Grant County Prospectors

The prospectors are a group of business leaders whose purpose is to educate policy makers and community members about the economic, community development and legislative needs in Grant County.

2015 Legislative Forum Transcript

Prospectors Legislative Communication Forum
December 2, 2014
WNMU Light Hall

Terry Anderson (Prospectors president):
Welcome everyone. I would like to give a brief overview of our history. The Prospectors started in the early 1980s. (She read the purpose.)

I would like to ask all the legislators to speak before we begin the presentations. I want to ask Rep. (Rodolpho “Rudy”) Martinez to speak first.

Rep. Rodolpho “Rudy” Martinez:
I would like to thank the Prospectors for this annual forum. It is a great tool I used frequently. The job the Prospectors do is unbelievable. Their reception is one of the best attended in Santa Fe each year. It has been a pleasure working with you and I will continue working with you. Senator (Howie) Morales, it will be a challenge for you, but bless you, and I wish you the best.

Rep. Dianne Hamilton:
This legislative session will be a historic one. It’s the first time since 1952 that Republicans have been in the majority in the House. I don’t know where my office will be or what committees I will serve on, but you are always welcome to come visit us in Santa Fe. I support and am still pushing a bill for a PTSD program. Don’t hesitate to call me.

Sen. Howie Morales:
It’s hard to believe that it’s nine years I’ve been a part of this forum. This gives us your needs and your (Prospectors) notebooks are amazing. Every year, it’s hard for our capital outlay to be vetoed because we have our Ts crossed and our Is dotted. I have pushed for all the area entities to have their audits done, and you have come through with them. I applaud you.

I also want to thank Dr. (Joseph) Shepard (Western New Mexico University president) for letting us use Light Hall for this forum. I was here recently with my daughter to see “Frozen.” What a great theater.

This will be a 60-day session, which means it is not just a budget session, but everything is on the table. There will still be a budget bill, but things have changed with the drop in oil prices. We were looking at a surplus of $260 million, but now it will be more like $100 million, so this is still very much a budget session.

We will be asking for input from you on the hold harmless issue. I know the Municipal League is pushing for a food tax. Please help me with your information.

I will still have the same focus on education, senior citizens, veterans and the disabled. I sit on the Finance Committee and am often in meetings, but if the issue is about something local, I will try to be there for the vote.

We need to find ways here to diversify from mining and ranching.

Rep. Don Tripp has been selected as the Speaker of the House. He is one of my best friends. We will work together. The people we are representing are the most important and you have my commitment.

Rep.-elect John Zimmerman (who replaced Rep. Martinez in the election):
I am humbled and honored to be here. I look forward to serving Grant County, Sierra County and Doña Ana County. I have family here, with my daughter here in Silver City, and my son’s wife is from Bayard.

I care what happens in Grant County, Sierra County and Doña Ana County and in all of New Mexico.

Why did I run? There are no jobs here. We need to grow the economy. What are the causes? One of the causes is that we don’t have a true two-party system in New Mexico. It’s not about Republicans and Democrats, but we need a two-party system. We need the balance.

How will we spawn economic development in New Mexico? We have to embrace change. That’s my vision.

What can I expect? I don’t know. We had a caucus meeting in November, and the atmosphere was positive. I’m looking forward to reaching across the aisle. I intend to do that. I intend to work with you, Sen. Morales. Yes, there will be disagreements, but we have to remember first and foremost that we are Americans.

I spent 42 years in the Navy. We are Americans first and New Mexicans second. I will give 150 percent.

Grant County has this forum. Sierra County also holds a forum, which will be held Thursday. Doña Ana County can’t get a forum together.

Unity is how we get things done. I will work with you and look at the needs of all of Grant County, all of Sierra County and all of Doña Ana County.

—————-

LOCAL GOVERNMENT PRESENTATIONS

Grant County Planner Anthony Gutierrez and County Manager Charlene Webb, representing Grant County:

Gutierrez:
I thank the legislators for this opportunity to present our needs before you.

Our No. 1 priority is the continuum of care substance abuse treatment facility, which Commissioner Ron Hall and GRMC Project Development’s Susie Trujillo have been working on diligently. It is for drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation. We see the problem in the work force, in the schools and in the community.

Grant County has implemented a 3/8 gross receipts tax increment, but we will still run short. We are doing engineering and planning with the gross receipts tax. We are looking for $200,000 for a commercial kitchen and furniture. It will be a long-term facility.

Our No. 2 priority is Bataan Memorial Park. We need $275,000 to fix drainage issues, because maintenance is continuous. The field has also been identified for a baseball team from Western (New Mexico University). We will do the drainage first and then the lighting.

No. 3 is the Road Department shop facility, which needs a new roof. We’ve been patching it for years. We need $120,000 for a new roof.

Other projects for which we need funding are to upgrade the Courthouse electrical system. And for the business and conference center, we need $2 million to redo the inside. We will also apply for an EDA grant.

Hamilton:
It’s so important to look at rehabilitation, instead of putting people in jail. Will the county pay for the treatment?

Webb:
It will be a treatment and rehabilitation facility. The county will contract with a firm to provide the services.

Hamilton:
I think it’s wonderful that the county is taking the lead. I applaud you for building a building and making it possible. It can also be used for veterans.

If you don’t take care of the roof, the whole building for the shop will fall down.

Gutierrez:
We do all our maintenance on county vehicles in the shop, including Sheriff’s Office vehicles. That’s why it’s a high priority.

Zimmerman:
What is your estimate on the electrical upgrade for the Courthouse?

Gutierrez:
A couple of years ago, it was $348,000, but it may have gone up.

Webb:
If we also do the HVAC after the electrical upgrade, and the HVAC can’t be done before the electrical system is upgraded, it will be over a million dollars. We also have several code issues in the building.

Morales:
With your gross receipts tax increment, what is your anticipated yearly amount of revenue?

Webb:
Each 1/8th increment will provide between $325,000 and $375,000, so a bit over a million annually.

Morales:
Where is the Courthouse on the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan?

Gutierrez
Fifth

Webb:
We plan to spend $2 million on the rehabilitation facility. We have issued bonds and sold $6 million in bonds. We estimate the debt service annually on the bonds will be about $350,000.

Morales:
How much will you put into the conference center?

Webb:
We will open the bid next week.

We think $6 million will pay for the continuum of care, Bataan Memorial Park and the business and conference center.

Gutierrez:
We will also apply for an EDA grant for the conference center.

————————

Anderson:
While the next group is getting ready, I would like to announce, and I will announce this several times today, that Wednesday, Jan. 28 will be Grant County Day in Santa Fe. For everyone who will be presenting the next day, we will have a logistics meeting the evening before, on Tuesday, Jan. 27 from 5:30-6:30. If you are presenting you need to be there. The meeting on Jan. 27 and the reception on Jan. 28 will be held at the Inn and Spa at Loretto.

———————-

Alex Brown, Town of Silver City manager, and Cynthia Bettison, Mayor Pro Tem, representing Silver City:

Brown:
These are our legislative priorities.

No. 1 is hold harmless. Based on 2013 numbers, if hold harmless is completely taken away, we will lose $1.8 million, which is 18.7 percent of our total gross receipts tax revenue.

Silver City is impacted the largest of any community in New Mexico. Even if we add the 3/8th increment, it will not be enough to offset the loss. The increment will generate only about $900,000.

At the minimum, please at least hold us harmless for that $900,000. We cannot raise enough without cutting services. Even though our population is 10,300, we provide services to 18,000-20,000 people on a daily basis. We generate 20 percent more gross receipts taxes than Deming, which has a population of 15,000.

Our No. 2 priority is a cap on interest fees on small loans. Companies charge exorbitant fees.

No. 3 is that we have a hard time getting reimbursements from the state—from the Department of Finance and Administration, the Finance authority and even Tax and Revenue.

I’ve been manager for 13 years, and the past couple of years have been bad for payments being late. If taxpayers pay late, they have to pay a late fee, but state agencies don’t have to.

We need $100,000 for sidewalks, and our second capital outlay request is to chip seal and fog seal several streets, including Little Walnut Road and Swan Street.

Morales:
Will the hold harmless take a change of statute?

Brown:
Yes, because we are only authorized to get 3/8 of 1 percent to replace it. Silver City is the most impacted, with Española being second, with a population of 10,200. We are shopping hubs. At least hold us harmless or increase the population threshold, because those under 10,000 in population are held harmless.

Morales:
Has any legislation been drafted?

Bettison:
Yes, one will be presented Dec. 17-18. It will change the threshold to 10,500. With the 3/8 increment, some entities will make more money than they did through the hold harmless. We will have to cut too much.

