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.

2019 Annual Forum Transcript

Prospectors Legislative Communication Forum
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
WNMU Light Hall

Report by Mary Alice Murphy

Welcome by Grant County Prospectors’ President, Evangeline Zamora;

We ask the presentations be no longer than three minutes. The timer is Prospector Cynthia Bettison. Legislators will have eight minutes to ask questions.

We begin with comments from legislators, District 38 Rep. Rebecca Down, District 28 Sen. Gabriel Ramos and District 39 Rep. Rodolpho “Rudy” Martinez.

Dow:

This is always such an informative session. I have a meeting with Victor Reyes on what to expect this 30-day session. It looks like there will be clean up and reform. It will be a good opportunity with more revenues expected, about $1 billion. It is an opportunity to fun one-time expenditures, such as infrastructure. I’m looking forward to hearing your priorities.

Ramos:

I’ve been busy with interim committee meetings. There is so much money needed throughout the district. I can’t believe how behind in needs we are. I will carry a bill making vaping legal for only those over the age of 21. I’m looking forward to working with everyone.

Martinez:

It seems like just a couple of months ago, we were here for this same thing to recognize the needs in Grant county. Last year, we provided $400 million for roads and bridges. It was just enough to make a dent. I’m looking forward to matching that again. I’m also looking forward to working with the Area Agency on Aging to fund senior programs. We need to make sure they are equal. Some areas are getting more funding than others. The $400 million for the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit will be another important issue to resolve. Our Finance and Appropriations Committee will start a week early on the budget. Oil and gas are providing 44 percent of the budget. Public education is slated to get $3 million. And we are looking to increase the funding for 3- and 4-year-olds. The younger they get into the system, the better they do throughout the school years. There’s a concerning perception that there’s enough funding to meet everyone’s needs. Hopefully the week of the 9th, we will get the numbers. Health care is important. The Department of Transportation and senior services. We want to set aside $2 million for the road from Deming to Hurley. The last study done was 10 years ago. There has been a suggestion of passing lanes. I’m not in favor of them. I want four lanes. I’m not sure if there are any junior local government moneys.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT presentations

Southwest New Mexico Collaborative:

PresentersAlex Brown, Charlene Webb, Adam Mendonca and Priscilla Lucero

Mendonca:

The collaborative is an emerging initiative to ensure more collaboration among the forest, the municipalities and the counties. Healthy watersheds provide a higher quality of life. You will hear a presentation that will tie into this initiative. We started the collaborative around recreation and restoration, as well as economic development and youth. It has four themes and four shared areas to optimize dollars. We have completed or seen movement. It includes Heart of the Gila. On trails, it allowed us to work with volunteer groups. Fort Bayard is an interest of the Forest Service, so we can lease buildings out there and keep the money local instead of leasing from an out-of-towner.

Ramos:

Watershed restoration is a good idea. But what can we do to help you get rid of the feral cattle?

Mendonca:

We have spent $300,000 to $400,000 on managing them, but we need help. The feral cattle are the property of the state, so we can’t shoot them. We have a strong partnership with the New Mexico Livestock Board.

Dow:

Have you worked with the Office of Outdoor Recreation, with Axie Navas?

Mendonca:

Yes, I met her last year.

Dow:

The budget had a lot of money for recruitment of businesses selling outdoor products. It looks like there will be money for manufacturing products.

Mendonca:

We have trails, but they don’t always have alignment with what the area is doing.

Dow:

Maybe we can help businesses grow.

Martinez:

There are a few mills processing logs. The judge’s recent injunction against cutting wood is hampering folks with mills.

Mendonca:

The forest is still under the injunction. It has enjoined us to control commercial cutting. We’re working with them and have submitted a request to resume wood cutting. We are trying to look at things outside the habitat issue. We are checking with the mills. We don’t want to see them go out of business.

Martinez:

Is the plan revision for the forest behind schedule?

Mendonca:

The revisions are behind in the northern forests. We started our two years later, but we expect to release our draft on Jan. 3. We are moving fast. We continue to take public input. Even after Jan. 3, we still have about a year to completion.

Martinez:

I thank the Gila National Forest for opening up personal wood cutting.

Dow:

With the national forest document. Can you continue operations in spite of the injunction?

Mendonca:

We amended the plan for the spotted owl, but it wasn’t good for the owl, so we are actually following the 1986 plan on that issue.

Grant County, represented by Manager Charlene Webb and Planning and Community Development Director Michael “Mischa” Larsich:

 Webb:

Our requests include 1) $200,000 for a comprehensive trails plan. The plan will tie into what Adam just talked about. It ties into the forest and town trails. 2) $500,000 for a study on ADA compliance and drainage issues at Bataan Memorial Park. 3) $500,000 for vehicle, passenger, maintenance, Road Department and buses 4) $150,000 for bleachers for the Fairgrounds and 5) $310, 000 for CAD (computer-aided design) base station equipment. We are the fiscal agent for Dispatch.

Ramos:

Where else can you get funding for base station equipment?

Webb:

State and federal Homeland Security have some funding, we learned in conversations with the New Mexico Finance Authority, and we are looking at other options, too. It is critically important equipment.

Ramos:

On the outdoor recreation trails, how will they connect with the Santa Clara safety trail?

Webb:

We want to study how to tie them together, as well as with Fort Bayard and Silver City trails. The plan will help us figure out how to tie them together and make it one conduit of trails.

Larisch:

The trails at Bataan Park has an easy connection to the Fort Bayard trails, as well as connecting to Santa Clara and Bayard. That’s why we need the plan.

Ramos:

And will that help you market us as the Gateway to the Gila, too? That would be huge.

Larisch:

Yes, that will be part of the plan.

Dow:

Is this the full cost of the Dispatch equipment? And are you eligible for the 911 Dispatch funds?

Webb:

Yes, she utilizes those for other equipment needs. You will be getting more details from Marshall and Brown

Dow:

Does the trail plan quality for New Mexico Finance Authority planning grants?

Webb:

No, we tried that.

Martinez:

You received $50,000 for vehicles last year. Is that already spent?

Webb:

Yes, most of it. One vehicle cost $46,000. It’s not just for the Sheriff’s Department. This request is also for buses and Road Department equipment.

Martinez:

Doesn’t the Sheriff’s Office get funding from the federal Operation  Stonegarden grant? Is it still in effect?

Webb:

Yes, it is still in existence. They can use it for equipment, but then the equipment is difficult to dispose of because it is federal. So they usually use it for other equipment and overtime.

Martinez:

What is happening with North Hurley Road?

Webb:

We received $1.5 million from the New Mexico Department of Transportation. We will finish what is designed currently and will apply with our commissioners’ approval for the rest of the design.

Martinez:

It is a bus route, so it’s important to get it updated.

Town of Silver City, represented by Town Manager Alex Brown and Mayor Ken Ladner:

 Ladner:

We are excited about the upcoming session. We have a great town manager and he will make the presentation.

Brown:

I want to update the CDBG work on Chihuahua Hill. We are about to finish the about $500,000 project. We will bid out Phase 1 of Ridge Road for about $900,000 in January. Sidewalks will also go out to bid in January. We have two DOT projects, re-striping of Pope Street and the Visitor Center, also out to bid in January. The reason we are waiting until January to bid out is because we need to have warmer temperatures.

We have Ridge Road, Scott Park and Little Walnut on our list. We have Phase 1 construction of Ridge Road funded. We are submitting Phase 2 under Colonias funding. Little Walnut we have the funding for plan and design and want the design of a shovel-ready project for June, just in case some capital funds become available. The sidewalks will be a $500,000 project. For capital outlay, we’re looking at the City Hall and Gough Park expansion projects. We’re been discussion it with the Lt. Government. He’s trying to get us between $4 million and $5 million for a new recreation center.

Martinez:

As usual, Mr. Brown always provides us with reports on the projects. Whatever money is provided to Silver City is well invested in improving the town. Thank you for what you do.

Ramos:

What about Scott Park and the concession stand?

Brown:

We are in discussion with CES.

Ramos:

What about the strained relationships on Ben Altamirano Park, between the town and Silver Schools?

Brown:

The park is on state land, so the schools have the lease, but the town got the funding to build the facilities. We have an MOU between us. We pay the utilities and the schools maintain it. We have a mechanism in place and we continue to work together.

City of Bayard, represented by Mayor Chon Fierro and Clerk/Treasurer Kristina Ortiz:

 Fierro:

I wan to thank you for inviting us to this forum. We want to keep improving Bayard. We appreciate what you can do for us.

Ortiz:

We have four projects, with all four being priorities, not in any order. 1) Public safety radio equipment. The Tri-City equipment and installation, including the repeater, has failed. We switched to the Grant County sheriff’s office repeater, which isn’t fair to them. We need $250,000 for a new antenna. We submitted an application to the SBA Site, the owner of the property where it is. We need new repeater, mobile and handheld radios. Santa Clara and Hurley would need a micro-dish each. 2) Recreation funding. We will use the funding to deal with knocking down the old concession stand and putting in supports for the bleachers. We need $350,000 for those. 3) Street and drainage projects. Some of our streets are failing. 4) Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements.

Dow:

Don’t you have resources to be competitive with other funding sources?

Ortiz:

We get $40,000 for road improvements, but we have to do design and chip seal with that funding. We are getting a road project funded about every three years.

Dow:

I know current criteria aren’t in favor of rural areas. That issue has been under discussion.

Ramos:

Where are we on the use of treated effluent with Santa Clara?

Ortiz:

We went out for bids on the bridge. Next we will go to the Interstate Stream Commission to get funding to use for other improvements. We have emergency funds for a failing sewer line. It will be a straighter line to the influent box, which is also starting to fail. The existing route would cost $500,000 for a bypass.

Ramos:

Cobre is saving $250,000 by turfing the fields.

