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.

2017 Annual Forum Transcript

Prospectors Legislative Communication Forum
11/28/2017
WNMU Light Hall

Notes compiled by Mary Alice Murphy

District 38 Rep. Rebecca Dow, District 28 Sen. Howie Morales and District 39 Rep. Rodolpho “Rudy” Martinez heard from various entities and organizations in Grant County and asked questions.

Prospectors President Evangeline Zamora welcomed the legislators and introduced elected officials in the audience.

Each legislator began the session with remarks

Dow:
This is my second forum. This year’s session will be a 30-day session, with the main purpose being the budget. I am a huge advocate for District 38. Hopefully we will have a bit of capital outlay this year.

Morales:
This is the most important meeting of the year. It educates us to be able to help you. This is my 11th legislative forum. I remember how effective Prospectors is at getting money. Even when there isn’t capital outlay, Priscilla (Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director) brought back $750,000 she got from DFA (the Department of Finance and Administration) that they had been holding onto.

This is a 30-day session, but we think there will be a little bit of extra revenue. Nowhere close to 2008, but a bit. We may even be looking at further cuts.

I’ll focus on education. It is helpful to work with Rebecca with her knowledge of education. I want to focus this year on higher education, which got cut again last year. I will advocate for no cuts to higher ed.

I will also be looking at hold harmless. State reserves are still dangerously low. This is an election year, so there will be effort to see local dollars flow into local communities. We should put aside party politics, especially on Colonias.

Thank you to the mayors, managers and elected officials for being just a text away when I need information quickly.

Martinez:
Prospectors always do a great job. This notebook is our Bible where we have the information we need to advocate for you. I sit on the Appropriations Committee, where we formulate the budget before it goes to the Senate.

We’ve seen so many cuts. Education is also one of my priorities. We are seeing the impact on New Mexico. It’s not fair to our children pre-K through higher ed. Higher ed has taken significant cuts. I was getting calls from parents asking me if they should be looking for schools out of state and whether Western would still be accredited.

I also support health care and Medicaid for the ones most in need. I will ensure we bring home capital outlay.

Some representatives represent three square blocks as opposed to 300 square miles.

At this forum, we see the faces of those who advocate for their organizations.

_______________________________________________________________

LOCAL GOVERNMENT PRESENTATIONS

Grant County

County Manager Charlene Webb and Community Development and Planning Director Michael “Mischa” Larisch represented Grant County

Webb:
We have three projects we are advocating for.

The first is the renovation of the Courthouse roof for $275,000. It’s not a full roof replacement. If we address it now, it should buy us 10 to 15 more years.

Our second request is for public safety vehicles. We need three 4X4 trucks for the Sheriff’s department. We will also contribute to the costs.

Our third request is for Detention Center security upgrades. In the first phase, we upgraded the intercom system. Now we want to go to digital from analog cameras. Digital would allow us to back up to the server and the cloud and be more current.

You have been great at supporting our counties. I hope that will continue.

Dow:
Have you looked at tax reform? What if the food tax is brought back? How will that affect you? Where are the gaps at the state level?

Webb:
We have taken advantage of the gross receipts tax to replace hold harmless and have bonded against the receipts. There are 27 different increments of gross receipts tax and some we can’t even use. Some need to be gotten rid of or combined with others.

Morales:
Mischa has been effective with moving projects forward. How is Tu Casa going?

Webb:
It’s moving along well, even a little bit ahead of schedule. HMS is planning to begin using it in the March-April timefranme.

Morales:
Have reimbursements been squared away?

Webb:
HMS has figured out how to fund everything, even exploring expansion of services. Dr. Bowen has done an amazing job.”

Morales:
How about audits?

Webb:
We have no issues.

Morales:
In capital outlay, can even $50,000 be leveraged? Do you have leverage opportunities? What about grants?

Webb:
The Sheriff’s Department uses Stonegarden, usually to buy one vehicle. We are trying to develop a replacement schedule for vehicles. They cover so many miles and in such rough terrain. But we get money saved up, and an emergency arises, something breaks and we have to use the funds.

For the courthouse roof, we have county funds set aside. If we have more we can get better warranties. We chose to phase the Detention Center security. It’s been a struggle. We can’t ignore it for the safety of detainees and staff.

Morales:
I hear across the state that detention centers have problems with funding. We need to have a later conversation.

Webb:
We do have problems and we would love that conversation.

Martinez:
How much do you get for PILT?

Webb:
We get anywhere from $1.1 million to $1.9 million. It goes into the general fund.

The Secure Rural Schools went into bus routes. Last year, we lost $700,000. PILT is for the general fund, not the road fund.

Martinez:
Some of the bus routes are in needs of repairs.

Webb:
We supplement the road fund from the general fund each year. The Local Government Road Fund has dwindled. We are continually Band-aiding roads, but the school bus routes are our priority.

We are working on an asset management plan that should be ready mid-summer.

Martinez:
Did you finish the Courthouse electrical?

Webb:
Yes, the electrical and HMAC are completed. People seem to be appreciating it.

Martinez:
I’m glad you’re working on a vehicle replacement plan. What about Stonegarden and HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas)? Can you use them for vehicles?

Webb:
Yes, we use Stonegarden for one vehicle a year and overtime, and the same with HIDTA funding.

Martinez:
I, too, would like to talk about the Detention Center.

 

Town of Silver City

Town Manager Alex Brown gave the presentation

Brown:
Thank you for the help you give us. We have been focusing on the town sidewalks. We need $125,000 to do Cactus Street.

We have a lot of other projects ongoing. The downtown sidewalks are almost complete, and we have another one across from the hospital that we will start on later this month.

We want to finish Silver Street. The third phase would be from 19th Street to US 180.

The sewer project is almost complete to bring sewer to 186 residences. You helped us keep the funding from being taken away.

We are trying to keep the state from pre-empting local government authority. For example, small cell towers. The state wants control. They could put them on poles that may interfere with our line-of-sight Wi-Fi in town and at the university.

Our biggest concern is hold harmless, 18 percent of our gross receipts taxes. We stand to lose $1.7 million. We are losing $330,000 this year and $440,000 next year. We have done as much as possible to cut the budget. We cut enough so we didn’t have to raise property taxes. This year, we may have to raise either the hold harmless gross receipts tax increments or property tax. We’re below 10,000 population, but the official census shows us over the 10,000. We got hit with the largest percentage loss for hold harmless in the state of New Mexico.

On College Street, we’ve gotten help in partnership with the university.

Dow:
When you talk about hold harmless, what would be the best scenario that you could propose?

Brown:
Eliminate the deductions, lower the tax rate, so everybody pays the same lower rate, so it’s more stable for communities like ours. The municipal League has looked at income tax.

We, as a town, haven’t looked at expanding our boundaries. We have requests to annex Indian Hills, but for the town there would be more expenses for services, but little revenue. Diversifying the income tax base, because the area has a higher income base, would be more beneficial.

Dow:
What about the cell towers? The bill mentions working with local governments. In your local permitting ordinances do you have a way to preserve your line of sight? The cost could be $50 to put a tower on a pole in one city and $1,500 in another. What is the compromise if you give citizens access?

Brown:
We are learning the process. We don’t have permitting ordinances in the town.

Dow:
They are considering mainly the metropolitan areas right now and not the rural communities, but it’s a concern because you want to keep local control.

Morales:
It may be the first time local governments are getting your reimbursements from DFA.

Brown:
The institutional knowledge at DFA is no longer there.

Morales:
You are making it easier with all the advocacy you do on Grant County Day. I ask you to invite Rick Lopez of the DFA to Grant County Day to thank him for doing what he said he would do

You will hear in the State of the State speech this year, something like this: that we have weathered the storm and not raised taxes.

But it’s been forced down to local governments. We must take our responsibility for following through on not pushing it down to local governments. I’m apprehensive about the food tax. Nobody wants to push the food tax, especially in an election year, but it wouldn’t be fair to push it down to the local governments.

And what about the cell towers? Are they a state issue or a federal issue?

Cynthia Bettison, Silver City town councilor:
It’s state but also they are doing some legislation from the federal level that could pre-empt everything.

Morales:
Will they bypass local governments?

Bettison:
Yes, they will try to bypass us. They can put new poles where they want. The device they want to put in is the size of a small office refrigerator. The towers can be at a maximum of 20 10-foot high antennas on top of poles. Our Community Development Department has 20 days to review the bill. It is also occurring in other small places like Socorro. Their council members were told it’s coming and you can’t do anything about it.

Morales:
The cost when in Bayard a tower went on private land after Verizon, I think it was, Bayard lost revenue.

It’s a concern to bypass local governments

What about the sidewalk funding?

Brown:
The money will be spent within a couple of months. The Colonias funding for College will be done. The university is paying for the lights and landscaping. We are leveraging $900,000. It goes out to bid next month.

For the water lines on New Mexico 15, we are waiting for the state to start the project, but the Colonias money we put in won’t be reimbursed until the state finishes its part.

Morales:
The spreadsheets at the DFA and the LFC don’t match.

Priscilla, please keep it on the radar.

Lucero:
The $900,000 will close this December. We’re at the point of being updated on everything expended.

Morales:
You’ve done what you can do. Thanks for the update.

