By Lynn Janes

The town of Bayard held a work session January 9, 2023. The work session started with Mayor Chon Fierro calling the meeting to order. Attendance at the meeting included Mayor Pro Tem Raul Villanueva, councilors Jose Diaz, Eloy Medina, and Frances Gonzales.

The work session gives the council an opportunity to ask questions about anything on the agenda. 

Diaz wanted to give department heads a time to address the council and give reports in the future. Next time they will have a specific part on the agenda. 

The council had some questions about the accounts payable report. Diaz wanted to know and have an explanation concerning the money spent for the candy at the Christmas event. Marlena Valenzuela, interim clerk, said the money had come from donations but had to show coming in and out. The report showed an expenditure for $4,000 for the emergency vehicle and Valenzuela explained this has been an every year invoice to have the vehicle maintained and tested for proper operation. A few others followed.

Diaz wanted to table the decision concerning the schedule change for the public works department. He said he wanted to table the item due to not having met with Michael Paez, public works director. 

The council had questions concerning the “Text My Gov” app. Valenzuela explained it would give them more interaction with the community. Currently Santa Clara and Hurley have implemented the service and have found it very useful. It can be used for communication to residents and from residents. It could be used to let residents know when they had an outage or residents could text them when they had a problem or if they wanted to let them know about potholes. The service would be $4,500 the first year and $3,000 the following years. She asked them to think about it. 

The testing site they had for covid will no longer be available. HMS will still offer the service but at different times. Diaz said we still have a lot of tests. They discussed that only one person could do it and could not be delegated to all the department heads. Diaz said he would work on a plan and have something at the next meeting. 

The agenda had an approval for stipends policy for the volunteer firefighters. The issue would have to be put on hold until they received the information, they needed from the fire marshal. 

Kristina Ortiz had attended the meeting to give a presentation on the Rural Partners Network she now represents. She provided the council with a packet that contained the pertinent information. The program had been created to spur economic growth and job creating infrastructure. The network would improve access to resources by having multiple funding sources. Ortiz said she had 15 agencies to find funding and will be the contact for Grant, Catron, and Luna Counties. She explained she could not apply for the funding but could connect them and act as a liaison. 

The town of Bayard held a regular town meeting January 9, 2023. The meeting started with Mayor Chon Fierro calling the meeting to order. Attendance at the meeting included Mayor Pro tem Raul Villanueva councilors Jose Diaz, Eloy Medina, and Frances Gonzales. The Pledge of Allegiance and salute to New Mexico flag took place. 

The council approved the agenda with one change to table the public works department schedule changes. 

Jose Sandoval,  municipal judge swore in the two new police officers, Valerie Barboa, and Luz Lozano. 

Diaz wanted to make a statement. “I have been here for a year now. I just want to remind you that we are human but are here to listen and understand.”

Public input

Sherri Edwards asked the council to amend the contract with the AA meetings so they can serve coffee in the meeting space at the community center. The council approved amending the contract to allow coffee service.

Consent agenda

The council approved the consent agenda which included special meeting minutes for December 15, 2022, accounts payable report for January 9, 2023, maintenance report for December 2022 and fire report December 2022. The consent agenda also included Michael Paez to attend CoRe-EX program in February and online training for supervisors to included Marlena Valenzuela, Michael Paez and Robert Terrazas. 

Old Business

The council discussed the concerns of Larry Ojinaga. They have had some questions concerning the ordinance language and has been sent to legal. Another concern Ojinaga had questions about had to do with the repair of the railroad and why it had not been done. Valenzuela said the contract had been given out and they have been ready to go but have not been able to get the supplies needed. Last information she received had been six months out for supplies. 

Matthew Valenzuela, owner of  M and M Auto wanted to have the council reinstate his business license. He said he had done all they had asked. Diaz said, “It was never our intention to shut you down.” Diaz went on to site the numerous complaints they had received and the many code violations. The council had received a lot of complaints for a long period of time. Diaz asked if he had the inspections done that he had been asked to do. Diaz told him “When those are done, please come back.” Fierro told him Marlena Valenzuela would help him make the necessary contacts. 

New Business

The council had some question about the “Text My Gov” app. Villanueva wanted to know if the fee would come out of general funds and Valenzuela said yes. Diaz expressed concerns for their ability to keep it up because of being so busy. Diaz asked that they table it for now and all agreed. 

Diaz will put a plan together for the covid protocol as discussed in the work session.

Stipends for the volunteer fire department will be tabled for now until information requested comes from the fire marshal. 

The next thing on the agenda had been the presentation by Kristina Ortiz for Rural Partners Network. She gave it to them during the work session. 

Action for personnel

The council approved the three new hires, Gabriel Flores, parks and recreation, Robert Herbert, janitor, and Steven Estrada, wastewater laborer.

The council went in to closed session to discuss promoting Marlena Valenzuela to city clerk-treasurer and Robert Terrazas to wastewater director.

The council came back into open session. They made the following decisions. Marlena Valenzuela would be hired as city clerk treasurer at $27 an hour with a six-month review period. During that time Michelle Holguin would have a $3 increase for the additional duties. Robert Terrazas will be hired as wastewater director at $29 an hour.

Mayor and councilors reports.

Villanueva told everyone happy new year. He said his new position as sheriff has been challenging. He thanked the staff for all they do and how much they appreciate them.

Gonzales none currently.

Diaz said after a rocky start with the police department they now have some stability. When he started on the council, they only had one police officer. They had many changes since he started March 2022. He said he had heard they fired many good people and that simply had not been true. Public safety had been his priority and it would continue to be. He reflected on loosing Kristina Ortiz and what a great employee she had been. He told her they had really missed her. “I will continue for the next three years and will stand by my decisions.” He pointed out the importance of transparency, accountability and making the right decision. He said he knew they would have many more challenges to come and changes. “Accountability starts with me.”

Fierro said he didn’t have anything to report but he congratulated Valenzuela and Terrazas. He added “It was nice to see you, Kristina.”

The next regular meeting will be January 23 , 2023 

Meeting adjourned. 

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