News @ Noon / 18 December 2012

Welcome to News @ Noon for Sunday 18 December 2012 brought to you by Gila / Mimbres Community Radio in a community media collaboration with The Grant County Beat (http://grantcountybeat NULL.com) – your daily newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County.

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Louis Baum, Bayard city councilor, dies in auto accident (http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/news/news-articles/8387-louis-baum-bayard-city-councilor-dies-in-auto-accident)
Created on Saturday, 15 December 2012 13:42

Few details are available, but what the Beat has been able to find out is that Louis Baum, Bayard city councilor and former owner of A.I.R. Coffee House, died in a multiple car accident during a sandstorm in west Texas, somewhere near Pecos. He was on his way home from Odessa.


Silver School Board discusses upcoming election, interventions to increase state grades (http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/news/news-articles/8383-silver-school-board-discusses-upcoming-election-interventions-to-increase-state-grades)
Created on Friday, 14 December 2012 17:15

Silver Schools held its board meeting Thursday 13 December 2012 at the District Office on Swan Street. Wayne Mendonca, principal of La Plata Middle School, gave an in-depth report on student progress and interventions being used to bring up grade levels in major subjects such as math, reading and language arts.

One treatment was a float period, an extra 45 minute class where grade 7 and 8 students get extra time for a subject on a rotating basis… “This plan allows for improvement of both low and high performing students,” said Mendonca. “We work on both ends; they all get something.”

The lowest 25 percentile students may be asked to give up their elective class to focus on areas they are failing.  Teacher teams, tutoring before school, discovery test evaluations, review of strategy plans, these and more are used to help raise the proficiency levels.

Mendonca said another thrust was parental support.  He estimated 750 teacher-parent interactions had already taken place and more would follow.

The school board election in February was considered. Assistant superintendent Candy Milam explained that some mistakes had been made at the county clerk’s office, which failed to clearly report that there would be more than one polling place. These corrections were being made immediately and the board president and secretary must sign the amendment papers approving the changes naming the 5 other convenience centers after the meeting to insure that they would be recorded on Friday.

These changes will make the Monday papers, but any people who want to run for school board positions have to do so the next day, Tuesday, December 18.  Milam was concerned there was so little time between the notices.  Barry Remmel has declined to run again in area 2, and Pete Holguin sent a note at the meeting saying he wouldn’t run again in area 4, northeast Silver City, and McGaughey’s downtown district 1 is also up for election.

Another part of the February election is the 2-mill levy, which supports operations for the district, and which Milam says would seriously affect classrooms if it failed.

In the superintendent’s report, Lon Streib reported on contacts with the Prospectors, the lobbyists who will present information at the next legislative session in Santa Fe.

Dyslexia was another topic Streib brought up. He said teachers wanted training in interventions that might help students.


Grant County Commission holds final regular meeting of the year (http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/news/news-articles/8369-grant-county-commission-holds-final-regular-meeting-of-the-year)
Created on Thursday, 13 December 2012 16:32

The Grant County Commission met in its final regular meeting of the year on Thursday 13 December.

During public input, Hueteotl Lopez, Silver City resident and father of two boys at José Barrios Elementary School, said he knew the commissioners attended the veterans ceremony at the school and knew it was a nice ceremony. “There has been a misunderstanding.  We did not try to stop the ceremony.  We wanted to have it toned down and made age-appropriate.  My family has been here since the Civil War and has a long military history.  But some who are pro-war wanted to make the students memorize military cadence songs.  This year our concerns were taken into account, and the ceremony was toned down.”

He said there were no pictures of military hardware shown. “It was not our intent to cancel the ceremony, and this year, we were heard.  Elementary schools are not places for recruiting.

Saari gave the cash flow analysis, which shows the general fund, at the end of October, to have $2,137,767 in cash, with an expected surplus at the end of the fiscal year, ending June 30, 2013, of $315,545. For more details on the various county funds, go to http://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/8336-grant-county-commission-hears-proposal-on-mou-with-health-council (http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/news/news-articles/8336-grant-county-commission-hears-proposal-on-mou-with-health-council) .

Commissioners approved an inventory deletion of three buildings at the County Fairgrounds—the lamb and pig barn, the poultry and rabbit barn, and the restrooms—that were damaged in a last summer micro-burst. “Because it is a capital item, we will demolish them,” Saari said. “We received between $60,000 and $65,000 in insurance, plus $5,000 from Miller’s discretionary funding. We will use the money to design the new building and demolish the old.”

Cissy McAndrew, Southwest Green Chamber of Commerce director, gave an update on the Visitor Center.  “We are continuing our Buy Local, Stay Local, Invest Local campaign.  We had an excellent meeting with the Tourism Commission here last Friday. The cabinet secretary also heard from us.  Our concern has been the Catwalk.”