What about the regional water project?

Brown:
We’re working with the ISC on the agreement for the $2.1 million. The USDA requires their funding be the last spent. The ISC wants to be the last spent. But the total $9.5 million is going to happen. The project won a national award, with 12 different funding sources.

Lucero:
We will fund it under the Hurley tab. This $9.5 million is in addition to the more than $19 million spent by the entities on other related projects.

Morales:
How much would it be to complete the project?

Lucero:
About $11 million to $12 million including Phase IB, which is for the secondary well and the solar for the pumps.

Brown:
Phase II is from Hurley to Bayard and Phase III to Santa Clara, which is already connected to Arenas Valley.

Morales:
Where are you trying to find the rest of the dollars? I’ve seen Alex belittled at the ISC. I’m glad Hurley will see the benefit.

Martinez:
Thank you, Alex, for working with other entities.

You are going over 10,000 population by 200 or even 100 has been enough to disqualify you for a lot of funding.

There is a piece of legislation that would help Silver City, Espanola and four other communities to get the benchmark fixed. It may be an arbitrary number. Small communities deserve to be eligible for programs that they have been denied by a small margin.

How will the cell towers affect the franchise fees?

Brown:
They don’t affect franchise fees, just permit fees.

Martinez:
I read something about the Detention Center wanting a water reservoir? I saw it on social media or in the paper.

Brown:
Originally, during construction, they wanted a water tank for the sprinkler system. We requested they increase in water main sizes for fire flow capacity, so, working with them, we increased the capacity throughout the whole area. It’s important we work hard together to get the most out of any of our projects for municipalities, the hospital, the university.

You can see the result in the regional water project and College Ave.

 

City of Bayard

Bayard Clerk/Treasurer Kristina Ortiz presented

Ortiz:
I will talk about our top four projects in the ICIP, depending on the availability of funding. No. 1 is Maple Street and M Street for street improvements and drainage. We are using Local Government Road Fund money for planning. We are using two years of LGRF for design and engineering for when we apply for CDBG.

No. 2 is an upgrade to the water distribution system. We need $150,000 to redevelop well No. 3. It was taken off the system in the late 1980s or early 90s. To have it online again would help our distribution system.

No. 3 is for recreation to provide us with a concession stand at Little League games. We have $43,000 encumbered for the irrigation. We are starting it this week.

No. 4 is for the regional wastewater plant. We estimate $1 million for the total, but we are looking at the possibility of reducing it to $500,000.

We need a screw press for dewatering and a shelter to protect it. The large rainfalls we had flooded our plant and we couldn’t dry out the sludge. Any help would be beneficial for everyone connected to the plant. If we have to secure a loan, it will bring additional rate increases.

Martinez:
I’m always glad to see streets be a priority. Those two are due. The redevelopment of well No. 3 is important, too. Are you keeping up with water demand? And are you still on contract with Hanover?

Orriz:
We have no water shortage. And Hanover is still using 200,000 gallons a month on an emergency basis.

Martinez:
Recreation is important for youth. The fields are also being used by surrounding communities. Have you thought about financing with others?

Ortiz:
It’s been touchy. The county helped with the turf, but Bayard takes the brunt. One year, we got some funding from one community. The fields get lots of use. Bayard works with Cobre Schools. Their maintenance cuts the grass and does other maintenance.

Martinez:
The use of effluent—is the next phase Morales Field and then T-ball?

Ortiz:
We were expanding effluent use to the schools, especially the High School and Snell. The major concern is a secure new water system or the nitrates don’t meet sampling requirements.

The extra water from the rain going into the drying beds took us back to zero when trying to get the sludge out.

Martinez:
There is a minimum of 14 cross-contaminations from inlets.

Ortiz:
It is not metered from town to town.

Martinez:
It would be expensive. It would be a total new project.

Morales:
You have $7,000 remaining. What will you use it for?

Ortiz:
The bleachers and drainage issues from the top parking lot where water runs down the steps into the field. We are getting started with the concession stands. We also need storage.

Morales:
A concession stand and bathrooms?

Ortiz:
Yes, we will get rid of the old building.

Morales:
What about audits?

Ortiz:
We have pretty clean audits.

Morales:
Cobre is passing a bond issue to go to turf.

Ortiz:
Some will not be turf. If we don’t get a dewatering system, we won’t be watering anything.

Eight cemetery plots are secured and two have been filled.

Morales:
With the grass, the fields are looking good. What about Small Communities Funding?

Ortiz:
We haven’t been notified yet. We usually find out in about April.

Morales:
Let’s see if there are any projections this year on Grant County Day.

Ortiz:
We are under 10,000, so we get to keep hold harmless. We don’t see benefits to a food tax. I’m not sure how much is taxable.

If we can only get a small amount of funding. Even $50,000 can be put to the well. The improvement reduces the loan need.

 

Town of Hurley:

Mayor Fernando Martinez and Councilor Freddie Rodriguez presented:

Fernando Martinez:
For our first request, we need a backhoe. The one we have is 27 years old. It is used a lot, digging graves and fixing roads.

It would be more cost-effective to purchase new. It is used extensively. The case loader breaks down.

Next, we could use capital outlay for the cemetery. We completed the fencing and are getting a design on a structure and concrete pad.

The Regional Water Project is coming along. Kevin Cook made me aware of an extension and for Freeport to be our backup until we get the secondary well.

Morales:
Congratulations on the water project. You have only one quote on the backhoe.

Fernando Martinez:
It was a quote under the state price agreement. That’s the reason for only one quote.

Morales:
You received $100,000 for the cemetery. How much is left?

Lucero:
About 50 percent has been expended.

Morales:
It’s an older project. I don’t want to see the money swept away.

Fernando Martinez:
We are getting an estimate on the shelter.

Morales:
How has the heating for the pool gone?

Fernando Martinez:
We ran out of money before completing it. The kids thought it was perfect. The seniors wanted warmer water.

Morales:
I see more opportunities for Hurley to have economic development. We need to visit to come up with ideas. I think the Regional Water Project is a game changer.

Fernando Martinez:
The water project for us should be completed by the end of next December.

Morales to Lucero:
How is the town doing?

Lucero:
There is no problem of them taking care of themselves. Everything is much improved.

Morales:
I see the audits are done on time with minimal findings.

Fernando Martinez:
That you for your support on the railroad crossing.

Rudy Martinez:
Congratulations on the national away for the water project. It’s a game changer. You will have your own water system. Will there be additional user fees for residents?

Lucero:
We are looking at percentages of the USDA funding. We are looking at it from the rest of the phases.

USDA’s Kathy Pfeiffer came to a meeting of the Grant County Water Commission. She said that even if Silver City exceeds 10,000 population, it can apply for areas outside the city limits.

She also suggested that instead of piecemeal, her proposal would be to give the full amount of her allocation to this project.

Whether we do it as the Water Commission with a JPA to maintain and determine rates. The rates would be determined in bulk to all entities. She said the process to get funding would be most cost-effective, if it’s done all at one time.

At the December meeting, the water commissioners will decide whether to pursue it.

If they apply by June, it would allow them to get a USDA grant and loan monies. It will come back to the Water Commissions to decide how feasible it is. It would be based on bulk water rates.

Martinez:
How many water districts would it impact?

Lucero:
There are nine municipal and mutual domestic water districts.

Martinez:
Providing water without huge rate increases sound good. I would like to receive updates.

And I thank Hurley for the cemetery improvements.
Village of Santa Clara

Mayor Richard Bauch and Clerk Sheila Hudman presented:

Bauch:
Thank you for having us. We appreciate what our legislators do for us.

Hudman:
Our first request is for $100,000 for new maintenance vehicles. The newest is 15 years old. We purchased it from a contractor. One vehicle has 600,000 miles on it. Two were stolen and stripped. We bought them back from the insurance company.

Our second request is for the cemetery. We resurveyed and found additional acreage We thought all we had was the six acres that are fenced. We actually have 13 acres, and some people are buried outside the fence. We need fencing for the extra acreage.

Third, the village would like to purchase the first county courthouse, which is one of the buildings in town. The property owner passed away and is waiting for the village to buy it. It’s Grant County history.

The village could reduce the requests, for example, from four down to two maintenance vehicles, which would be $50,000. And we would need $66,000 for the courthouse.

Dow:
I commend you for your efforts on Fort Bayard. You have a Youth Conservation Corps grant. What is proposed for them?

Hudman:
We’ve had YCC funding the past two years. This year, we did not get state permission to use them at Fort Bayard. We accepted the YCC grant for 21 kids for six months to build up the Mercado and board up more of Fort Bayard, but the state keeps putting up barriers.

We have an alternative project, with $5,000 matching to go to Fort Bayard. We have asked Secretary Burckle where we stand. The village should not have to purchase materials to fix Fort Bayard.

We are the only program to secure a license agreement for Theater tours. In the three years, we’ve been allowed at Fort Bayard, we only can mow.

Morales:
We will move legislation again. The setback was going into the interim, the funding was vetoed. It may not be germane to the budget session.

Vehicles are your No. 1 priority, but you’re looking at the cemetery for years.

Hudman:
Vehicles always get put to the back burner. We had saved up for one, but then a lift station went down.

