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"Literacy and Literature" are Words of the Day at Town Council Meeting

By Charlie McKee

Mayor James Marshall proclaimed Sept. 22 through 28, 2013, as "Silver City Library Week" in opening Tuesday evening's Town Council meeting on Sept. 24.  Amongst the numerous "whereases" in his proclamation, he noted that the library serves as the "heart of the community" and that Silver City is conducting "celebrations of Literacy and Literature" with the upcoming Southwest Festival of the Written Word, Sept. 27 through 29.  Eileen Sullivan, Director of the Silver City Public Library, accepted the proclamation with thanks to the Mayor, Council, and Town Manager for their ongoing support of the library.

During the Reports portion of the Town Council meeting, Sullivan followed the Silver City Library Week proclamation with a report on recent accomplishments at the library in fulfilling the vision of three years ago.  That vision for the library was to create a "welcoming space for the community, connecting people through shared ideas."  Sullivan stated that the efforts that had been undertaken focused on three major areas: 1) staff reorganization to create a team-oriented environment, specifically a Program Team; 2) infrastructure improvements in physical space and library technology; and 3) collaboration with the community to expand the library's outreach.  She noted that this week's Southwest Festival of the Written Word is a prime example of the library's collaborative efforts in the community, as are the library's partnerships with the Arts and Cultural District (ACD) for the Silver City Clay Festival and with Western Institute for Lifelong Learning (WILL) for the "Reflections of an Artist" Series.  Sullivan also invited the Mayor, Council, Town Manager and staff, and the public to attend the library's Open House on September 25 to celebrate completion of the library's renovation and physical improvements, as well as the implementation of its new computer systems which deliver new technology—including access to the library systems from patrons' homes—to both the public and the library staff.  Sullivan concluded her report by highlighting future goals for the library, such as: e-books; technology and information literacy training; teen and young adult development programs; new audio options; and a remodeled children's section.  The Mayor then commended Sullivan on the significant improvements at the library and noted that, during his term six years ago, he heard only complaints regarding deficiencies in the library, and now he hears only praise.  He stated that this was a tremendous achievement on Sullivan's part.

In the next staff report, Silver City Fire Department's (SCFD) Assistant Chief Tim Heidrick informed the Council that Silver City Firefighter Tommy Chavez had been awarded the State of New Mexico's Firefighter of the Year Award at a recent conference in Socorro.  Chavez exhibited exceptional bravery in saving the lives of two individuals in two separate fire rescue incidents.  In addition, Heidrick reported that, during the recent severe flooding events in Grant and surrounding counties, the SCFD had been called upon by various state and local groups to aid in rescue efforts.  SCFD was successful in rescuing a group of nine individuals stranded by floodwaters on the Middle Fork of the Gila, as well as providing technical support in Mogollon rescue efforts.

Prior to the staff reports, the Mayor issued a second proclamation declaring the week of Oct. 14 through 18, 2013 as "Pro Bono Week."  Marshall stated that "the situation is dire" for low-income citizens who have no access to legal aid, as funding is now almost non-existent for such services.  Pro Bono Week occurs annually throughout New Mexico, during which legal professionals provide free ("pro bono") legal services or advice to low-income residents.  Judge Henry R. Quintero accepted the proclamation and informed the Council that the community's private lawyers and other legal professionals would be available on Oct. 17, 2013, at the Grant County Business and Conference Center to provide services to low-income residents.  Experts on immigration law from Doña Ana County will also be in attendance at the "Pro Bono" event.

During the Public Hearing portion of the Council meeting, the Council approved Ordinance No. 1224 to rezone property located at 3201 Ridge Loop Road as Commercial (C) from Residential A (R-A).  The rezoning allows the property to be in compliance with zoning requirements for a physician's or healthcare practitioner's office.  The Mayor then thanked Community Development Director Jim Coates, who presented the case for rezoning and will soon be retiring from the Silver City Community Development Department, for his dedicated service to the Town.

The meeting was then adjourned.

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