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Grant County Commission hears updates and reports

At Tuesday's Grant County Commission regular meeting, commissioners heard an update on the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Projects for 2012.

Anthony Gutierrez, county planner, presented them in order of rank. He pointed out the detention center is the No. 1 priority, but is essentially complete.

County Manager Jon Paul Saari said once the exhaust fan for the dishwasher is installed, the facility would receive its certificate of occupancy.

Gutierrez said because the renovations to the Grant County Business and Conference Center have been bid and the bid is under negotiation, the project, the second priority, is on its way.

Saari reported architect Kevin Robinson had succeeded in getting the bid into the amount of funding the county has, which is about $2.4 million from the Economic Development Administration and a federal funding of $1.989 million and an additional $7,000, to include construction of a multi-modal bus terminal.

Third is modification of the North Hurley wastewater system to link into the Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. "We have submitted everything," Gutierrez said. "We're just waiting for the loan and closing documentation to start the bidding process."

Fourth is GIS mapping and planning. GIS training for employees in the Planning and Mapping departments has been initiated. Included in the departments are the economic development master plan, comprehensive plan, Community Development Block grants, USDA grant applications, Southwest New Mexico Economic Development Partnership, Colonias Infrastructure Fund, five-year infrastructure improvement plan, extra-territorial subdivision planning, Control Point network for surveying and mapping, floodplain management and emergency management.

Completion of Bataan Memorial Park is on the list, but no capital project funding is available. Commissioner Gabriel Ramos asked if there were any funding available for lights, so the field could be used at night. Gutierrez said grants generally have as their priorities school bus routes, water and wastewater facilities. "Grants for recreation are very competitive, because there is no capital outlay."

The multi-modal bus terminal is No. 6.

Other ICIP priorities include county arterial improvements, which was not funded in a recent Colonias Fund application; courthouse renovation; an airport industrial park, for which some engineering has been done; emergency management, which has received funding for mobile equipment and cots to be more prepared for emergencies; and Fort Bayard, which was listed in the economic development plan as one of the prime sites in the county, but questions remain.

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten said engineering plans are needed to make the county competitive and be shovel ready when funding is available.

Commissioners declared June 29-30 as Relay for Life Days in a proclamation.

Sheriff Raul Villanueva and Western New Mexico University President Joseph Shepard were approved as new Grant County Community Health Council members.

Pamela Archibald and Jeremiah Garcia were re-appointed to the Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees.

Approved were adjusted Public Employee Retirement Association reports for the Pinos Altos and Sapillo Creek volunteer fire departments.

Accepted was the request for a medical rescue transport vehicle for the Tyrone Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department to be placed in Hachita. GRMC has retired a vehicle, and the rescue vehicle will be housed in Hachita. Because it is not an ambulance, it cannot transport someone directly to the hospital, but can be intercepted by a GRMC or Deming ambulance or LifeFlight. If none of the three is available, it can transport the person to the hospital. Five individuals in the Hachita area are certified to ride in the rescue vehicle.

The Grant County Senior Programs requested and received a decrease in the non-client meal price to $9.

An inventory deletion request was approved to get rid of items "deemed no longer usable by the county."

In contracts and agreements, a professional service agreement with Felix Ortega in the CYFD Surveillance program was approved for a decrease of $200.

A DWI Grant Program was cut a bit for this year to $85,000 plus a county match of $12,750. Memoranda of understanding between the DWI Program and the Sheriff's Department and the DWI Program and the city of Bayard were approved. A professional services contract between the DWI Program and Arline Hoagland was approved.

A contract between Grant County and Luna County Juvenile Detention Center for housing of juvenile offenders was approved. Saari explained the county has contracts with all the juvenile facilities in the state. "We try to use Deming because of its proximity. It costs us $108 plus medical and other expenses, such as transportation. We don't send anyone to the CYFD facility in Albuquerque because it has the most issues."

The commissioners approved a vendor agreement between the Grant County Senior Programs and the North Central New Mexico Development District of the Non-Metro Agency on Aging for funding to provide congregate meals, home-delivered meals, homemaker/housekeeping services, adult day care, respite, transportation, and other services to Grant County seniors. The total grant amount, including match is $512,159.

Also approved for the program was funding of $43,405 to pay wages and $42,409 to purchase raw food.

Commissioners approved an employee assistance program with Deer Oaks EAP Services to provide counseling services to county employees for up to four visits a year, up to 12 hours of service, and up to eight hours of legal advice for $1.03 per year per employee. "It is all confidential," Saari said. "They use a lot of counselors in town."

Resolutions approved included budget adjustments to clear grants and capital projects and an application for financial assistance and a project application to the New Mexico Finance Authority for the Cliff-Gila Volunteer Fire Department to purchase a new fire truck with a loan of $218,882 to be paid back with fire excise funding.

As the Grant County Indigent and Health Care Claims Board, commissioners approved 984 claims for $597,683.86, $37,692.81 of which was for out-of county claims.

Treasurer Alfred Sedillo said his office was preparing to send out tax delinquent notices. He also announced he and Steve Armendariz had graduated from county college and were certified.

Saari announced that County Attorney Abby Robinson's last day was Friday. She resigned to take a position as a special master for the court.

"We have ads out for a new attorney," Saari said. "If we hire, it will be in executive session for interviews. If we decide to contract for services, it will be discussed in open session."

He also announced the retirement of Mike Jimenez as jail administrator. Joseph Andazola will serve as acting administrator until a new one is chosen.

Ramos said the Southwest Alliance of County Commissioners was set to meet Wednesday, so the members could address challenges together. He also said July 5, Little League All-stars would be playing.

He said the Southwest Rural Transit Department employees "now belong to Grant County."

Kasten said community meetings were being held on the fire and flooding dangers. He also talked to the governor's chief of staff, who said the National Guard will provide potable water if needed by residents in the areas likely to be hit hardest by flooding.

"With the emergency declaration, we will try to reinforce bridges, so Gila does not become an island," Kasten said. "We're trying to be as prepared as possible. As soon as overflow from septic systems goes into wells, we'll be in the same position as Haiti was. Pray for Glenwood. They have stripes on the road where the floodwaters could rise to."

"I hope in the future the Forest Service considers logging," Ramos said.

Saari described as a "perfect experiment" when the fire in Ruidoso hit the forest managed by the Mescalero Apache with only 14 employees, the fire lay down and just burned along the grass and not into the crowns of the trees. He also said he has been told the endangered spotted owl prefers the open forest.

"The highlight to me was when the regional forester said: 'I get it now.'" Kasten said. 'Fifty percent of the wilderness in Arizona and New Mexico has burned up in the past two years."

Commissioners went into executive session to discuss threatened litigationin regard to a 2012 Detention Center matter.

At the end of the executive session, they recessed until adjourning after the open house at the new Detention Center on Ridge Road.

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