Editor's Note: Thanks to Community Access Television of Silver City, which provided a DVD of the meeting to the Beat, as the reporter was not available to attend the first part of the meeting, due to a conflict.
Grant County Commissioners met in a regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
Two changes were made to the agenda. This first was under new business, where an action item on deer management was changed to a report on the issue, with no action required.
The second item was a computer maintenance agreement, which rather than being a contract, was simply a proposal, but did require approval for County Manager Jon Paul Saari and County Attorney Abigail Robinson to create a contract for the services.
During public input, Patricia Cano and Brian Freeman of the Chicano Music Project came forward. Cano said she wanted to publicly thank the commissioners for their support of the Chicano Music Festival, which brought many people back to Grant County for the weekend. She gave the commissioners each a commemorative program and a DVD.
"We will do the festival again," Cano said.
Tim Aldrich introduced himself as the new Children's Court Attorney for the 6th Judicial District.
"I'm here to announce that Oct. 17 will be Pro Bono Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Grant County Business and Conference Center. We will have a number of attorneys on hand to answer anyone's question. We will specifically have a couple of immigration attorneys. We will also provide to you a proclamation for the day."
In financial reports, Saari said expenditures for one month were $1,338,181.20, which included a $117,000 payment for construction of the animal building at the Cliff-Gila County Fairgrounds.
Under new business, commissioners approved an inventory deletion of two obsolete vehicles—a 2000 gold Ford Explorer and a 1996 blue GMC Blazer— from the Public Works department to go to the Road Department for disposal at auction or to allow people to bid on them.
The Assessor's Office requested a 2008 Ford-150 pickup truck be transferred to Public Works. Also to be transferred to the General Services Department are a Dell computer, a manager's desk, a mobile file and a bow front cabinet. In addition, when a replacement vehicle for the Planning Department comes in, a four-wheel drive Ford Escape will be transferred to the Assessor's office.
Commissioners heard an update on deer management from Ray Aaltonen of New Mexico Game and Fish.
"I was last here in February," Aaltonen said. In 2012, we started doing deer management. Through shooting, we eliminated 62 deer. The meat was sold for $1 to $5 to people who need it to eat. We trapped and relocated 110 to the San Francisco River area and into the Peloncillos. We hired a graduate student to monitor the deer to see how they survived. We had 29 mortalities. We want to target another 100 deer. We did a hard release last time, just letting them out of the truck. We want to try a soft release, with a pen, to let the deer acclimate before turning them loose. We want to monitor the rates of survival on the types of release.
"We have not shot any deer since May," he continued. "We wanted to let deer families get in place. The officers are busy with the elk hunts now.
"We only do removal on private property, as requested by the land owners," Aaltonen said. "We can also trap the deer by dropping nets on groups. We will be trapping and shooting again in February. On Feb. 16, in the Silver City Management Area, which is around Silver City and south to the national forest, we will begin to allow archery hunters in units 23 and 24, who were not successful in their buck hunt, roll over their licenses to does. They have to get permission from the landowners. The hunt will go for two to three weeks.
"Folks are seeing lots of fawns this year," he said. Deer body conditions are good this year, so they can have twins.
"We will keep in communication with you every six months," Aaltonen said.
Under contracts and agreements, Saari said Secure Apps Group brought an agreement to the county for computer support. "In an effort to give Angela Castillo some help—she already does computers, GIS and rural addressing for the county—we are working toward upgrading services that the group can do remotely. The agreement for $51,000 a year is less than we would have to pay to hire a person, with salary and benefits, and they can throw two or three people at problems. Ms. Robinson and I will put the contract together.
"We found out our wireless system is outdated, and the group sent us a $3,000 piece of hardware at no cost," Saari said.
Commissioner Hall clarified that what was received was a proposal.
Saari said it does not have the contract language in it that the county needs.
"So why are we approving a proposal?" Commission Chairman Brett Kasten asked.
"We're asking you to give Jon and me the authority to move forward with a contract, which will have all the language we need in it," Robinson explained.
"It will be a benefit to us," Saari said. "Angela needs the help."
An agreement renewal was approved with US ScramX Agency for sales and services for the DWI Task Force for the use of alcohol ankle bracelets. "For 0-49 devices, it costs $3.90 a day," Saari said. "We also pay for replacement straps. The costs are passed on to the clients in Cindy McClean's program. The judges love the ankle bracelets, because it keeps people out of jail and at home. The price went up from $3.50 a day, but the service is still cheaper than others ones we've looked at."
Hall asked about collection of the fees.
"They have to pay ahead of time, and if the person is non-compliant, they are turned into the judges' hands," Saari said. "So collection is good."
Under the agenda item of resolutions, commissioners approved an amendment to No. 5 in the county's purchasing rules and regulations document.
"The amount has been raised by the state to $60,000 without requiring a request for proposal," Saari said. "We still go out for quotes for anything over $500, but this helps streamline the RFP process."
The Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2015-2019 was adopted, with a change.
The top five include the completion of the County Administration Building and the Sheriff's Vault. The county already has received $342,000 and needs another $250,000.
The second request on the list is the Grant County Veterans' Memorial Business and Conference Center for $200,000 for planning and design of the interior, with some of the money being used for a match for federal funding of $1.8 million in FY 2017.
The County Courthouse renovation is a request for $555,000 in 2015 and $265,000 in 2016. The older electrical system will need replacement, in addition to putting in a second courtroom.
Fourth on the list is the North Hurley Drainage and Flood Prevention Project, which has received $336,000 to date, with a request for $350,000 in FY 2015 and $250,000 in FY 2016 to complete the project.
Fifth on the list is the county fair facility, which has received $489,000 to date. A request for $260,000 is for fiscal year 2015 and $100,000 each year for FY 2016 and FY 2017. The funding includes restrooms and additional improvements.
The Grant County Water Storage Facility is No. 6, but Commissioner Gabriel Ramos had asked that No. 6, be moved to No. 5, so that it could qualify for Arizona Water Settlements Act funding for studies. Ramos was not present at the meeting.
Saari explained that the fair still had some funding that has not yet been received by the county. Silver City Mayor James Marshall received the contract for the funding, but returned it because it did not belong to the town. "We haven't seen it yet," Saari said. "We have received $450,000 so far. We will talk at the legislature for the courthouse. We are also looking at grants and federal money. The courts usually put their requests on the county ICIP. A phased plan to retrofit the electricity is being looked at."
"Once the conference center is finished, we can get the fair back up," Kasten said. "I have no problem moving the fair down a notch in the list at this time."
Commissioners approved an amendment of the Housing and Community Development Act to allow the county to get Colonias and Community Development Block Grant funding. Also approved was a resolution adopting a fair-housing policy that the county will not discriminate against anyone in housing projects. Kasten pointed out the county doesn't really do housing, but approves the concept.
A bid was awarded to Professional Document Systems Inc. of El Paso, Texas, to provide a Book Scanner 9000 or the equivalent to the Clerk's Office for $29,985 to allow scanning and preservation of the large books archived in the Clerk's office.
Commissioners recessed and reconvened as the Grant County Indigent and Health Plan Claims Board to approve 951 claims for $622,775.38.
"We do have the funding to pay the claims," Saari said. "The state has released some sole community provider funds to Gila Regional Medical Center. In January, everything is changing to managed care. We don't know how that will play out at our end. We know the funding through December, but we are not clear how it will be after that."
County reports will be covered in a subsequent article.