Welcome to News @ Noon for Monday 22 March 2013 brought to you by Gila / Mimbres Community Radio in a community media collaboration with The Grant County Beat – your daily newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County.
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Quality of Life Bonds Discussed at County Commission meeting
Created on Thursday, 21 March 2013 18:24
Grant County Manager Jon Paul Saari and Western New Mexico University President Joseph Shepard presented their ideas for using potential gross receipts tax bonds to improve the quality of life in Grant County. They are also working with Silver City Mayor James Marshall, who was unable to attend the Grant County Commission regular meeting, Thursday, March 21.
“Many people when they move to Silver City have a perception about the quality of life in the area,” Shepard said. “Some leave because of things that are not available. We are asking you to help improve quality of life issues.”
He said, unless Gov. Susana Martinez vetoes the capital outlay bill, WNMU would receive $2.5 million to renovate Light Hall. “It will be a community feature. We have been talking about how to create improvements at the Conference Center. I have a vested interest in this to fill vacant beds at the university during the summers. You’ve just about finished the exterior. Now you need completion of the interior.”
Saari said the Economic Development Administration funded the exterior changes, and “told us if we did what they asked, they would have $2 million more for the interior. But the department has had $40 million sequestered, and our $2 million is part of it. The interior has no stage, no lighting, no sound system, and it’s just not a good layout. We have several plans that include offices, a stage, conference rooms, and a bar that Western could use with its liquor license. We want to go out for bonds.”
“We are planning a center at Western, which will have a ballroom,” Shepard said. “Doing the exterior at the County Conference Center is like putting lipstick on a pig.
“We also have a beautiful golf course here,” he said. “It is a positive attribute of the community, but it has needs. The cart paths need improving. The course is also important to retirees.”
Saari said New Mexico Tech holds an annual golf tournament to raise money for the university. “If we could redo the Conference Center, we could hold larger events, including golf tournaments along with conferences.”
“We have lost our only theater in town,” Shepard said. “If you are parents of 16 and 17 year olds, you don’t find it palatable to have them driving to Deming to see a movie. We need a movie theater. We will do the Silco and have a movie screen at Light Hall and the revenues will stay in town.”
“All of this is not free,” Shepard said. The proposals “would require $10 million in bond money. A gross receipts tax option would allow those using the facilities to pay for the bonds.”
Saari said he has talked with Perry Bendicksen, who handles bond issuance for the county, and Bendicksen told him a general obligation bond was not an option, but a ¼ percent gross receipts tax bond could be floated for recreation.
“It would have to go before the voters,” Saari said. “Probably a mail-out ballot in early September, so the bond issuance could be ready for January. The tax would not affect grocery sales, but only other goods and services. Bendicksen can come to our April 25 meeting, and we can do the resolution then, followed by ordinances and the special mail-out ballot election. Once the tax is passed, we can go out for bonds.”
Shepard said the university he came from was built on swampland and within 15 years, it has malls, large stores and theaters around it. “You have to start somewhere. Take the movie theater at the Silco. I walked down Bullard the other day, and Isaac’s is empty, the next storefronts are empty until you get to the end of the block where there is a small antique store.”
Hall said his son tells him he would love to live in Silver City, but there are no jobs to support his family. “I support this 110 percent.”
Shepard closed his remarks by saying he is seeing unprecedented collaboration in the community.
Other presentations, agenda approval items, indigent claims and county reports are covered in articles at the Grant County Beat.
SC-GC Chamber Board members recognized
Created on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 14:04
At a Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Monday, March 18, the staff and board members were recognized.
From left are board member Brad Logan, staff Randy Garcia, board member Lori Bonomo, Director Sherry Logan and board members Dan Cook, Tony Trujillo and Trent Petty.
Not pictured are Ken Torres and Bruce Ashburn.
Public Request to Grant County Commissioners
Created on Thursday, 21 March 2013 17:17
Over the past few months discussion within the community concerning efforts to divert more water from the Gila River using one of the two options under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) has increased dramatically.
To be clear, inaccurate information and confusion has been a part of that public discussion. But that is unavoidable and to be expected because the AWSA and the implications of diverting or not diverting more Gila River water are very complicated matters. Put three lawyers in a room, ask each to tell you what the numerous provisions of AWSA provide, and I bet you dollars to doughnuts that you will get a minimum of at least three different answers.
However, what is avoidable and should not be tolerated, is intentional dissemination of inaccurate information, lies, and half-truths about this issue—which is what our Grant County commissioners have been repeatedly claiming is the case.
The problem I find with their claims, though, is that not once have they provided even a single specific example of the campaign of misinformation they say is going on. How come?
So, given this lack of specificity, and given the commissioners’ concerns to not suffer any damage to their credibility, I ask the Grant County Commissioners to please provide the community with their evidence of the lies, half-truths or misinformation they claim is being promoted. Or, in the alternative, please stop making these unsubstantiated claims.
It also seems to me that any public servant concerned about the propagation of misinformation regarding an extremely important matter of concern to the County would pick up the phone and call whomever they believe is the source and try to get to the bottom of it. Maybe one or all of the commissioners have done this, but if they have, I am not aware of it.
I do think that Commissioner Hall, though, is on the right track with his call to the other two commissioners to reconsider Resolution R-13-18, which they hastily approved at their March 11 special meeting. Resolution R-13-18 was the resolution supporting the City of Deming’s Southwest New Mexico Regional Water Supply Project to divert Gila River water, a project the commissioners had not even seen let alone read.
Mr. Hall’s advocacy for transparency in government and his position that the County should provide its citizenry with the best independent information on this matter as possible is also commendable. Hopefully, Commissioners Ramos and Kasten support him in these goals.
Walter “Ski” Szymanski