Harlingen police make arrest in shooting; other cases remain open
HARLINGEN — Police are searching for the killers behind two unsolved homicide cases this year as another shooting sparked bloodshed this week. Meanwhile, police have arrested a suspect in a Tuesday shooting that put a man in a hospital with “multiple” gunshot wounds, Sgt. An investigation found the shooting occurred on the westbound frontage road just east of Bass Boulevard, Moore said. Officials are urging those with information surrounding these cases to call the Harlingen Police Department at (956) 216-5940 or Harlingen Area Crime Stoppers at (956) 425-8477. The suspect faces arraignment Thursday, said Moore, who declined to release the names of the suspect and victim.myrgv.com
Two airlines file plans for additional daily flights to Harlingen’s VIA
HARLINGEN — Strong demand for seats in the Harlingen market has airlines submitting plans for additional flights to and from Valley International Airport. The airport averages about 15 commercial passenger flights a day at present, but both American Airlines and United Airlines have filed future schedule changes to increase their investment in the Harlingen market. Last week on Thursday, air travel was in near-chaos, with more than 1,200 U.S. flights canceled, and then another 452 were scrapped on Friday, according to FlightAware, which tracks airline flights worldwide. Southwest had the most flights canceled Thursday, with 356 flights erased and another 1,734 delayed, about 40 percent of the airline’s total. On Saturday, airlines canceled 657 U.S. flights and more than 1,400 were delayed.myrgv.com
Harlingen school district, local officials confront cyberbullying concerns
In the old days, a victim of bullying could leave it at school.These days, the torments follow the victim home, to bed, under the covers in the middle of the night, enabled by the pandora’s box of smart phones and other digital devices.myrgv.com
City of Harlingen, HCISD negotiating security pact
Meanwhile, school officials are proposing the city boost the number of officers it assigns to the district from four to nine. A week after city commissioners proposed the agreement, district officials worked with their attorneys to revise the plan before presenting their version to City Hall on Thursday. On Friday, city and school officials declined to release the proposed agreement. “We’ve had a series of discussions with the school district and they continue,” City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said Friday. Now, district officials want the city to boost the number of full-time officers assigned to the district to nine, Sepulveda said.myrgv.com
TSTC police department participates in National Night Out with area law enforcement
Members of the Texas State Technical College Police Department participated in the annual National Night Out with the Harlingen Police Department, Primera Police Department, Cameron County Sheriff’s Department, and other area entities.myrgv.com
Harlingen’s District 1 residents set to speak up
HARLINGEN — Residents across District 1 today get a chance to speak up about their concerns during the second of a series of town hall meetings aimed at helping chart the city’s course into the next decade. During a so-called “listening session,” Commissioner Ford Kinsley, who oversees the district, is set to field residents’ feedback, which commissioners plan to consider as they develop the city’s new comprehensive plan. At City Hall, officials are planning drainage upgrades aimed at curbing flooding in areas such as the Adams Crossing subdivision in District 1. Now, city officials are proposing helping the Harlingen school district launch a police department as part of an agreement in which the city assigns the district four police officers. Thursday, Kinsley’s set to hold his meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum at 2425 Boxwood St.For more information, call City Hall at 956-216-5001.myrgv.com
Outside the box: Cameron County recognized for innovation
Innovative changes by the Cameron County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office in response to the pandemic have earned the county honors in the form of a 2022 National Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties. “We looked for abandoned banks with drive-through lanes. “We offered our services at the same time we were constructing and obtaining drive-through lanes,” he said. “We’re one of the very few in the state of Texas that has a 100 percent consolidated tax office. In addition to paying property taxes, county residents can renew their vehicle registration at any of the sites, he said.myrgv.com
Public invited to Harlingen’s National Night Out
HARLINGEN – Want some free food, music and family fun? Come to this year’s “National Night Out” Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Lon C. Hill Destination Park at 1517 Fair Park Blvd. Harlingen Police Officer Orlando Gonzales described the event as a community police awareness event free to the public. It’s a free event. The National Night Out is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch in the United States and has been held since 1984.myrgv.com
City of Harlingen budget focuses on employee pay increases
