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Rey Salazar
Rey Salazar

Commissioners Court updates community on trash collection efforts

Trash collection and disposal in rural areas has long been an issue for county leaders, who have labored to stop illegal dumping by working with rural residents to provide affordable options for the legal and sanitary disposal of trash, brush, bulky waste, and scrap tires.

Division Manager of Strategic Planning Rey Salazar reported that the request for proposals seeking to modify the existing solid waste practices was put out on July 28 with a pre-bid meeting attended by several vendors who asked more than 50 questions and which prompted the county to extend the proposal due date.

"In a nutshell, we're seeking proposals to understand and evaluate the fiscal implications this service will have not only on our budget, but also its impact to the residents it will serve," Salazar said, adding that the county initiated a similar proposal in 2012, which resulted in the implementation of the Solid Waste Permit Program.

While the program helped offset some of the cost of running the 13 collection sites, the fees generated only cover about $1 million of the $5- to $6-million annual expenditure, said Precinct 2 Commissioner Eduardo "Eddie" Cantu.

"Hidalgo County is looking to do what cities and other counties do," Cantu said. "Cities don't pay a cent for trash collection and we are subsidizing rural citizens to the tune of $5 to $6 million from taxes paid by all Hidalgo County residents."

Even so, only 20 to 25 percent of the rural population participates in the permit program, said Cantu, adding that there is a significant population that does not utilize the county's collection site, nor do they contract for curbside trash collection.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios added that illegal dumping is a problem for which there is no simple solution.

"We have initiated everything that we could to combat the problem of illegal dumping," Palacios said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner David L. Fuentes said the county will review all the proposals and options to determine the best solution for all concerned.

"We need to look at all options that are available to us," Fuentes said. "We need to consider all factors before we decide how to move forward."

Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Flores said the county needs a new system, adding that one of the possibilities is splitting up the service among the four precincts. 

"It's not fair to residents who properly dispose of their trash that there are people out there dumping trash in our drainage ditches," Flores said.

According to the Appraisal District, the county currently has over 63,000 rural households. Salazar estimates that 30 percent contract with local haulers for private trash collection and 20 percent has purchased solid waste permits.

"This tells us that approximately 50 percent of our rural population either takes their trash to the landfills directly, burns their trash, or illegally dumps it," Salazar said. "This is our target population."

He added that the proposals submitted will be reviewed this week.

"What we are proposing to do in Hidalgo County is the same thing cities and other counties are offering their residents, which is solid waste collection and disposal service to include brush, bulky waste, and scrap tires at a reasonable price," Salazar said. "We don't want to put anyone out of business, just like the cities don't want to put anyone out of business when they provide garbage collection services internally."

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Julia Benitez Sullivan
Julia Benitez Sullivan

September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month

Commissioners Court declared September as National Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month at today's meeting.

Each year, pediatric cancer interrupts the childhood and limits the potential of thousands of young Americans, said Public Affairs Director Julia Benitez Sullivan, who read the proclamation.

"It's estimated that almost 16,000 of our daughters and sons under the age of 20 will be diagnosed with cancer just this year," Sullivan said. "Cancer remains the leading cause of disease-related death for children."

Critical research has led to real progress in the fight against pediatric cancer. Improvements in treatment and increased participation in clinical trials have helped decrease mortality rates for many types of childhood cancer by more than 50 percent over the past 30 years.

Hidalgo County supports pediatric cancer awareness and encourages all county residents to join in national observances and in reaffirming our commitment to fighting childhood cancer.

Courthouse built in 1954
The current courthouse was constructed in 1954 with five courts to serve a small, rural community of under 170,000 residents. The new, state-of-the-art courthouse will have 24 courts with room to grow. It will serve our nearly 1 million residents into the next century. Closner Blvd., in front of the courthouse, will be closed to through traffic as early as next week.
Bus Driver
A free shuttle transports passengers from county parking lots to the courthouse from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Pardon our dust:

New Courthouse preconstruction underway

With the start of construction on the new Hidalgo County Courthouse, parking lot changes were implemented today and signs are up informing drivers that the courthouse square will soon be closed to through traffic.

For the second week, a road sign located on Closner and Cano has advised the general public that a portion of Closner in front of the courthouse will be permanently closed starting next week, said Chief Executive Officer Valde Guerra. 

"Constituents and employees have been given ample time to prepare for the upcoming street closure and have been advised on the county's shuttle system," said Guerra.  "The shuttle was full on Friday, and seemed to be working fluidly." 

 A free shuttle service is now running through designated streets along the perimeter of the courthouse square, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., stopping at high volume locations along the route. The shuttle will be available for passengers through completion of the project.

Guerra also reported that barriers have been placed around the courthouse square as well as at exit and entrance points designated for the shuttle.

The county will continue to monitor the new shuttle system and will adjust accordingly to issues if they may arise.
Constructed in 1954 with five courts and serving a small, rural community of under 170,000 residents. The new courthouse will have 24 courts with room to grow and will serve our nearly 1 million residents into the next century.

Rendering of new courthouse
Construction has begun. The new Hidalgo County Courthouse will house 24 courts, with room for additional courts as needed. It features state-of-the-art security and functionality and will serve the county's growing population into the next century.
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 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, September 11. 
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 Court house 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
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