Prospectors’ Legislative Forum
Friday, Dec. 2, 2011
Western New Mexico University
Besse-Forward Global Resource Center
(written by Mary Alice Murphy from notes during the presentations. I did not get everything that was said. I bolded names to show each speaker, and I put in section markers in bolded capital letters.)
Julie Morales, Prospectors president – moderator
This forum started with the intention of giving legislators information on local issues. Once it was all about money. For the past couple of years, there’s been no money.
Prospectors are the lobbying group for the community. Our day in Santa Fe at the 2012 legislative session will be Jan. 26 at the La Fonda.
We will try to set up meetings with Gov. Susana Martinez and/or Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, as well as cabinet secretaries to discuss our priorities.
Each year we develop a brochure that we give to legislators with our priorities.
District 39 Rep. Rodolpho “Rudy” S. Martinez:
It’s warm in here, but the considerable weather outside is like this year’s legislative session will be. It will be a challenge.
We have made some gains, with increases in revenues.
The Permanent Fund has been impacted by the stock market, but it is still healthy, in fact, among the healthiest in the nation.
But we want to provide for the citizens of the state.
We three—I and Rep. Hamilton and Sen. Morales work together for your benefit.
The challenge of redistricting we will have to deal with after the legislative session.
I can’t say enough about the Prospectors. This forum is an immense help to us, and the Prospectors continue to provide information during the session.
We all recognize the needs, and it’s reassuring to have the proper information.
As far as the Legislature goes, the process for the session has begun. Rep. Hamilton and I will co-sponsor a memorial for Fort Bayard. I will also pre-file three bills on veterans’ issues.
We have to balance the budget, but we need to focus on the needs of New Mexico citizens, especially education and our students, who are the avenues of bringing in economic opportunities.
There will be challenges, but we will face them.
District 38 Rep. Dianne Hamilton:
Both Rep. Martinez and I serve on the Interim Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.
We need to make the state attractive to returning military members. A problem is that a bill won’t pass that stipulates no state tax for retiring military members.
An innovative electronic method for treating PTSD has been developed. We want a pilot project at Western New Mexico University.
There are still problems with the state’s finances, but we’re not bankrupt like other states.
Mining is doing better. Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. will open Cobre Mine again.
This is just a 30-day session. The first week we enter all our bills. The analysts—the Democrats and the Republicans each have analysts— have to read and analyze the bills, so that first week we can’t get much done. I think it will be an interesting session. With a little bit more money, we can perhaps help. We have cut higher education to the quick. At Western we have been lucky to have no faculty laid off, but they’re working harder. We have more students, but less money.
Rep. Martinez and I keep each other informed. Rep. Martinez and Sen. Morales get together often, and they keep me informed.
Senovia Ray—she’s a firebrand— called me to attend a meeting the day before I was leaving for a 60-day session. I said: ‘You’re not in my district.’ She replied: ‘I thought you represented all citizens.’ I went to the meeting.
This forum is nice for us to know what’s going on in the community.
District 28 Sen. Howie Morales:
Yesterday I attended a similar event in Socorro.
I came in in 2008 when we still had money. Then, no money. It has been interesting and tough to see how legislators dealt with the latter.
We haven’t touched the Permanent Fund and didn’t close schools.
Our neighboring states, California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas all have budget problems. We’ve managed to come out without too much damage, although $300 million in projects was lost.
Into the 2012 session, the environment is that no new revenues are coming in, but we hope to restore some cuts to higher education and early childhood education. There is a new funding formula, and we’ll look at outputs from schools. I will advocate for early childhood, K-12 and higher education.
We have a $200 million surplus, so we will add $60 million to Medicaid.
We have to stay about $100 million in the General Fund.
State employees have taken a 3.5 percent cut.
Congress today will vote on whether to extend the payroll tax holiday. If they do not pass it, we could go into recession, and we will be looking at a 2.5 percent cut. If a person makes $40,000 a year, he or she would take a $100 a month hit. A family with two wage earners would take a $200 hit.
(Morales was estimating—the actual hit would be $83.33 a month, or if two $40,000 earners in the family, it would be a $166.67 hit a month)
If we take money out of citizens’ hands, we will go into recession.
Pension swaps and New Mexico Educational Retirement Board changes are needed. If we don’t make changes, we will go insolvent. It will take a hit but will be solvent.
We haven’t had capital outlay funds for the past couple of years, but this year we’ve seen huge windfalls from oil and gas.
Some projects municipalities and counties were planning never got finished. The projects that are in place—if you get them in, we will see what we can do.
At the Legislative Finance Committee meeting all next week, we will talk about capital outlay, whether to concentrate on statewide projects or some local ones.
You are fortunate to have people advocating for you. I know Priscilla (Lucero) serves on the Colonias Infrastructure Fund. She will help us.
There is a discrepancy in representation between urban and rural areas. There are eight senators just in Bernalillo County. I serve Catron, Socorro and Grant counties.
I hope to get some capital outlay projects in. If there is no capital outlay, there will be colonias funding. Because I will be able to understand the issues from this forum, I will be able to add language to things for funding.
About Fort Bayard, my concern is that it should be a statewide facility. The WNMU pool should also be a statewide facility.
The No. 1 goal of the session is a balanced budget.
I look forward to the session.
Grant County Planner Anthony Gutierrez
Gutierrez: When we discovered we didn’t have capital outlay, it was good for us. It taught us to be independent and to work regionally. We have come up with different planning methods. It has resulted positively.
Most of our topic question answers address infrastructure, the regulatory requirements of the Department of Transportation and the Environment Department. They give us no money but seem to mandate more requirements. We get no money, so we have to spend local resources to meet mandates. The DOT regulations and engineering guidelines and the environmental requirements have put a strain on local governments and small rural communities.
The county is working on an economic development master plan.
If money is available, we would like an increase in match money for matching federal money.
Our work force may not be adequate, so we’re looking at developing the work force, as well as providing incentives for new businesses or expanding local businesses.
Morales: What’s the timeline for the Conference Center?
County Manger Jon Paul Saari: We’re in the design process, and hope to go out to bid the first of the year and end by the end of 2012 to complete the $2 million grant.
Morales: I know the Arizona Water Settlements Act planning is in process. What’s new in the regional water system?
Gutierrez: Silver City could talk better to that. We’re working with Santa Clara to link the Arenas Valley Mutual Domestic Water Association system to Santa Clara’s, and the county is working on its reservoir project, which made it through the Tier-1 application process and is almost ready for the Tier-2 application deadline of Dec. 14.
Morales: What are the New Mexico Association of Counties priorities?
Saari: There is a tax lightening proposal, a better tracking of gross receipts tax, so it is recorded in the local area, decriminalizing traffic citations, because the jails are full of failure-to-pay inmates, allowing counties to ban fireworks in extreme drought conditions, and another one. I’ll get the priorities list to you.
Hold harmless is not a priority. We thought the Legislature wouldn’t go there this session, but now we’re finding out it will be brought up. County managers will meet the 16th and 17th, right before the session, and we will discuss the issue.
Hamilton: Have we looked at getting a four-lane highway to Deming?
Saari: We have had discussions with DOT. The last I heard, it will be four-lane to the Grant County line and enhanced two-lane to Hurley, but the DOT didn’t get any funding for it.
Morales: The money was sent to another part of the state. What we are going to do is widen the highway, in order to prepare. There is a question whether the federal government will allocate any money to it.
Hamilton: The Secretary of Economic Development said the main hold up for us is the lack of a four-lane highway.
Morales: Secretary Alvin Dominguez, who served with the DOT down here in District 1, and Muffet Foy Cuddy, as DOT chief of the programs division, and is a native of the area, have helped us.
Saari: If you’re talking to the DOT, we have a problem. When we get local road funds, we have a cash match or an in-kind match. The figures they are using for the in-kind match are old figures. We requested they look at them, which they did and reduced what in-kind is worth. Now it’s worse, because we don’t get our costs estimated correctly. A blade costs $100 an hour. DOT gives us $50 an hour. Let us use our costs. Diesel fuel prices have gone up; tack oil has gone up $200 a barrel. It makes it difficult for us to do road projects.