Morales:
We’ll look a funding. The Splash Park has brought in a lot of people. I hope it will bring in people and shops.

Keep communicating. You try to fight uphill. Utilize us to help knock down your barriers.

Martinez:
I commend you for your effort. Your residents are forming a group to bring musicians and movies, which have brought the community together.

I understand your need for vehicles. It’s a safety issue and they would bring pride to the maintenance department.

Some of your streets are not paved or in needs of resurfacing. Do you have future plans to pave them?

Hudman:
We put in a request for 13,000 square yards of millings to complete our dirt roads, and then chip seal them. We did the north-south roads with fog seal, and next we will do the east-west roads with Local Government Road Funds.

Martinez:
Has the main street been turned over to the village?

Hudman:
Yes.

Martinez:
Back to wells. You have the computerized system?

Hudman:
We have SCADA and are finishing up the outlay with solar panels.

Martinez:
How many well fields do you have?

Bauch:
We have two main wells and the infiltration system. We had four wells, but closed two, because the water was so hard it was difficult to utilize.

We have an emergency line from Arenas Valley.

Martinez:
We all work together, so let us know what you need.

 

Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments

Executive Director Priscilla Lucero and Economic Development Planner Emily Schilling presented.

Lucero:
We won a national award, which has all been expended saving 770 kWh. We put LED lighting into one facility for each local government. It saves enough, according to PNM, to provide energy to 112 homes for a year.

The match of $62,500 more than doubled the amount allocated from the federal award.

We encourage the EDA to fund these projects.

In Colonias Investment Funds, Grant County has received 32 awards totaling $14.5 million, which doesn’t include the leveraging of funds.

We have current active lists of Colonias funding. We are headed toward closing them.

We support Imagination Library, which is in its third year of a four-year funding contract to expand throughout the state. Eddy County has already met its projected numbers.

We are working on workforce development.

Thank you for your continued support. I ask for continued funding for the COGs.

Morales:
You guys are amazing. We have the best COG in the state. What is your overall allocation?

Lucero:
Approximately $86,000 a year. We were at $125,000. It’s been a while since we’ve seen an increase.

Morales:
Not all COGs are equal, but I’ll try to get more if I can. How many entities are you fiscal agent for?

Lucero:
25. We are also securing funding for Colonias and CDBG projects.

Martinez:
Thank you for what you do. I appreciate what you and your staff are doing to impact our quality of life.

Dow:
It is amazing what you do. Can more be done if you had more staff?

Lucero:
We can always do more. We became a 501c3 and have been able to bring in more money from private foundations.

It gets to the point where more auditing fees are needed. Our institutional knowledge has been helpful. Online services are helpful.

In the CDBG recent meetings, local governments are being rated to see if they are deserving of funding. Our intent is to help, not penalize.

Those are probably questions we’ll be asking the state. We continue to get more state requirements.

Dow:
Small communities would suffer from more requirements.

Lucero:
The details we put in reports are not enough.

CDBG did not fund one single facility this year, only roads and water and wastewater projects.

We had deserving projects with matching funds and other funding.

Dow:
How are you using the 501c3?

Lucero:
For Lordsburg, we applied to Union Pacific for road improvements.

 

EDUCATION PRESENTATIONS

Western New Mexico University

President Joseph Shepard presented

Shepard:
Thank you for your support.

We have a strong delegation, with Rep. Dow on education and finance with Sen. Morales and Rep. Martinez.

I appreciate your saying no more cuts to higher education. We can’t get to prosperity through cuts. We need economic development.

We requested $5 million for infrastructure items, such as roofs.

The biggest thing is how to collaborate more. On College Parkway, the town is putting in $900,000 and we’re putting in $900,000. Curb appeal is important. That’s how we attract students and donors.

The board gave me 3½ more years. I want to see more collaboration.

In our $3.6 million request, we recommend the continuation of Harlan Hall renovations and creating more social places.

The biggest need is compensation. No one has had a raise for years on the faculty and staff, particularly on benefits.

The operating budget is one-time money. We want to focus on Deming and the Truth or Consequences learning centers.

Dow:
When we appropriate, it’s up to the grantee to determine how to spend it. Can you provide salaries?

Shepard:
With the 14 percent cuts, we cannot do raises. Eighty percent of our budget is payroll. We got caught with an increase in premiums. We are healthy in reserves, with $5 million to $7 million for a rainy day. But that’s one-time money. It’s the recurring side that’s hard. We want to be competitive nationally, which requires more marketing. The state of New Mexico needs to look at employees getting more in compensation

Dow:
Thirty-six percent of the lottery gets to students. That seems like a lot of administrative funds.

Shepard:
We get 60 percent of lottery funding per student. They do have administrative costs, but I don’t know what they are.

Morales:
The way you host interim committees is great. They see the beautiful campus. For the GO (general obligation) bonds, we recommend $2.5 million for Western.

Shepard:
It was $3.6 million if I recall the rationale. We get a lesser amount of money. Eastern fared well, so we ask for more. It’s in line with the available amount of money. The science building leaves us a little short.

Once we get into Harlan Hall, it becomes counterproductive to do it in small pieces, especially if the roof is the probable priority.

The LFC maybe gets it. If we get up to $4 million, it helps. It’s one-time money, if we go beyond the GO to severance.

Morales:
What about your liberal arts campus status?

Shepard:
Nearly every state has one. Arizona has none. Colorado has Fort Lewis.

Morales:
What does it allow?

Shepard:
It gives the students a sense of purpose. They will be able to think critically beyond their content degree.

To work at Amazon or Facebook, you don’t necessarily need a degree.

My daughter was hired by a company that makes lasers. They look at how people think.

The GO bond is important, and holding us constant on operating funds and employment compensation.

If any student is in a community college, if something happens, we will help them transition. We have an articulation agreement. There but for the grace of God goes Western. Luna Community College and Highlands are on probation. Western will stand ready to help to focus on the student. Send them over. I’ll pay their transportation.

Martinez:
The normal schools, dedicated to education, have evolved to full universities.

It’s unfortunate not to continue the operations of the other campuses. But I understand part of the Truth or Consequences campus is still running.

Shepard:
We can thank Rep. Dow for that. The learning center still has a computer center.

Martinez:
The CNA program for veterans went from the Department of Health to Veterans Services. We continue to provide for veterans.

That shows there may be times when we have additional needs in Deming or Lordsburg.

What are the percentages of students doing studies online?

We need to continue to provide for students.

Shepard:
We haven’t done a good job for veterans with PTSD and it’s tough on families when they are deployed. They have trouble fitting back in when they return. We need to develop, as higher education, to provide the services direly needed.

Martinez:
When I was a student at Western, about six of us Vietnam veterans met at the old Cooler, which doesn’t exist anymore. Veterans typically don’t share with non-veterans.

Shepard:
We could use buildings for basketball and volleyball where Eckles is now. We need to look for a veterans’ center. There is a camaraderie among veterans.

Martinez:
Such a center would be huge for veterans.

Morales:
We are facing a crisis because we aren’t competitive in pay.

Shepard:
For Western, we would need about $400,000. The only avenue is through RSBS for Nursing. We would not want to do raises for just one group. When competing for the best faculty, they go where the salaries are.

Morales:
The best course would be for all the university presidents to seek it together.

Shepard:
Los Alamos and Sandia pay the best, so the best and brightest are not in the classroom.

 

Western New Mexico University student government

Ross White, Tim Stillman and Jason Collett presented

White:
We are requesting the same thing as last year—a virtualized application we need for the computer system. Forty-eight percent of our students are online. Our goal is to get more students. But students can’t get access to our computer system, if they are not on campus. Technology is advancing, so the best way to do it is through this system.

It would cost about $255,000. For the breakdown, ask Jason.

Morales:
We looked at this last year. Are there any other strategies you are going to use this year?

White:
We were happy we what we did last year, but we at still looking for funding.

Collett:
There has been quite a bit of discussion among CIOs about how the state provides funding. It comes down to the haves or the have nots.

STEM is only available at campus labs. If you don’t have a powerful enough computer this virtualized system is the best leg up.

Morales:
Two years ago, you got $500,000 for safety poles, but they were never installed. Can that money be used for this technology.

Shepard:
It’s designated for that specific project, but the safety issues have moved to cell phones.

New Mexico is the fifth largest state, but with low population and low density. If you go down I-25, you have technology. For us to get the same technology, it costs us three or four times more. If you don’t have a laptop, this software would be in the cloud.

Stillman:
This last summer, I was working with the Police Department. We put in new security systems and call boxes to spend that money. We only have about $15,000 left. It should be encumbered by the end of December.

Dow:
If the software was installed, would it reach everyone?

Collett:
Yes. It’s doesn’t matter if you’re in Tokyo on an Apple or in Peru on a Dell, even on an iPad, you could have it streamed.

Dow:
What percentage of schools have this model?

Collett:
CNM has the best model for growth. All campuses can reach the students for online learning.

Shepard:
One out of two of our students is online. This will resolve the inability to access the software they need.

Dow:
What are other options for funding?

How is it as a student initiative? Is it worth it to make the investment to see the return?

Collett:
What do departments need? They have the inability to get out to the student. We could put 15 concurrent licenses online. There is a great wealth of potential. At-risk students can access it. It would help retention.