Ortiz:

That has come up for Little League. We have to switch to reuse the treatment plant, because it is not operating on a consistent basis. $300,000 is the low estimate for that.

In the last month-and-a-half, we have one of our lines freeze. We don’t know whether to restore it or replace it. We need clean-outs to suck out the effluent lines and get Humphreys to suck it out regularly.

Ramos:

I commend you for what you do with the little amount of money you get.

Ortiz:

We are also working on a dewatering system.

Martinez:

For the sidewalks on highway 356, the state highway doesn’t provide funding?

Ortiz:

No, the cash match is 14.6 percent, which is $80,000. We are working on getting more money for the match.

Martinez:

I need to have a conversation with the NM DOT.

Town of Hurley, represented by Mayor Ed Stevens, Clerk Lori Ortiz, and Mayor Pro Tem Richard Maynes:

 Stevens:

Our priorities are: 1) water improvements. Priscilla Lucero and Stantec are working on $250,000 for a supplemental well. We got $240,000 last year, but we haven’t spent it yet, because we weren’t ready. 2) We need a public safety building. We are doing Phase 2 of the impact statement. We have 11 people in 1,300 square feet. We can’t bring prisoners in. Our plan is to get a temporary building. 3) A Street road and drainage improvements. 4) A pickup for maintaining the well and water source. 5) $125,000 for park and swimming pool needs.

Martinez:

On the water system is that to provide water to Hurley or is it within city limits?

Stevens:

We didn’t get the yield we expected from the first well.

Maynes:

We are still developing the wells and getting them equipped.

Ramos:

Small towns like you stretch your dollars. When it comes to the water system wells, I was informed that there was likely clogging of the wells or pumps.

Maynes:

It appears it is clogging in the well. We plan to do jetting to clean up the screens to get more yield.

Ramos:

Will the money from last year be enough?

Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments Executive Director Priscilla Lucero:

The strategy for last year, because we always need more money, was requested as backup funding. Without knowing at this point what we need on the wells, we are asking for funding for solar for the pumps to help out the residents.

Ramos:

I know you need the public safety building.

Stevens:

We are looking at a modular for mobility. Later we could turn it into a visitor center. We are talking to Santa Clara. One option is to have a visitor center at the corner or Cortez and Diaz. The GO building is a Cadillac building. The property was gifted to us.

Lucero:

The GO building we are looking for EPA funding for assessment and then we can make improvements.

Ramos:

A Street, how much do you need for planning and design?

Lucero:

We didn’t get it from CDBG funding.

Maynes:

The design is ready.

Martinez:

You did apply for DOT funds.

Lucero:

Yes, but we didn’t get it. It would be a good fit for Colonias. The main request this year is for water. We will use it for solar for the pumps. Last year’s money we expect it to be enough for what we need done. We do broad enough language to fit. It was for water system improvements, so that covers it.

Dow:

We’ve just learned that emergency funds are first come, first served.

Lucero:

I think it comes through the Department of Finance.

Village of Santa Clara was represented by Mayor Richard Bauch and Clerk Sheila Hudman:

 Bauch:

I want to thank the legislators for giving us this opportunity to present out requests.

Hudman:

All these are priorities and they are all on the ICIP (Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan). 1) $70,000 for water system improvements on Bellm Street. We will do the design and then go for funding to fix them. 2) $300,000 for sidewalks, road and drainage. We’ve been doing the design on Bellm and it will be designed soon. Hopefully, we can get some from the DOT. When it’s done it will be a $4 million project. 3) $100,000 for the Community Center, which is the Armory. The hot water heaters are on its last leg at 35 years old, and we would like to put air-conditioning in the big room, instead of the swamp cooler. 4) $150,000 for the animal shelter. The building we are using has not been improved since it was built. We would like to improve it for better usage. 5) The last one is probably the most important one – to replace the roofs of the buildings near the Nurses’ Quarters before we get the Forest Service, which is interested in them. They are the only two roofs that have not been replaced in the past. We would like to get them stabilized.

Dow:

I commend you for all your work out at Fort Bayard. It was such an opportunity to get to go into the buildings and see all that economic development opportunity there. We are moving in the right direction, and it’s so important to the county. It’s not in my district, but I really support Fort Bayard. I admire your tireless advocacy. We will miss Rocky (she said as she got emotional). A big footprint. He will be hard to replace. I know how important he was to Santa Clara and Fort Bayard.

Ramos:

Ditto on what Rep. Dow said.  During the Tamal Fiesta we walked on Bellm Street. Is the funding for that?

Hudman:

The $300,000funding is for the match for Bellm Street. It has major drainage issues. It’s between Oak and the old highway 180. It’s a very big project. If we get funding from the DOT, we will use it as match. If not, we can use it on Bayard Street for sidewalks. We get the $40,000 from the local government road fund, and if we don’t get the DOT funds, we can use it on Bayard Street.

Ramos:

It’s looking very good. I commend you. How are we on the safety trail between you and Bayard?

Hudman:

We are at 90 percent design and expect construction to begin in October 2021. On the effluents water, we are in holding, working to get to 30 percent design. We need to do some negotiation on the recharge credits for the ISC to give final authorization on the 30 percent design.

Martinez:

You said you received $4 million in DOT funding for Bellm?

Hudman:

No, that’s the total project price for Bellm, which we will write on this year. We got about $859,000 to finally fix Maple Street Bridge, which has been on the list for years. We are working on the grant agreement for that. We received the waiver, so we don’t have to come up with out-of-pocket funds, so we will start the repair.

Bauch:

The bridge has been in terrible condition with exposed rebar and cracked concrete. It needs resurfacing. The bridge inspection rated it as poor.

Martinez:

Seems like at some point it needs replacing.

Hudman:

Yes, our next project is to put a bridge or box culvert on Oak to get across Cameron Creek, once funding becomes available through MAP.

Southwest Solid Waste Authority was represented by Alex Brown and Danny Legarda of the SWA:

 Brown:

From last year, we received $250,000 for a dozer. We prepared the bid and are waiting for approval. This year, we are asking for $175,000 for a roll-off truck. We’ve been replacing equipment since we were re-permitted. Our concern is regulatory. We got funding for closures of cells one through four through Colonias. We went out to bid. The oversight was done through the Construction Industries, in cooperation with the Solid Waste Bureau. We got designs done. Now that the project is complete, we need final approval for closure, but neither the engineers, nor the Solid Waste Bureau, Construction Industries, not the contractors can find the closeout documents. So they’ve all been pointing the finger at each other, but nobody has them. Luckily nobody is pointing finger at us. The bureau chief just retired. She knew everything that was going on, but she’s gone. We just don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle.

Ramos:

You have three other items.

Brown:

Yes, we want construction of cell 8. We have requested design funding through Colonias. We also need $40,000 for equipment.

Lagarda:

We need a dump truck. We have to borrow one from the county or the town four or five times a year.

Ramos:

Plus a water truck for dust control.

Martinez:

You needed approval for the roll-off.

Brown:

We can’t get approval. It takes a full 30 days plus 10. They never call back.

Martinez:

It may jeopardize your permitting.

Ramos:

Are you looking for a used dump truck?

Legarda:

We’re looking at a 10-yard dump truck, so we need $40,000 for that.

Grant County Dispatch Authority was presented by Baord Chairman Assistant Town Manager James Marshall, Vice Chairman Charlene Webb and Dispatch Director Barbara Schalkofski.

 Marshall:

Our radio equipment is more than 30 years old and is end of life. We can’t get parts. We got state Homeland Security funding of $47,000 for a new 9121 system. Our request is for $310,000, which is a firm estimate. We have six partners in a new JPA that started in July.

Schalkofski:

911 funding sill not pay for CAD or radios. We wanted to secure GRT funding, but the GRT increment will sunset, so we can’t upgrade.

Ramos:

The tour of your center was so impressive, with what you do, but I was amazed to see how old the equipment was. I’ll do everything I can to support this request.

Dow:

It’s the rural issue again. I know the equipment needs to be upgraded. Albuquerque got money for furniture, and I don’t know how DFA prioritized furniture over dispatch equipment for rural areas.

Marshall:

Our system is so old, it uses DOS. It is failing several times a day.

[To a question about who the backup is for Grant County Dispatch…]

Schalkofski:

Hidalgo County is our backup.

Martinez:

It is a much-needed service for public safety. These are huge obstacles we face with modern technology. Who controls Dispatch funding?

Marshall:

Gross receipts tax funds some. The rest of the fees collected are paid by the members of the JPA split among them by formula.

Casas Adobes Mutual Domestic Water Association was represented by Guy Siragusa, board president:

We are requesting $500,000 to improve our water systems, to build a maintenance office and storage facility.

Ramos:

You are such an active group. Is there any other funding you can look at?

Lucero:

Only a loan from NMFA. The group is finalizing a PERA to ask for funding of the entire project through USDA.

Dow:

Can you find out eligibility for emergency funding? I think the amount will be increased from $2 million to $5 million.

Lucero:

I will try to get more information.

Martinez:

Will user fees increase if you get the USDA grant/loan?

Lucero:

Yes, they have already increased rates in preparation. We don’t have what the grant/loan combination dollar amount will bet, but we do know they base it on revenue. They do have Colonais for the storage, but they didn’t get it for the fill line, so that part will go into the USDA application.

Martinez:

There was an issue with production from the wells. Were new wells drilled?

Lucero:

The existing wells were from the prior owners. They purchased the water rights with Colonias Infrastructure Fund money.

Ramos:

What did you do with the money from last year?

Stantec engineer Richard Maynes:

We are going out to bid in the next week or so.

Ramos:

Was it enough for what you wanted to do?

Lucero:

Yes, we are going to combine the capital outlay dollars with the Colonias dollars to maximize what we can do with the fill line funding in the USDA application.

Dow:

Is this on the county’s ICIP?

