News @ Noon

News @ Noon / 18 March 2013

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Welcome to News @ Noon for Monday 18 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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Cheers, Applause, and Girl Scout Cookies
as Town Council Approves Purchase of Silco Theater
Created on Thursday, 14 March 2013 09:07

The Girl scouts started the meeting with the pledge of allegiance.  The Silver City Town Council meeting was an unusual continuum of smiles, back slapping, and all around good cheer Tuesday evening, March 12, as a result of multiple actions on the Town Council’s part.

First, Mayor James Marshall proclaimed March 10 to 16, 2013 to be “Girl Scout Week” in Silver City and the local troop handed out Girl Scout cookies to the grinning Town Councilors and staff.   While there appeared to be no influence peddling detected by this reporter on the part of the young girls, the Town notables were clearly pleased with their spoils, which sweetened the pot of the evening’s activities.

The most significant achievement in the line-up of good news for Silver City was the approval by the Council of Resolution No. 2013-14.  The resolution authorizes the Town of Silver City’s purchase of the landmark historic downtown Silco Theater building on North Bullard Street from its current owner, Silver City Mainstreet.  Cheering and applause by the packed audience in response to the approval left no doubt that it will “bring renewed economic vitality to the historic downtown.”

WNMU’s Vice President for Student Affairs Isaac Brundage spoke in support of the resolution on WNMU President Joseph Shepard’s behalf.  He noted that WNMU is in the midst of a significant growth period in student enrollment and that a downtown movie theater within walking distance of the campus will be a major attraction for both current and potential students.

The Town’s purchase of the theater for the specified amount of $390,000 or its appraised value, whichever is lower, is enabled by a $175,000 grant from the state’s New Mexico MainStreet Program.  The Town will seek financing through the New Mexico Finance Authority for the remainder of the purchase amount, but anticipates that revenues from rental space in the building will offset the debt.

While the approval of the Silco Theater resolution ended the Council meeting on a rare wave of boisterous and hearty good feeling, the Council’s agenda leading to the approval included additional very positive news for Silver City:
•    MRAC’s Faye McCalmont reported that the recent Rhythm of the Dance performance sold out the WNMU Fine Arts Center Theatre—a rare occurrence—and brought numerous out of town visitors to Silver City;
•    George Julian Dworin, introducing himself to the Council as the new Director of Silver City’s Arts and Cultural District, announced a grant from New Mexico Arts to help develop a Clay Arts Trail from Southwest New Mexico throughout the state to “celebrate anything clay”;
•    Sherry Logan introduced herself as the new Director of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce and announced new Chamber activities, including Chamber luncheons and “Alive at Five;” and
•    The Council approved Ordinance No. 1216 amending Chapter 6 (Animals) of the Municipal Code to clean up the language of the code, bring its fee structure in line with that of Grant County for consistency of enforcement, and to ensure that animals at large are neutered.

In other business, the Council approved Bid #12/13-2 for Blackhawk gravity sewer improvements by Renegade Construction Inc., contingent upon approval of additional funding to cover the $359,000 bid.  In addition, the Council voted to elect Councilor Cynthia Bettison as President Pro Tempore (or “mayor pro tem”), as well as reappointing the Councilors to the committee and board positions that they held last year.

The meeting was adjourned on a very positive note.

Gila EDA Roundtable hears from TWC director, part 1
Created on Sunday, 17 March 2013 15:49

Sam Castello, The Wellness Coalition executive director, was the featured speaker at the Gila Economic Development Alliance monthly Roundtable on Friday, March 15.

Castello spoke about the business assistance programs. “We have a basic framework of our economic development programs,” Castello said. “Our Non-Profit Resource Center is targeted toward non-profits that are service providers.  Some things are unique to non-profits, but they are core businesses. They follow business principles, such as don’t spend more than you take in.”

He also talked about TWC’s youth programming, which includes the “Spot” and youth development.  The Spot is a safe, supportive environment for youths with young adults as role models. “We work with them on attitudes and if they are seeking help. We show them how to be professional.”

