Photo Gallery: Sister Norma Pimentel in TIME 100

Sister Norma Pimentel prepares to watch the live feed of TIME 100 Most Infuential People interview of herself by Julian Castro at the Catholic...

Bomb threat shuts down Queen Isabella Causeway

City of Port Isabel | Courtesy photoSeveral law enforcement officers are seen at the base of the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway in Port Isabel...

Former students, daughter celebrate Marian Monta’s theatre arts legacy

Just a squeeze of Marian Monta’s hand. That’s what Kent Smither says is the best compliment he has ever received. Nearly a decade ago, in a dark theatre while Smither’s production of “Macbeth” took the stage at the then-University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, he was sitting next to Monta, his former theatre professor and longtime mentor. To him, she was the most important person in the audience that evening. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hidalgo Co. orders residents who test positive for COVID-19 to stay at home

Local hotels will begin taking convalescent COVID-19 patients at the end of this upcoming week, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa announced Sunday as the death toll increased by more than 40 this weekend. Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez said during a news conference Sunday that over 1,000 new cases and more than 40 deaths have already been reported in Hidalgo County this weekend due to the disease.  Judge Richard F. Cortez also announced he is issuing new emergency orders Monday, despite the fact that he doesn’t have any “enforcement capabilities.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Court: Trump administration must immediately accept new DACA applications 

A Maryland federal court ruled the Trump administration must begin accepting new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program applications immediately.  More than three weeks after the Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration could not end DACA, a lower federal court demanded it begin accepting new applications. The Obama-era program allows people who came to the country as children and meet several guidelines, to request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. The program provides nearly 800,000 immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S., but does not provide a path for citizenship. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Two McAllen police officers die in ambush shooting

Standing down the street where two McAllen police officers were shot and killed, a visibly distraught Police Chief Victor Rodriguez was pained Saturday in disclosing the details of two of his officers who died responding to a domestic disturbance earlier that day. Speaking during a news conference held at the scene of the shooting, Rodriguez identified the fallen policemen as officers Edelmiro Garza, 35, and Ismael Chavez, 39. Garza had more than eight years of experience as an officer with the McAllen Police Department, while Chavez had more than two. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Two McAllen police officers die in ambush shooting

Standing down the street where two McAllen police officers were shot and killed, a visibly distraught Police Chief Victor Rodriguez was pained Saturday in disclosing the details of two of his officers who died responding to a domestic disturbance earlier that day. Speaking during a news conference held at the scene of the shooting, Rodriguez identified the fallen policemen as officers Edelmiro Garza, 35, and Ismael Chavez, 39. Garza had more than eight years of experience as an officer with the McAllen Police Department, while Chavez had more than two. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Valley grapples with sending kids back to campus next month

Plans to send students back to classrooms in the fall brought concern, criticism and outright outrage from community members across the Rio Grande Valley, prompting officials to call for more latitude in using online instruction and even a protest here Friday morning. Texas Education Agency guidelines require public schools to provide parents the choice of in-person or instruction for their children when class resumes in August. During the protest, organized by Edinburg American Federation of Teachers, about 30 vehicles driven by instructors and parents from Edinburg CISD, circled the district’s administration building with horns honking and signs displayed that called for a slower opening and more virtual instruction. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Coronavirus deaths begin to stress Valley mortuary industry

The evening someone tests positive for COVID-19 in Hidalgo County, they appear on a list the county sends out with the city they live in. A new case with no name, accompanied by their approximate age and their gender. If that person gets better, in a couple of weeks they’ll move to the county’s recovered tally. If they get worse, they may get hospitalized, and the county will shift them over to that list. If they get a lot worse, they’ll end up on a register of COVID-19 patients the county says are in intensive care units. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Local hospitals request COVID-19 funds from county

The five major hospital systems in Hidalgo County are asking county commissioners for financial support in order to respond to the surge in COVID-19 patients. The Monitor obtained a copy of the letter that five medical institutions — Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, South Texas Health System, Mission Regional Medical Center, Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Knapp Medical Center — sent to Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez and the four county commissioners on Thursday.  “From the outset of the pandemic, our health systems have acted early and undertaken a wide variety of measures to prepare for and respond to the public health emergency, including but not limited to, retrofitting facilities, revamping standard operating procedures, innovating new ways to deliver safe and efficient healthcare, and expending significant resources in adding capacity to be able to provide care for COVID-19 patients,” the letter stated.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Feds to test for coronavirus at Bert Ogden Arena, H-E-B Park