Morales: In a road meeting, the DOT told us projects had jumped from costing $12 million to $24 million.
Gutierrez: We used to use a waste product for asphalt. Now it can be turned into gasoline, so the price has gone up. I don’t know of any new technologies. We tried to use old tires; we tried using polymers, which was better and a bit cheaper, but neither held up as well.
Saari: T.J. Trujillo, Tony’s son knows about a product that you can put on dirt roads. I’ll try to get some more information. The county has 700 miles of road and only four blades to maintain them.
Morales: We’re looking at local projects. I know roads will be a priority.
Saari: We will work with Bayard and Western New Mexico University, because we have the road equipment.
Martinez: I thank the county for stepping up to help small communities and Silver City.
About Highway 180, in a conversation I had with Secretary Dominguez, he said the reason it was four-lane from Deming to the Grant County line was because Deming had some money because of all its side roads off the highway. It’s good news to keep the project on the books. We’ll keep working on it.
At the state and federal level, we’re looking at loan/grant money at 60/40, Can the county benefit from that?
Saari: The North Hurley project is a loan/grant project. We are looking at Community Development Block Grant Program grants and using our money to match larger federal dollars. When it’s a 20 percent or 30 percent match, we can do it. If we can get match money from the state, we will use it to match the federal dollars.
We’ve had $70 million in projects locally in the past few years, the new Fort Bayard Medical Center, the Business and Conference Center and the new jail.
Martinez: Regionalization is working. We thank the coalition for working together.
Gutierrez: We have the Stronger Economies Together project. Every county and municipality in the four-county area signed a memorandum of understanding to regionalize for economic development. We are one of the first in the country.
Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments: I will send you a copy.
Town of Silver City
Mayor James Marshall and Town Manager Alex Brown
Marshall: We appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedules to listen to us.
The town of Silver City is very healthy, with greater than six years of clean audits. Gross receipts are up 9.5 percent, back to 2007 levels. That allows us to do innovative things. Lodgers’ tax is up 21.4 percent from last year. That will allow us to keep hotels full.
We cleared all debt and bonded new money for quality-of-life projects. We went out this year and got our own rating. Standard & Poor’s lists us as A+.
S&P did have a concern about our lack of local control of revenue. We are competent in keeping our books, but it boils down to hold harmless. The state has control of our funding. It is the biggest barrier to local communities being independent. The New Mexico Constitution leans toward local control, which is critical to our success. We have to step up and fund our own projects.
The state or federal government, with some local funding, has funded housing rehabilitation, the 10th Street realignment, Vistas de Plata affordable housing project, Pope & 12th Street signalization, Jose Barrios/Silva Creek pedestrian bridge, and the College Street project.
Out of the town’s own funding, we have created a downtown master plan, used local funding to plan a Scott Park Sports Complex and will seek state funding to construct, used local funding to replace the Parks Maintenance Building roof, locally funded the Scott Park Golf Course club house, are using local and state funding for swimming pool improvements, used local funding for the Gabby Hayes Well replacement, and are using state funding for sewer line extension.
Martinez: Silver City has taken significant steps to self-sufficiency. It is certainly a model for other communities. What about the regional water system?
Brown: Hurley asked for $13 million for transmission lines to Hurley from the Silver City well field near the Grant County Airport.
I met with the USDA Rural Utilities Division to explain the regional water system. The town of Silver City is going to put in 93 acre-feet and take the water to Hurley and on to Santa Clara. I got the RUS excited to fund the project.
The value of the water rights can go toward the match, as well as the $230,000 plan and model of the region. We have asked for $2.5 million from the Arizona Water Settlements Act, and I hope we get it for a match.
I think we can do the project within four years through RUS, if we go through the Grant County Water Commission.
If we get all the matches, nothing will come out of the small communities pockets.
The water will flow from Silver City to the airport and back up for the communities and economic development for the entire county.
Martinez: Has there been any consideration to costs to small communities with a raise in rates?
Brown: If we can use the water rights value and our $230,000 plan, it would be a match, so there would be no need for a loan, unless we need to pump it or if an economic development entity wants the water. Then, it would be offset by added revenues.
Martinez: Could the reuse of effluent qualify for the match?
Brown: Yes, part of it is our reuse of effluent. It will work with the regional wastewater plant putting effluent into Silva Cree for water credits.
Hamilton: Do you have a landfill problems? Do you have plenty of land?
Brown: We do have issues. We are building two cells, but have problems, so we have to put more money into them. The water table is rising at the landfill and we have to raise the current cells, so we will have a return to use additional space. The current life is 25 years, because of recycling.
Hamilton: Recycling is a good thing. As a child during World War II, my mom recycled everything.
What about the memorandum of understanding that was mentioned by Anthony?
Marshall: It is based on economies of scale. We have to regionalize because we’re not competitive with communities that have 60,000 in population. Recently, we have been coming together in the four counties so we don’t compete with each other. We can build each other up, instead of tearing each other down.
Morales: About hold harmless. I don’t feel I can support taking it away because the state will then have to help the communities. Because the food tax was repealed, it would be a huge amount of revenue loss to communities.
The discussion is to move little by little to take hold harmless away. No revenue is coming in, so we can’t give it out. I think we have to work together, but it is very much on the table this year. Maybe there will be a phase-in of 10 percent a year. Municipalities can’t afford taking the hit in one year. I have confusion on the GRT.
Brown: Silver City doesn’t have as much construction in town as in the county. There are different categories of GRT, such as construction. GRT is the main revenue for police, fire, streets, parks, and the library. Not everybody does construction, but they do use services. The one source of revenue that was stable the state took away. Everybody eats. There were arguments about hurting lower-income people. Food stamps have never been taxed.
That is one of our main objections with the Municipal League. We need to educate the legislators about why this is so important to communities and why we need it.
Silver City can raise taxes by the Council tomorrow, but the county revenues are based on property tax. We don’t want to raise taxes right now. Why raise it unless we really need it.
The Legislature doesn’t look at the big picture. Look at the big picture and how it affects us, not the little pieces.
Morales: Appreciate that we have the responsibility of state agencies. We don’t have the ability to raise taxes. It’s different with hold harmless. We did it to ourselves. There’s got to be a way to work through it. It’s a balancing act.
I want to touch base. You get 1 percent back for arts on construction projects, don’t you?
Brown: Yes, if it is legislatively funded. We pretty much always have a loss, and have to put in our own dollars to finish a project. We always plan for contingencies to complete a project or we take out of our own money to do the planning and design. Most of the time, it comes out of our pockets.
Morales: I want to carry a bill to put 1 percent to communities to support extra expenses.
Brown: Something to think about. You’re giving us money to do a project, then we are sending the GRT to the state and some comes back to us.
Morales: We talked about doing something about that, but it makes communities vulnerable. The 7 percent is always paid, so I suggest we give 1 percent back to the community.
City of Bayard
Mayor Charles Kelly
George Esqueda, Engineers Inc. office manager
Priscilla Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments director
Kelly: I am speaking on behalf of Bayard, myself, and the City Council. We are in financial fair shape, paying bills, as a small town struggling. The City Council and staff really watch the money spent.
We have some problems finishing projects.
Martinez: Give us the priority list.
Kelly: The main priority is water—well fields maintenance and replacement. We have done a lot of line replacement and street repairs. We need to finish the cemetery.
Water and streets are our main priority. We have asked for funding for the Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. Hanover will be the last to join. We have requested funding from the Water Trust Board for water lines.
The public library is a success story. We are setting up books and computers. It will be great for young and old.
We completed Central Avenue for sidewalks and lighting except for the part by 180. We had a match, but the money reverted, and now they say we have to match again.
A New Mexico Environment Department person, Steven Deal, in the Las Cruces office, says everything with the wastewater plant has to go through him, but then it comes to a screeching halt.
Morales: You requested $587,000 for the cemetery. Is that a phase or completion?
