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By Roger Lanse

Council, at its May 14, 2019, meeting approved a restaurant beer and wine license with on premises consumption only with Sunday sales by the drink and patio service for Adobe Springs Café at 614 N. Bullard Street.

Council also approved 12 public celebration permit applications for the 2nd Annual Silver City Wine Festival to be held in Gough Park on July 13-14, 2019, sponsored by the New Mexico Wine and Grape Growers Association. License holders included; Black’s Smuggler Winery of Bosque, NM; Jaramillo Vineyards of Belen, NM; La Esperanza Vineyard of San Lorenzo, NM; Las Nueve Ninas Winery of Mora, NM; Luna Rossi Winery of Deming, NM; Noisy Water Winery of Ruidoso, NM; Shattuck Vineyard of T 0r C, NM; Sheehan Winery of Albuquerque, NM; Sombra Antigua Winery of Chamberino, NM; St. Clair Winery of Deming, NM; Wicked Kreations Winery of Albuquerque, NM; and, Wines of the San Juan of Blanco, NM.

Approval was given to a special dispenser permit application for the Kneeling Nun Bike Run and Q’s Southern Bistro Anniversary on May 24-25 at 101 College Avenue, license holder Q’s Southern Bistro, with alcohol service on May 24 from 7-10 p.m. and on May 25 from 12:30 to 11:30 p.m.

However, after some testy exchanges between Jim Nennich of W&N Enterprises, town attorney Robert Scavron, councilors Bettison, Cano, and Ray, and some gavel banging by Ladner, council, in a rare move, disapproved a special dispenser permit application for the Iron Door BBQ and Beers Memorial Weekend Event on May 24-26 at 1123 Pope Street for which W&N Enterprises was the license holder. Council members expressed concern that the event was not a true public celebration as required by state law, would infringe on other events already approved, was brought in late, and was more of a business promotion than a public celebration. Cpt. Ben Villegas, Silver City Police Department, stated with everything else going on over that weekend, his department would be stretched thin because of manpower shortages.

District 1 Councilor Cynthia Bettison stated the Western New Mexico University Museum will be open to the public this coming weekend, May 25-26, each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

District 4 Councilor Guadalupe Cano said that museum staff, and possibly town staff, needs diversity training regarding a quote attributed to the interim director of the Silver City Museum about “old wounds from union management and the division between Anglos and Spanish-speakers.” Her point was that many Anglos speak Spanish and many Hispanics do not.

District 3 Councilor Jose Ray asked residents to support the “Blues Fest.” He also said a Labor Day fiesta called “Carnitas, Musica y Mas” is planned for Gough Park in September with activities for youth and senior citizens and Spanish and country-western music.

Two residents spoke during the public comment phase of the meeting, one opposing the beer garden at the upcoming Blues Fest, and the other opposed the Blues Fest, in general.

Mayor Ken Ladner proclaimed Eve West Bessier as Silver City area’s poet laureate for 2019-2021.

Ella Donnelly, a 7th grader at Aldo Leopold High School brought a mockup of her invention, along with Mark Antrell, her teacher, hoping council would consider it worthy to test. Her idea is to install solar devices along roads to warn drivers of unseen vehicles coming up a hill or around a corner beyond the original driver’s sight. The warning would work off a vehicle’s magnetic strip and the roadside solar devices would be easy to maintain, she said. Town Manager Alex Brown told council a test project is being considered. All praised not only Ella, but her idea.  

A tourism update was given council by Joanie Griffin of Sunny 505, the concern handling tourism advertising for the town. She said social media, print media, radio spots, digital ads, and airport advertising are being conducted in Tucson, Albuquerque and El Paso, with airport advertising also being conducted in Phoenix. They have updated the Visitor’s Guide and are working closely with the New Mexico Tourism Department and New Mexico Magazine. She reported sending out monthly online newsletters which have an open rate of double the industry average. 2019 objectives include increasing the lodger’s tax to the town by three percent, and are on track for more than a 10 percent increase.

Sunny 505 is paid by lodger’s tax funds, Brown said.

Water rates will go up .30/1,000 gallons in fiscal year 2020, according to Brown. The increase will affect users in town, out of town, and water associations. For the average household, Brown said, the increase, with tax, will amount to about one dollar per month. Everything else regarding town finances will remain pretty much the same, Brown said, including total expenditures and revenues.

Bruce Ashburn, representing PNM, told council PNM is almost ready to begin construction of a 50mw solar array in Rio Arriba County. If all goes well, the array is set to be on line in 2021. He stated to get the Public Regulatory Commission’s final approval for the array, PNM must show there is enough interest to purchase the product and that the project is fully subscribed. So, PNM is offering, at no upfront cost, the opportunity for municipalities to subscribe to the project saying they will commit to purchasing power from the array for 15 years. Ashburn stated the cost of purchasing one megawatt of power to the Town of Silver City from this renewable project is estimated to be about $60,000 (depending on fuel costs) plus an annual administrative fee per year, considerably less than what the same power would cost from other sources.

PNM is under the gun, Ashburn said, in that the PRC is requiring them to be 40 percent carbon  free in New Mexico by 2025 and 100 percent carbon free in New Mexico by 2050.

Brown recommended approval of this notice of intent. Ladner caller it a ‘win-win’ situation. Bettison termed it ‘an incredible opportunity.’ Council approved the NOI.

Council voted to adopt the state’s new Local Election Act. Municipal elections will now be held on even-numbered years and terms will be four years. The next muni election, according to Town Clerk Ann Mackie, will be in March 2020, when councilors in districts 1 and 3 will be on the ballot. In March 2022, councilors in districts 2 and 4, and the mayor’s spot, will be on the ballot.

Ladner reappointed Judy Billings to the Municipal Museum Community Advisory Group and Jeff Fell and Paul Baca to the Cemetery Board.

Live from Silver City

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