Morales:
I voted against the corporate tax cut, because it would impact you and other localities. It’s a solution we need to work on.

Bettison:
I will ask Bill (??) to let you know about the draft.

The food tax would be the only way for us to make up some lost revenue. It will be only on those not on EBT. The 3/8th tax increase will impact the lower-income citizens as well.

Morales:
Do you have an update on the ambulances and the lights at Scott Park?

Brown:
The ambulances have been ordered. The lighting is complete, and the concession stand is going out to bid.

We have 12 projects in the ICIP, but we want more money for the chip sealing for Little Walnut, which is in terrible shape and the other streets. We also want money for sidewalks. These are the only two for which we are asking for additional funding.

Morales:
I have a concern about the DFA. Let me know which ones haven’t been returned and I’ll address them. It also impacts the Colonias Infrastructure Fund and the EDA?

Brown:
Yes to colonias.

Zimmerman:
In the matter of the predatory lenders, I think legislation is being drafted. It will limit the fees to 36 percent, which is still high. It hurts the poorest of the poor.

Morales:
I will be carrying that legislation.

Hamilton:
I have just a comment. It’s so good to see the university participating in city government. I think Dr. Shepard has worked hard to get you to work together. I think all of you on the Town Council further this.

————-

Kristy Ortiz, city of Bayard clerk, representing Bayard:
The mayor sends his apologies, as he is under the weather.

The city of Bayard is holding steady on our projects. We have no new projects to request, but we ask for an additional allocation for the cemetery. We will complete $200,000 in expenditures, with, starting next week, the installation of the entry gate, and we will complete it with a canopy over the service area.

Our No. 2 request is for purchase of police units. We have three or four that are aging. We ask for $100,000.

We, too, have other barriers, with Bayard having problems with reimbursements from DFA. We are waiting for $120,000-$130,000 for the cemetery. Any help you can give us to alleviate this would help.

Our wastewater project will be substantially completed in January.

We were allocated $234,000 last year, but we’re having trouble getting the agreement from the New Mexico Environment Department. We are waiting for them to send back the signed agreements.

Morales:
I hope the mayor is feeling better. How about them Indians!

What about paying for the canopy?

Ortiz:
We will put $20,000 from the general fund. It will cost about $30,000 for the canopy.

Morales:
It was $800,000 for the cemetery?

Ortiz:
Yes.

Next will be the line from the wastewater treatment plant to the cemetery and then fencing and landscaping. We have enough plots.

Morales:
Are you eligible for USDA funding?

Ortiz:
We are just waiting for the signed agreements.

Morales:
And colonias?

Ortiz:
We may request reauthorization of the Colonias Infrastructure Fund monies. The engineers got a lot of data, so some of the work may not need to be done. Maybe we can use the funding to drill a new well. Our other wells are performing adequately.

Zimmerman:
Are you coordinating efforts? Has there been any discussion about getting Fort Bayard water rights?

Ortiz:
The effort has begun. Silver City is working on getting water from its well field at the airport to Hurley and then a loop around the county through Bayard and Santa Clara to Silver City.

Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director:
There are ongoing issues with Hanover. We looked at transporting water from Fort Bayard to Hanover, but Fort Bayard is in a critical block, so it is difficult to transfer water from a critical block.

The preliminary engineering plan is nearing completion for enough water from the airport to Silver City.

Zimmerman:
Any effort to transfer the water from Fort Bayard?

Lucero:
One issue is that the water is on state property. In a discussion with the Office of the State Engineer, I learned it is almost impossible to transfer the water. I don’t know if it’s addressed in the PER for the regional water supply.

Zimmerman:
Impossible is not a word in my vocabulary. The need is there and we need to get the communities involved.

Lucero:
We have a Grant County Water Commission to look at issues like this. It seems simple, but it isn’t. We’ve looked at it for about 10 years.

Morales:
We will have a new state engineer coming in.

Ortiz:
Bayard does provide emergency water to Hanover. For the past couple of weeks, Hanover’s wells have been providing a bit more water.

——————

Hurley Mayor Edward Encinas and Town Clerk Martha Salas, representing Hurley:

Encinas:
The swimming pool got the agreement. Engineers are doing the design and planning. The bond soon goes out for the cemetery.

We are asking for funding for the Community Center, which offers lunches to senior citizens. We need to upgrade, by purchasing a commercial refrigerator and replacing the stove for $150,000. It’s for our seniors and they are appreciative of having the lunches there.

Our No. 2 priority is for law enforcement. We have two 2006 and two 2008 vehicles. One we had to have towed yesterday. We would like at least two of the vehicles replaced.

On the water project, we are working with Freeport (McMoRan Inc.) on getting permission for a water line, which will cross Freeport land.

Zimmerman:
Are you having trouble with reimbursements?

Salas:
No issues.

Morales:
We appreciate that your staff has been consistent. Do you have enough for the cemetery? And enough for heat the children’s swimming pool?

Encinas:
We have solar panels for the pool.

Morales:
Where do you stand on water?

Encinas:
We got planning money, but to complete the project from the airport will require $11 million. We have to phase it in.

Lucero:
They are doing engineering and design. It’s not appropriate to get Colonias funding for construction. It will take multiple funding sources—USDA and Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund.

Morales:
It will take a match, and a legislative allocation could be the match.

Lucero:
There are improvements that have been done that Hurley can use as a match, but not until the engineering and design are done. The most you can get from USDA is $2 million and from Colonias, $1 million. From the revolving loan fund, a bit more.

Encinas:
Our goal is to have water by 2018. Freeport was going to raise our rates in 2016, but we signed an agreement to extend them to 2018.

Morales:
Can we access the Area Agency on Aging for the refrigerator and stove?

Lucero:
I think maybe we can. The facility also has code deficiencies that need to be resolved. They have been resolved short-term, but not long-term. They are critical for improving the facility. Other senior citizens centers have used capital outlay for equipment.

Morales:
If it’s capital outlay, it can be used for the facility improvements.

—————–

Mayor Richard Bauch and Clerk Sheila Hudman, representing the village of Santa Clara:

Hudman:
I apologize for getting the drawings to you so late, but we just got them back yesterday.

We, too, as others have said, have difficulty getting reimbursements. We have an outstanding one for 2012 from the DFA and also from CDBG.

We submitted on time. We’re given two years to complete a project, and if we don’t, we lose out on two funding processes, because we haven’t received the agreements or the reimbursements.

Zimmerman:
You’re not getting the CDBG due to DFA?

Lucero:
The federal funding is funneled through the state. Only the large cities get the funding directly from the federal agency.

The information was revised and sent in in August. I looked at it with them last week. Usually they can get it approved in 30 days, but this is three months and ongoing.

Zimmerman:
So the problem is in the state?

Morales:
You don’t hear these issues on the news, but they have the most impact on communities. The DFA has had constant turnover and these issues are continually happened. You have to let us know and we can get involved. It’s the same issue with the water improvements in Santa Clara. It’s continually happening.

Lucero:
All the CDBG projects in the county are being held up.

Zimmerman:
I have a cell phone, 575-649-1217. I want you to report these to me. I’m the newbie, and I’m not bashful about screaming loudly.

Bauch:
CDBG grants require two years completion. If we can’t, we lose time and can’t apply again.

Zimmerman:
Thirty days is a sufficient time. Such inefficiencies are unacceptable. If we know about them we will raise our voices.

Bauch:
Our No. 1 ICIP priority is the water improvements, which have been funded by Colonias.

No. 2 is the cemetery; No. 3 the sewer lift station on Fort Bayard, which is on the verge of being inoperable; and No. 4 is the maintenance shop.

We are asking for capital outlay for our cemetery, which we will do in two phases. We want to improve the cemetery service area with an awning and we need fencing. The request is for $150,000.

We also request funding for our maintenance shop, which is not large enough to put vehicles in for maintenance. It is only slightly larger than a two-care garage. We started it and want to complete it. We need $200,000 so we are able to service our vehicles.

Morales:
Where are we with audits?

Bauch:
We are completely caught up.

Hudman:
We are waiting on the Housing Authority budget numbers to complete this year’s audit.

Morales:
Under your leadership, you came into a difficult situation. Congratulations on catching up on your audits.

Bauch:
We are also working with the National Guard to develop a temporary MOU so we can continue using the facility. We anticipate in about a year or so, the armory will close and it will transfer to the village. We use it for meetings and events every month or so. We want the agreement to keep it open for use.

Morales:
Could this offer economic development? It’s an opportunity for the village, but you will need funds. Can you look at federal monies?

Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director:
Currently the EDA is looking for projects in New Mexico. The village will look for the 20 percent match.

Morales:
Does Santa Clara have the match?

Bauch:
Yes, and it will be a great opportunity for the village and economic development.

——————-

Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments:

Lucero:
All of the local entities are having trouble getting capital outlay agreements. I have to sit in front of them to get them signed and completed. I’m having a hard time understanding why it’s taking so long.

For Colonias, it’s 9-12 months to get the agreement to begin a project.

For Community Development Block Grants, it’s the same. There is no institutional knowledge left, as the longest any personnel members have been there is six to nine months.

I’ve been involved in the implementation of the broadband plan. I would like to see this for the region, and it is regional.

We seek funds for being fiscal agents. We are fiscal agents for eight capital outlay projects and for the DWI Program. It’s quite an additional responsibility.

This past year, Colonias awarded $2.4 million to regional entities. I expect to handle 10 to 15 applications this year. CDBG awarded $1.5 million.

On the Essential Air Service, Great Lakes will continue offering service to Phoenix until the signatures are received from the U.S. Department of Transportation Office in D.C. to award the subsidies to Boutique Air. When it is awarded, Shawn Simpson, Boutique Air owner, will bring a plane down to introduce the community to the service.

We have again applied for the Promise Zone. This is our second attempt. We came in second last year and hope to get it this year. It will bring in federal funds to the area.

Hamilton:
When is the soonest date for Boutique?

Lucero:
His one concern was that he didn’t want to hire until he had the contract signed. I would expect it will be signed in the next couple of weeks. Boutique will provide service to Albuquerque.

Morales:
Priscilla presented the issues to the Economic Development Committee. I am proud to have her here and I thank you (to Priscilla) for all you do for us.

Concerns about Great Lakes were that it goes to Phoenix. Everyone came together or we would have had no air service here. All the airlines you called complied and sent their proposals and information. And Boutique was chosen. Without your work, and that of the local leaders, and the dedication of those who work for the COG, it wouldn’t have happened.

Boutique will fly to Albuquerque, and if a need to fly to Phoenix is determined, Boutique will consider that, too.

I will also be happy to guide you, Rep. Zimmerman.

Zimmerman:
I’m not the sharpest, but you are. And I can be the bad guy. It’s important for all of you presenters to give us a poke when we need it.

Morales:
Thank you, Priscilla, for all your work.

An executive order was put out that if an audit had findings, the entity might not be eligible for capital outlay.

I also got disturbing news that your being fiscal agent for groups may be good for only one year. Make sure everyone gets their audits in place.

Lucero:
I’m fiscal agent for Hurley for two years. I heard that if it was law enforcement audits with findings, they might not be eligible.

Morales:
It’s because of the decrease in severance bonds. Colonias is now over $15 million. Over the next five years, it will likely decline to $10 million.

—————-

Terry Anderson, Prospectors president and forum moderator:
I’m reminding everyone that Grant County Day will be Wednesday, Jan. 28. All of those doing presentations that day need to be at the logistics meeting, the evening before at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 27, at the Inn and Spa at Loretto.

————————————–

EDUCATION PRESENTATIONS

Anderson:
The next group of presentations will be on education. Dr. Joseph Shepard will make the Western New Mexico University presentation. We thank him for the use of this venue.

Shepard:
Light Hall is what happens when we all work together. Western has created a five-year plan. That includes the new housing that was built, so that if a connector road to U.S. 180 is ever built, we are ready.

You are seated in Light Hall, which received funding from GO bonds. Funding from this year’s GO bond passage will benefit Light Hall, as well as work in the science building—Harlan Hall—and at the University Museum.

In Phase 1 of Light Hall, we have put in new bathrooms and the seats and a screen for movies and desks on the seats for lecture classes.

Phase 2 will put in an additional screen and the capability for live theater.

Phase 3 will be on the outside, making it a community asset.
We will put in responsible vegetation, fix the sagging retaining wall, and doing landscaping. Inside, we will be creating smart classrooms where we can record and capture lectures.

We need another screen to allow for on-stage screen lectures.

This year, we have an online MBA.

In the museum, $3.8 million from the GO bond is allowing outside painting and fixing the windows. Inside, we will create fire suppression, fixing up security and the HVAC system.

For Harlan Hall, we will use $208,000 for planning to upgrade the building and classrooms.

For capital projects for the legislative session, we are asking for $5.2 million. For Harlan Hall, the infrastructure renovation, including fixing gas lines, will cost $907,500. The building is over 50 years old and science has moved ahead since it was built in 1964. Renovations will support science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and we add on the H for health.

We are asking for funding out of that amount for the Expressive Arts Building, Phase 1. In the Fine Arts Center Theatre, the restrooms are not ADA-compliant, so we need to revamp them. The sound equipment is outdated. We partner with Community Concerts, Mimbres Region Arts Council and community groups to put on events.

For infrastructure, we need $1.1 million for HVAC systems and $1.2 million for roofing of buildings.

We want to put a median in the middle of Kentucky, which is wide. We want to make the traffic flow calmer, with a median and trees. That will cost $900,000.

We have $5,253,420 in needs. We have flexibility for prioritizing. I know that oil and gas prices go up and down and severance goes up and down.

Morales:
I want to continue our dialogue. You have requested $5 million. Where in the Higher Education Department is it prioritized?

Shepard:
The Higher Education Department has approved our requests, but I don’t know where they are in the rankings.

Morales:
What about operational costs?

Shepard:
We have needs. Last year you, Rep. Martinez and Rep. Hamilton made progress to bring us up to parity with other institutions. We grew during the recession, so our numbers did not get into the formula.

We are about $10 million underfunded. We are aggressively trying to get $1.7 million. We got $400,000. That underfunding is still a need. I would like to keep pushing the issue. Another $1 million would help, but I know it’s hard.

Morales:
Sen. John Arthur Smith has been instrumental in making that $400,000 stick.

Hamilton:
I want to commend you on the appearance of the campus. Rep. Don Tripp became regent, when I was already one. When he came here, because he had never seen the campus, I took him on a tour. He said then: “It doesn’t have much curb appeal.”

Shepard:
I think compensation will come up. From teachers for birth through 20, we have to do something about compensating teachers throughout the system. Thank you for your support.

Zimmerman:
Poke me when you need to.

————–

Anderson:
I am so proud to introduce Shannon Rivera, who took over the Early Childhood Program after I left.

Shannon Rivera, WNMU Early Childhood Program director:
I feel so fortunate to fill Terry’s shoes. I came here as a student, and as a parent, my children attended the program.

We provide a comprehensive program to students and the community. We are under the School of Education.

In our pre-school/child development program, we serve children aged six weeks to 5 years. In early childhood care, we have 114 children and 121 on the waiting list. We also have the Growing Tree infant and toddler program on the Silver Opportunity School campus with 14 enrollees.

In addition, the early childhood education lab is the site for those studying for associates and bachelors degrees. We have 200 students enrolled, and they do their student practice in the program.

This past year, 3,500 hours have been realized from early childhood, sociology, occupational therapy and physical therapy students. We also help the Family Counseling Center, clinical services, play therapy, counseling, T & TAP, and La Familia Resource Center, which has a site in Las Cruces. We serve 8,068 hours from other disciplines.

With legislative outlay, we maintain a five-start certified program, which provides childcare and offers family support resources and to teen parents.

It makes up 22 percent of our budget and is an investment in our future.

Zimmerman:
What is the figure from last year?

Rivera:
About $200,000.

Morales:
Talk about a big issue. This is almost a crisis. Parents can’t go to work without childcare. The Growing Tree program at OHS, I’m very grateful for that legislative appropriation. Is this funding part of the funding formula for the university?

Shepard:
From special projects

Morales:
That was $250,000. We have to protect and if possible increase that amount.

Shepard:
Most employees with compensation, except for the grant ones, we take care of internally. Some grants allow compensation to employees. Others do not. Some grants allow raises, with others not permitting increases.

Rivera:
We don’t qualify for the Focus Program, because we are 5-star certified. Focus is more for those wanting to move up.

Anderson:
In New Mexico, they are not getting clear on the purpose of Focus. It’s to assist other programs to move up.

I’m concerned about accreditation. More accrediting bodies are coming in. We can just go for the 5-star certification without accreditation. We need to protect our quality, but we don’t need more accrediting bodies.

We need to be really careful to protect from more accrediting bodies.

Morales:
It’s a child-safety issue.

Anderson:
In early childhood, we are not on the same page. I think New Mexico has done a good job of protecting certification.