Shepard:
I teach developmental math. I know students that came to campus and sat in their cars to get access to the software they needed.

Dow:
I know CNM has grown its opportunity to use student financing.

Shepard:
Our students come to the us in administration and work through issues. We work very well together.

Stillman:
We have also talked to IT and if we get the money, the students will pick up the recurring costs.

Collett:
They are about $50,000 to $70,000 annually.

Stillman:
We could increase the student IT fees by a few cents.

Shepard:
We’d find a way to solve the ongoing costs. It’s not what we’re asking for. We will work together to solve the issues.

Stillman:
Our student fees are $82.50 per credit hour.

Martinez:
Accessibility to being able to get online is limited to campus?

Shepard:
We lack authentication of the student except on our campus system.

Martinez:
I have seen the technology in other countries. Their education system is progressive with the tools they are given.

 

WNMU Early Childhood Education

Executive Director Shannon Rivera, Charlene Gomez and Cindy Manos, as well as Shepard were present to speak.

Rivera:
We are asking for $275,000 in continued funding. Our goal is to have an accredited lab site to study children.

The funding supports our operations and staff. We support students, so they know their child is well taken care of.

Over the past 10 years, our funding has been cut significantly.

The funding supports the retention of students working on degrees. It supports highly qualified educators to provide high quality care and education to our children.

One component that is unique to our center is the Family Counseling Center. It supports the parents; it supports play therapy and addresses the emotional well-being of the children and families.

Our program offers certificates, associate’s degrees and bachelor degrees in early childhood education. Our certificates are accredited nationally. We are the first to receive accreditation for our certificates’ program.

Dow:
Thank you for what you do. Childcare is critical not only for the work force, but also for parents, so they can go to work or school. You’ll always have an advocate in me, knowing it has a two-generation impact for parents and children. Do you have students in your online courses from outside the region?

Rivera:
We have students from all over New Mexico, from Arizona, Colorado and China and also from El Paso, Texas.

We have students and staff participating in the TEACH scholarship.

We are advocating for the TEACH and ??? to stay in the NAEYC , so we can help them stay focused..

Dow:
Do you support dual enrollment?

Rivera:
We have a large number of students that come from Deming High School to complete their four core classes. We also are communicating with Silver and Cobre schools the get the classes set up for the dual enrollment.

Dow:
How are you managing to make the dual enrollment viable? Do you have in kind instructors?

Shepard:
We’ve struggled. The Higher Ed Commission has made things more stringent, so that teachers who were qualified no longer are and can’t teach the courses. We are in the process of clarifying it.

It involves rural communities. They need 18 graduate hours of early childhood education, even if they are teaching at the high school level. It has created a dilemma for us.

It’s difficult to determine how to market to those who want to teach the ones from 0-3.

Rivera:
There isn’t a need for a requirement to license for 0-3. Of more concern to me is the overlap of pre-K through third grade. It needs to be addressed.

Dow:
It’s been difficult to advocate for pre-natal to age 3.

Rivera:
Around the state, we are trying to find teachers, but they can’t work without a license, even if they are working toward one.

Dow:
We are grateful for Western’s early childhood programs.

Morales:
You prepare kids well. The pendulum is swinging. Early childhood is only 1 percent to 2 percent funded. Elementary is at 40 percent and higher ed at 14 percent. Hang on to your programs. The funding will come.

Rivera:
This year, we received $195,000. We continue to do more with less. We asked for $275,000. It is a fragmented process to get grants. We are a product of the way things are set up in the state. We have to think of a way to streamline funding.

Morales:
Do the dollars go to CYFD, to higher ed? What is the process.

Shepard:
It’s the RBPS (?). If there were grant opportunities we would fare well, because we have the best program in the state.

Rivera:
Pre-K is paid $30,000, with the same license. Without state appropriations and the university, we wouldn’t be able to do the support services.

Morales:
Are you using shared services?

Rivera:
We’re working with one. We have a substitute pool where we can share services and costs.

Morales:
Maybe we will bring this year an Early Education Department to keep it from being fragmented.

We need to streamline the funding, so early childhood is not an afterthought.

Martinez:
What you’re doing is phenomenal, providing education to young children. It needs to be recognized across the state. You are taking care of the most vulnerable from birth to when they are in the public schools. It’s one major step toward being successful in life.

Rivera:
We work by faith, but we don’t always see the results of the work we do. We believe we are building the future, “together we can.”

 

Silver Consolidated Schools

Superintendent Audie Brown and IT Director Ben Potts presented.

Brown:

I am the superintendent of Silver Schools. Ben is the IT director.

Potts:
I want to talk about the norther fiber ring and the data center. We have the existing Silver Consolidated School District fiber ring. The star on the map is the data center. It supplies internet to 56 percent of the students and to 60 percent of the staff. It’s 20 years old.

It has single points of failure. If one site goes down it could take down phones and the internet.

There is no one local to fix fiber. It took us a month to get a repair if a pole goes down. This one would take down the high school, the middle school, the Opportunity school and the Growing Center. It’s a wheel of fortune.

If we make a ring, if one pole is hit or a fire in a facility, it would reroute all the data seamlessly. Only one is E-rate eligible. The administration building was built in the 1960s to 1970s. It was never designed to hold a data system. We would like to move the data center.

As for costs, we are working with Silver City and the county to aggregate services. We are asking for $150,000.

Morales:
You received $100,000 in capital outlay. Is there any existing in place that would hinder getting more?

Potts:
I don’t think so.

Morales:
Can you find any other funding?

Potts:
It can be phased. We have set aside $10,000 out of the bond issue, and we have always set aside $20,000 to keep for repairs, so $50,000 would come from the district and we will ask for the E-rate.

We can’t fully fund with other funding.

We want the correct type of fiber to last at least 25 years. Last year, we paid $144,000 for the southern ring.

Morales:
How is student enrollment?

Brown:
Last year, we had 2,730. This year, we have 2,580. That costs us about $1 million.

Morales:
This is a capital request. Do you have a capital outlay request form?

Potts:
We have it with Priscilla.

Martinez:
You have costs of $60,000 for aerial and $210,000 for buried fiber.

Potts:
In most cases, it is better to have it buried. Aerial would work on district-owned property, where it is not as vulnerable. We own from Stout to the admin building all the way to OHS, the high school and La Plata, so it would be less vulnerable.

Martinez:
Can some be buried and some aerial?

Potts:
If we have it buried, it will have conduit, and we pass multiple state and local agencies and we can work together on it. If we had conduit, we could let them use it.

Dow:
What partnership are involved with E-rate and can they contribute to this project?

Potts:
Only public schools and libraries can use E-rate, but not in this state, early childhood. E-rate can pay for six-strand fiber, but we can pay for 24-strand fiber at a minimal difference in cost.

Lucero:
I’m not familiar with the schools capital outlay process. Or it could be on master plan.

Morales:
If it isn’t there, put it on.

Potts:
Our facilities master plan is being redone. I would have to talk to Barry Ward to see where we are in the process.

Morales:
Make sure it’s on one or the other so it can’t be weeded out.

I would like to commend you on how impressed I was with the history project your Mr. Thompson and Mr. Wilson did with the students. They presented in Santa Fe, and they really shined at the Committee. I traveled with them to D.C. last summer. I want to tell you how impressive they were.

Brown:
We have many, many more positives than negatives happening in the district, which are, for some reason, being highlighted in the media.

 

Cobre Schools

Associate Superintendent José Carrillo, Superintendent Robert Mendoza and Deputy Superintendent George Peru presented.

Mendoza:
Thank you for your continuing support. We have finished the security and upgrades at San Lorenzo, Hurley and Central Elementary.

The activity bus you approved is on order and should be received in February.

Cobre was hit with a clawback of $160,000. I want to compliment our staff, who managed to be frugal.

We are coming to this committee with a request for an additional $80,000 to replace some of our aging fleet.

We can finance with that much two nine-passenger vehicles at $30,000 each and one sedan.

Peru:
Our newest vehicle is a 2008 with 130,000 miles on it. We are spending a lot keeping them on the road.

Morales:
I want to keep every dollar we appropriate. It was a system problem than caused the clawback. What are the vehicles for?

Peru:
They are for the students and staff. The sedan is also for staff and students.

Morales:
How is your enrollment?

Mendoza:
We are down 30 students which costs us a quarter of a million dollars.

We were cut $400,000 to $425,000. We were able to keep all staff, but had to back up to 13 units. Everybody pitched in to keep services.

Peru:
The high school was built in 1953.

Morales:
We need to see where we are in the priority list to replace the building.

You have done tremendous work at Central and Bayard.

Peru:
We had a recommendation to do the roof and it knocked us off the rankings. Our basketball floor is from 1953, and last time we had it fixed, we were told they wouldn’t be able to do it again. We need to get on the list to get a new high school.

We’re looking at one of the last of our payments for the elementary schools.

Mendoza:
We got the bond issue, but our main concern was the high school, because of the drop in enrollment. It was built for 1,200 students, we now have about 350 students.

With the bond issue, the gym floor will be taken care of, as well as the football and baseball field and the ancillary gym for volleyball and basketball. At San Lorenzo, they need a new water well. Central will get a much-needed gym.

