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Hidalgo County Commissioners Court.

County will move forward on financing the new courthouse without the City of Edinburg


After months of waiting for Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina or any commissioner or city representative to share the City’s intent with regards to its commitment to assist in funding the new courthouse, Commissioners Court asked the county’s financial advisor Noe Hinojosa Jr. and Budget Officer Sergio Cruz for advice on how best to proceed.
 
Hinojosa, president of Dallas-based investment firm Estrada Hinojosa & Company, said interest rates are rising but that the county will be able to proceed without a contribution from Edinburg. Cruz confirmed that the county has been saving funds and is in the best financial shape to take on the project without the city as a partner.
 
“It is an unfortunate situation that you find yourselves under,” said Hinojosa. “You never know what can happen in the future ... but we will still be okay.”
 
Molina and other city officials had been invited to attend Commissioners Court or to set up a joint meeting between to two entities in a letter sent by County Judge Ramon Garcia to Molina on May 1. Tuesday, Garcia said the county had made several attempts to have a dialog with the city, adding that the city has yet to respond with a phone call, letter, or by any other communication.
 
“As you all know, we’ve been working on this project for approximately seven years and the City of Edinburg has been there every step of the way. They’ve provided input, been part of the decision-making process, and have always presented themselves as a partner in this endeavor,” Garcia said, prior to reading a courthouse project timeline of meetings with Edinburg dating back to 2011.
 
The list began with a meeting in January 2011, where city officials first proposed that the county consider tying in a new courthouse to the city’s master plan for the downtown area. Garcia went down the list, meeting by meeting, including a special meeting that included a presentation by First Hartford, the realty company that has recently been lobbying to consider constructing the courthouse at a retail development on Trenton and I-69. See the Judge’s timeline here.
 
The City of Edinburg authorized an agreement to contribute $30 million dollars towards the construction of the new courthouse in February of 2016 and in the summer of 2016 the Metropolitan Planning Organization awarded $20 million to the county for drainage improvements near and around the courthouse. In the latter part of 2016, Commissioners Court entered into a memorandum of understanding with the city on the construction and financing of the courthouse.
 
Garcia went on to detail the various interlocal agreements, going out to bid and hiring a program manager, an architect, and a construction manager at risk.
 
“I guess there’s no easy way around this,” Garcia said at the end of the timeline, referring to the City Elections in November of 2016.
 
“Up until that time the City of Edinburg was totally committed to being a partner in the construction of the courthouse; and we allowed them the privilege and the right to provide their input into the various aspects of the construction of the courthouse,” Garcia said. “The election came and there was a change in administration.”
 
After not responding to a letter sent to Molina in January, the Judge sent a followup letter on May 1, detailing the history of the project, reminding the mayor of Edinburg’s two interlocal agreements and the memorandum of understanding to be a partner with the county in the construction of the new facility, as well as proposing another joint meeting to discuss the status of construction. In the May letter, Garcia stated that the county would appreciate hearing back from the City by Friday, May 4.
 
“May the fourth came and went and I did not receive any letter, any phone call, or any communication from Mayor Molina or any member of the new city administration, so I have to assume that they are no longer interested,” Garcia said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu said that the county has never wavered in any of its commitments to the city; adding that even though there has been changes in the make-up of Commissioners Court the county has not backed down on previous agreements.

"Over the last 10 years or more we have had a lot of partnerships in terms of TIRZ with the City of Edinburg giving up millions of dollars; and, even though our elected officials have changed over the years, we always respected the agreements of the previous Commissioners," Cantu said. “It’s unfortunate that we are not going to have a partner, but we are ready and willing to do it on our own, and we have that ability. We were even able to lower the tax rate last year and still we have the ability to do this.”

The county has invested about $39 million in those agreements, Cantu added.


Jacobs
Brian Mcintyre and Oscar Garcia.

Courthouse groundbreaking may be as early as Sept.

Jacobs Project Managers Brian Mcintyre and Oscar Garcia updated the court with a presentation showing the status of the new Hidalgo County Courthouse.

"We are well into the design development," said Mcintyre.  "The design should be completed by July 10."

With the design development underway, Mcintyre added that several multiple key user group meeting have been held to review furniture and built-ins.   He also reported that the Steering Committee has reviewed proposed exterior and interior finishes.

Groundbreaking for the project will take place in the late third quarter of 2018.

