Berenice Garcia

Berenice Garcia covers Western Hidalgo County and Starr County for The Monitor. She can be reached at or (956) 683-4432.

Starr County unveils new site for drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility

Starr County officials unveiled a new home for the drive-thru testing facility Thursday as the county hopes to ramp up testing in conjunction with the re-opening of the economy. Their drive-thru testing facility is now located at Fort Ringgold Park in Rio Grande City after residing at the Starr County campus of South Texas College for over two months. The expected re-opening of South Texas College and the costs associated with the tent used for the facility necessitated the need for the re-location, according to Dr. Jose Vazquez, the Starr County health authority. Read the full story at

Due process concerns raised in RGC trustee removal case; Delays caused by coronavirus pandemic

The threat of COVID-19 has caused disruption in court systems across the country, leading to postponement of several pending cases. The case to remove...

Pride goes virtual as it adjusts to COVID-19

When it became clear that the threat of COVID-19 was not going to disappear in just a matter of weeks, the South Texas Equality Project board knew their annual Pride in the Park event would not be able to proceed as planned — with thousands of attendees flowing in and out of the McAllen Convention Center in support of the LGBTQ community. Compelled to adjust to a COVID-19 world, those at STEP decided to instead hold virtual Pride events throughout the entire month of June. "Even if we postpone it for, let's just say November, is it still going to be safe to hold mass amounts of people — people within the thousands — in one location?" asked Steven James Cano, the community mobilization coordinator with the Valley AIDS Council. "The McAllen Convention Center is really big, but at the same time, was it going to be wise to even continue that? So we did decide that we just were not going to have an in-person event." Read the full story at

Agua SUD receives $6 million for Palmview sewer project

Residential hook-ups to the wastewater system installed in Palmview will be paid for by government funds, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar announced Saturday. Cuellar, D-Laredo, along with officials from the Agua Special Utility District and the city of Palmview, announced a $6 million grant from the North American Development Bank (NADB) that will go toward Agua SUD’s sewer project. "This project has been the board's priority for the last two-and-a-half years," said Loyd Loya, president of the Agua SUD board of directors. “We're trying to connect over 2,000 homes, 2,000 resident families to a safe and sanitary sewer system for the first time in the history of Palmview." Read the full story at

Mission hopeful for more coronavirus relief funds

The city of Mission is still holding onto hope that municipalities will receive a larger portion of coronavirus relief funds, continuing to work off a proposed budget amounting to more than what the Hidalgo County commissioners allocated to them. Mayor Armando O'Caña said he was instructing City Manager Randy Perez to continue preparing a $14.8 million budget for expenses related to COVID-19 although the county commissioners only allocated about $9 million to the city. Hidalgo County received $151 million in coronavirus relief aid and of that, the county commissioners voted to share $63 million on a reimbursement basis for COVID-19 related expenses. Read the full story at

Starr County attorney seeks to crack down on illegal online raffles

Illegal raffles, loterías and pyramid schemes are the focus of a new effort by the Starr County attorney’s office to prosecute illegal gambling which has been popping up more online as a result of the global pandemic, according to Starr County Attorney Victor Canales. Canales’ office announced they would begin enlisting local law enforcement to help investigate those types of gambling which he said had increased over the past months on Facebook. “Ways of entertainment suddenly popped up, new ways that we hadn’t seen before,” Canales said. “Among them were raffles and the loterías, which is the Mexican version of Bingo, and they were doing it electronically.” Read the full story at

While Starr County largely avoids major storm damage, some were not so fortunate

  The end of San Agustin and San Bernardo streets in Rio Grande City had become rivers, their quick currents carrying debris past cars parked...

Solid waste contract under scope again in RGC

A contentious agreement between Rio Grande City and a garbage contractor is back on the agenda for next week after a court order prevented the city from taking action on it this week. The city commissioners planned to take action on a contract with Grande Garbage, a local solid waste company, during a city commission meeting Wednesday; however, just hours before the meeting, a judge granted a temporary restraining order against the city that kept them from doing so. District Judge Noe Gonzalez, of the 370th District Court, granted a temporary restraining order filed by Alberto Escobedo, a Rio Grande City businessman who is also running for the city commission. Read the full story at

Starr County health authority addresses concerns over COVID-19 antibody tests

After a handful of Starr County employees tested positive for antibodies of COVID-19, Starr County Health Authority Dr. Jose Vazquez, tried to assuage concerns...

Walmart becomes a pandemic lifeline, online sales surge 74%

By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO AP Retail Writer NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart emerged as one of the few lifelines to millions of people as the coronavirus...