The Grant County Commission at its regular meeting Tuesday morning talked about the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan, the county's priorities and the importance of the plan.

County Manager Jon Paul Saari prefaced the discussion by saying that he, Commission Chairman Brett Kasten and County Planner Anthony Gutierrez had met with local legislators, Sen. Howie Morales and Reps. Dianne Hamilton and Rodolpho "Rudy" Martinez to discuss the ICIP in relation to possible capital outlay.

"Our top priority is to replace the pig barn at the County Fairgrounds," Saari said. "Sections were rendered unsafe by a microburst. We are working toward a preliminary engineering report, so if we get capital outlay, we will be ready to go out to bid."


Gutierrez pointed out that if a project is not on the ICIP, it will not be considered for funding.

Although he said some projects might need to be rearranged in the list, the top five priorities in order are the county fair building; construction on the Administration Center for the needs of the Sheriff's Department and to reconstruct the façade of the building, because of public safety; an industrial small business park, which is the No. 1 priority on the economic development master plan; development of a water storage facility near Fort Bayard; and the courthouse renovation, which would include upgrading the electrical system and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Next in line, but not in the top five—considered the most urgent needs—are water and wastewater, including a lift station for the Fort Bayard Medical Center to get water more efficiently to the facility;  and Fort Bayard economic development.

"The rest are projects that were on last year's ICIP," Gutierrez said.

Commissioner Christy Miller asked why the Conference and Business Center is so far down the list.

"It's a different type of funding, and we already have some funding for the project and are working on the building," Gutierrez explained.

In reference to other projects on the list, Gutierrez said the county anticipates receiving funding for the North Hurley sewer, and the county is trying to do more in-house on the GIS mapping and planning in general.

"We are trying to accelerate planning, so we are ready when funding is available," Gutierrez said.

Miller asked about Phase 4 of Bataan Memorial Park.

Saari explained that it was for grandstands and lighting for the fields.

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said drainage also needed to be addressed.

Miller also asked about the senior living facility.

Saari said not all projects on the ICIP are county projects, but may include those for which a non-profit had requested the county be fiscal agent.

Kasten said the list, with possible revisions, would be approved at the Sept. 25 meeting, because it is due to the state by Oct. 1. "I think we should move up in priority North Hurley Road and the Tyrone roads for chipseal, and fix the failing sub base in a couple of places."

"We can add that, but put what year you want the funding," Gutierrez said.

"The top five is what we present at the Prospectors' meeting before the legislators," Saari said.

He introduced Nikki Zeuner of The Wellness Coalition, who said she had two items to report on—last year's project and a proposal for a new project, for which she would request funding.

"Two of you provided us with a sum of money," Zeuner said. She explained the purpose was to make non-profits able to maintain themselves.

"We met with non-profits and provided workshops, as well as one-on-one mentoring," she said.  "We build a website for El Refugio, Inc., with a way to solicit donations online. We also helped Bikeworks apply for a grant, which is pending in the second round, and will help the group apply for two more this fall. The Gila Conservation Education Center was helped through a transition.

"We made the money work for these organizations and helped that money be leveraged to provide additional funding," she said. "It helped when we could say the county is innovative in aiding non-profits."

The second item she discussed was a proposal that she described as a "little different."

"Last February when I met with a cohort of 13 non-profit organizations, they said they wanted to collaborate to get big grants together," Zeuner said. "We call that 'collective impact.'"

She said such a public/private partnership requires skills, the building of trust and shared leadership. "There is always a need for a strong impartial leader. I am proposing a working title of Council of Non-profits. You know the Council of Governments for government entities. Why not the same for non-profits? It would be an entity with sustainability for a shared mission to make the county better and a healthy place."

She said: "Collaboration gets more bang for the buck, so I have given you a proposed scope of work."

Zeuner would do workshops. Miller suggested Saari do one on what the county can and cannot do for non-profits.

"Such a group would work as a clearinghouse for non-profits," Saari said. "We'll bring the proposal before the commission at the next meeting."

The rest of the meeting will be continued in subsequent article(s).

Live from Silver City

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