Criminal cases plummet under District Attorney Michael Renteria

By Frost McGahey, Investigative Journalist

Michael Renteria was elected as District Attorney for the 6th Judicial District in 2020. No Republican ran against him. In the Democrat primary Norman Wheeler, then assistant DA, was his only opponent.

In 2023 Michael Renteria’s office charged only 6 criminal cases with 60 employees. Using pre-Covid 2019 in comparison, 27 criminal cases were charged along with 5 civil cases using a staff of only 34 people.

While having a larger staff, Renteria’s reduced charging of criminal cases in the past three years has had a harmful effect on Grant County. This effect is outlined in a letter from the Silver City Police Officers’ Association (SCPOA):

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Bayard receives list for Wastewater treatment plant

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 (phone), Councilors Frances Gonzales, Eloy Gonzales, and Jose Diaz. Gabriel Ramos, city clerk, also attended.

The council approved the MOU (memorandum of understanding) for the Fort Bayard residential evacuation mutual agreement. Ramos explained they do this every year, and the agreement says in the case that Fort Bayard cannot be used in an emergency Bayard would open the community center.

The council approved the police reports for November and December 2023.

The council approved the accounts payable report as of January 22, 2024. Frances Gonzales asked what the $669.92 to Ace Hardware had been for. Ramos said they have an account, and this included paint, cleaning supplies, and miscellaneous items. Another question had been about the fire fund and Ramos said he would check into it and get them the information.

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Bayard receives update from PNM

By Lynn Janes

The town of Bayard held a work session and regular meeting January 12, 2024. Attendance included Mayor John L. Ojinaga, Mayor Pro Tem Eloy Medina councilors, Frances Gonzales, Eloy Gonzales, and Jose Diaz. Gabriel Ramos, city clerk, also attended.

The work session allows the council to ask questions about items on the agenda.

The council had questions about several consent agenda items.

Ramos said that the training for him and Michael Paez for T-LPA 0tribal/local public agency) has been made a requirement for any federal transportation project. The more people they have certified the more points they would have and that gave them higher priority. Diaz asked if they could send others and Ramos yes and he wanted to send Tanya Ortiz, soon to be deputy clerk, next.

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GRMC Board of Trustees met 012424, part 2

[Editor's Note: This is the second and final of two articles on the GRMC Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 24, 2024.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

After considering agenda items and hearing other reports and updates, Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees at its regular meeting on Jan. 24, 2024, heard the Chief Financial Officer report from the outgoing Interim CFO Leonard Binkley, whose replacement, William Ermann, was also in attendance, having come on board two days prior. The transition was under way.

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GRMC Board of Trustees met 012424, part 1

[Editor's Note: This is the first of likely at least two articles on the GRMC Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 24, 2024.]

img 7552Analissa Quinteros receives recognition for her five years of service in Med Surg from GRMC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Fred Fox.

Photo and article by Mary Alice Murphy

Two Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees members attended the Jan. 4, 2024 meeting virtually on a large screen in the board room—Pat McIntire and Will Hawkins.

Hawkins and GRMC Chief Executive Officer Robert Whitaker, who also attended online, were in Santa Fe that day for the Grant County Day events led by the Grant County Prospectors.

Board Chair Dr. Fred Fox noted that Hawkins and Whitaker were advocating for the hospital at the 2024 Legislative Session.

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MLK Jr. events held Jan, 12, 13, and 14, 2024

[Editor's Note: This article covers a portion of the Jan. 14 event.]

Photos and article by Mary Alice Murphy (Photos at the bottom of the article)

The main event on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024 to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.'s peace legacy took place at the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business and Conference Center.

Rosemary Dupray organized the event to have programs over the three days preceding the official Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Tables were set up for attendees to chat among themselves before the programs began on Sunday. Included in the program were several singers and speakers.

The first singing performance was by a group led by Maria Casler and introduced by Martha Egnal. They performed several numbers.

An unidentified speaker noted that Martin Luther King Jr. had to give his life trying to save others. "He was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."

Rev. Earseye Ross, pastor of the Silver City Mountain View Church of Nazarene, was one of the featured speakers. Others were Toohayaysay, Chiricahua Apache and a lecturer at Western New Mexico University Native American Studies, and another later speaker was a representative of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens).

Rev. Ross said that events "such as this one provide an opportunity to dwell together in unity."

He also noted he would answer questions. In the 1960s, Ross was active in the civil rights movement and knew King personally.

Ross said as a youth, he was good at drinking wine and chasing girls. "One caught me."

An audience member asked Ross what was the greatest challenge to his faith.

He replied that the greatest challenge was "denying myself and forgetting the things that God didn't think were nice. I was good at siphoning gas, and I did a lot of lying to get myself out of trouble."

To a question about the sacrifices he made to participate in the civil rights movement, he said: "a lot of us had to leave our homes and family. We didn't call it a march. We called it protesting because we couldn't look directly at a white person."

Ross grew up in Louisiana, when drinking fountains and restrooms were segregated and marked Colored and White.

He came to Silver City because there were no black folks. "At the Church of Nazarene we now have a few black folks, but the rest are white folks."

One participant asked if Ross had seen improvements over the years.

"In those days, many were workers and janitors," Ross said. "Now many are CEOs. We still see some discrepancies and some racism."

Another question he answered addressed the social aspects that still remain in the community.

"We need a Good Samaritan effort to be able to help anyone no matter their color," Ross replied. "Love your neighbor as yourself. That means everyone."

Toohayaysay asked what Ross's strategy was to change.

"I had to be educated to teach," he replied. "I surprised my mom and grandmother when I told them that they didn't have to follow the rules of segregation. They didn't think of it as injustice. In fact, a lot of black people didn't like what we were doing. That hurt me when I was trying to explain to them why we were doing it. But many black people were pulling us down."

To a question about why the blacks were against fixing inequities, Ross said: "A lot were fearing for their lives, but they didn't know it. We still have some people who believe in black supremacy and white supremacy. That's wrong."

A questioner asked if Ross, as a pastor, needs more patience with a white congregation.

"Being a pastor of any group of Christians is a challenge," Ross said. "God has a lot of kids and a lot of them are bad, but the Bible said to preach to all creatures. My church pastor and my mom said I wasn't ready to preach because I didn't know people. I said: 'In the eyes of God, everyone is the same.'"

When asked about the Freedom Riders, Ross said: "They were brave, but not too brave to be in sit-ins. There were consequences to being a freedom rider. Many got killed and others were put in jail. No one was allowed to do anything if someone spit on them."

A person asked about the changes Ross has seen in Grant County and what he hopes to see in the future.

"I started working at Fort Bayard Medical Center," Ross said. "I heard from one man who said when he said he couldn't speak English in school, his hand would get beat. Since I've been here, we've not experienced any of that."

Next his daughter Rachel Ross sang several moving songs.

Other performers, who would sing later in the program included Angelica Padilla and Keana Huerta.

To pause the slide show, mouse over the image.

Councilor seeks records at city expense

By Roger Lanse

According to Stephen Laramore, President of the Silver City Police Officers Association, in early January, Nicholas Prince, Silver City District 2 Councilor, requested records from the SCPD regarding an officer’s use of excessive force roughly six months ago during a call for service to a female. Prince alleged the responding officer may have used excessive force.

The SCPD investigated the incident and found “absolutely nothing wrong” in the responding officer’s conduct, and “no reason at all” for any disciplinary action.

Staff stated Prince wanted the city billed for any charges related to the requested records. He was told that couldn’t happen as he was requesting the records as a private citizen not in his official capacity as city councilor.

Town councilors trespassed from property

By Roger Lanse

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at about 3:16 p.m., Cecilia McNicoll of Silver City contacted the Silver City Police Department requesting criminal trespass warnings be issued to 'Nick Prince,' Silver City District 2 Councilor and 'Stan Snider,' Silver City District 3 Councilor, for 211 N. Texas Street (4 units), which McNicoll owns and rents to business owners. Prince was issued an indefinite CTW to the property on Feb. 7 and Snider was to be issued the same when located.

According to an SCPD blotter report, McNicoll stated the two went into the property she owns, individually, on different days, and slandered her name by asking her tenants how much McNicoll charges for rent, whether the recent raise in rents were a 'hardship,' the tenant's relationship with the landlord, and about McNicoll's character. "All this during business hours and in front of customers," McNicoll told the Beat. "They should have asked me. Asking tenants these questions put my tenants on the spot and caused a reaction in me."

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