Kelly: It’s only a phase. It would include parking and a ceremony area, but not all the plots. It will provide 2000 to 3000 plots, which would last a while. It includes the amount needed for roads, walkways, design, shrubs, and such for the original plan. The expansion would be done later as needed.
Morales: It may be difficult at that amount. We need discussions to see what other funding is available.
Kelly: We have only recently found out that we need to match again on the road project, so we don’t have any extra funding. Help us to get an understanding about the road match.
Morales: You put the match in, but the funding was lost and you got no refund on the match. We’ll try to resolve the issue.
Martinez: Was the letter about the match from District 1 or Santa Fe?
Kelly: I believe it was District 1.
Esqueda: The city originally met the match for a large project, but more than $500,000 was reverted, so they will have to match twice, since it was taken back as part of the reversion.
Morales: A lot of projects in rural areas have been forgotten.
Esqueda: The city of Bayard paid for the design, and they can’t use that funding toward the match.
Morales: We have to explore it.
Kelly: On the point of match money, Silver City has been blessed to put money aside for future projects. We set money aside and then we have to use it for a match and cannot accumulate funding.
Lucero: There were dollars in the Infrastructure Fund for GRIP. The money is still there, but we need to have it available for other projects. We need to change the language. How better to use those accruing dollars?
Morales: I know Hurley had requested a match from that fund.
Lucero: The money continues to accrue.
Morales: If the money was taken away, my concern is where it went.
Martinez: Discussions with the previous DOT secretary indicated that much of the funding was from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That tied the money up, so it could not be refunded.
Hamilton: Any dollars reverted went into one pot. His other comment was that the department was taking the money and putting it into projects that the department deemed as priority.
Saari: Grant County was in a similar position on Rosedale Road. We used our match for engineering. They took the rest of the money away, so we lost our match.
Morales: Before going ahead on Paseo del Norte, we need to resolve these problems.
Martinez: We three can ask questions: We will ask for details on how much was spent by Bayard.
Kelly: Engineer’s Inc. will have the information.
Town of Hurley
Mayor Edward Encinas
Encinas: Thank you for listening to our sob stories.
Currently we are doing Diaz Avenue. GRIP II funding was reverted and then given back to Hurley for sidewalks. We won’t be able to complete Lea Drive.
Our biggest issue is water. We’re in dire need of independent water sources, which will cost about $11 million to $12 million.
I met with individuals in Albuquerque and talked about the regionalization of the water system, as proposed by Silver City. We have used Community Development Block Grant, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Division, legislative finance and co-op funds.
On top of water being our top priority, we will have to go to Phase II on Diaz Avenue for lighting. It will require $180,000. To complete Lea Drive and the side streets between E Avenue and Lea Drive will cost about $450,000. The CDBG funding that is paying for the current phase of Lea Drive will be completed in mid-December.
I want to fix the streets and roads, so businesses will come into Hurley. We are limited to business revenue from one hotel, one restaurant, a bar and a hairdresser. We’re also limited with buildings or lots.
We get funding and build something, then we forget about the maintenance. Maintenance is an important part of projects.
Morales: I appreciate the information on the road projects’ progress. Is the town of Hurley going for a match?
Esqueda: Hurley has been fortunate to get the $25,000 in road funds and a match of $8,000 for Cortez Avenue. The town also received Local Government Road Fund money. The $10,000 match was waived, and Hurley will receive $40,000.
Morales: What criteria had to be met?
Esqueda: The Department of Transportation makes the decision, and Hurley and Santa Clara received match waivers.
Morales: The legislative appropriation was $1 million. If we’re only getting $100,000, that’s not much.
Esqueda: I have a list of DOT District 1 waivers.
Morales: We will see if we need to increase the funding and whether the funding is evenly balanced. I want to make sure the funding is used where it is needed most.
Esqueda: The LGRF helps the communities match federal funds. Typically, Santa Clara and Hurley receive about $40,000; Bayard a bit more and Silver City about $80,000.
Morales: I will ask, so I can get the big picture.
Hamilton: Has a water supply for Hurley been identified?
Encinas: Yes, Silver City has graciously offered the water from its well field at the airport. It will cost about $180,000 to develop the well and pump, and another $10 million to $12 million to get it to the water tanks.
Hamilton: Is there any federal money?
Encinas: I have not yet pursued federal funding.
Eventually Freeport will take its water back.
Hamilton: I am impressed with how good the town looks.
Lucero: The water project needs support. Even federal groups can’t do $10 million to $11 million. Rick Martinez of the New Mexico Finance Authority did not realize the water project would be regional.
This is actually Phase I of the regional water system. We will include all the phases, so we have access to USDA funding. We have already applied to the USDA RUS to fund at least a portion of the project. I think we’re well on our way to funding it.”
Martinez: Has any type of dialogue taken place with Freeport for transporting water from the well field to the town?
Encinas: The only documentation we have from Freeport is that we have to be water independent.
Martinez: There have been no discussions with Freeport on using the present infrastructure?
Encinas: The Starks Field pipe has asbestos in it and would have to be replaced, so we are going with the airport well field.
Martinez: Was any of the road funding using in-kind services for a match?
Esqueda: A mechanism is in place to track soft matches.
Encinas: Thank you for getting the GRIP II funding back for Hurley.
Morales: George had all the required documentation to enable it.
Village of Santa Clara
Santa Clara Deputy Clerk Josephine Moore
Moore: Our new fire station is set for completion Dec. 15. All the capital outlay dollars have been spent. We are bringing our audits up to date. The 2008 audit is at the state. We will begin the 2009 this month. We would like to see an expansion of the fire station and would like to have sidewalks and lighting on Bayard Street. Our wells need to be rewired, and we would like to eventually get electronic meters and readers to get the reading more accurate. We want new equipment for maintenance. Now we have to borrow or rent it.
We will apply for CDBG funding for Bayard Street.
Morales: I have a question about the scope of work being redirected for the fire station.
Lucero: The only way to reduce the scope and the requested funding was by ensuring the fire station would be functional, or CDBG would not have approved it.
Martinez: I have a question about the rewiring of the wells.
Moore: Right now, the Maintenance Department has to go turn the wells on, read the meters, then go back to turn the wells off.
Martinez: Yes, that is labor intensive. It would be beneficial to the community for the wells to be computer controlled.
Esqueda: The village has received RUS funding for replacing streets and water lines, but only about 45 percent of them have been completed. We know there are areas that need to be addressed. The Maintenance Department addresses leaks as soon as possible. The village can’t take on loans, and it doesn’t have a match. Santa Clara did redo the booster station and had to take on a small loan.
Martinez: What is being done for the inadequate and antiquated equipment and the costs of water and maintenance?
Lucero: If I remember. Of the preliminary engineering reports on the four phases of the project, the village is in only Phase II.
Morales: Does Santa Clara have a five-year plan?
Lucero: The village has an approved capital improvement plan, including the Maple Street Bridge.
The Bayard Street project, because that’s where the city hall and fire station are located, can get CDBG funding. We have also looked at probable costs for the water system and Bayard Street.
Morales: I would like to have the estimates.
Lucero: We need to get all the capital improvement plans into your notebooks.
Martinez: Was Bayard Street turned over to Santa Clara or does it still belong to the DOT?
There is a major issue during flood season at the end of Bayard Street. There could be unfortunate circumstances. Was the plan to extend Oak Street to make the crossing safer?
Lucero: The Maple Street Bridge is on the regional transportation improvement fund list. I will check to see if the street is deeded to the village.
Esqueda: I know the DOT has documentation on the low-water crossings on Oak Street and Maple Street, so it is not limited access for emergency vehicles.
Western New Mexico University
Sherri Bays, Western New Mexico University vice president of business affairs
Bays: I believe it is valuable to the legislators to hear the needs of the region.
Western’s No. 1 goal is to provide the highest possible quality education at the lowest cost. We are requesting $1 million for redoing the pool and gymnasium complex. The general obligation bonds cannot be used for this purpose, only for academics.
The university is spending $100,000 to upgrade information technology throughout the campus.
Dr. (Joseph) Shepard is on an aggressive track to increase IT on the campus. We are replacing antiquated equipment, especially the telephone system, which was old when we bought it from Tech 20 years ago.