Lucero:

No, Casas Adobes has its own ICIP.

Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments was represented by Lucero and Economic Development Planner Emily Gojkovich:

 Lucero:

The good news is that we will have a VISTA volunteer to help us with Fort Bayard. We will make an offer to an individual with an engineering degree and quite a bit of experience. It is n EDA-funded position.

Since 2012, Grant County has received $19 million in Colonias funding. USDA funding from 2010 to currently is $7 million in water/wastewater projects. In the region, we have received CDBG funding of $61 million. The county itself has received $4 million in planning grants from Colonias.

With a staff of three, we have a lot of work to do. More staff would be helpful. We’re spread a little thin.

Martinez:

What is your state funding?

Lucero:

This year through HB2, we’ve received $99,000. That is one allocation divided by seven.

Martinez:

Is that level equal to your highest funding?

Lucero:

Our highest was $184,000, but it was reduced to $76,000. We got a $15,000 increase, but had to match it dollar for dollar with in-kind funding, such as space and utilities from the town.

The state allocation pays most of my salary. But I have to break it down. Emily’s comes out of Economic Development funding. Cerise’s for transportation comes from the Department of Transportation. I have oversight, so all are cost-allocated out.

Martinez:

How much would you need for additional staff?

Lucero:

A position would be $36,000 plus benefits, so $45,000-$50,000. But anything would be helpful.

Dow:

I’m blown away by the amount of work you do. COGs with twice the staff are doing a third of the work you do.

One of the ideas for distributing funds for senior meals is under consideration. Is there a plan for the funding?

Lucero:

I haven’t seen a plan, but we’ve been asked about it. What I don’t want to see happen is for a program to be implemented that we don’t have the capacity for. My biggest concern is for accountability. We have a regional component, but training sometimes doesn’t get down to the local level.

Dow:

There is a disparity in reimbursements from $4 to $15. There have been suggestions of to-go boxes, but I’ve seen to-go boxes that cost more than the reimbursement rate. Southern New Mexico has the lowest reimbursement rate. Silver City’s is pretty good, but there are areas where it is $4.

Lucero:

We have had those conversations.

Ramos:

I want to express my appreciation for all the money you bring in. You’ve been such a huge help to me and my district. I’ve been speaking with the Area Agency on Aging because of problems in Reserve. We may see AAA split into two parts. Hopefully, we can come together on a better process for unit value. The north gets $$14-15 per unit. We get $4.25 per unit. The north says it’s more rural. I have Catron County. You can’t get more rural than that. It’s broken and has to be fixed.

Lucero:

The COGs have been in existence for 50 years. I’ve been with the COGs for 32 years.  The only way we can do our job is an open door to you.

Ramos:

$45,000 is nothing for what you do for us. I can’t imagine what you could do with another person.

Lucero:

We could get a lot more work done.

Break


EDUCATION presentations

 President Joseph Shepard and Facilities Manager Kevin Matthes presented for Western New Mexico University:

 Shepard:

I’ve been here for 8 years now and am starting my 9th year. This university has had 17 presidents, but we are just stewards of the university. When I talk about the university, I’m talking about community. What you see is due to you, especially the Prospectors. Give them a round of applause. I would like to highlight our latest regent, Mary Hotvedt. We lost her as one of the best adjunct professors but gained her as a regent.

Every year we come into this space. But these people in the front row, are cold. [He handed out a Mustang blanket to each.

Our university is only as good as your legislative support.

Let’s start with appropriations. The Higher Education Department budget has come out with 6 percent increase, but 3 percent for the comp. Keep in mind that for the past few years Western gets 53.9 percent. We are not fully funded, so last year, we had to increase tuition. What we have proposed for the Council of University Presidents and concurrent with the Higher Education Department budjet is a full 3 percent, which would mean Western would get 93 percent of the 100 percent compensation instead of the 53.9 percent.

We say it doesn’t matter what bucket of funding it comes from, whether it’s from the students or higher education, as long as our employees get paid.

We rank in the lower quartile. We ran a compensation study with universities like ours. We rank in the bottom quartile. We have faculty members considering leaving because they can make far more money elsewhere. That puts us at a disadvantage in retaining faculty and for recruiting. So, the No. 1 priority I’m advocating for is to get full compensation and to get full funding of that compensation. It also impacts the ERB side of retirement.

For capital outlay appropriations, we are asking for $2.5 million for Harlan hall. Last year we had to rob from that funding to pay for water getting into the Student Memorial Building. Harlan needs a fire suppression system. The Fine Arts Center Theater needs ADA compliance. In Deming, we are looking at a new facility. We have 42 acres. The old facility will become a convention center. The new learning center would be near the schools in Deming. For the Veterans Resource Center, we have identified land the university. We want $3 million for an 8,000 square-foot veteran family center. We joined the renewable energy effort by PNM. We want solar on the parking lots. We want to b carbon neutral by 2024. We also want to add baseball and women’s soccer. We have identified $750,000 for that and $1 million for a Center of Excellence.

Ramos:

Where are we at with the money from last year?

Shepard:

Money for the library was vetoed, and we moved $1.3 million from Harlan, which we would like to replenish, to repair the Student Memorial Building. We did not get emergency funding for that.

Dow:

I commend you on the entry to the university. It’s looking great.

Shepard:

Rep. Dow has a huge district, which includes T or C and Silver City. She has been here so much and I thank you for advocating for the nursing cohort in T or C.

Dow:

I appreciate you for reaching out and working on the MOU.

Martinez:

I appreciate the program in T of C. But the vet centers there is having trouble finding CNAs. We have had conversations with the Department of Veteran Services and now we’re back to DOH, because we need anew facility there and staffing.

Shepard:

Education is what generates a better life.

WNMU Student government was represented by President Darlene Chavez and Student Governmental Affairs Director Erika Beltran:

 Shepard:

We have fantastic student leaders.

 Chavez:

We are asking for $400,000 for beautification of pathways and $120,000 for a rock climbing wall.

Beltran:

We have no transparent pathways for students.

Third woman [? Hernandez]

We have heard of incidents of students and community members falling.

Chavez:

That could be prevented by pathways from Mustang Village and across campus. It would be part of beautification, too. The rock climbing wall would be for the betterment of students.

Beltran:

It would provide wellness and fitness for the students and the community.

Dow:

Congratulations on your win.

Ramos:

It’s inspiring to see what the students are doing.

Martinez:

Thank you for your presentation. What do you propose for the pathways?

Chavez:

We want them because of safety concerns. We want safety cameras, emergency buttons, lighting and benches.

Martinez:

Do you have a design?

Chavez:

We are going off the master plan design.

Hernandez:

I was in a Nike commercial because when I was about 17, I was No. 1 in running a 10 K, so Nike recruited me, and for six months, I was a professional.

WNMU Athletics was represented by Athletic Director Scott Noble and Shepard:

 Shepard:

It’s not just about baseball and soccer. If a kid in the Mining District or Silver City has the opportunity to play baseball or soccer here, it keeps people here. It prevents the brain drain from the area. These are good athletes and good people. Yes, it’s about recurring money, but it’s also about retention of good kids.

Noble:

The opportunity for excellence is a high priority for us as and athletic department. Part of the strategic efforts of the department and the university is to make an opportunity for the university and the community and to increase enrollment. Baseball was at one time a viable and successful sport here. I believe it’s time to bring those sporting opportunities back. The Women’s FIFA world championship has women’s soccer continuing to grow in the country. We propose women’s soccer as an additional opportunity. I’ve done impact studies on the sports at New Mexico Highlands and Eastern New Mexico University.

Ramos:

This is dear to my heart and the community’s heart. My son is playing baseball at Adams State and he should be here playing at WNMU. Four of our kids from here have played or three of them are playing college ball. From this region and even into Mexico, we could put heck of a team together for baseball and also soccer. For economic impact, it would be $166, 820 compared to football at $251,000 and volleyball, $160,000. It would impact 150 students. Can you explain that?

Noble:

Studies show that each athlete will bring three friends. I used a more conservative number with three athletes bringing one friend. I believe the numbers are understated.

Ramos:

I hope we can rally together. Where are we with letters of support?

Shepard:

The Regents approved the proposal as a priority. Typically, bills are a one-time bill, but this year we have options. We can go RPS side, which is where we put it, or a general appropriation or in junior bills. Oftentimes, this is done in committees or behind the scenes where we are trying to pull money together. Our proposal for $750,000 is to have viable programs. It is the maximum we would need. The strike zone is $600,000 to $750,000.

Martinez:

I’ve been visiting with members of the Foundation and individuals working toward this endeavor. How many scholarships would there be for baseball?

Noble:

Nine is the NCAA limit. Our equivalency is at $17,500 per scholarship. However, we fall at about 78 percent of NCAA equivalency and that’s where would we be to be equitable to all our sports.

Shepard:

The NCAA sets the limit, but we never meet that limit. We are the farthest out, whether it was the Rocky Mountain Conference or now the Lone Star Conference, and much of our funding goes to transportation, more than any of our competitors, so what’s left goes to scholarships. At the $750,000, we can fund the maximum number of scholarships. The fewer dollars, the fewer scholarships. Oftentimes, we match them with academic scholarships. We have several athletes that are 100 percent academic scholarships, which does not have to meet the NCAA limit.

Martinez:

Is it the same for women’s soccer?

Noble:

Actually, for women’s soccer the NCAA limit is 9.9, which falls into the 40 headcount for baseball and 30 headcount for women’s soccer.

Martinez:

How do you determine who gets the scholarships?

Noble:

It’s up to the coaches who go out and recruit them. Say, we would receive $90,000 for baseball  and $110,000 for soccer. We could divide the scholarships among the 40 headcount for baseball and among the 30 headcount for soccer.

Ramos:

Adams State has 45 players in baseball, but not many scholarships. Some just walk on and get on the team.