She said the Tamal y Más Fiesta last weekend was a great success, and she appreciated the Hispanic community taking it over.

The Green Chamber held an economic forum Wednesday evening, which she said was very well attended. She showed a public lands document, “West is Best,” created by Headwaters Economics out of Montana. “Growth out West is greater than in the East. Public lands has a huge impact on people choosing to move west.”

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said he was glad the Green Chamber is supporting Glenwood. “We at the Southwest County Commission Alliance are, also. Another issue is public lands. I continue to push to keep the forest roads open. The Forest Service is slowly putting the Catwalk back together.”

The rest of the meeting is  covered in the following article.


Final regular meeting of Grant County Commission continued
(http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/news/news-articles/8370-final-regular-meeting-of-grant-county-commission-continued)
Created on Thursday, 13 December 2012 16:42

The next item of business addressed whether the county would be fiscal agent for the Forgotten Veterans’ Memorial capital outlay request. It was approved, although Chairman Brett Kasten said it might not be needed. Armando Amador, who developed the project and, along with others, has worked on the memorial for 20 years, said it has served as healing for veterans with PTSD and for the families who have lost veterans.

Commissioners also approved:

• Changes to the Food Policy by-laws to reduce the number of board members from 13 to nine, also decreasing the number needed for a quorum from seven to five, and not requiring government officials to be members;

• Amendments to several agreements with the Children, Youth and Families Department for services through the Juvenile Probation Office. They included an increase of $2,800 to Randall Compton; an increase to Mary Lorraine Zunich of $192.50, as well as a decrease of 1,341;

• An agreement with Lekisha Marquez for JPO services in the amount of $1,342.50;

• A sub-grant agreement with the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for 2012 Operation Stonegarden in the amount of $171,000;

• A consolidated project agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Bureau for Operation DWI, Operation Buckle Down and 100 Days and Night of Summer in the total amount of $33,717;

• A cooperative law enforcement annual operating plan and financial plan with the USDA Forest Service Gila National Forest for $28,500; and

• A resolution for budget adjustments for grants and cooperative agreement in the amount of $37,000.

Commissioners heard from financial consultant Mark Valenzuela on the sales resolution for gross receipts tax revenue ponds for Gila Regional Medical Center’s renovation and expansion project. “We sent out bids to 10 banks and received three back. We recommend the Bank of Nevada for a 15-year bond at 3.25 percent. What we really liked is there is no prepayment penalty clause.”

Commissioners approved the resolution and proceeded to county reports.

Sheriff Raul Villaneuva said he and several of his staff would participate in this Saturday’s Shop with a Cop project. The officers and the children will watch a movie, parade downtown with lights and sirens, visit Penny Park, then have lunch provided to them by Silver High School students. The final stop of the day would be Walmart, where each student will be able to purchase $100 worth of items. “We think there may be over 100 kids.”

He thanked Commissioner Christy Miller and out-going Treasurer Alfred Sedillo for their service, and welcomed Ron Hall, who was in the audience, as the next commissioner.

Clerk Robert Zamarripa said he wanted to remind anyone who was thinking of running for a school board position that the clerk’s office would be accepting applications Tuesday, Dec. 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. He said the Silver Schools had three open positions, districts 1, 2, and 4, and the Cobre Schools had three open positions at large in districts 1, 2,and 3. All were for four-year positions. The election will be held Feb. 5.

Sedillo said he was giving his last report. “It has been a great collection year. We billed $11 million and got $6 million in first half taxes collected – that’s a 55 percent collection of all taxes. “It’s been great working with all of you. I thank the public for allowing me to serve for eight years. My staff is the best I’ve ever worked with. I can’t leave it in better hands than with Steve (Armendariz).”

Miller said it has been a pleasure for her to serve the residents of Grant County. “I compliment Jon Saari. Mary Ann Sedillo and Jovita Gonzales, which whom I served the first two years, taught me a lot. With the two male commissioners, I think we’ve made a good team. The county has a great group of people and a lot of hard work comes out of the departments.”

She also thanked the coverage from the Silver City Daily Press, Mary Alice Murphy of the Beat and the Silver City Sun-News. “On Dec. 31, I will turn it over to Ron Hall, who will do a good job.”

The commissioners went into executive session to discuss threatened litigation in relation to harassment in 2012; threatened litigation in relation to the Grant County Detention Center in 2012; and an exit conference in regard to audit for fiscal year 2011.

Commissioners adjourned from the executive session.


