Front Page News

Photos by Mary Alice Murphy

The annual Guatemalan Mercado was held at The Commons on Saturday, July 13, 2019. Folks bought lots of colorful woven and embroidered shirts, bags, placemats, jewelry, belts, trinkets and other items large and small at the market. Curt and Sonia de Porter bring items each year from Guatemalan workers who create the goods. The sale benefits the creators and the host entity. 

By Mary Alice Murphy

At a Fort Bayard Restoration and Development Coalition meeting on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, Santa Clara Mayor Richard Bauch gave an update on the status of the Fort Bayard National Landmark property. The village of Santa Clara has requested that pieces of the property be transferred or leased to the village.

"We are working out the details of the lease right now," Bauch said. "We are also working on water issues, so that we have access to water for the fort."

img 0360By Mary Alice Murphy

The Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Sabrina Pack opened the meeting and had everyone introduce themselves.

The monthly luncheon was held on a different date from the first Thursday of the month, because of July Fourth and took place on July 11, 2019 at the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business and Conference Center.

The featured speaker was District 38 Rep. Rebecca Dow. She said she would talk about economic development opportunities at Fort Bayard Historic Landmark, in addition to other topics.

Bear Fire
The lightning-caused Bear Fire is approximately 1,200 acres, burning on National Forest System lands on the Black Range Ranger District, Sierra County, NM. This fire is demonstrating low fire behavior with scattered precipitation throughout the area.

Skid Fire
The lightning-caused Skid Fire is approximately 155 acres, burning on National Forest System lands in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. Fire was backing down canyon to the north towards Morgan Creek. Fire activity was moderate and produced a well-defined column around 6 p.m. on Friday. Some torching was observed. The initial test flight with the Silent Falcon UAS was a success. Acreage from the Silent Falcon drone flight verified acreage. Fire progression is to the northwest/northeast.

Middle Fire

Rocky Fire
The lightning-caused Rocky Fire is approximately 350 acres, burning on National Forest System lands in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. This fire is demonstrating low fire behavior with some growth to the north and west and remains east of Forest Road 150.

South Fire
The lightning-caused South Fire remains at 3,060 acres, burning on National Forest System lands in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. It received some precipitation on Sunday and today, which decreased fire activity.

Lilley Fire

[Editor's Note: This is part three and the final report of a multi-series of articles addressing the Grant County Commission work session on July 9, 2019 and the regular meeting on July 11, 2019.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

Grant County commissioners continued their review of the July 11, 2019 regular meeting agenda at their work session on July 9, 2019.
For previous articles in this series, please visit http://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/52105-grant-county-commissioners-hold-special-meeting-preceding-work-session-on-july-9-2019 and http://www.grantcountybeat.com/news/news-articles/52106-grant-county-commission-begins-discussion-of-the-regular-agenda-at-work-session-070919

The next item of business was the annual renewal of an agreement between the county and the High Desert Humane Society and animal shelter  to provide animal control services to the county. Heidi Ogas of the society was on hand to answer questions.

Commission Chairman Chris Ponce said he had a resident contact him about when she tried to report a stray. She said she was told there was a $40 fee for a trap.

"If we pick up the animal, there is no charge," Ogas said. "If a person wants to rent a Hav-a-Heart trap, there is a $40 deposit for the trap and a $10 a day rental fee. If it is returned in good shape, the person gets the deposit back."

Ponce said the sheriff department went out.

"If the animal can be fenced in, and we can pick it up easily, we do so," Ogas said. "If it's running at large, we try to catch it. There is no charge unless they want to rent a trap."

Ponce asked what happens after hours.

"There is no service after hours," Ogas said. "We've talked to Lt. Burns at the Sheriff's office about emergencies after hours. Right now, our hours are 40 hours a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Silver City's animal control hours are Monday through Friday. There are no after-hours services."

Commissioner Alicia Edwards asked: "What about feral cats? We have a serious feral cat problem in my neighborhood. There are probably 50 in one block."

Ogas agreed that the feral cat population is a serious problem. "They are feral, so they are not easy to catch. You can rent a trap or we can set one up, but only on your property and not on public property."

Edwards asked: "What if the primary focus is not in my yard?"

"If it's someone else's property and you get permission or if it's county-owned and you get permission to set up a trap, you can," Ogas said. "I don't know what else to do. There are way too many feral cats. They breed a lot, probably because of illegal feeding of them. That is in violation of the animal control ordinance. If it is someone else's cat that wanders into your yard, you can report it. They are not supposed to run loose."