Rivera:
We have had problems getting reimbursements, with the changes made locally.

Morales:
$900 million is being reverted.

Shepard:
Western subsidizes the Early Childhood programs. Now we have 16 students at Growing Tree, and it runs at a deficit of $70,000, which we pick up.

Grants don’t allow for compensation, but statutes require a certain teacher-student ratio.

I have a concern about the $900 million reversion, because we have needs here.

—————

Arlean Murillo, government affairs senator representing students, and Lawrence Garcia, student senator represented WNMU Student Government.

Murillo:
We are having issues with security and safety. We have cases of burglary and auto theft. We have had 88 cases of burglary reported to campus police. Statistics show that 80 percent of sexual assaults go unreported. I was a victim, but we had no cameras on campus to provide video recording.

We are also trying to avoid vandalism with the cameras. There are benefits of higher security. It’s dark on campus at night. We request funding for 80 cameras and 70 keylocks.

Garcia:
The request is evolving, as we are getting bids. Based on what we have received, it would cost $551,021 for 80-120 cameras. All buildings will be covered, including the dorms and parking lots.

We will be discussing where to best place the cameras for campus coverage. They will provide two weeks of recording. Once we finalize the plan, you will see the field of view of the cameras.

Shephard:
We are investing in replacing 100 percent of the lighting to dark-sky compliant fixtures that point downward. They will supplement the safety and security.

Morales:
What about technology on campus? How is that going?

Shepard:
We now have wireless. In some classrooms, broadband has increased by five-fold.

Morales:
What about phone upgrades?

Shepard:
Rep. Zimmerman, I should explain that when I came here three years ago, we had no voice mail on campus. Now VOIP is completely operational. We also have emergency boxes for reporting safety and health issues.

Morales:
Have you looked at Homeland Security for funding?

Garcia:
We will look at the state first, and then once we have finalized the plan through the police, then IT can look for more funding.

There are still four vendors we haven’t gotten bids back from.

Shepard:
We hope to have the costs finalized by the legislative session.

Garcia:
The worst places are our priority.

Shepard:
We have concerns outside and inside buildings. As an upgrade to buildings, cameras will be a part.

Garcia:
The CAT6 wire is large, and part of the costs include the dropping of cables.

Zimmerman:
Are there any remote cameras?

Shepard:
All the cameras we have can be remotely accessed, but none can be zoomed in and out. The ones we have now, we can see during daylight hours and with infrared at night. We can pull closer through software.

Hamilton:
I am really impressed with how well you all prepared for this presentation.

—————

Cobre Consolidation Schools

George Peru, director of operations:
We have two priorities and we are struggling to keep up.

Maureen Peru, director of technology:
The Public Education Department has increased the demands on technology with testing and a push for technology in the classrooms. We can do the equipment, but the infrastructure and network demands are difficult. When the main server goes down, we’re down.

We need increased servers with backup.

We don’t currently have the $75,000 that would include additional servers and equipment to monitor them.

We are also looking at increasing speed and capacity on the network. With all students testing at the same time, it bogs down the system. Our rural school is always a problem. For that we are requesting $15,000.

G. Peru:
Our second priority is the activity buses. We’ve upgraded the classrooms, but out youngest bus is 10 years old. We just purchased one and we need another. We also travel in Suburbans, when we have smaller groups, and we could use $30,000 for a new one. The bus is $170,000.

Morales:
Congrats to the district. Technology upgrades are unfunded mandates. And PED wants more testing.

The remodels look amazing.

On the fleet and the IT requests, we will need the capital outlay forms. Priscilla can help you with those.

———

Silver Consolidated Schools

Superintendent Lon Streib and Assistant Superintendent Trish Martinez presented.

Streib:
In the Growing Tree program, big numbers turn into small numbers. We have a $70,000 shortfall. The university and we keep it open. We want to keep it a lab school for Silver High students who are working on certifications and associates degrees at the university. The Silver High students can use it on their way toward certification. If we could ask for big numbers, and break it down—$75,000 would make or break the program.

We talk about partnership. Child care. We need to open our own facilities to work with the university.

We request to continue the partnership, but we request money for Growing Tree.

We are Silver are starting the Career Pathways program. We have welding and next semester, we will have building trades and training for certified nurse assistants.

We’ve gotten it off the ground, but some seed money will help us gain airspeed to make it fly.

We will continue accessibility of students to Western.

With today’s technology, kids today don’t learn the same way we did. We will begin to turn away from books to technology. We would request diverting money from textbooks to computers and technology.

Martinez:
The state has a cycle. We need to look at the cycle to make sure we are properly funded. The technology piece costs more than textbooks. We need to look at instructional materials funding.

Hamilton:
I love what you said about information technology. I appreciate what I see with my grandkids.

Morales:
To clarify, are you asking for appropriations?

Strieb:
We could fill out a form if you need it. The $75,000 we and Shepard asked for means jobs and it’s for people.

Martinez:
Those students, who receive childcare, stay in school.

Morales:
Community members use it, too.

For the Freeport Community Enhancement Fund, did you make a Growing Tree request?

Streib:
No, but there were others submitted.

Morales:
Any upgrades?

Streib:
The roof is fixed. HVAC is fixed. We’re in pretty good shape.

Anderson:
Those who use Growing Tree, stay in school, finish high school and then go to Western.

—————

HEALTHCARE PRESENTATIONS

Chris DeBolt, Grant County Community Health Council coordinator, presented for the group.

DeBolt:
The Health Council has 26 members, with a wide variety of expertise. Many are in the room. We have leveraged $2.4 million in four years for the community. That’s a ratio of $24 to the community for every $1 invested in the council.

I was on the Health Council, as the rural representative. I have been in this job as coordinator for 10 months.

Our priorities came as a result of 5,055 responses in the survey we held in 2012.

The priorities are behavioral health, family resiliency, community health and safety and interpersonal violence.

We have direct partnerships with Gila Regional Medical Center Program Development and the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, for which we provide office space.

For behavioral health, we are partnering with the proposed continuum of care for substance abuse.

GRMC has been our operational funder since the state stopped funding health councils, and we are most appreciative of the support.

In the family resiliency priority, we have two programs, one addressing early childhood, and we are partnering with the Community Partnership for Children. We have supported the partnership’s Community Investment Fund application. We have a shared-services model.

Under family resiliency, we also are working on programs for seniors. The Senior Life Cycle provides a caregiver class for those dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s care. We will offer it again, as it was quite well attended.

In community health and safety, we are working with the Disabilities Advisory Council, which, in not too long a time, will have a Disabilities Resource Center next to the town’s Recreation Center.

In interpersonal violence, we address sexual assault, bullying and others. We have had the support of the hospital, work with Sexual Assault Support Services and we get grants.

The Grant County Community Health Council has been very effective in helping develop sustainable programs, such as First Born, which now has programs in several counties in the state.

Last year, a bill was passed for funding health councils for $900,000 to be divided among the councils, giving each $50,000 in needed funding, but it was line-item vetoed. We hope you will support the bill again. We show what health councils can do and accomplish across the state.

Morales:
What have you done with the $2.4 million?

DeBolt:
They have funded all the programs on page two of the handout, which include the Non-Profit Resource Conference, Community Resource and Senior directories, 101 Things for Youth to do in Grant County, Red Hot Children’s Fiesta, Town Hall meetings by YSAPC, Mimbres Health Fair, Community Investment Fund training and PSA screening.

Morales:
Other health councils are not as effective and accountable as you are.

DeBolt:
When health councils were defunded five years ago, many unraveled. There are still a few functioning. Doña Ana’s is starting to come back, and we want them all to be able to be what the Maternal and Childcare Act envisioned when we began 24 years ago.

Rep. Don Tripp was going to carry the bill, but now that he has been selected as the House Speaker-elect, he’s trying to find someone else to carry it.

Morales:
I think it will be endorsed by Health and Human Resources.

Zimmerman:
Tripp won’t be carrying it?

DeBolt:
From what I understand, he would feel more comfortable with someone else carrying it.

Zimmerman:
None of us knows which communities have health councils.

—————

LifeQuest, represented by Director Evangeline Zamora and Shawna Avila

Zamora:
We have two programs—early intervention for ages birth to three years old, which is funded under the Family, Infant, Toddler program, and the adult program, which is funded by the DD-waiver and the General Fund. We have faced major cutbacks in funding.

Avila:
I provide contracted provider services to LifeQuest in Catron County.

I first got to know LifeQuest after our daughter had a long stay in neonatal and came out with developmental disabilities. She is still getting developmental and physical therapy.

