[Editor's Note: This is part 2 of a multi-series of article on the Grant County Commission work session on April 12, 2022. This one begins with county reports.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

After the presentation at the April 12, 2022 county work session came county reports. Detention Center Administrator Joseph Andazola gave the first report.

"We have two new officers and will be training another one starting next Monday and another in May," Andazola said. "We have issued new radios to all staff. Today we have an inmate population of 90, with the daily average in March at 93. We have no Covid cases. We are also working with 19 RISE participants, with nine of them in the jail and 10 out in the community. We are starting to work on pre-eligibility for a physician for the facility. We may get some funding from the RISE program and from the state for health care. We are working on an RFP (request for proposal) for the health service."

Planning and Community Development Director Priscilla Shoup reported the trail portion of the Bataan trail system is complete, with wok ongoing on signage and kiosks. "We are working with other jurisdictions on a grant application with FEMA (federal emergency management agency) for hazard mitigation. Stantec will have alternatives for the Silver Acres preliminary engineering report in May, with options available for when we apply for funding. Community solar garden project requests are on the rise for Grant County. For the Outdoor Recreation Master Plan, we are planning outreach at events."

She said future projects include that the New Mexico Environment Department received funding to pay for asbestos abatement work at the old county jail to finalize the environmental assessments leading to demolition.

"We are also working with the Administrative Office of the Courts on a plan to include a traffic and feasibility study for the Grant County Judicial Complex in the fiscal year 2024 requests," Shoup continued. "We have applied or are applying for funding for Little Walnut Road Phase 1, Ridge Road Phase 1 and San Lorenzo PER. Currently in design are North Hurley Road Phase III, Arenas Valley Road, and finalization coming for Little Walnut and Ridge roads."

She also noted that she had officially passed the certified floodplain manager exam.

District 5 Commissioner Harry Browne said if the AOC was asking for funding for next year, then construction could not begin for several years.

Shoup said the assessment for demolition should be complete by the end of this year.

Procurement Officer Randy Hernandez said that a capital appropriation for the complex is usually a two-year award.

District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards said: "I guess when we talked about a judicial complex, we thought it would be happening more quickly. It could be 5-7 years before funding comes through capital requests."

Hernandez said if the AOC gets the award for "our facility, we could enter into a memorandum of understanding between the county and the AOC."

Edwards said it was her understanding that this would not be done with county funding.

Browne said that is true for the Magistrate Court moving to the complex from its current location. "My recollection was that the JPPO (juvenile probation and parole office) and the AOC would come together on the project."

District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce said it is a county responsibility to provide judicial facilities.

District 2 Commission Javier "Harvey" Salas asked who owns the present magistrate court building in Silver City.

Browne said the structure is privately owned.

Randy Villa, General Services director, said several departments fall under General Services. He turned the meeting over to Kim Dominguez, Corre Caminos manager, to give her report.

"We are halfway through our funding year, and we have nearly doubled our ridership," Dominguez said. "As of the end of 2021, we had had 34,290 riders. Through March, we have already had another 24,000. We might have more than 60,000 by the end of the fiscal year at the end of September. We're not quite at pre-pandemic numbers, but we're getting there. We are dealing with driver shortages. For the budget, we have expended well under half, and we are running free fares, with the Department of Transportation providing the funding. We pass the benefit on to the passengers. We will be able to move from survival mode. We are getting our website updated and have purchased promotional items. We want people to use Corre Caminos for events. We also want to get our faded signs replaced, and we want to post full schedules at all the stops. We have replaced old benches and hope to add more."

She said their Facebook page is up and functional. "We received two new buses for 2020 and are awaiting our 2021 funding for buses. I want to thank the staff and drivers, who keep showing up to work."

Browne asked if JPPO could help with replacement of buses. Dominguez said she would look into it.

Edwards asked how Corre Caminos was publicizing that fares were still free.

Dominguez said they were doing it through their website, but "right now, it's word of mouth and on our Facebook page. It was one of the first things we posted."

Edwards said it was her guess that no one knows about the free fares, and "as long as the DOT is giving them away, we should publicize it."