HARLINGEN — A proposed $53.5 million general fund budget might help launch the city’s first communications department while officials focus on boosting employees’ pay. To make sure that department is successful, we need to make sure that they’re staffed appropriately.”Now, officials are considering developing and staffing the proposed department. Employee pay takes focusAs part of the proposed budget, City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez is planning about $1.2 million in pay increases. Meanwhile, commissioners will determine whether to fund 2 percent employee pay increases at a cost of $260,927 or 3 percent increases at $376,432. Revenues over expendituresNow, Gonzalez is proposing a $53.3 million general fund budget coming with $52.5 million in expenditures and a fund balance of $23 million.myrgv.com
Alumna finds career success in TSTC human resources
Little did she know that job would blossom into a 29-year career with TSTC’s human resources department at the Harlingen campus. “Before I graduated, I noticed a clerk typist II job vacancy in the human resources department. After graduation she accepted the clerk typist job, and she has enjoyed steady career growth in TSTC’s human resources department ever since. “The previous jobs in human resources that I held consisted of a clerk, representative, project manager, and others,” Aleman said. “Melissa has worked in many functional areas within human resources, including payroll processing, benefits, leaves, and talent management,” Contella said.myrgv.com
City of Harlingen proposes school district start police department
HARLINGEN — City officials are proposing the Harlingen school district take steps to start its own police department amid residents’ calls for heightened security in the wake of the Uvalde massacre. Meanwhile, district officials are reviewing the proposal, “making appropriate amendments,” spokeswoman Brianna Vela Garcia said Friday. “The document, released to HCISD on Thursday evening, will be reviewed by school district attorneys. Now, city officials are proposing to help the district launch a police department. On Friday, city officials declined to release the proposed agreement, saying City Attorney Mark Sossi had not finalized his review, Ramirez said.myrgv.com
DA says murder probe ‘mishandled,’ faults Harlingen Police Department
BROWNSVILLE —A “mishandled” Harlingen Police Department investigation stopped the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office from trying a man charged with capital murder, District Attorney Luis Saenz stated Wednesday. Jose Isaias Soto Martinez faced a capital murder charge in the March 2021 stabbing death of Eric Armstrong, 63, of Harlingen. On Wednesday, Saenz stated the Harlingen Police Department “mishandled” the investigation. ‘Mishandled’ investigation“It is unfortunate that we were unable to try the case of Jose Isaias Soto Martinez to verdict,” Saenz stated. A month later, a Cameron County grand jury indicted Soto Martinez on one count of capital murder by terror/threat and one count of murder enhancement.myrgv.com
Texas jobs surge again in June as Valley lags behind
HARLINGEN — The seasonally-adjusted Texas jobless rate dropped in June from 4.2 percent to 4.1 percent as the state set new employment highs for the eighth consecutive month. In the Rio Grande Valley, however, the trend for June was again downward after several months of positive employment numbers. The Brownsville-Harlingen Metropolitan Statistical Area saw its unemployment rate rise from 6.0 percent to 6.9 percent from May to June. The Austin-Round Rock MSA recorded June’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs at 3.1 percent, followed by Amarillo at 3.2 percent, then College Station-Bryan and Midland, both at 3.6 percent. The national jobless rate for June was 3.8 percent, up from 3.4 percent in May.myrgv.com
Valley risk remains ‘very high’ for wildfires
HARLINGEN — Wildfires continue to flare in Texas and across much of the nation, and conditions in Cameron County will remain “very high” for fires through at least Tuesday, emergency officials say. Today the fire forecast from the Texas A&M Forest Service shows coastal Cameron County with a “very high” risk of wildfires. One of those wildfires on Thursday was in Hidalgo County near Linn-San Manuel. Hidalgo County Fire Marshal Homero Garza said the fire near U.S. Highway 281 and Laguna Seca Road was caused by a wild turkey that was electrocuted when it landed on a power line and dropped to the ground. Greg Abbott was briefed on the state’s largest wildfire, the Chalk Mountain Fire, and issued a disaster declaration adding Somervell County to dozens of other Texas counties fighting wildfires.myrgv.com
Harlingen CISD school safety director prepares for new academic year
Danny Castillo, director of emergency management and school safety for the Harlingen school district, is working this summer in partnership with the Harlingen Police Department and other entities to make sure kids and staff members are safe this school year. Castillo, who took his current position three years ago when it was created, spoke in-depth about best practices and the Texas School Safety Center located at Texas State University in San Marcos. One of those best practices is active shooter training, which will soon be offered to Harlingen school district staff members. “That is one of the key training components that we will be addressing before the start of school,” Castillo said. The school district has been preparing for heightened security for quite some time, long before the Uvalde massacre.myrgv.com
