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Editor's Note:  This is part 2 of a two-part series on the January 22nd meeting of the Silver City Town Council.

The first part of the Silver City Town Council on Jan. 22 featured community and staff reports.

Heidi Sexton, president of the High Desert Humane Society, said the animal intake at the shelter is consistently going down, with the exception of 2010.

"We still see a high euthanasia rate, and we hope to address the issue," Sexton reported. "The shelter received $3,000 in license sales and $5,600 in intake fees-about $60 an animal."

She pointed out the agreement between the town and the shelter will be up for renewal in June.

Sexton said about 30 percent of the animals brought in as strays or dropped off by owners find new owners. Ten percent of the animals are returned to their owners or placed, but 60 percent are euthanized.

Cissy McAndrew, Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce director, presented a quarterly report on the Visitor Center and tourism.

"We are not seeing an increase in tourism," McAndrew said. "Although we did see an uptick in January, due to advertising. Tourism was down in June because of the fires."

She said the daily rate from events, was an average of 47 in October and dropped to an average of 23 in December. A bright spot was that residents from Silver City and Grant County visit the center to get literature to send to family and friends.  International visitors make up 6.7 percent of the total, with 13 percent from other parts of New Mexico.

"The No. 1 reason visitors come to the area is because they heard about Silver City through friends," McAndrew said. "The Internet is about half that number and growing. We are beginning to catch up from years with no advertising."

She said the Tamal y Más Fiesta was successful and is again slated for the second weekend in December 2013.

McAndrew said the quarterly New Mexico Tourism Commission meeting brought the commissioners to Silver City. "They loved what we're doing, and we're building relationships with the Tourism Department that I think will benefit us."  

The week after that meeting, the Green Chamber held an economic forum, which was well attended by locals, she reported. The forum showed the importance of public lands in "our backyard."

McAndrew said the Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce is sharing information with the Green Chamber and the Arts and Cultural District.  "Their hits have started to ramp up, and their site is the first to come up in a search for Silver City. We are maintaining and hope to see our uniques grow."  She cited the national recognition of The Curious Kumquat and a national writer bringing attention to the area's strengths. The advertising the Silver City ACD is doing will tie into the co-op campaign with New Mexico Tourism Department.

"The new guide will be out in about a month," McAndrew said. "New signage will be a filler at the sign at the intersection of Swan Street and Silver Heights Boulevard.  At Hudson and Broadway is a beautiful cultural sign directing people to downtown."

She said the new ACD director would be named soon. "We are both working with the Chamber of Commerce as a team."

Mayor James Marshall asked if McAndrew had done an overlay of local statistics with state statistics.

""Most of the state tourism growth is in urban areas," McAndrew said. "I talked to Sen. (Howie) Morales. I hope to generate more tourism down here and in rural New Mexico."

Councilor Cynthia Bettison pointed out that a lot of the advertising is of summer events. "We don't have any winter sports. We need to bring dollars here asking people to enjoy summer sports in the winter, such as bike riding and fine dining. We could work with partners in the southern part of the state."

McAndrew said the area just had the Red Paint Powwow last weekend, Chocolate Fantasia is coming up, the Lighted Christmas Parade was in November, and the Tamal Fiesta in early December. Plus Silver City has the First Fridays every month.

"A lot of people between Christmas and New Year's drove off I-10 just to see Silver City," McAndrew said.

"Talking earlier about dogs and cats," Marshall said, "it has been freezing cold, near record lows, with days not above freezing. I would like to remind people to take their pets inside and keep them warm and safe."

In staff reports, Julie Salaiz, town code enforcement officer, gave a brief summation of her activities in code enforcement. In 2001, she handled 341 cases, most of which were complaint-based. In 2012, with an additional officer, they handled 658 cases, of which 627 are closed because "we achieved voluntary compliance. Eleven are filed in court." She cited two business renovations; nine teardowns, seven by owners; 107 business licenses issued; and 17 special permits given out.

"We have seen a 282 percent increase in cases since 2010," Salaiz said. "The majority, 80 percent, are complaint-based, with some self-initiated."

"We realize you have a thankless job," Marshall said. "We 100 percent appreciate the work you do."

Silver City Police Department Chief Ed Reynolds said he had completed the statistical information and would do a 30-minute presentation with questions and answers at the next council meeting.

"I am hearing consistently in public opinion that crime has escalated," Marshall said. "I want to see the facts."

Town Manager Alex Brown said he presented to Gov. Susana Martinez the town's regional water plan as a Colonias project. "She used our project as a way other areas should work together."

"We're fortunate to have a good working relationship with Dr. (Joseph) Shepard (at Western New Mexico University), and with Grant County and the other municipalities," Marshall said. "It will pay off working together for the good of the entire community."

In reference to poll workers for the election, Executive Assistant Yolanda Holguin, standing in for Clerk Ann Mackie, reported those on the list to work the March 5 election had completed election school

"I would support legislation to have only one polling place staffed when there are only uncontested races," Marshall said.

The rest of the meeting was covered in a prior article.

Live from Silver City

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