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2012 in Review

The news that covered the front page the most this year in Grant County and the neighboring Catron County was the merger of two lightning-caused fires, the Whitewater and the Baldy. The two were left to burn in the Gila Wilderness for resource management by the Gila National Forest. However, on May 23, a so-called "wind event" of up to 60 mile-per-hour winds merged the two and pushed the fires toward the area of Willow Creek, which had many vacation cabins, 13 of which burned to the ground. The town of Glenwood in Catron County was devastated economically by the closing of the Catwalk, the loss of tourism and the fear of disastrous floods from burned and denuded hillsides, which did not materialize.  Aerial seeding of the burned high-canopy forest of fir and spruce began on July 13.



Silver City and Grant County declared fire emergencies, due to the continuing drought. Volunteer and municipal fire departments stayed busy fighting the many fires that began around the area—some because of lightning strikes, with no moisture, and carelessness on the part of some residents. So far, 2013 may be even worse, according to some prognostications, as the outlook for the winter is warmer and drier than average.

Early in 2012, excitement in Grant County built around the rumor, which became news, that The Lone Ranger would be filmed at least partly in Grant County. A partial set was built on a local ranch, and people were already talking about auditioning as extras. And then the plug was pulled by the directors, who decided to film in northern New Mexico. The set was dismantled and moved, and Grant County lost its chance for an economic boost.

Up With People made a week-long stop in Silver City. Along with the young adults staying with families throughout the area, the UPW youths did service work, including building most of a trail at Fort Bayard to link the New Deal Theater with the Commanding Officer's quarters across the former parade ground. The week was topped off with performances by the multi-talented young adults.

Silver City floated $6 million in bonds for quality-of-life improvements throughout the town. Grant County, late in the year, helped Gila Regional Medical Center obtain bonds to expand and renovate the county-owned hospital. The Grant County Detention Center also moved into its newly constructed jail.

2012 was New Mexico's Centennial year, so activities throughout the area and the state centered on the 100th birthday as a theme.

The Tour of the Gila bicycle race reached an important milestone this year with its inclusion on the Union Cycliste Internationale Pro Men's race calendar. The designation brought international teams to Silver City and the surrounding area.

The Western New Mexico University Museum received the extensive and comprehensive NAN Ranch Collection of Mimbres pottery to add to its already numerous pots and artifacts from the Mimbres culture. The receipt raises the status of the museum to a research center for archaeologists and anthropologists from around the world.

During the summer, a complaint of nepotism was filed with the state, when County Attorney Abigail Robinson was named special master to the Sixth Judicial Court, for which her father-in-law is Judge J.C. Robinson. Although he did not make the appointment, another did—Judge Henry Quintero, who had previously been in private practice with J.C. Robinson, was also accused in a complaint. After several months, the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission, one at a time, dismissed the complaints. About that time, Abigail Robinson resigned her position as special master and went back to being Grant County attorney.

Silver City and Grant County discussed what should be done about the Essential Air Service contract with Great Lakes Airlines. Problems with flights not arriving and therefore not leaving the Grant County Airport on time or at all some days had caused few to use the service. The route was changed as of Dec. 1, to two round-trip flights a day to/from Phoenix, AZ. The county now had no commercial service to Albuquerque or Santa Fe.

The Silver City Clay Festival inaugural event drew clay artists, archaeologists, and "mud" experts from New Mexico, across the country, and as far away as Canada and Mexico.

The Hurley Infant Jesus Catholic Church in a Mass and ceremony was dedicated as a diocesan shrine to Santo Niño de Atocha. Las Cruces Diocesan Bishop Ricardo Ramirez traveled to Hurley to perform the Mass and dedication in front of an overflowing crowd of parishioners and county residents.

A micro-burst wind storm tore up some of the fair barn at the Cliff-Gila County Fairgrounds. In spite of the damage, the fair went on as planned in September, with fewer stalls available for lambs and pigs. The county plans to have the barn demolished and rebuilt in time for the 2013 fair.

The several elections that took place made up a huge part of this year. Silver City had the first one, with Mayor James Marshall being re-elected as mayor and Polly Cook being chosen as councilor and councilors Jose Ray Sr. and Michael Morones being returned to their seats as councilors.

The next election involved the primaries for the Republican and Democratic party candidates. Many had opponents, so the turnout was good for the primaries.

In September, a mail-out ballot had one issue—the reauthorization of a gross receipts tax to fund the 911 and Emergency Dispatch before it expired at the end of the year. The GRT continues, as it was approved by voters.

The big election of the year was the General Election, with candidates for offices from U.S. president to congressional seats to statewide representatives and senators down to county offices for the electorate to choose. Redistricting caused some headaches and changes in districts for statewide and congressional seats, but in Grant County the results came in with a majority of voters choosing the Democratic Party candidate. However, in spite of Grant County voters, Republican Rep. Steve Pearce will return to his congressional seat. A notable exceptions was the return to the New Mexico House of Representatives of Republican Dianne Hamilton. Democrats Sen. Howie Morales and Rep. Rodolpho "Rudy" Martinez were returned to their state seats.  Francesca Estevez was chosen as District Attorney and Jennifer Delaney became Sixth Judicial District judge. On the county level, Ron Hall was chosen District 3 commissioner; Steve Armendariz as treasurer; and Robert Zamarripa as clerk.

Silver Consolidated Schools board chose a new superintendent to replace Dick Pool, who retired. The new superintendent hails from Wyoming and has settled into the job.

Cobre Schools board, although it named finalists for the superintendent position, decided to keep George Peru as the interim superintendent.

Grant County Community Health Council, with the help of its members, promoted for about six months an assessment survey to determine what county residents consider the most pressing problems in the area for overall health—physical, mental, economic and wellness. The numbers of surveys received and tallied set a new state record of 5,055 surveys returned. The health council will develop a profile of the survey and determine its priorities to address the community's needs.

Sixth Street School celebrated its 130th birthday with a party.

As the year waned, the Silver City-Grant County Historic Chamber of Commerce named a new director, Sherry Logan, to replace Lola Polley, who resigned to follow other opportunities.

The New Mexico Tourism Commission met in Silver City and highlighted its New Mexico True campaign.

And so 2012 ends at the stroke of midnight tonight, with the area having received a small amount of frozen moisture on its final day. Let's hope 2013 will bring more bountiful precipitation to alleviate the drought.

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