Catron County is the largest county in land size in the state. We sometimes have to drive for hours to get to a house. People have trouble getting to doctors’ appointments and to church. I know because my mother is one of two doctors in the county. The county also has a high poverty rate—the fourth highest in the state for children.

FIT provides in-home services.

Physical abuse is also a problem. The county has a suicide rate two-and-a-half times the New Mexico rate; for teens it’s 7 times the New Mexico rate.

The county also has the lowest rate of prenatal care and 25 percent of the people are uninsured or underinsured.

A lot of professionals are not willing to travel the long distance. We need more funding for travel. The language needs to be changed.

The programs have a cost benefit. For every $1 spent on early childhood, it saves up to $17 in later costs, such as law enforcement.

Hamilton:
I have a cousin who is developmentally delayed. She is now 78 and lives alone, but she received early care. Any time there is early intervention, it saves a child from later problems.

Zamora:
We serve birth to three years with our services. We can go up to kindergarten and into school.

Morales:
I know how important your services are.

Zamora:
With the $500,000 in FIT funding, we were gratified to provide a raise in hourly rates. We are still looking for funding, because the state has a shortage of $9 million in the program. We are still trying to fully operate. In rural areas, we are more impacted.

Morales:
If you don’t have providers, you can’t meet the needs of children. I see you have a lot of openings.

Zamora:
We regularly lose therapists to the schools and the hospital, because they pay more and offer better benefits. We have a speech pathologist and therapists, but we can lose them. The DD waiver will be retroactive to July.

Morales:
I have a concern about openings. It’s similar to other areas. It took so much effort to get people off the waiting list, but you need providers.

Zamora:
Agencies, because of funding, are having problems staying open. We here in Grant County get support from Freeport McMoRan. Those that continue to get community support can keep going. We put in a Community Investment Fund application for landscaping work.

Zimmerman:
Do you know about the new D.O. program at New Mexico State University? It is targeted at rural areas.

———-

LUNCH

———-

ADDITIONAL HEALTHCARE PRESENTATIONS

Gila Regional Medical Center was represented by Chief Executive Officer Brian Cunningham.

Cunningham:
I want to talk about the great things happening at GRMC and our challenges.

Our mission and vision are not just words on a page. They are very real to us, and we endeavor to live by them every day.

I thank the Board of Trustees for their hours of service, and I want to express my appreciation to the whole new administrative team.

As you know, the former administrative team left us in the hole for $9 million at the end of the 2013 fiscal year. We created a whole new team.

We are a 68-bed acute care hospital, serving four counties. We are a sole community provider and have more than 600 employees, which we call caregivers.

We had $67 million in net revenue in fiscal year 2014. We are the second largest employer in the county.

We continue to have challenges. Through the new team’s efforts, we turned around the hospital from $9 million in the hole to more than $1 million in the black in less than a year.

There are still a lot of things to be done. We are receiving decreasing reimbursements, and we face federally mandated information technology upgrades.

We are looking for help and support on capital equipment. We need an emergency back-up generator to replace our aging one. That will cost $130,000. Our fluoroscopy equipment is unfixable for upper gastrointestinal tests. We need $300,000 to replace that so our patients can receive the test here. We need to upgrade our old boiler at a cost of $160,000, and we need a nuclear medicine camera at a cost of $300.000.

Zimmerman:
How big is the generator?

Cunningham:
I don’t know, but I can get the information to you.

Hamilton:
What is your nurse-patient ratio?

Cunningham:
It depends on the acuity of patient needs, so it shifts. We have a base staffing, but can call in additional help when needed.

Hamilton:
Doesn’t that cause trouble in salary?

Cunningham:
Many clinicians cross-train, so they can shift to where they are needed. There are ways to optimize staffing needs.

Morales:
Thank you for your leadership. Talk about economic development. This is at the heart of it. It is important to have a hospital to meet the needs of the community.

————-

Dr. Darrick Nelson represented Hidalgo Medical Services.

Nelson:
We have no particular asks, but we do ask for general support for the HMS family medicine residency program.

Right now the state has a ratio of one physician to 1,450 residents. We will need a large increase in physicians, just to stay at that level. Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces have lower ratios.

We have developed the family medicine residency to meet shortages. Some specialists are primary care. Currently the University of New Mexico School of Medicine graduates 23 family medicine doctors a year.

In May 2013, we welcomed two residents to Silver City for their second and third years. Most residents do their first year of residency in Albuquerque.

We have a great partnership with Gila Regional.

UNM has increased family medicine graduates by 10 percent.

We know that most graduates stay within 100 miles of their residency.

We are the only federally funded family medicine residency program. The funding is due to sunset in 2015. We ask for legislative support to increase family medicine residencies serving rural areas.

Zimmerman:
Have you done anything with the D.O. program at NMSU?

Nelson:
Yes, the program has a family medicine residency at Memorial Hospital.

Our whole goal is to bring in more residents. We have begun to talk to Dr. Andazola with the NMSU program. The line between a D.O. and an M.D. is becoming more blurred. They are basically the same programs, with the only difference the initials after one’s name.

Morales:
I compliment you and urge you to think outside the box.

What can we do? I know you have the Forward New Mexico program. We’re fortunate to have physicians grow up here and return to practice.

Nelson:
Forward New Mexico is a long-term model. We get into middle school where we can touch more lives.

The B.A. to M.D. program students are just now graduating from medical school.

We’re interviewing residents, at least 10 of whom are UNM B.A. to M.D. students.

Morales:
What about dentists?

Nelson:
We partner with a dental school in Arizona. Their students are coming here on rotation. The UNM dental residency students are also coming here.

Morales:
You have created a model for the state and the nation.

————

Matthew Elwell, Luna County Detention Center administrator, and Mary Stoecker of the NM Department of Health Public Health Office represented the Southwest New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative 6.

Elwell:
I am here asking for your support of the Inmate Support Program. It passed the 2014 legislative session, but had no appropriation with it. We ask for funding to demonstrate a three-year model project. We want to look at detention as part of a continuum of care. We will follow inmates for six months after their release from prison. We hope to drop recidivism.

Medicaid terminates upon incarceration, and we pay for their medications. If it’s a mental illness, we see an 80 percent increase pre-adjudication without a continuum of care support.

We send them out of jail with three days of medications. They have nothing, no income support system. We will change that. We will get Medicaid to start again the day of release, get a doctor’s appointment for them, and follow them in the community for six months. I think it will keep them stable in the community.

Now, within 30 days of release, they are often back in incarceration.

We are asking for $334,000 for three counties for a three-year pilot program. We need a coordinator piece to the program.

Morales:
It was passed last year. Was it vetoed?

Elwell:
Yes, the governor vetoed it.

Morales:
We need it in House Bill 2 for new money. Why $334,000?

Elwell:
For three counties for three years.

Stoecker:
In-kind services cover part of the project, but not all pieces of the program. For inmate programs, we have commitments from some local governments. Luna County has committed funds for a coordinator in the detention centers. And we have a $10,000 commitment from Silver City. The Grant County manager thinks we can get a contribution for the three-year program. There is nothing yet from Hidalgo County. Whatever we receive, we will subtract from the request.

Morales:
How will it affect substance abuse?

Elwell:
While they are incarcerated, they are clean and sober. When they are released, we will have a hand-off set up with the treatment center and a sponsor, who will see they get to AA help meetings and appointments.

Morales:
Could the Grant County Continuum of Care fit into this?

Stoecker:
Yes. The continuum of care will offer mental health treatment, work toward a GED, and treatment can begin while they are in detention, then they will have a transition plan for the hand-off sponsor to get them to treatment, if needed.

The service providers in the communities will have the same transition plan.

Morales:
Let us discuss this. We will have to start on the House side, and find someone to carry it.

Hamilton:
It seems like it will eventually save the counties money. Can we have figures when the bill is presented?

Stoecker:
We can get the figures for you, and I think they are in the packet.

————–

Patty West of the Disabilities Advisory Council presented the group’s request.

West:
We are a volunteer group. We strive to promote equal access to the community for those with disabilities.

We are developing a Disability Resource Center, which will be a safe place to meet for the kids. It’s just outside the Silver City Recreation Center. It will be a place for therapy, for training, for recreation, and will include a lending library of technology equipment for those who are disabled. If a family could not get to Albuquerque, they couldn’t get the equipment.

I will get the capital outlay request form to you.

Silver City got the building for us, and the town will pay for the utilities and maintain it for us. Western New Mexico University will help with the assistive technology. We are asking for furniture and equipment. We have some items that have been donated, such as desks and cabinets, but we are asking for about $5,000 to $10,000 for each group to get the center open.

