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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Helping Texas Moms Put Some Light in their Lives

PHOTO: Public lighting can make a big difference for neighborhood health and safety, so efforts are underway to get street lights in the more than 1,200 colonias across the Rio Grande Valley that otherwise go dark at night. Photo courtesy La Union del Pueblo Entero.
PHOTO: Public lighting can make a big difference for neighborhood health and safety, so efforts are underway to get street lights in the more than 1,200 colonias across the Rio Grande Valley that otherwise go dark at night. Photo courtesy La Union del Pueblo Entero.
May 9, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas – As families across Texas gather to celebrate Mother's Day on Sunday, for thousands of moms in the Rio Grande Valley, the best gift would be a little light.

In Cameron and Hidalgo counties, there are more than 200,000 people living in colonias, or unincorporated neighborhoods without basic infrastructure.

That includes a lack of public lighting and the security that lighting can provide, says Yvette Salinas, a community organizer with La Union del Pueblo Entero.

"Everybody deserves to live, you know, with dignity and respect and providing light for these families and supporting this issue would be a great positive change for a lot of mothers and children," she says.

Colonias' leaders and other supporters have now started a campaign and petition urging county officials to put together a plan for how to pay for and install public lighting within a decade.

Installing public lighting in the colonias would lead to healthier and safer neighborhoods, stresses Ann Williams Cass, executive director of Proyecto Azteca.

"It reduces crime,” she maintains. “People feel safer. People are more apt to be out walking around at night, to exercise or just to go out for fresh air. And that in itself will deter crime."

Williams Cass explains that lighting and public safety aren't only an issue for colonias, as the town of Edcouch has approved an ordinance to have streetlights in all neighborhoods.

"And they also have agreed to work on our LED streetlights, which are brighter, they last longer, they use less utilities, less electricity to run,” she says. “And so, we're real excited about that."

Williams Cass adds officials in San Juan have also agreed to issue the same type of lighting ordinance for their community.




John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX