by Charlie McKee
Newly elected (March 4, 2014) Mayor Michael Morones and Town Councilors Cynthia Bettison, Jose Ray, Jr., Lynda Aiman-Smith, and Guadalupe Cano seemingly sailed through their inaugural Town Council meeting together on Tuesday evening, March 11, without a hitch.
In their opening comments, Aiman-Smith (District 2) and Cano (District 4) thanked their respective constituents for voting on March 4 and pledged to serve the Town to the best of their ability. Cano also reminded citizens of the upcoming "Salt of the Earth" 60th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, March 16, and stated that she has tickets available for the event.
Veteran Councilors Bettison and Ray welcomed the new Councilors to the team, and Bettison urged them and Mayor Morones to become certified as municipal leaders through the New Mexico Municipal League. She noted that Town Clerk Ann Mackie is a Certified Master Town Clerk and that the group has an opportunity to be one of the few municipalities whose entire Council is educated and certified in municipal leadership.
Both Ray and Morones reminded residents that, with the onset of dry, warmer weather, it behooves everyone to be on the alert for children playing and riding bicycles in the street and for fire danger. It is the season to "Be Prepared." Bettison lauded the Silver City Neighborhood Alliance's recent "Symposium on Preparedness" (March 7 and 8) for its organization and professionalism in conveying the message of wildfire preparedness loudly and clearly.
During the Reports portion of the meeting, Shelby Hallmark informed the Mayor and Council about Silver City's unique opportunity to become the first "Gateway Community" to the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Hallmark represented the group of stakeholders in the Silver City Greenway to CDT Linkage Project, which grew out of the 2013 Trails Day Celebration. The group applied for and received a grant from the National Park Service to begin the process of connecting Silver City's urban trail system to the CDT.
Hallmark informed the Council that the group is seeking endorsement in the form of a Town resolution for its application to have Silver City be the first Gateway Community to the 3,100 mile trail that transects five states from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. This process emulates that of the established Gateway Communities along the Appalachian Trail. Serendipitously, Hallmark noted, Silver City's application coincides with the 2014 CDT Warrior Hike to "walk off the war." On April 23, 2014, six combat veterans will arrive in Silver City at the beginning of their endeavor to hike the entire Continental Divide Trail. The 2014 Warrior Hike officially starts in Hachita, NM, on April 12 and is scheduled to finish at Waterton Park, MT, on the Canadian border on September 27. Hallmark reported that the stakeholders group is receiving strong collaborative support for both the Gateway application and the Warrior Hike efforts from the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.
Hallmark stated that Silver City and Grant County community organizations are also wholeheartedly endorsing Silver City's CDT Gateway Community application and the support of the 2014 Warrior Hike. The supporters include Western New Mexico University (WNMU) President Joe Shepard, the Arts and Cultural District (ACD), Backcountry Horsemen, the Green Chamber of Commerce, Veterans groups, elected officials and many more. The groups are currently engaged in planning events for the Warrior Hikers' day in Silver City on April 23, as well as supporting the hikers on the trail.
Hallmark noted that this opportunity is of long term benefit to Silver City businesses, who are already engaged in discussions about creative ways to provide lodging and services to visitors who come to the area to enjoy the trail. It is also another means of strengthening the Town and County's alliance with the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
Upon Hallmark's request for any questions or comments from the Council, Bettison suggested adding ex-officio members of both the Silver City Town Council and the Grant County Board of Commissioners to the stakeholders group. She also recommended that both the Silver City Museum and the WNMU Museum be represented. Morones asked if all the requirements for application as a Gateway Community, including any expenditure, had been met; and Hallmark stated that they had been.
Hallmark informed the Council that a draft of the resolution for their approval would be presented to them to be voted upon in the next few weeks. He stated that the next meeting of the stakeholders group will be at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, March 19, in the Grant County Administration Building's Commissioners' Meeting Room. He urged anyone interested to attend.
During the Staff Reports portion of the meeting, Town Manager Alex Brown stated that each of the Town Departments would be making presentations to the new Mayor and Council to explain their functions and budgets. He noted that this would be excellent preparation for the upcoming budget process, as well as for the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) meetings which have been moved from October to September, 2014. Silver City Fire Department Chief Bencomo then reported on a half acre fire on Mountain View Road on March 11 and asked residents to "be vigilant" regarding fire danger. He noted that winds were predicted in gusts of 65 mph on March 12 and that no burn permits are being issued.
Morones then initiated the Organizational Meeting during which the Council nominated and voted Councilor Bettison as President Pro Tempore (better known as "Mayor Pro Tem"). Morones also announced his appointments of Councilors to committee and board positions as follows:
- Cemetery – Cano
- Library – Aiman-Smith
- Dispatch – Morones, Alternate Ray
- Area Transportation Authority - Aiman-Smith, Alternate Morones
- Museum – Bettison
- Parks & Recreation – Ray
- SW Solid Waste – Morones, Alternate Ray; Staff – Brown, Alternate Pena
- GC Water Commission – Brown and Morones
- SC MainStreet Project – Brown and Morones
- Health Council – Brown (appointed by GC Commission)
- SWNM Council of Governments – Brown, Alternates Bettison and Pena
In the New Business portion of the meeting, the Council approved the following items:
- Special Dispenser Permit Application for the Rotary Benefit Auction on April 26, 2014, from 4:30 to 9:00 pm at the Grant County Business and Conference Center – The approval is contingent upon the application's being in compliance with State law with respect to gaming and the serving of alcohol, as well as submission of an amended map of the facility showing where alcohol will be served and where restrooms are located.
- Notice of Intent Ordinance No. 1227 – Declares intent of the Town to donate and transfer vacated property on Chloride Street to WNMU. The property leads to the WNMU President's residence. The notice of intent is specifically to allow citizen response regarding the fact that the property must be vacated prior to transfer.
- Resolution No. 2014-12, Budget Adjustment for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 – This constitutes proactive early adjustment of the budget to account for differences in actual grant amounts versus estimated, as well as transfer of monies for Phase II Design of the street and drainage improvements on College Avenue.
Upon conclusion of New Business, the Town Council meeting was adjourned.