Zimmerman:
About $33,000?

West:
Because of the donations, we will need a little bit less.

Morales:
Will Silver City be your fiscal agent?

West:
Yes.

Morales:
We need Silver City to submit the request from a process viewpoint. It’s hard to get capital outlay for this small amount. It’s usually a low limit of $50,000 in the House and $100,000 in the Senate.

Lucero:
The request is not on the town’s ICIP, so how to handle it is a problem.

Morales:
Maybe the COG can be the fiscal agent without jeopardizing other projects.

Lucero:
We need to get on the agenda for the Town Council, and they can give us direction.

Zimmerman:
Some of your estimates, I think are a little low, so maybe $50,000 might be reasonable.

————–

Bob Rickle, Sexual Assault Support Services board member; Katherine Gauer, advocacy coordinator; and Stormie Flamm, Sexual Assault Nurse Services coordinator, presented the SASS-SANE requests.

Rickle:
Our executive director resigned yesterday, so, because I’ve been on the board for a while, I am representing SASS.

Flamm:
I’ve been the coordinator of the Gila Regional SANE program for three years. The pediatric program is up and running. We do delayed and acute service. We have had 10 children and 11 adults through SANE this year so far.

We have lots of partners. At meetings, we put together protocols for first responders, we train medical office staff and in schools, so they can find out what we do.

We have trained more than 100 people.

Our manuals are stored at the Health Council office. We work closely with SASS. With the Prison Rape Elimination Act, we are working with the four counties, and helping to bring them up to handle their own responses.

We have five nurses. One male nurse wants to go to training, and so does another female nurse for pediatrics. We have a little bit of money for the pedes.

Gauer:
We are asking for $53,000. We are still doing our work, and we never have closed doors.

Rickle:
SANE pays the lowest rate in the state. We want the $53,000, with $30,000 to support a contract counselor; $3,000 for client services, and $20,000 for a men’s program. This is a vital service and prevents mental health problems later.

Morales:
I had a concern at the time of the Act that most would be used in big cities. Are you getting your share?

Rickle:
I will get you the statistics.

Gauer:
We always have fewer resources.

Morales:
If it’s not making its way to rural areas, I would like a breakdown of the funding.

Flamm:
I can get that breakdown. We go to all four counties for outreach.

Morales:
Is there law enforcement training, so a victim is not a victim twice?

Flamm:
Our conference had classes for law enforcement and district attorneys.

Next month, there will be another training for law enforcement on how to address sexual assault.

Morales:
The money goes to the Department of Health. We will have to have a piece of legislation drafted, so the money goes directly to SASS. I will work together with the House on that legislation.

Flamm:
We can also get the state Sexual Assault Coalition to work with DOH.

Rickle:
Kelly Reynolds is our director-in-training.

Zimmerman:
I thank you for the work you do. My daughter is a nurse. New Mexico nurses are the lowest paid.

Morales:
It surprises many to see a male program.

Gauer:
The program includes other underserved groups, such as veterans.

——–

NON-PROFIT/COMMUNITY PRESENTATIONS

Anderson:
I’m one more time announcing Grant County Day will be Jan. 28, with on the prior evening, Jan. 27, a required meeting for all presenters at 5:30 at Inn and Spa at Loretto.

————-

Lucy Whitmarsh, Silver City MainStreet Project Board president, representing the group.

Whitmarsh:
Our proposal is to make improvements to the Silver City Main Street Plaza. Currently it is an undeveloped dirt lot, used for the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays during the season and as a parking lot the rest of the time.

In 1977, we came together to create the Big Ditch Park. In 1989, we coordinated improvements to Big Ditch Park.

This Plaza is part of the park, is proposed in the Silver City Master Plan and in its ICIP. Our partners include MainStreet Project, Silver City, the Farmers’ Market and the Trails Group. It is part of a larger trail connectivity.

We want to improve safety and accessibility. The Farmers’ Market brings in 500-700 people each Saturday morning from May through October.

We want grading and surfacing, with materials such as brick, and additional lighting. We also want handicapped-accessible restrooms.

Morales:
Overall, the state MainStreet request is for $3 million. Will this be part of that request?

Whitmarsh:
The funding will be available to the state MainStreet Program, and to projects through an application process.

Morales:
You would apply?

Whitmarsh:
Yes, we would apply.

Morales:
Are you requesting separately?

Whitmarsh:
Last year, there was no funding for the state MainStreet.

Morales:
Who is your fiscal agent?

Whitmarsh:
The town of Silver City.

Morales:
Has it been supported by the town?

Whitmarsh:
I have a letter of support and it is on the Silver City ICIP and on the Greenways Plan.

Morales:
We need a capital outlay request form.

———-

Skip Thacker and Don Trammell represented Bridge Community

Thacker:
We are a 501c3 corporation formed to develop a continuum of care for seniors.

The facility will provide for seniors from independent living to assisted care to nursing care to memory care and hospice.

It will be a seamless transition for residents. We plan on 35-40 staff and 55-60 residents.

Trammell:
We have done a lot of interviews, and only one person said it wasn’t needed. We are underserved here for the needed care. Those over the age of 65 years make up 23.87 percent in the area, compared to 14.5 percent nationally.

People are living longer, and they are needing care as they get older.

Morales:
You have received CIF funding, haven’t you?

Trammell:
Yes, we have received two grants from CIF. One for the feasibility study and one for our land purchase. We own 10 acres.

Morales:
But you need $500,000 to move forward.

Thacker:
It will cost $14 million, upon completion, plus the duplexes for independent living.

In addition, we are holding exploratory talks with Silver City on a site on Brewer Hill, which has all utilities. The plot we own does not have utilities.

Morales:
This is a process question. How do we get the request?

Thacker:
The $500,000 is for architectural and engineering planning.

Morales:
How would the $14 million be achieved?

Thacker:
That’s what we are wrestling with, but we will consider traditional funding.

Trammell:
Possibly bonds.

Thacker:
We have applied to Freeport for funding, and we are working with Western on a business plan.

Morales:
Do you have a fiscal agent?

Trammell:
We would probably go with Silver City.

Morales:
Those discussions need to take place with the town for your project to be in their ICIP.

Thacker:
We are all dedicated volunteers.

Morales:
You need to meet with the mayor or the Town Council. I don’t want to get into funding without the process in place.

Hamilton:
How many years have you been working on this?

Trammell:
7 years.

Hamilton:
It’s amazing that you keep pushing. It’s a marvelous idea. We have so many retirees, who would like to stay here.

Thacker:
Several years ago we contacted CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) corporations. They told us our area is too small.

Hamilton:
That didn’t deter you.

Trammell:
No, because we lose too many of our friends who have to move away. Our emphasis will be on affordability.

Hamilton:
I have looked at what I could afford.

Thacker:
We would appreciate your support, your moral support and financial support, if you can.

Hamilton:
Determine your fiscal agent and get the capital outlay forms filled out and we will help what we can.

Zimmerman:
I’m a senior citizen. You need a complete plan before you request funding. You have to have the whole thing put together Do drawings.

Thacker:
You have a copy of our feasibility study and budget.

On the 10-acre-plot, we put little squares on the picture to give you the concept. A picture is worth a thousand words. It makes the project easier to sell.

Morales:
Something has to be said for perseverance. On either Dec. 15 or 17, I would like to meet with you.

———-

Cecilia Bell represented the Fort Bayard Historic Landmark.

Bell:
We need your support. Being a national historic landmark and a New Mexico historic district has its problems.

One person says to you, go to the federal government, and the federal government says, go to your state government. Neither does anything.

The fort served as a military establishment from 1866-1899. On the 100th year after it became a medical facility, we formed the Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society. We held our 15th annual Fort Bayard Days this year with a $4,000 budget. We hosted 500 students on the Friday. We have tours almost every Saturday and on special occasions.

Many families in the area and the country have connections to Fort Bayard.

For the first time, we have real names of real people, not just the names of the officers who served here. These important things keep us going.

In July 2001, Fort Bayard was named a New Mexico Historic District and in 2004, a National Historic Landmark. In 2010, the buildings were vacated to move everyone to the new Fort Bayard Medical Center.

The landscaping is done by us, leaving it as a fire hazard.

The New Deal Theater, in 2000, received a state appropriation of $395,000 to fix the interior and the stage. But now, the doorframes are broken, so we can’t lock the doors.

Fort Bayard maintenance says it’s up to Historic Preservation to fix them. But there is no dialogue between state agencies. At the gate, the rock walls are falling apart. If we don’t take care of it now, there won’t be anything to take care of.

