By Mary Alice Murphy

With no public input at the Grant County Commission special meeting on Oct. 24, 2023, commissioners heard a presentation from Ted Presler about the Southwest Word Fiesta which would take place the following weekend, Oct. 27-29, 2023.

[See  for a short summary and a few photos of one portion of the event.]

Presler said he would like to clear up some confusion. "We are not the Southwest Print Festival. Silver City and Western New Mexico University are our primary sponsors. We have a new website, about a year old, which tells all about our organization and what we do at . We celebrate the written and spoken word. In 2021, because of Covid, we were trying to decide whether to have a fiesta or not. We did a hybrid one, mostly on Zoom and some in person. We discovered that it was quite successful in 2021. We had participants from 23 states and seven countries."

He said the Southwest Word Fiesta began over a beer at Little Toad Creek. "We decided we should have a word fiesta to compete with the one in Tucson. In 2013, we had the first one, so this year is our tenth anniversary. Our website is bi-lingual and proactive. It will take a person 30-40 minutes to go all through it. And it is always being added to. It's also a marketplace for us. We wanted to have a bookshelf and now we have more than 50 authors on it. We have a plan for young adults to put material on it. We are working with Silver City students."

On Oct. 7, the fiesta would give a "We're all Connected" award to Felicia Carolyn Ruiz out of Tucson. "We collaborated with LULAC on the award. She writes about curanderas."

"Many of you know Bonnie Buckley Maldonado," Presler continued. "She is 93, a treasure for our community. We created a documentary on her poetry, which will be shown during April National Poetry Month.

He said the website also has Haiku on it.

The keynote speaker for the Southwest Word Fiesta was John Burnett, a retied correspondent for National Public Radio. One of the board members, Tom Hester, found Burnett, who told him he and his wife at dined at Little Toad Creek three times. He also planned to play harmonica with Blue Dog at the Toad while he was here.

Presler said the website was free and open to the public .

Under new business, commissioners considered a DWI special grant application by Daniel Graves, DWI coordinator. County Manager Charlene Webb said it was an amendment to the original grant award pf $94,000 to add $22,750 to his operations budget for the program.

Commissioners approved the amendment.

Under resolutions, they heard from Road Superintendent Joe Grijalva, who requested they pass two resolutions to extend the termination date of the Local Government Road Fund County Arterial Program Cooperative Agreement from Dec. 31, 2023 to Dec. 31, 2024.

"We got behind when I lost two truck drivers who had been taking material out to the projects," Grijalva said. "I reached out to the contractors, but they also have limited resources. We may be able to complete them, but I didn't want to risk not meeting the deadline."

District 5 Harry Browne asked if there were any negative to requesting the detention.

"I don't think so," Grijalva said. "We're working on both projects at the same time, and we could finish them in time. With losing the two drivers and then the late rains, it put us back. I don't want to risk sloppy work. I will submit the paperwork to close out the projects as soon as they are completed."

He said he already has the paperwork for next year's LGRF and will submit it on time.

District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards asked why the commission has to approve the amendments.

Webb explained: "It's the Department of Transportation. They want us to approve the extensions, because they want to know what we're doing in the county. With any extension, it's required to come back to the governing board for approval."

Commissioners approved both resolutions for project deadline extensions.

The last resolution addressed the second amendment and restated inducement resolution pertaining to the proposed industrial revenue bonds entitled Grant County, New Mexico Taxable Industrial Revenue Bonds for the Great Divide Wind Farm LLC project, and authorizing publication of the title and general subject matter of the second amended and restated bond ordinance (SARBO) relating to such bonds in a newspaper of general circulation within the county at least two weeks prior to the meeting at which the SARBO is proposed for final passage.

Bob Karsted of Scout Energy, project manager for the Great Divide Wind Farm, said: "Thank you for being willing to extend the IRB to Dec. 31, 2026. We look forward to the development of the project. We wanted to add approval by the Grant County Commission in support of this project. We look forward to getting it done within the next three years."

Commissioners approved the second amendment resolution.

Under commissioner reports, District 2 Commissioner Eloy Medina said he is setting up the next quarterly meeting with residents of Mimbres. "I want to include the new Gila Regional Medical Center CEO and CNO. "

District 4 Commissioner Billy Billings had nothing to report. Browne had nothing to report.

Edwards said she appreciated all the effort put into the Southwest Word Fiesta. "It's a cool event."

District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce said he was a little disappointed on his hunt this year in Unit 24. "For whatever reason, the Forest Service had a prescribed burn that closed New Mexico 15 and there were firefighters everywhere. I understand that the fires help the forest. But to do it this time of year blew me away. It's our heritage. A lot of people who haven't drawn tags in years, saved up vacation time. We were told there were three other ways to get into the area. I understand prescribed burns are a science, but I think they could have done it another time, not during the hunting season. It's like when the Forest Service decided to close Grapevine Campground. It took community members talking about economic development to get them to reopen it partially. They're shutting people out of our forest. They decided to close Grapevine and fence off the Upper Box. When it gets to extremes like this a certain demographic is getting in the way. Hunters enjoy their hunts. I reached out to a number of people, but I haven't heard back. If we don't discuss and talk about how thing will affect us, it doesn't work. I was trying to walk close to the prescribed burn to hunt. They had people shooting cattle a while back. When they start looking at hunters, that's too much. For some of us it took years to get a tag."

"I got a call from (Lt. Gov.) Howie (Morales)," Ponce continued. "I asked him if we are starting to keep people out of our forest. Do they want us to enjoy the forest? Yes, some people trash the forest, but not everyone. I hope it doesn't happen to the hunters. I wish we could get together with others that like to do different hobbies. The forest should be free to everyone. I understand their priority is the forest, but they need to protect it for everyone. There are a lot of obstacles for those trying to enjoy our forest. I'm not sure what happened with Box Canyon and the fences."

The commissioners recessed as the Board of County Commissioners and reconvened at the Detention Center where they toured the facility. They adjourned at the Detention Center.

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