Silver City Town Council approves Metropolitan Redevelopment Area (http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/news/news-articles/8365-silver-city-town-council-approves-metropolitan-redevelopment-area)
Created on Thursday, 13 December 2012 14:50
By Dan Roblee For the Beat

The Silver City Town Council unanimously designated its downtown as a Metropolitan Redevelopment Area 11 December 2012 despite concerns that labeling the area ‘blighted’ could have a negative impact on public perceptions. Another touchy term, the description of part of the town as a ‘slum,’ was deleted from an earlier draft of the resolution prior to approval.

The MRA designation is the first step in a process that can eventually allow the town to pursue otherwise illegal joint public-private improvement partnerships, bypass low-income qualifications when applying for Community Development Block Grants, and eventually declare the area a Tax Increment Financing District. A TIF district allows the town to roll property tax-revenue increases, resulting from property appreciation, directly back into the TIF area.

The MRA boundaries encompass the historic downtown area and include parts of the Chihuahua, Silver City and North Addition historic districts.

According to Mayor James Marshall, any stigma associated with the term ‘blight’ was a minor concern compared to the potential benefits of the MRA.

“I have no objection to calling an area blighted that’s blighted,” Marshall said. “If we use our attorney’s phrase from last meeting, there are areas that are ugly, and need help. To just go on as is and continue with our chamber of commerce statements, that’s burying our heads in the sand.”

Councilwoman Cynthia Bettison offered an alternate proposal to exclude as many residences as possible, sparing homeowners any loss of face.

Her proposal, however, excluded businesses on the College Street corridor and elsewhere, along with the residences. Nick Seibel, Silver City MainStreet Project manager, said that excluding those business areas could have very real consequences.

Bettison later withdrew her recommendation and joined her colleagues in voting for the resolution, with the original boundaries.


Meeting held to discuss and hear input on replacement of Hudson Street Bridge (http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/news/news-articles/8364-meeting-held-to-discuss-and-hear-input-on-replacement-of-hudson-street-bridge)
Created on Thursday, 13 December 2012 13:14

A public meeting was held Wednesday 12 December 2012 to hear a presentation on the planned replacement of the New Mexico 90 Hudson Street Bridge near downtown Silver City and for the New Mexico Department of Transportation to hear residents’ concerns and ideas.

Eric Johnson, senior environmental project manager from Marron and Associates, facilitated the meeting and gave the presentation.

He also said he would return to the area later to discuss what is planned for New Mexico 15, also known as Pinos Altos Road, from U.S. 180 to 32nd Street.

“The purpose of the meeting tonight is to discuss the Hudson Street Bridge project and the detour route,” Johnson said. He gave a short PowerPoint presentation, showing the agency coordination needed, including with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of San Vicente Creek running under the bridge, the state Historic Preservation Office to oversee any cultural resources that might be impacted, and the Environment Department to review any contaminated areas and address possible endangered species.”

The project includes upgrading lighting and replacing signs, as well as aesthetics, pavement improvements, roadway striping, drainage improvements and utility coordination. The official detour route is the county Truck Bypass Road to U.S. 180 West and back through Silver City to Hudson and Silver Heights Boulevard.

The first resident asked if the DOT had considered building the new bridge alongside the old one and demolishing the old one when the new one was complete.

Lujan said there was not enough room to build the new one alongside and a lot of required blasting would have significantly increased the cost.

A resident asked if the bridge would be “pleasing to the eye.”

Bill Hutchinson said the department would allow the public to weigh in on aesthetics.

A questioner asked if there were any contingency for improving Cooper Street to Broadway, as additional car traffic is likely to occur there.

“We have not discussed that with the district,” Lujan said. “It may warrant another signal. We realize that a lot of traffic that the bridge carries now will go onto Broadway and Cooper streets.”

A resident asked about a timeline on the project.  Lujan said bids would be let in the fall of 2013. “We are hoping construction will begin in late April 2014. It will take at least eight to 10 months to construct.

Trent Botkin, member of the NMDOT team, said he did not believe there were endangered species in the area, but cultural artifacts may be found. “We will do archaeological and biological surveys. Nothing will be impacted. It will be returned to its present or better state.”

A resident asked how many more public meetings there would be.

“At least three more,” Lujan said, “depending on participation. Between now and the next one, we will do the 30 percent plan. After that we will have the 60 percent plan and then the final plan.”

Seibel asked if a citizen committee had been considered.

“It is not planned” Lujan said. “I’ll be here as often as I need to be. This tonight is very preliminary. We are about three months or so looking at bridge plans. We will come back about April.”

Schultz asked about the estimated cost. “$10 million,” Lujan replied.

To a question about what would happen if the department did not get enough funding, Lujan said: “The bridge is still safe, but we will find the funds. It is a District 1 priority.”

She said the next meeting would be around April and, in the meantime, she would be talking to property owners who will be most impacted by the construction.

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