By Charlie McKee

In their combined Work Session and Regular Meeting on August 23, 2012, the Grant County Commission approved numerous contracts, bids, and agreements. After approval of the July 24 and July 30, 2012, Meeting Minutes, as well as the July 2012 Financial Report and the August 21, 2012, Expenditure Report, the Commissioners first considered New Business items.

In the first item of New Business, the Commissioners approved a proposal from The Volunteer Center of Grant County to provide management services to the Mimbres Senior Center as a pilot program to serve as a model for all Senior Centers in the county. Commissioner Christy Miller pointed out that the Commission was approving a proposal, as opposed to an agreement or contract. Therefore, the approval was contingent upon County Manager Jon Saari's negotiating an agreement to formalize the pilot program with Alicia Edwards, Executive Director of The Volunteer Center, and Terry Trujillo, Director of County Senior Programs. Miller also noted that the program is anticipated to bring much needed benefits to seniors in the Mimbres Valley.

Also approved under New Business were the transfer of unused state funds in the amount of $6,300 to treatment programs in the DWI Program, as well as the asset transfer of an ambulance from GRMC to the Sapillo Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

The last item in New Business was tabled until the next Commission Meeting on September 11, 2012, pending more detailed financial analysis.  El Refugio requested $10,000 – a 100% increase over their request last year – to help provide shelter services to victims of domestic violence.  Commissioner Miller noted that, while it is understood that the incidences of such crime have increased in the past year, it is important that El Refugio provide the Commission with more definitive expense analysis for the requested funds.

The Commissioners approved the following contracts, agreements, and bids:

* Grant Agreements with the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management:

* A-09-73 - Stonegarden Grant in the amount of $332,622 for extensive training and equipment for the Sheriff's Department
* A-12-35 - Safe Border Grant in the amount of $50,000 for additional personnel in the Sheriff's Department.  However, it was noted that recruiting someone to fill such a position is extremely difficult, given the requirements of the position and its temporary nature.
* Maintenance Agreements:
* A-11-40 – Agreement to help the City of Bayard with a roadwork chip seal project.
* Consent Agenda Item – Renewal of maintenance contract on all non-Xerox copy machines in the Clerk's Office, Manager's Office, Road Department, Sheriff's Department, and Treasurer's Office.
* A-11-52 – Agreement with USDA Gila National Forest to upgrade radio coverage, thereby eliminating the "hole" in the radio signal area for Sheriff's horse patrol officers.
* A-12-38 – Agreement with the New Mexico Environment Department for Fort Bayard Medical Center sewage system improvements in the amount of $100,000 to eliminate any potential sewage system backup.

* Detention Contracts:

* A-12-36 – Contract with McKinley County for housing juvenile offenders, only as necessary, at $95/day.
* A-12-37 – Contract with Santa Fe County for housing adult offenders, only as necessary, at $85/day.

* Professional Service Agreements:

 * A-12-39 – Contract in the amount of $2,000 with New Mexico State Department of Cultural Affairs to provide Bookmobile service to rural Grant County areas.
* A-12-40 – Contract in the amount of $36,000 with the Law Office of David H. Gorman to provide legal services to the County, while a candidate search for County Attorney is ongoing.

* Bids:

* B-11-08 – Construction of the Public Apron at the Grant County Airport awarded to Southwest Concrete and Paving for the base bid amount of $594,000.
* B-12-03 – Purchase of Poly Water Storage Tanks in the amount of $159,000 for the Volunteer Fire Department Flying A Substation, paid by Fire Department funds.

While recessed as Grant County Commission and convened as the Grant County Indigent and Health Care Claims Board, the Board approved 967 health care claims and $2,800 in indigent costs for a total of $643,000.

During the County Reports portion of the Commission Meeting, the Commission received a report on the success of the new Grant County Detention Center.  After one month of operation, the Center has implemented a new computer system, is in the process of following up on any problem areas that need repair under warranty, and has instituted a community outreach program.  The outreach includes the Gila Regional Medical Center, which will be providing necessary health screening within the facility, as well as religious organizations, Border Area Mental Health, and workforce organizations that are willing to provide services to inmates.

Randy Villa, Grant County Assessor, also reported to the Commission regarding the New Mexico Association of Counties' legislative priorities.  These priorities include Emergency Medical Services funding, delinquent property taxes, drought and fire issues, as well as others.

The Commission also heard a report from Mark Valenzuela, Vice President of George K. Baum & Company Investment Bankers, regarding the Gila Regional Medical Center's prospects for bond issuance to support its planned expansion and renovation.  Valenzuela recommended a phased approach to bond issuance over several years and stated that both the Medical Center and the County have excellent bond ratings, while interest rates are exceptionally low and the market is receptive.  All of this is good news for GRMC.

Other County Reports included the following:

* Saari informed the Commission that the County is investigating the idea of making a volume purchase of nine vehicles for the County.  He wants to keep the purchase local in order to save on vehicle delivery charges and to have locally trained mechanics, as well as wanting to purchase American manufactured vehicles.
* Saari and Miller discussed ongoing review of Essential Air Services proposals for Grant County Airport from Great Lakes Airlines and Seaport Air.  Great Lakes is proposing either two non-stop flights to Phoenix per day or two flights per day to Denver via Pueblo, Colorado, or Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Seaport is proposing three flights per day to Albuquerque/Clovis, but is proposing a smaller nine passenger plane.  Because of WNMU's requirements for planes large enough to carry athletic teams, the smaller plane may not be an acceptable option.
* Commissioner Gabriel Ramos reported that there needs to be a system of road ranking implemented throughout the County to establish priorities for clearing and road maintenance during the monsoon season.  There are over 700 miles of road in the County to maintain, and essential services may be delayed if maintenance crews are misdirected.
* Saari reported that renovation construction is ongoing at the Grant County Business and Conference Center and is scheduled for completion in March 2013.  In the meantime, classes and other events normally scheduled in the Center are being relocated to the Grant County Administration Building, the Senior Center, and other locations.

Lastly, Saari announced the schedule of upcoming Grant County Commission meetings as follows:

September 11 – Combination Work Session & Regular Meeting
September 25 – Combination Work Session & Regular Meeting
October 11 – Combination Work Session & Regular Meeting
October 23 – Work Session
October 25 – Regular Meeting: Update on all County Departments

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