Federal aid in Hidalgo County’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is expected to arrive here sometime next week and conduct a significant amount of testing at Bert Ogden Arena and H-E-B Park. Testing will be performed by personnel with the U.S. Public Health Service, whose Commissioned Corps is a branch of the nation’s uniformed services devoted to health. The testing venue was confirmed by Shalimar Madrigal, spokesperson for Bert Ogden Arena. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Migrant children at family facilities must be released, court rules

A federal judge ruled Friday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security must release the children currently held in family detention centers for failure to meet the standards for children’s care in the facilities. Amid outbreaks of COVID-19 in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities — two in Texas, the Karnes County Family Residential Center and the South Texas Dilley Family Residential Center, and the Berk’s facility in Pennsylvania — U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered DHS officials to release all children at these facilities by mid-July as the virus has caused thousands of infections. Karla Vargas, a senior attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, which was active during the 2018 family separations at the U.S-Mexico border, said the order is like others Gee has handed down before.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Starr Co. adopts curfew; prohibits large gatherings

In step with other Rio Grande Valley counties, Starr County issued a supplemental emergency order on Monday establishing a curfew recommendation, prohibiting large gatherings, and strongly recommending the use of facial masks in public in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The county issued two curfews, the first of which will be from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for people 17 years old and under unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. The second will be from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. for everyone 18 years old and older, unless an individual is out for an emergency or providing covered services. The emergency order goes into effect Tuesday. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Businesses under social media microscope amid outcry for virus transparency

As cases in the Rio Grande Valley continue to soar with record highs reported in almost consecutive days, concerns are also mounting with regard to local businesses who don’t disclose to the public whether their employees contracted the coronavirus. In addition to discourse about how much information businesses can disclose about whether employees test positive for the coronavirus, concerns remain prevalent on social media where employees and consumers have criticized local restaurants for not closing or encouraging curbside services instead of dine-in. Such criticism stems from fears of positive cases existing at certain establishments. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Area mayors maneuver for more pandemic authority

The mayors of Hidalgo County’s largest four cities came together here at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance on Friday in a bid to pave the way for a more active municipal role in Texas’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. Mayors Jim Darling of McAllen, Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez of Pharr, Richard Molina of Edinburg and Armando O’Caña of Mission all signed a letter outlining their desire for more pandemic autonomy and addressed it to the governor. Read the full story at themonitor.com

In wake of COVID-19 surge, Hidalgo County limits mass gatherings to 10 or less

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez signed an order Thursday limiting mass gatherings in the county to 10 people or less and implementing a curfew in response to a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases. The order goes into effect immediately and will remain effective until modified, a news release from the county said. The new curfew is set from 10 p.m.  to  6 a.m. for minors and from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for residents who are 18 and older. Read the full story at themonitor.com

In wake of COVID-19 surge, Hidalgo County limits mass gatherings to 10 or less

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez signed an order Thursday limiting mass gatherings in the county to 10 people or less and implementing a curfew in response to a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases. The order goes into effect immediately and will remain effective until modified, a news release from the county said. The new curfew is set from 10 p.m.  to  6 a.m. for minors and from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for residents who are 18 and older. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Valley’s COVID-19 cases explode by 570

The Rio Grande Valley saw a record increase in COVID-19 cases Wednesday as new positives across four counties raised the tally to 570. Hidalgo County confirmed Wednesday afternoon that four more residents died from complications of COVID-19 and 373 more cases have been confirmed, bringing the total number of fatalities to 29 and cases to 2,503. The new fatalities and confirmed cases represent record numbers for the county. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Appeals court rules in favor of fast-track deportations

An appellate court ruled Tuesday that a lawsuit filed against the Trump administration seeking to end “fast-track” deportations without legal process can continue, but also overturned an earlier injunction that barred the administration from doing so, court records show. Last August, the American Civil Liberties Union together with La Unión del Pueblo Entero, a local immigrant-advocacy group based in San Juan, the American Immigration Council and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP filed a federal lawsuit in Washington on behalf of immigrant community organizations Make the Road New York, and We Count! Read the full story at themonitor.com

DACA recipients breathe sigh of relief … for now

More than 700,000 people can breathe a little easier after the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was illegally rescinded and must remain in place for now. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Trump administration violated the Administrative Procedures Act when it “arbitrarily and capriciously” rescinded the DACA program in September 2017 for more than 700,000 recipients across the country, and an estimated nearly 30,000 recipients in the Rio Grande Valley. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Mercedes, former city attorney locked in legal battle

