By Lynn Janes
The town of Bayard held a work session July 24, 2023. Attendance included Mayor Chon Fierro councilors Eloy Medina, Frances Gonzales, and Jose Diaz. Mayor Pro Tem Raul Villanueva did not attend. The work session allows the council time to ask questions about items on the agenda and discuss them.
Gonzales pointed out that the correction she had requested in the minutes for June 26, 2023, had not been made.
Diaz had questions about the cell phone contracts. He also wanted to know if the recent requests for phones had included new staff on the new contracts. Another question concerned how the contract had been spread out between departments. Gabriel Ramos, city clerk, said he has been going over them and at the next meeting he would have solid information for the council.
Gonzales wanted to know how the plans for the 24-hour police service had been coming. Police Chief Hector Carrillo said they will be trying to work towards that. "I understand that the 24/7 is important but realistically we can probably only do 24/5. Although the department now has been fully staffed with six officers, one is not currently certified." They must allow for sick leave and vacation time. Diaz felt that the public would be happy to see the police on the streets. Gonzales had gone to the county commissioners meeting and said as of September 1, 2023, they would not be allowing any overtime for the sheriff's department. "They are still covering us." Carrillo pointed out the county could not do 24/7 either.
Anthony Macias would be attending a one-day training and the council all felt it would be a great idea.
They talked about the upcoming New Mexico Municipal League conference and who would attend. Ramos said he had gotten a block of rooms reserved for them and just needed to know who would be attending.
Carrillo said they had gone over the policies and procedures for the police department. The municipal league attorney had gone over it and made a few corrections. He told the council he had it on a jump drive and they would be welcome to view it.
Ramos encouraged the council to approve the membership with the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments. They do the membership annually. The organization had helped Bayard get a tremendous amount of funding, helped with budget, answered any questions needed. Diaz said they have always done it.
Jenny Castanon told the council she wanted to redo the welcome sign and had come to the board to ask for volunteers. Fierro told her that the beautification committee could maybe help her.
Ramos said right now they have five people on the planning and zoning board. They have two others interested and it had been a good meeting they had recently. Gonzales thanked Carrillo and the code enforcement officer for attending and explaining their role. They went over the process. They also discussed their role as board members in different situations. They also had some residents show up that had some great input.
In the past meeting Diaz had asked that ordinance 1- 2023 be tabled until the next meeting, and it had not been put on this agenda. The council had some concerns and questions they wanted addressed and some items detailed better before approving it. Ramos said it could be added on verbally when approving the agenda.
The town of Bayard held a regular meeting July 24, 2023. The meeting started with Mayor Chon Fierro calling the meeting to order and leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Attendance at the meeting included councilors Eloy Medina, Frances Gonzales, and Jose Diaz. Mayor Pro Tem Raul Villanueva did not attend.
Villanueva had given Ramos a statement to read since he could not attend. He thanked the council and mayor for everything. He thanked the community for allowing him to serve them for the past ten years.
The council approved the agenda with the change of adding the approval/disapproval of ordinance 1-2023 and the change for the hiring wage of a new officer at $27 an hour and at the level of sergeant.
Grant County Magistrate Judge, Hector Grijalva swore in Ramos as city clerk and Eloy Gonzales as city councilor.
Ramos said they would be conducting public input a little differently. Each person would have three minutes and would have to sign up before the meeting. The input could only be about items on the agenda. They would also need to be sponsored by someone on the council. The resident would need to step up to the podium and they would tolerate people speaking over each other. They will be having good and civil meetings.
The council approved the consent agenda which included regular meeting minutes from June 26, 2023, and July 10,2023, accounts payable report July 24, 2023, police department report for June 2023 and wastewater report for June 2023. It also included a one-day training for Anthony Macias on operational red flags for narcotics investigations and the mayor, city staff, and council to attend the New Mexico Municipal League conference in Farmington.
The council approved the Bayard Police Department policies and procedures.
Jade Wilson had addressed the council at the July 10, 2023, meeting. It had to do with inappropriate behavior of Fire Chief Euphemio Gonzales. She said he regularly speaks over the mayor, interrupts and at times storms out of meetings. What she had talked to them at the previous meeting about had to do with his nonadherence of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). After the meeting her partner had received a dismissal with the excuse of low (70 percent) attendance. "The chief retaliates against people." Wilson said, "It is my obligation to speak up when I see something wrong." She told the council they needed to question his behavior. She asked them what the licensing, requirements, and qualification the chief had to have. Ramos said he would look up the ordinance and policies and get back to them. Wilson told them she knew they had a spot open on the fire department and she wanted an application. Ramos said he would email her all the information she requested. Medina pointed out it would all be public record. Medina and Diaz discussed the requirements.
Ramos said he has been going over all the standard operating procedures and they had not been updated for some time. He will work on getting them updated. Medina said concerning the fire department he knew they had to have all records of employees and certifications in one place.
The council approved the membership with Southwest Council of Governments. Ramos said the membership costs the city $2,331.19 for the year. The council agreed it has been worth it and the membership a benefit to the city.