Ponce asked if the transit system could take groups around.

"We are not allowed to charter buses," Dominguez said. "If it is within five miles of our station, we can, but we cannot set the route."

Villa noted that for the rodeo, "if we run it through our time parameters and routes, we can run from the depot to the rodeo grounds."

Ponce suggested teaming up with organizations putting on events. Villa said they could if it was within five miles and within the schedules.

Dominguez noted it might cause staffing issues.

Villa, in his report, said over the past year, the maintenance department has lost four positions and the county electrician. "Jason Lockett, (grounds and facilities maintenance supervisor) will introduce new staff."

Lockett said he and Villa the previous week had accepted a PNM award for energy efficiency. "We got the funding and used it to retrofit lighting and the HVAC systems here at the administration center and at the Silver Street building. It saves the county paying for 710,000 kWh, enough energy to serve 105 homes and it saves 233,000 gallons of water. We want to dedicate this award to our late electrician Mason Dorr, who was instrumental in all of this work."

He also introduced three new employees, Macarios Rios, James Flores, and Jay Urbaniack.

Lockett noted that 98 percent of the savings was due to completion of items in the Administration Center. He said they had gutted the Black Street building, and hit a water line, but has stopped the leading.

Edwards commended the department for "your amazing work. You got Bataan finished, the childcare center finished and the flooring in this building."

Villa said projects in the Sheriff's Office and the floors in the administration center were 95 percent complete and funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. "We will continue to work on fields at Bataan Park, but it is officially open. The building and concession stand are now being rented. The Cliff Arena bleachers are on order, with the old ones torn down. The concrete for the slab and ADA compliance is scheduled. We should receive the Cliff-Gila playground equipment in about five weeks and the concrete for the sidewalk and ADA is being scheduled."

He said the Firebase at the Grant County Airport is already being used. "We have several fires in New Mexico. We did apply for a grant of $15,000 for wildfire education. It has a 10 percent match. Our volunteer fire departments will be helping with the Tour of the Gila. All the riders have to be tested for drugs. We will have Gabe Holguin, Gila National Forest Fire management officer, here at the April 26 meeting. And the DWI coordinator Daniel Graves will be here that day to present on cannabis."

Villa noted that from time to time, the airport has a Type 1 Chinook helicopter with a 3,000-gallon bucket come into the facility, but usually because of the altitude, they cannot lift off with a full load of water. "Hot Shots will be arriving in May, although they may get here earlier. We brought in another 5,000-gallon fuel truck. We plan a new containment area and new fuel tank at the airport as soon as we get funding. We are moving in the right director for Bataan and the future for the Gila Community Center."

Ponce commented that the rededication ceremony at Bataan Memorial the previous Saturday was a "great success. People really like that park. I agree with Commissioner Edwards, it's amazing how you get everything done."

Villa said: "I hope we can continue to work together to get things done."

Graves gave a DWI update. "We are transitioning into a new client database to tie into AOC's system. It will save us $2,000-$3,000 a year and will speed up access to client information. We are expanding the DWI program into five schools. We have magnets for county vehicles to announce our awareness campaign. We are in the process of printing up napkins for restaurants with information about Corre Cantinas. Our Facebook page is up to support the community and our clients. With information about the Fourth of July, we will be working with law enforcement in the bars and restaurants. We will also be working with the schools during their proms and will supply breathalyzers and maybe DJ services for the school after prom parties."

Browne said the Aldo Leopold Charter School had previously used the breathalyzer, but he didn't think it had yet been contracted.

Graves said he is still trying to contact the school about it.

Villa gave a shout out to Administrative Assistant Kevin Hubbs for his help with the Facebook pages.

Hernandez presented the finance director report in Linda Vaquez's absence. "The financial services department is still working on fiscal year 2023 budget development. We are reviewing applications for an accounting specialist position. We will receive the bids for bulk diesel fuel and will review them. We will submit our asset list. Our auditor will give a presentation at our second work session this month. We are expecting preliminary budget approvals at the May 12 meeting."

