News @ Noon / 7 March 2013

Welcome to News @ Noon for Wednesday 7 March 2013 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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NMDOT representatives answer questions at
Hudson Street Bridge replacement informational meeting

(http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/index NULL.php/news/news-articles/9446-nmdot-representatives-answer-questions-at-hudson-street-bridge-replacement-informational-meeting)
Created on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 17:19

On Feb. 28, representatives from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, held a public input meeting and announced changes made to the proposal on the New Mexico 90 Hudson Street Bridge, which is slated to be demolished and replaced in 2014.

Tisha Lujan, NMDOT project development engineer out of the Las Cruces office stated, “The project’s purpose is to replace the bridge and improve vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle access…”

“We will demolish the existing bridge and construct a new four lane, four-span bridge, with bicycle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge,” she continued. “We are not lowering the bridge, but it is thicker than the existing bridge. It is high enough to withstand a 500-year flood.”

Also included on the new bridge will be pedestrian screening, lighting upgrades, sign replacement, pavement and striping improvements, electrical improvements, as well as new bridge aesthetics.

“You will have no bridge for a while,” Lujan said. “People will have to go around. The Cooper-Broadway route is not a good option for large vehicle traffic. The detour from the south will take the Truck Bypass route to U.S. 10 West and then into Silver City.” The detour is about five miles from NM 90 to its connection to 180 at Hudson Street.

“We are still in the design stage,” she said. “The plans are due in November of this year. We will get bids by January, and developing the contracts will take a few months. We hope to begin construction mid to late April.”

An audience member asked who initiated the decision.  Love said District 1 keeps a bridge deficiency list and “over time, bridges rise to the top and need replacement.”  Peterson said the bridge is being designed for a 75-year life.  “The lights will point downward (according to) dark skies legislation,” Lujan said.

Trent Botkin from the NMDOT environment office said the trailhead under the bridge will be closed temporarily during construction, but you can keep going on Mill Street to the unofficial access.  “We’re hoping there can be a temporary parking area there for access to the trail.”

What about an environmentally responsible manner of disposing of old bridge materials, a resident asked.  Lujan said it would be up to the contractor. “On Interstate 25, the material was ground up and used as base course.”

More public meetings will be held before the final design is completed, Lujan said. The first meeting led to having bicycle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, which will have two 12-foot wide lanes in each direction.


Important meeting for Gila residents regarding Post Office hours
(http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/index NULL.php/news/news-articles/9445-important-meeting-for-gila-residents-regarding-post-office-hours)
Created on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 16:48

The US Postal Service will conduct a meeting on Gila Post Office hours on Thursday, March 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Gila Senior Center.

A flyer, which states the meeting’s purpose, was sent to all Gila residents for their input.  The meeting will allow comments and Q&A for new postal hours for the facility.

Residents are encouraged to attend to make their voices heard.  Rumors have been flying in the area that the decision has already been made, not only for the Gila Post Office, but also the Buckhorn and Cliff post offices.


Grant County Water Commission, chooses officers, discusses Colonias funding
(http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/index NULL.php/news/news-articles/9443-grant-county-water-commission-discusses-colonias-funding)
Created on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 15:27

The Grant County Water Commission met Feb. 28 in Hurley.

The first order of business was election of officers.  Grant County Commission Chairman Brett Kasten was elected chairman and Silver City Town Manager Alex Brown was elected vice chairman.

The members discussed the Colonias Infrastructure Fund awards from 2012.  Brown said the town had received funding for the Regional Water Plan preliminary engineering report / PER.  The scope of the PER project is to include every municipality that has a water distribution system and to connect them all, including the well field at the Grant County Airport to connect to Hurley and to Bayard.  Silver City will connect to Santa Clara.  All the water districts, even the smaller ones, such as Arenas Valley, Pinos Altos and Hanover, will connect to the larger systems, which will supplement water to all the distribution systems.

Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments director, said she attended the Tyrone Mutual Domestic Water Association meeting. “They have a major water line that keeps leaking.”

She said every resolution from every entity was included in the application.

Brown said he has asked Engineers Inc. to do the PER, so “we don’t duplicate work that has already been done, such as by Hurley. We just want to size the pipelines for the region. Silver City is fiscal agent for this Water Commission project. It is not a Silver City project.”

Lucero said a few of the water associations also already have PERs, such as Arenas Valley and Hanover. “They may need to update them.  Another Colonias award for Hanover was supposed to be lumped in with Silver City’s, but it wasn’t.”

Brown said he was willing to set up meetings with each individual water association to discover the needs.

Lucero said the deadline for the next round of Colonias funding is March 15. “It would behoove this commission to look at the timing and apply for certain phasing for the regional water plan. After this there are only three more funding cycles, at which point the Colonias Infrastructure Fund sunsets.”

Bayard Mayor Charles Kelly asked for a summary in 15 words or less what the resolution was about.

“Phase I is to do engineering and design for the transmission line from the airport to Hurley,” Brown said.

The commissioner members approved the resolution with the added beneficiaries.

During public input, Allyson Siwik, director of the Gila Conservation Coalition / GCC, said the mission of the GCC is to protect the free flow of the Gila River.  The GCC is comprised of the Gila Resources Information Project, of which she is also director; the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance; and the Center for Biological Diversity.

