During the County Commission work session the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 11, commissioners discussed items they will approve or disapprove at the Thursday, Dec. 12, 9 a.m. regular meeting, the last of the year, unless a special meeting is required. Topics included contracts and agreements, a resolution and indigent claims, followed by county reports.

Four amendments to agreements and one agreement are with the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department for juvenile justice services. The first was to increase funding to the Restorative Justice Center by $35,413.50.  The second amendment was with Randall Compton for services in the Juvenile Probation Office for an increase of $2,800. The third was an increase of $192.50 to Mary Lorranie Zunich for JPO services in the Lordsburg Schools and the fourth a decrease to Zunich of $1, 341. The agreement was with Lekisha Marquez for services, at $35 an hour, with the Restorative Justice Center.

Commissioners will consider a sub-grant agreement with the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for 2012 Operation Stonegarden in the amount of $171,000. County Manager Jon Paul Saari explained the Sheriff's Department uses the funding for border interdictions. "The federal amounts have drastically decreased, but this will pay for overtime. Previously, the funding purchased equipment. Most agencies are now well equipped, so the funding pays for man-hours." Sheriff Raul Villanueva confirmed that the grant is cutting back on funding for equipment.

Also to be approved or disapproved is a consolidated project agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Bureau for Operation DWI for $25,802, Operation Buckle Down for $3,915, and 100 Days and Nights of Summer for $4,000, for a total of $33,717. The first two run from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013; the third from June 21, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2013.

Commissioners will consider the Cooperative Law Enforcement Annual Operating Plan and Financial Plan between the county and the USDA Forest Service Gila National Forest in the amount of $28,500.

Villanueva said the Sheriff's Department is secondary to the Forest Service patrols. "We're just there to support. This agreement pays for fuel for our guys to be out there working together with the Forest Service law enforcement. This does not give them authorization to enforce our laws."

A resolution will set up a budget adjustment for the general obligation bond, grants, and funding for road special projects, the Fort Bayard Medical Center sewage system and the Fort Bayard water line extension grant, which will also create a backup water system for Santa Clara, Saari said.

As the Grant County Indigent and Health Care Claims Board the commissioners will consider 1229 claims for $639,440.35.

Saari proposed adding two items to Thursday's regular meeting agenda. The first was a request from the Food Policy Council to change its by-laws to make it easier to have a quorum. A change from 13 to 9 board members will eliminate the necessity of government officials having to attend, due to sometimes higher-priority meetings in- or out-of-town that conflict with the time of the Food Policy meeting.

Another new item to be added to the agenda is a review of the bonds for Gila Regional Medical Center's planned renovation and expansion.

Perry Bendicksen III from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Albuquerque will attend the session, so commissioners can approve the bond sale, and the bonds can be closed and sold before the end of the year. This series of bank-eligible bonds is for $10 million. Next year, another $10 million in bonds will be authorized, so GRMC can begin its renovation phase.

In county reports, Terry Trujillo, Senior Services director, said everything is going well.

Road Superintendent Earl Moore said his department is doing routine maintenance.

County Planner Anthony Gutierrez said most of his report had been covered earlier in the meeting. He said he has completed the scope of work on the fair barns, but had a question on the plumbing and whether it can be closed off during the demolition of the structure. He said bids would be requested for two sections.

"We are still trying to fix addressing in Hanover," Gutierrez said. "I submitted the application for a brownfields study for old Fort Bayard."

Villanueva said November was a fairly quiet month for his department, with 231 calls for service and 125 reports. "At the end of November we had training on drug interdiction. For the last three days, it was hands on with 30 officers from different areas, being successful at catching offenders." His office issued 484 papers and transported "a lot of juveniles to Deming and Gallup."

He said he had had three vacant positions, but has hired two people, one from court security. "We hired another female, and we have one opening we are trying to fill. From what I hear from the guys at the detention center, we will be busy this holiday season."

Commissioner Christy Miller asked if burglaries were down in number.

Villanueva said his officers have arrested several and "we are being proactive with patrols. I encourage the public to lock their doors and vehicles, and don't leave anything visible that might be stolen."

Assessor Randy Villa had no report.

Treasurer Alfred Sedillo said Monday was the last day to pay first-half taxes. "I should have numbers by Thursday."

Clerk Robert Zamarripa said he had nothing to report.

Miller announced that Western New Mexico University commencement is this Friday at 2:30 at the Fine Arts Theatre. She also commended the Pinos Altos Volunteer Fire Department for quickly extinguishing a fire at the fort in Pinos Altos.

"Where are we on the detention center administrator?" she asked.

Saari said interviews had been done, and he had spoken to the recommended candidate, who had until Friday to decide. "If things work out well, we will move forward. If not we will work with No. 2."

He said the under Miller's discretionary commissioner spending, she would fund $2,000 to the Lodgers' Tax Committee for advertising. She would like to give $4,000 to Imagination Library, if the county can make sure it does not violate the state anti-donation clause. Miller also asked to put $5,000 toward reconstruction of the fair barn. She has a remainder of $14,000 to spend before the end of her tenure Dec. 31.

"Construction at the Business and Conference Center is going well," Saari said. "The parking lot will be the last to do. We are close to getting the exterior stuccoed. Kevin Robinson asked that we meet with the Council of Governments and the Gila Economic Development Alliance so we can apply for the $2 million for renovating the interior."

He said the new jail has some issues with heating, air-conditioning and ventilation, but contractors are working together to solve it.

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos congratulated the Silver and Cobre High School volleyball teams for their success, as well as the Silver High School football team, who came within three points of being state champions again. "It was a heck of a game."

He also asked Saari if the Corre Caminos section of the conference center would be finished soon, so it can move into the facility and the county can stop paying rent.

"I think it will all be finished at the same time, in March," Saari said.

Kasten also congratulated the volleyball teams and the football team. "They are still the best public school team in the state. They had to play a private school."

He said he attended commissioners' training, along with newly elected District 3 Commissioner Ron Hall, who will take office Jan. 1, and Saari and County Attorney Abby Robinson.

"It was all about ethics and anti-donation," Kasten said. "We had a short session on finance."

"The Thanksgiving turkey meal at Mimbres was good," he said.

Saari said the county should receive new vehicles the first week in January. Some of the ones ordered—the 1.6 liter engine Eco-Boost Escapes have been recalled. "They are from Lawley, but depending on how long it will take to have the repair done, we may change and go with 2.0 liter engines from another approved vendor."

Ramos asked if the county could switch to Explorers from Lawley Team Ford, as he would prefer to wait and buy locally.

Saari said the Explorers do not have the same fuel efficiency, unless the county pays thousands more for a model with the Eco-Boost system and lots of unneeded extras.

"Welcome back, Abby," Miller said.

The meeting was adjourned. The regular session will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 at the Grant County Administration Center.

Live from Silver City

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