The WNMU Museum received one of the largest privately held Mimbres collections. We want to preserve it in a climate-controlled space and enhance security.
The university previously requested $26 million for infrastructure needs and received $7 million. We ask that the request remain, and we be allowed to borrow for upgrading and expanding, as Western was rated first in the four-year category as having facilities in the worst condition.
I also have an equipment request for athletics, especially to replace buses.
We also ask that funding remain constant and that the formula be followed.
Not only critical to Western, but also to the other higher education facilities in the state, we ask for the tuition credit to be returned to the universities. The state taking the additional tuition is a barrier to our serving additional students.
Western’s employees have gone a long time without a compensation increase.
We also ask you for continuing support for research and development, and nurses’ education.
Hamilton: It is most important to increase technology, as there are buildings on the campus where students cannot use their computers. That should be followed by increases in compensation for faculty members.
I know the pool is important to the campus and the community. Western is the only university to allow community members to use the pool.
Bays: Upgrading the technology will allow the Voice Over Internet Protocol and voce messages. We will also do additional fiber optics. We have the funding committed, but are way behind.
Hamilton: Higher education in a community is one quality-of-life issue that brings in new residents, as does a good hospital. We will try to help you accomplish your goals.
Morales: I want to touch base on the funding formula. As far as I know, Secretary José Z. Garcia wants to take as much as 5 percent.
Bays: The secretary wants to pull out the money for measurements. If the funding remains constant, we would go up $350,000. People coming back to Western for information technology and work force training helped us.
Morales: Please inform us as things change.
Bays: I think there has been institutional pushback on the secretary’s request, which I consider a positive change. My concern is the integrity of the formula. It’s not great, but it’s the best we could do. We’ll keep you aware of changes.
Morales: I know representatives will work for their own institution, but we need to look at the big picture. Going from 2,500 to 5,000 is a good goal. I have a question about dual enrollment.
Bays: The policy is going to change from allowing high school freshmen to do dual enrollment to only juniors and seniors. Western wants to make sure the students get an education that will lead them into other areas and make sure they are successful in the work force.
Morales: I am happy to see the change, because I saw abuse with double paying the high schools and the universities for the same students.
They should take classes at the high school level if they can, and focus mostly on juniors and seniors for dual enrollment. A very high percentage here are doing dual enrollment.
With pension swaps and cuts, we can start plugging in what was taken away to eliminate the 1.5 percent taken from employees. At Tech, they are losing tenured positions, because they can make more in other states. The state is rebounding, and we need to keep people from leaving.
Martinez: Will the enrollment increase to 5,000 be on the local campus or throughout?
Bays: It will be overall and will include online courses. We want to increase at all levels, with a focus on the academic structure and on-campus traditional-aged students. A lot ties back to technology, and we want to improve on-campus housing.
Martinez: Are there adequate resources to expand the Gallup and T or C campuses?
Bays: Western is trying to meet needs. At Gallup, the university is expanding criminal justice and social work. We assess the return on investment.
Martinez: In expanding programs, Western needs to make sure it has sufficient classrooms.
Bays: Tuition credit return would help.
Early Childhood Education Program at WNMU
Terry Anderson, retiring director of the ECEP program
Anderson: The program is stable if it receives no cuts.
We serve five programs—family counseling, child development, the Growing Tree Program for infants, training and technical assistance for providers and La Familia, and we are the lab site for the early childhood education curriculum.
The program has maintained accreditation and is 5-star rated. We were told: ‘This is what high-quality children’s services should look like.’ We will go through accreditation again next year.
The program serves 120 children. Early childhood quality programs remain critical. Our revenues have fallen. We have lost more than $400,000. And the special appropriation of 25 percent? We’ve lost 64 percent of that. We have also lost 13 positions and two management positions. We are very pleased student government supports us with $22 of every student’s fees going into our program.
The program has sought private funding, but that, too, has tightened.
At risk is the Growing Tree infant program.
This is Melissa Busby—my right hand, who has served as assistant director.
Martinez: How many do you have on the waiting list?
Anderson: About 200. Most are infants through 3 years of age. Mostly it is students who are not being served, although 70 percent of our children have a student as a parent. This need is in small communities throughout the state.
Hamilton: The saddest part is that you are retiring. You have made sure every pot of money has been squeezed. What percentage of the waiting list are children of students?
Anderson: 80 percent are students’ children. The programs for infant slots are only for students, while the 3-, 4-, and 5-year old slots are available for community members.
Hamilton: We wish you the best, and I think your program is important to help mothers not feel that wrench at leaving their children.
Morales: I congratulate you for what you have accomplished with the program.
I didn’t realize the need until I became a parent. We will be discussing a resolution to tap into the Permanent Fund for early childhood education. My concern is there is no plan in place if we take from the Permanent Fund. I hope legislators will be open on education curriculum.
Anderson: I have been in discussion on the Race to the Top grant. If $50 million were to be awarded to New Mexico, it would set the stage for a plan.
Morales: There would be billions for childcare. But we need the educational component.
Anderson: I think New Mexico is trying to combine the early intervention components.
Morales: I did not think it was a good rollout for the third-grade retention of students who cannot read.
Anderson: You will still be seeing me, because I will continue to consult on early-childhood education issues.
Gila Regional Medical Center
Brian Bentley, GRMC chief executive officer
Don McNutt, Emergency Medical Services director
Bentley: EMS services are dual and triple regulated. It’s becoming an increasing problem for small volunteer services.
There are in Grant County 15 emergency medical services, which are mainly volunteer-staffed. They have minimal money to meet regulations and fewer people are volunteering. Key people are retiring, and no one is following to fill the positions.
Regulations require an EMS to have two emergency medical technicians to run an ambulance. Sapillo Creek VFD no longer has ambulance service, which requires a longer response time to get to patients,
Fifty-five percent of EMS systems in the state are made up of volunteers.
An EMT requires 76 hours of training up to a paramedic, which is college level.
Volunteers cannot put in that number of hours, especially if they also hold a job. These small groups are having to move to a response team, who can start to help, but have to wait for an ambulance to do any treatment. The volunteers also have a higher continuing education load than most doctors. Burnout is also a problem. There are 400,000 emergency calls in New Mexico annually.
Yes, you need two sets of hands for an emergency call, but they don’t have to have the same level of training. If the regulations are loosened, we can increase the viability of ambulance services.
Most small ambulance agencies operate at a loss, and collection rates are only 58 percent.
Many of the volunteers are old, their workload is too high, and the educational requirements are too high. A number of solutions would help, including affordable local education opportunities, fewer regulations and incentives to take the training.
Morales: Has a memorial been drafted?
Bentley: I don’t believe so.
McNutt: My opinions are the same as Mr. Bentley’s, especially on loosening the requirements on education.
I think having a first level EMT and a regular EMT in the back of the ambulance would be sufficient. We’re fortunate, but we would like to see the Public Regulation Commission loosen requirements. I would also like to see the oversight of the EMS under the Department of Health, instead of the PRC. They regulate trucks and cattle carriers, but we’re a health-care service. In other states, the EMS is under Health.
Morales: Is the EMS is regulated through the PRC or by statute?
McNutt: By statute, I believe.
Hamilton: How is liability handled?
McNutt: If the service is under the county, it is covered by the county. If it is under GRMC, the hospital carries the liability. Lake Roberts is ours; the others are under the county. We have 45 people on our roll throughout the county.
Because of the education requirements, it is becoming hard to get retiring folks to volunteer.
Firefighters have their own training, but if they become EMTs, the training is practically impossible for them. It’s burdensome.
Hamilton: I see no reason for EMS to be under the PRC. It makes no sense.
Martinez: I served as a volunteer firefighter and a first responder, and, having seen different situations, I know that burnout is a problem.
If a person volunteers for 10 years with a volunteer fire department, he or she will receive $100 a month retirement stipend, and for 25 years, $200 a month.
That is a small incentive. The situation is not getting better. Out-of-pocket expenses are also a problem. I understand the need for continuing education, but we need to figure out how to provide it more easily.
