By Lynn Janes

The town of Bayard held a regular meeting January 22, 2024. Attendance included Mayor John L. Ojinaga, Mayor Pro Tem Eloy Medina, Councilors Frances Gonzales, and Eloy Gonzales. Gabriel Ramos, city clerk, also attended.

Public input

Chuck Gray said he had put in an application for the council vacancy and did not see any interviews and wanted to know what would be done.

The council approved the consent agenda. It included accounts payable, minutes from past meetings, department reports and training for Robert Ruiz in Albuquerque.

Old business

The council approved the purchase of a 35-foot strip of land by Mr. and Mrs. Reese. They had come to the council six months ago on this matter. They have agreed to pay for the survey and purchase the small piece of property for $1,000,

The council approved a lease or purchase with The Commons for the parking lot adjacent to the building The Commons would like to purchase from the Terrazas family. They had a lengthy discussion with David Chandler, director of The Commons, before approving. Chandler wanted them to know the significant investment they would be prepared to make into the community. It included the possible future projects in addition to the pantry. They wanted to develop a public use space and other projects in the first five years. Chandler quoted $425,000 on the building and renovation, $420,000 operations and general costs, $180,000 food security programs, $152, 000 on youth programs, $60,000 commercial kitchen and $350,000 payroll, staff, and community projects. It would be a total of $1,337,000.

Ramos had a few questions about the program. Currently they have a pop-up pantry once a month at Fort Bayard and provide food boxes for about 200 households. Chandler said this property in Bayard would give them many more opportunities. They could spread out the distribution over the whole month and not just the one day. "We want to have community development programs and not just food." The Commons would like to purchase the parking lot for $5,000 and since they have not had any fuel tanks under the property, they would not have any abatement issues. The council had questions about the use of the parking lot by others. Chandler said it could be used by anyone when they didn't have an event taking place. Medina had concerns about M and A Café and wanted to make sure they would not be affected. Eloy Gonzales wanted to know if they would be putting up barriers and Chandler said most likely it would be planters of some kind. The lot had not been appraised and they preferred to purchase but would be open to a lease as well.

Chandler said, "We are the biggest pantry in New Mexico that relies on community donations, and this will be a big leap of faith to serve the mining district better."

Medina said he liked the idea and wants this to be a priority for Bayard. Ojinaga suggested the lease, "It won't break either of us." Frances Gonzales liked the idea of a lease and not purchase. Medina pointed out they would need to address liability if they leased the parking lot. Ramos commented a lot of residents use the service. The whole council liked the idea and said they needed an appraisal. Chandler let the council know they had been saving money for some time to do this project and would be ready to move quickly. Now that the council has told him they will work with them on the parking lot, they will begin negotiations for the building.

Chandler told the council he has been working with Santa Clara on a location there. However, they would have to build a building. Bayard would be more attractive due to having a building in place. The board will be assessing what would be the best and most cost-effective option. Santa Clara had made them a generous offer, but Bayard would also be more centrally located for the mining district. The property around the location also has more opportunities for growth and more programs in the future. They had already been working with the Cobre district for two years with food programs for the students and he explained what they had been doing in each school. He told them the board would make the decision on the location. "We feel we can make a huge difference in the community." Medina said he liked the idea of it being in Bayard and would be a good opportunity.

Chandler said step one had been to find out if they could get the parking lot because the building would have been useless without parking. Now they will begin the process of negotiations for the building and having an inspection to determine the renovation costs. If it comes out too costly, they might find building new would be better. They have already had initial conversations with the Terrazas family about purchasing the building. Ojinaga had some questions about sale versus lease and Chandler said their verbal commitment to work with them would be enough for now.

The council tabled a decision on the fleet GPS system until they obtain more information from Police Chief Hector Carrillo. Ramos said the system currently costs the city about $10,000 a year and is rarely used. Ojinaga and Medina felt it would be a safety factor.

New business

The council approved the demolition of a building located at 620 McKee Street. Kathy Pedraza had done all the required documentation. Ramos said that it had gone through planning and zoning and now the council just needed to approve.

The council approved the purchase of Text My Gov program. Ramos said they had approved it before he had come, but at the time, they didn't have the costs. He had gotten the cost and negotiated them down to $3,500 a year. The texts would only go to those that signed up for the service. It can be used both ways, the city to advise, for example, of water line repairs, road work, etc. The residents can text the city to advise,, for example a water line break. Ramos said it would also help by being able to text people that have not paid utility bills. They have many people that get behind, 40-60 every month and they must spend time disconnecting and this would remind them and alleviate the high number. Frances Gonzales had concerns that they didn't have anyone to monitor the texts. Eloy Gonzales pointed out that many residents don't even know how to text.