Interim Road Superintendent Joe Grijalva gave his report. He said his department is doing routine maintenance such as trimming trees and getting ready for chip sealing projects. Future projects include hauling chips to stockpiles for projects, building and installing a railing at the Gila transfer station, and setting culverts and curb and gutter at Agua Blanca and Little Walnut.

"The first two weeks in June, we will do chip sealing," Grijalva said. "We have a couple of operators accepted to training in Roswell."

Edwards thanked Grijalva for the work done at Bataan. "You are doing a great job."

IT Director Adam Baca gave the final county report at the work session. He introduced Jasmine Prejean as office assistant for his office and emergency management. "She's doing a great job."

He thanked the maintenance department for its help in moving desks. "I appreciate coordination. I also want to express thanks to Ben Beltron, executive director of CATS (Community Access TV of Silver), for the replacement of cameras and for putting in additional speakers and screens in the meeting room. We are fine-tuning the agenda and minutes system. We are scaling down the current county contract with Spectrum. We are also assisting with emergency management during the absence of an emergency manager. We continue development of an emergency operations center, and we continue the ARPA application for network overhaul."

For future projects, Baca said he wants to enroll in the CISA (cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency – a federal agency) cyber hygiene program. "If we enroll in this structure, we will adhere to cybersecurity protocols for our long-range thinking. I had an excellent conversation with Incite on a grant for improved cybersecurity. I will take part in a job fair at Western New Mexico University."

Browne said he thought the sound system and screens were a good improvement. "The sound and visuals when I watched the recordings were great."

Ponce noted that it was an improvement that Baca has wanted.

Browne asked if Baca has identified critical areas in the IT system that needed addressing.

"We are asking for an assessment," Baca said.

The next article will address a review of the regular meeting agenda, along with the reports and proclamations given at the regular meeting.

For the previous meeting, please visit https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/71768-grant-county-commission-heard-presentation-and-held-discussions-at-work-session-041222

Grant County Commission heard county reports at work session 041222, part 2

[Editor's Note: This is part 2 of a multi-series of article on the Grant County Commission work session on April 12, 2022. This one begins with county reports.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

After the presentation at the April 12, 2022 county work session came county reports. Detention Center Administrator Joseph Andazola gave the first report.

"We have two new officers and will be training another one starting next Monday and another in May," Andazola said. "We have issued new radios to all staff. Today we have an inmate population of 90, with the daily average in March at 93. We have no Covid cases. We are also working with 19 RISE participants, with nine of them in the jail and 10 out in the community. We are starting to work on pre-eligibility for a physician for the facility. We may get some funding from the RISE program and from the state for health care. We are working on an RFP (request for proposal) for the health service."

Planning and Community Development Director Priscilla Shoup reported the trail portion of the Bataan trail system is complete, with wok ongoing on signage and kiosks. "We are working with other jurisdictions on a grant application with FEMA (federal emergency management agency) for hazard mitigation. Stantec will have alternatives for the Silver Acres preliminary engineering report in May, with options available for when we apply for funding. Community solar garden project requests are on the rise for Grant County. For the Outdoor Recreation Master Plan, we are planning outreach at events."

She said future projects include that the New Mexico Environment Department received funding to pay for asbestos abatement work at the old county jail to finalize the environmental assessments leading to demolition.

"We are also working with the Administrative Office of the Courts on a plan to include a traffic and feasibility study for the Grant County Judicial Complex in the fiscal year 2024 requests," Shoup continued. "We have applied or are applying for funding for Little Walnut Road Phase 1, Ridge Road Phase 1 and San Lorenzo PER. Currently in design are North Hurley Road Phase III, Arenas Valley Road, and finalization coming for Little Walnut and Ridge roads."

She also noted that she had officially passed the certified floodplain manager exam.

District 5 Commissioner Harry Browne said if the AOC was asking for funding for next year, then construction could not begin for several years.

Shoup said the assessment for demolition should be complete by the end of this year.

Procurement Officer Randy Hernandez said that a capital appropriation for the complex is usually a two-year award.

District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards said: "I guess when we talked about a judicial complex, we thought it would be happening more quickly. It could be 5-7 years before funding comes through capital requests."