Shepard:

Some will also get academic scholarships.

WNMU School of Education was represented by Associate Dean Debra Dirksen, Child Development Center by Cindy Martinez and Charlene Gomez and Early Childhood Program by Angel Toyota-Sharpe, Cindy Manos, Martinez and Gomez  and Shepard:

 Shepard:

We have the best child development program in the state and the best early childhood program in the state. I believe we can move things forward with the new Early Childhood Education Department. We don’t want to be second or third. We want to be best. We want a Center of Excellent in Education. We need to take advantage of what we have.

Dirksen:

I’m going to change things up a bit. Yes, we have the best early childhood education and best teacher education in the state. We have three proposals. The first is a network for teacher licensure. I have asked for increased funding to put in place the grant we received for the teacher residency program. We are building on that, and we want to put in place programs to facilitate teacher education. Too many rural school districts rely on alternative licensure teachers, which means they have a degree in something, but no teacher education. We are striving to put in place an increasing number of mentors to help the alternate licensure teachers, as well as a program with clinically based coursework to grow our own teachers. We are building on that piece. We are putting co-teachers with teacher candidates, so the students are getting a reduced teacher-student ratio. We are also focusing on student engagement and have put in place a performance assessment program, where we evaluate them on their ability to do the job. Now we will talk about the Center for Excellence.

Cindy Martinez:

I am the interim executive director of the Early Childhood Program and a professor of early childhood education. This is Charlene Gomez, the Early Childhood Program administrative coordinator.

We’ve always known how critical early childhood education is. Now we are in a place where we can flourish. We have the early childhood program for our university students, our professors and the community. Pre-K has been in the driving seat focusing on school readiness. We want to focus on readiness for success in life. The Center for Excellence puts together all that work with young children. We have a high demand for a qualified work force. It requires mentoring. We’re asking for $205,000, it is a $193,00 increase over what we’ve been receiving, so we can be competitors in early childhood programs.

Dow:

I spent 20 years in early childhood, although I retired in January from the nonprofit I founded 20 years ago. WNMU had an early childhood branch in TorC and was the only source of early childhood teachers. I want my colleagues to hear what you put in your presentation. Did you say Pre-K 3 and 4 is supplanting your staff? You need to raise wages to pay people in competition with your program?

Cindy Martinez:

Yes. We have to have high-quality educators bringing up the next generation. We are supporting early childhood programs across the region. We have to be in the position to be the employer to retain, attract and reduce turnover for our teachers.

Dow:

It looks like, from your presentation, that you need to supplement services for students with special needs, because they are not being served? Are they being forced to be bused out of your program? So, you need supplemental funds even though the federal funds provided for this service? The IEP laws are not being followed.

Martinez: 

Yes, to the busing and funding. It’s very complicated with the public schools. They say they will comply and provide the services, but they won’t come to us, so our children have to go to them.

Dow:

Over the past 15 months, we have lost more than 100 licensed early childhood programs throughout the state, and now we’re being asked to supplement those on the verge of closing, so in total you need $400,000 for supplemental services. We’re increasing funding to early childhood, but it’s not necessarily for the children. We are shifting children out of your site. No one can disagree that you have one of the best programs in the state. We are seeing supplanting of successful programs with new programs. So, the programs being supplanted are 100 percent federally funded, such as on the military bases and Head Start. I’m excited about the focus on early childhood, but my concern is growing the whole system is not being considered as we expand. We should not be supplanting federal funding and having to supplement it with state funding. Successful programs should not have funds and staff shifted elsewhere. The rate of slot expansion is harming the overall quality of early childhood education. If we are not growing the work force and not supporting higher education early childhood programs, how can we grow an effective work force? Last year, we needed 750 new public-school pre-K teachers and we graduated 64 statewide.

Rep. Martinez:

Two of my grandkids took advantage of your program. I commend you on your excellent program. Will you be accepting 3- and 4-year-olds?

Martinez:

It depends on the need for special services. If we have more with special needs, enrollment overall is affected. And if we have to transport them and whether we get paid for transporting them.

Rep. Martinez:

There are a lower number of babies being born, so we’re losing population. How can we remedy that?

Martinez:

Providing services for young families continues to be important.

Gomez:

We have family counseling as part of our program.

Rep. Martinez:

What is the number of students entering the Education program?

Dirksen:

We are running about half what we need nationwide. Violence in schools is one thing affecting the numbers, plus women are finding jobs other than in nursing and teaching. We had 60 alternate licensure teachers last year and have 20 more coming in this year. We need to prepare them from day 1. We need to keep the mentoring funding coming in to be sustainable and not have to rely on temporary grant funding. The alternate licensure teachers spend time with their co-teachers and learn how to teach. And we have the state’s second-lowest paid professors at Western.

Shepard:

The education master’s program has increased in student numbers at a greater rate than undergraduate students in education. On another issue, we are looking at creating a bachelor’s degree in nursing targeting veterans. Veterans have additional medical issues different from the general population.

Rep. Martinez:

Those individuals serving in the military in special disciplines, such as medical. Do you take into account credit hours for their specialties?

Shepard:

Yes, and no. Here’s the yes part. If they have their accreditations certified at another institution, we can just transfer them. However, we are bound by the higher learning commission by what we can accept. To your point, we are looking at ways to take those accreditations and turn them into credit hours, because it seems stupid to not use the military training, which is the best, and turn around and tell them they have to take that course again. We’re working on it.

Dow:

New Mexico doesn’t have reciprocity for military degrees. I tried to get a bill, but it didn’t pass. What they are missing is pre-natal and pediatric courses because they work only with adults. If you could offer those two classes. They could get their degrees.

Shepard:

What is puzzling to me is you take a military medic, who is treating a person wounded on the battlefield, which is the most intense training you’ll ever get, and we don’t have reciprocity.

Dow:

We don’t have reciprocity, and New Mexico isn’t interested in reciprocity until they get the pre-natal and pediatric courses, then they can get reciprocity.

Ramos:

I want to thank you for your tenacity and passion for your programs. I served on the Early Childhood Caucus, with my colleague here, and every morning, we would have someone from our area at least half the time there presenting and taking part in the meetings. We have such great advocates here.

We definitely need to get something done for our medics and our corpsmen to get recognition for their training. I totally agree with that. I’m such a big advocate for veterans. It’s great to meet with veterans here. Talking to Paulo Veltri, we can take them through the process to getting into school here.

Martinez:

The family counseling center has been a huge part of the success of our program. It has set up apart from other programs. It is a model program and includes mental health and trauma, drug abuse and neglect, providing support to teachers, students, families.

With our proposal for the Center for Excellence, our Early Childhood Program could attract and hire high-quality professionals that have the specialized training we need to revamp the early childhood services and allow us to develop the research supporting our demographic that would add to the literature base and support efforts such as those identified in the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit.. With our strong past and nationwide interest in early childhood education, our program is poised to become the portal for early childhood education excellence.

Shepard:

We have to get teachers from somewhere. We are asking $1 million for the Center of Excellence.

Dow:

How do we sustain the program when parents are paying more for early childhood care than for rent? I love the idea of taking it statewide, but how can it be brought to scale to do it statewide?

Nothing in the law changes when a child with disablities is three years old, but to go to the public schools, we have to replicate what you’re doing in a different place. Amplified Therapy does it, but when the child turns 3, they are busing them away to public schools.

Shepard:

We are asking for $400,000 for the Child Development Center. We need a million for hiring experts. If we get the Center for Excellence, we could go and get the latest knowledge to create private or public childhood centers. We want to be the knowledge center.

Dow:

How do the lawmakers fit into this?

Shepard:

The lawmakers are getting information for all directions in the RPS.

Rep. Rudy Martinez:

I need to excuse myself because I overcommitted myself. These have been really great presentations and I ask for comments and input on the issues.

WNMU M.E.Ch.A presenters were Samantha Costales, Yanette Gomez, Michael Garcia, Eduardo Treviso, and Shepard.

 Garcia:

The Felipe de Ortego y Gasca Cultural Center needs to be brought up to code. We need two exits, the carpet needs replacing, and the windows don’t open. The furniture is old and dilapidated.

Costales:

The offices need work. The kitchen needs a stove and refrigerator. The veterans center is out of the M.E.Ch.A building. We host the most Hispanic and Mexican students of any other university in the state.

Gomez:

49.1 percent of the New Mexico population of about 2 million is Hispanic. [She gave a lot of statistics from the region.] WNMU is a Hispanic-serving institution.

Ramos:

I agree with the furniture. It was probably there when I was there. It’s one of the oldest buildings and needs renovations.

Dow:

You each have your own offices?

Gomez:

We each have our own offices.

Dow:

I don’t know if you know it or not, but at the Legislature, we don’t even have our own offices.

WNMU Outdoor Recreation program was represented by Kathy Whiteman and Shepard:

 Shepard:

For about 7 or 8 years, we’ve been doing an outdoor recreation program.

Whiteman:

We want a Center for Sustainable Futures. It would tie together outdoor recreation with a sustainable environment and sustainable university. They are related but lack coordination and capacity. Economic development is created by bringing outside businesses in education and putting it together with sustainability.

We are the only university in the state is a program on the outdoor economy. A student can get a minor in outdoor leadership. We are working to raise the professionalism of the outdoor program.

Ramos:

About six years ago, we talked about a good GIS program. Is forestry also included.

Whiteman:

I am a faculty member in natural sciences, and I teach GIS and forestry in part. We’re working with the county on getting the trails master plan done. GIS can work with all our planning. The GIS capacity is low in the area. We are also working with the Southwest New Mexico Collaborative for sustainability.

Dow:

I know opportunities are coming in the sustainability model. Do you consider agriculture, farming and ranching as part of the model?