Ralf Jimenez of Little League attended the meeting to get updates and give updates. He said that the league will now be in their off season unless they decide to do more. He had received requests from the people to extend it August through October. He asked the council for their permission. He told the council they would continue to help keep up the bottom field. Fierro said he had been happy to see the team went to state. He told Jimenez he was at the field a few weeks before the last meeting and had seen a lot of damage, vandalism, and holes in the wall. "We need to take care of the little league." He and Jimenez discussed the problems for a while and Jimenez said some of the problems Fierro had seen had to do with installation being done incorrectly. He referred to the bathroom door and sinks. Jimenez said he knew some of the YCC (Youth Conservation Corps) kids had done the installations and didn't know. "The board members of the little league attend every night and keep an eye out to stop any mischief."
Fierro said he had just been going by what he had been told and guessed they had some miscommunication.
Eloy Gonzales asked Jimenez how they decide when and where games would be played. Jimenez explained the process the state league uses. They had to turn down several games for Bayard because of the construction at the field. He thought that now some of the games would be coming back to Bayard. Jimenez was asked if Bayard could accommodate state tournaments and he said yes.
Diaz thanked him for six years of service. The concerns brought up came to the budget and the expenses the city had been incurring fixing things. He asked him to communicate with Michael Paez, maintenance director, and "coordinate the work you all are doing to make things go smoother." Diaz brought up the expenses they had seen $1500 for a table and $1100 for chairs. Any more requests that will be over $200 need to come to the council.
Jimenez said he had been told by the city clerk at the time that they had money that needed to be spent or they would lose it.
Diaz said the council didn't know. The city had received $500,000 funding to build a concession stand. "It was used on other things but we don't know where it went. Some of the things he had been told the funding went for had been picnic tables and shade structures. We need to know who failed and what happened." He told Jimenez in the future they needed to come before the council so they know what is going on and can answer the residents when they call with questions.
Jimenez said at the end of each season they collect all the keys. "If someone wants to use the facility, we tell them to contact the city." He said the flooring did get messed up when they had the room painted. They had then brought in a professional to clean it up and the mayor saw it before that had been done. He asked that they look now and see what had been done.
Fierro went over what had happened with the concession stand. They had received the $500,000 funding but when they got the estimate back, the cost for engineers and construction came to over $700,000. They tried several things but could not come up with the additional funding.
Medina thanked Jimenez for all he does for the kids. He asked him to develop a good communication with Paez and keep them up to date. "We just saw the budget and got shocked."
Frances Gonzales gave an update on the housing authority. She had attended the last meeting and acts as the liaison for the council and housing authority. They recently had two fires and lost two buildings. Those buildings had just been remodeled and upgraded. The first fire had not been totally put out and a woman living there was pregnant. She had not been able to get in and get anything. They went to town and when they got back the building had totally burnt down. The fire chief said, "things happen." The same thing happened with the second building. The housing authority talked with the chief and asked that the state fire marshal come and do an investigation and they had been told he would not come down. They don't think they will get enough from insurance to be able to rebuild the structures. The housing authority had a problem with the department not getting the fire out the first time and the chief's lack of empathy and attitude had been troubling. They had asked Frances Gonzales to speak for them for fear of retaliation from the chief. They want the state fire marshal to come investigate.
Chief Gonzalez gave the council the reasons for the problems. That day they had 40 mph winds.
Frances Gonzales said, "These are perceptions from the board and without the fire marshal they have questions." The chief said the fire marshal would not come and he had tried twice to get them. He was told it didn't meet the requirements. Medina asked if they had used the thermal camera and who he had talked to at the fire marshal's office. Diaz asked him how long it had been between calls. Medina knew the first call had been around 6 am and they had been called back at 1 pm.
A resident, Mr. Ortiz asked them if anyone had talked with the contractor and where the fire started since it had been a recent remodel. The chief told him it started in the kitchen.
The council talked for a while on what they could do.
Medina said, "Firefighters are in a difficult position. They have a lot of decisions to do quickly." He told the council he had looked into this fire. "A reburn is very hard for a chief." The fire department has been dwindling down. "We appreciate what you do." The public has concerns and the chief is an ambassador for the city. "We expect you to do a good job and it needs to be done correctly." The people would be devastated and that would be understandable.
Bruce Ashburn, PNM, had been on the agenda but could not attend. Ramos gave the council an update on what Ashburn had told him in their meeting. The question had concerned the need for streetlamps on Hurley Avenue. The need would be three poles at $2500 each. Ashburn said that PNM would be revamping the streetlights in December, and they would not have any cost. They would just need to wait until then. The council decided to wait and not have to pay to do it now.
Jenny Castanon addressed the council wanting to get help to refurbish the welcome sign coming from Hurley. Mike Diaz, chairman of the beautification committee, said they had been talking about it for two years. He knew that sign would take a lot of work because the board would probably be rotten. Fierro talked about some of the materials the city had and possibly moving the sign. They discussed needing an auger to drill holes for the poles and other alternatives. Castanon had talked to J and J Signs, and they would need to do the design. Ramos said he would put together some cost estimates for the next meeting. Mike Diaz said the beautification committee would do anything they could.