Hernandez said if the AOC gets the award for "our facility, we could enter into a memorandum of understanding between the county and the AOC."

Edwards said it was her understanding that this would not be done with county funding.

Browne said that is true for the Magistrate Court moving to the complex from its current location. "My recollection was that the JPPO (juvenile probation and parole office) and the AOC would come together on the project."

District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce said it is a county responsibility to provide judicial facilities.

District 2 Commission Javier "Harvey" Salas asked who owns the present magistrate court building in Silver City.

Browne said the structure is privately owned.

Randy Villa, General Services director, said several departments fall under General Services. He turned the meeting over to Kim Dominguez, Corre Caminos manager, to give her report.

"We are halfway through our funding year, and we have nearly doubled our ridership," Dominguez said. "As of the end of 2021, we had had 34,290 riders. Through March, we have already had another 24,000. We might have more than 60,000 by the end of the fiscal year at the end of September. We're not quite at pre-pandemic numbers, but we're getting there. We are dealing with driver shortages. For the budget, we have expended well under half, and we are running free fares, with the Department of Transportation providing the funding. We pass the benefit on to the passengers. We will be able to move from survival mode. We are getting our website updated and have purchased promotional items. We want people to use Corre Caminos for events. We also want to get our faded signs replaced, and we want to post full schedules at all the stops. We have replaced old benches and hope to add more."

She said their Facebook page is up and functional. "We received two new buses for 2020 and are awaiting our 2021 funding for buses. I want to thank the staff and drivers, who keep showing up to work."

Browne asked if JPPO could help with replacement of buses. Dominguez said she would look into it.

Edwards asked how Corre Caminos was publicizing that fares were still free.

Dominguez said they were doing it through their website, but "right now, it's word of mouth and on our Facebook page. It was one of the first things we posted."

Edwards said it was her guess that no one knows about the free fares, and "as long as the DOT is giving them away, we should publicize it."

Ponce asked if the transit system could take groups around.

"We are not allowed to charter buses," Dominguez said. "If it is within five miles of our station, we can, but we cannot set the route."

Villa noted that for the rodeo, "if we run it through our time parameters and routes, we can run from the depot to the rodeo grounds."

Ponce suggested teaming up with organizations putting on events. Villa said they could if it was within five miles and within the schedules.

Dominguez noted it might cause staffing issues.

Villa, in his report, said over the past year, the maintenance department has lost four positions and the county electrician. "Jason Lockett, (grounds and facilities maintenance supervisor) will introduce new staff."

Lockett said he and Villa the previous week had accepted a PNM award for energy efficiency. "We got the funding and used it to retrofit lighting and the HVAC systems here at the administration center and at the Silver Street building. It saves the county paying for 710,000 kWh, enough energy to serve 105 homes and it saves 233,000 gallons of water. We want to dedicate this award to our late electrician Mason Dorr, who was instrumental in all of this work."

He also introduced three new employees, Macarios Rios, James Flores, and Jay Urbaniack.

Lockett noted that 98 percent of the savings was due to completion of items in the Administration Center. He said they had gutted the Black Street building, and hit a water line, but has stopped the leading.

Edwards commended the department for "your amazing work. You got Bataan finished, the childcare center finished and the flooring in this building."

Villa said projects in the Sheriff's Office and the floors in the administration center were 95 percent complete and funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. "We will continue to work on fields at Bataan Park, but it is officially open. The building and concession stand are now being rented. The Cliff Arena bleachers are on order, with the old ones torn down. The concrete for the slab and ADA compliance is scheduled. We should receive the Cliff-Gila playground equipment in about five weeks and the concrete for the sidewalk and ADA is being scheduled."

He said the Firebase at the Grant County Airport is already being used. "We have several fires in New Mexico. We did apply for a grant of $15,000 for wildfire education. It has a 10 percent match. Our volunteer fire departments will be helping with the Tour of the Gila. All the riders have to be tested for drugs. We will have Gabe Holguin, Gila National Forest Fire management officer, here at the April 26 meeting. And the DWI coordinator Daniel Graves will be here that day to present on cannabis."