McNutt: My department has tried to increase funding for the educational components, but it’s hard to recruit a 60-year-old because of out-of-pocket expenses that will hurt a family.
An EMT course costs $1,000. That’s hard to pay for. The minimum is $3,000 to $5,000.
Martinez: I, because I used to be a first responder, could bridge to an EMT.
McNutt: That program is no longer available, and it requires 76 hours of education for a first responder. An intermediate EMT requires 200 hours.
You can, however, bridge from paramedic to nurse.
Morales: A move from technical to professional could give a person different options, and perhaps funding could be found.
McNutt: EMTS consider themselves professionals.
Hidalgo Medical Services
Tamera Ahner, HMS workforce development director
Ahner: We’ve been addressing work force development shortages and have stepped up our pace. (She showed a photo of a student at Animas High School whose goal is to become the first doctor in Cotton City.)
We have formed the Frontier and Rural Workforce Development organization, FORWARD NM, of which Gila Regional Medical Center, University of New Mexico, Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces, and the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health are partners with HMS.
We want to enhance the number of local health-care workers in rural areas. We aim to address short and long-term health-care shortages, through the Frontier and Rural Training Program. We want to fund training hubs in Hidalgo and Catron counties and beyond.
New Mexico is 49th in the county per capita in dentists and 32nd for physicians.
We are short 400-600 full-time employees in primary care. And about 1,000 short in nurses.
Those licensed in New Mexico number 7,196, with 33 percent of them practicing outside the state, 53 percent providing care to patients in the state, and 2 percent, providing non-patient related care.
We have a grow-your-own model, not only in southwest New Mexico, but also beyond. We are encouraging local students and helping them with funding resources to keep them local.
Out of 300 high school students surveyed, 35 were interested in becoming M.D.s, 13 interested in mental health, 20 interested in being a medical dentist, with other interested in careers allied to health care.
We now have more dental and pediatric residents at HMS. Nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and master’s in public health workers are also welcomed. We have students who want to be volunteers, and we need mentors who want to mentor younger students.
Year-to-date, HMS had had 68 rotations from seven different disciplines.
Hamilton: How does HMS approach students?
Ahner: We have great support from the schools. They have training in Lordsburg and Animas in a Youth Power Program. The health careers piece is added to the program. We are about to launch a Health Careers Club at La Plata. It will be hands-on in a 12-week program, with mentors coming in. The students will also attend career and health fairs. We are welcoming students into FORWARD NM.
We introduced the volunteer program to allow students to try a career on for size. We also work with Western New Mexico University for a summer camp. We will be at Cobre, Silver and Cliff high schools to show them how to sustain and let them grow the program.
We have discovered that students are coming into the program academically impaired, especially in math. WNMU Professor Zenaido “Tres” Camacho has developed a four-year calculus program to put into the high schools.
Hamilton: Is the Youth Power Program an after-school activity?
Ahner: It is actually a part of the school program, and HMS will have in the spring a vocational teacher, who will also run the Health Careers Club at La Plata.
Hamilton: I think you’re working on helping families to not break the bank.
Ahner: We’re helping families understand that they have to let their child go and how special their child is.
Martinez: HMS has excellent thoughts and ideas on attracting students to rural areas. Is there is any special curriculum?
Ahner: HMS has a program on the secondary level. We are looking to implement it at La Plata. The evidence-based curriculum was developed in Albuquerque.
We’re looking for dollars to implement the program, but we have enough to provide the club at no cost to the schools. We can get statistics to you showing how well the curriculum works.
We’re going beyond the high school level. We’re showing those completing their study in medical fields how to find tax credits to serve in rural areas, but the credits are being reconsidered.
We are looking at extending our outreach to various disciplines to help them repay loans or offer scholarships, especially when it comes to primary care training.
HMS is trying to train for rural health care, but also how to recruit and retain health-care workers.
If we get them involved in the communities, they catch the bug. Now we have people calling us asking for training spots. HMS fronts the financing for these rotations. We have some funding on the federal level, but we’re at capacity. We would like to see an increase on the Department of Health line item for training.
Grant County Community Health Council
Tiffany Knauf, GCCHC coordinator
Priscilla Lucero, GCCHC chairwoman
Knauf: We have 30 members, who are community leaders from different sectors in the community. We meet quarterly and are appointed by the county. We do community assessments and create a plan and profile.
In 2007, GCCHC had five priorities, which will be revisited in 2012. The priorities include behavioral health, community safety, economic development, family resiliency and fitness and nutrition. The priorities are used by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s-funded Community Investment Fund as criteria for all grant proposals.
The health council started in 1991 as the Maternal and Child Health Council for Grant and Hidalgo counties. In 1999, it became the Grant County Community Health Council, funded by the New Mexico Department of Health. In 2010, all funding from DOH was cut, but the council continues to exist on unencumbered funding. In 2012, Gila Regional Medical Center committed to maintaining health council funding, and Grant County provides office space and support.
This is not the case for over 75 percent of the other counties across the state. We really need the support of DOH to keep everyone functional through the coming year. As of June 2012, many other health councils in the state will cease operation.
Based on the results of the 2007 Community Assessment, which tallied 3,000 respondents—10 percent of the county’s population—several main issues were identified.
In economic development, a need exists for vocational training, workforce development and work ethics training.
In access to health services, a need for substance/alcohol abuse treatment, elderly day care/respite and cancer treatments and information were identified. The GRMC Cancer Center and a health council DOH cancer support grant help with these efforts.
Concerns about substance/alcohol abuse, domestic violence, teen pregnancy and a lack of youth activities were identified under community and social health.
Environmental health concerns include road conditions, fire danger and land management.
On overall quality of life in Grant County, 80 percent responded that it was “good” or higher.
One of our most popular events is the Red Hot Children’s Fiesta. Because of the fire in Penny Park, we had to move this year’s to Old James Stadium at Western New Mexico University. We had about 1,900 attendees and handed out 1,000 prizes. The next Red Hot Children’s Fiesta will take place Sept. 15, 2012, and the New Mexico Natural History Museum will bring dinosaur bones for it, because our theme will be “Dinosaurs.”
The health council held two health fairs this year, one in Hachita, which 75 percent of the town’s residents attended, and one in Mimbres, attended by more than 300 residents.
The Prostate Cancer support group offered free prostate antigen specific blood screens for early detection of prostate cancer. Eighty men from the county attended, 50 percent of whom had never been tested before.
The health council produces community resource directories, including a general Community Resource Directory, in its final stages of review; a recently updated Senior Resource Director, of which more than 800 have been distributed; a four-county Cancer Resource Directory, in final stages of review; and a four-county Behavioral Health Resource Directory, last updated in 2009, in collaboration with Local Collaborative 6, which lost funding in 2010, so the directory’s status is unsure.
Because heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Grant County residents, the health council has formed a cardiac support group, provides diabetes testing at health fairs, created in 2010 the 5210 challenge to a healthy lifestyle, and received a Robert Wood Johnson four-year grant for Healthy Kids, Health Communities.
The No. 2 killer of county residents is cancer, with the highest mortality, in order—lung, colon, prostate, and breast cancers. The cancer rate by occurrence is, in order, from the highest being prostate, breast, lung and colon.
The health council has created a Prostate Cancer Awareness campaign, received a four-county Cancer Support and Prevention grant, promoted a sun safety program, hired cancer patient navigators, has a four-county cancer resource/community health library and created a four-county cancer resource directory.
From the Community Enhancement Fund, which is funded by Freeport McMoRan, the health council and Freeport have given away grants for $250,000 for community training.
Beginning in April 2012, the health council will start distributing a new assessment to hear input about what the community sees as needs in the way of better health care and wellness.
The Health Council Alliance has also proposed the Legislature re-fund health councils. We ask for your support.
Morales: The health councils got comfortable with state funding.
Grant County shows how you can do it yourself. What is the proposed funding?
Knauf: $50,000 is requested for each health council. That would be enough for a part-time coordinator.
Morales: Would GRMC be reimbursed?
