News @ Noon

News @ Noon / 28 January 2013

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Welcome to News @ Noon for Monday 28 January 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.

News @ Noon airs daily at noon and is rebroadcast at 6pm.
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College of Business dean candidate Forrest Aven suggests ways to pull in students, make additions to programs
Created on Friday, 25 January 2013 12:53

Interviews and open forums for the public continue at Western New Mexico University for dean candidates for the newly created colleges—Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Health and Human Services, and Community College.

On Thursday January 24, an open forum was held for Forrest Aven, candidate for dean of the College of Business. He is associate professor of management and interim dean of the College of Business at the University of Houston-Downtown.

He cited several other jobs that he had on his way to earning an MBA and then a Ph.D. They included a stint as a substitute teacher in middle school, a steam locomotive engineer at Six Flags Over Texas in Dallas, a football referee in middle school and high school level sports, a radio disk jockey, a bottle counter at a Dr. Pepper plant, human resources at Miller Brewing Co., a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Colombia, and his past 22 years at the University of Houston.

“The bottle counting job was my worst job, but it taught me the way to treat people as part of management and how not to manage,” Aven said. “The referee job taught me to make a decision and stick to it.”

An extended Q&A followed.  Please visit for more details.

Grant County 4-H Shines at National Western Roundup
Created on Friday, 25 January 2013 08:01

Three 4-H Teams from Grant County competed in this year’s annual National Western Roundup in Denver, Colorado, January 9 through 13, and came away winners

The Teams were winners in last July’s state 4-H contests, competing in the categories of Parliamentary Procedure, Consumer Decision Making, and Impromptu Speaking, and they made their mark again in the national competition.  The winners were:

  • Third Place, Impromptu Speaking: Mariah Runnels
  • Second Place, Parliamentary Procedure: President Tyler Monzingo, Wyatt Moon, Ashley Gilpin, Jean Marie Gardner and Kodi Cox – coached by Shane Wetzel
  • Third Place, Consumer Decision Making – Group Think: Sean Kishbaugh, Kinsey Fisher, and Zoe Kasten – coached by Judy O’Loughlin

Photos are posted on the Grant County Beat.

Silver City Town Council Approves Application for Funding a Movie Theater
Created on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 15:47

At the Silver City Town Council meeting Tuesday, January 22, councilors voted to authorize submittal of an application for financial assistance through the New Mexico Finance Authority to purchase the Silco Theater.

“I could not be more thrilled,” Nick Seibel, Silver City MainStreet Project Manager, said. “This investment puts us in position to bring back first-run movies to downtown. What we will do is remove the remnants of the second floor, bring back the balcony and concession stand, and install digital cinema equipment.”

Seibel said two potential private operators of the movie theater are interested in bringing back movies by May of this year.

“I hope this is the first step to multiple theaters downtown,” Seibel said.

Mayor James Marshall said the closure of the Real West Theater has prompted what may be a stop-gap measure to continue to have movies in Silver City. “If it becomes part of a theater plan, so be it; if not, we will have the equipment, and the Silco will be an asset to the town.”

Town Manager Alex Brown said the approval of the application is just the first step. The town will have to approve an ordinance for the loan. “We have moved forward on an appraisal, so we know how much the theater is worth. Hopefully at the same meeting, we can approve the loan and the purchase of the Silco. We will use the state funding that went to MainStreet and this money for the purchase. We will lease the theater to MainStreet and revenues will hopefully cover the debt service.”

Councilor Polly Cook asked about a private operator. Seibel said with fixed seating for the facility as a theater, it would be leased to a private entity to operate the Silco Theater as a business.

Councilor José Ray said he had several people at the Red Paint Powwow last weekend tell him they were ready to support a downtown theater.

Councilor Mike Morones also supported the efforts. “MainStreet partners with us, providing economic services for the downtown. The state Economic Development Department says this has to happen, and they are putting skin and sweat into the game.  A theater has been identified by many economic development people as an important project for downtown.”

Another approval of importance, especially to veterans of the Vietnam War, was for a resolution honoring Carlos C. Aguirre. The resolution stipulates that a bronze plaque will be affixed on the Big Ditch Bridge on Broadway.  Councilor Ray asked for the resolution for Aguirre, who was a native of Silver City. He was wounded in Vietnam in February 1968 and killed a couple of weeks later.

“As we started this meeting, I asked everyone to join in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Mayor Marshall said. “With a roomful of veterans, you can hear the difference when they say the pledge. They mean it.