Morales:
I sit on the committee that can help you.

Lucero:
For the water well, I have a recommendation. Now that Casas Adobes is a mutual domestic water district, if you put in the preliminary engineering report, maybe they can help.

Peru:
There is not enough water on that side of Casas Adobes. We had visited them to see if we could collaborate.

Carrillo:
We have advocates for our three-year and four-year ages for our early childhood program.

Dow:
You switched this year to four-days of classes. Did you have transfers out of the schools?

Mendoza:
We actually had two teachers come to Cobre from Silver.

Carrillo:
We also got some from Deming.

Dow:
Why four days? What are the benefits?

Mendoza:
I was against it, but we went out into the community. They wanted it. 90 percent approved of it.

Peru:
It’s a cost savings, too. The biggest issue before was absences. This wasn’t a sudden decision. It had been in process for three or three-and-a-half years. We had buy-in from the community.

Dow:
How are you meeting IDEA and Pre-K?

Peru:
We have one day a month for in-service. We increased the time, so we have a longer day. Some students are being seen instead of 30 minutes, they get 45 minutes.

Carrillo:
For Pre-K, the requirement is 1,036 hours. We are about four to five days above the requirement. It’s a cost savings. For teachers and staff, it is positive.

The savings for September and October were about $40,000 to $50,000. We also have a savings in substitutes. We are hoping it will help the kids having the teachers in the class room, instead of substitutes.

We are reviewing it on an annual basis.

Dow:
Did cooks, bus drivers or any other staff see salary losses?

Mendoza:
The cooks have to supply snacks for kids to take home for Friday and the weekends. They saw very little loss.

Martinez:
Did you see teachers move on?

Mendoza:
Those eligible for retirement actually stayed. Mostly those who left were due to spousal relocation. One Friday a month, they work a half day, and yes, they are paid. Teachers work hard. My wife retired several years ago. Sometimes she worked 60-70 hours a week.

Martinez:
I truly appreciate teachers. By going to four days, there are students living below the poverty line. Do you provide food for them for Friday?

Mendoza:
We, on Thursday, send a sack of snacks and cheese and such for the weekend.

Martinez:
That was a concern of mine. We appreciate your doing that. The High School used to be the pride and joy of Grant County. I appreciate your keeping it up.

 

HEATHCARE PRESENTATIONS

Gila Regional Medical Center

CEO Taffy Arias, Interim CFO JoBeth Vance and PACS (picture archiving and communications system) Director Robert Holguin presented.

Arias:
Sen. Morales, I thank you for highlighting what’s going on in our state and community. I’m grateful for your input and what you are doing.

Thank you for helping the Compact Act go through to keep our nurses working.

People like you have a true appreciation for heathcare and you have demonstrated that over and over.

I would like to introduce our Interim CFO JoBeth Vance and Robert Holguin, our PACS director.

We have three projects we are asking for capital outlay for.

I will let Robert present the first one.

Holguin:
I would like for you to think about this local hospital and how it impacts our community.

I will give you a quick review of what I do and what we need. I work with the PACS system, which is a picture archiving and communications system.

We send all our images, such as MRIs, CAT scans, nuclear medicine, X-rays into our system. We can replicate images and share them with other physicians, such as radiologists to read the images for continuing care of our patients.

Too often, we would lose images, when patients took them home, or something else. With the advances of technology, the digital systems made it easier to save things. That was the first step. I will talk about where we want to go with our system. Now, with advances, technology has grown so past, we can put in images from other parts of the hospital, such as endoscopy, knee arthroscopy. With a CAT scan added, we can get a truer picture.

Even beyond this system, which was bought eight years ago, we could do more. Systems start to age. It became apparent how sensitive and old our system was getting. It is no longer serviced by the manufacturer. We are at the end of the life of this system and starting to have issues. We lost a drive and it took out the system for a month. We were able to minimize losses. We have been aggressively looking at growing up our system and keeping GRMC a viable part of the community. Particularly the imaging system. We do a great job getting patients started in their treatment and keeping them here.

But we can also transmit those images to other locations, where they can get higher class care, which we can’t provide here.

It’s an outreach to the community to realize they have a great healthcare system here and we are working constantly to keep them here by staying on the cutting edge of technology and installing the things that help us continue to grow and support the community.

Thank you for listening.

Dow:
On an unrelated issue, can you give us an update on the Cancer Center?

Arias:
We have started seeing patients again. We’ve been working with UNM, who is bringing in a provider every Friday. Because these patients are new to this provider, the oncologist spends about 45 minutes with each one. The oncologist is seeing seven to nine patients every Friday. We have a combination of patients who were already part of the Cancer Center and new ones. We are also working with private physicians to make sure the patients’ ports are cleared and other things that don’t need to see the oncologist. We had a backlog of patients. We are trying to get them back from Las Cruces and Albuquerque. We are booked solid until Jan. 19, 2018. In January, UNM will put an additional provider on every week to get us caught up, until a full-time oncologist is hired to live here and be part of the community.

To continue our report, the hospital had a financial loss from 90 days of no Cancer Center services. The bills did not go out until the end of November.

Because of JoBeth Vance and her team’s efforts that we are realizing in accounting and billing, we went from a $1.5 million loss per month to in October to a half million dollar loss. That recuperation had nothing to do with the Cancer Center, but with cleaning up processes in our accounting systems. With the Cancer Center coming back and we expect it to be in full force in January or at least by February with the radiation portion, we will be strong financially.

Dow:
I’ve heard you had to do emergency contracts for the transition. Have other contracts been done that way?

Arias:
We didn’t do the transition contract on an emergency basis, and I know of nothing that has been done in that way.

For our next request, we are asking for anesthesia machines. They are out of life. We are asking for $116,000 for two, with four more needing replaced over the next two years. They are essential.

Vance:
Also, we need the Cancer Center software. Mosaic takes in the electronic medical records., the ray station is where the X-rays go to the server. We need another server. That is $832,000 for the Cancer Center. We are in the process of purchasing it to install early next year. It has to be done.

Morales:
On the linear accelerator. What is the process for that, if they are already purchasing it?

Lucero:
If they purchase it and then come back with a capital outlay request, that cannot be reimbursed, unless there is an emergency clause in the capital outlay bill. And for capital outlay, we don’t usually see it until August or September.

Morales:
For the PACS software, are there leasing opportunities?

Holguin:
We won’t own it. We will lease it from a managed services company. When it comes to updating, the company will do the updating process. The only things we have to provide are the servers and storage. We are making changes to how we are storing the information. We will have multiple backups. The request is for the hardware.

Vance:
It is the rental, and the hardware for storage. Going forward we will have an annual cost for maintenance.

Morales:
The request can be amended to reflect that.

You had losses. It says you lost $27 million. Do you know where they came from?

[Confusion between Arias and Vance.]

Lucero:
It was in the topic questions you answered for this forum. [She showed them the form]

Arias:
The figure in the request is incorrect. I don’t know where it came from.

We can trace most of our monthly losses back to ancillary services to the Cancer Center, such as the pharmacy and the lab.

Morales:
It’s a good thing to know that it is incorrect.

On the Compact, I’m glad you got on it so quickly. We want to assure the nurses that it has to be passed in the Legislature during the first two days. I ask Peggy (White, CNO) to be available for questions during that time. It is our priority to pass it immediately.

This will be the first bill passed and signed.

Arias:
I think it’s 17 nurses who are impacted. We have offered to pay for them to get New Mexico licenses, but many people don’t want to do that, and those who do are dealing with delays.

Martinez:
Gila Regional is important to the community. I have concerns. Was the linear accelerator software change as result of the change in provider?

Arias:
The previous provider had their own software and housed all the patient medical records information in a system that only they controlled. We needed our own system, so we could share our own records with the patients and physicians. With Mosaic, Gila Regional would own the information even if we changed providers.

There was a time frame for the previous provider to turn over the records to us. Their system didn’t talk to our system. They had to be transposed into what our system could read.

Martinez:
On the imaging software, didn’t you purchase for the imaging department?

Holguin:
Last year, we got the software for the portable X-Ray machines, but that’s a different software. This request is for a storage system.

Martinez:
Now you need new anesthesia machines? Can you explain to me what an anesthesia machine is?

Arias:
These are the machines that provide the oxygen and the medications that the anesthesiologist needs to put the patient to sleep for surgery and to wake them up. They are operated by the anesthesiologist.

Martinez:
I have some other questions. One is about veterans’ services. Can you give me an update on a contract with the V.A.?

Arias:
Our veterans are extremely important to us.

Vance:
We are switching from United to Tri-West. We are also talking to two other branches of the V.A., so veterans continue to have coverage and we can provide services.

Martinez:
I appreciate that. For a 94-year old WW II veteran to have to hop on a van at 1 a.m. to go to Albuquerque and get back home at midnight is sad.

One time there was a plan to expand the labor and delivery, because rooms don’t have any windows, and you have a lack of recovery rooms. Any update?

Arias:
We have several phases. We want to convert many of the rooms in one pod to private rooms. In high traffic times, we could convert them back. We want to give each individual as much privacy as possible, as well as less potential for spreading infections. It has less cost.

It’s what we are trying to do right now, but it doesn’t have an ROI that we can put on it.