Whiteman:

Absolutely. Agriculture and mining are part of the equation. The outdoor economy helps life the economy as a replacement for agriculture and mining. I serve on the Council for Outdoor Recreation. We have opportunities for eco-entrepreneurship, like in Utah when they developed their outdoor economy. We need a hub to share resources. Drones, welding, etc. are all related.

WNMU EDA i6 grant program was represented by grant writer Otto Khera, Associate Dean of the School of Business Miguel Vicens and Shepard:

 Khera:

It’s all about a grant focused on Grant, Luna, Sierra and Otero counties. We are asking for $750,000 for a match for the $1.5 million EDA grant. The i6 grant focuses on rural communities, because they recognize the dearth of economic development opportunities and a necessary workforce. We will use a network approach, with the SBDC and other economic development programs to create 50 new jobs. We will be promoting entrepreneurship, creating businesses that are export-ready and work force development. How do we create new competencies and certifications for employers looking for workers?

We will need three new positions: an entrepreneurial a trade area developer. a certificate advisor and a research coordinator project manager that will be working with staff here at the university. They would be housed at Light Hall at the School of Business and would be working to create a sustainable business model. We are also working with Better Cities, which is working with Silver City on economic development.

Vicens:

We are also working with Studio G, which is a business incubator, established in 2018. We have met with 99 people, including 36 different start ups. We are looking at a broad spectrum of businesses. We want to leverage our success with the grant and take everything to the next level.

Khera:

The total i6 Challenge grant is for $1.5 million over three years, and includes training, travel and salaries for the three positions. We would have outreach centers in the four counties of Grant, Luna, Sierra and Otero.

Dow:

It sounds exciting. Did you mention the lost jobs in your application. Did you identify them?

Khera:

We will

Dow:

What are export-ready businesses?

Vicens:

They can include products and services. The idea is to develop an export-ready certificate.

Shepard:

We want people to know how to export products, similar to the way Syzygy Tile has succeeded in doing.

Khera:

We do have a cost share at the university.

Ramos:

Are you working with New Mexico Tech at Playas?

Khera:

We are not working with that project, but we are talking to New Mexico Tech. Not for this project, but otherwise, absolutely, we want to work with Tech.

Shepard:

We want it more local, like in the Mining District. The purpose is locally based. We are applying now.

I just want to thank you for listening to us this morning. You get paid zero dollars and you’re taking time out of your schedules to be here for Western New Mexico University and for the community.

LUNCH BREAK


Silver Consolidated Schools were represented by Superintendent Audie Brown and Associate Superintendent Curtis Clough:

 Brown:

We would like to thank Prospectors. We have our associate superintendent here to present and one of our board members, Mike McMillan is in the audience.

We are thankful for Curtis. He has been a work horse.

Clough:

Last year, we received capital outlay of $50,000. We are using it to replace one of our ancient Suburbans or SUVs.  We have requested funding for five major projects. We worked closely with Silver City for them to do Scott Park and us to do renovation and upgrades to Ben Altamirano Park to bring it up to speed. We want to replace the pavement and make it ADA compliant, with a request of $825,000. We have phased it in three stages.

We are asking for $400,000 for internal and external cameras and security upgrades. We also need two activity buses and three Suburbans and a Ford 250 for the vocational ag program for a cost of $493,891.  Those are the actual quotes we have received. We are requesting $200,000 to purchase equipment for the career and technical education program in classrooms, grades 5-12. Our request for $400,000 is to plan, design, construct, equip and furnish to make the playground at G.W. Stout Elementary ADA compliant.

Dow:

On the first page of your proposal, you talk about the retire-rehire program. I have a bill in draft form right now to address this problem with last year’s legislation.

Clough:

It hit us hard, when we had seven retirees and were hit hard with bus drivers retiring. Trying to cover activities has been challenging. We would like to keep those with experience for the safety of our kids.

Dow:

What’s happening with your ancillary folks paying into retirement, even though they will never be able to collect or retire? What percentage is being taken?

Brown:

A little over 11 percent. Some work for a while and then take another job elsewhere.

Dow:

On point 3, you say the Silver Scholars Pre-K program has been funded, but you’re using general operating funds. Are you saying PED doesn’t fully fund it?

Clough:

Because of the IEP, we don’t have enough in the special education (SpEd) fund and the PED funding to provide all the ancillary services we need to provide. We were capped out at 75 enrollment and everyone else comes out of the operating fund. With the loss of small school funding, it has caused a ripple effect. We may have to go into reserves and may not have enough cash flow to do payroll.

 Dow:

I sat down with the T or C superintendent and showed him how he could save money by letting other services take care of the special needs students and not have to transport them. Have you worked with Amplified Therapy?

Clough:

We have worked with them. For this year, we’ve done an inclusionary model as well as we can. Because of prior circumstances, with having hired aides, we had to pay for 10 or 11. We have extended the school day to 5 p.m.

Dow:

With the major changes we did to PED last year, there is a strong idea in both houses to fix it. We will do what we can do.

Clough:

We had a major hit to three schools with the lack of small school funding this year. We need to know how we can use discretionary funding. Every time we called, we got a different answer. Aren’t they contradicting the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit? We need clarity on our at-risk funding.

If you let us decide how to better serve our students and families, it would be better than dictating what we have to do. We are transparent with our board and community as much as we can. Monthly we are trying to leverage all our different funds.

Ramos:

The Senate Education Committee is requesting an average 6 percent raise for teachers again. Have you seen the benefits?

Brown:

I helped us recruit the teachers we needed. But we need more local control.

Ramos:

You said you got into your reserves?

Brown:

Yes.

Dow:

Less than one percent of that raise is from continuing property taxes. Sixty percent of it is from the oil and gas revenue increase. We’re giving you a mandate. My question is what is your plan, when oil and gas and copper go down in price, which we know they will?

Brown:

It puts us in a tough spot. We have to get into reserves, and when the raises go into effect, the insurance also goes up.

Dow:

What we did is we increased your cost of living. That took a hit with the increases to pay for benefits. Some at the higher level thought they would get a raise and got a loss instead.

Clough:

It helped morale. They start off with a better attitude knowing that you value teachers.

Cobre Consolidated Schools were represented by Superintendent Robert Mendoza and Tech Director Victor Arambula:

 Mendoza:

We are ending our projects from the second half of the bond referendum funding We successfully took care of the fields and renovations, but we ran into a problem with Title 9 and had to cut some items from the boys’ baseball versus the girls’ softball. We need $285,000 to upgrade the Tom Power Softball stadium. We are right in the middle of upgrading our tech infrastructure, but we need help at San Lorenzo Elementary in the Mimbres. Victor will explain it. Our second category of request is to purchase and upgrade our information technology equipment for $340,215. Our phone system is hanging on, but we need $110,231 to upgrade it and we also want to comply with our security needs and are asking for $325,631.67 for security entry system upgrades.

Ramos:

You got $311,000 last year for IT. Is this request enough to complete the second phase?

Arambula:

Yes, unless the price goes up.

Mendoza:

The e-rate matched it for us last year.

Ramos:

We have to make sure we get sufficient IT in all the schools.

Dow:

I attended the broadband conference. Two things are happening. The state will allow the e-rate to be used for the 3- and 4-year-old program. The other thing is the cybersecurity issue. There is a recently formed cybersecurity commission. They are asking for $4.5 million. I think we can look at the budget for PED if that money is in there. They took the costs that San Juan and Las Cruces had to pay to get their systems back up and averaged it for about $80,000 per incident, but it really depends where it is.

Mendoza:

The New Mexico Insurance Authority is not covering us.

Lucero:

The PSFA maybe supersede what the authority pays for.

Aldo Leopold Charter School was represented by Director Wayne  Sherwood:

 Sherwood:

We got money for Suburbans last year. Thank you. We are requesting another $80,000 to update our fleet.

If something doesn’t happen with the small schools funding, we stand to lose $633,000 per year, and the rest of this won’t matter.

We use the vehicles for YCC programs, including archaeology eco-monitors, garden, murals and trails. We built a trail on Boston Hill last year.

We moved into Ritch Hall on the WNMU campus, and are asking for $120,00 for improvements to include a science lab at Ritch. We also are hoping we can move the middle school into Ritch in 2021. We also would like an outdoor recreation area near Ritch. College kids and the community will also be able to use it. We are hoping that SB 9 will help fund these requests.

Dow:

For me, local decision-making is the best choice for schools. Family and parents know what is best for their children.

I think it’s a crazy trend of some people being against charter schools. If it’s working, why not fund it?

If the impact of the loss of small school funding is more than $600,000, how long can you survive?

Sherwood:

We can make it for three years. It depends on whether we have 120 or 170 students. Losing $200,000 a year is devastating when your entire budget is less than $2 million. At our charter school, we live bare bones when we go oon trips. We camp for the most part. Our only extra funding in savings SB9 and HB 33. It’s because we’ve never been in a public facility. Now that we are in a public facility, we can use it for renovations.

Dow:

I’m trying to get clarity on the anti-donation clause. In some cases, such as low-income students, it may not apply. I hope you are having some conversations on how to access some other funding. We care about every student in New Mexico.

Sherwood:

We appreciate your support.

Ramos:

We appreciate you, too, especially with your high scores and all.


HEALTH CARE PRESENTATIONS

  Gila Regional Medical Center was represented by Chief Executive Officer Taffy Arias, Facilities Manager Emory Colemen and Imaging Director Ashly Burkos:

 [Arias introduced Colemen and Burkos.]

Coleman:

The entire hospital needs a new roof. We are requesting $1,592,000. Th exterior stucco also have a lot of holes in it. We are trying to make the facility energy-efficient. The window seals need repairing to keep out rain and bugs. The control system is old, and we could need it more computerized. We lose heating and cooling all together. The carpet is 20 years old, and the walk-in cooler, we brought from Hillcrest.

