Gov. Greg Abbott on July 9 announced the receipt of $15 million in federal funding meant to increase operational capabilities of federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.
The Operation Stonegarden Grant Program allocation is part of $30 million approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. The funds are meant to equip law enforcement “to confront the complex and dynamic challenges that exist along the Texas border,” according to the governor’s office news release.
Local jurisdictions to receive the grant funding include 50 law enforcement agencies operating in these 18 counties: Bee, Calhoun, Cameron, Dimmit, Duval, El Paso, Hidalgo, Jim Wells, Kinney, Kleberg, Nueces, Presidio, Refugio, Val Verde, Victoria, Webb, Willacy and Zapata.
Disaster funding is asked
Gov. Abbott on July 10 sent a letter to President Trump requesting a presidential disaster declaration for the Rio Grande Valley counties of Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy.
“The recent severe weather in the Rio Grande Valley has caused widespread damage, leaving many without the resources they need to recover from these storms,” Abbott said. “Combined with state and local resources, this federal aid will allow those impacted to rebuild as quickly as possible.”
Also urging the president to declare the Rio Grande Valley a federal disaster area in response to severe flooding and rain in recent weeks were: U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen; Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville; and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo; and Texas’ U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.
Texas offers aid to Louisiana
Gov. Abbott on July 12 offered assistance to Louisiana in response to Tropical Storm Barry before the weather system made landfall.
Abbott said the state of Texas would deploy its search and rescue team to assist in response efforts and do all possible to prevent any loss of life. “Texans remember how the state of Louisiana came to our aid during Hurricane Harvey and now we are in turn lending our support as Louisianians face Tropical Storm Barry,” Abbott said.
Abbott also said the state’s emergency operations center would remain at an elevated level of readiness and all state resources would be prepared to respond to any severe weather that may occur in Texas as a result of Tropical Storm Barry or any other event.
‘Texas Ready’ call is issued
The Texas Department of State Health Services on July 8 urged Texans to get “Texas Ready” for natural and manmade disasters by being informed, making a plan and building a disaster preparation kit that contains what a household needs to survive for at least three days.
“Texas has more declared disasters than any other state, so we all have to be Texas Ready at all times,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner. “If you wait until you see a disaster coming, you’ve missed the opportunity to make the best preparations possible, so please don’t delay.” Details are available at www.texasready.org.
Ross Perot dies
Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot, a businessman and philanthropist who ran for president as a third-party candidate in 1992 and 1996, died at his home in Dallas on July 9. He was 89.
Perot was born and raised in Texarkana. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, served as a Naval officer until 1957, then worked in sales for IBM. Perot went on to found Electronic Data Systems in Dallas and Perot Systems in Plano. General Motors bought controlling interest in EDS in 1984.
As stated in his obituary at rossperot.com, Perot and his wife, Margot, established the Perot Foundation in 1969 with the goal of helping fund projects that would improve people’s lives. Since then, the foundation has supported education programs, health care research, cultural and arts institutions, veterans’ causes and programs to meet immediate human needs and reduce suffering.
Hegar distributes revenue
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on July 10 announced he would send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $764.3 million in local sales tax allocations for the month of July.
The amount is 0.7 percent more than the amount allocated for the month of July 2018. The allocations are based on sales made in May by businesses that report tax monthly.
By Ed Sterling • Member Services Director, Texas Press Association