The agreement was approved without discussion at the regular meeting.

A long-titled resolution authorized the executive and delivery of a Colonias Infrastructure Project Fund loan/grant agreement among the Colonias Infrastructure Board, the New Mexico Finance Authority and Grant County for the benefit of Tyrone for $920,000. The county match is $92,000 of that total to pay for the ADA project to make sidewalks ADA-compliant in Tyrone.

Community Development and Planning Director Michael "Mischa" Larisch has talked about this project during several recent meetings. The resolution was the agreement for receipt of the loan/grant. It was approved without discussion at the regular meeting.

On the agenda were health care claims for $2266.25 for May and $555.64 for June. They were tabled at the regular meeting.

At the work session, Commissioner Harry Browne had no report and was not at the regular meeting in person or by phone.

Edwards thanked Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairman Mike Morones for his service on the board. "I appreciate the time and energy spent on the board. I also thank everyone else who serves on the board."

Commissioner Billy Billings asked about the next steps in the applicant process for board of trustee members.

Executive Administrative Assistant Bernadette Coleman, who had reviewed the regular meeting agenda, in the absence of County Manager Charlene Webb, said she would notify the candidates who would be interviewed and notify those who had not made the ranking cut.

The special meeting to interview the candidates would take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at the Grant County Administration Center Commissioners' Chambers. At the Commission regular meeting on July 25, commissioners will select the final three.

Edwards asked when public input would be heard. They said prior to the interviews, but the special meeting agenda which was published in legals http://www.grantcountybeat.com/community/legals/52074-grant-county-commission-to-hold-special-meeting-july-18-2019-at-6-p-m states public input is after the interviews.

Commissioner Javier Salas for his commissioner report at the work session also thanked Morones "for his high level of commitment and public service. I appreciated talking to him."

In the regular meeting, Edwards thanked Salas for his "thorough and well-thought out comments on the Wildlife Services issue. I want to thank everyone for the comments. It's a very challenging subject. This is the third time since I've been a commissioner that is has come up. There has always been a lot of discussion. Once the final vote is taken, it's gone for another year. There has never been any additional discussion after the fact. I think it's part of what we need to do to address it with a different solution. Dialogue is hard to have because we are prohibited from having the discussion with other commissioners except in open session."

Ponce said some of the things the commissioners face won't be popular with some people and will be with others. "But we remain respectful of one another up here. I appreciate that and thank every commissioner for that."

Billings, in his commissioner's report, said he wanted to give a plug to Advanced Airlines. "I was the victim of the longest delay they've had because of the storm last week. To get all of us to Silver City, they flew an unscheduled trip from Phoenix the next morning. They have had zero cancellations. The average ticket price is very close to the old price with the former airline. Advanced Air's flight services are exceptional. Boardings are up in Silver City. It's a good thing we did up here. We made the right decision. Sometimes, false information gets out. I think Advanced Air has dispelled any rumors."

Salas said it is a pleasure dealing with the other commissioners. "I think we are all bound with one purpose, to serve the people of Grant County. It's OK to have differences of opinion if we do it with respect." He noted that Silver City had passed the ordinance to allow UTVs on the roads. "I think it will be a plus for us and maybe for the trails around Silver City. It will bring people in to use them."

The commissioners went into executive session to discuss pending or threatened litigation regarding opioid litigation, regarding the 2016 Sheriff's Office and regarding the 2018 Detention Center.

Commissioners make a decision on Wildlife Services at regular meeting 071119

[Editor's Note: This is part two of a multi-series of articles addressing the Grant County Commission work session on July 9, 2019 and the regular meeting on July 11, 2019.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

Grant County commissioners heard from elected officials at the beginning of the regular session on July 11, 2019.

Sheriff Frank Gomez said he continues to offer enhanced training to his staff members. "We share the trainings with the Silver City Police Department and include the police departments of the municipalities."

Special meeting purpose was to choose the GRMC Board of Trustee applicants to interview on July 18

By Mary Alice Murphy

In a special meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, the Grant County Commission chose the final applicants out of the 11 who put their names in the hat to serve on the Gila Regional Medical Center Board of Directors.

No one gave public input.

Commissioner Billy Billings thanked the 11 applicants. "It's encouraging that so many qualified candidates applied for the positions. In past history, we've had one, two, maybe three, so this is great."

Live from Silver City

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