“Your service has installed in us freedoms no other country has,” Marshall continued. “We struggled how to do this resolution so we honor all veterans. We recognize the loss to his family. Many of you carry wounds—some visible, some not. There’s nothing this council can do that will signify the loss and service you’ve given for us. We honor all veterans past and present with this plaque.”

Councilors unanimously approved the resolution to install the plaque.

In other business, councilors approved a notice of intent to pass an ordinance amending Chapter 16, Section 16-44 of the Town of Silver City Municipal Code, to reconcile sections of the code that do not agree on the Incentive Review Committee membership. The Town Council changed the number from seven to five members and added language stating there would be no limit to the number of terms a person may serve.

Councilors also approved a resolution, supporting a public-private Cultural Economic Development Arts and Cultural District Project.  Morones asked for a slight change in wording, so it did not sound like the town was obligated to use only the tools – local economic development act or tax increment – that were specifically listed.

Seibel said the resolution was required to continue as an Arts and Cultural District. He said the district has already made “a tremendous difference to the town and put us in with Taos and Santa Fe, branding us as an arts and cultural destination.”

Cissy McAndrew, Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce director, said so much energy and passion had the town moving forward when Silver City was named one of the first arts and cultural districts in the state.

Bettison said she has seen the difference in how arts and cultural events can draw people to the town to stay longer.

Councilors approved the list of election workers for the March 5 town election. Brown said all those listed had gone through election school.

Also approved was the appointment of Elizabeth Foster to the Library Board and Nancy E. Johnson, Michelle Carrillo, Kathryn Gorthy, Sandra Hicks and Mitch Hellman to the Lodgers Tax Advisory Board. Marshall said the terms would be worked out so that they are staggered.

Town councilors hear reports from Humane Society, Green Chamber and town staff members
Created on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 16:55

Editor’s Note:  This is part 2 on the January 22nd meeting of the Silver City Town Council.

Heidi Sexton, president of the High Desert Humane Society, said the animal intake at the shelter is consistently going down, with the exception of 2010.

“The shelter received $3,000 in license sales and $5,600 in intake fees—about $60 an animal.”

She pointed out the agreement between the town and the shelter will be up for renewal in June.

Sexton said about 30 percent of the animals brought in as strays or dropped off by owners find new owners. Ten percent of the animals are returned to their owners or placed, but 60 percent are euthanized.

“Talking earlier about dogs and cats,” Marshall said, “it has been freezing cold, near record lows, with days not above freezing. I would like to remind people to take their pets inside and keep them warm and safe.”

Cissy McAndrew, Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce director, presented a quarterly report on the Visitor Center and tourism.

“We are not seeing an increase in tourism,” McAndrew said. “Although we did see an uptick in January, due to advertising. Tourism was down in June because of the fires.”

A bright spot was that residents from Silver City and Grant County visit the center to get literature to send to family and friends.

“The No. 1 reason visitors come to the area is because they heard about Silver City through friends,” McAndrew said. “The Internet is about half that number and growing. We are beginning to catch up from years with no advertising.”

McAndrew said the quarterly New Mexico Tourism Commission meeting brought the commissioners to Silver City. “They loved what we’re doing, and we’re building relationships with the Tourism Department that I think will benefit us.”

The week after that meeting, the Green Chamber held an economic forum, which was well attended by locals, she reported. The forum showed the importance of public lands in “our backyard.”

(GMCR note… This forum can be heard here)

“The new (Tourism) guide will be out in about a month,” McAndrew said. “New signage will be a filler at the sign at the intersection of Swan Street and Silver Heights Boulevard.  At Hudson and Broadway is a beautiful cultural sign directing people to downtown.”

She said the new Arts & Cultural District director would be named soon. “We are both working with the Chamber of Commerce as a team.”

Mayor James Marshall asked if McAndrew had done an overlay of local statistics with state statistics.

“”Most of the state tourism growth is in urban areas,” McAndrew said. “I talked to Sen. (Howie) Morales. I hope to generate more tourism down here and in rural New Mexico.”

Councilor Cynthia Bettison pointed out that a lot of the advertising is of summer events.

McAndrew said the area just had the Red Paint Powwow last weekend, Chocolate Fantasia is coming up, the Lighted Christmas Parade was in November, and the Tamal Fiesta in early December. Plus Silver City has the First Fridays every month.

“A lot of people between Christmas and New Year’s drove off I-10 just to see Silver City,” McAndrew said.