Burkos:

We need a new MRI machine, as the one we have is 17 years old.

Arias:

The labor and delivery area is not big enough to take care of patients, so we want to renovate it. And EMS needs a new ambulance.

Dow:

Your request is higher than the combined capital outlay allotment.

Arias:

We know it’s a lot, but the $5 million that was taken away from us due to changes in the state reimbursement, has left us in a deficit. If we do not get resources, we will have to continue with costly repairs. We don’t know when equipment will go out. In the past money hasn’t been put in the right places.

Ramos:

You got $260,000 last year for the roof.

Arias:

When we started looking at the roof, we discovered that it had been roofed on top of on top of roof, there was no pitch—it was a flat roof. We want it to have a pitch, so we can put us in the possibility of installing solar panels.

Ramos:

Those are huge needs. Have you talked about bonding?

Arias:

Yes, we have talked to our commissioners about that possibility. We have other needs, too, other than these we talked about. We can prioritize them. We can continue to deliver babies in the parking lot if we need to, but it would be better to have improved facilities.

Dow:

Your requests are really big, and often capital outlay items gets vetoes when we can fully fund them. Is it possible to phase them? This estimate for the roof is more than six times what you received last year.

Arias:

That estimate was for one portion of the roof. This is the total cost estimate.

Lucero:

If we could get matching dollars, say $300,000, we could qualify for a New Mexico Finance Authority load at 1-3 percent interest. If you do the energy efficiency, that could go back into paying the loan. Another recommendation is maybe USDA funding for the energy efficiency project.

Colemen:

We did an energy assessment through Trane. For just lighting and HVAC, it could save us $257,000 a year, which could pay the loan.

Lucero:

You could also take advantage of PNM rebates. We used PNM rebates in the town of Silver City building we are in just for LED lighting and it’s saving $7,000 a year.

Arias:

There is a lack of awareness of our position. Just this morning, the news was talking about a children’s hospital, where they had had six deaths due to mold. It’s a matter of safety.

Dow:

This is why I’m in favor of spending our surplus on capital projects rather than recurring projects. But I’m one person.

Hidalgo Medical Services was represented by Chief Executive Officer Dan Otero and Chief Medical Officer and Residency Program Director Dr. Darrick Nelson:

 Otero:

We are a federally qualified health center and are qualified under the American Ambulatory as a medical home.

Our residency program is in its third year. We are in the third phase of our Quality New Mexico unit. We were awarded a top 20 percent in quality outcomes across the nation.

We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year. We have gone from one clinic to 19 locations across two counties, including 16 clinics. Health care is within a 30-minute drive for everyone in the two counties. We have impacted more than 16,000 with access to health care. We are bringing in $100 million in grant, revenue and patient revenue. We spend $16 million on salaries, which brings an $8 million operational impact.

We need help, especially with senior services to include capital outlay.

Nelson: [with 10 seconds left)

We need help with recruitment and retention and rural tax credits, as wel a CME funding.

Dow:

What are you short in senior services?

Otero:

In 2019, HMS put in $67,000 to maintain services. That is not a sustainable operation. We have had to refuse people to get meals.

Dow:

The indigent homebound can be told No?

Otero:

We don’t like it, but we have only so much capacity. We try not to, but in a recent case, we just didn’t have staff. We cannot sustain this.

Ramos:

We know it’s a broken system. I know the secretary is looking at it. How much is Grant County putting into it.

Otero:

Grant County is putting in 80 percent of the $67,000.

Dow:

What is your average receipt for meals? I know the Area Agency on Aging assumes you get donations of $2 a meal. In Sierra County, it’s about 19 cents per meal.

Otero:

We get about that much. We are privileged that we got funding from Freeport-McMoRan to assess the needs of our senior population. That study is done and available. We are taking steps to address the issues. Dr. Pedro Armendariz is now doing visits to the homebound. We also need help in getting regular payments from insurance companies.

Dow:

Aren’t there statutory regulations that insurance has to follow?

Otero:

It depends on the contract, which can be 90 days or 120 days.

Dow:

When they dispute a claim, is it usually the entire claim or just the portion in dispute?

Otero:

Usually just the portion.

Dow:

You can answer this offline if you want to, but are all the insurances companies delaying payments?

Otero:

It’s across the board in delays of payments, federal, state and insurance companies. Some changes have helped a little bit, but not enough. We need to keep it in focus.

Ramos:

Does the 80 percent from the county include in-kind?

Otero:

We get an additional $24,000 in in-kind. We’re trying to figure out exactly how much we are putting in.

Ramos:

The $67,000 is actually a low amount. In my other counties, for instance, in Socorro, it’s $300,000, and tiny Catron County puts in $30,000, which is huge for them. We need to work on the unit value.

Otero:

What we need to focus on is that down the line, people are not getting care.

BREAK


 NON-PROFIT/COMMUNITY PRESENTATIONS

Freeport-McMoran was represented by Chino General Manager Chad Fretz, Community Development Manager Laura Phelps, and long-time government relations manager Tony Trujillo.

Fretz:

The Tyrone Mine has an estimated life until 2022, but that has continued to increase over the past 30 years. Chino is supposed to last until 2038. We want to extend the mine lives. We brought revenues of $177 million into Grant County and $407 million to the state. New Mexico Operations employs about 1,500 people and creates another 3,049 jobs through services we purchase in the state, generating additional economic benefits.

Trujillo:

First of all, we are not asking for capital outlay. We follow bills with impacts to Freeport in the interim committees, but see none with negative impacts yet, but we watch for water and taxes. The famous anti-mining bills from last year, we don’t see any indication of them coming back up again, but if they do, we’ll be talking to you about them. We do have one action item. Tyrone Mine Manager Erich Bower will be reappointed to the New Mexico Mining Commission.

Phelps:

This year, we have invested more than $450,000 into economic development and into the governor’s STEM education intiative. We work with all the schools on this initiative.

Fretz:

I just want to remind you that mining is critical for southwest New Mexico, as well as for the state’s renewable energy goals.

Dow:

I’m happy to see you here, the largest employer in my district and especially in Grant County. How much gross receipts do you bring to the county?

Trujillo:

When we do the economic study, we combine all the taxes, with payroll taxes, and GRT is the largest amount.

Ramos:

You provide about one-third of the county budget.

Dow:

It’s such a blessing to see how many things you support. Your name is on the plaque. Do the sponsored bills ask you what the impacts are likely to be on your operations?

Trujillo:

We would like for that to happen, but most of the time, we hear about it at the same time as the public.

Dow:

You have 1,500 employees. How do you educate the public about the benefits of the mines?

Fretz:

We do a lot of outreach. We meet quarterly with all our employees. We share information to them on the candidates, and what they stand for and how they are voting on issues that impact their livelihood.

Trujillo:

We tell them that elections have consequences.

We are not telling them who to vote for. We are just educating them on the issues that impact mining industry.

Dow:

Not a single mine has been permitted since the newest Mining Act in the 1990s. Are you going into some of the poorest counties in the state where they have been trying to get mines permitted?

Trujillo:

There is a misperception that mining is against renewable energy. Copper and renewables go hand in hand. The more renewables we have, the more copper we need. We do a lot of it through the Mining Commission. We do a candidate guide.

Phelps:

We tell them to vote.

Ramos:

As a small business owner, many of my clients are miners. Without the mines, I might not be in business.

It is disappointing to see those people who are opposed to mining, didn’t even show up to your tour of the mine to see how it works. I was disappointed because it seems to me that every legislator should look at both sides of an issue. I am third generation of miners, and I have experienced the benefits of mines. Without that one-third of the county’s budget, we would have to cut services. Thank you for keeping us on top of the mining bills.

Trujillo:

We spend a lot of time supporting the New Mexico Environment Department and we continue to work with the Energy, Mining, and Natural Resources Committee.

Dow:

It’s interesting that the titles of the bills that are anti-anything are so beautiful. The titles sound so wonderful. I was talking to one legislator and he showed me a bill about voter access and said only one change has been made and that was to add to the title, “and for the blind.”

El Grito Headstart was represented by Executive Director Misty Pugmire:

 Pugmire:

Thank you for supporting early childhood education. We have a wonder collaboration with Silver Schools and are a model in the state. Last year, we stuccoed and painted a mobile building that Silver Schools donated to us. We are asking for capital outlay to replace our dying fleet. We need two new six-passenger vans. We are on the Silver City ICIP for the vans.

Dow:

Congratulations on your 50 years. I love Headstart, because it’s all federal funding, with no state funding. It’s ironic that the state is saying the Headstart is not effective. I know you are trying to be licensed, so you can become sustainable.

Pugmire:

We are open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in our building and in Silver Schools. We want to be a 24-hour facility long-term to provide childhood education for working parents. We are one of the models for the state. Communication is key.

Ramos:

I wanted to gao to the celebrations, but I had an emergency.

Pugmire:

 We are a family-first facility. Come to see us at any time. We take all the food to the kids in the van. All our food is low-sugar and all made on site. We take it to the off-sites. We need $48,000 for both vans.

Imagination Library was represented by Board President Barbara Nelson and Executive Director Nancy Stephens:

 Nelson:

Thank you as legislators for your support for early childhood literacy. And thank you Prospectors for allowing us to speak.

Since 2010, we have delivered more than 117,000 books to babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers in Grant County alone.

We have expanded throughout the state and now more 35 active affiliates in New Mexico.

We would like to state that financial appropriations in 2015 allowed us to enroll 4,100 children. In 2019, now we have 13,499 children enrolled in the program.

Stephens:

I would like to thank New Mexico for the legislation that last year gave us an increase by $50,000 to match the cost of books. However, this year, we have exceeded the $150,000 budget, so the $100,000 allocated by CYFD will not cover the match cost of books this year.

