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Hidalgo County solicits applications for new justice of the peace, constable positions

The Hidalgo County Commissioners Court plans to appoint a constable and justice of the peace for Precinct 5 by mid-December.

The Hidalgo County Commissioners Court plans to appoint a constable and justice of the peace for Precinct 5 by mid-December.

Applicants must submit resumes by Dec. 1.

The Commissioners Court abolished Precinct 5, which covered the northeast corner of Hidalgo County, six years ago.

As CBS 4 News previously reported:

Precinct 5 served the northeast corner of Hidalgo County — including Edcouch, Elsa, La Villa and Monte Alto — for more than a century, providing a local justice of the peace to settle disputes and a constable to keep watch over the community.
Constituents forged tight bonds with Justice of the Peace Espiridion "Speedy" Jackson, who developed a reputation for dispensing advice on legal problems, and Constable Eduardo “Walo” Bazan, who regularly unlocked cars for constituents. Both men served Precinct 5 for more than two decades.
Concerns about Bazan — who won re-election despite a felony conviction, creating a long-running legal controversy — and the precinct’s relatively small population prompted the Commissioners Court to nix Precinct 5 during November 2011.

Pressure from Delta residents, though, convinced the Commissioners Court to re-establish the precinct in August.

"During the last few months we've had a tremendous amount of interest," said Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia.

Advocates for re-establishing the precinct argued that a local constable's office would help reduce crime. Critics noted that deputy constables don't actually handle 911 calls and rarely investigate crime. They primarily serve court papers and investigate low-level infractions, including illegal dumping.

Advocates also argued many Delta residents had difficulty making the trip from northeast Hidalgo County to Weslaco, where the two justices of the peace for Precinct 1 hold court. Critics attacked that justification too, questioning why residents of northwest Hidalgo County don't deserve the same consideration.

After months of deliberation, the Commissioners Court ultimately sided with Delta residents and voted to re-establish Precinct 5.

Hidalgo County tentatively plans for the precinct to resume operations by Jan. 1.

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