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Grant County Community Health Council hears reports and announcements

In this concluding article about the Grant County Community Health Council meeting of March 17, 2014, Chris DeBolt, new health council coordinator, said every state she has lived in has had a hunger problem. "We have to do something about it."

"Unfortunately, the governor line-item vetoed funding for health councils throughout the state," DeBolt said. "I'm ever the optimist. Sen. Morales, if he's not our governor by then, has offered to carry the bill next year."

She said the Non-Profit Resource Conference held last Friday was deemed a success, with about 100 people attending.

DeBolt said plans are underway for a housing fair in June. "Tiffany (Knauf, the former coordinator, who has moved away) is at work on the profile to be finished by the end of the month. Then it will go to the steering committee."

"Having been on your side (DeBolt was a former health council member before being named to the coordinator position), I was always thinking about how I could take information back to my sector. I hope you take information from the staff side to get the word out. I can bring a strategic overview of the enormous amount of work the health council staff does. We need to look at finances and human resources. And we have to make sure we do what we say we're going to do the best we can."

Kendra Milligan, assistant coordinator, said Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22, the Home & Garden Expo will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Business and Conference Center. "Classrooms will get plants for the students to plant and watch them grow. We did finish the fruit tree mapping, all but seven blocks. We have 30 trees on the list for fruit harvesting."

She said she presented at the Southwestern Health Council and then at the state.

Razanna Thomas, coordinator for the Partnership for Success II grant, being worked on by the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, reported the group is finally at the point where "we can start doing. The core group selected 10 strategies. I know if we implement them, we can see statistical changes in youth substance abuse and prescription drug abuse. We are working with Western refining their student policy. I'm very grateful to Western."

She said the second strategy is developing 101 Things for Youth to do in Grant County. "Why is Grant County the highest in the U.S. for youths taking and abusing prescription drugs? There are a lot of things for elementary students, but not much for 16-year-olds. Fifty of the things will help us bond with our youths, showing that someone cares, and 51 are in establishments we have contacted where youth will go into a local business and complete an activity. Doing this will earn them a stamp. Up to 10 squares can be non-monitored, but the other 10 squares must be stamps. Once the 20 activities are complete, the youth will drop the entry into one of several drop boxes, and will be entered into prize drawings."

Thomas explained that the prizes are active items, such as unicycles and bicycles, but not the usual iPod.

"We are working with the Silver City Arts and Cultural District, which developed the 101 Things to Do in Silver City (for adults)," Thomas said. "At the end of our grant, if we have no funds, the Arts and Cultural District will take over the list. Everything on the list is free, and the list can be used as a bus pass, and once for a game of bowling, with free shoes and a soft drink.

"Once the list is finalized, we will distribute it to every youth, grade 6-12 at the end of school," Thomas concluded.

In committee reports, Mary Stoecker, who serves on the behavioral health committee for the health council profile, said the same issues were being considered at the continuum of care coalition, including the inmate support program, which passed the Legislature, but with no funding. She also reported on the Family Resiliency portion of the profile. "The FANC (Fitness and Nutrition in the Community) plan is up and running. We are also planning for Jump Into Summer and the 5210 program. This will be our eighth year of collecting body mass data."

Milligan reported on the Interpersonal Violence priority in the profile. She said because Colleen Boyd, who headed up the committee, had resigned from the health council due to an anticipated move, the committee would be headed by whoever replaces Boyd on the council.

Council member Western New Mexico University President Joseph Shepard announced a master plan symposium to take place Wednesday, March 19, at 7 p.m., to discuss the university's plans five, 10 and 15 years out.

"Where do we want to go?" Shepard asked. "This will guide us in the future. We want to hear from the community. It is important for us to listen.

"We are now going to repair the swimming pool," he announced. "It will be smaller, five feet deep with two 25-meter lanes and a shallow end for aerobics. It will tie into academic programs and will engage the community. We will have outside basketball and volleyball courts and a walking path inside and outside—all this by spring 2015. For the community, there will be a membership fee. Students are paying a recreation fee to support a bond to do the work.

"Light Hall is under construction to make it into a movie theater," Shepard continued. "We are also working with the city on College Avenue."

Stoecker asked if the plan would possibly allow for expansion of the pool.

Shepard said the plan, as it is now, would include locker rooms and where part of the pool is filled in, a state-of-the art weights room.

"In our master plan, if we grow to 5,000 students, we're addressing what will happen to the streets and the need for more dorms and expanded sewage systems and electricity. We will encourage more pedestrians and bicycles. Lights, too. What kind? Solar? We also want to address the flow of things. What if you're disabled?"

Stoecker asked about Light Hall. "The Silco Theater is also being remodeled for a movie theater. Are there possibilities of a two-screen theater, with one on campus and one downtown?"

"We have had conversations about this," Shepard said. "We will also talk to Deming, with its three screens. With five screens, we could bring in first-run movies."

Milligan said those who organized One Billion Rising against domestic violence appreciated Western's support. "Thanks for sending the drum line."

Members Cindy McClean of the DWI Program said she and council member Magistrate Judge Maurine Laney "were horrified about the drinking rules at the schools. We talked to the superintendents and principals about showing the video 'Life of an Athlete.' They were very supportive."

Laney said they were 100 percent for it, "but we have to stay on top of it."

"We also want to see policy change," McClean said.

She announced the Teen Maze to take place April 8 and 9 at the Business and Conference Center. "We need lots of help those days, especially medically trained personnel for the 'hospital.' We have good and bad consequences for their choices."

Lucero thanked Freeport-McMoRan for the Community Investment Fund, for which financial awards will be made on March 24.

"We are also applying to have the Senior Olympics here in 2015-16," she said.

The next health council meeting will take place at 3 p.m. Monday, June 16, at the Grant County Administration Center.

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