In staff reports, Julie Salaiz, town code enforcement officer, gave a brief summation of her activities in code enforcement. In 2012, with an additional officer, they handled 658 cases, of which 627 are closed because “we achieved voluntary compliance. Eleven are filed in court.”

Silver City Police Department Chief Ed Reynolds said he had completed the statistical information and would do a 30-minute presentation with questions and answers at the next council meeting.

“I am hearing consistently in public opinion that crime has escalated,” Marshall said. “I want to see the facts.”

Town Manager Alex Brown said he presented to Gov. Susana Martinez the town’s regional water plan as a Colonias project. “She used our project as a way other areas should work together.”

In reference to poll workers for the election, Executive Assistant Yolanda Holguin, standing in for Clerk Ann Mackie, reported those on the list to work the March 5 election had completed election school.

“I would support legislation to have only one polling place staffed when there are only uncontested races,” Marshall said.

9th Annual Red Paint Powwow beautiful and moving
Created on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 14:51

The 9th Annual Red Paint Powwow wowed audiences as usual, with the ceremonies, the colorful regalia, the sounds of drums and singing, and the accomplished dancing.

Ted Rodriguez of Mescalero, New Mexico, blessed the floor and then introduced Ashleigh Neva Lyn Chino, 11, who gave the opening prayer.

Nathan Largo, holding the eagle staff, led the Grand Entry, followed by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 358, who posted the colors, followed by all the dancers, in a flurry of color.

The powwow is best shown in photographs. Visit Grant County Beat for several excellent slideshows.


Construction begins for Silver City money-saving solar project
Created on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 12:43

Two years after responding to a request for proposal by the Community Development Department’s Office of Sustainability, Affordable Solar, based in Albuquerque, began construction on January 22 for the long awaited Large Scale Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project at the Silver City Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Through a unique, legislated financial arrangement called a “Power Purchase Agreement” (PPA), the Town is expected to save an estimated 3-4 million dollars over the next 20 years on electrical costs based on the energy that will be provided by the solar array.

Since municipalities don’t pay taxes and can’t get the tax rebates and tax credits for solar projects that a private solar developer can, it’s possible for a private company to arrange the financing, install, own and maintain a solar photovoltaic array, and sell the power to the municipality at a rate cheaper than the current utility price. Affordable Solar is the designer, builder, owner and maintainer of the WWTP solar system. The municipality’s sole responsibility is to purchase the electricity from Affordable Solar at 6.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), with no price escalation for the 20 year contract period.  The current rate paid to PNM for the WWTP is 10.5 cents/kWh, which is expected to increase over the same 20 year period.

The six acre site adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant will be covered with just under 4,000 photovoltaic panels and will produce enough power to offset approximately 80% of the treatment plant’s electrical costs. The system is just over one megawatt DC in size, which is enough to power about 175 average residential homes.

Ryan Centerwall, General Manager, Project Group, at Affordable Solar expects the four month construction project to be up and running by May of 2013.

Nick Sussillo, Director of the Office of Sustainability, is pleased that this is finally coming to fruition. “I first heard about this PPA arrangement in May 2010 from the City of Santa Fe’s Energy Specialist, now Acting Director of Housing and Community Development, Nick Schiavo. It sounded too good to be true: Santa Fe signed a contract to purchase power from a third party solar entity who would own and maintain the system; no money was invested by Santa Fe, and yet they would be saving millions over their contracted 20 year agreement. Schiavo said Silver City could do this too. We are now on our way.”

Silver City Town Manager, Alex Brown, has led the contract negotiations, supported by Robert Scavron, Esq., Town Attorney, and Nick Sussillo. Peter Russell, Director of the Community Development Department, has supported the project from behind the scenes, playing a key guiding role.  Technical consulting was provided by Robert Esqueda, Director of Utilities for the Town; Kurt Albershardt, owner of the Murray Hotel, and Jim Kerstetter, former professor at the University of Washington, all three of whom were members of the Town’s project evaluation committee.

An event to celebrate the in-process construction of the Array will be planned for late February, and a christening event is planned once the Array is operational in May.  The public will be invited to both events.

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Community Calendar / 27 January 2013

Sunday 27 January 2013 "Can There Ever Be A Just War?" 10am / Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Silver City - 3845 North Swan Street / We will hold a conversation with ourselves - the subject: "Can there ever be a just war?" / There will be coffee and conversation, with light refreshments, after the service "Jump - I’ll catch you!” 11:30am / New Church of the Southwest Dessert - 1300 N Bennett Street / Rev Sky Paradise String Beans 6:30pm […]

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