Knauf: Yes, they will pay for what we cannot, but will also help us go after grants.
Morales: I know Grant County has kept records, but what about statewide?
Knauf: Not all of them. Some health councils are successful, but we try to have equal ground to be as productive as possible.
Evangeline Zamora, Life Quest executive director
Ann Marra, program director
Zamora: We have two main programs. The Early Intervention Program for the 0-3 years age group, in which we have 135 clients, and the adult program, which is funded under a Medicaid waiver and Department of Health funding. We have 70 participants in the four-county area.
Our challenges include that we are 97 percent dependent on the two funding sources.
Marra: The Early Intervention Program serves 135 children in the four counties. The parent choice law was repealed, so we can no longer take any new children over the age of 3. They can go through Part B through the schools to receive help.
The agency has undergone a lot of changes, but we have good relationships with the schools. We give services for 14 hours, down from 19, if a person has a disability.
Many have multiple needs. Changes have meant a reduction in services for a child, because we received funding for only two hours a month, if they are at risk developmentally or environmentally.
Child-find activities are held in Animas.
The Red Hot Children’s Fiesta is a great child find for us. We have the child find twice a year in Catron County, and in Deming twice a month.
Early intervention helps children with transitioning with no break into the Family/Infant/Toddler Program, so parents become the advocates for their children.
Hamilton: about five years ago, I had the opportunity to talk to some of the parents of these children.
It was an eye-opening experience for me. Catching these children early can lead to normal lives in classrooms.
Martinez: I also had the opportunity to visit one-on-one with the parents, and it helped me realize how it impacts the child. It gives the child an opportunity to move forward and be successful in education. We’ve seen your success. We know you have seen cuts, but we support you.
Morales: You guys have educated us well. Have you been informed of any cuts above the 5 percent you took at the first of the year?
Zamora: We are reliant on state and federal funding.
Medicaid is in redesign, so we’re keeping our eye on it. We’re sustaining services.
Morales: The Legislature is looking to tap into the Permanent Fund for about 1.7 percent. That is why the Family/Infant/Toddler program isn’t included. If you find out anything, share it with us. It has to be for Early Intervention, too. Can you give me an update on the roof?
Zamora: We are looking for a loan. We’ve very temporarily patched the two most vulnerable places. The repair is estimated at $75,000 to $90,000. We’re looking at local banks. We’ve already adjusted our budget to provide services.
Marra: There are 35 early childhood agencies across the state. We appreciate your constant support.
Tour of the Gila
Jack Brennan, co-director
Michelle Geels, co-director
Brennan: We thank the Prospectors for allowing us to speak.
This year’s Tour of the Gila will be May 2-6. It will be the 26th race. We have had good support. We received $50,000 from then-governor Richardson, and the year before that $25,000 from the Department of Tourism.
We have jersey sponsors. The sprinter jersey is good selling.
For the Tour of the Gila, we have the goals of taking the race from where we are now to where we can go. We are on the national calendar of USA Racing. These are the best races in the country and respected by racers and agencies.
The Tour of the Gila received recognition from the international Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), but we didn’t have enough money to stay on the calendar. There have been changes, and in talking with the organizers and promoters, $50,000 is needed. It would be a tremendous boost for our race and cycling in this country. We got confirmation in November that USA Cycling teams, organizers and promoters are all working for the common goal. Teams want more international racing. We have 20 days of racing overall in the U.S. They have 200 in Europe.
The Tour of the Gila is a race that people want to be international. We were thinking it would require $250,000 to $300,000. If we do it, we will have the fourth best race in the country.
The first Asian professional teams from New Zealand and Australia, and teams from South Africa, England and Ireland are interested in coming.
We’ve been talking to the Department of Tourism about using the Tour of the Gila to promote cycling in the state. The demographics are high-end. If we can promote our race and New Mexico as a great cycling place, it will capture and get them here, so we’re not just a pass-through state. The department will use our event to promote us.
Our other goal is to get the race on live stream Internet or on Tour-Tracker, because bicyclists are Internet geeks. We ask the state to promote us more. The state provides Internet activity live feeds, and we can do the same thing with the Tour of the Gila.
Hamilton: Do you have any idea of how much money is brought into the community during the Tour of Gila?
Geels: I just met with Western New Mexico University President Joseph Shepard to have the university do an economic development study, so we will have concrete numbers after this race.
Hamilton: Are any of the Public Broadcasting Service stations interested in filming the race.
Brennan: Michelle and I have been interviewed.
The Tour of the Gila is a real community event. Most races last for about seven years.
Hamilton: Is SRAM still a sponsor?
Martinez: Have you been in contact with Tourism or the Economic Development Department?
Brennan: Not lately, but I will make it happen.
Martinez: Have there been any spinoffs from the Tour of the Gila?
Brennan: More and more. Next Labor Day weekend, we will have a 24-hour race at Fort Bayard. The area is so beautiful for cycling. People need to come enjoy the beautiful scenery and spend a lot of money.
Morales: At one point, the community might have lost the race. I commend you and the community for keeping it together. Why the difference in the amount of money requested?
Brennan: We weren’t dealing with the teams. We came up with the figure of $29,000 a team to transport, house and feed them, but we’re asking for a level that would not require that level of money.
Morales: It seems at $50,000, the Tour can continue to improve.
I visited with Jacobson, and she talked about regionalization. Not just a bike race, but including a vacation to T or C, for example. We are at a standstill, because there is talk of merging Cultural Affairs and Tourism. May we be of help for other funding?
Brennan: Yes, in discussion with Tour-Tracker, it would be a $25,000 investment into the race.
Morales: Get the Secretary down here. It’s about quality of life and events. You continue to grow, but you need data to show the economic impact of the Tour of the Gila.
Silver City MainStreet Project
Nick Seibel, director
Seibel: Thank you for capital outlay for downtowns across the state. I think we’re well positioned to bring funding to us. We are one of the first five MainStreet programs in the state and the only one still continuing. We are going into our 27th year. We are the recipient of the Great American Downtown award, and the first in New Mexico to receive the recognition.
Our four-point program is organization, design, promotion and economic positioning. In organization, we finished a Downtown Action Plan, with 17 key ideas, which are our goals for the next 25 years.
We are proud of our board of directors, who are a diverse group.
In design, we dedicated the Downtown Arch, last year, with state support.
We are working on the Big Ditch Park. Our action plan envisions it will be a pedestrian and bicycling link to other parts of town. It will offer us more eyes to drive away the less desirable groups. When the budgetary situation is better, we will look for funding. To continue the street lighting on Bullard, we will put in conduits for new lighting all the way to the university. Our ‘Façade Squad’ will repaint the old Veseley block.
In promotions, the First Friday tonight will be canceled because of the weather, but next month’s is on Jan. 6, which is the 100th birthday of New Mexico. We’re planning a big community party, with activities that will culminate in a dance at the end of the evening.
We will continue the Tour of Gila Expo and the Celebration of Spring. That will continue. With Mimbres Region Arts Council, we’re planning to have a stage of the Blues Festival downtown. We will do a New Mexico Food Fest with Las Cruces, T or C, Silver City and Deming. The first one will be hosted here on April 14, bringing in restaurants from all four communities. It will rotate among the four communities.
In economic positioning, we pulled together the vacancy ordinance. The Downtown Action Plan is providing new avenues. The Theater District would be glad to talk to you individually.
Hamilton: MainStreet has done considerable good for the community.
Martinez: Congratulations on the project’s accomplishments, including national recognition.
Morales: I appreciate your work and the work up to now. Do you know if you have any legislation?
Seibel: The MainStreet Coalition has some things it is working on.
Morales: Get House support, too. I’m glad to hear about the master plan. We have the ideal site, like the San Antonio River Walk.
Seibel: Tre Rosat restaurant is moving to the old Book Bin. On the two blocks from Broadway to Market, the owners on the east side of Bullard own the ditch. Tre Rosat will share its vision for offering outside eating.
Morales: I would like to hear the proposals for the program to buy the old buildings back.
