By Mary Alice Murphy
One of the final hearings on Grant County's infrastructure capital improvements plan to take place at the Grant County Administration Center happened Thursday, May 10, 2018, in the late afternoon. Others will take place this week in Cliff, Mimbres and Hachita.
The main topic was the senior centers, now administered by Hidalgo Medical Services.
The county owns the ones in Cliff/Gila and Mimbres, with Santa Clara owning its senior center, and Silver City owning the one in town. HMS manages all of them.
April Hunter, HMS senior services coordinator, attended to answer questions.
Michael "Mischa" Larisch, County Community Development and Planning director, who held the hearings, said, last year, general building improvements were made to the centers.
Hunter said the soffits and exterior building repairs were done, as well as kitchen repairs at the Cliff Senior Center. "We also did flooring. We would like to take the wood out of the Cliff center and make it all stainless steel."
"The county does the general maintenance on the centers and did the kitchen remodel at Silver's center," Larisch said.
County General Service Director Randy Villa said the county is also looking to get more energy efficient appliances in the centers over the years.
"We have other funding opportunities," Larisch said. "But it still has to be on the ICIP to qualify for capital outlay and general obligation bonds. The funding has to be for upgrades, not general maintenance."
Hunter described the ICIP as a good roadmap for the future. "It helps me be mindful of items aging out. "We operate on a five-year plan, too."
Villa said vehicles can be part of the ICIP.
"Some programs will always have a vehicle on the ICIP," Hunter said.
Villa said when the county was overseeing the senior centers, it used the ICIP to get vans for transport.
Hunter said Corre Caminos has capability for seniors with mobility issues. "We offer transportation for all medical appointments. The Senior Program has three grants, one for congregate meals, one for home-delivered meals and one for transport. We try to prioritize on need. We offer rides to the meal sites, because sometimes, it's the only meal they get in a day."
HMS also has a seniors' program in Hidalgo County, with only one community center in Lordsburg. "In Grant County, we do lunch Monday through Friday," Hunter said. "In Hidalgo County, we do weekday breakfast and lunch congregate meals Monday through Friday and also on the weekend breakfast and lunch delivered."
Hunter said the Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging has a finite number of reimbursement units for the whole state. "We have to qualify and prioritize."
The only public attending was Commission Candidate Jesse Franklin-Owens. Many of the comments in the article were made in answer to Owens' questions.