[Editor's Note: This is the fifth of a series of articles on the Grant County Commission work session on March 12, 2024. It begins the review of the March 14, 2024 regular meeting agenda.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

At the Grant County Commissioner March 12, 2024 work session, County Manager Charlene Webb began the review of the March 14, 2024 regular meeting agenda.

Public input at the regular meeting began with Mick Smith explaining why she had applied to be on the Lodger's Tax Advisory Board. "I would like to fill the general public position. I work at the Grant County Community Foundation and serve as the Give Grandly coordinator. It will take place May 4. Giving will be open from April 20 to May 20. I have a background in office management, shop management and community social work. I have an extensive range in volunteerism, whether it be working in fundraisers or in hostels in India. I have experience in tourism, working in it and being a tourist. I am the mom of a 16-month-old little girl that I carry around with me all the time. It has given me a wider perspective of our community, in what we have to offer for families and small children. I serve on a lot of committees to help create events and I attend almost every event there is. If you have questions on my background, feel free to contact me, and I would really appreciate being considered for this position."

The next public input came from Joe Drake of American Legion Post 18. "I wanted to let you know that we have the remains of one of our World War II veterans. He died in a prison camp in the Philippines, Cabanatuan. He was originally an unknown, but his remains were exhumed in 2019 at a memorial there. He was identified last year. He will be reinterred at Fort Bayard National Cemetery on April 26 at 1100. It is a very significant event. We know he has a grandniece in Arizona, and Baca's Funeral Chapel is handling the services. We expect a full Army contingent. Our Veterans Coalition, including the Marine Corps League, the American Legion, the Disabled Veterans of American, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans, we're all hoping to participate, family permitting. We think the community should as well, as we bring Private First Class Richard G. Pitsor back home. He was part of the 200th Coastal Artillery Battalion in the Philippines when the war started."

[Editor's Note: For more information on Pfc. Pitsor, visit https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83032-u-s-army-pfc-richard-g-pitsor-who-died-as-a-wwii-pow-to-be-buried-042624 ]

Pinos Altos Volunteer Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Downward spoke to one of the ordinances, No. 24-01. "A few things you should know as it moves forward. I've been to several meetings and had input into that document."

He said moving forward to create a county fire department might be useful in some aspects. "It would however come with a new set of policies we would have to watch and monitor. In addition, it would have guidelines, which we already follow. Each district is required to have operating guidelines and procedures and members are required to adhere to that. We are also under the rules and standards of the NFBA, NCWG and the state fire marshal. We need to make sure that the different standards don't conflict with each other, and in a few cases in this ordinance, I think they might. The purpose and policy sections are well written, but as some of the sections detail out, I feel some of them might inadvertently have the opposite effect. Some are written in a vague fashion that leaves some of the duties to the authorities open to different interpretation depending on who is making the observation. When a trained fire grounds person is performing the duties, an outside person viewing them might think they are not being performed correctly at all. Each person makes constant decisions based on that person's training, and that might be perceived by the general public to be an incorrect call. We are not perfect, but believe me, we are doing the best we can based on the personnel who show up that day and their level of training. Some of the vague wording could lead to additional liability to the county, the department and possibly those individuals. My opinion, and it's just my opinion, is that the ordinance as written could cause additional liability to individual firefighters. It may be perceived by some that it is written to potentially cause individual firefighters to be targeted depending on the success of the operation. This would add to our recruiting and retention problems that is a national issue for volunteer fire departments. My concern is not on the ordinance itself but on any unintended consequence of its implementation. The bottom line is I don't want to lose firefighters because they perceive that there is not the support for ordinary folks doing an extraordinary job."

The next article will begin with mention at the work session of proclamations and presentations at the regular meeting.

To read the previous articles, please visit https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83233-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-1 ; https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83277-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-2  ; https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83348-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-3 ; https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83364-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-4 ; and https://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/83386-grant-county-commission-holds-work-session-031224-part-5 

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