The city of Mercedes has embroiled itself in a bitter legal battle with a man who once served as its chief legal counsel, lobbing multiple allegations against the man in a trio of lawsuits, including attorney malpractice, fraud and breach of contract. The city filed the three suits in recent months against Juan R. Molina, who served as Mercedes’ city attorney for 14 years until his resignation in January 2019. Molina has fired back, calling the litigation “a political witch hunt, and an attempt to burn at the stake (Mercedes’) perceived enemies.” The attorney also claims the suits are an attempt by the city to commit a fraud of its own in relation to two plots of land it sold in 2011 and 2012. However, Molina isn’t the only defendant being sued by the Queen City. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Edinburg police arrest trio suspected of theft of mail

Edinburg police arrested a trio of suspects they say were driving around in late May while looking for packages to steal. The investigation began after a man called police on May 27 to report that a package containing an Apple Macbook Pro that was delivered to his house was missing. He reviewed his security footage, which showed a woman exiting a Chevy Spark before taking the package from his front door, according to a probable cause affidavit. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

McAllen gauges lasting effects of border commerce losses

A billion dollar a year industry here has dried up because of the pandemic and according to local officials, if things don’t change soon it may never come back. McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said the city has seen its sales tax revenues drop nearly six times as much as other Rio Grande Valley cities during the pandemic, a phenomenon he attributes to the city’s reliance on international shoppers from Mexico. Those shoppers have been barred from crossing the border to spend money in the city since March 21. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security extended the closure to nonessential travel through July 21. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Report: CBP struggled to meet detention standards for migrants

During the influx of migrant families to the U.S.-Mexico border last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials failed to meet certain detention standards for those in their care. According to a recently published report from the Office of the Inspector General, the largest inspector general’s office in the federal government tasked with combating fraud, waste and abuse, and to improve the efficiency of Health and Human Services programs, CBP facilities “struggled” to meet detention standards for migrants in their care during the months of May and June 2019. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Cameron joins Hidalgo County in mandating masks all businesses 

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, orders for facial coverings in businesses by employees and customers were signed by county judges of Cameron and Hidalgo counties on Wednesday. Cameron’s order will be effective on Friday, while Hidalgo County’s mandate will be implemented Wednesday. However, Hidalgo County businesses are not required to comply until Friday. The order will be active until further notice. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Social media lends support to black-owned donut, pho businesses

Peter Jurkin’s dream to open an ice cream shop had become a reality in March with the opening of Yummy’s Ice Cream & Mini Donuts in McAllen. But as luck would have it, just one day after he opened, he had to close down because of the coronavirus. "It took me a month working on it,” Jurkin said of the repairs and other preparations he had to do before opening day. "It was just heartbreaking, I just opened and basically I had to close." Read the full story at themonitor.com

Edinburg Review, Valley Town Crier halt printing after decades of publication

Gilbert Tagle, longtime reporter and editor for the Edinburg Daily Review, wrote a story in 2014 commemorating the newspaper’s centennial. Tagle wrote about the paper’s history and about his history with it. He wrote about its illustrious publisher, Jim Mathis, who covered Kenedy as a White House correspondent and traveled the world as an investigative reporter. According to Tagle, Mathis toured the Rio Grande Valley with LBJ in the aftermath of Hurricane Beulah. Read the full story at themonitor.com

AG sides with Hidalgo Co. on withholding internal COVID-19 communications

The Monitor has lost an effort to learn more about the internal thinking and preparation for COVID-19 between various Hidalgo County health officials. The newspaper filed a Texas Public Information Act request on March 19, two days before the county reported its first positive case of the virus, in an attempt to learn more about how officials monitored the pandemic’s development and how they prepared for COVID-19 here. On March 24, the county asked the Texas Attorney General’s Office for an opinion on whether that information was subject to public disclosure. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Arguing new evidence, defense attorneys call 2007 Donna murder conviction into question

Douglas Tyrone Armstrong walked out of the Sunshine Bar in Donna at 9 p.m. on April 21, 2006. Forty-five minutes later, police arrested him for the violent murder of Rafael Castelan. Less than a year later, on Jan. 11, 2007, a jury took approximately three-and-a-half hours to convict Armstrong of slashing Castelan's throat and stealing his Medicaid card. Read the full story at themonitor.com