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JUSTICE AND MENTAL HEALTH COLLABORATION PROGRAM
92nd State District Judge Ricardo Rodriguez, Health Department CAO Eddie Olivarez, Tropical Texas MHMR CEO Terry Crocker, and Adult Probation Deputy Director Rodolfo Perez
Representatives from various entities representing the criminal justice system and mental health arena presented before Commissioners' Court a proposal for a program which would spur collaboration and streamline processes by developing a strategic plan to initiate systemic change for the identification and treatment provided to individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system. 92nd State District Judge Ricardo Rodriguez shared how he (and colleagues) have noticed an increase in the number of defendants in his court who have a history of mental illness. Rodriguez lamented that there had to be a better way to serve justice and appropriately treat these individuals instead of sentencing to prison. In an effort to address this issue, the Adult Probation Department, the courts, Tropical Texas MHMR, and the County Judge's Office are spearheading a proposal for funding from the U. S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, which would support the development of a comprehensive strategic plan and strategy for improving services to individuals with mental illness who come into contact with the justice system. A Mental Health Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives from local government, law enforcement, the criminal justice system, mental health agencies, and other relevant stakeholders would be appointed to oversee the development of the collaborative initiative. Commissioners' Court approved the request to apply for funding, and members noted that they were in support the initiative.
REPORT ON BILLS BEFORE TEXAS LEGISLATURE
Rick Alvarez from the County Judge's Office presented an update on bills before the Texas Legislature of interest to Hidalgo County. Alvarez shared that both versions of the University Merger and Medical School bills (HB 1000 and SB 24) had passed their respective chambers, and now either one has to get approved by the other for the bill to become a law. Alvarez also gave an update on SB 1426, in reference to the appointment of a County Auditor, whereby the Auditor would be appointed by a County Auditor Board, a committee comprised of the County Judge, a County Commissioner, and three district judges. Currently, the County Auditor is appointed by the Board of Judges. Court members asked Alvarez to bring up the item for update and discussion on the agenda for the next meeting of Commissioners' Court.
INDIGENT HEALTH CARE PAYMENTS
Local hospital representatives and Health Dept. CAO Eddie Olivarez
Health Department Chief Administrative Officer Eddie Olivarez presented an item for approval to authorize payments for prior years (2011 and 2012) under the Hidalgo County Indigent Health Care Program. The County Auditor requested a legal opinion to approve payments under this program and for the specified amounts and designations; Court took no action on the items and will bring for approval once the legal opinion is issued.
HISTORIC COUNTY COURTHOUSE PLAN
Commissioners' Court approved authorization to submit the Historic Hidalgo County Courthouse Plan to the Texas Historical Commission for review, comment and approval. Approval of such a plan by the THC needs to be in place before the County is eligible to receive grant funds from the agency.
UPDATE ON VOTE CENTERS
Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon announced that, as per Commissioners' Court direction and approval, a workshop has been scheduled for April to discuss vote centers. Lubbock County Elections Administrator Dorothy Kennedy, and perhaps two of her commissioners, will be on hand to discuss the successes of Lubbock County's implementation of vote centers. The workshop will also be the inaugural meeting of the Vote Center Committee, who was appointed by Commissioners' Court last week.
APPROVAL OF POOL OF FIRMS FOR COURTHOUSE SCHEMATIC DESIGN
Court members nominated four architectural services providers to provide the schematic design phase for a new Hidalgo County Courthouse Facility. The firms will be graded and scored by an appointed evaluation committee for selection of the awarded vendor. On a similar note, Court members discussed potential funding sources for the development of a new Courthouse, noting that the City of Edinburg has committed funds. Commissioner Joseph Palacios also announced a potential funding source, which could be reserved for this purpose. County Judge Ramon Garcia encouraged Budget Office Sergio Cruz to commence finding funding to set aside for the Courthouse Construction Fund.
LINN-SAN MANUEL EMERGENCY SERVICE PROJECT
Purchasing Agent Martha Salazar presented a scoring grid of the firms graded and evaluated through the County's pool of professional architectural services for the Linn-San Manuel Emergency Services Project located in Precinct 4. Pct. 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios gave the Court an update on the project, which is a unique partnership among various entities that will bring much-needed emergency services to the community of Linn-San Manuel after the fire department was destroyed in a fire last year. Partners include Pct. 4, Urban County Program, Hidalgo County Emergency Services District #3, the Linn-San Manuel Community Improvement Corp., and the Linn-San Manuel Volunteer Fire Department. County Judge Garcia, himself of the Linn-San Manuel area, thanked Commissioner Palacios for his dedication to the residents of the community.
The next meeting of Commissioners' Court will be held at 9:30 am (9:00 am Drainage) on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at the Edinburg City Council Chambers (415 W. University Drive in Edinburg).
Commissioners’ Court is streamed live online when Court is in session (9:30 am on Tuesdays) at the ECN-12 live stream website at http://www.cityofedinburg.com/ecnlivestreaming.php [http://www.cityofedinburg.com/ecnlivestreaming.php] . In case you missed it, you can watch the broadcast of Commissioners’ Court meetings on Tuesday night at 10:30 pm on KMBH-TV. To view a copy of the agenda and related backup documentation for this meeting, visit the county website at www.co.hidalgo.tx.us [http://www.co.hidalgo.tx.us/admin/www.co.hidalgo.tx.us] .
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