Villa noted that from time to time, the airport has a Type 1 Chinook helicopter with a 3,000-gallon bucket come into the facility, but usually because of the altitude, they cannot lift off with a full load of water. "Hot Shots will be arriving in May, although they may get here earlier. We brought in another 5,000-gallon fuel truck. We plan a new containment area and new fuel tank at the airport as soon as we get funding. We are moving in the right director for Bataan and the future for the Gila Community Center."

Ponce commented that the rededication ceremony at Bataan Memorial the previous Saturday was a "great success. People really like that park. I agree with Commissioner Edwards, it's amazing how you get everything done."

Villa said: "I hope we can continue to work together to get things done."

Graves gave a DWI update. "We are transitioning into a new client database to tie into AOC's system. It will save us $2,000-$3,000 a year and will speed up access to client information. We are expanding the DWI program into five schools. We have magnets for county vehicles to announce our awareness campaign. We are in the process of printing up napkins for restaurants with information about Corre Cantinas. Our Facebook page is up to support the community and our clients. With information about the Fourth of July, we will be working with law enforcement in the bars and restaurants. We will also be working with the schools during their proms and will supply breathalyzers and maybe DJ services for the school after prom parties."

Browne said the Aldo Leopold Charter School had previously used the breathalyzer, but he didn't think it had yet been contracted.

Graves said he is still trying to contact the school about it.

Villa gave a shout out to Administrative Assistant Kevin Hubbs for his help with the Facebook pages.

Hernandez presented the finance director report in Linda Vaquez's absence. "The financial services department is still working on fiscal year 2023 budget development. We are reviewing applications for an accounting specialist position. We will receive the bids for bulk diesel fuel and will review them. We will submit our asset list. Our auditor will give a presentation at our second work session this month. We are expecting preliminary budget approvals at the May 12 meeting."

Interim Road Superintendent Joe Grijalva gave his report. He said his department is doing routine maintenance such as trimming trees and getting ready for chip sealing projects. Future projects include hauling chips to stockpiles for projects, building and installing a railing at the Gila transfer station, and setting culverts and curb and gutter at Agua Blanca and Little Walnut.

"The first two weeks in June, we will do chip sealing," Grijalva said. "We have a couple of operators accepted to training in Roswell."

Edwards thanked Grijalva for the work done at Bataan. "You are doing a great job."

IT Director Adam Baca gave the final county report at the work session. He introduced Jasmine Prejean as office assistant for his office and emergency management. "She's doing a great job."

He thanked the maintenance department for its help in moving desks. "I appreciate coordination. I also want to express thanks to Ben Beltron, executive director of CATS (Community Access TV of Silver), for the replacement of cameras and for putting in additional speakers and screens in the meeting room. We are fine-tuning the agenda and minutes system. We are scaling down the current county contract with Spectrum. We are also assisting with emergency management during the absence of an emergency manager. We continue development of an emergency operations center, and we continue the ARPA application for network overhaul."

For future projects, Baca said he wants to enroll in the CISA (cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency – a federal agency) cyber hygiene program. "If we enroll in this structure, we will adhere to cybersecurity protocols for our long-range thinking. I had an excellent conversation with Incite on a grant for improved cybersecurity. I will take part in a job fair at Western New Mexico University."

Browne said he thought the sound system and screens were a good improvement. "The sound and visuals when I watched the recordings were great."

Ponce noted that it was an improvement that Baca has wanted.

Browne asked if Baca has identified critical areas in the IT system that needed addressing.

"We are asking for an assessment," Baca said.

The next article will address a review of the regular meeting agenda, along with the reports and proclamations given at the regular meeting.

For the previous meeting, please visit https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/71768-grant-county-commission-heard-presentation-and-held-discussions-at-work-session-041222

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option above this to the right, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at https://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a cheaper and shorter option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. The former software failed us, so it's just a category now, with prices posted. Send your information to editor@grantcountybeat.com and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

It has come to this editor's attention that people are sending information to the Grant County Beat Facebook page. Please be aware that the editor does not regularly monitor the page. If you have items you want to send to the editor, please send them to editor@grantcountybeat.com. Thanks!

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised.