150508-valley_at_night

In our story Thursday, May 7, about legislation to get street lights installed in the colonias of Hidalgo County, we referenced a photo John Henneberger displayed in his testimony in support of the bill.

John Henneberger
John Henneberger

Henneberger, executive director of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, was representing La Unión del Pueblo Entero at a Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development hearing that was taking public testimony on Senate Bill 1950, the street-lights-for-colonias legislation authored by state Sen. Juan Hinojosa.

Henneberger held up a large photo taken by satellite of the Rio Grande Valley at night. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area was lit up and so was Brownsville and Harlingen. The largest colonias were outlined in red on the photo and the photo showed them in total darkness.

The photo, posted above this story, was obtained by the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service from the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Will Livesley-O’Neill, who handles communications for the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, kindly allowed the Rio Grande Guardian to post the image to make the point about the need for street lights in the colonias. We would like to thank Livesley-O’Neill and the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service for allowing us to reprint the photo.

Henneberger provided senators with copies of the photo to make his point.

“We have had a number of children struck walking to or getting off school buses,” Henneberger testified. “Security and public safety are a big concern. The colonias are so dark it is really difficult for the sheriff’s department to patrol the areas. Children are often playing outside in the colonias at night and there have been some tragic accidents with children being struck by automobiles. There are literally no street lights in these areas.”

Henneberger added that street light legislation is “a very high priority” for the people who live in colonias in Hidalgo County. “In fact, it is the No. 1 priority above everything else,” he said.

Senate Bill 1950 has now passed the Senate and has been sent to the House of Representatives. It will be heard by the House Committee on County Affairs.

Click here to read our original story on the Senator Hinojosa’s street lights legislation.