By: Hallie Richwine

The regular meeting of the Grant County Commission happened March 19, 2020 at the Grant County Administration building. Commissioner Alicia Edwards joined the meeting by phone.

The Commissioners first reviewed two proclamations. The first was the Proclamation of April 2020 as Continental Divide Trail month. County Manager Charlene Webb said the event was cancelled or postponed so she asked that any action be tabled.

The second Proclamation was the consideration of a Proclamation declaring April 2020 as Imagination Library Month. Webb asked that the commissioners proceed but that they will mail the proclamation to the entity. Kevin Hubbs read the proclamation aloud, and you can view it below the article.

Next, during public input, Glenn Griffin addressed the commission about spending money on coyote thinning. "Wildlife Services comes up for a vote later in the year. Let wolves back to do their natural thing," he said. "There's tremendous pressure by those who make great money killing wildlife. You weren't misled, but strong armed, last year."

Sheriff Frank Gomez gave his department report. He noted suspension of funding for many programs and training. During this downtime they have identified ten vehicles that are non operational. "They need to be stripped of non-recyclable law enforcement materials, and we're researching fleet data for the future," he said.

"With all grants suspended does that mean activities funded by grants?" Commissioner Javier Salas asked.

Gomez said ordering equipment is still okay but other programming is suspended.

As for new business, commissioners approved the consideration of Shooting Range Advisory Board applicant Ricky Villalobos. Also approved were the 2020 Law Enforcement Protection Fund application, the Volunteer Firefighters Annual Reporting for PERA, the corrected PERA qualification reports for Cliff-Gila and Fort Bayard Volunteer Firefighters Service Credits, and the grant amendment for the enhanced 911 Act Program.

For agreements the commission ratified the County Manager's signature on the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration. Edwards asked for clarification on what exactly this entails. "This is an amendment to the original grant agreement which allows additional monies. The additional $30,000 is to increase the media campaign, adding video in addition to other methods," Webb said. "After the recent change of events we want to change up the message to include completing the census from anywhere." Webb said the deadline for the census is July 31, 2020 and the government has not extended it at this time.

A recess was called from the Grant County Commission in order to convene as the Grant County Health Care Claims Board. The indigent health claims were then approved in the amount of $1,725.23.

The board then reconvened as the County Commission.

Salas expressed interest in having a future work session to discuss the future of Bataan park.

"I know one individual calls to have the gates left open but others are asking for the gates to be closed because people speed through there," Chairman Chris Ponce said.

Webb said County departments are working on updated policies and procedures, mainly to take into account insurance and liabilities.

Commissioner Billy Billings topok time to thank Webb and the various County personnel that have taken time to prepare for the virus. "I hope we look back in a relatively short time and realize the preparation was effective," he said. One thing he did voice as a concern among his constituents was the lack of voter convenience centers in the Buckhorn, Mule Creek, Hachita, Red Rock, and Gila Hot Springs areas. "Before creating more polling places within walking distances, please put some back in the remote areas."

Commissioner Harry Browne asked if the constituents in the aforementioned rural areas received mail-in ballots.

"Actually there is more voter turnout by mail than when we had polling locations," County Clerk Marisa Castrillo said. She said every resident is mailed a postcard informing them that they have the choice to come into town to a Voter Convention Center, or complete the mail-in ballot.

Billings said folks feel the mail-in ballots are not as secure.

"They are just as secure and prioritized as absentee ballots," Castrillo said.

Browne reported that he believes the community response to the virus situation has been amazing. "We've seen some panic, if hoarding counts, but mostly very much concern for each other and helping each other." Browne also mentioned that local radio station KURU 89.1 has been a resource with their fifteen minute segment every day at noon. The update is also streamed at gmrc.org. http://gmcr.org/

Ponce thanked the citizens of Grant County for their volunteer work and stepping up during this situation. "I want to reiterate my thanks for the media; the news, radio, and CATS for keeping people up to date."

Edwards reported that her concern was the lack of COVID-19 information in Spanish. "We all need to do our part to make sure the Spanish speaking community is getting the information they need."

The meeting was adjourned and an Emergency Meeting was called. The next work session happens April 14 and regular meeting April 16, 2020.


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