Zimmerman:
I have a relative who is buried at Fort Bayard National Cemetery. So I have a vested interest in its preservation.

I hear a lot of buck passing. We need to find out whose responsibility it is, and I will be an advocate.

Hamilton:
Have you filled out any capital outlay forms?

Bell:
Because it’s state property, we can’t ask for capital outlay.

Morales:
We can do the capital outlay form. It should be done by state government. Put it forward, so maybe we can get it from the Human Services Department.

Grant County Day is important. Let’s schedule a time to meet with DOH and HSD. It’s relatively simple to get a doorframe fixed.

Hamilton:
You did get capital outlay money. Rep. Herrera and I got the money for the theater.

Zimmerman:
What is the possibility of Santa Clara annexing it?

Bell:
Mayor Bauch sent the paperwork to do that, but he was ignored.

Another issue is the water.

Zimmerman:
We can address the water issue. If we can, it will resolve part of Santa Clara’s water issue, too.

I see a problem with maintenance of the campus. I see it being a big tourist draw.

Lucero:
Feasibility studies need to be done on annexing or taking over the property, because whoever it is has to take on the finances to keep the lights on.

Several responses to the state’s RFP of expressions of interest to take over the site were not adequate.

It’s too much for Santa Clara to manage.

Zimmerman:
For Silver City, Santa Clara, Bayard and Hurley, water is an issue. It’s not just an issue for Santa Clara. Everyone will benefit if the water is resolved. Fort Bayard will attract tourism. I’m looking at the worldview, looking at what’s possible. It will take some work, but it’s doable.

Bell:
An agreement is underway to reduce the historic district down to just the 20 acres with buildings. Sen. Morales, I would like to meet with you on Dec. 15 or 17.

Morales:
That will make Jan. 28 meetings more likely.

——–

Alex Ocheltree presented on a proposed New Mexico Tavern License.

Ocheltree:
I’m not asking for money. I’m asking for statutory change that will bring in money, especially to rural areas.

The tavern license will have zero-dollar equity and would not be transferable. It’s a license for rural area that can’t afford the $800,000-$900,000 cost of liquor licenses.

Downtown Silver City could be a large draw from Tucson and Phoenix for rural tourism, just for short weekends.

I was on the legislative task force talking about this proposal, but our recommendations were shredded into confetti.

We need to proceed with what we’ve worked on that will benefit rural New Mexico. The existing liquor license holders don’t want this and they don’t want change.

What is detrimental to the people of New Mexico was that they have formed monopolies.

We can sell New Mexico products through a structure of non-transferable licenses, while leaving the equity licenses untouched.

We have been working on drafting, with Sen. Griggs, a bill for him to carry.

The trade-for-activity license is for things that promote activities.

Zimmerman:
You addressed the roadblock of existing liquor licensing holders, who want to protect their investment and equity.

I see their side, and I understand what you’re proposing.

I think the state would have to offer protection for the existing license holders.

Ocheltree:
We had a talk about new licenses, which for $75,000 would be in competition with those for sale for $750,000.

If the license has zero equity, it would have no value to anyone except the holder.

Right now, licenses can only be afforded by corporations, like Walgreen’s and CVS.

This type of tavern license is not attractive to them. Red Lobster doesn’t want this license. The corporations go for the brand-name liquors. This tavern license is only for New Mexico products.

Downtown Silver City has only beer and wine licenses. They need something that includes spirits.

People could come from Tucson for solid weekends.

Morales:
Thank you for your persistence. You’re right in looking at rural New Mexico. But we also have to look at public health. I will work with Sen. Griggs.

Ocheltree:
After a game, after an event, there is no place to go, except to a bar or a fast food joint.

———

Donna Stevens represented the Gila Conservation Coalition.

Stevens:
I am the executive director of the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance, which is one of the three partners of the Gila Conservation Coalition. I am standing in for Allyson Siwik, GCC executive director, who was unable to attend.

I am here at the request of Sen. Morales, who wanted an update on the Arizona Water Settlements Act process.

I am not asking for money.

The 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act stipulates that, if New Mexico decided to take the 14,000 acre-feet of water, it agreed to pay the exchange costs for the Central Arizona Project to make whole the Gila River Indian Community and other entities that would be impacted if New Mexico chose to divert the Gila River water.

$66 million was allocated by the Act for water projects that did not require diversion.

At the Nov. 14 Interstate Stream Commission meeting in Silver City, ISC staff made recommendations. At the Nov. 24 meeting, the ISC approved $8 million in partial funding, about 10 percent to 40 percent of what was requested, for non-diversion projects.

It will be hard to fully fund these projects. We are concerned.

(She cited some of the partially funded items as:
The Gila Conservation Coalition’s Municipal Conservation Fund at $3 million; $1,75 million for the Deming Effluent Reuse project; and funding for various ditch improvements. The Grant County Reservoir, as it will use diverted water, had no funding determined.)

The Grant County Regional Water Supply System, which will provide for a new well to take water to Hurley, received $1.5 million.

Fully funding all of the projects would cost less than 10 percent of what a diversion would cost.

Commissioner Blaine Sanchez was the only dissenting vote, in a 7-1 vote to divert the water.

The ISC approved notifying the U.S. Secretary of the Interior of New Mexico’s intent to develop a Gila River diversion.

It will cost $700,000 to $800,000 for construction of the diversion. Add in the operations and maintenance, and it will be more than $1 billion.

A diversion will provide a low amount of water due to seepage and evaporation.

The big problem we will have is that we will have spent the $66 million that would meet water needs now, and the money won’t be there because it will be spent. I expect a diversion won’t be built.

Gov. Martinez could still choose not to send the letter by the end of the year.

Morales:
I knew the recommendation would be done. There will be litigation over the $66 million that would be available. Will the $66 million be realized?

Stevens:
Some of the money is available now. If we move ahead with a diversion, it will not be available.

At the meeting on Nov. 24, someone said a shovel won’t hit the ground before 20 years have passed.

The additional funding of $62 million is available only if there is a construction project.

There will be lawsuits, environmental compliance issues, and the NEPA and ESA processes. Our fear is the money won’t be available. Former ISC Director Norm Gaume says the diversion proposal is fatally flawed.

Morales:
I know this is controversial. I’ve kept my eye on the financial side so that we are not hit with a tax burden.

It is in the hands of Gov. Martinez, and I think she will move to diversion, but the state of New Mexico cannot afford it. My biggest concern is I hate to see consultants and attorneys benefit from the $66 million.

Stevens:
They have to eat, too, I guess.

If they soak up the $66 million, how does that benefit New Mexicans?

Zimmerman:
I am a civil engineer. The 14,000 acre-feet of water is not a guarantee. Only in wet years. I’m not sure it’s based on facts.

One or two years out of 25 will you have 14,000 acre-feet, but not in most years. It will be more like 4,000-8,000 acre-feet.

I have talked with folks in Arizona and they were surprised New Mexico had made the diversion decision.

Stevens:
At the Nov. 24 meeting, staff even said it would be nothing like 14,000 acre-feet a year.

Zimmerman:
I understand there will be cost of every acre-foot of water diverted. Users here will have to pay for it.

Stevens:
It’s called the exchange cost. It’s Arizona’s water. Every drop we take out, we have to pay for the Gila River Indian Community to get its water. Our concern is that we could build a humongous structure and maybe there would be no water.

Zimmerman:
New Mexico doesn’t take its full Colorado River allocation now. It was not an easy decision to make.

———–

Barbara Nelson represented Imagination Library.

Nelson:
I want to tell you what we do, why we do it and suggest ways you can help us. We want to include the entire state in the program.

We, my husband Loren, who couldn’t be here today, and I began the Grant County affiliate of Imagination Library. There are 1,650 affiliates in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada.

Imagination Library worldwide sends out 770,000 books every month.

The program is for pre-school children. We raise money locally for our Grant County affiliate. There are 25 affiliates in New Mexico. We mail 1,400 books a month, and 3,500 books are mailed out over the state of New Mexico. We mail out 40 percent of the books.

Too often, New Mexico is 49th overall, including in literacy. That is unacceptable and unconscionable. We feel we can pro-actively address the problem.

The more books children read and have access to, the longer they stay in school.

Our local kindergarten teachers are noticing a difference in those who receive Imagination Library books.

If children are not engaged in kindergarten and are not a proficient readers, they tend to drop out of school, and are eight times more likely to be incarcerated later in life.

The program helps break that chain.

