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Final regular meeting of Grant County Commission continued

IMG 8487Photo: Commissioners Gabriel Ramos, left, and Brett Kasten, right, brought Commissioner Christy Miller, center, to tears when they recognized her service at her final regular meeting as a commissioner.

Grant County commissioners continued their final regular meeting of the year.

The next item of business addressed whether the county would be fiscal agent for the Forgotten Veterans' Memorial capital outlay request. It was approved, although Chairman Brett Kasten said it might not be needed.

Armando Amador, who developed the project and, along with others, has worked on the memorial for 20 years, said it has served as healing for veterans with PTSD and for the families who have lost veterans.

"People visit all the time—from as far away as Chile and Italy and all over the U.S.," Amador said. "We have sold 139 memorial bricks. Our concern is how to keep it open to the handicapped. The gate is locked and we can't be around all the time."

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos asked if it were possible to put in another road to the memorial. County Manager Jon Paul Saari said the county has 60 acres with highway frontage. Kasten said he would pass the issue to the Planning Department to look at the feasibility of another road, which would separate the memorial from the ball fields.

"We work on it daily," Amador said. "It helps us and calms us to use our energies positively."

Commissioners approved:

• Changes to the Food Policy by-laws to reduce the number of board members from 13 to nine, also decreasing the number needed for a quorum from seven to five, and not requiring government officials to be members;

• Amendments to several agreements with the Children, Youth and Families Department for services through the Juvenile Probation Office. They included an increase of $2,800 to Randall Compton; an increase to Mary Lorraine Zunich of $192.50, as well as a decrease of 1,341;

• An agreement with Lekisha Marquez for JPO services in the amount of $1,342.50;

• 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;

• A consolidated project agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Bureau for Operation DWI, Operation Buckle Down and 100 Days and Night of Summer in the total amount of $33,717;

• A cooperative law enforcement annual operating plan and financial plan with the USDA Forest Service Gila National Forest for $28,500; and

• A resolution for budget adjustments for grants and cooperative agreement in the amount of $37,000.

Commissioners heard from financial consultant Mark Valenzuela on the sales resolution for gross receipts tax revenue ponds for Gila Regional Medical Center's renovation and expansion project. "We sent out bids to 10 banks and received three back. We recommend the Bank of Nevada for a 15-year bond at 3.25 percent. What we really liked is there is no prepayment penalty clause."

Perry Bendicksen of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP law firm in Albuquerque, who is the counsel for the issuance of the bonds, handed out a replacement page to the agreement. "It is in the county's and the hospital's favor." The escrow amount will allow the county and hospital to retire the 2004 bonds.

Kasten said it might seem to some that the issue has come up out of the blue,
"but we've been working on this since last March."

GRMC Chief Executive Officer Brian Bentley said there has been a "tremendous amount of cooperation. The county has gone above and beyond, and, especially with the low interest rates, this will add safety to us and the project."

Commissioners approved the resolution.

They reconvened as the Grant County Indigent and Health Care Claims Board to approve 1229 claims for $639,440.35.

Again as the Board of County Commissioners, they heard county reports.

Sheriff Raul Villaneuva said he and several of his staff would participate in this Saturday's Shop with a Cop project. The officers and the children will watch a movie, parade downtown with lights and sirens, visit Penny Park, then have lunch provided to them by Silver High School students. The final stop of the day would be Walmart, where each student will be able to purchase $100 worth of items. "We think there may be over 100 kids."

He thanked Commissioner Christy Miller and out-going Treasurer Alfred Sedillo for their service, and welcomed Ron Hall, who was in the audience, as the next commissioner. He also wished everyone Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Assessor Randy Villa echoed the sentiments and commended Miller for always looking to save the county money.

"I have a heavy heart for the Olson family, with the passing of Lanny," Villa said. "We went to the university together, so I knew him pretty well."

He also said it was sad the Catron County manager, Sarah Merklein, had also died of cancer, and he said the White family had lost their son, Vincent.

Clerk Robert Zamarripa said he wanted to remind anyone who was thinking of running for a school board position that the clerk's office would be accepting applications Tuesday, Dec. 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. He said the Silver Schools had three open positions, districts 1, 2, and 4, and the Cobre Schools had three open positions at large in districts 1, 2,and 3. All were for four-year positions. The election will be held Feb. 5.

Sedillo said he was giving his last report. "It has been a great collection year. We billed $11 million and got $6 million in first half taxes collected – that's a 55 percent collection of all taxes. Steve (Armendariz, recently elected treasurer) will be giving his all to the job." Sedillo said of the collected funding, more than $2 million remains in the county budget. "It's been great working with all of you. I thank the public for allowing me to serve for eight years. My staff is the best I've ever worked with. I can't leave it in better hands than with Steve."

Miller said it has been a pleasure for her to serve the residents of Grant County. "I compliment Jon Saari. Mary Ann Sedillo and Jovita Gonzales, which whom I served the first two years, taught me a lot. With the two male commissioners, I think we've made a good team. The county has a great group of people and a lot of hard work comes out of the departments."

She also thanked the coverage from the Silver City Daily Press, Mary Alice Murphy of the Beat and the Silver City Sun-News. "On Dec. 31, I will turn it over to Ron Hall, who will do a good job."

Ramos congratulated Miller and told her: "Good luck" with her next endeavors.

Saari told Miller that the meeting might not be her last, as he expects at least one special meeting and perhaps two before Dec. 31, for the audits.

Kasten thanked Sedillo and said he and Ramos had a special presentation for Miller. They presented her with a plaque of appreciation for her service. She said she didn't want to cry, but tears flowed anyway.

The commissioners went into executive session to discuss threatened litigation in relation to harassment in 2012; threatened litigation in relation to the Grant County Detention Center in 2012; and an exit conference in regard to audit for fiscal year 2011.

Commissioners adjourned from the executive session.

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