Grant County Commissioners heard reports from county officials at the Tuesday, May 21, work session and the Thursday, May 23, regular session. Among items discussed were the commissioners' reactions to the Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees decision to retain senior management.

At the work session, Sheriff Raul Villanueva said his department had been fairly busy, with graduations at Western New Mexico University and Silver and Cobre high schools. "Fortunately, so far there has been nothing major."

"The Gila National Forest has Stage 1 Fire Restrictions," Villanueva said. "I think we need to do something in Grant County. I would like to see us push restrictions on burning locally."

Treasurer Steve Armendariz said the county is at 91 percent collections for 2012 taxes. "We have collected 99.3 percent of prior years' taxes, not counting 2012."

Assessor Randy Villa said all the county employees work hard, which keeps the county fiscally sound. "I will have the valuation rates for 2013 done by June 15. We are going through protests and valuations. We are looking at a rise in valuations, which will bring in more revenue."

Clerk Robert Zamarripa had no report.

Detention Center Administrator Mike Carrillo said he is almost complete with a revamp of the jail's policies and procedures, which were part of his six-month plan. He said the recent facility assessment by New Mexico Corrections Department was thorough, and he expects the report within a few weeks. "I asked for a second assessment from Luna County. The comparison will allow perspectives from the state and local jails. When I get them, it will enable me to allow changes, if needed in the policies and procedures."

Carrillo said Sgt. Aguirre has been certified as a defensive tactics instructor, which will allow him to attend the New Mexico Detention Training Academy. Assistant Administrator Joe Andazola made contacts with the gang unit of NM Corrections, Carrillo said, and he was told the gang unit would put on training for detention centers and law enforcement in the southern part of the state. The training would include a community workshop for parents, teachers and interested community members. Carillo said he would keep the commissioners informed.

"I want to work on recidivism," Carrillo said. "Sharing resources will allow us to train in pre-release programs. We will start a program that lets inmates know where the resources are. It's one of my future plans."

He reported that lapel video cameras were ordered through the DWI Program, which also provided DWI alcohol-level testers.

Carillo plans a recognition program. "Jon (County Manager Saari) got theater tickets in Las Cruces. The employees chose the Employee of the Month. In addition to items such as tickets, I will put a letter of recommendation into the individual's file."

He thanked the sheriff for applying for protective vests for the detention officers. "He approved our application. Both his and ours were approved to pay for half the cost of the vests."

For the day, 94 males and 88 females were housed in the jail. "The red flag is that we are getting a significant number of females, with a lot of substance abuse."

County Planner Anthony Gutierrez attended the Community Development Block Grant hearings, and said it was positive for the county's project.

"Unfortunately, the brownfields grant was not funded," Gutierrez said. "I will talk to the reviewer for tips on how to improve it for next time."

Last week, Gutierrez met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal entities on the Gila River project to shore up banks. "They gave me recommendations on rocks and trees to secure the banks better, and they can assist us with them. I made sure to let them know we didn't want to spend any more money. I also told them we needed standardized procedures, so private property owners can do the work. It took us two years to get permits. The only agency not there was U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the one we have the most issues with."

He said the demolition of the damaged fair barn had been completed. A surveyor was at the fairgrounds to determine corners. "We plan to put the pads in and then backfill around them."

Gutierrez said at the Gila/San Francisco Water Commission meeting that afternoon in Deming, the commission would try to get the ISC to determine what role the organization will play in the Arizona Water Settlements Act decisions.

He said he was going to try for a transportation grant, but often rural projects were too small to be funded.

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos asked about surveying for the two road districts, Loma Verde and Viva Santa Rita, which are seeking assessment districts to improve their roads.

"I gave the signature page to Lonnie Sandoval for Loma Verde," Gutierrez said. "At the July 18 meeting, we will hold a public hearing for the Viva Santa Rita project. We will use the same process as we are using for the Wind Canyon road improvements."

Saari pointed out that developing assessment districts takes months, because of all the 30-day notices required.  First there is a 30-day notice of the public hearing, followed by notice of intent to approve an ordinance, another 30 days for protest, then a request to New Mexico Finance Authority for a loan. "It's six to eight months with the waiting periods required."

Road Superintendent Earl Moore said he has done all his chip-sealing projects, with the exception of Truck By-Pass, because of a detour around a downed power line. "I asked for $100,000 from the Local Governments Road Fund and was cut $4,000 from the amount of this year's allocation. We have fog-sealed the parking lot at the Business and Conference Center."

Public Works Director Justin Reese said Garcia Fence was reinforcing the batting cage at Bataan Memorial Park fields. Facilities have been used the past few weekends, with May, June and July solidly booked for weekends. We will spray weeds at Bataan."

Saari reported the contractor for the front of the County Administration Center building would complete the project by the end of July, with the Road Department crew working with him. "We are waiting on the inspection." He said the access ramp and walkway would be heated and on a thermostat. "We will put on a handrail now and a canopy later."  The June schedule of meetings will be regular, with only one set with the work session July 16 and the regular session July 18.

Ramos asked for the commission to write a letter to the Forest Service asking about plans after the Whitewater-Baldy Fire and whether a tree-thinning plan would be forthcoming soon. He congratulated Silver Track for back-to-back state championships, Cobre baseball for state championship, and the Silver High girls' and Cobre girls' softball teams for also placing first. "Let's set up proclamations for June 13."

Commissioner Ron Hall also gave "hoorahs" for the winning teams, including the Silver softball for a three-peat, and the boys' track for back-to-back wins. "We finally beat St. Michael's."  He also congratulated all the May graduates from the university and high schools.

Kasten requested an executive session at the Thursday regular meeting to discuss the manager's contract and goals.

At the regular meeting, Deputy Treasurer Alfred Sedillo, read a letter from Armendariz, who tried to voice a concern just after the gavel for adjournment hit on Tuesday. "First, I would like to report that Steve wired the Gila Regional Medical Center check to pay back the $10 million bond, since the expansion plan has been put on hold."

He then read from the letter. "The job descriptions discussed at the work session were implemented by Human Resources with no input from the Treasurer's Office or the union. It's important that the requested raises for extra work be implemented in this budget cycle and not put off."

Hall said he would like to discuss the hospital issue. "We took action as we saw fit. The Board of Trustees took action as it saw fit. It's about the public. I want to work with the board and senior administration in a cooperative effort to move forward to heal this community."

Ramos concurred, but said: "Communication is key. We have to work together to have the best hospital for the community."

Kasten said: "The Board of Trustees' chairman told me that information will flow freely."

The commissioners went into executive session and adjourned from there.

Live from Silver City

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