By Mary Alice Murphy

Two public hearing will be held as the first items of business at the Grant County Commission regular meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, April 24, at the Grant County Administration Center.

The first public hearing will be discussion regarding the consideration of a proclamation declaring extreme or severe drought conditions and imposition of fireworks restrictions. Immediately following the discussion, commissioners will approve or disapprove the proclamation.

The second public hearing will address the consideration of an emergency ordinance declaring a fire hazard emergency and enacting measures to decrease the county's risk of injury to persons or property and substantial financial loss to the county of Grant and its residents as a result of fire. Commissioners will then approve or disapprove the ordinance as described.

County Attorney Abigail Robinson said the reason for the emergency ordinance is to cover the next few weeks before the commission adopts the permanent ordinance, which will then cause the emergency ordinance to expire.

County Fire Management Officer Randy Villa apologized for being late, as he had been on the phone with the state FMO, who has been in meetings with the governor drafting a request to counties to review their ordinance.

The prediction is by the end of May, he said, there will be extreme conditions in Southeast Arizona and Southwest New Mexico.

"We have had several human-caused fires," Villa said. "One almost burned two homes and did destroy outbuildings.

County Manager Jon Paul Saari pointed to the map in the commissioners' packets: "Almost the whole state of New Mexico is in red for high fuel and no rain."

Saari reviewed the expenditure report of $649,099.35 for the past two-week period. He said that is a "usual" expenditure, without extraordinary expenses.

At the end of March, the county had an actual cash balance of $2,016,793. Projected cash balance, as of the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2014, is estimated to be $2,183,223, minus the required three-twelfths cash reserve of $2,105,342, leaving a projected surplus of $77,881. He reported 61.72 percent of budgeted revenues have been collected, and 2.43 percent of budgeted transfers have been made.

The Road Fund had a negative cash balance of -$431,169, with zero percent of transfers having been made from the General Fund. The projected cash balance as of the end of the fiscal year is $132,705, minus the required one-twelfth cash reserve of $130,935, leaving a surplus of $1,770.

The Corrections Fund at the end of March carried a negative balance of -$1,380,169, with no transfers having been made. Saari has explained at past meetings that the transfers are generally done closer to the end of the fiscal year. The Corrections Fund is not required to have a reserve, but is projected to have a cash balance of $4,868 at the end of the fiscal year.

At the regular meeting the seven to 10 Detention Center officers who were on duty at the time of the administering of the oath of office and being given badges will have the opportunity to make the oath of office and receive badges.

Commissioners will also consider a proclamation declaring the week of May 18-24, as Emergency Medical Services Week to thank EMS personnel for their service to the community.

In contracts and agreements, the commission will consider an agreement with the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department for services through the Juvenile Justice Continuum Program. The county serves as fiscal agent for the $69,385 the program will receive.

Commissioners will discuss a resolution authorizing the transfer of a Grant County parcel of land of more or less one acre to Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Chino Mines Company in exchange for a parcel of mine-owned land for the Santa Rita Volunteer Fire Department station to be built across from the Hanover Outpost, as well as a parcel of land for the easement to the Hanover Cemetery Road. Saari said the road is already laid out, and Road Superintendent Earl Moore said he anticipates building it in June.

Robinson said the resolution step is getting ready to proceed. "We are still going back and forth with the Freeport attorneys. We must also get state permission and then an environmental impact study for the road."

Saari said if the county can beat the May 31 closing date, then the road can begin in June, but "we are relying on a lot of other people."

Commissioners will approve or disapprove a bid for the Tyrone Volunteer Fire Department station to add a training room and bathrooms. "We had six bidders," Saari said. "The low bidder is the recommended one and is local."

After recessing and reconvening as the Grant County Indigent and Health Care Claims Board, commissioners will consider 161 in-county claims for $103,282.88 and six out-of-county claims for $6,394.20.

Saari explained that the in-county claims would be paid to the local providers, including Gila Regional Medical Center, ambulance services and physicians, under the new state plan. The out-of-county claims would continue to be paid by the county Indigent Fund.

"We will have to come before the County Commission before July to create an ordinance that we will send 1/12th of our gross receipts tax to the state to pay for the indigent claims under the new plan," Saari said.

"We will also add an executive session for personnel matters to the agenda," he said.

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten asked that a proclamation be made naming May 6 as Give Grande Day, to support the non-profits receiving donations from donors across the state that day.

The next article will cover county reports.

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Editor's Note

The Grant County Beat continues to bring you new columnists. New this past week are the Christian Corner, for those who are already Christians or are exploring the beliefs.

The second is a business-centered column—Your Business Connection by the New Mexico Business Coalition. The group works to make policy in the state of New Mexico better for all businesses, large and small.

The Beat has a new column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

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