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Grant County Commission meeting held in three parts

The Grant County Commission held its regular meeting Thursday, Nov. 8, in three parts.

At the Grant County Administration Center, commissioners held a public hearing on an ordinance authorizing the issuance of Grant County hospital and gross receipts tax revenue bonds, series 2012, in an aggregate principal amount not exceeding $10 million for the purpose of defraying the cost of acquiring, constructing, finishing and equipping an expansion of the Gila Regional Medical Center.


Perry Bendicksen of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck law firm in Albuquerque, said the bonds would be put out to bid before the end of the year, so they could be bank qualified to make them attractive to local and state banks. The bonds are backed by GRMC assets.

Mark Valenzuela, vice president of George K. Baum & Company of Albuquerque, investment bankers, will oversee the bonds.

"I spent time with the hospital board," Valenzuela said. "From this point, we will seek out bids from local banks and others in the state of New Mexico. They come back with formal pricing, and we will create a resolution and lock in the bids before the end of the year."

Brian Bentley, GRMC chief executive officer, thanked the county for its support. "The board supported up to $20 million in bank-qualified loans."

A later item on the agenda was moved forward so Mayor Richard Bauch of Santa Clara could speak to his concerns about a water line from the old Fort Bayard to the new Fort Bayard Medical Center, for which the village provides water. "I feel it will have a negative impact financially on the village," he said. "I have heard expressed issues with water quality from the village. The water system in Fort Bayard is collapsed. And putting Fort Bayard water into our city limits may violate one or two of our ordinances. I ask for meetings with the county on the issue."

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten said the water line is not a county project, but a request from the state to do engineering on the project.

Bauch said he was told by Charles Gara of Property Control Division to come to the county with his concerns.

County Manager Jon Paul Saari said the issue was discussed during construction of the new FBMC. "We were asked by the Department of Health and Property Control to get a $50,000 planning and engineering grant and then turn the report back to the state. The grant will cover the environmental assessment and part of the preliminary engineering."

"I would like to be part of the discussion," Bauch said. "A portion is within village limits. Why didn't they come to us?"

Saari pointed out that the majority of the project would be outside the Santa Clara city limits, so "that may be why they came to us."

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos suggested the state, county and village should meet together.

Kasten suggested such a meeting might be held during the legislative session.

"My main complaint is that we are not in the loop," Bauch said. "We'll get together in Santa Fe.

"The village is very interested in the preservation and development of Fort Bayard," Bauch continued. "Can you, the county; we, the village; and the university (Western New Mexico University) form an alliance?"

"No problem at all," Kasten said.

Ramos said the county has always been in support of Santa Clara taking over what it can at Fort Bayard.

The commissioners reconvened to attend the "Honoring our veterans," program at José Barrios Elementary School. However, the commissioners had received notice of the incorrect time, so the commission reconvened in the school library to address most of the rest of the agenda.

The expenditure report of $1,053,312.71, which included a sole provider indigent payment, was approved.

Commissioners named Azima Lila Forest to the Food Policy Council and re-appointed Anthony Gutierrez and Carolyn Smith to the council.

In contracts and agreements, three impacting Juvenile Parole and Probation Office surveillance contracts, were approved.

The first was a decrease of $10,000 to Felix Ortega, and the other two were $5,000 increases to Luis Alvarado and Daniel Ziegler.

A resolution to make a budget adjustment for Corre Caminos administration and equipment grants, a job access commute grant, and a general obligation bond grant for the Gila Valley Library for a transfer of $1,261,440 for grants and a $3,000 cash transfer for a 2013 Tourism Grant.

As the Grant County Indigent and Health Care Claims Board, commissioners approved 701 claims for $623,574.39.

During county reports, Christy Miller asked where the county was in the process of appointing a new Detention Center administrator.

Saari said interviews with three internal candidates and one external candidate had been held. The candidates already working at the jail include Acting Director Joseph Andazola, Deputy Gilbert Garcia, and Tom Newby. The external candidate is Mike Carrillo.

Miller also commended the Clerk's Office for a smooth election process.

"That why our country works," Kasten said. "We have peaceful changes of power."

The commissioners then attended the ceremony. After the event, they returned to the Commissioners' Chambers and, as the Grant County Canvassing Board, addressed the General Election.

Clerk Robert Zamarripa said 37 percent of county voters chose to cast their ballots early or as absentee. "We see the trend moving to early and absentee."

On Election Day, 5,165 residents voted for a turnout of 25 percent. A total of 12,891 ballots were issued, with an overall turnout of 62 percent.
"At the next meeting, I will show the comparisons with the 2008 elections, but I think we broke a record," Zamarripa said. "We had 138 provisional ballots, which is high. We had a lot of students who did not get registered in time. Sixty-two of the provisional were good and were counted. Some of the voters were caught off guard because they thought they would be issued regular ballots if they voted in the voter convenience centers, but they were counted just the same as if they have voted at their precincts."

He said long lines had happened nationwide, with some voters waiting for many hours. "During our busiest time, it took about 25 minutes at the Woman's Club, so that's not that long a wait."

Zamarripa commended the poll workers and thanked the commission for accepting his recommendation for convenience centers. "We are looking to extend the centers to more locations that have Internet access."

He especially recognized his elections staff of Marisa Castrillo, Connie Holguin and Liz Gomez. "They are good at what they do."

"I recommend you OK the 2012 General Election results," Zamarripa said. The commissioners did so.

"You make Grant County proud to have you as our clerk," Kasten said.

"We're often the first to turn in results to the Secretary of State," Saari said.

"There are always glitches, but we always have staff ready to address them,"
 Zamarripa said. "One person tried to test the system and tried to vote twice. I think he thought more about his decision when he was in handcuffs in the back of a police car."

Kasten gave a brief overview of what had been approved at the José Barrios school library.

The commissioners then went into executive session to discuss limited personnel matters at the Detention Center.

The next work session is slated for Tuesday, Dec. 11, and the regular meeting on Dec. 13, for the only meetings in December.

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