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Grant County Commission hears rest of county reports

Editor's Note: This is the final in a series of articles on the Grant County Commission regular meeting on Thursday, Feb. 21, on the rest of the county reports from the Thursday regular session.

Anthony Gutierrez, who was unable to attend the work session because he was serving on a panel for the Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. Community Investment Fund, said: "It's amazing what Freeport does for the community. We heard amazing needs from the community and it was moving to hear about the programs."

He said he has submitted a Community Development Block Grant application for $232,000 for a lift station for Fort Bayard Medical Center.

To a question about the Loma Verde Subdivision roads, Gutierrez said Loma Verde needed signatures on the plat.

County Manager Jon Paul Saari said he had spoken to Lonnie Sandoval, spokesman for the residents, after working on language in the work plan.

Saari said he would be heading back to Santa Fe. "It's important to be there, watching bills that impact us."

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten said he had not heard updated numbers on capital outlay, but earlier it was thought likely the senators would each have $1 million and each representative $400,000 to $500,000 to disperse in capital outlay. "As far as I know, we are still expecting to get capital outlay funding."

During county reports, Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said: "A lot of stuff on the Internet is not true. I was challenged about Senator John Arthur Smith's bill. You need to get the facts straight. Call to see where we stand on these issues."

He pointed out that any Arizona Water Settlements Act diversion to take the allocated 14,000 annual average acre-feet from the Gila and San Francisco basins would only be allowed to take excess flood waters that would be stored. No diversion could take regular river flows.

Ramos also addressed the U.S. Forest Service fact sheets that were put out. "Supervisor Kelly Russell said she is not making the (Travel Management Plan) decision by herself. The plan specifically states she makes the final decision by herself."

He also talked about the 1,281 miles of roads that have been a matter of contention. "They are Management Level 1 roads, and they are currently being accessed and used. There is a difference between Management Level 1 roads and decommissioned roads. The Gila is an open forest, and people can drive anywhere they want."

"We want a true EIS out there, so we and the public can be the judge," Ramos said. "Once the roads are closed, they are gone forever."

Commissioner Ron Hall said he has been attending his assigned committees. "I enjoy it," he said. "It's a different experience. I've always been involved in the community, but now I'm participating."

He said he has attended neighborhood water meetings, and the Gila Economic Development Alliance Roundtable of businesses and organizations. "The Roundtable is an exchange of ideas about what each is doing in the community. What I took away from the last meeting was the importance of shopping local. If you shop on the Internet, the money goes elsewhere." He also said he visited the Dispatch Center. "It's amazing what they are doing."

"Everything the Commission is doing is important, but I'm concerned about what drugs and alcohol are doing to the community," Hall said. "They cause a lot of human destruction. We need to take it seriously. Businesses have jobs, but they can't find someone who can pass the drug test. Families and children are being destroyed. We need to try to put something together. It's a huge task, but we have to do something."

He plans to attend a Chief Elected Officials Conference in Truth or Consequences. "I'm excited to represent the community."

Kasten said the Grant County Water Commission would meet the next week, Feb. 28. "Our AWSA project is a diversion on Twin Sisters Creek. We want to work on our project to reuse the Bayard Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant effluent, which will be cleaned and treated before going into a reservoir."

The next County Commission work session and regular meeting will take place after the legislative session is concluded. The work session will be at 9 a.m., Tuesday, March 19, and the regular session at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 21, both at the Grant County Administration Center.

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