Martinez: The addition to the Bayard Library was made possible because we worked with Silver City MainStreet to help us. That’s another success you can chalk up to MainStreet.
Seibel: By supporting New Mexico MainStreet, you are also helping us and communities like Bayard.
El Refugio Domestic Violence Shelter
Bencomo: I am presenting because our executive director, Maria Morales-Loebl, has been very ill. We are the only domestic violence shelter in Grant and Hidalgo counties. We have suffered a lot of budget cuts, and we are asking for funding, because we don’t want the issue to become drastic.
The issue is the 24-hour shelter, which also provides crisis intervention, case management support and treatment programs.
We had cuts in Children, Youth and Families Department funding of $55,000 in 2010 and 2011. We also had an additional cut of $2 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which is not available for Domestic Violence Intervention. Federal funding helps.
We need funding for services. The cuts caused a loss of services in the Hidalgo County satellite. Currently we are sending advocates to Hidalgo County to provide services and domestic violence treatment. The cuts caused us to think about how we will support our services. We had a loss of sexual assault services and 12 volunteers.
She said the Silver Regional Sexual Assault Support Services has as its fiscal agent, Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico, located in Farmington. For fiscal year 2011-12, the core funding from CYFD will be cut $91,000, with a $124,000 total loss.
I’m happy to report that under my directorship, for the past five years, the audits have showed no problems.
The Victims of Crime Act Victim Assistance Grant has level funded us, but our costs are constantly increasing. We have to watch every nickel and penny. We have received private donations and Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. donations, but they don’t cover the deficit.
New Mexico Domestic Violence Intervention is asking for $2 million in funding.
We hope we don’t come to turning away clients. With any additional funding cuts, we will have to cut staff and the numbers of people we can help. We would like to continue to provide services to Hidalgo County and Lordsburg. If we close the shelter here, it will be life or death for victims, including children.
Hamilton: There is no way we can get capital outlay as individuals next year. Does CYFD seem to think it will receive more funds or the same?
Bencomo: We’re unsure, and they seem unsure.
Hamilton asked Morales: Are we going to have a flat budget?
Morales: Yes, we will. It will be flat funding for CYFD and all the other agencies. What has to be key is that CYFD has to be supportive of your programs. Was the $91,000 cut a direct loss to El Refugio?
Bencomo: It was a loss to Lordsburg. The facility in Lordsburg had been closed the year before, but with this loss, the full-time employees were cut to part-time.
Morales: I want communication with you. We don’t see this, and I’m sorry I didn’t catch it during the session. Let us know. This is huge. Had we known, we may have been able to cushion it.
Martinez: Are there any contributions from the counties?
Bencomo: Last October, we asked Mary Ann Sedillo, who was county commissioner then, to support the agency. They helped up with $5,000. Hidalgo County has offered nothing, and Silver City provided $1,000.
Martinez: What is the average number of clients per month?
Bencomo: We house 300 to 400 a year. We are already more than to the halfway point in expenditures. Services have increased. Money hasn’t.
Martinez: Because you closed down the facility in Lordsburg, do you serve them here?
Bencomo: Yes, we transport them here, but still send the Domestic Violence Offender Treatment and Intervention counselor down there. Hidalgo County can only transport them to the county line, then, if a Grant County Sheriff’s Department officer is available, they will bring them to El Refugio or we arrange for gas or a bus ticket.
Martinez: Provide us with data during the session.
Forgotten Veterans’ Memorial
Armando Amador, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 358 president
Amador: We are seeking funding for our memorial. We have spent $325,000 and completed most of the park. In the next phase, we have prioritized our needs as water lines, fire lines and restrooms, as well as a fence to deter vandalism.
The memorial bricks have been selling, allowing us to raise some money.
We are paving the open area, and creating a reflection center for reflecting on those who passed away. We need to repaint the Huey and handrails. We also need a metal building for an office and storage.
I know there’s no capital outlay, and we will need $150,000 plus. We can only sell so many raffle tickets.
Hamilton: What about the memorial bricks?
Amador: We have them for a section for National Guard members for a donation of $75 each. Please contact me by phone. I have applications.
Morales: Thank you for the work you do. It’s tremendous. I was at the pavilion for the 9-11 ceremony. It is a healing location. Who is the fiscal agent for you?
Amador: Grant County. The water lines are set as a priority, because there is no water at all at the site. The county restrooms at Bataan Memorial Park are only seasonal.
We also need water for the Garden Club to put in plants, as they have offered.
Morales: Any capital outlay that may be available in the upcoming session will likely be statewide.
Amador: This phase is the fourth phase, and the fifth will be putting in place statues and plaques by us for our helpers and donors. A lot of donations have helped get us to this point.
Morales: Put in a capital outlay request, but it has to be accurate costs, not just estimates. Work with the county to get the costs, and maybe we can get some more work done.
Martinez: Being a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America chapter 358 makes me supportive of the project, and I will certainly consider an opportunity to help you.
Community Partnership for Children
Mary Hokom, CPC chairwoman
Hokom: I work with the Early Childhood Program as a therapist,
She showed a short video of a child younger than 5 years old and his problems, then the same child if his mother played with him and read stories to him every night. The changes in the first five years can change the rest of the child’s life.
The CPC is a small non-profit. There are eight of us to promote excellence of care for children. It has been helpful with the development of the Grant County Child Care Center.
Our focus is on promoting information to the community about infant mental health. It has to do with the work relationship between the primary caregiver and the infant and how close they are in the first three years of life. If it is a close relationship, the child does better in the long term.
Grant County has more children signed up for infant mental health care. We are applying for an Enhancement Fund grant from the Health Council to bring a national expert on brain development to the area. It will be good for judges, lawyers, doctors, nurses, superintendents, councilors and commissioners. The program will be in the spring, if we get the grant.
We need to find a pot of money to get the community to realize how important the ages of 0 to 3 are. We have had proposals to get funding.
Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society
Cecilia Bell, FBHPS president
Bell: Fort Bayard at this point has a doubtful future. We try to remain optimistic and have plans for next year, including tours set by private groups.
Several things need to be preserved, including the buildings and a Coulter pine, from which a young boy sprouted one of the seeds from a cone that fell from the tree.
The orchard needs care.
The problem is communication. It seems like messages should go quickly, but people at the state level don’t respond.
People come to the society wanting to have a wedding in the theater, but no one ever gets to the point of allowing this. Are we state or are we federal? No one wants to acknowledge ownership. It’s a state-owned facility on a national landmark.
We have no identity. The Forest Service offered $19,000 for a bathroom, but could not give us the grant, because we do not own the campus. There is no bathroom facility on the campus for visitors.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Department uses our porta potty that is paid for by volunteer donations. We can’t go in and paint; we can’t cut down a dead tree, because we have no insurance for that. It would help if we knew what insurance and from whom we should acquire it.
We see a lot of vandalism that is across the campus, including doors knocked down, and windows and streetlights broken.
We have questions about the clean up of debris left by the Department of Health. Will it just be buried on Fort Bayard land?
We would like to install a ramp to the commanding officer’s quarters, so disabled visitors can come into the museum.
We would also like to take out the old bricks to the Buffalo Soldier statue and put in soft gravel for walking. The statue has also been vandalized. Kids from Zuni scrubbed it head to toe before Fort Bayard Days.
We are working to have the Coulter pine, planted in 1906, as historic. Ron Henderson dated it from a core.
We would like to prune vegetation and get rid of the tall dry grass, which is a fire hazard. We can do this as volunteers if we have permission. We treasure Fort Bayard and want the community to treasure it.
Hamilton: When did the Historical Preservation Society start?
Bell: 1997. And now it is a national historic landmark.
We have no place to tell the story of the fort taking care of tuberculosis patients.
Hamilton: The Military and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee is vitally interested in opening a hospital for PTSD.
Martinez: As a native of New Mexico and a native from near Fort Bayard, I appreciate your efforts. It is such a serene, tranquil place and conducive to appreciating being there.
With the economic situation, things have fallen through the cracks. It was the decision of the Department of Health Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham to move out the residents, and now there is no money for rehabilitation.