Also, we want a section for orthopedic patients that is more conducive to therapy.

The renovation of Pod 1 is our labor and delivery department update.

The next phase will increase the number of recovery rooms.

We hired a new surgeon. He is able to do a certain level of trauma, so not so many people will need to travel. Although we would like to do that tomorrow, we have to balance revenue and expenses.

What is the future of Gila Regional? We want to expand, we want to grow, but it takes time and winning over our physicians to see a community that wants us to grow.

The expansions are on hold until we have a better bottom line.

Martinez:
Is the new surgeon working in the hospital? How far in advance are providers credentialed?

Arias:
The credentialing is for the hospital. No one can work in the hospital before credentialing, but he can work in the clinic. Also, the credentialing allows for reimbursement from third-party payers. In the clinic, a physician can be credentialed for Medicare and Medicaid, but not third party payers.

When a provider gives us the paperwork for credentialing, it goes through three levels of approval, including to the Medical Executive Committee, and after that to the board.

Martinez:
What about EMS? Is it fully staffed for transporting out of town and for local calls?

Arias:
When I started working with the city, I found out that Alex and I share the same issues and concerns. We learned from each other. Sometimes, we didn’t have trucks available and the city got there first. We would meet them there. We are supposed to answer 911 calls, but we discovered that sometimes a truck has to transport out of town, but that is not our main business. We learned that in the ER, someone might have cardiac issues and would need to be transported. They can go out by helicopter or ground transport. It could be a nine-hour turn-around time. We hired up on drivers and staffing, so we could accommodate both 911 and transports.

Martinez:
How long are drivers allowed to drive?

Arias:
It’s definitely a safety issue. I will let you know.

We will answer 911 calls, but we will not jeopardize the patients or our drivers.

Martinez:
Also, I am concerned about the safety of the hospital.

Do you have a shortage of nurses? And how many?

Arias:
I don’t have that number. We have lost some nurses. They are going to Deming, Las Cruces, El Paso or Tucson to get $6 an hour more. However, the nurse to patient ratio is quite different in those areas.

We will never be the highest payer, but we are doing a salary analysis. We are county-owned and not a private facility. We are self-sufficient. We want to create an environment so pleasant that they will have pride in where they work. I think we are recovering, with the changes in administration and the changes.

I think they were frightened. They want job security. We have to reassure them that we will be here for them.

Martinez:
I think the big question is fear in the staff because of people leaving and rumors the hospital may be put up for sale.

Arias:
I don’t know that for a fact. The commissioners have put out an RFP to do an analysis and to make recommendations and multiple options. The decision will be made between our community and the commissioners.

Morales:
Priscilla, does the capital outlay request include the software and hardware? Can you please put both on the request?

Dow:
What is Mosaic and how much does it cost?

Vance:
It’s a chemo and radiology oncology software. Both together are $556,000 and the ray station is $229,000.

Dow:
What are the annual fees?

Vance:
About $30,000.

Dow:
And what percentage of payments are made to the hospital with state and federal dollars?

Vance:
Medicare and Medicaid pay for about 60 percent to 70 percent of our patients.

Dow:
So what you’re getting is not sufficient.

Vance:
We do have some commercial payers.

 

Non-Profit Community Presentations

National Center for Frontier Communities

NCFC Executive Director Susan Wilger presented.

Wilger:
I will be talking to you about a proposed Joint Memorial we will be presenting. It’s called the Frontier Village Investment Development Act or Frontier VIDA.

The purpose is to form a work group to provide help to our rural communities. In New Mexico more than 50 percent of our small communities are unincorporated, and are micropolitan areas, with no access to funding streams.

We at Frontier Communities work throughout the state to help groups that are not eligible for certain funding or don’t have the capacity to pursue funding. We are interested in looking at the needs and challenges and the potential for funding.

The National Center for Frontier Communities is a more than 20-year-old non-profit, which has been based in Silver City since 2010.

Oftentimes, unincorporated areas, small towns and villages and colonias, as well as a lot of tribal communities, get the crumbs of the crumbs of funding of $300 to $1,000.

Other areas we are very concerned about are those with geographic poverty, pockets of poverty in rural, isolated areas. We want to revive some of the communities that are part of the rich fabric of New Mexico. We are looking at studies on how to nourish these unincorporated areas. I will provide my slides to you.

Lucero:
I will put the slides in the notebooks.

Dow:
I don’t have any questions. I look forward to seeing the joint memorial

Morales:
Who is carrying the joint memorial?

Wilger:
Sen. Cisneros on the Senate side and Rep. Martinez on the House side.

No one has asked, but I will: How will it be funded?

We are hoping the study will be funded through the Economic Development Department and we are meeting with other groups and foundations next week.

 

Grant County Community Health Council:

GCCHC Director Cari Lemon gave the report, with GCCHC Co-Chair Judy O’Loughlin beside her.

Lemon:
First I want to introduce our new health council co-chairs, Judy O’Loughlin and Mary Alice Murphy.

We are here to provide some information about health councils in general.

The fact sheet has some specific bullet points.

The Health Council role is very complex. An important piece is to address the pressing needs of the community and rally the community to find solutions. The Health Council addressed public transportation and helped get Corre Caminos started.

The Department of Health still provides some funding to the health councils in the state. This year we received $4,855 for each health council to identify a specific focus area. The DOH wants evidence to advocate for paying health councils more.

We looked at our New Mexico Indicator Base Information System and saw, WOW, the state rate for suicide is 21.1 percent, making New Mexico No. 5 in the country. Grant County is much over that at a rate 34.9 percent, so we chose suicide prevention and intervention as our focus area.

In partnership with the DOH and Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, we brought in two DOH staff trained in suicide prevention to provide training. During the orientation days for Cobre, we had a session in the morning to train staff and a community training in the afternoon and the same for Silver. We got 50 trained in QPR (question, persuade and refer). This is a tiny sliver of an example of the work we are doing.

As part of the Southwest Region of Health Councils, five of the eight counties—Sierra, Catron, Hidalgo, Socorro and Grant— identified their focus as suicide prevention. We are determining how we can collaborate together to share resources and work together.

We have about a year’s worth of funding left. We continue to look for grants. We are asking support for additional state funding for health councils.

The New Mexico Alliance of Health Councils will be offering a bill to appropriate $18,000 each to health councils. I think they are still looking for a sponsor.

Dow:
QPR is a great tool. This is your last full year of funding. What grants are you using to supplement?

Lemon:
We have a Con Alma grant for last year that we are wrapping up, and we have sent a letter of intent for a Community Investment Fund grant. We continue to work with the Southwest Region to try to collaborate for other grants on common needs.

We are looking at Pull Together, a community organization plan. Collectively we work to share costs to solve our biggest problems.

Dow:
What about primary needs assessment data? Health councils provide such important data. I see huge value.

Morales:
Our health council has survived while others failed.

I’m surprised you have no sponsor. I am fully supportive.

What are your discussions on the opioid crisis?

Lemon:
The Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, which came out of the four-year grant the Health Council brought in from the Office of Substance Prevention has as its priority, opioid prevention. I’m working with the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition on specific ways to intervene. They are directed at training delivery to caregivers. The Behavioral Health Coalition, the CoCC, has a work group centered around opioid intervention, but it has been dormant.

Morales:
Can you give us an Inmate Support Group update?

Lemon:
The county commissioners recently signed up to join Stepping Up Initiative to address mental health and reduce the incarceration of inmates and to help their integration back into the community when they are released. Lot of similarity with what we are doing.

The Inmate Support Group is reconsidering and figuring out how to support that effort and to determine gaps and leakages.

Morales:
Will there be a bill coming forward this year?

Lemon:
There will not be. Because of this whole big change that occurred.

Morales:
Is there potential funding for this Stepping Up program?

Lemon:
Down the road, I think.

Morales:
It’s hard to fund health care services, early education and suicide prevention, but they all are needs.

Lemon:
We have to address the symptoms and indicators.

Martinez:
Does the Stepping Up program start when they are incarcerated or when they are released?

Lemon:
It actually starts with Dispatch and first responders and goes through a whole process through the inmate’s release. After the release, the way I understand it, it’s similar to the Inmate Support Program in that there will be a community resource connector specific to the individual to make sure they have the services they need.

Martinez:
I carried the legislation for the Inmate Support Program and was hoping to reintroduce it again. It did have funding attached for $250,000, so it didn’t go through.

Lemon:
I understand we had your support. There is still a need, but I think this is a good move the county has taken because it is important to continue the process.

Martinez:
Everyone thought it was a great program, but at the Appropriations Committee, they thought it was great, but the state had no funding.

Talking about suicide on the veterans’ side. We are fourth in the nation. We need to work with your agency and make sure the V.A. is providing the services.

Lemon:
Save the date for the Heroes with Horses documentary.

Martinez:
In the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, we heard a presentation from a group in Chama that uses horse therapy for PTSD in veterans and is having success.

 

Community Partnership for Children

Project Coordinator Terry Anderson, President Charlene Gomez and Anita Rios, mentor ??, presented for the group.

Gomez:
Our current project is LiNKS, which is a sharing network for early education for kids. We have 500 licensed in the county for child care. We built a co-op between five LiNKS partners. We have created a relief squad of substitutes, we use Procare equipment and ??? business management software. We have ongoing training from a national expert in shared services networking.

