By Mary Alice Murphy

[Editor's Note: The meeting went for a bit more than five hours, with a very short break. Several articles will cover the presentations and the review of the regular agenda, in addition to county and commissioner reports. Part 6 will cover county reports from the work session.]

Grant County commissioners at their Oct. 12, 2021 work session heard county reports from county officials.

County Manager Tim Zamora started out with a comprehensive report. "We will be meeting later on the annual goals for the county manager. We are working on syncing the calendar to where we can share the calendar with all departments. I am working with the directors, so it's a countywide effort. We have established an advisory team with a grant from CHI (Center for Health Innovations) for four different counties to share information on behavioral health. Our tasks are what do we need to do, and what are the short-term and long-term problems. We are developing a guide for the advisory team and will ask for feedback from the commissioners. We need a smaller group involved in behavioral health and then we will come back to the Commission with our short-term goals and how to support the long-term goals."

He said he is aiming toward the legislative session. He is also working on how best to organize the manager's office and how to coordinate with all the departments and municipalities. "On Nov. 3, the Grant County Workforce and Economic Development Alliance will meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to determine what we can do to develop the economics in the county in the morning and how to involve other businesses and municipalities in the afternoon. Director Steve Chavira will head it up. On Nov. 22, we will have civil rights training. I am looking at the manager goals and how to improve the Detention Center safety. We may add priorities to the ICIP (infrastructure capital improvement plan). I will send you information on the Detention Center safety. It's a priority. I sent you information on where we stand with Detention Center statistics, which included short-term improvements. I ask you to put the behavioral health item on the ICIP for the Detention Center."

District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce asked if they were ready to talk about the Detention Center, maybe on Thursday.

District 4 Commissioner Billy Billings asked if the step plan would be part of the Nov. 3 "bootcamp."

Zamora said the step plan would be reviewed internally.

The next report came from Acting Detention Center Administrator Joseph Andazola. "We have three vacancies. We instituted our training plan and started the 40 hours of training. We have had an average of 78 inmates in the facility, with 75 this morning. We averaged 79 in September, and as of Sept. 30, we had no Covid cases. But on October 1, we had one in quarantine. We are providing medication-assisted therapy, with state funding to support it. We are looking at facility safety improvements. Tomorrow, commissioners will visit the facility. Our training includes critical incident training or CIT. We will put our entire staff through the training."

District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards asked: "Haven't you been doing MAT (medications-assisted therapy)?"

Andazola replied that they had been doing the MAT program, but this would expand their services.

Billings said he appreciated the report, "which is way better than what we've gotten in the past."

Planning and Community Development Director Priscilla Shoup said she has been working with the county manager on the calendar. "Our end goal is to have a comprehensive plan and a commissioners' handbook and to have a two-year long-range goal. I am working with Linda (Vasquez, financial officer) and Renae (Calloway, human resources specialist) on the health coordinator position, as part of the Planning Department. We have a new date for the completion of the Bataan Memorial Park drainage project. It's Nov. 15. We are rebidding for the Bataan Memorial starting today, so we can reach our goal for completion by the April anniversary."

She said she is working with the Pinos Altos Volunteer Fire Department on a new station in the Dos Griegos area. "The plan for Truck ByPass is 90 percent complete, with the intent of starting the bidding in spring 2022. Bandoni Drive is set for completion by the end of 2021. We have set out two more trail counters for the Outdoor Recreation Master Plan. We have focus groups working on the plan. We are pushing the online survey at getoutsidegrantcounty.org (https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/f63b09fb5f734c72918305e6e5c9cb370)."

Edwards asked how many responses they had received. Shoup said about 400, then "we got more last week. I want to get flyers out. The majority of the responses have come from Grant County."

Randy Villa, General Services director, said the Grant County Airport is now fully staffed. "They have a lot of training going on. We have the new fire station up at Hachita. They are working on volunteer recruitment. Since Playas is closed, it is part of the Tyrone Volunteer Fire Department. We need more recruits in Hachita, especially to help with incidents on I-10. We hope to get the airport runway work completed. Advanced Air had 227 enplanements to Albuquerque and 175 to Phoenix, down 20 percent probably due to the Delta variant and people staying home. We are happy to see our fuel sales going up to pre-pandemic numbers. Advanced Air purchases fuel from us every single day they fly. We also sometimes get four or five Blackhawk helicopters from Fort Bliss that fly in, as well as some private jets, now that it's hunting season. Also, during fire season, we get a boost as well. For Corre Caminos, we are implementing some GPS tracking to know where the buses are. Jason Lockett, our maintenance supervisor, is using ARPA funds for an extension to the Detention Center, working on the lift station and a facelift for the childcare center. We are working to put more water systems in for the Upper Mimbres Fire Station area, both at their upper station and at Thunderbird Lodge. For the new tank at the airport fuel farm, we had to go out for rebid, due to no responses. We are working with the Forest Service and the volunteer fire departments for mitigation for Feeny's subdivision, which got a grant. The elevator work at the courthouse is expected to be completed in December. We're also working on a master plan for Bataan Park."

Ponce said he has some concerns about the veteran's memorial, about the need for handicapped parking and security.

Villa said he would check it out.

Browne asked for a time estimate on the childcare facility facelift.

"I'll make sure to get a date to the manager," Villa said.

Zamora said he knows that El Grito has personnel there sorting through what's there. "Jason is coordinating with the contractors. We'll get the timing to you when the contractors get out there. Jason is pushing them to get to it as soon as possible, so the families waiting on childcare can plan."

Chief Procurement Officer Randy Hernandez said that Vasquez is working on the step plan for county employees. The audit of county expenditures begins Oct. 20.

Acting Road Superintendent Joe Grijalva said the department got called back to Hurley and finished the chip sealing last week. "We will start the Anderson Road low water crossing. We are compiling a plan on what needs to be replaced. We do want to get out to maintain dirt roads, and we want to get back to tree thinning. We are looking at the San Francisco Bridge and may have to replace some poles. We are still out repairing roads, including Little Walnut, Bear Mountain and Mangas, where they had a lot of hit from the rain. We are asking for your patience."

Browne asked the status of Ridge Road. Shoup replied that it is still in the design phase for completion in October 2022.

Ponce thanked Grijalva. "I appreciate your keeping up with 690 miles of roads."

Billings also expressed appreciation. "I get a lot of road requests. How is your staffing level?"

Grijalva said staffing is "not where I want. But the staff we have is very good."

Zamora commented that staffing at this point is almost half what it used to be when it was in the low 30s.

Billings said he didn't know what the long-term solution was for half staff with the same number of roads. I think most of the public is knowledgeable about the staffing problems, but many aren't. People want low taxes, but they also want their roads."

Zamora said when "I was here before, we did planning and the transfer station work, too. I want to make a public announcement. We have only six blades. My public announcement is: If you bought a home on a dirt road, you bought a home on a dirt road."

Grijalva said that sometimes the department assesses a situation and sometimes puts aside other work to help where people can't get out. "My guys take pride in what they do."

Browne said the county has a lot of miles of roads, with 620 gravel and 70 paved. "We have a lot of federal and state lands that pay no taxes and grazing permitees pay little to no taxes.

The next article will begin with discussion on an ordinance for an industrial revenue bond to finance the Great Divide Wind Farm.

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