Front Page News
By Lynn Janes
The Cobre Consolidated Schools held a special meeting July 22, 2022. Superintendent Jeff Spaletta called the meeting to order. Gilbert Guadiana and Serena Murillo were the only board members in attendance. Because of a lack of quorum swearing in of a new board member took place.
Previously Ralph Sepulveda and Frank Cordova resigned during the July 11, 2022, meeting. Later a resignation letter came for Canuto Molina. This has left three positions with the Cobre School Board open.
Judge Hector Grijalva swore in new appointed board member David Terrazas. He will serve until the next election.
Guadiana being the senior member called the meeting to order, and the Pledge of Allegiance and salute to the New Mexico flag took place.
By Lynn Janes
Before the meeting started a brief work session took place to address items on the agenda. Mayor Chon Fierro called the session to order. Also, in attendance Mayor Pro tem Raul Villanueva and councilors Eloy Medina(by phone), Jose Diaz and Frances Gonzales.
The board had a document for accounts payable and Diaz had a few questions for Kristina Ortiz, town clerk. Ortiz addressed each one and gave an explanation.
The council went over a few items on the fire report and wastewater reports.
On the agenda the board will be approving or not the administrative staff training at the NMML (New Mexico Municipal League) winter conference in Albuquerque. Ortiz explained she had not decided who would be attending but it would be good for all to attend. The board agreed that they all should attend, and the training would be important for all.
Grant County Commissioners heard updates at the regular meeting.
[Editor's Note: This is the fifth of a multi-part series of articles on the Grant County Commission work session, July 12, and regular meeting on July 14, 2022.]
By Mary Alice Murphy
After the public hearing on a proposed bond issue, Grant County commissioners heard the monthly updates from Gila Regional Medical Center and from Sheriff Frank Gomez at the regular meeting on July 14, 2022.
GRMC Interim Chief Financial Officer Paul Rogers shared the results from May 2022 at the hospital. "The bottom line is we had a $545,000 surplus. It was a good month overall. Volume trends are up, and we also saw an increase in ER visits over the prior month of 1429 from 1404. Surgeries were down in March, maybe because of spring break, but they bounced up in April and went down a bit in May. In outpatient numbers, we had a bit of a dip from April to May."
By Lynn Janes
The Cobre Consolidated Schools held their board meeting July 11, 2022. President Ralph Sepulveda called the meeting to order. Other board members in attendance included Frank Cordova, Serena Murillo and Canuto Molina. The pledge of allegiance and salute to the New Mexico flag took place. Superintendent Jeff Spaletta also attended. Gilbert Guadiana arrived after roll call.
Before the meeting took place Ralph Sepulveda and Frank Cordova addressed the board and superintendent Spaletta. Both board members gave Spaletta their resignations effective immediately. Cordova wanted to address the false statements made by another board member and recall election. He said he had served the Cobre Schools for 38 years and served according to the bylaws, code of ethics and school board association and did it to the best of his ability. The nepotism accusations have been incorrect, and all the complaints have not merit. Cordova pointed out that the district had not been paying any of his legal fees in this matter. He thanked everyone for their support concerning this and said all of this has been very difficult on him and his family physically, emotionally and financially. He pointed out that a recall would cost the district $25-$30,000 in legal fees and the district could not afford it. He handed the resignation letter to Spaletta and left.
Grant County Commissioners held a public hearing on a bond issue at the regular meeting.
[Editor's Note: This is the fourth of a multi-part series of articles on the Grant County Commission work session, July 12, and regular meeting on July 14, 2022.]
By Mary Alice Murphy
The public hearing on the bond issue was first on the regular meeting agenda of the Grant County Commission on July 14, 2022.
District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce swore in Mark Valenzuela of Bosque Advisors, county financial advisor.
Valenzuela handed out the final actions on the refinancing of the Series 2014 GRT bond. "It is contingent on the market and economic savings for the county of at least 3 percent net present value. That means that after all the transaction fees are paid, the county still gets at least 3 percent savings. The market has been all over the place, but there are always investors looking for different opportunities for different reasons at different prices. The bond rating of the borrowing entity is always a component. Most communities in New Mexico reside in the single A rating. As your advisor, part of my job is to be thinking ahead. I've been pinging the market looking for opportunities."
On July 22, 2022 at approximately 11;13am, Grant County Deputies arrested Howard Kinney, age 56 of Mimbres NM. on a multiple-Felony warrant charging him with three Counts of Criminal Sexual Contact of a Minor in the Third Degree, one Count of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in the Fourth Degree. Mr. Kinney is currently a registered Sex Offender in the State of New Mexico. He was booked into the Grant County Detention Center without incident.
This investigation was conducted by Grant County Sheriff's Criminal Investigations, which ultimately led to District Attorney's Office approval and the (Judge's) signed arrest warrant. Kinney will now face prosecution in this matter.
By Roger Lanse
Reports of shots fired resulted in Silver City Police Department officers being dispatched to the area of Texas Street and Broadway on Sunday, July 17, 2022, at about 1:02 a.m. According to a SCPD incident report, officers were advised by the Grant County Regional Dispatch Authority that three subjects had fled north on Bullard Street in a silver vehicle. At that time officers also observed heavy traffic leaving a residence near the intersection of Pinos Altos Street and Broadway and a large crowd of people running to their vehicles.
While officers were interviewing witnesses and processing the crime scene downtown, Grant County Sheriff's Office deputies made contact with the suspected shooter, Joshua Batiste, 30, of Tempe, Arizona, who admitted firing several rounds in the air. Witnesses stated he was firing at them with a black handgun and could hear the bullets striking the building along where they were running. SCPD detectives recovered a black Stoeger STR 9 mm handgun from underneath the driver's seat of Batiste's vehicle.
Grant County Commissioners heard additional county reports.
[Editor's Note: This is the third of a multi-part series of articles on the Grant County Commission work session, July 12, and regular meeting on July 14, 2022.]
By Mary Alice Murphy
At the Grant County Commission work session on July 12, members continued to hear county reports from department heads.
Jason Lockett, Facilities and Grounds Maintenance superintendent, presented the General Services report, in place of GS Department director, Randy Villa, who is currently serving as interim county manager.
Lockett noted that the Federal Aviation Administration annual Grant County Airport inspection was underway. He reported the work on the bleachers at the Cliff Fairgrounds Arena was 90 percent complete. "The playground equipment for Cliff and Gila has arrived, and we are starting concrete projects for the site. Gila Community Center building repairs are ongoing."