A document which contains a plan to help the county move past the immediate impact of the Little Bear Fire was presented to the commission for discussion and possible adoption.
The document presented preliminary lists of tasks and accomplishments necessary to reach the county’s goal of community rebuilding. As a living document, the process of reviewing included areas which will require changes as goals are refined.
“We’re in the process of trying to identify employees who can step up into these roles and get them trained,” said Travis Atwell, emergency management coordinator for the county. “With a living document, we can adjust the document as needed.”
Training models were discussed. Because two Type one incident command teams were present during the intense period of Little Bear Fire suppression, models were evident for county officials to observe. “I think what we all went through recently is a great place to start,” said Nita Taylor, county manager. “We have couple of ideas with online courses to train our employees to become familiar with incident command tactics. We have employees who are willing to be trained.”
“I think it’s a good idea to put the training (for employees) on the schedule for every two years,” said Eileen Sedillo, county commissioner.
Due to communication issues and failures during the Little Bear Fire, communication issues were discussed. “That is a huge piece of what has come together in this process. We’ve had information officers to come and help us. We’re gearing up to speed now – how to get the word uniformly out. It was lacking at first but it came together as we improved at our jobs, said Taylor.
The 59-page document gives direction in watershed protection, debris management, road and bridge protection, animal support, finances and donation efforts. With the understanding that refinement to the plan will continue, adoption of the plan passed unanimously.
SunZia transmission line project
With an opportunity for development of future wind and solar generation projects and the employment those projects could produce, commissioners discussed supporting the placement of a transmission line for SunZia. Renewable energy projects help the environment, and minimize dependence on outside sources, in addition to reducing pollution, according to the commissioner’s research.
The Bureau of Land Management plotted several options for the placement of the new line. BLM conducted nine public scoping meetings and expanded time limits to include public and military comments. The more than 400-mile-high voltage transmission line would stretch across Arizona and New Mexico, and could provide power to Southwestern New Mexico and Arizona sites.
Miles Hall, deputy chief counsel for White Sands Missile Range, attended to present additional information on options for line placement which would be more beneficial for WSMR. Understanding there may not be a compromise in sight, “We’ll do what’s safe even if it means curtailing certain training missions,” said Hall who indicated that some of the proposed line routes would cross through training areas of the missile range.
“BLM chose a route and did an environmental impact study on that route,” said Mark Doth, county commissioner. Hall stated he was asked to represent WSMR’s concerns, adding the range wondered if their concerns were not being adequately considered. “I’m sent here to make sure your consideration is accurate. The process is to look at all aspects,” said Hall.
Prior to the start of business, Sedillo’s understanding was that the deadline for a decision was within days of the commission meeting. When informed the correct deadline was late September, she recommended tabling the issue until more information could be amassed.
“The chief of staff at WSMR would be glad to come and present information if needed,” stated Hall. With a motion and second to table the issue until September, the motion passed unanimously.
Carrizozo to build new senior center
With the acquisition of property on 12th Street in Carrizozo, plans are progressing to demolish the existing site structure, making way for a new senior center for Carrizozo citizens. While in progress, the current senior center located at 406 Central will continue to be utilized.
To curtail removal costs, demolished materials which are safe to do so will be buried at the new site where parking is planned to be placed. “I’d like to see more details about burying onsite and the long term footprint,” said Kathryn Minter, county commissioner.
Alan Morel, county attorney indicated a cost of several thousand dollars to haul off debris. “Basically it will be the parking area behind the senior center for debris. We’ll compact it and add fill dirt and pave it for parking,” said Morel.
Costs for architectural renderings for the new center exceed current grant funds by $40,000, but is deemed vital to the progress of the center. If there’s a design in place for the new center, additional legislative funding is more likely to be granted, according to Nita Taylor.
“I’m very excited to bring good news,” said Ada Hendryx, program director for Lincoln County senior centers. Through a one time incentive end of year funds $40,364 was given by the state to be utilized for enhancing and expanding program operations and services throughout the county. “Our cooks, site managers and staff at all five senior centers made this happen,” remarked Hendryx.
When Minter asked if the funds could be assigned to make up the shortfall in architect fees, Hendryx restated the purpose for the funds as enhancement of county programs and services.