EDINBURG – Hidalgo County Commissioners' Court met on Monday, August 30, and considered an agenda that included the following highlights:
Commissioners' Court unanimously approved a resolution honoring the legacy of Benigno "Benny" Layton, Sr. in commemoration of his outstanding impact on his community and his fellow residents through music, leadership and service. Mr. Layton, whose life was tragically cut short in a motorcycle accident in March 2011, was an iconic and beloved community leader whose legacy lives on in the lives of those he touched. The Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District recently named the high school football stadium after Benny; Hidalgo County joins his family, friends, and the entire community in honoring his memory. Benny's family was in attendance at Commissioners' Court, and accepted the resolution in his honor. Commissioners' Court recognized the recipients of the 2011-2012 Hidalgo County Employee and Dependent Scholarship. Representatives from UTPA and STC were on hand to express their appreciation to Commissioners' Court for its continued support of employees' and dependents' pursuits of educational opportunities. One employee and one dependent were selected to receive a total of $2,000 each ($1,000 per semester) to pursue higher education at UTPA; two employees and two dependents were selected to receive a total of $1,000 each ($500 per semester) to attend STC. Commissioners' Court recognized Precinct 3 Constable Larry Gallardo for his accomplishments as graduate of the Texas Association of Counties 2010-11 Leadership Program. Constable Gallardo, one of only 17 county officials from around the state who graduated this year, touted the benefits of the leadership program, which offers county leaders professional development in their roles as county government officials. Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon presented proposed solutions to meet the requirements of Senate Bill 100 (enacted 2011) and Senate Bill 1402 (enacted 2009). The changes would affect how elections are administered for political subdivisions in Hidalgo County in order to implement the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act and. Commissioners' Court voted to approve a solution that would keep the status quo and continue providing full contract and leasing services to political subdivisions in May of both even- and odd-numbered years. In order to accomplish this and meet the increase in demand for service, Commissioners' Court approved the funding of $381,950 for the Elections Department to purchase additional voting machines, hire additional staff, and purchase additional supplies. Commissioners' Court approved a resolution in support of the Kika de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Center in Weslaco. The center, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, is under threat of closure, which would be devastating to agriculture in the Rio Grande Valley and many other states that depend on the scientific community and the pest and disease prevention programs. Closing the center would also mean the loss of 227 jobs and $27 million to the Rio Grande Valley. Salomon Torres from US Congressman Ruben Hinojosa's Office and John McClung, representing the Texas Produce Association, were on hand to discuss the importance of community advocacy to appeal to keep the research center open.