Municipal Judge Jose Diaz attended and swore in Delilah Chavez as a new police officer for Bayard.

Bayard received three applications for the open position on the council left by Diaz. They included William Chuck Gray Jr., Gilbert Ortiz, and Yvonne Hernandez.

Ojinaga said, "I am glad so many are choosing to help their community and people. I am not recommending this one because he is a friend or compa as has been done in the past here." He commented he knew two of the candidates have been active in the community but had never heard of Hernandez before. He recommended the appointment of Ortiz and the council approved. Ortiz will fill out Diaz's time which ends November 2025.

Ortiz said he has spent 60-plus years in Bayard and worked at Chino mines and Fort Bayard (plant manager). He listed a number of qualifications he had to serve on the council.

Ordinances and resolutions

The council approved resolution 3-2024 for the law enforcement recruitment fund (LERF). Ramos said they had approved the fund in November 2023 and now this would approve the receipt of the funds totaling $393,750.

The council approved resolution 4-2024 for Bayard to apply and administer, as fiscal agent, the federal funding received for G Boys Jerky to expand their business. It authorized Ramos and Deputy Clerk Tanya Ortiz to sign grant documents.

Action for personnel

The council approved the resignation of patrol officer Anthony Macias.

The council approved the hiring of Minnie Carrillo for utility clerk starting at $16.00 an hour.

The council approved the completion of probation for Christopher Palomarez from probationary to full time status with a 5 percent raise.

The council went into closed session.

The council came back from closed session and advised no action had taken place.

Mayor, council, and department reports.

Robert Terrazas, wastewater director, said they had sent notices concerning water samples and standards. A second letter would be sent out to the residents asking them what kind of water pipes they have. They would be looking for lead as has been directed by the federal government. They will have funding available to replace those lines.

Cody Dove, fire chief, had a document that needed to be signed by the mayor authorizing a mutual agreement between other municipalities in the minding district for automatic aid. In the past this has been a verbal agreement, but the state has now required the agreement be in writing.

Ramos had prepared a document showing the reserves of the city. Frances Gonzales requested it at the past meeting. They have $1.3 million in reserves. He also emailed them a 78-page budget but asked if they would rather have a summary. They all wanted the summary.

Ramos said the past mayor had reached out to the people that own the old shoe repair building and had been trying to negotiate something with them. He will be reaching out and continuing that. He added the city would be starting to fine people that have properties not meeting the ordinances.

Currently the city has $110,000 colonias funding for preliminary engineering. Priscilla Lucero, Southwest Council of Governments, will be seeing if that can't be changed to use on a task order.

Ramos said thanks to Kristina Ortiz, Rural Partners Network, she had helped them get some projects closed out.

Ramos will be meeting with Workforce Connection to see about getting two part-time students, with one for administration and one for the police/fire department for 20 hours a week. Workforce Connection will pay them $14.75 an hour.

They will be receiving $305,000 capital outlay to renovate the community center. It will allow them to replace the roof, electrical and HVAC. They will also be receiving $1.3 million for the wastewater treatment plant. Frances Gonzales said she also saw the funding for the front end loader included.

Eloy Gonzales said he still wanted to tour the wastewater facility. Terrazas told him to call any time. Ojinaga added he wanted everyone on the council to tour the facility.

Medina let the council know they had started day operations in Bayard for EMS, 8:30 am to 8:00 pm. They will be waiting on some equipment and then they can be in Bayard around the clock.

Gilbert Ortiz thanked the council for their confidence, and he looked forward to working with them.

Ojinaga said he has been attending a lot of meetings. They have a marijuana dispensary that wants to come in, and they have been checking the distance from the schools. They will need to amend the current ordinance because it does not clearly address distance. They have contacted the municipal league for advice. It needs to say building-to-building, door-to-door or property line-to-property line. They will be having public hearings on the matter. The building in question was the old beauty shop by the Food Basket.

George Esqueda spoke to them on what needed to be done first with the mine mill building. They need to divert the water coming from the church and a metal roof. The outside needs to be fixed first, and they will not be doing anything to the murals inside or out. Freeport McMoRan had provided funding to replace the roof.

Ramos said a representative had met with them from PNM to see how they could save money on lighting and a refrigerator at the community center.

An engineer from Stantec had come to look at the wall issue in the library. Ramos said he advised they remove all the plaster on the inside first.

PNM had replaced the sign outside of city hall.

Medina asked the beautification committee to see about having a music in the park like Santa Clara. A lot of residents come out for it, and he thought it would be great to have in their park by the community center.

The next regular meeting will be held February 26, 2024

Meeting adjourned.

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