The Grant County commissioners will address a short agenda at their regular meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Grant County Administration Center.
At the work session this morning, Oct. 8, several county reports were heard, including an update from Gila Regional Medical Center Interim Chief Executive Officer Brian Cunningham, which will be covered in a second article.
During a review of the expenditures, County Manager Jon Paul Saari said the expenditures dated Oct. 7 are for $2,109,272.51, which includes a payment of $1.159 million for the quarterly sole community provider and indigent fund payment.
Commission Chairman Brett Kasten asked if the hospital would receive the money back.
"This is funding for the third and fourth quarters," Saari said. "They are expecting it back. We are also to make a payment in December, but we don't know the status of that at this time."
He said he participated in a meeting on Monday, Oct. 7, which encouraged people to enroll in the New Mexico Health Care Exchange. "Sole community provider payments may end in January, but we expect the money to come to us through the exchanges."
Commissioners will proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Robert Rydeski of Rydeski & Co. Insurance will present an insurance proposal at Thursday's meeting.
"We are discussing possibly getting out of the state risk pool," Saari said. "If our costs are less than $60,000 we can go out on our own. If Rydeski's proposal is reasonable, it will take some of the burden of re-enrolling our employees twice a year. He said he would take care of that."
Commissioner Ron Hall asked that Rydeski compare the present coverage with what he proposes.
"That's what he's doing," Saari said.
"Does it fill in some holes?" Kasten asked. "I've seen holes in the coverage and so have other employees."
"He said he would offer a couple of options," Saari said.
"We have a deductible and a co-pay, which is not normal," Kasten pointed out.
Saari said some communities in New Mexico are pulling out of risk management. "When they do, the costs will rise for others still in the pool. Our history is 70 percent. We have never hit 100 percent of our premiums, but we're absorbing other groups that have employees with bad medical conditions."
Saari said if Rydeski's options were to be chosen, Rydeski would explain them to department heads and employees.
Commissioners will also hear a presentation for a funding request from the National Center for Frontier Communities.
"It has been screened by the Grant County Community Health Council as not violating anti-donation policies and as meeting community needs," Saari said. "The request is for $30,000."
Two resolutions will be considered. One is considered "housekeeping" in section 3 of the Housing & Urban Development Act resolution to insert this year's numbers.
A resolution will be added to the preliminary agenda and is the next step in the process of developing a road improvement district in the Viva Verde subdivision.
An executive session will be added on limited personnel matters.
Detention Center Administrator Mike Carrillo gave the first county report.
"I keep talking about the policies and procedures," Carrillo said. "They should be finalized Oct. 15."
He said the center is interviewing today for two part-time employees. "We have two new officers. We are meeting with Health Partner Associates to go over the medical services we are providing at the jail."
Carrillo discussed the training opportunities he and Deputy Administrator Joseph Andazola have been able to provide, while his training officer Sgt. Aguirre is doing certification training. "Sgt. Aguirre scored the highest in the class."
Carrillo said the inmate support group would be a topic he will present to the Legislative Health Committee to seek funding next year.
"Our average daily population from Sept. 18 to Oct. 8 is 55," Carrillo said. "It's 20 less than last month's. Our medical transports were 7, as compared to last month's 32, before we had medical staff in the facility."
Hall asked how the facility is doing as a building. Carrillo said Honeywell is doing some maintenance and there are some minor items that need to be addressed such as secure slats under the doors.
Kasten asked if Carrillo had any speculation on the drop in the number of inmates. Carrillo said, in his experience in the detention field, there is usually a slump after school starts, and then as the holidays approach, numbers will increase. "The number of female inmates is a concern, because it does not seem to slow down. Substance abuse is a big issue."
Randy Villa of General Services said Corre Caminos is having trouble trying to fill bus driver slots. "We want to get drivers with commercial drivers' licenses on all buses, but it won't be easy."
He reported he would be meeting with Cindy McClean of the DWI Program, Senior Services is doing business as usual, Public Works is busy winterizing county facilities, and W.H. Pacific will begin work on the airport apron on Nov. 7. A film crew is doing work at the airport. "We are working with an Albuquerque company to fix the roof at the Silver Street complex. The conference center and Bataan Park are busy every weekend. We have to make sure someone is available from Public Works on the weekends."
"With my fire management hat, we're happy for the rains," Villa said. "But the weeds are 3 feet high. A person could pull off the road and the hot catalytic converter would light the grass on fire. That's what happened with the Quail Ridge Fire. We are working on a public notice to make people aware of the fire danger, even as winter approaches. Several years ago, the fire season started in January. Fine fuels are drying out."
Hall said the county is mowing along its roads and asked if the New Mexico Department of Transportation could be convinced to mow on highway 90.
"I am working with Silver City Fire Department Assistant Chief Tim Heidrick to coordinate around the area," Villa said. "As long as the fuels are there, if something starts them, they will burn."
Road Superintendent Earl Moore said his department was doing nothing major, except for installing culverts and cleaning them. "We have three blades and dozers in Cliff so ranchers can get trucks in to get their cattle out. We have burned 10,000 gallons of fuel in our vehicles and equipment since July."
Planning Department Director Anthony Gutierrez thanked the Road Department for its assistance on the fair barns. "The new barn is real nice. A ton of volunteers did a lot of work on the inside."
He said the Infrastructure Conference was coming up in a couple of weeks. The North Hurley Wastewater Project has received its notice to begin. "We need to work on Community Development Block Grants. The Economic Development Administration is not available to help us with our projects, and I suspect the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be the same."
"I am going to seek certification in international economic development," Gutierrez said, "to try to get some economic development here, so I can assist in planning."
Hall asked if additional work was needed on the fair barn. Kasten said there were some problems with a couple of wash racks and with drainage.
"We still have some drainage structures to do," Gutierrez said.
He said he would be attending the Interim Legislative Natural Resources Committee meeting in Las Cruces, because the Arizona Water Settlements Act would be on the agenda.
"We are close to having the preliminary engineering report on our reservoir," Gutierrez said. "The scope has been changed to be able to use diversion water, rather than effluent. The recommendation from the Interstate Stream Commission was that if it were diversion water, it could more easily be used for recreation." He said the Input Group for the AWSA planning process would be at 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, for members of the group, and the public meeting would be at 6 p.m. at the Western New Mexico University Seminar Room on the third floor of the McDonald Student Memorial Building.
The next article will finish the county reports, including the one by Cunningham.