Another youth program TWC has been participating in for several years will go into its fourth summer in 2013. The Youth Conservation Corps program is service oriented, with community engagement and involvement and has helped such agencies and organizations as the Silver City Public Library and Serenity Acres horse rescue.

The AmeriCorps program of which Silver City has the second largest program in New Mexico pays youths a stipend to give them the opportunity to prove themselves. Participants have worked in health care centers, early childhood, centers, various schools, The Volunteer Center and at the Spot.

“The program helps them with skill building and resume building,” Castello said. “They can get scholarships to higher education. We have had 32 Corps members who received scholarships. We serve several counties, including Grant, Hidalgo, Catron, Luna, Sierra and Socorro. More than $176,000 has gone out to young people in these counties for service and higher education. We have members working with Silver City MainStreet Project on the Big Ditch, at Bataan Memorial Park and with the U.S. Forest Service on trails.”

He said the program is geared toward 18- to 25-year-olds. They are taught how to use and maintain tools, how to work as a team, how to show up on time and on basic communications skills. “Come June, we will have 70 on the payroll in six different counties. This year, we have an exciting program with MainStreet to clean up the area and be a part of the community.”

Another economic development program features Individual Development Accounts. An individual can create a savings plan to start a business, buy a home or for more education. The participants go through a financial literacy program, and once they save $1,000, they can receive a match of $4,000. “Currently we have 60 savers,” Castello said. “Each person must have a strong plan around good financial tools. Thirty-seven of our IDA account holders are under 30 years of ago. Almost all of them are under 40.”

Hurley Mayor Edward Encinas asked if TWC reaches out to schools.

“We could do better with that,” Castello said. “We have a great relationship with Aldo Leopold High School, but we need to get more into Silver and Cobre schools. One of the aspects of the IDA program is to work on financial literacy courses at schools.”

Castello pointed out that youth unemployment is almost double that for adults. “It makes sense, because they have no job skills and no resumes. We are also trying to build a pipeline for youths who want to get back on track. For the YCC, we interviewed 40, but could not take them all. There is a huge need, but we must have certain skills in a team.”

Lee Gruber, co-owner with her husband David DelJunco of Syzygy Tileworks said several of the young people who work at Syzygy have taken advantage of the IDA. “We just hired someone at the Silver City Arts and Cultural District who was in AmeriCorps. He was here and fell in love with Silver City.”

Gila EDA Roundtable March 15, 2013, part 2
Created on Sunday, 17 March 2013 18:22

Grant County Planner Anthony Gutierrez was the first to give a report.

“As far as economic development goes, during our first quarter of planning, economic development almost didn’t exist,” Gutierrez said. “Our focus was on capital outlay requests and a Colonias Infrastructure Fund application. We still have about $80,000 in funding to develop infrastructure to help with economic development.”

Anthony Solis of Workforce Solutions said a change in the unemployment system program has slowed the department down, while it tries to work out the kinks and learn the system. “It is a major change, with all employment handled through a call center in Albuquerque on the employer and employee sides.”

Lucy Whitmarsh, Silver City MainStreet Project Board of Directors president, said the group is also going through transition. “As of yesterday, we lost our manager. One project is collaboration with The Wellness Coalition on sidewalk cleanup. It is ongoing, and we have had a tremendous response with buy in by downtown merchants. I have been impressed with the professionalism of the crews. We will have vests to identify them and then T-shirts as the MainStreet Crew.”

Another thing that is a big issue with MainStreet is the Silco Theater. “On Monday, we received $50,000 for sound and projection equipment. The actual costs are $64,000, so we have a bit of a shortfall, but there is a lot of enthusiasm for movies downtown. We will be asking for some community financial support. We know people want to view movies. The Silco is only the beginning of a larger theater district downtown.”

Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director, said a new transportation bill was considering giving funds to regions for projects. “We have to have data to support the projects. Unfortunately, we need accidents, and the local law enforcement needs to send the data to the state to prove we need improvements.”

