Sierra County Commission Highlights for Nov 14, 2023

The New Mexico state legislature approved funding for four capital improvement projects in Sierra county. Those projects are:

$200,000 for Sheriff’s department vehicles,

$350,000 for the Arrey baseball field,

$250,0000 for the heating, ventilation and air conditions system at the Hillsboro Community Center, and

$20,000 for the Truth or Consequences animal shelter.

According to county manager Amber Vaughn all of those capital improvement projects are ready to start and will be completed by the 2025 deadline for spending the funds.

The commission also addressed a request made by Dan Steele, with the Geronimo Springs Museum, in the October 17 commission meeting. The county non-profit museums, Geronimo Springs, Black Range, and Hamilton Military, with Steele in the lead, have been working to establish a specialty auto license plate with the state. If established, the specialty plate would provide a revenue stream of $25 per license plate each year to Sierra county museums. 

Steele explained that as nonprofit groups, the museums would need a government entity to commit to serve as a fiscal agent. Much of the work in getting approval from the legislature had already been done and “there would be no cost to the county”, Steele further explained. 

The county commission did agreed the county could serve as the fiscal agency if the legislature approves the specialty plate. “As fiscal agent (the county) will follow the stipulations required” and “see that the museums get the money from the revenues”, said Commissioner Travis Day. 

The members of the county commission are also members of the vote canvassing board. As described by Attorney Dave Pato, the duties of the board are to examine if the clerk has properly executed the certificates and to address any discrepancies.

County clerk, Shelly Trujillo told the canvas board that there were no discrepancies to report. The voter turnout was 26.3%, which was “ok” for local elections and “everything went well” Trujillo said. The closest race in the election was separated by 16 votes. That margin was less than 10% of the total votes cast so  “a recount is unlikely”. The secretary of state’s office determines which races require a recount. The canvassing board approved the election results of November 7.

While the overall election did go well, Trujillo complained about the venue for early voting. “There is not enough space available” she said, “the voting machines take up all the room”, and “the new vendor set up two machines” in the limited space.  The room for early voters was also not handicap accessible, some people had to borrow “the office rolling chairs to access” the equipment. 

Travis Day asked Trujillo if there were any options for future elections. Trujillo told him she was in discussion with the school district about using one of their portable buildings. The other option would be to purchase a portable building, which would be expensive but could be put at the end of the parking lot at the Sierra county complex on Date Street. 

Commissioner Day announced that there will be an opportunity for community members to meet with state representatives Tara Jaramillo and Luis Terrazas, senator Crystal Diamond-Brantley and other elected officials before the upcoming legislative session in January. The Outlook 24 Legislative Symposium will take place Friday, December 1 at the Albert Lyon Event Center, 2953 South Broadway in Truth or Consequences from 8:30 am to 2 pm. This is your opportunity to express your priorities for your community.

The County Livestock Loss Authority, created to help those affected by the presence of Mexican wolves in New Mexico, now has a website to aid in making claims. Commissioner James Paxon is on the board of CLLA, which will be seeking $3 million from the New Mexico legislature to pay for indirect livestock losses that result from the presence of wolves.

Sierra county sheriff Joshua Baker has been working with the residents of Hillsboro and the New Mexico Department of Transportation to slow traffic through the area. A combination of rumble strips, a marked pedestrian crossing and a flashing radar sign will be incorporated in an attempt to make Hillsboro safer for pedestrians and wildlife. 

County manager Amber Vaughn gave a brief update on two projects the county has been working on. For the county fairground improvements projects a replacement roof will be started and work with the design engineer on other improvements is continuing. The Bridge of Grace project over Alamosa Creek is scheduled to be completed in December after a delay for obtaining materials.

Following the executive session the commission directed manager Vaughn and attorney Pato to negotiate with Woolf on public access to county road A026. No other information was given.

The next meeting of the commission is scheduled for Tuesday, December 19, 2023 at 10:00 am in the chambers at 1712 N. Date Street in Truth or Consequences. It can be attended by the public either in person or via the Sierra County Emergency Services Facebook page. 


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Debora Nicoll
Debora Nicoll

Debora Nicoll, a member of the board of the Sierra County Public-Interest Journalism Project, will cover the Sierra County Commission for the Citizen, as she did for the Sierra County Sun, capitalizing on her past regular attendance at its monthly meetings as a concerned citizen and champion of responsive government. Nicoll was born and raised in the midwest but is a southwesterner by choice, calling Sierra County home since 2010, when she retired from a 22-year career as a research scientist.

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