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Small Business grants
Commissioners Court (center) with winners of the Small Town Economic Development Grant Program who are each holding up checks in the amount of $20,000 that they received through a grant to further spur prosperity in their communities. 
Yolanda Chapa
County Judge Chief of Staff Yolanda Chapa, Administrative Assistant Nestor Lopez, and Economic Development Director Michael Leo.

Hidalgo County awards $100,000 to small businesses 

Hidalgo County moved to expand services to businesses in small and rural communities by approving $100,000 in grants in the first-ever Small Town Economic Development (STED) program.

The program, which was created by the county’s Economic Development Division in the County Judge’s Office, partnered with the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Small Business Development Center. STED is based on similar programs available through larger cities economic development corporations.

“This economic development program was created to advance small businesses throughout the county,” said County Judge Ramon Garcia. “We wanted to help the businesses that may not have access to other resources.”

More than 40 businesses applied to the program and 21 were selected to participate. STED Grant Program participants were required to attend multiple days of business training, hosted by the UTRGV Small Business Development Center.  There they worked on developing strong business plans and were provided numerous resources to help assess the viability of their proposals. 

The STED participants were given 10 minutes to present their business ideas – Shark Tank style – to a panel of independent judges comprised of academic and public-sector business experts from throughout the county. The judges made their final recommendations based on the submitted business plan and the corresponding presentation. 

Five businesses were awarded $20,000 grants as a way to further spur prosperity in their communities. They are Reybotics, Green Thumb Nursery, Cappadona Ranch, Ashley Nicole Boutique, and Hernandez Barns.

Many of the participants expressed appreciation of the resources provided, finding value in the process itself, said Economic Development Director Michael Leo.

“Even those that were not awarded grants benefited from the program’s training component because they now have a better sense of what it takes to run a successful business and the economic factors that affect commerce,” said Leo.

The evaluation committee included Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Economic Development Director Terrie Salinas, UT-RGV Professor Dr. Marco Garza, UT-RGV Director of the Rio Grande Valley Texas Rural Cooperative Center Dr. Collin Cain, RGV Partnership President Sergio Contreras, and Rio South Texas Economic Council Executive Director Matt Ruszczak.

“The evaluation committee is the group that did the majority of the heavy lifting on this. They are the ones that sorted through all 43 applications. Thank you for your effort and hard work,” said Garcia. “The grant recommendation was 100 percent their evaluation and decision.”

Funding for the STED program came from the state Comptroller’s Office and was designated for economic development and literacy programs, said County Judge Chief of Staff Yolanda Chapa.

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Commissioners Court (center) along with members of the Hidalgo County CSA staff, Veterans Service Office, VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System, and partners hold up their phones in support of the Veterans Crisis Line.

Veterans Crisis Line is just a phone call away for Vets in need

To raise public awareness about the importance of Veterans in crisis, Commissioners Court passed a resolution in support of the Veterans Crisis Line.

The crisis line began with grant-funded monies utilized through the Community Service Agency and various partnerships, including the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System, after identifying the special needs veterans are rightfully owed.

"Thank you for having us here today," said CSA Executive Director Jaime Longoria.  "We're here to raise awareness of a very serious issue in regards to the needs of Veterans."

There are over 9.5 million veterans in the United States with more than 1.5 million veterans living in Texas, and 20,745 veterans live in Hidalgo County.

"Nationwide, 20 veterans per day lose their lives to suicide. Of those, 14 of them had no contact with the Veterans Administration whatsoever," said VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System Suicide Prevention Coordinator Dr. Rodolfo Quintana.

For many veterans, the transition to civilian life is a difficult one, especially for those who return home with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress or other injuries.

The VA believes that everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. 

"As a 20-year veteran and being born and raised in the Valley, I have seen firsthand the impact that suicide can have on an organization or community," said VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Director Homero Martinez. "Suicide is a national health concern that affects all Americans, whether or not they have served in the military."

Now, veterans and service members in crisis have access to specially trained responders to assist them, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. To speak to a trained professional, veterans can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. They can also go online and chat at the website; or they can use their text messaging service at 838255.

Hidalgo County supports the Veterans Administration's efforts to support service members and veterans in crisis via the Veterans Crisis Line and encourages all Hidalgo County residents to save the number and to share it with veterans and service members in crisis.

"I hope we continue to partner and reach out to more veterans," said Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios. "This is a very critical issue we are facing that needs special care; thank you for securing this grant." 

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Runners Safety Proclamation
L-R: Pct. 2 Chief Administrator Armando Garza, Commissioner Joe M. Flores, Judge Ramon Garcia, Commissioner Eddie Cantu and Pharr City Manager Edward M. Wylie.

Commissioners Court proclaims November as National Running Safety Month 

Hidalgo County joins the nation in recognizing November as National Running Safety Month in a resolution passed by Commissioners Court that is focused on increasing the public’s awareness of safety for runners and outdoor enthusiasts.

"This project is part of Precinct 2 Commissioner Eduardo Cantu's vision to support healthy lifestyles," said Pct. 2 Chief Administrator Armando Garza Jr..  "Part of a healthy lifestyle involves the creation of the hike and bike trails, and ensuring the safety of the runners."

The Hidalgo County Precinct 2 Regional Linear Park Project is a hike and bike trail that spans nearly eight miles across three cities and aims to improve safety for runners, pedestrians, and bicyclists and provide linkages to parks, schools and communities in the area.

Joining Garza at the podium was Pharr City Manager Edward M. Wylie who said safety was a number one concern of the city.  

"We are very pleased with this joint effort that will keep pedestrians in a safe environment. Thank you for your support on this endeavor, said Wylie.

In the fall, with daylight saving time ending, low visibility creates safety concerns.  Pct. 2 is dedicated to ensuring that all residents who enjoy running and outdoor activities remain safe.

Garza urged all citizens and drivers to exercise caution while running outdoors.

"Runners are encouraged to use flashlights, brightly colored clothing, wear reflective gear, run against traffic and stay on well-lit paths," said Garza.

In addition to promoting safety and a healthy lifestyle for all citizens, Garza invited the public to a groundbreaking ceremony.

"In commemoration of “National Running Safety Month,” the City of Pharr and Hidalgo County Pct. 2 will be hosting a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate and unveil the Linear Parks Project’s innovative new safety features, including safety tunnels," said Garza.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. on Wed., November 28 in Pharr.

Hidalgo County Commissioners Court encourages all citizens, runners, bicyclists, pedestrians, and outdoor enthusiasts to promote awareness of safety in our community.

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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, December 4
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
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To view a copy of the agenda and related backup documentation for this meeting, visit the county website at
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