She said the groups have been dealing with water issues ever since the Arizona Water Settlements Act was signed into law in 2004. “We are supportive of the regional water distribution project. We see the merits. We have been concerned about Hurley, with only six years left to develop a cost-effective water project. We are also supportive of it through Colonias funding and through the AWSA process.”

During Commission input, Hurley Mayor Edward Encinas said he is glad the town is getting support on the project. “We are grateful to have so many behind us.”

The next meeting of the Grant County Water Commission is tentatively slated for 4 p.m., Thursday, March 21, at the Bayard Community Center.


Southwestern County Commission Alliance
met in Reserve; among topics was a regional water project

(http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/index NULL.php/news/news-articles/9406-southwestern-county-commission-alliance-met-in-reserve-among-topics-was-a-regional-water-project)
Created on Monday, 04 March 2013 21:02

The Southwestern County Commission Alliance met in Reserve, February 27, 2013 and heard from New Mexico Office of the State Engineer – Deming Office Manager, Charles “Tink” Jackson, on a proposal for building a small-diameter pipeline from the Gila River to Deming to utilize 10,000 annual, average acre-feet of water from the Gila Basin and funding for up to $128 million, allocated to the four-county region for Catron, Grant, Hidalgo and Luna by the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act.

Glyn Griffin, Catron County commissioner, said at the beginning of the meeting, that it was the ninth meeting of the organization. “We were formed to address issues that affect all our counties.”

Donna Stevens, Upper Gila Watershed Alliance executive director, was the only one to speak during public input. “I want to talk about the proposed $25 million pipeline. However, it’s hard to be pertinent when the item hasn’t been discussed yet. You might consider changing the order of public input.”

She said at least some of the Grant County commissioners were not supportive of Sen. John Arthur Smith’s proposal for the pipeline extending all the way to Las Cruces.

“We at UGWA support commonsense, non-diversion, cost-effective proposals to keep the Gila River free-flowing,” Stevens said. “We support the Regional Water Plan in Grant County; we support effluent reuse projects in Deming and Bayard; and we encourage you to keep all projects on the table. What if there were a problem with only one proposal, and then there would be no water and no money? This proposal is expensive and doesn’t count exchange costs.”

Alliance members considered a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the wolf recovery area proposed expansion.

Commissioners approved sending the letter (opposing the expansion).

The next item of business was to consider a letter to the Gila National Forest requesting an update on the status of the Catwalk (expressing various complaints).

The letter will be sent.

Shannon brought up the agenda item on signing in at the meetings.

“Particularly in Silver City, some people do not sign in, yet they want to speak,” she said. “At certain meetings, including one in Deming, people don’t want to sign in.”

Ramos suggested the creation of a policy that if a person wishes to speak during public input, he or she will be required to sign in.

Another item of business considered was a detox facility to be placed in the former, now unused, Grant County jail.

Fred Huff of Congressman Steve Pearce’s office attended the meeting.

Ramos asked if Pearce would be willing to divert wolf money to a detox facility. “I think Pearce would be willing to help,” Huff said.

Shannon brought up the problem Hidalgo County is having with its 140-bed new jail. “It costs us $104,000 a month, and we average only eight to 15 inmates during the month. The jail is eating our lunch. We have talked about changing it into a juvenile facility, but changes would have to be made. The governor had $2.6 million on her agenda that we thought was ours, but now all of a sudden it’s gone. Everything is top notch, but we have just about exhausted trying to get more inmates, although we’re still working on it.”

Shannon said the jail was going to break the county. Kuenstler suggested trying to get Arizona inmates or from Portales or the eastern part of New Mexico.

“I know a lot of our juveniles are sent elsewhere,” Ramos said. “I’m not sure why we skip the Luna County facility.”

Diaz said the county had a Boot Camp program that was quite successful until the economy turned down.  Kuenstler said the detention center is currently a holding facility for juveniles pre-adjudication. “I’m not sure if there is a limit, but the majority are held for only a short time. Probably the only way to get certified is for pre-adjudication.”

A resolution declaring support of New Mexico Regional Water Supply projects was next on the agenda. NM Office of the State Engineer Deming Office Manager Charles “Tink” Jackson spoke to the issue.

He said the resolution is the same as the original Deming resolution to pipe 10,000 acre-feet of water from the Gila River to Deming.

“The bigger puzzles are the three lawsuits attacking New Mexico groundwater supplies,” Jackson said. “The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation claims the ground water below the Elephant Butte Dam is still project water even after it percolates into the ground. New Mexico law states groundwater is New Mexico public water.”

Texas filed suit against New Mexico for everything in the Lower Rio Grand Basin.  If New Mexico should lose, it would be a $1 billion impact to the Las Cruces area.

“Smith’s bill to pipe water from the Gila River to Las Cruces was more of a wake-up call to ‘do something or we in the Legislature will,'” Jackson said. “We came up with a proposal to combine a bunch of the projects already being considered by the Interstate Stream Commission.”

Jackson said discussions in Deming are proceeding to make sure the area uses 10,000 acre-feet by providing storage for the excess floodwaters in the Gila River.

The the rest of the meeting is covered at the Grant County Beat (http://www NULL.grantcountybeat NULL.com/index NULL.php/news/news-articles/9418-swcca-meeting-feb-27-part-2-discussions).

The next meeting is slated for 1 p.m., Wednesday, March 27, at the Luna County Courthouse in Deming.


 

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