For courthouse updates click here.

Finance Team
Pictured are the winning UTRGV TTA team and faculty being honored by Commissioners Court for placing first.

UTRGV's TTA team wins 15th Annual CME Group Trading Challenge in Chicago


Commissioners Court honored a group of undergraduate students from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley after they placed first at the 15th annual CME Group Trading Challenge.

The UTRGV team is made up of students Christopher Martinez, of McAllen; Michael Villarreal, of Rio Grande City; and Jose Naveja, of Progreso. They were guided and prepared well by Dr. Bruno Arthur, lecturer II in UTRGV Economics and Finance, and faculty advisor for the first-place team as well as The Trading Association student organization.

“It's an honor for our team to receive this resolution," said Arthur.  "The students made a lot of sacrifices, and they will continue to represent UTRGV on a national level as the best at what they do.”

The UTRGV team beat over 500 teams from 37 counties and finished the competition with a total of $706,585, beating out second-place competitor Kansas State University, who earned $533,910.

More Photos >>>



Health
UT Health Program Mgr. Amanda Dave.

Hidalgo County partners with the University of Health Science Center At Houston to provide outreach program activities



Hidalgo County has partnered with  the UTSHC "Tu Salud Si Cuenta" in an interlocal agreement in an effort to provide outreach program activities to the lower Rio Grande Valley.

The University and County have a common goal to promote the health, safety, and well-being of citizens of Hidalgo.

The University has established the "Tu Salud Si Cuenta" community based outreach program for community based prevention and control, which encourages physical activity and healthful food choices among participating individuals.

"Diabetes has become a regional epidemic," said UT Health Program Manager Amanda Dave. "This program has a ten-year proven road of success, and we hope to continue improving the quality of health for Hidalgo County residents."

Dave said that the bulk of their program is offering free exercise classes.

"179 exercises classes are free and open to the public, this includes boot camps, zumba, and yoga,"  said Dave.  "We want to add value to what you already do with your cities."

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chess team
Public Affairs Director Julia Sulivan reads resolution.

UTRGV Vaqueros 2018 National Collegiate Chess Team Champions



Commissioners Court honored the recently crowned National Champion University of Texas Rio Grande Valley chess team during Tuesday's meeting. The team, led by Coach Bartek Macieja – who is a two-time Polish Champion, European Champion and is among the highest ranking in the world, won the national title at the President’s Cup collegiate chess championship in New York City on April 1. 

The President’s Cup is an annual invitational team tournament open to the top four U.S. schools from the most recent Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship. The final four this year were St. Louis University, Webster University, Texas Tech, and UTRGV. The Vaqueros Chess Team defeated the five-consecutive-year reigning champions Webster University.  They are the first in the University’s history to win the national title. 

"Thank you very much for recognizing these UTRGV students," said Richard P. Sanchez, Associate VP of the Office of Governmental Affairs, UTRGV. "They are the best in the world."

The court congratulates the coach and team members on this historic President’s Cup Championship. Your excellence and dedication has resulted in UTRGV being recognized as a leader in promoting chess as a center for developing chess excellence in its students and, by virtue, encouraging the pursuit of chess in children and young adults. 

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courthouse
Pictured is the Hidalgo County Courthouse which was built in 1954 to accommodate five courts.

Broken cooling tower fan at aging courthouse


Commissioners Court Executive Officer Valde Guerra reported a broken chiller at the courthouse on Friday, May 11. 

The courthouse cooling system is run by chillers with a total of two chillers and two cooling tower fans.  

"One of the cooling tower fans is broken," said Guerra.  The blades to one of the fans has shattered, but Facilities Management has already ordered a replacement."

The existing courthouse was built in 1954 to accommodate five courts serving a small, rural community with a population of 168,000.  Today, there are 24 courts serving a population nearing 1 million residents.  

Guerra reported that they are pushing to get the replacement by the end of the week.  
Until then, facilities is working on maintaining the operational fan so chillers do not get over stressed.


vote

Early voting this week 

"There are only five more days to vote," said Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon.

Voting will take place up until May 18, with 29 early voting locations all throughout Hidalgo County.  Voters can vote from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. anywhere districtwide.


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 missetoday's meeting, you can view it on our county website or YouTube Channel by clicking hereYou 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.

The next regular meeting of Commissioners Court will be on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. 
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 III 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 www.hidalgocounty.us
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