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      City of Edinburg will keep county courthouse as its home

      From birth certificates to marriage licenses and bringing criminals to justice such as John Allen Rubio - the a man convicted of beheading his three children - the Hidalgo County Courthouse has served the county for more than 56 years.

      Newly elected Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said it's time to upgrade the building.

      "When (the courthouse) was built, it was housing two district courts, and one county court, Garcia said. Today we have 10 district courts, one more on the way, six county courts-at-law, two more that have already been approved by legislature and we're having to find courtrooms for."

      Already many of the special services offices are house off-site in leased buildings due to lack of space.

      "We need space, Garcia said. We need a facility - we need a new facility - and right now the cost to maintain our 56-year-old building is astronomical. Right now, they are having to upgrade the fire sprinklers. Alone, that bill is over $2 million - and that's just for two of the five floors."

      Garcia said the courthouse renovation project has been on the radar for years, but lack of funding is the main hold-up.

      "Edinburg is the county seat (and) the courthouse should stay in Edinburg, Garcia said. But it's just a matter of where and how do we construct it and who is going to pay for it."

      Judge Garcia said city commissioners don TMt want to raise property taxes to fund the estimated multi-million dollar project, besides, there are other items on the priority list.

      "We're going to be involved in constructing our drainage system which is our number one priority, Garcia said.

      Garcia said county and city leaders need to start thinking ahead for the benefit of future generations.