By DAVID LOPEZ
Whether in the school district or city government, in sports or in the community, San Benito had news that could fill an entire book. This week, we take a look back at our top five stories which were the most read, most discussed, and most significant in our neck of the woods.
1. Michael Vargas–On July 16, the San Benito NEWS broke the story of SBCISD Board president Michael Anthony Vargas being arrested on a driving-while-intoxicated charge. After receiving anonymous tips and confirming the police report and mugshot from the Harlingen Police Dept., Vargas and the school district were launched into a heated public debate (visible on the comments section of our website and Facebook page) on the ethics of board members and school district employees. The news eventually landed Vargas in two court proceedings: the first for his DWI charge and the second following a group of San Benito residents who filed a petition for his removal on Sept. 24, which eventually led to judge Manuel Banales’s decision of temporarily removing Vargas from his position as board president on Dec. 13. Within the past month, however, Vargas decided to resign his position and the school board accepted his resignation days later. The school board now finds itself with former vice president Orlando Lopez as interim president while Baldemar Olivares Jr. was selected to take Place 1 on the board.
2. Investigation on Treviño’s shooting concludes–The issue of Ricky Treviño III’s fatal shooting at the hands of San Benito Police on Dec. 7, 2018 flowed well over into 2019, after intense media attention on the response of the city and the victim’s family. A nine-month investigation by the Texas Rangers ensued, resulting in a grand jury “no billing” former Chief of Police Michael Galvan and officers Victor Alejandro Espitia and David Reynaldo Rebolledo as well as two Deputy Constables of Pct. 5. The grand jury determined that the officers were justified in their use of deadly force, which resulted in four police officers firing 31 rounds.
3. Rey Avila passes away–On the morning of Monday, Oct. 14, the San Benito community awoke to the news of Rey Avila’s passing. Avila, known as a historian and preserver of local culture, was best known for establishing the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2001, which has since inducted 86 conjunto pioneers and has awarded countless scholarships to members of the San Benito High School’s Conjunto Estrella. The San Benito News awarded Avila the Citizen of the Year Award in 2012, and along with this, he has received many recognitions, including from Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., the South Texas Conjunto Association, and the City of San Benito.
4. City moves towards major commercial development–Legislation of “historic proportion” (in the words of San Benito City Manager Manuel De La Rosa) was signed into state law in September with the help of Eddie Lucio, Jr. and his son, Eddie Lucio III. House Bills 4347 and 2199 will allow the city to use municipal hotel occupancy tax for the development of sports and entertainment facilities and hotel and convention projects. The city is working on agreements with developers to bring in a hotel-convention and sports facility along the expressway. Along with the currently-under-construction “Resaca Village,” the city is looking ahead to major developments in the coming year, signaling big economic moves for San Benito.
5. Miller Jordan Boys go undefeated–While the Mighty Greyhounds made it to the Area round of the playoffs, the Miller Jordan 8th and 7th grade football A-teams became undefeated district champions. While both A-teams went completely undefeated this season, it is worth noting that the current 8th grade A-team went undefeated as a 7th grade team last year (6-0), outscoring their opponents 380-55 in the past 2 years combined, with 231 points in favor of the Cougars this year alone. Head Coach Ricardo “Rick” Lugo projects that the 7th grade boys will also go undefeated in the upcoming season as 8th graders. Both teams were awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the City of San Benito. The two boys’ classes signal a coming excellence for the future of the Mighty Greyhounds.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the Dec. 27, 2019-Jan. 2, 2019 issue of the NEWS.