Police continue searching for teen’s killer
By FERNANDO DEL VALLEStaff WriterHARLINGEN — Six years after her murder, police continue to search for Nahomi Rodriguez’s killer. In July 2016, Rodriguez, 19, of San Benito, left her job at a McDonald’s restaurant. Nearly a year later, her remains were found near a ditch near Rio Hondo. In April 2017, dental records identified her remains found near a canal at Centerline Road and FM 106 east of Rio Hondo. Six years later, Harlingen police investigators continue to urge those with information to call the police department at 956-216-5401 or the Harlingen Area Crime Stoppers 956-425-Tips (8477) with any information.myrgv.com
Traffic stop leads to drug bust in Harlingen
HARLINGEN — A Houston man and woman are facing charges after police arrested them with drugs and two pistols during a traffic stop. A judge ordered Jose Angel Montalvo, 17, held on a total of $45,000 bail while setting $25,000 bail for Ruby Ann Acosta, 49. Meanwhile, Acosta faces a second-degree felony charge of possession of a controlled substance. On Thursday, a police canine officer pulled over a car Acosta was driving northbound on Interstate 69 near Harrison Avenue. During a search, police found 539 Fentanyl pills with a weight of 135.5 grams; 901 Alprazolam pills; 224 grams of liquid codeine; and two semi-automatic pistols.myrgv.com
Country’s first cotton bale comes from Valley, once again
Last year for the first time in 60 years, the nation’s first cotton bale to be produced and ginned did not come from the Rio Grande Valley but instead from Nueces County’s Priestly Farms. A combination of early-season drought followed by excessive rainfall pushed back cotton planting in the Valley, and Priestly Farms near Robstown took advantage by picking the nation’s first cotton bale on July 18. But the weather was more cooperative this year, and the country’s first bale of 2022 was produced by Wesley Vanderpool of Alamo and delivered to the Willacy Co-Op. “Agriculture remains one of the key economic sectors in the RGV even with the rapid growth and expanding trade we have experienced in the region,” said Sam Simmons Jr., Harlingen Cotton Committee chair. The Harlingen Cotton Committee is still searching for sponsors to reach the $10,000 goal to support students pursuing a career in an agricultural–related field.myrgv.com
Student wants to use her voice for important causes
The piece addressed a number of social causes, and her selection of the work reflects very well her interest in important issues around the world. “It’s really interesting to me, and I think I could use my voice better in that aspect.”She’s also concerned about women’s rights. Music, athletics, and social issues of the day — she seems powered by a passion toward adventure and intrigue and a desire to explore. More specifically, she likes exploring social issues in a historical context. “It’s really interesting to see everything and the differences and the changes throughout history.”She’s set to pursue an active career helping people — and the possibilities for that have no limits.myrgv.com
Texas Regional Bank completes North Texas bank acquisition
Harlingen-based Texas State Bankshares Inc. — the holding company of Texas Regional Bank — announced last week its merger with Access Bancorp Inc., and Texas Regional Bank’s merger with AccessBank Texas. “Texas Regional Bank continues to seek out opportunities in growing Texas markets. “The leadership, culture, and vision of Texas Regional Bank will be a great fit for our stockholders, staff, and the community that we serve,” Breedlove wrote. The AccessBank deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions for Texas Regional Bank. “We have experienced great success by diversifying our footprint across Texas,” wrote Bobby Farris, Texas Regional Bank vice chairman.myrgv.com
City of Harlingen mulling $51.2 million budget
HARLINGEN — As officials plan a proposed $51.2 million general fund budget, high fuel costs along with rising energy and health insurance prices will help determine if they tap into a $7.7 million reserve to help boost city services. Earlier this week, City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez proposed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which comes with a $1.2 million surplus. Out of the proposed $51.2 million budget, that leaves $7.7 million in reserves. So those right now are still unknown.”During discussion, Commissioner Daniel Lopez questioned whether commissioners should tap into the $7.7 million reserve fund. While the proposed budget projects property tax revenue to climb to $20.2 million, up from $19.5 million this year, the city’s sales tax collection is estimated at $22.6 million, up from $20.1 million.myrgv.com
Facing harsh criticism in the Melissa Lucio case, Texas prosecutor may temporarily spare the woman many believe is innocent
Federal judges, five jurors who convicted her and a roster of family, politicians and celebrities believe there are substantive doubts about whether the death of Lucio’s 2-year-old daughter was even a murder. A prosecutor Tuesday appeared to open the door to canceling her scheduled April 27 execution.