Bell: We can’t get grants for rehab, because no one claims the site. We also hear a rumor that the Buffalo Soldier statue will be moved to the north part of the state.
Martinez: We understand that funding is key. The Military and Veterans Affairs committee met the day before Thanksgiving. One of our bills for capital outlay is to upgrade Yucca Lodge. Rep. Hamilton and I will sponsor a memorial on how to provide other services for veterans. We will carry the bill to look at the feasibility for a cemetery for National Guard members who don’t qualify for the National Cemetery.
Three agencies—New Mexico Veterans Services, Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Health—are overseeing the campus, and it is necessary to determine how to do work with them.
Without a plan, we cannot cut down a tree.
Bell: We have to break through the bureaucracy to get rid of a tree before it hurts someone. We have donations to beautify and take care of the site. The Red Paint Tribal Council is also working with us, but we need to take care of the place, so no one is hurt.
Morales: Thank you for your years of service and support. Fort Bayard is important to me. I ask for open dialogue. One of our roles is to cut through bureaucracy. Provide questions to us, and we’ll be glad to ask whatever agency is in charge. As for the rumor, there is no plan to move the statue.
I want to see Fort Bayard succeed and be a vital part of Grant County. We were moving toward being a state park, when the bottom fell out. We need a plan in place.
Roswell and Los Lunas were boarded up. Fort Bayard is still being maintained.
We would like a project in place. In reality, we’re looking for something to keep the property open.
Bell: Could the City of Rocks person oversee Fort Bayard? Las Cruces has a new state park.
You three need to meet with Property Control.
Morales: We hope the feasibility plan will help us. If we don’t get a plan in place, the state will decommission the whole fort. From word I have, the utilities won’t be shut off.
Operation Fort Bayard Task Force
Ansel Walters, OFBTF treasurer and incoming president
Armando Amador, OFBTF member and Veterans Committee chairman
Walters: We feel Fort Bayard offers a once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity. It would create hundreds of jobs and increase the local economy.
Tourism and veterans services for the underserved veterans in the area, in addition to historic preservation, are key to economic development.
The task force has formed three committees, directed by members—Veterans, Finance and Development and Historic Preservation—to work on plans for the property.
The map you have in your packet is out of a recently completed feasibility study requested by the state and shows where various groups could utilize the fort, including space for commercial opportunities.
We have also invited Western New Mexico University to work on education and training, which they are working on independently. The feasibility plan was requested and paid for by New Mexico General Services Property Control Division, and the final draft is in their hands.
We also received information on how much it costs the department to leave the lights and heat on in the old hospital. Our Finance and Development Committee is working to get the costs reduced.
A 501c3 has been applied for and accepted by the state, and the bylaws will soon be voted on.
We have contacted groups who want a presence on Fort Bayard. We know we need to complete a master plan. Other items that need to be addressed in the plan are the national cemetery and open space. For the plan, we need $50,000.
Return communications is a problem.
The most urgent problem is determining who will be the lead investor. We have a list and have contacted one, but have not received a response. We could use your help.
Fort Bayard has the opportunity to be self-sustaining. There are other avenues for funding and grants available, but until an owner is identified, we can’t apply. We would like Yucca Lodge for veterans’ treatment and another building for administration.
Martinez: For clarification, Property Control is not providing funding for keeping the utilities on. The Department of Health is funding that.
Walters: We have a question about why it costs $560,000 annually when nothing, except a few lights, are functioning. We have to talk to Property Control about everything. For people who have looked at investing in the property, the $560,000 is a problem for them.
Martinez: It was the decision of the state to keep the old Fort Bayard functioning. These are true numbers. They are coming out of the Fort Bayard Medical Center budget. They are actual numbers.
Walters: $288,000 for the steam plant seems excessive, because we haven’t seen three full-time employees. No one is there. And $14,000 for trash is extremely high, since there is not one trash container. It would also be a lot cheaper to run a natural gas line than the old antiquated steam boiler. Why are you paying for elevator inspection in the old hospital?
We’re not angry and we appreciate what you’re doing for us. The state wants to get rid of the fort, and we want to get an investor in.
Martinez: As long as the building is not decommissioned, we have to keep the elevators and the sprinkler system running. It is certainly having an impact on the Department of Health.
The steam plant was shut down in April and will be open again soon. The decisions are made by Santa Fe.
As for the communications issue, sometimes folks at Fort Bayard Medical Center cannot give out information without permission from Santa Fe.
Walters: If the steam plant is not operating, and the numbers provided were from when it was operating, why are they so high?
Morales: We appreciate your information and the passion behind it.
Tony, can you give us information on what the university is doing? We ask you to communicate with us.
It may be too late. At the last session, a bill failed that had broad language to decommission and take down the old hospital. Because there is no plan right now, if we cannot come up with a plan and an investor, we may be in the same situation. Help us share information. I want to set up a meeting with Operation Fort Bayard before I leave for the session.
Some of your questions are valid, but we have to know them before we can ask them.
Amador: I presented the veterans’ case to the Military and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee.
The problem with new veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder is getting bigger, and the old veterans with PTSD are coming out, who didn’t know they had it. Right now we have nothing. We need something concrete, and then everything can fall into place. Tony and I have plans for training veterans, but we have no facility. About 16 percent of the millions of veterans are applying for PTSD care. I’m committed to help. We have more than 1,000 veterans just in Grant County seeking mental health services.
We need something to work with. Families suffer as much as the veterans. The economy also suffers. I have changed my negative outlook to positive and am dealing with PTSD as best I can. If we can get Western to help us, it will be great.
Martinez: We are trying to upgrade Yucca Lodge as a stand-alone building and model it after Angel Fire, which is now nationally recognized.
Amador: We have to drop the lines of Silver City, Grant County and the Mining District and work together.
Morales: We’re ready to advocate for you. You need to understand what the state is doing. I request a follow-up meeting before the session. We’re the servants of you guys of the communities. It will be a battle if Roswell and Los Lunas find out we’re keeping Fort Bayard functioning.
Walters: Can Yucca Lodge be owned by someone?
Morales: The new hospital is because of cooperation between the county, Santa Clara, the state and the federal government. And Yucca Lodge is owned by the state.
Local Collaborative 6
Harding: We formed in 2005, with the purpose of giving feedback to the state about how policies affect local collaboratives. We are at a pivotal point for New Mexico because of Medicaid reorganization and the Affordable Health Care Act.
Our first priority is to ensure the survival of local collaboratives. As of last June, our funding dwindled to $3,000, cut by OptumHealth.
We were funding training for consumers, and sent consumers to speak to legislators, as well as training to help in setting them up to be self-sustaining. We won a state media award for the ‘I Am Not My Mental Illness.’
We put in a joint memorial, because jails are the largest provider of mental health treatment. We take a proactive approach to non-violent mental health consumers to take them out of jail. It costs $12 a day versus $55 a day in jail.
Jimenez: The treatment is more efficient and cheaper. The local collaborative gives the opportunity for community members and service providers to discuss issues.
Our third priority is to provide ongoing financial support for the 2008 Total Community Approach. It is local planning with judges and community members on drug abuse. With funding, we can provide for the Adult Drug Court and the Kokopelli Services through Border Area Mental Health Services, which have seen direct results. We have sustained the Hidalgo County Drug Court and expanded it to Grant County. The recidivism rates for Adult Court are 5 percent, and almost 90 percent of those who have gone through the program are employed. We want Collaborative 6 to continue because we know what works, and we have a local voice. We ask for your support for funding.
Morales: Thank you for your work. You look out for the ones you serve and those you don’t serve. I would like to see a list of your priorities. Is there any word you are going to get cuts?
Harding: Sometimes the funding is retroactively cut; sometimes we’re surprised. We know the paperwork has increased, and we are short-staffed, so we have difficulty maintaining the client-patient ratio.
Jimenez: We have handouts on the Detention Center data through interventions. Incarceration is going down.
Sometimes, we don’t understand the process, and we have huge needs beyond what we have funding for.
Hamilton: We hear so many wonderful things about your work.