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New Courthouse schematic designs approved; cost estimates 3 percent under budget

Courthouse project schematic design presented and approved
L-R: Commissioners Court members. One of the designs presented by the architects. HDR Courts Planner and Project Manager John Niesen (at podium) with local architect Eli Ochoa  (far left) and Jacobs Project Manager Brian McIntyre. 

Commissioners Court approved the schematic designs for the new Hidalgo County Courthouse and authorized the architects to move forward to the Design Development Phase.

Project Architects HDR working with local architecture firm ERO reported that all user groups signed off on the schematic design, stating that the plans meet their needs, even as space was cut from 374,000 to 351,000 square feet. 

“We are pleased to announce that the schematic design is 100 percent complete,” said HDR Courthouse Planner and Project Manager John Niesen. “This is another milestone for the County, as we do not foresee significant changes, and can move forward.”

Based on the schematic design, the cost to build the base structure is $113 million, which is 3 percent under budget. The base structure includes the building, judges' parking, Sally Port for the secure transfer of prisoners, and the central plant building, said Niesen.

Local architect Eli Ochoa said the schematic design sets the road map on how to proceed while staying within budget.

"We're ready and clear to proceed to the next step," Ochoa said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu recognized the project architects for their efforts.

“We want to win an award for having the cheapest yet most efficient new courthouse, and not worry so much about the bells and whistles it might have," Cantu said.

The architects worked continuously with all departments in assuring them they would have the space needed to operate and were able to reduce square footage from the building, therefore lowering the total cost.

“We were able to reduce space due electronic filing, eliminating the need for extra storage space,” added Niesen.

Although the square footage was reduced, all of the stakeholders in the courthouse went over the schematic design and approved it, are in agreement, and have signed off on it.

“In cutting square footage, I want to be sure we don’t cut so much we prevent future growth,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner David L. Fuentes. “We want to be sure this building is structured to support our growth, and be functional 50, 60 or 70 years from now.”

Courthouse Project Manager Brian McIntyre said Jacobs reviewed the plans and conducted their own cost estimate and worked with the architects prior to finalizing the schematic design and recommended the Court to move forward to the next phase.

“We have worked very well with all the departments and working together we are getting you the building you need,” said McIntyre. “Jacobs recommends the Notice to Proceed, we believe the schematic design meets all your requirements and needs.”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios credited Jacobs for its role in keeping the project on track and on budget.

Click here for updates on the Courthouse Project.

Commissioners Court was treated to a taste of Mariachi Juvenil Azteca's award-winning performance


Commissioners Court approved a resolution in recognition of the Edcouch-Elsa ISD Mariachi Juvenil Azteca for bringing home the State 5A championship at the recent Texas Association of Mariachi Educators (TAME) competition. 

“It brings me great honor to have you all here,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner David L. Fuentes, who sponsored the resolution. “I am looking forward to you all performing at least one song for us, so we can all celebrate the success of being a state champion."

The group includes students Ruben Castañeda, Nathania Flores, Nicolle Galvan, Danika Garza, Kassandra Gonzalez, Axel Guajardo, Jesus Guerrero, Samantha Marin, Ricky Molina, Marissa Navarro, Maritza Palomin, Clarissa Quiroz, Jolene Robles, Anyssa Solis, Aaron Vallejo, Anna Vallejo and Marc Vallejo. The mariachis are directed by Marcos Garcia and assistant directors Michael Ferre and Michael Sital. The group performed a compilation of traditional mariachi music after accepting the resolution.

The young musicians have displayed incredible discipline, determination and resilience, bringing great pride to their families, school, city, Hidalgo County and the art of music, reads the resolution. In addition to the championship, several singers placed in a separate, vocal competition. Nathania Flores placed 1st, Maritza Palomin placed 3rd, and both Kassandra Gonzalez and Samantha Marin were among the 40 finalists of 200 competitors at the December TAME competition.

Joining the high school musicians were Edcouch-Elsa ISD Superintendent Ronaldo J. Cavazos, Assistant Superintendent Frances Rocha, Board of Trustees President Tony Barco, and Trustee Juan Jose Ybarra.

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Billy Leo

In Memoriam: William "Billy" Leo 

Precinct 2 Commissioner Eduardo "Eddie" Cantu began today's meeting with a moment of silence for former Hidalgo County Clerk William "Billy" Leo, who passed away on Saturday, March 17.

A life-long public servant and small business owner Leo was known for his leadership, strong work ethic, and his love for his community and family, including his wife Dr. Filomena Leo; two sons, Billy Jr. and Michael (who serves as Hidalgo County Economic Development Director), two daughters Noralisa and Lita; five grandchildren, and two brothers and a sister.
Commissioners Court had previously honored Leo for his public service in a resolution adopted in March 2012, Cantu said.
In addition to serving as Hidalgo County Clerk from 1986 to 1994, he also served on the La Joya School Board from 1974 through 1981, and was Mayor in the City of La Joya for five years in the 1980s and again from 2003 to 2011.
He owned Leo’s Food Mark convenient stores in the greater La Joya area.

"On behalf of Commissioners Court and the County of Hidalgo, we honor Mr. Leo with a moment of silence and express our deepest condolences to the family," Cantu said.
Employee with CC

Belinda Sagredo honored for 30 years of service to the county

A resolution in honor of Belinda Sagredo was approved by Commissioners Court for 30 years of dedicated and continuous service to Hidalgo County and the Hidalgo County Elections Department.

Sagredo graduated from McAllen Memorial High School in 1985 and soon after her graduation, she followed in her mother's footsteps and began working for the County.  

Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon presented Sagredo with a plaque of appreciation as well as the resolution, saying that Sagredo is the only remaining employee who was on staff when the Elections Department was established in 1995.

"I would like to give Belinda this plaque," said Ramon. "She often talks about her memories with the county, as well as Mr. (Valde) Guerra and others who were here when she first started working with the County of Hidalgo."  View Photos

Did you miss today's meeting? Watch it at 9 p.m. Thursday on KMBH Ch. 10 or on the county's YouTube Channel!

If you missed today's meeting, you can view it on our county website or YouTube Channel by clicking here. You can also watch today's Commissioners Court and Drainage District meetings on KMBH TV, cable channel 10, on Thursday at 9 p.m. Or watch it on Friday morning at 9 a.m. on your local school district channel 17 on cable.

The next regular meeting of Commissioners Court will be held Tuesday, March 27. 

The Drainage District Board of Directors meets at 9 a.m., followed by Commissioners Court at 9:30 a.m. Meetings are held in the Commissioners Courtroom, located on the first floor of the Courthouse Annex at 100 E. Cano St. in Edinburg.  

View meetings and find other news and events videos on our Hidalgo County YouTube Channel. 
To view a copy of the agenda and related backup documentation for this meeting, visit the county website at

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