By Jim Owen

Improvements to Bayard's wells, water meters, irrigation systems and streets are either under way or in the planning stages.

City officials are soliciting bids for a wellfield project that is to involve rehabilitating the wells, assessing their capacity to produce water, and installing a water transmission line over Cameron Creek. The line will be suspended in the air, rather than placed in the bottom of the arroyo, because flooding has washed out previous waterlines.

The deadline for contractors to submit bids is June 19, with construction expected to begin later in the summer. Bayard has secured $417,000 for the project from the federal colonias-infrastructure program. The funding includes a $42,000 loan, with the remainder in the form of a grant.

Another initiative will feature the replacement of all residents' water meters with devices that can be read automatically. City employees who have been reading meters will be assigned other duties, according to Bayard Clerk-Treasurer Kristina Ortiz.

The project also entails replacing a 4-inch water main along Railroad Street with an 8-inch line. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has pledged an $837,600 grant and a $109,000 loan for the meters, related equipment and waterline. Bayard also has received $234,000 in state legislative appropriations for the improvements.

Installation of a wastewater effluent-reuse project began April 22, and is scheduled to be completed by February. Employees of Tatsch Construction Co. are putting in a filtration system and piping to distribute treated sewage water from the regional wastewater plant just south of Bayard to the ballfields at Snell Middle School and Bayard Elementary, the Little League fields and the new cemetery.

The city has received $3.8 million in grants from the state Office of Natural Resources Trustee for the project. The funding consists of revenue from fines the New Mexico Environment Department charges.

Ortiz reported that the city is seeking $425,000 from the federal community-development block-grant program to construct an arroyo crossing to link Stewart Street with East Street. She said the connection is needed because, when the arroyo is flooded, residents (as well as emergency-services providers) cannot access that part of town.

During Tuesday's regular meeting of the Bayard City Council, officials accepted a bid of $274,427 from Southwest Concrete & Paving to work on the new municipal cemetery, on the east side of U.S. 180 south of town.

The work is to include a paved access road off the highway, for which Bayard has received permission from the state Department of Transportation; paved roads within the cemetery; and a concrete ceremony area. The contractor will allow for irrigation conduit to be installed under the roads.

The council agreed to use two years' worth of Bayard's share of state DOT local-government road funds (about $117,000) to apply chip-seal paving to numerous city streets. Officials hope to contract with the county to provide workers and equipment for the project, which is expected to be completed by September.

Engineers Inc. of Silver City is designing an irrigation system for the Cyclone T-ball field. Either the city's maintenance department or a contractor will install piping and sprinklers, and plant grass.

In other business Tuesday, councilors decided to continue providing emergency water to Hanover. Ortiz said the small town's water consumers association "has failed to make payment" since the community began receiving water in August.

Association officials, who for years have struggled with wells that are not producing, are "seeking alternative means to make payment," according to Ortiz.

In the meantime, councilors agreed to provide as much as 200,000 gallons per month to Hanover, which at times has used more than that amount. Ortiz said the limit was imposed "to protect the supply to Bayard residents." The minimum monthly bill will be $2,921 for 104 water connections in Hanover.

Following a closed session to discuss personnel, the council voted to no longer issue credit cards to Bayard elected officials. The mayor, councilors and city employees have used the cards to pay for gas, lodging and meals when they are traveling on municipal business. According to Ortiz, one elected official charged a personal stay in a motel, prompting the change in policy.

On other matters, councilors:

• Learned that the Cobre Summer Lunch Program will provide meals to all children, regardless of family income, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays at Fire Station Park;

• Accepted the resignation of police officer Jason Klein, and announced that a certified (or certifiable) officer will be hired to succeed him;

• Publicly asked Little League parents to clean up their trash following games, to give city workers a break; and

• Agreed to pay Ortiz's expenses to attend a one-day colonias-infrastructure meeting next month in Deming.

Live from Silver City

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