We have a part-time administrator and a partnership with the WNMU School of Business to develop a business plan for us. We have built program relationships, to share solutions to similar problems.

Our goals include that we would love to have a one-stop enrollment hub for child care. Our focus will be on CYFD subsidized child care. We want to do bulk purchasing and to streamline budget and food provision. Anything to share costs will benefit all of us.

Our barrier is sustainability. We get funding in small portions to do big projects.

Morales:
The meeting you held was well attended. How are you building partnerships?

Anderson:
We are excited to have all but one child care center on board. We have five in LiNKS, so 80 percent are in the network. It is an up and down process. As the leadership, we have taken on goals and have built trust. It’s not about competition, but about supporting one another. Each program has a different philosophy and we’re good with that. We’ve been working with the WNMU School of Business to put together a business plan. Our partners know they will have to put something back in, but they can share in the savings.

Morales:
I want to see the business plan. Funding will be an issue. I have several questions, but we can look at them later.

I appreciate your looking at every opportunity for Little Lambs. You need to get employers on board with what you’re doing from an economic development viewpoint.

Anderson:
One of our goals is to look at community employers. We are looking at a forum. Kevin Cook of Freeport came to us asking for a letter of intent. If it is accepted, we will proceed with the Community Investment Fund process.

Dow:
There are so many barriers for small business from the agencies. Pulling Together resources are important to pulling everyone together. What you’re doing is wonderful. You will get state and national attention on this project.

I think you will see bulk purchase benefits.

Was it mostly rules and regulations that stopped you from finding a place for Little Lambs?

Anderson:
We’ve been fighting barriers for 40 years and we will continue. We have to keep businesses open. Other programs took many of the children in. Headstart has a waiting list. CDC has a small waiting list. Anita and I spent time talking to for-profits in Las Cruces that may come in. We pushed for them to come here.

We need the community to realize that the Community Partnership for Children is here. We are a pilot project and a model for the state and the only one in the state. If there is any pot of money to help us. Our goal is to make it work for others all over the state.

Martinez:
It seemed time for an organization like this.

What are the age groups with all your partners?

Anderson:
We start at six weeks through school age. Montessori and Let the Children Come have after school programs, too. School age is a big need.

We had a concern about the four-day week for Cobre. We wonder who is taking care of them on Friday. We advocate for the well-being of kids. That’s another goal to address school age. We need money to be sustainable.

Martinez:
Are you seeing an increase in grandparents taking care of kids?

Anderson:
Anita will tell you it’s great-grandparents who are raising and caring for kids. We still have a large percentage of kids being taken care of in homes by great-grandparents because the grandparents are working to take care of the parents.

 

The kids are not taking advantage of our programs

We have a great need to promote our programs so kids get a head start on life.

Martinez:
The governor signed a bill for grandparents and great-grandparents to enroll their grandkids into early education.

Rios:
The fear of grandparents or great-grandparents of going through the process of getting them into a program and answering questions is that they may have the child removed from their home by the parent taking them out of the school and away from the grandparents.

Martinez:
How do we protect the caregivers from CYFD? We presented House bill 394 (294?), which gives options of how they can get help with care.

Rios:
The big barrier is the hoops for the grandparents to go through is to get food reimbursement. All kinds of barriers they have to go through. It goes back to the fear.

Martinez:
A memorial created a task force recently received a study. I’ll share it with you.

Anderson:
I hope your idea, senator, that the Early Childhood Department will go through. I look forward to a funding source from birth from the get go to help the families and the kids.

 

Life Quest

CEO Deb Frasca presented.

Frasca:
Life Quest will be 45 years old next year. We provide early childhood intervention for potential developmental disabilities.

ADCAP would like to see more funding. We have had no increases for many years.

We have received good legislation, such as the DD waivers and the FIT program, and the few cents are helpful

We will advocate for a 3.5 percent increase. We want to support the Due Process bill.

In the last session, a memorial provided a certification program, but it’s only beneficial if it makes it attractive to come into the programs.

Bills and things that come through, one big one is for the sub-minimum wage for the employment of those with disabilities.

ADCAP’s position is if a person wants to do the work at a sub-minimum wage, they should receive that wage. It’s their choice to live where they want and to work if they want to. We will work with you on that issue.

Dow:
These individuals have to go through a federal process, especially if they want to work for minimum wage, right?

Frasca:
It is based on how quickly they can do a task. Many people cannot work in the community, but some can work in a group situation.

Some are happy doing what they are doing.

Dow:
We heard testimony from them that money was only supplemental, but they were happy working.

You have seen no increases in the DD waiver and FIT? We have seen increases across the board. I don’t see where the hold up is.

Your services are critical.

Frasca:
If the FIT study requires more money, the providers will have to request fewer regulations. The DD waiver is getting a rate study in the spring. We’re hoping the next one is more accurate.

We have gotten a $500,000 appropriation, spread across the state. We saw a three or four cent rate per service. We continue to face challenges. ADCAP advocates, and has a lobbyist for us.

Dow:
Some of these things are generational.

Frasca:
Several funders offered $20,000 for best presentation. Eight different groups, and ours was childcare. We had a fantastic idea.

The KPCamp, a hub, would be a one stop shop for multi-age, multi-sensory. It has transportation, intergenerational. We didn’t get it funded, but the seed was planted and it’s still alive and we continue to work on it.

Morales:
Forty-five years is an amazing milestone. Thirty-five years ago, Murray was recognized for founding this program.

I don’t anticipate calls for cuts this year, but we may not see any increases.

Martinez:
Congratulations on the program. The services you provide make a significant difference in lives.

 

Mimbres Region Arts Council

Executive Director Kevin Lenkner presented.

Lenkner:
I want to plant a seed. The Mimbres Region Arts Council is evolving. We call it MRAC 3.0. We have nothing concrete yet.

Our five-year plan is the creation of an arts center. We are at the early stages, and still looking at opportunities. I think about us trying to create something.

Funding it is our most significant challenge. Probably more than we can raise locally. We figure half a million to multi-millions.

We want something of scale that re-establishes us as an anchor to make Silver City a destination. We could call it the Rebecca Dow, Howie Morales, Rudy Martinez Art Center.

We are looking to attract cultural tourism. We want to increase education opportunities. We want to nurture a creative community that innovates.

It’s how art impacts communities across the nation.

We’re looking at three to five years.

Dow:
I like the idea. We’re working on something similar in Sierra County.

Morales:
This is a wonderful brochure that is explanatory. Well done. I like that education has a hand in it.

We hear that we are a smaller version of Santa Fe, but we’re our own niche and this is an opportunity for us.

I want no buildings named after me.

Martinez:
I am always supportive of the arts. We see a number of pieces at the State Capitol from our local artists.

Arts are part of childhood education. It seems education has taken away some of the arts disciplines.

Lenkner:
We get funding from the New Mexico Arts Commission and we plug it in where we can.

 

Silver City Arts and Cultural District

Executive Director Colleen Morton presented.

Morton:
I’m brand new. I moved here in September from Maine. I have a lot to learn, but I hope to bring some lessons I learned in Maine.

We have the overarching goals of enhancing the creative economy and tourism. We are the first arts and cultural district in the state.

Most have remained under the MainStreet Program.

In addition, we receive some funding from the town to run the Visitor Center and to provide tourism marketing.

An important role is to convene the artistic community. We have more than 30 organizations that show up at our meetings aiming to collaborate.

We make it easier for collaborative marketing with the Tourism Department.

We hope to offer more training and support for small businesses, especially in the creative economy to have websites and launch their own online businesses. We are also putting in a plug for much better broadband in the rural areas.

Tourism is so important to a creative economy. We can’t expect the whole state to be based on what’s happening in Santa Fe.

We want regional branding and regional place making.

 

[Many of these comments were answers to questions from Martinez.]

Having a cultural complex as a home of collections would help make Silver City a destination. Please remember that the Silver City Arts and Cultural District is not funded, except through tourism. We would like to see funding under MainStreet.

We get about $100,000 a year in Lodgers’ tax, but it all goes to media. We get nothing for salaries, although we do have a professional services contract with the town to run the Visitor Center, which also comes to about $100,000. We have no support for regional projects. We are the leadership group that can do it, with the Coordinating Council. Those include the Clay Arts Trail, which is running on a shoestring, with the $5,000 they got from the New Mexico Arts Commission.

To build up an active website and way-finding signage for self-driving tours, we are looking for $50,000. We are looking at it from the Pathways in the NM Arts Council.

The Clay Festival, which is successful each year, is break even at best. With $100,000, the Clay Trail could reach out to the rest of southwest New Mexico and into Mexico, creating a corridor from Santa Fe into Mexico.

What we are trying to work on would require a yearly $100,000 as a minimum.

Dow:
I have a question about the co-op for media.

Morton:
It works relatively well, although it usually locks us into a 12-month contract, so it is not very flexible. We would prefer more freedom to promote Silver City and Grant County. New Mexico True promotes New Mexico, but does not feature the uniqueness of this area. We design the ads within strict parameters.

Dow:
I understand the state is using an out-of-state marketer.