More than half of the Texas House wants to stop the execution of Melissa Lucio, convicted of killing her toddler
Despite substantive doubts surrounding the cause of her child’s death and a suspect “confession” obtained after hours of interrogation, Lucio is set to be executed next month for killing her 2-year-old daughter.
South Texas city brings coronavirus vaccine to the homebound
HARLINGEN, Texas – Firefighters and ambulance crews in a South Texas city that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic are bringing vaccines directly to the homes of its most vulnerable people. As part of Harlingen’s new Homebound Vaccination Program, a team of 15 firefighters is working with the South Texas Emergency Care Foundation to find homebound residents and offer them the vaccine, the Valley Morning Star reported. Harlingen officials have been calling homebound residents whose names are on a list created by the emergency care foundation and offering them a chance to get vaccinated. AdSince the city launched the program Monday, the team has vaccinated about 20 homebound residents, Ramirez said. “They’re very eager, very thankful, very excited to be vaccinated,” Ramirez said.
In his first public appearance since Capitol riot, Trump visits Texas border to tout wall construction
The visit to the Rio Grande Valley drew concern from border lawmakers and activists who said the events of last week were still too fresh. Several lawsuits slowed or halted construction in large swaths of Texas, but some construction did occur in areas where other administrations couldn’t or wouldn’t break ground. The president, who was alone at the podium near the border wall during his remarks, also briefly condemned last week's riots at the U.S. Capitol. “President Trump, who orchestrated last week’s treasonous riots on the U.S. Capitol, is scheduled to fly to the Rio Grande Valley,” he said. “With a nation in crisis in the wake of a mob attack on the nation’s capital and reeling from an uncontrollable pandemic, President Trump is employing precious government resources to highlight his atrocious border wall.
Photos: Texans await President Donald Trump in Rio Grande Valley
President Donald Trump greets supporters as he arrives on Air Force One at Valley International Airport, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Harlingen, Texas. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)HARLINGEN – A few dozen supporters of President Donald Trump toting flags and other imagery rallied in the cold weather in Harlingen in anticipation of his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border. The supporters gathered near the Valley International Airport, where Trump landed before he headed to the town of Alamo. His comments were made during his first appearance in public since the Capitol siege, which came as lawmakers were tallying Electoral College votes affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. WATCH: Trump says remarks to supporters last week were ‘totally appropriate’Read also:
Three people, ages 18-20, arrested after throwing eggs, insults at Trump prayer group, police say
HARLINGEN, Texas – Three people were arrested after a Trump prayer group was disrupted and eggs were thrown at demonstrators, Harlingen Police said on Monday. According to witnesses, a man— later identified as John Rivas— began to throw eggs at the prayer group for President Donald Trump that was meeting on the grass lot. Police said when the group addressed Rivas and asked him to stop, he then displayed a knife. Two women were also arrested for disruption of a meeting, police said. Marilyn Lopez, 19, and Miliannie Ortiz-Ruiz, 18, were with Rivas during the incident and were screaming insults at the crowd during the investigation.
Five U.S. Navy teams deploy to Rio Grande Valley, other Texas coronavirus hot spots
The U.S. Navy has deployed teams to help deal with coronavirus surges in the Rio Grande Valley and other Texas hot spots. Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneMedical professionals from the U.S. Navy were deployed Sunday to aid hospitals in four cities across southern Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, according to Gov. Early on in the pandemic, hot spots were mainly tied to outbreaks in enclosed spaces, like meatpacking plants and nursing homes. Five U.S. Navy teams were sent to four locations across Texass southern region: Harlingen, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Rio Grande City. Ambulance operators in the Rio Grande Valley area described wait times of up to 10 hours to deliver patients to packed emergency rooms.
With 4 in 5 Texans living in a "red zone," coronavirus hot spots are moving targets
Over the four months of Texas course of the coronavirus, early hot spots Amarillo among them have been eclipsed by new regions in crisis now, South Texas. That behavior, particularly among young people, may be responsible for dozens of new hot spots that will be more difficult to eradicate. Those 123 "red zone" counties are home to some 23 million Texans the vast majority of the state's population. Typically, rural and community hospitals transfer patients to urban hospitals for acute care. Two weeks ago, there were just seven positive COVID-19 patients in the Amarillo hospital; by this week, that had more than tripled to 24.