 Emily Gojkovich at the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments does grants for us, but we still have a shortfall. Every affiliate is within its projected amount of children they are serving.

Ramos:

It’s a great program This started in Grant County. I look forward to supporting you in the next session.

Nelson:

I, along with my husband, Loren, started this in 2009, with 8 children registered that December, and now we serve more than 1,200 children just in Grant County.

Dow:

It is one of the most cost-effective early childhood programs. It far exceeds the quality of others at only $50 per year per child without a match. The research far exceeds what can happen in an unknown environment.

Stephens:

It costs each affiliate $2.10 per book, to be delivered, so it’s less than $25 a year, without the match. Some, maybe most affiliates, slow down their enrollment to keep growth at a certain level to make sure they have the budget for it. And sometimes, there is a delay in getting the match funding.

Community Partnership for Children was represented by President Charlene Gomez and Executive Director/Project Coordinator Terry Anderson:

 Gomez:

We know the challenges of rural New Mexico includes resources, workforce, businesses and services, maybe activities, training. What we want you to think about is when you first started your businesses. Did you feel alone or in a silo, wondering if everyone was facing the same challenges. Imagine if you had a learning community with you with leaders and mentors. The LINKS project we are doing with network resource sharing, imagine if it spread across the rural areas of New Mexico through a proposed Rural Early Childhood Education Learning Community? Communities could meet regularly, set goals, share and solve problems, share resources and data, learn from one another and build an early childhood workforce, along with giving parents choices, educating community leaders and advocating for our profession.

Anderson:

It’s a journey, and we’ve shared in the packet, but we want to spread LINKS out to the state. We want to building learning community into rural New Mexico, with $2.5 million over a three-year period of time.

Dow:

Where are you in talking with the new Early Childhood Education Department?

Anderson:

We would like to be either in the Early Childhood Education Department or in CYFD. We are hoping you will carry it forward. We will trust your guidance on where to request the funding. It’s a fit with the new department, which to begin with has its resources. Child care is in crisis in rural New Mexico. Head Start is a good collaboration. We need to protect young children. I’m not sure if we turn them over to public schools, if their staff is as well trained as in the private sector. This is going to be a statewide project to rural areas only, not urban areas.

With our own TTAP (Tribal Technical Assistance Program), we were running half a million dollars for multiple counties. At first, there were four counties, then eight counties.

Dow:

Your voices stating the impacts of this program are critical during the legislative session.

Anderson:

Families have to be able to go to work. Please reach out to us as much as you can, because we want to stay on top of things.

Gomez:

The Infants and Toddlers program is not a very good fit. We don’t start out needing childcare with children at ages 3 and 4.

Dow:

Providing the infant and toddlers program costs $24,000 per child. We have food program in T or C, we want to keep going. An 8-year-old brings 2- and 3-year-olds with her to the food programs in the summers.

Anderson:

I’m so proud of Grant County, because we have been able to bring partnerships together. We have our seven child care centers, a family group home, Beginning Years, Amplified Therapy, HMS, we’re all connected.

The Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society was represented by Vice President Cecilia Bell:

 Bell:

The year 2020 will be like 1920, a year of changes at Fort Bayard. In June1920, the hospital went from being military to being a federal health system. It will be an interesting year for Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society. We are looking at a possible grant from Save America’s Treasures, a lease from the state to the village of Santa Clara and the possibility of capital outlay to get the theater built during the Depression. They didn’t have to have ADA bathrooms and now it is vital. Fort Bayard has learned to work with our neighbors. We had the Mimbres Region Arts Council bring its Arts and the Military program to the theater. We have a children’s summer program and most of all lots of tours. We will miss Rocky (Hildebrand) badly, by losing his leadership role.

Dow:

Where are you expending this year’s allocation.

Bell:

We are going to use the $32,000 planning the design for heating, fixing the doors and the bathrooms, with additional funding from Santa Clara.

Sheila (Hudman, Santa Clara Village clerk) and I would like to get together with you. We found out that what we had designed wasn’t what was required. We didn’t want to lose the historic fixtures. We have to have ADA doors for the bathrooms.

Lucero:

I’m not familiar with what they are doing.

Ramos:

Get together with us as soon as possible.

Center for Health Innovation was represented by Executive Director Charlie Alfero and Board Chairman Magdaleno Manzanares:

 Alfero:

Last year, we had three pieces that went through the legislative process. One was recurring, one partially recurring and partially non-recurring and one was not recurring.

The first piece went toward a contract between CHI and the Human Services Department to create a behavioral health residency training program. The funding went toward strategic planning to expand the psychiatric training to 120 residents in rural areas. The second piece was tied to HB 180 for $277,000 for area health education centers. We have them in four counties and another in Las Cruces to cover the rest of southern New Mexico. We will look at maintaining the recurring funding and adding to it. The third piece also went to the Department of Health for a statewide public health education program for communities. We look to expand the programs. A lot of people come here for resources for the community. We are trying to build a rural place for policy development in the state ithout going to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We have officers in Grant, Hidalgo, Doña Ana, Santa Fe, Luna and Cibola.

Dow:

The office in Las Cruces?

Alfero:

It serves all of southern New Mexico, including our health education center, which covers all of southern New Mexico. Some of our programs are county-wide. CHI runs a number of programs, substance abuse programs here in Grant County and other counties, the National Center for Frontier Communities.

Dow:

It’s broader than just CHI. Did each of the six counties contribute?

 Alfero:

Yes.

The Guadalupe Montessori School was represented by Head of School Martha Egnal:

 Egnal:

We are asking for $250,000 to plan, design and construct improvements to our Guadalupe Montessori School, which is part of the St. Mary’s campus. We have been serving our community for 40 years. We expanded to serve students from 18 months of age through age 12. Our greatest growth has come from out after-school and summer program, which is open to those enrolled as well as others. We are using a building called the Annex, which was the original Boys’ Club from St. Mary’s. We purchased the building in 2013 and there is a lot of deferred maintenance. We want to update, so we can expand our summer programs. We have replaced the HVAC, have a new roof and new pavement. We need an extra boost, because it is unusable right now for after-school and summer programs. We need a functional buildings for that to happen. We own the buildings.

Ramos:

Who actually owns the buildings? Is it a church organization?

Of the original 20 acres, the Anglican Church owns the chapel and the priests quarters, we have five acres of the school buildings, the St. Mary’s Hall is privately owned and the university owns 10 acres.

Dow:

Congratulations on your expansion to mixed age pre-K. It’s a shame New Mexico doesn’t recognize Montessori for the wonderful program it is. There is a big the push for community schools. Have you talked to Silver Schools because they will may also be providing an after-school program?

Somehow New Mexico thinks that mixed age pre-K with three- and four-year-olds together will somehow damage kids. We all survived playing with our siblings. You are a study and model for how mixed age can benefit students, and maybe someday, New Mexico will recognize that three-year-olds and four-year-olds can be together and still learn.

Egnal:

We have a vision for a year-round Montessori education. We work with the Recreation Center to have a diversity of students, especially in pre-K, and we want to focus on a high-quality STEAM program for school-aged students.

Dow:

The legislation for community schools requires that public schools partner with non-profit schools. If you can get in early, you can become a model.

Egnal:

Thank you for supporting the mixed-age classroom. We’ve had enough interest for an additional one, but we did not get the funding.

Heart of the Gila was represented by Executive Director Patrice Mutchnick:

 Mutchnick:

We got junior monies this past year to model our public, private, non-profit collaboration for use of public lands. We also got federal and state money, and we worked with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition statewide and locally. We have as partners, local businesses, such as outfitters to work on the trails. They get deferred permits, and we got trail maintenance money in September. We have spent $11,000, with already five projects, and have had 57 volunteers put in 1,400 hours of labor. We are solving problems with collaboration. We have training for volunteers. People are seeing progress. Because we see outdoor recreation as a major part of tourism, we want to continue a sustained effort for outdoor recreation.

Ramos:

Being an outdoor advocate, I like to see usage of the trails by different organizations. How many hunting groups do you have helping with you?

Mutchnick:

We haven’t engaged with hunting groups, but it’s a good option. If you have someone in mind, please suggest someone.

Ramos:

Being a guide, I appreciate you, because the better the trails, the better for all of us.

Dow:

I congratulate you for your film, using tragedy to promote beauty.

Mutchnick:

I have an idea to bring state funding to bring children to public lands. I have a few ideas.

Dow:

It certainly seems you will be eligible for funding from the new Outdoor Recreation Agency.

Mutchnick:

Your state money pays for per diems for leaders. We did Emory Pass and Sawyer Peak. We compensated the volunteers with lunch. Instead of going for the RFP, we are competing for available funds. We get monies that come through non-profits. We want to pay AmeriCorps volunteers. We are also thinking about younger kids, such as elementary and young teens.

Dow:

You have a strong start.

Mimbres Region Arts Council was represented by Executive Director Kevin Lenkner:

 Lenkner:

I am advocating for increased funding for New Mexico Arts Commission and the Arts and Military program, as well as for arts and education.

We hosted a session at Fort Bayard Theater with the Arts and Military group. We had the best attendance in the state. We are also working with Paulo Veltri at the Western New Mexico University Veterans’ Resource Center.

Page 3 of your packet is an infographic of all the benefits of arts education.

In 2018, a study showed that 94 percent of all Americans think the arts should be part of school.

On behalf of the members, the staff and the schools, we encourage you to continue to support the NM Arts Commission.

Ramos:

I appreciate the Arts and Military program. Maybe you can get a piece of Fort Bayard for the arts.

Dow:

I’m excited about the ideas to use Fort Bayard.

Lenkner:

New Mexico Arts is asking for increased funding and supports the Arts and Military program.

Dow:

Have you thought of working with HMS for peer support groups using the arts?

Lenkner:

They were all invited.

Dow:

Arts and education is billable in support groups. Could it be the hospital or a comprehensive health center.

Silver City MainStreet Project was represented by Executive Director Charmeine Wait, Board President Patrick Hoskins and Silver City Assistant Town Manager James Marshall:

 Wait:

We have been a MainStreet Project since 1985, collaborating with the town of Silver City. We are grateful for the funding for the MainStreet Plaza. We are requesting $160,000 for a roof rebuild and installation of solar panels on the Silco Theater, a historic theater in downtown Silver City. It opened in 2015, and it has increased the foot traffic to restaurants and other businesses. One restaurant offers a discount to a patron with a theater stub. The current electrical costs are up to $1,500 a month. Solar panes would reduce the costs.

Dow:

Congratulations on all the grants and awards you received in a very competitive process. Was it fully funded?

Wait:

Yes, for $170,000 we received, we will finish the plaza.

Marshall:

We are also requesting $45,000 to transition the marquee from neon to LED. Part of it is not functioning at the moment.

Dow:

This may be controversial, but who is deciding which movies come to the Silco?

Wait:

Because the Silco can show only single movies at a time, we don’t get to pick. They tell you what you can show, how long and they take 65 percent of the ticket sales. It’s a very tough industry. We are showing first run movies. The new operators are making profits on the concession stand. We don’t have control over the movies we show.

They show Thursday through Sunday. On Monday through Wednesday, we could show the Heart of the Gila movie for private ticketing.

I want to point out that LED will take a fraction of the electricity and looks exactly the same as the neon.

Southwest New Mexico ACT was represented by Director Lee Gruber:

 Gruber:

We are a 501c3, establish for the Silver City Arts and Cultural District I’m here to present the Five Points Initiative. They all are on or very near U.S. Highway 180. We want to become a destination for heritage, culture and creativity. The idea came up after a USDA study to determine if there were building that could be used as makerspaces or business incubators. When we started looking, we realized what a wealth of historic buildings we have in Grant County. We decided to put together an initiative that will recognize those buildings and help move economic development. One will be the train station in Hurley, the Union Hall in Bayard, the Grant Hotel in Santa Clara, the Waterworks building in Silver City and the old Hurley School building in Arenas Valley. We are writing grants for economic development jobs, historic preservation and workforce development.

We are not requesting capital outlay at this time but expect to do so in the future. We are working on a Rural Community Development Initiative Grant from USDA-Rural Development.

Dow:

Are you able to do restoration on private buildings?

Gruber:

Really good question. Yes, but you have to be careful where funds are spent.

Dow:

I know the landlord of a place in Sierra County had to write a letter. I love the Waterworks Building. It’s beautiful.

Gruber:

It’s been 15 years since we started working on it. Remediation has been done. It will be the first one we do more work on. Silver City is working with the CDT Coalition to make it one of the stops along the trail. We are working with all the mayors and the county. We want to involve all aspects of the population.

S.P.I.N, Supporting People in Need, was represented by Executive Director Christian Wolford and Support Services Coordinator Michelle Grayless:

 Grayless:

We are bringing in supportive housing to rural New Mexico. Grant County has a rental housing shortage. We are striving to provide supportive housing for those with mental health issues. We want support for permanent supportive housing through the legislature. No matter where we build it will be expensive because everything is rock. Capital outlay would help buffer the costs. We are asking for is set-asides in Low-Income housing tax credits are available.

Ramos:

Thanks for the tour. You make the best of the space you have. You all a do a good job. Hopefullly we can find a spot for you in Grant County.

Dow:

I’m blown away by your commitment to this. It is an endeavor of love. You have a long hard road ahead of you. I hope we can help.

Tour of the Gila was represented by Martyn Pearson, representing Race Director Jack Brennan:

 Pearson:

The race next year will take place April 29- May 3, 2020. We will have UCI pro men, UCI pro women and six amateur categories next year. We received 82 amateur entries on our Black Friday Sale, up 33 percent from the previous Black Friday Sale. That is one of the reasons why we have financial backing, but another reason is from a lady named Leah Sturgis, who is bringing in new money and a production crew. We will have an 8-hour stream of the Downtown Criterium. We also have a relationship with SkyWest Media, which is showcasing the Tour of the Gila for Silver City and Grant County across the country. They are doing so well that the city of Deming will piggyback on the Tour of the Gila website to also showcase Deming, as well as Silver City.

I want to thank you, Senator Ramos, for your help in making sure the Tour of the Gila keeps happening.

Ramos:

We’re looking forward to working with you and Jack to make sure we have a positive outcome and keep the race going.

Dow:

Maybe the new Outdoor Recreation Office will have a different perspective from that of New Mexico True and the Tourism Department.

STEAMing Ahead for Success was represented by Chief Executive Officer Maria Elena Garcia and Chief Financial Officer Felicia Abeyta:

 [Note: This writer did not know which woman was which, so the names may be mixed up.]

Garcia:

We are a non-profit, founded to provide high-caliber real-world opportunities for students but also for educators at Silver and Cobre Schoosl, as well as at Western New Mexico University, Lordsburg schools and New Mexico State University.

Through partnerships, every program has a family engagement aspect.

The Silver teachers are getting trained on multi-media equipment purchased with funding from Freeport-McMoRan. Our STEAM journey began at Cobre, where we trained 12 middle school and high school teaches, who developed a complete curriculum. It was a huge success. We want to build on that and create STEAM communities with Drone Camp. The program is open to any student. We also have a biotech component from NMSU and Stantec Engineering. We help create solutions. We held a CSI camp and a college readiness camp.

We are engaging to do a trip to do at film at NMSU SOAR Center and at a TV station. Teachers will be trained in these curricula.

Ramos:

I know the drone program at Cobre got kids really excited. The excitement brought good benefits.

Dow:

It also invigorates the staff. It has a lot of impact.

Abeyta:

We are hoping to get an appropriation of funding. We have other grants coming in. Partnerships are working well. We are starting small. The need is incredible, especially here. For the drone piece, each student had a different role, from writing plans to engineering. The camps gave them hands on experience. During the two-week camp, the students competed and they had a community presentation at the end. Each student also had to write a report, so it gave them learning in English, science and technology. Maybe one of you can carry a bill for us.

Ramos:

I would be happy to carry the bill.

Abeyta:

Teacher Cindy Lee won a national teacher award with her participation in the drone camp. She will work with us.

So far, we’ve worked with a small number of students. We want to open it up to a larger group so all the students have an opportunity to participate in our STEAM academies.

Ramos:

Some of the kids will actually get an FAA certificate, the ones that are close to 18 years old.

Abeyta:

We are learning the whole process on registering and how to get certifications. It’s all part of career readiness and awareness.

Dow:

When you do a staff training, do they use your kits or do you just host them?

Garcia:

We hosted it at Cobre, trained the teachers and gave them the curriculum and then we went through the training as if they were the students.

El Refugio Domestic Violence Shelter was represented by Board Member Bruce Ashburn,  Director Rachel Sierra and another woman who did not give her name:

 Ashburn:

We don’t have any movies and nothing exciting to share. There’s some real irony here that domestic violence is last on the agenda, because it is often last in people’s minds. Did you know that 11 people that have been served at El Refugio have been killed because of domestic violence? It’s rather sobering. It’s not important to you until it hits home. Over the past year, we have served 643 different clients. That’s 103 more than in all of Las Cruces. Does the center continue to serve those who need us?

We have two asks today. We need $20,000 in funding from each of you, so we can offset increasing costs, increase salaries. We have overall operating issues, including building needs. If we have no funding, we maybe cannot continue. We need funding that continues to pay for the operation of the facility. We are only paid when we have people in the shelter. When we have no one, we have no funding to pay salaries, to pay the costs of operating the shelter, and it’s getting to the point where it is difficult to continue. We have a program that helps the kids when their parents are in the shelter. We offer counseling to those who have been sexually abused or sexually assaulted. The task force was created in the 1990s. It’s still functioning in the community.

Ramos:

Thank you for the tour and thank you for being here. I like that you work with the kids. Your program is doing so much for the community. I’ll do everything I can to support you.

Dow:

You’re literally saving lives. I don’t know how you put a price on it. There has been a lot of discussion on the issues. I didn’t realize… even if you have a contract, you only receive reimbursement for service?

Sierra:

Yes. We used to be only fee for service, but even with a contract, we only receive reimbursement when we have clients in the facility. We’re not even at 50 percent of our budget. We want it spent by December. We negotiated to spend $25,000. La Casa was fee for service. We can never predict. We received an email that if by mid-December, we hadn’t spent 50 percent, they would have to retain it and take $55,000 back and allocate it somewhere else. La Casa spent it for us.

Another woman:

We are a 501c3, receiving some state and federal funding, some foundation funding and some local and private funding. The majority of our funding comes from CYFD.

Sierra:

We have been full since January but had a lull before that.

Ashburn:

Even though we’re full, we have contracted those dollars elsewhere, so even though we’re full, we can’t pay the bills. We have to use saving.

Dow:

Are you funded year by year or four years at a time by CYFD.

Sierra:

Four years at a time, for close to 10 years. This year, we are expected to do an RFP, but now they have decided we aren’t going to do an RFP, we’re just going to get a single amount of money.

Zamora:

We need to meet with CYFD.

Dow:

It’s so complicated because the BHSD is so broken up, CYFD and HSD have no coordination. When everything is fee for service, you need a base rate.

Ashburn:

Whether there are people in the center or not, we have overhead costs. It can’t be dependent on having someone in the center or not.

Sierra:

We are trying to stay away from Medicaid.

Dow:

These are immediate need. CYFD is moving toward evidence-based, which is almost impossible in rural areas. CYFD thinks there will always be federal funding. I’m cautious about that.

[The forum ended, with Zamora thanking everyone who was there, as the forum was a way to let the community know about what’s going on in the community.]

 

 

 

 

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