Since we began the program in 2010, we have sent out 43,000 books to pre-schoolers. Our partners include the Dollywood Foundation, which mails out the books. We pay for the books at $2 per book. Our funding sources are state, foundations and local donors. We strongly want to cover the whole state. We propose a statewide office here in Silver City to bring conferences here.

Hamilton:
Are you asking for state money?

Nelson:
Grant County is the most successful affiliate in the state. The Dollywood Foundation has asked us to expand the program to the whole state.

I’m asking for a partnership with state and local affiliates.

To fund the start-up statewide program, for the first year, we are requesting $140,000 for start-up costs. As registrations increase, for the second year, we are requesting $314,000; for the third year, $399,000; the fourth, $347,000; the fifth year, $70,000 and then none after that.

Hamilton:
So you’re asking for a five-year funding program?

Zimmerman:
Is this a legislative appropriation request?

Morales:
It should go through House Bill 2. We will draft a piece of legislation. It’s not capital outlay. The hope is that because the governor has allocated $500,000 for her first grade program, that we need an agreement that will fit into that. It’s worth the ask.

We are fortunate in Silver City that we have several model programs that have begun here, such as First Born and this group.

Nelson:
I hear that grandparents are learning English from the books, and the older children are becoming more proficient.

Zimmerman:
I’m all for it.

Morales:
Do you have local sponsors?

Nelson:
Mostly local donors, although Western Bank has stepped forward to get the program started in Hidalgo County.

——–

Mimi Clark and Alexandra Tager represented the Mimbres Region Arts Council.

Tager:
I am the marketing coordinator for our activities, including the Blues Festival, Pickamania, Fine Arts Fridays and the concert series. We received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

We are looking to expand. For our Blues Festival last year, we had 15 percent growth. We have an international headliner for next year.

We are here to address the decline in funding. We have had no increase since 2000. We request the state increase the arts funding by double. There are 182 arts groups in the state, many more than there used to be. What we receive goes directly to staff and operations.

In a University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research report statistics, it shows that arts and cultural businesses employ one in 18 employees in the state, and pay $3.7 billion in salaries and benefits. They pay more than construction and manufacturing.

Morales:
Thank you for the updates. For clarification, you’re asking for $2 million for all programs? The Department of Cultural Affairs has requested a $125,000 increase.

Clark:
Lucky Varela has asked for double the funding.

Morales:
The cabinet secretary has requested a $125,000 increase. I want to make sure small communities get a good share of the funding. With a 15 percent increase at the Blues Festival, and you’re looking at an international headliner, we need a discussion on expanding.

Tager:
We are expanding the festival. Silver City will build bleachers to hold more attendees. We are adding lodging. Western has offered 50 dorm rooms and we will have 30 more rooms by then, and a campground is being considered at Bataan Memorial Park.

Morales:
I’m not sure $1 million can be possible.

Zimmerman:
It sounds like we need an incremental approach.

Clark:
Arts organizations have been growing.

Morales:
Does this play into the university? Are you collaborating?

Tager:
We have been partners on several shows and will continue to be.

———

Next on the agenda was the Silver City Arts and Cultural District, but no one was there to present.

————

Mike McMillan presented for the Tour of the Gila:

McMillan:
I am the stand-in for Jack Brennan and Michelle Geels, the co-organizers of the Tour of the Gila. The Tour qualified for consideration for a second round of funding by the Tourism Department. They are there today discussing the issue.

We applied for $40,000, and we are one of maybe 12, who made it to the second round. They asked me to reply their thanks for your past support of the Tour of the Gila, especially for convincing the Department of Tourism to fund events, such as this one.

We have no special capital outlay request. We ask for your support.

The 2015 event, which will be the 29th annual Tour of the Gila, will run from April 29 through May 3.

For the first time, we will host the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) women’s pro race.

Vendors and manufacturers have realized that women’s cycling is an untapped resource.

There are only two UCI women’s races in North America and the Tour of the Gila is one.

We have hired a marketing group to go after major sponsors for the event.

The proposal for the Department of Tourism has good facts and details about the race. We have been hosting the UCI men for two or three years. The Tour of the Gila is one of five UCI-sanctioned men’s races in the U.S.

Morales:
All of us see the benefit of the race and year-round.

I give credit to Secretary Jacobson for her willingness to support such events.

We can advertise in San Diego and Chicago, but if we can’t support it, it won’t happen.

If you send me the letter for the second round of consideration, I can send support to get to the final funding.

McMillan:
We are trying to tie the race to the New Mexico True campaign.

Morales:
That has been done very well and is a successful campaign. I want to continue to encourage the state to help support events.

Zimmerman:
It benefits the whole state.

Hamilton:
I remember when the race began. It seems to be building and bringing in well-known racers. I am hoping the state will continue to put funding into it. The Tour can be compared to areal cultural events.

McMillan:
95 percent of the races come from out of the area.

———–

Becca Anderson represented The Volunteer Center.

Becca Anderson:
I am the director of programs. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary in February. This is the Year of the Volunteer.

Five years ago, we began a food pantry. We have expanded it to mobile food pantries to the Mining District and Cliff-Gila.

The demand has increased by 50 percent, but we have seen a decrease in food availability. Our TEFAP food boxes have gone from 30-pound boxes to 5 1/2-pound boxes, and The Volunteer Center has to make up the difference. We still give out as close to 50 pounds, as we can manage, but that means TVC is coming up with the remaining 40-45 pounds. A lot of the food is not appropriate. We get moldy breads, broken eggs, and once 20-pound bladders of ketchup, instead of the 20-pound boxes of real food. The Volunteer Center has to pick up the slack.

We are working on solutions to increase food production capacity. This year, we grew 750 pounds of produce and we have planted 50 fruit trees. Next year, we will have a row garden. We are collaborating with local ranches to raise calves. We are working with 4-H chickens for eggs.

We request an external cooler and freezer plus the concrete pad and electrical work for it. It’s not in the proposal, but we could use a back-up generator, which I think costs about $1,200.

Hamilton:
Do you rescue any of the eggs?

Becca Anderson:
We separate what we can, but if the egg yolk or white touches other food, we have to throw it away.

Morales:
What about the backpack program (providing weekend food to needy students)?

Becca Anderson:
We are successful in the Silver schools, but could not get Cobre to contribute one-half the cost, which is about $10,000. Silver gives us $10,000.

Morales:
I will follow up on your concerns about the Roadrunner Food Bank. Is there any way we can develop a food bank in the local community, say, working with the Health Council, because Roadrunner is not meeting the need.

Becca Anderson:
The Food Policy Council is in discussion for a regional food hub.

Morales:
We have no capital outlay request form.

Lucero:
I don’t know about their fiscal agent. I’ll work with Becca.

Morales:
We need the fiscal agent. You have until Jan. 21 for submitting.

Zimmerman:
What did you do with the ketchup?

Becca Anderson:
We sent it back.

————-

Terry Anderson:
By the way (she said to the legislators), we will take your notebooks away today, so we can make sure everything is up to date.

—————–

Charlie Alfero represented the National Center for Frontier Communities.

Alfero:
I am the director of the Center for Health Innovations. We are part of the National Primary Care Consortium and the National Research Coalition.

In 1997, we started the National Center for Frontier Communities to try to represent the most isolated communities in the nation. We address a lot of issues, including PILT (payment in lieu of taxes), food issues, and delivery of food issues.

We try to develop models for public entities and non-profits, because they have more impact on smaller communities. In New Mexico, non-profits provide one in 20 jobs. We attract out-of-state funds.

We are interested in maximizing the capacity of non-profits. We are working on concepts and ways to support non-profits through efficiencies and partnerships with the state.

We want to establish an interim work group to enhance non-profits to meet challenges, strengthen the community, and raise awareness of non-profits

We ask for $250,000. I am here on behalf of Susan Wilger.

Morales:
Has the request gone to the Rural Community Economic Development Committee? For the tavern license and non-profits, I think it will be a memorial.

Alfero:
The most recent was a bill or memorial and a separate appropriation.

Morales:
It would come out of a legislative council appropriation. Rep. Roybal-Cablleros will carry it.

I have a concern about public money for non-profits. But Charlie and Susan are bringing it forward as efficiencies to benefit the taxpayers.

Alfero:
Meetings are being set up for statewide discussions.

Hamilton:
I remember Charlie when he began Hidalgo Medical Services. Now it’s huge.

Zimmerman:
I’m all for fiscal responsibility.

—————–

Terry Anderson:
Prospectors will meet Monday and we will discuss our priorities and the brochure, and you will get your notebooks back.

Morales:
I ask for direction on whom we should talk to.

Terry Anderson:
We will meet Monday and we will discuss that, too.

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