Lee Gruber of Syzygy Tileworks reported for the Silver City Arts and Cultural District. “Our new director, George Julian Dworin, is in Santa Fe, because the state suggested we apply for a grant to facilitate visiting among the Arts and Cultural districts. Of course, Silver City is the lead. ”

She also reported a grant to establish a clay arts trail among four communities to promote anything or anyone producing or selling clay products. “We received a Community Investment Fund award for the Clay Festival, which will take place over a week this year in early August, with pre-festival and festival events.  We are kicking off a Poker Chip event. It seems the best poker chips are made out of clay. ”

“We will have trips to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, with a stop at Little Toad Creek Inn,” she said. ” We are hoping to have 150 buy into 15 tables of 10.”

Eileen Sullivan, Silver City Public Library director, said the new children’s librarian, Harmony Phillips-Dalston, is from Silver City and returned in October. The library has been pulling in record numbers at story telling on Wednesdays for children from the age of 3 to 5 years. A Lego Club has started for children ages 5-12 years, and they are looking for extra sets to help children build spatial and problem solving skills.

“We are supporting the Southwest Festival of the Written Word, with the Arts and Cultural District and Western Institute of Lifelong Learning,” Sullivan said. “We are also helping with the Battle of the Books, which comes to schools. A lot is going on, and we are open to collaborations with other organizations.”

Mary Stoecker of the Southwest Energy and Green Jobs Task Force said the group had created a plan. “It has been presented to members of the task force for review. It has pieces of the Grant County Economic Development Master Plan in it.”

The next Roundtable is slated for 8:30 a.m., Friday, April 19, at the Grant County Administration Center.

Cobre School Board members sworn in
Created on Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:50

The newly elected board of Cobre Schools met Monday night in the Snell Junior High lobby.  A closed session preceeded the meeting to discuss hiring, student identifiable information, limited personnel issues and possible litigation. No decisions had been made, and all members were in attendance.

While waiting for Judge Hector Grijalva to arrive for the swearing in of the new and incumbent board members, Joyce Barela’s bilingual teacher, Marcella Shepard, started the demonstration of the program being used, Rosetta Stone. This computerized language teaching tool presents and evaluates a student’s listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, scores the results, and helps the instructor set the re-teaching or passing levels for the students involved.

Robert Montoya is the new board member sworn in by Judge Hector Grijalva along with the two returning incumbents, Frances Kelly and Frank Gomez.  The new officers are Toy Sepulveda – president, Frank Cordova – vice president and Frances Kelly continues as board secretary.

Interim superintendent, George Peru, reported on recent erosion control work to address eroding dirt clogging drains for the city of Bayard, affecting its water department.

Peru mentioned that the high school loss of position, from 76th to 362nd statewide, reduced available funding from the Public School Financing Authority.  Because of this repositioning, the district would do work little by little and save major projects until it had more money of its own to put in.  He continued with a list of maintenance items.

Hampton Burnette, student representative to the school board, reported that NSTA testing had begun and would run through April 6. At St. Michael’s the Cobre baseball team had lost, but the softball team won. At the Cobre track invitational, the Cobre boys had taken first place, and the girls took second.

Fashion Forward
Created on Saturday, 16 March 2013 20:52

Kristen O’Connell, who graduated from Silver High School and was raised in the area, is a rising fashion designer. She returned to her hometown to talk to girls about the direction her love of fashion has taken her.  She talked to students at Silver High School on Friday and with more girls at the Silver City Public Library on Saturday morning.

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Community Calendar / 15 March 2013

Friday 15 March 2013 Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance 11am - Noon / Silver City Recreation Center - 1016 N Silver Street / Based on traditional Tai Chi, this program works for all people including those with diminished balance or strength / First class Free / Liz at 313.6833 or St. Patties Day Fundraiser for VFW Post 3347 2pm - 1am / Hwy 180 and Yucca Street in Arenas Valley / For members and their guests! / Entertainment […]

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