2018-11-07 / News

Harlingen company to prepare Willacy grant request to assist local veterans

By Allen Essex

A proposal to obtain funding for an outside company to assist Willacy County veterans was approved Thursday, Oct. 25, by Willacy County commissioners. The assistance would include handling applications for local veterans applying for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.

Linda Alaniz of Educational Research Institute said she has two businesses that would help Willacy County get a grant to provide the assistance and another company to provide services to veterans.

The program, funded through the Texas Veterans Commission, would assist the county’s Veterans Service Office is helping veterans get federal benefits.

“What we have is a business based out of Harlingen for 17 years,” she said. “What we do, is get grants for cities, counties, school districts, hospitals. What we are trying to do is help the county apply for a veterans’ grant. From what I understand, that has not happened in the past-up to $300,000 you can get for your veterans. Actually the money is paid to the county and they pay individuals for housing, utilities, medical referrals that they go to.

We just got this for Cameron County and they have not had it before, either, and for Hidalgo County - they’ve had it for years and that’s what they use it for, just for housing assistance, utility assistance and medical assistance,” Alaniz said. “Depending on the number of veterans that you have, we can put someone in there to assist your (veterans service officer),”

The present veterans service officer, Daniel Gomez, is on active duty with the National Guard and his assistant, Frances Najera, has been trained to assist veterans in applying for benefits.

County commissioners gave approval for the company to apply on Willacy County’s behalf for funding through the program.

In other business, commissioners approved a paving contract with the low bidder, Diamond 8 Industries, Santa Rosa. The work will include

Sixth Street in Lasara, Precinct 1, Citation Road in Santa Monica, Precinct 2, and additional work, such as curb and gutter replacement, in some areas, depending on much paving material is required, County Judge Aurelio “Keter” Guerra said.

The county has applied for a rural county waiver for a second Medicaid Nursing Facility in Willacy County. There is presently only one nursing home in Willacy, Retama Manor. A spokeswoman for that company said it has no plans to expand its facilities in Willacy County.

Joe Wetegrove, whose family owns La Jarra Ranch, east of Raymondville, said his company has no plan to open a nursing home.

His company currently operates a memory care facility for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, an adult day care and recently opened a jail diversion program that helps mental health patients stay on their prescribed medication.

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