Editor's Note: This is the Part 8 of a multi-article series on the Prospectors' Legislative Community Forum, held at Western New Mexico University on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Community groups presented their needs and concerns to New Mexico Reps. Dianne Hamilton and Rodolpho "Rudy" Martinez, and Sen. Howie Morales.
Santa Clara Mayor Richard Bauch presented the village's needs.
"The village, as you know, has had significant challenges," Bauch said. "In the past few years, we have come a long way. We are back to functional. The audits will be completed by March. The past two years, we have invested $100,000 to improve our wells and infrastructure. We are requesting $115,000 to rewire the wells and install a SCADA system. We still have a 1950's electrical system that is inefficient and temperamental. We have the engineering and design of the new system done. It's shovel ready to go out to bid."
He said the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system could control the wells remotely. "Now it's labor intensive with people having to drive out several times a day to turn the wells on and off. It would make the system more reliable and reduce electrical usage, plus save personnel time."
Bauch said the village is requesting funding for a backhoe and a street sweeper. "The village has no street sweeper, and when it rains it creates problems with debris ending up in piles. Our backhoe is 23 years old and needs repair almost every time it is utilized."
"Unfortunately, our audits will not be done by December, but by March. We are in the middle of our third budget and have completed two. We have worked hard to get everything done."
"I know the challenges that have been there," Morales said. "I thank you for making the audits your priority. If they are done by March, maybe we can get some things funded. I ask Priscilla (Lucero of the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments) for a correction."
"We hope for a new backhoe and a used street sweeper," Bauch said. "We have gotten preliminary estimates, but have found no source yet."
"When your audits are in place, it opens up other funding opportunities," Morales said.
Lucero said: "It absolutely opens up Colonias funding."
Martinez thanked Bauch for his hard work where the village is eligible for funding. "For the SCADA and the electrical improvements, is this enough?"
"We have estimates of $80,000 for rewiring the wells, and $25,000 to $30,000 for the SCADA system," Bauch said.
Martinez said: "given increasing costs, this may be low."
Lucero said she and Bauch would meet with the engineers to determine if a revision is needed. "The reason it is going to capital outlay is that the Colonias Infrastructure Fund took that piece out of the CIF."
"I want you to be able to compete," Martinez said. "There may be other agencies that can provide the equipment."
Hamilton said she was "well aware the three communities in the Mining District add a great deal to our community, so I can support your efforts, although because I do not represent your area, I cannot do so monetarily."
Bauch confirmed the Mining District is very important to Grant County.
Lucero and Tracy Burnsed, SWNMCOG transportation director, presented the report on the agency.
"We want to show the good in the county," Lucero said.
She listed the awards to the county, which includes $51 million to the county from Community Development Block Grant funding, since its inception.
"This year, CDBG is significantly reduced from $13 million to $8 million," Lucero said. "It has reduced its staff from nine to four, and has new project managers."
She also listed the CIF, USDA and DOT funding that has gone to each community. She said the CIF fund treated southern New Mexico well, and from a fund of $13 million this year, it will increase to $17 million next year.
"We are taking up additional grant administration and keeping up," she said.
She also cited the $18,000 awarded for the next three years for a community initiative joining Grant, Hidalgo and Luna counties. "In order to tap into the funds, we have to have an economic development planner. That is what we are doing. We also have a small contract for a walking school bus project."
"An initiative I took the lead on was one I applied for and got $89,000 and I have the same amount of match for a comprehensive economic development plan for the state," Lucero said. "I wanted to make sure rural needs are addressed."
"You must have a twin sister to get all the work done," Hamilton said. "Thank you for keeping us informed."
Martinez thanked the COG for its efforts. "Any time we have a question, we call the COG, and you and your staff are very much available."
"We're probably in communication on a daily basis," Morales said. "It makes me proud. We have only five legislators in our four counties, but with the work you do, we can see results. We've done fairly well with assistance to the southern part of the state that is just amazing. Thank you for being advocates for the communities."
"It is an honor to serve you and the local governments," Lucero said.
The next article will begin coverage of non-profit presentations, and will start with the joint Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society and the Fort Bayard Restoration and Development Coalition presentations.