Ramos had met with Mike Stone of Stone McGee, and Company. They had done the past audit and had turned it in late causing Bayard to lose out on a large amount of funding. Stone told Ramos how bad he felt and would be sending a letter to the state to try and fix the problem. Although they had caused this problem, Ramos recommended, they use them for the next audit. It would be too late to get someone else, and he worried it could cause the same problem again. Stone still had a year left for them to contract for this coming audit. Ramos said next year they would have the time to get an RFP (request for proposal) out and get a new auditor. Stone had promised not to let it happen again, he and the firm has just had a lot of health problems to cope with as he had explained to the council previously.
Fierro said it was the first time he had seen that happen and agreed with Ramos and the rest of the council agreed. Jose Diaz did say to keep a close eye on the process.
Ordinances and resolutions
The council approved resolution 4-2023 adoption for required CDBG (community development and block grant) program certifications and commitments.
The council approved resolution 11-2023 fourth quarter budget adjustments. Ramos explained some of the adjustments and said he would have more to report at their special budget meeting on July 31, 2023. One major one had been $522,380 and that had been for the CDBG, and it had to be paid out of the general fund and then when they receive the funding it has to be adjusted. The other involved the city receiving more from the state for gross receipts. Much of the gross receipts come from the mine, and it caused some confusion.
The council approved ordinance 1-2023. This ordinance covered neglected and vacant buildings.
Boards and committees
The council approved the addition of two members to planning and zoning giving them a total of seven.
The council approved the letter of interest from Ricardo Aguirre to be on the planning and zoning board.
Action for Personnel
The council approved the hiring of certified officer Trevor Jenson at a rate of $27 an hour and as a Sergeant.
The council approved the hiring of Louis Gomez Jr. as an uncertified officer at a rate of $18 an hour.
The council approved the resignation letter from Christopher Bencomo from parks and recreation.
The council went into closed session to discuss personnel matters for the fire department.
The council came back into closed session and said no action had been taken.
Board and committee reports.
Mike Diaz said they would be losing two members from the beautification committee, James Ervin, and Selina Crespin. They plan to put their main concentration on the annual Trunk or Treat event, and they will have music. He invited everyone to come to their meetings that happen every third Wednesday of the month 5 pm at the Bayard Community Center.
Frances Gonzales said planning and zoning will meet every two weeks at the Bayard Public Library. The next one will take place on August 3, 2023, at 4 pm. They will be talking to Silver City's planning and zoning to find out their procedures. They will start doing legal notices in the paper for the meetings. She thanked Ramos for getting the maps they needed. They will also be looking for grants because they have been made aware that grants are available for planning and zoning boards.
Department head reports.
Paez said they had sent off the traffic design to the state for the railroad repairs and have just been waiting to get them approved and the project will start.
Chief Carrillo thanked the council for helping him get the police department fully staffed. The department had met to go over plans for this fiscal year and standard operating procedures. He talked about the meeting with planning and zoning and the fire department involvement and felt it would be helpful.
Frances Gonzales asked about the neighborhood watch signs. Carrillo said they will be looking for more funding to expand the program to the whole town. Eventually he would have the town divided into four sections.
Ramos said, "I feel like I am back in my element." He had taken a tour with Paez of all the maintenance areas and asked him what his needs would be. He met with Carrillo, and he needs storage and many of the departments have that same need. He talked about doing a large one for both the police and fire department. He met with Sonya Dixon, librarian, and they have to fix that wall before it becomes a major problem. He went over the wastewater projects and what will be needed. Ramos identified some auction items and will be looking for more and getting that process going.
Ramos reminded the council they needed to let him know who would be attending the Municipal League conference. He wanted to have a councilors and directors retreat before the conference to go over the ICIP (infrastructure capital improvement plan) projects.
Ramos said the EMS and fire department get a lot of calls and he thanked them and said he appreciated all that they do.
Mayor and councilors reports.
Eloy Gonzales thanked the council for their confidence in him. "My priority is Bayard and how it looks and how it needs improvement." He said he wanted to help it become the hub of the mining district and looked forward to serving the people and accepts the challenge.
Medina didn't have a report currently.
Frances Gonzales didn't have a report currently.
Jose Diaz wanted to know when the new officers would be starting. Carrillo said one today and one would be the end of the month. Jose Diaz wanted to see them post the code enforcement job opening right away. He thanked everyone for coming and said, "They are moving forward, had a few glitches but the leadership was working."
Fierro said he and Ramos had met to discuss what they could do to improve things. He expressed being glad to have two more officers. He thanked maintenance for all they do. He told the council that the supervisor at the wastewater plant needs everyone's prayers. His wife had been sick.
Fierro and the mayors of Hurley and Santa Clara will be meeting with Freeport McMoRan to sign the wastewater agreement.
Fierro said, "Glad it was just a misunderstanding with the little league."
Special budget meeting will be held July 31, 2023
Next regular meeting will be held August 14, 2023