a money laundering case, records show. After this week, the total number of defendants who have pleaded not guilty to money laundering and other fraud charges stands at 10. Earlier this week, Zimri Jahaciel Sanchez, 25, of West Chester, Ohio; Daniel Omar Cuellar, 28, of McAllen; and Augustin Jaim Martinez-Resendez, 30, of Alton; each separately pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, and one count of money laundering, records show. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Weslaco man is third charged in home invasion death

A Weslaco man arrested on a murder charge Thursday afternoon is the third person accused in the fatal shooting death of 32-year-old Mercedes resident Emanuel Alvarado. Sgt. Frank Medrano of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office said investigators arrested 23-year-old Martin Torres Perez Jr. without incident at 4 p.m. Thursday. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Texas Supreme Court denies review of Mission mayoral election

The surprising 2018 victory of Mission Mayor Armando O’Caña appeared reaffirmed Friday after the Texas Supreme Court declined to review the election contest that challenged the results. Former Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas filed the election contest following the June mayoral runoff election in which Salinas was ousted after 20 years in office. Following a trial held that fall, the judge ruled in favor of Salinas, stating it was impossible to determine the true outcome of the runoff election and ordered a new election to be held. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Local law enforcement stepping up patrols for holiday season

The McAllen Police Department has announced an increase enforcement of impaired drivers throughout the rest of the holiday season. McAllen PD is partnering with the Texas Department of Transportation and other Hidalgo County law enforcement agencies to conduct an Impaired Driver Enforcement detail starting today and running through Wednesday, Jan. 1.  According to a news release, the local law enforcement agencies have planned, coordinated and will implement law enforcement patrols in an effort to make a regional impact against driving under the influence.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Police records reveal identities in Edinburg triple homicide

A Texas Public Information Act request has revealed the identities of the three individuals killed Tuesday morning in Edinburg in what investigators believe is a triple homicide with the suspect committing suicide. The victims include 19-year-old Rebecca Lee Cantu, 48-year-old Magdalena Cantu and 30-year-old Aaron Cortez. The one-page police report does not include the suspect's name. The Edinburg Police Department responded to 301 W. Kuhn St. at 6:49 a.m. Tuesday after a 9-1-1 caller reported finding three bodies inside the apartment. A police report lists Magdalena and Rebecca Lee as residents of the address. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Weslaco man is third charged in home invasion death

A Weslaco man arrested on a murder charge Thursday afternoon is the third person accused in the fatal shooting death of 32-year-old Mercedes resident Emanuel Alvarado. Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Frank Medrano said investigators arrested 23-year-old Martin Torres Perez Jr. without incident at 4 p.m. Thursday. Torres, 21-year-old Mercedes resident Juan Jesus Hernandez and 32-year-old Mercedes resident Noel Alvarado are all charged with murder for Emanuel’s death. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen opens all-inclusive Miracle Field

The first all-inclusive Miracle Field in the Rio Grande Valley opened on Thursday at McAllen’s youth baseball complex, the final component of the sprawling baseball facility to be ready for use. “When the city of McAllen can build facilities that allows every citizen in our community to utilize, then we are doing something right,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said. “The Miracle Field here at our McAllen Youth Baseball Complex is something that I am extremely proud of because here in McAllen, everybody matters.” The new field — funded in part by an HEB Tournament of Champions Grant worth $150,000 — features a turf surface to accommodate wheelchairs and any other equipment that could move more smoothly on turf. Read the full story at themonitor.com.