[Editor's Note: This is part 2 of a series of articles on the Grant County Commission work session on Sept. 12, 2023. This article continues county reports.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

To continue county reports at the Grant County Commission Sept. 12, 2023 work session, General Services Director and Fire Management Officer Randy Villa began his presentation on the Grant County Airport. He said the fuel farm construction is about halfway done. "The new tank is anticipated to arrive by the end of the month. Work on the taxiway and apron are almost complete, with the contractor installing a slot drain, and just the final marking to be done. We completed the purchase of a new hangar on Sept. 1, and we are looking to move into it in about four to six weeks."

He said the Corre Caminos budget is on the agenda and Manager Kim Dominguez would give a report during the review of the regular meeting agenda.

About the DWI program, Villa said the program participated in the Silver High School homecoming. "I didn't get a report, from (Coordinator ) Daniel (Graves) because he is in training all this week."

"On the maintenance side, they are working hard to get the Fairgrounds ready for the fair, with some upgrades to the offices and electrical," Villa continued. "The parking lot at Silver Street is still in progress. And Victor Placencio is doing a good job at keeping the parks at Bataan and Cliff clean. The volunteer fire departments are working on their 5-year plans to present by the end of the month. We had an ISO inspection at Sapillo Creek. It went very well. We put in a new hydrant, which will help the ISO rating for the community it serves, and hopefully it will help lower the insurance rates a little bit. It takes about six months to get the report, which will go to the Commission Chair, the County Manager and myself. Also the Upper Mimbres VFD had an ISO inspection, which also went very well. Water is the big issue, with the more water on site, the better the ISO rating."

He said the next big project at the airport will be the retrofitting of all the airfield lighting to LED. They will be installing LED taxiway edge lighting, replacing the existing reflectors. Total project cost is estimated at a cost of about $1.4 million. "As you know Rebekah (Wenger, airport manager) is always going after grants, so hopefully we can get that funded and up and running."

District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce asked if all the commissioners could receive the ISO reports, and asked if it could be announced to the public at that time. Villa confirmed that it could be released to the public.

Villa also noted that for the month of August, the VFDs had answered 28 fire calls, 88 EMS calls and three other calls.

Road Superintendent Joe Grijalva gave his report. He noted the blademen are on routine maintenance, "but with last night's rain, they may be looking for washouts. The road crew is addressing complaints as they come in. We completed the 2023 chip seal project, with just striping left to be complete. We are working on finishing the Little Walnut project. We have a few more loads of dirt to lift the roadway and culverts to set. Weather permitting, we plan to finish in a couple of weeks. For future projects, we plan to address two low water crossings on Noonday Canyon Road. We will have to lift sections of road and set culverts. We're also still working to get the school bus stop warning lights in the Tyrone townsite. As always, I ask for the patience and understanding of the public as we work to address work orders."

Ponce noted that again the previous week, the New Mexico Department of Transportation was out fixing the guardrail at the intersection of 180 East and Kirkland Road. "We need to figure something out. Maybe lighting would help. I don't know if there are accidents or what, but it seems to me the DOT would want to save money by fixing something so they don't have to repair the guardrail all the time. I don't know where the county easement is, but maybe the county can do something. I'm just throwing that at you again."

County Manager Charlene Webb said the issue is in her court now. "Joe did reach out to the DOT. I talked with the district engineer, Aaron, and they are happy to put in a light, but then it would be the county's responsibility for maintenance, repairs and such. Aaron's email was vague, so I need to find out what all that entails before we agree to it."

District 5 Commissioner Harry Browne noted that a similar thing has happened at the intersection of 180 East and Pinos Altos Road. The left turn signal repeatedly has been knocked down. "It's been out about 8 months."

[Editor's Note: The light in the middle of the street has been replaced by an overhead light, with the left turn signal as part of the traffic light.]

The next report came from IT (internet technology) Director Adam Baca.

"We are recruiting for an IT specialist," Baca reported. "I'm interviewing this afternoon, so hopefully, we'll be able to report we've grown the department by one person. We are continuing with our new server infrastructure installation, which will likely take the better part of the rest of the year to complete. We are continuing with the GovPros payment system implementation. There was a lot of backend maintenance that had to be done on behalf of Tyler Technologies on the local database and web server infrastructure that we have. In the middle of this project the manager and the tech specialist were no longer on the project, but we've moved past that bump. On the 14th we are supposed to receive word whether we can move forward. I think we will be able to."

Another thing he has begun is the county website redesign. "This will be a very good project. Right now, we have a project designer and some milestones we've established. A lot of groundwork has to be established by January, which is the target date to have the new revamped website in place. We have to do a lot of content management to determine what is pertinent and what isn't. And talking about templates and design, so we'll be doing that for the next several months. It's underway."

He said: "We've also started our Tyler content manager and cloud migration effort. I just got a project manager for this yesterday. This is to move our Tyler software services that we have on premises here over to the cloud. It's a major effort, and I'm very glad we're able to start it. It will be an interesting change for the county in the way our enterprise resources will be managed and utilized. We've also been able to start our network vulnerability management. My department will have the opportunity to scan our network and have vision into whatever network vulnerabilities may exist and to remediate them as soon as we can."

Baca said the department will offer tech support for the chief elected officials. "We'll also be offering more meeting on the website redesign effort."

Ponce thanked him for being available to address some technical issues during a recent meeting.

Webb said she had no formal report, "but I'm pleased to introduce our new emergency manager, Scott Fuller. He started the day after Labor Day. We're pleased to bring him on board. He's a 28-year veteran of the Newport News Fire Department. As senior management, he has coordinated and collaborated on city-wide emergency management, including exercises and planning, so he brings a tremendous amount of knowledge to the county. In addition, he has a comprehensive understanding of the way government works, including intergovernmental operations and communications among different governmental entities. He's hit the ground running with looking at the status of our departments. We're extremely pleased to have someone with his expertise on board."

"I'm excited to be here," Fuller said. "I'm looking forward to preparing the department for emergencies or contingencies that might adversely affect county government or the citizens of Grant County. This week has been busy. I've been bringing the department current and introducing myself to all the local, county, regional, state and federal agencies and establishing contact information with them. I have three meetings set up with members of the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security Emergency Management. I'll be picking their brains. I should have plenty to report to you next month."

Webb said: "And lastly, I want to tell you that Crystal (Arellano, executive assistant) is leaving us. Her last day is Friday. She has accepted a position with Cobre schools. I wanted to extend my appreciation to her. She's done a great job for us. It's a loss, but I want extend my best wishes as she moves forward with her new career. I hope we will soon be able to fill her shoes."

The last report came from Financial Officer Linda Vasquez who said she wanted to make commissioners aware of several RFPs (requests for proposal) and bids. "The first bid is for Fleming Tank Road drainage and is due Sept. 15. The next is for banking services and is due Oct. 10. The bid for airport fuel services is due Oct. 13. The auditors are scheduled to be here the week of October 9 to begin our audit."

The next article will begin with the review of the regular meeting agenda and will also address decisions made at the regular meeting on Sept. 14.

For the previous article, please visit https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/80266-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-0912223-part-1 

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