[Editor's Note: This is part 2 of a series of articles that will cover the Grant County Commission work session of Jan. 10, 2023, as well as the regular session of Jan. 12, 2023.)
By Mary Alice Murphy
This article begins with county reports at the Grant County Commission work session on Jan. 10, 2022.
Detention Center Administrator Joseph Andazola gave the first county report. He said the facility has three new officers in training, but four openings, for which they are holding interviews. He reported the Just Health contract is in process, with a meeting scheduled for the next R.I.S.E. meeting. The contract is awaiting approval from the Health and Human Services Department. "At that time, we can start the process to get a physician. We will schedule meetings at the legislative session to perhaps secure funding for a body scanner, which will provide better security for the detention center."
On Dec. 31, the population of inmates was 70. The average daily population for December was 74, and the day of the meeting, Jan. 10, the population was 67. He said the R.I.S.E. program currently has 18 participants, with six in the facility and 12 in the community getting services.
Andazola noted that he is working on an RFP (request for proposal) for food services at the facility and is scheduling vaccination clinics at the facility in collaboration with the Department of Health. He will be working with the Human Resources department on posting corporal positions in the facility. "We are also working on an accreditation plan for this year."
District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce asked if Andazola had heard anything on priorities for jails in the state.
"Every year, New Mexico Counties asks for more reimbursement for county facilities housing state prisoners," Andazola said. "We are working on how many state inmates we have."
Ponce asked him to share the numbers with the commissioners and he agreed to.
Next came the report from Randy Hernandez, Planning Department director.
He noted that the Arenas Valley Road Design project final scoping and development report would be submitted by Jan. 17, 2023, with next steps being preliminary/final design for the Colonias-funded project.
Final design for Little Walnut Road Phase 1 construction has been completed, with the loan/grant agreement authorization on the regular meeting agenda for approval.
The Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan is in progress of Phases 1, 2, and 3 for analysis and assessments. It is paid for through a legislative Junior Bill appropriation.
The Silver Acres preliminary engineering report (PER) is near completion, with the Stantec Consulting engineering firm to present it in February 2023. Funding will come through ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act).
With the final redesign of Truck ByPass Road completed, the New Mexico Environment Department Construction Programs Bureau is reviewing the design, with bidding anticipated in early spring 2023. Funding for this project comes from Colonias and New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Junior Bill appropriation funding has paid for the veterans' transportation vehicle purchase, with the van ordered and pending delivery.
Future projects for the Planning Department include Bataan Veterans' Memorial Park walking path and ADA access, construction of Ridge Road improvements, phase 3 construction on North Hurley Road, preliminary design for Crum Road improvements and Franks Road improvements.
Hernandez noted that also on the regular meeting agenda are a public hearing on the Lodgers' Tax ordinance, as well as a resolution on the Little Walnut Phase 1 Colonias loan/grant agreement and authorization under new business of a Colonias funding notice of intent to apply for funding.
District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards said she was a bit reluctant to ask, but has there been any word on the Quality of Life award that was expected in August.
Hernandez said the Priscilla Lucero (Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director) has been checking in on the process and reported some awards have been made. "I'm not hopeful that we will be awarded," Hernandez said.
District 5 Commissioner Harry Browne asked for a refresher on the Silver Acres project. Hernandez said it consists of water and sewer expansion, with four alternatives identified.
General Services Director and Fire Management Officer Randy Villa reported the statistics for the Shooting Range for 2022, which showed 5,114 shooters utilizing the range. "That includes the 4-H District Contest, which included 200 youth shooters from Grant, Dona Ana, Hidalgo and Luna counties. Kurt is doing a good job managing the range."
"We are keeping Bataan Park clean, and working on cleaning up the volleyball area," Villa said. "We will be adding some new benches, and new sand. Corre Cantinas did not have very many riders on New Year's Eve and no issues. The Department of Transportation audit on Corre Caminos showed we need CPR and first aid training, as well as a written maintenance plan for the buses. We had 20 property owners make use of our chipper in 2022 for fire mitigation. We are looking for funding for a new chipper. We are also working with the Forest Service on a contract to help with burn projects and training opportunities for our volunteer fire departments. We will be breaking ground on a new fire station for Pinos Altos VFD in Dos Griegos. We are waiting on the documents. Future project priorities include Bataan Park, the Fairgrounds, the Conference Center and the new VFD station at Dos Griegos subdivision."
He also noted that new carpet would be going into the Commission Chambers the week of Jan. 16-20, and the Clerk vault floor would start in the next few week, as would the Manager's Office upgrade. Villa asked for support, guidance or decision on the use of ARPA funding, the Bataan Park improvements, projects for the bond money and Gila Park update.
Browne asked if County Manager Webb has provided any guidance to Villa on the issues just listed . Webb replied that when she first returned to the manager position, she had met with Villa. "When the legislative session is over or at least the chaos calms down, I plan to sit down with Randy to find out the immediate needs and how we can propose to fund some of them to accomplish their infrastructure needs. It's a work in progress. I would like to have something in front of you in April-May timeframe, when we start putting together the budget for next year."
Villa said the items remain on the list and he has continued to meet with the manager, but he wants them on the report, so they don't fall through the cracks.
Ponce asked about the plaques that had been approved for placement at the Bataan Memorial Park as part of the new components. Hernandez said they are setting up a time with Laura Howell and Donnie Turner to make sure the plaques get put where they want them. Villa said they also want to ensure the safety of the plaques.
The next report will begin with the Financial Director report and continue with the Road Department and Emergency Manager reports.
For the preceding article, please visit https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/76055-grant-county-commission-work-session-011023-part-1