Morton:
We are doing it ourselves, but we have to comply with parameters and we have to run it through the out-of-state marketing firm.

Our own graphic designers ought to be able to have the freedom for how and where we advertise. This community has so much richness in this area. There is too much focus on print. We want it on social media.

Dow:
Do you have a chance to give feedback?

Morton:
In some ways, but I would like more.

Dow:
If you are getting a bang for the buck, the I guess it’s working. But I have a concern about you having less autonomy.

What about the idea of value added products, such as adding New Mexico True products? It’s mixing economic development dollars with tourism dollars.

Morton:
To me, the more varied rich and diverse state is seen the better, by putting the same label, it starts to make them look homogenized.

We are working on consensus of a regional brand to link communities of the region and emphasis on the culture of this region. We need to reflect on our space in the heart of the Southwest.

 

Silver City MainStreet Project

Executive Director Charmeine Wait, Board President Patrick Hoskins and Carmen Stevens, board treasurer presented.

Wait:
Since 1985, Silver City MainStreet has developed ideas to revitalize downtown Silver City. We were one of the first MainStreet projects in the state and have remained a successful program.

The funding of the Main Street Plaza is part of our lots of plans.

We want to increase economic development, stimulate outdoor activities, education and events at the location.

When an event happens, we definitely need ADA-compliant restrooms. We also need way-finding signage and a central parking area.

For every person who comes to town, we bring in at least $10. A lot is due to the Farmers’ Market during the season. It attracts more residents and visitors.

The plaza has been in the planning stages for 10 years. We need to find the funding. It will cost $150,000 just for the restroom in Phase I.

Dow:
I want to comment that I am a big fan of MainStreet revitalizing downtowns.

Morales:
I took the kids to the Lighted Christmas Parade, which brought out a lot of people.

I appreciate your innovation.

Has there been any discussion on a Big Ditch Park?

Wait:
The last remnant of Silver City’s Main Street already leads to the Big Ditch. We have had activities down in the Big Ditch, especially this year with the new mural, which recounts the history of how the Big Ditch came to be. The plaza would help lead people there and change the perception of the Big Ditch. The Ditch is part of the Trails system. The overall cost for the plaza is $500,000. The town of Silver City is willing to work with us on the sewer line. The mural project helped bring some more recognition to Big Ditch.

Overall, the entire project would be $500,000.

The next phase for the plaza would be lighting for $200,000.

Morales:
Who is your fiscal agent?

Wait:
Our fiscal agent would be the town of Silver City.

Morales:
Is this an appropriation that would require the city to bring forward a bill? I’m trying to find a vehicle for funding.

Bettison:
The town only presented one item, but this one is on our ICIP. Yes, it’s the town looking at restrooms and sewer.

The concern addressed with MainStreet is they wanted to make sure it wouldn’t affect money we might be able to leverage later. If we are doing it before a grant, we might not have a match for later money.

Morales:
I hope you and the city can continue conversations to avoid some of those issues. In order to get to funding, we need a clear mechanism for the funding.

Martinez:
This is an important piece of the puzzle for downtown. The challenges are the public restrooms and parking.

Bettison:
The town just purchased parking on Texas Street.

Martinez:
MainStreet was responsible for the upgrade and expansion to the Bayard Library and its expansion. We need to resolve the mechanism of pursuing funding for this project.

Wait:
We ask you to retain the $900,000 plus for Frontier Communities and New Mexico MainStreet.

 

Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society

President Cecilia Bell and Vice President Doug Dinwiddie presented.

Bell:
Five of our board members are here.

Long ago, we came to Prospectors for the theater and got $500,000. But when you can’t get in and out of the doors or repair the doors where they can be locked securely, what good did it do?

Dinwiddie:
I’m a local kid, who went away for 30 years and came back home. I was appalled at the condition of Fort Bayard. I remember it as a vital place. It’s gratifying to hear about your support for Santa Clara’s efforts.

We operate the museum, which is the finest remaining building at Fort Bayard. It was built in 1911. It is our most precious artifact and it is full of artifacts, photographs and documents. It has no electricity, no heat or running water. We could use some help getting these working again.

Bell:
Fort Bayard was the first main street in the county. It led to the courthouse in Santa Clara. It was multi-cultural. Yes, we had white officers from back east, but we also had Hispanics, Apache scouts and Chinese bakers and laundries.

Morales:
What are you requesting?

Bell:
We are asking for $10,000 for the doors, but it can be done more cheaply if done locally.

Lucero:
We do not have a capital outlay form, because Santa Clara has agreed to be the fiscal agent. But usually, small requests are not looked upon favorably.

Bell:
We could add updating the restrooms.

Morales:
That would be my recommendation. [He later suggested switching the signs to make the men’s the women’s, since it is larger.]

Bell:
Because of the hospital demolition, we didn’t do Fort Bayard Days for three years, but we will hold it in 2018. We want to get the kids back. It will take place the third weekend in September.

Dinwiddie:
We were approached by the director of the national cemeteries. But she left the agency because of illness. She had contacted us about becoming part of the VA Legacy Project at a few national cemeteries. It involves getting universities involved, and getting money for research and history regarding the people buried there. We were informed, we could be a prime project and are very interested in participating in it.

Martinez:
If you repair the restrooms and repair the doors does not equal $50,000, what about the heating system?

Bell:
We have an estimate I can share.

We have also learned that the director of African Affairs. would be interested in a museum at Fort Bayard. She was unaware that we had Buffalo soldiers buried here. She would like a museum for them.

House 25 is a duplex and where we could have the Apaches, the Chihene with Joe Saenz, and Buffalo soldiers in museums.

Martinez:
When you have the Fort Bayard ceremonies, members of the Buffalo soldiers group in Albuquerque would be interested in coming down to Fort Bayard.

Bell:
We have become acquainted with them, because one is a relative of one who was a Buffalo soldier at Fort Bayard, and they have mentioned a possibility for a speaker from Kentucky, where many of the ones here came from.

Martinez:
The NAACP in Las Cruces is also interested in a tour, as is Rep. Jane Powdrell -Culbert in Albuquerque.

 

Imagination Library of Grant County

Barbara and Loren Nelson presented

Barbara Nelson:
We have two projects.

Dr. Ann Harvey of WNMU produced a longitudinal study comparing those two groups of students on the comprehensive reading skills of those who were read to before school and those who received no Imagination Library books.

The pattern of higher scores showed those who had the benefits of Imagination Library books and those who had not.

In first grade, those who had been recipients of Imagination Library books up to age five, had a 75 percent reading comprehension, compared to non-Imagination Library book recipients at 55 percent compared to the state overall average of 59.6 percent.

In second grade, Imagination Library recipients read at an 80 percent comprehension, compared to non-Imagination Library students at 60 percent and the state average at 65.

By third grade, the Imagination Library recipients were at 94 percent reading comprehension, non-recipients at 88 percent and state information was not available.

Those being read to are like a rising ride which raised all boats.

She concludes that reading to students diminished the impact of lower economic status.

Loren Nelson:
Our second project is to take Imagination Library statewide. The Dollywood Foundation asked us to do this.

Two years ago, we had seven counties fully covered. Now, we have doubled the number of counties. And our chart is out-of-date already, because we have a new affiliate in the South Valley in Albuquerque having a registration effort and another in Quemado in Catron County waiting for printing of the registration forms.

In 2017 alone, more than 80,000 books have been mailed to New Mexico pre-schoolers.

Thanks to CYFD funding, local affiliates can receive up to 50 percent reimbursement for the mailing of books. We have grants from ?? and ?? to cover start-up costs for new affiliates.

The CYFD funding will sunset at the end of next fiscal year. Continued funding is needed to continue the current affiliates and to expand to other counties to make this program available to all New Mexico children. Thank you for your support.

Morales:
I take a great deal of pride in being from Grant County and when so many people show up at Grant County Day. I look at the impact Grant County has made across the state—First Born, the Grant County Community Health Council, our Imagination Library. So many things that we can go on and on about that originated right here in Grant County. We have people that have the vision to make things happen.

The CYFD funding was for three years?

Loren Nelson:
Four years.

Lucero:
We are currently in the third year and have one more year.

Morales:
We have to make sure this funding continues. Is there any communication with CYFD on this?

Loren Nelson:
No, you’re on our calendar. We thought we should have a conversation with you on what the best strategy would be.

We should come out even this year and might be a bit short next year.

Morales:
Secretary Jacobsen is supportive. I would rather get the commitment now to get a renewal or even an increase in dollars. I don’t want to wait.

I would like to see the whole state covered.

Barbara Nelson:
We are working to get coverage in the tribal areas.

Martinez:
Thank you for your advocacy for our children.

Dow:
I echo that. Reading to your children is one of the least expensive things to do to create strong parent-child relationships. It’s a small investment for a large impact.

Zamora:
Thank you [to the legislators] for the opportunity for these groups to present to you.

Morales:
The Silver Stompers will be there for Grant County Day again. We have someone singing the National Anthem. I’ve been really impressed with Mariachi Plata and wonder if we could get them there to perform, too.

Zamora:
Grant County Day is January 24, 2018.

Lucero:
Colonias Day is Jan. 23. So if anyone can be there for that, it would help us.

Martinez:
Thank you to the Prospectors for all you do for us.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: