Front Page News

Photos and article by Mary Alice Murphy

Although many of the CLAY Festival shows and retrospectives will continue in downtown Silver City galleries, the final demonstrations took place Saturday, July 17, 2021.

The streets of downtown bustled with visitors and residents alike visiting the Makers’ Market, enjoying the music, chatting with new and long-time friends, going into galleries, and making Silver City the place to be.

Kids and adults alike created their own original clay sculptures at the Make and Take table. Clay pots, birds, simple slabs with writing or designs, trees, you name it, someone made it that day and went home happy to have followed the creative urge.

Several solo exhibits and retrospectives in galleries welcomed visitors. Others hosted demonstrations to show the public how creative clay art is developed.

[Editor's Note: This is part 7 and the final article of a series of articles on the Grant County Commission meetings July 6 and 8, 2021.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

After two presentations and county reports at the work session on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, which can be read at,,,,, and, the regular meeting agenda was reviewed and acted upon in the regular meeting on July 8, 2021. This article continues the review and action portions of the meetings.

The next item under agreements was one between the county and the New Mexico Public Education Department for $41,000 to pay for county interns. County Manager Charlene Webb said that the agreement had not allowed a lot of time for turnaround, so "I'm asking for your approval for my signature. You've seen the interns around the building, and we have one, Brye Baptiste, with us today sitting here learning about County Commission meetings. This has been beneficial for the kids, as well as for us to learn about their weaknesses and how we can help them grow and develop. It's been a great program."

Commissioners approved the agreement at the regular meeting.

[Editor's Note: This is part 6 of a series of articles on the Grant County Commission meetings July 6 and 8, 2021.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

After two presentations and county reports at the work session on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, which can be read at,,, and , the regular meeting agenda was reviewed.

The first item to be reviewed at the work session was the monthly expenditure report from June 4-June 30, 2021, by Financial Officer Linda Vasquez. Total expenditures were $3,159,129.30, including payroll for two pay periods totaling $437,685.43. She then read the list of expenditures above $10,000. They are listed in the PDF below.

The financial report was approved at the regular meeting.

District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards clarified that the Center for Health Innovations item was simply a passthrough for the county as fiscal agent. "But what is Snow Engineering?"

County Manager Charlene Webb confirmed that it was the entity that is working on the outdoor recreation plan, dba SE Group.

By Roger Lanse

Jeff Fell, assistant fire chief and the town of Silver City's emergency manager, was honored at Tuesday's, July 13, 2021 town council meeting for his role in protecting town residents during the past and present COVID-19 emergency. The letter of commendation, read by Mayor Ken Ladner, follows:

"Dear Assistant Chief Fell,

"On behalf of all Silver City Town employees, City Council members, and myself, we thank you for a job exceptionally well done as the Town's Emergency Manager during the challenging times of the past eighteen months. You have faced many challenges during your tenure at the Town of Silver City not knowing that by volunteering for and being appointed to the position of Silver City Emergency Manager in early 2019 that one of your greatest challenges was yet to come. Within one year of your appointment our community and the entire world faced its largest pandemic in over one hundred years.

"You immediately began working hand in hand with the Grant County Emergency Manager, and were pivotal in the acquisition and distribution of supplies and safety equipment to emergency workers and citizens at large.

[Editor's Note: This is part 5 of a series of articles on the Grant County Commission meetings July 6 and 8, 2021.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

After two presentations and county reports at the work session on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, which can be read at,, and , the regular meeting agenda was reviewed. Before decisions were made at the regular meeting on Thursday, July 8, 2021, commissioners heard public input and elected officials' reports.

At the regular meeting, Don Turner, who has been a strong advocate for the Bataan Death March Memorial at Bataan Memorial Park, in public input, made some comments about the history of the March and what he wants the memorial to portray. He began by saying: "So many people don't know what happened on Bataan. We, the relatives and friends of the Grant County Bataan heroes want as each person enters the memorial to read their stories on the walls, to visualize themselves in our soldiers' boots."

He then launched into a detailed history, which he read.

[This is part 4 of a multi-series of articles on the Grant County Commission meetings of July 6 work session and July 8 regular meeting.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

At the regular meeting Gila Regional Medical Center Interim Chief Executive Officer Scott Manis led off the reports with the monthly update, from the May results.

"It was another really good month for the hospital," Manis said. "I will give the operational highlights. At the June 29, governing board meeting, the members approved an amendment/renewal to the agreement with the University of New Mexico Cancer Center to provide professional services in our Cancer Center. It is an agreement we have had for the past four years, and we have agreed to renew it for another year. In the negotiations, we realized savings with the reduction of our on-site availability of the on-site medical oncologist, Dr. Rabinowitz. He was the replacement for Dr. Fontolonga when he left a few months ago. That, along with some other savings in processes, is in excess of half a million dollars. The next thing I want to report on is the CEO search. I am not directly involved in the search, but as an employee of HealthTechS3, I am reporting on the search. They are continuing to screen some applicants, and they will be presented to the governing board in the near future for their consideration and to determine which candidates they want to interview by video or onsite. That process is moving along. The next is that about a month or so ago, we spoke about the arrangement we've made with Hidalgo Medical Services to hold a cardiology clinic at the HMS Lordsburg clinic. That launched on Tuesday, very successfully. We're underway there. It's great for that community and for us. We're ready to grow that program. We're starting slow on every other Tuesday at Lordsburg. The next is an announcement we talked about at the governing board meeting. It is a partnership with the National Sinus Institute. They have a clinic they established here in town a little over a year ago, with ear, nose and throat physicians and providers. I met with the Physican's Assistant Allison, whose last name I can't remember at the moment. They are holding clinic here three days a week and two days in Deming. The Deming clinic isn't catching on as fast as they would like, so they will switch and have four days a week in Silver City and one day in Deming. More importantly for us, Dr. Ian Alexander, the leader of the group, is going to start doing ENT surgeries here in town, hopefully this month if they have enough cases on the schedule to warrant his travel. If not, then certainly by August. We had actually set a date in a couple of weeks, so patients needing ENT surgery will no longer have to travel to Las Cruces to have simple procedures, such a sinus polyps, ear tubes, and then eventually, probably in the near future, doing tonsillectomies, adenoidectomies and such here. They are very eager to do it and so are we. This will provide services we haven't had for five or six years since Dr. (Twana) Sparks left the hospital.

[Editor's Note: This is part 3 of the work session and includes some reports from the regular meeting of the Grant County Board of Commissioners.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

The first county report at the work session came from Jason Lockett, facility maintenance and grounds superintendent, reporting for general services, as General Services Director Randy Villa is in learning mode after being chosen to serve as interim county manager.

Lockett said he was just "getting my feet wet," but he reported that Corre Caminos is running well. He noted interviews to replace the DWI coordinator would begin the next day (Wednesday, July 7). He said fuel sales are down at the airport since fewer fires are occurring, due to the rain the forest has received. "We had a small crash at the airport when a private plane's landing gear failed. I thank everyone for their fast response, from Dispatch all the way to those who were out there. There were no injuries and no damage to Grant County facilities. He had just landed, and everything fell out from under him, so he skidded to a stop. As far as maintenance, we're starting into weed season from Bataan Park to the Detention Center. We had some problems with the air-conditioning units at the jail. We're trying to get them up and running again. We have a few minor leaks, due to the heavy rain. Most are not coming from the roofs but through the duct work from the HVAC units. At the Mimbres and Gila Senior centers, we are 99 percent complete with equipment changeouts to finish out by June 30 the grant funding we received. We are going to take some of the furniture and repurpose it at Bataan and replace the centers' furniture with some nicer-looking things."

[Editor's Note: This is the second presentation of the Grant County Commission work session on July 6, 2021.]

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img 3161Photos and article by Mary Alice Murphy

Marty Madden of Xcelsior K-9 Police Service Dog Training out of Las Cruces, brought two dogs, both from The Netherlands and about to begin training, to the Grant County Commission meeting while Undersheriff Jess Watkins explained the proposal to the commission for the department to have a narcotic detecting and tracking dog

Grant County Undersheriff Jess Watkins said he was doing the presentation because Sheriff Frank Gomez was unable to attend. "The Sheriff has been working on a proposal for a K-9 program within the department. The primary purpose for the canine is to detect narcotics. The secondary purpose is for tracking. It would not be a patrol dog and would not bite. The canine would also serve our D.A.R.E. program. We will select a handler out of our existing staff and make a unit out of our existing fleet. The canine would be selected by the trainer. The kennel will be located at the handler's resident. We will look for outside sources of funding, which will be about $32,000 including the dog, the training, outfitting the vehicle and the kennel."

He reported he had just attended the HIDTA (High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) task force meeting for the entire region 7. "Last year, even though it was kind of a slow year with the pandemic, the task force seized 54 pounds of methamphetamine, 12 pounds of heroin, 13 pounds of cocaine and six pounds of fentanyl, just a couple of grains of which can kill someone. I think bringing a canine in would be very beneficial."

Watkins introduced Marty Madden of Xcelsior K-9 Police Service Dog Training out of Las Cruces.

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