The Grant County Commission at its first work session of the year welcomed a new commissioner-Ron Hall, representing District 3-and a new treasurer-Steve Armendariz.

County Manager Jon Paul Saari began the review of the agenda for the regular meeting to be held at 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Grant County Administration Center.

The first item of business will be to elect a chairman.

A public hearing to transfer a liquor license has been cancelled.

The expenditure report will show that up to Jan. 7, the county has spent for the month of December $4,048,544.84. Saari explained that $1.2 million is an indigent fund payment and $1.203 million is for construction on the County Business and Conference Center. The rest was for a month's worth of payroll and "normal expenditures," he said.

Under new business, Sheriff Raul Villanueva will recognize the three D.A.R.E. Program essay winners. "They receive a scholarship and a medal," Villanueva said.

Commissioners will consider the volunteer fire department election results. Saari said the members of one department came forward with concerns about the election process and the individuals chosen as officers. "I will discuss the issue with (County Attorney) Abby (Robinson)," he said.

As a consent agenda item, the County Commission will approve or disapprove the Emergency Medical Services annual service report and application for the Gila Regional Medical Center EMS, Gila Valley EMS, Mimbres Valley EMS, Pinos Altos Volunteer Fire and Rescue and Tyrone VFR.

An addition of Policy 55 to the Grant County Sheriff's Department Standard Operating Procedures would set rules and guidelines for use of the computers that have been installed in patrol cars, so the officers can stay out in the county and do their reports. "It's a brand new policy," Saari said.

He listed the committees that commissioners and county officials would serve on for the coming year.

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said the list should include a statement that those who are appointed to boards and committees vote on behalf of the Commission. Saari said the list would be moved to resolutions and would include the statement for Thursday's meeting.

Ramos also noted that there is confusion about the Transit Authority now that Grant County has taken it over. "We've suggested that we need to consider all transportation."

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten said he would like to see the Rural Transit District director give a report to the Commission, especially on issues that relate to the on-call services for the elderly.

Ramos said the marketing on the buses needs also to be addressed, because the signs look tacky after years of weather.

Kasten asked what the policy for advertising was. "Can we take off the old ones and put new ones on?"

Saari suggested a vinyl wrap, so the whole bus is a moving billboard, but when he said the closest one to do that was Las Cruces, Kasten said he would prefer that it be put out to bid and be done by a local business.

Ramos asked about the construction of the bus depot at the Business and Conference Center. Saari said the inside is complete, but the stucco and parking lot are being worked on, with a completion date of March or April.

Discussion ensued on the joint-powers agreement for the buses. The RTD and buses are now controlled by Grant County. Kasten requested that a structure for how the RTD should look be developed for the February meeting, "and we'll look at it."

Five items scattered throughout the agenda address the steps that must be completed and submitted to the state for DWI Program funding. They include approval of the funding application, a statement of assurances for the application, a cooperative agreement with the New Mexico Department of Health for the application, a memorandum of understanding with the NM Department of Finance and Administration for the funding application and finally a resolution authorizing the county to submit the application to DFA to participate in the Local DWI Grant and Distribution Program.

An intergovernmental transfer of a 1995 Ford Bronco from the Road Department to Western New Mexico University will be considered.  Saari explained the university received a grant to study the effects of the Whitewater-Baldy Fire, but did not have a four-wheel-drive vehicle for researchers to be able to access the fire areas.

Under contracts and agreements, four agreements for professional services in the Juvenile Probation Office included termination of an agreement with Daniel Ziegler, because he resigned; an amount of $13,440 for Yolanda Manzano for services in the JPO; $13,440 for Randall Compton for JPO services; and $4,105 for Alexander Buck for surveillance services.

Kasten asked if the county has a resolution to give the county manager authority to sign and approve the expenditures before the commissioners approve them as a consent agenda item. Saari said he and Robinson would look at the issue before the February meeting.

Two resolutions, besides the DWI one to be considered at the Thursday meeting are the Open Meetings Resolution for 2013 and the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Project changes.

Saari said the county would try to hold firm on the previous Wednesday as the deadline for items to be put on the next week's agenda, "so we can get the packet to you as a .pdf on Friday, giving you time to look over all items." The OMA resolution will include that the commissioners will receive items in electronic form by the February meeting. "We want to have individual monitors for you and a big screen for the audience through an Apple TV. We want to make sure there are no additions at the last minute, although we can remove things up to the meeting time."

Anthony Gutierrez, county planner, discussed the changes made to the ICIP for 2014-2018. "The state asked for the changes so that items are project specific with good estimates of costs. We had to adjust and put a lot more information into the ICIP. Anything we're asking for funding for must be in the top five on the priority list. As a result, the Administration Center is the top priority, with the fair barn moving down in priority, because the county plans to borrow money to pay for the demolition and reconstruction. We also raised Fort Bayard for enhancement to the theater."

The commissioners, as the Grant County Indigent and Health Care Claims Board, will consider 538 claims for $411,507.46.

Hall said he would like to have someone present at the meeting to explain to citizens where the money comes from to pay the indigent claims.

Saari said he would ask Beth Allred, who oversees the fund, if she can present at Thursday's meeting.

Saari said he would add an item to the agenda about construction of a building to house a brush truck at Burro Mountain Homestead. "The residents have a concern, because it's one-way in and one-way out, and it's a long way for response to a fire. They will build a 40-foot-by-40-foot building with two bays and rent half to the Tyrone Volunteer Fire Department for a brush truck. It has been approved by the state. They will use the other half for storage for ground maintenance equipment and water tanks that can be pulled behind the brush truck. They will incur all costs of construction."

The regular meeting will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Grant County Administration Center.

The second and final article will cover county reports.

Live from Silver City

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