It’s A Gusher

water flood

T-or-C­ Water­ Division ­crewmembers­ had­ their­ hands­ full­ coping with­ a­ major­ water­ line­ break­ at 499­ South­ Broadway­ Tuesday
morning,­J anuary­ 24.­The­ leak­ flooded ­several­ streets­ in­ the ­downtown­ area, ­reportedly­ resulting in­ a­ temporary­ loss­ of ­water­ service­ for ­many­ nearby­ businesses­ and ­residences.­

Area Cleaning Up After Storms

Animas Creek

While we are delighted to have so much rain, the problem is that when it comes down too hard and fast we experience flooding. The soil can only absorb so much and the rest runs off, taking any and every tributary it can.
On Thursday, July 16 there came a rainstorm the like of which has not been seen here in some time. We got three inches of rain in 15 minutes! Some of us in the area have had water surrounding our homes, flowing around and under them. Along with the walls of surging water, we watched as our belongings flowed downstream to be looked..

Flood Funds Pending As Rains Return

With the remnants of hurricane Odile poised to move through New Mexico, Sierra County Commissioners began their September 16 regular session with a report from King Industries vice-president Justin King, whose firm was contracted to oversee flood repairs and related Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding for 2013 flooding events in Sierra County. King first noted that contracted crews were continuing to make progress with flood repairs to designated areas within Las Palomas canyon, and recently completed restoration of a washed out levee and related road repairs along Percha Creek. He also praised the efforts of contractors who have had to adjust past practices to comply with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations, saying crewmembers are becoming more proficient with the required incorporation of loaders into the repair project. During the commission’s August 19 meeting, King reported that FEMA officials with the State of New Mexico were prepared to release approximately $2.5 million in anticipated flood repair funding, earmarked to address flood repairs throughout Sierra County. In his September 16 statement, King acknowledged that the promised influx of revenue had yet to occur, and while not offering any guarantees, told commissioners he would be meeting personally with state authorities in the coming days to aid in expediting delivery of the funding. He said the FEMA funds would actually total nearer $2.3 million…

Flood Office Dissolution Approved

sierra county

In a two to one vote, with commissioner Bobby Allen dissenting, Sierra County com-missioners approved a motion to dissolve the Office of Flood Commissioner, during a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, June 10. This action, however, included a contingency, which first requires the successful naming of Sierra County’s administration as the legitimate sub-recipient of approximately $5.2 million in flood repair and mitigation funding already appropriated to the Flood Commission by officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In entering the motion, com-mission vice-chair Frances Luna noted the measure was being proposed in order …

County Lets Manager Go

sierra county

Following a closed-door executive Tues., May 13, Sierra County Commissioners re-opened the meeting to the public and in a unanimous vote approved a motion to terminate the contract with County Manager Mark Huntzinger, effective immediately. Commissioners then ac-knowledged County Human Resources Director Janette A. Monsibaiz would be handling the County Manager’s responsibilities, as efforts are initiated to fill the now vacant post.

Mired in Lack of Details
During the commission’s regular session, board members heard a brief report from newly appointed Flood Commissioner Jim Goton. In response to a query from Commission Chairman Walter Armijo, Goton confirmed he had officially accepted the resignation of former Flood Director Barry Ragsdale submitted during the previous week’s special meeting. He later affirmed action had already been taken to advertise for candidates to fill the flood director vacancy. Goton told commissioners his immediate plan to address flood damage repairs throughout the county were focused on the “orderly dispersal of flood funding in the most cost efficient manner, with available information.” He then qualified this statement by stressing, “We have no information, and the GPS numbers do not work.” Goton explained he was unable to correlate areas slated for repairs with coordinates established on the approved Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worksheets. He noted at least three separate project sites were designated by identical coordinates and told commissioners his efforts to clarify this issue with FEMA officials was thus far without results. Goton went on to relay how much of the on-going repair work was beneficial. While stating he felt the present contractors were doing their best to address their respective project assignments, Goton said his inspection of worksites found a number of efforts were being focused on areas that differed from those designated in the FEMA worksheets. The flood commissioner reemphasized he was unable to properly direct repair efforts without accurate information and relayed how his discussion with a FEMA official in Louisiana served only to direct him to a Google Earth KMZ file which he had yet to be able to access as of the morning’s session.

County Manager Huntzinger explained how the aforementioned files were created with Google Earth, but were not accessible through the Google website. He indicated efforts would be made to aid Goton in accessing the appropriate files. Commission Vice Chair Frances Luna expressed dismay at Goton’s inability to obtain accurate details from FEMA authorities. She noted how former Flood Director Ragsdale had maintained regular communications with FEMA officials and questioned why these contacts and information conduits were not relayed to Goton. The Goton said he queried Ragsdale about this information, but received no response. Luna then questioned why the coordinates could not be located through old school methods; utilizing current maps and emphasized she felt the flood commissioner should be making a more concerned effort to acquire necessary information from FEMA authorities. In a brief statement from one of the contractors presently working on Flood Commission projects, commissioners learned the FEMA worksheets provided only with most basic directions regarding how contractors were to address designated areas of concern. Goton indicated this reinforced how a lack of detailed information was inhibiting the ability to effectively deploy contractor resources told commissioners and said while contracted firms were offering diligent efforts; they were doing so without any direct supervision in the field. Commissioner Bobby Allen questioned the latter statement to which Goton relayed how the responsibility of contractor oversight rested with the flood director’s position and was not included in the flood commissioner’s job description. Goton said he was scheduled to meet with Army Corps of Engineer authorities Wed., May 14 and suggested this session might provide information that would allow him to more effectively coordinate repair efforts. While commissioners considered no formal action regarding the flood commissioner’s report, Luna confirmed administrative assistance would be given to Goton pertaining to the acquisition of more detailed information from FEMA authorities and suggested the board should include regular monthly reports from the flood commissioner on future agendas. Chairman Armijo acknowledged the current tax levy presently provided the county with approximately $300,000 to fund Flood Commission activities. After noting Sierra County was one of only three New Mexico counties with an established flood commission, he suggested alternatives were available and indicated the annual funding could be more directly applied toward addressing flood repairs and…

Emotions Flood Meeting

After initiating their May 5 special meeting, Sierra County Commissioners opened the floor for public comments and were immediately confronted with an onslaught of concerns centering on newly appointed Flood Commissioner Jim Goton and recent flood mitigation actions taken by long time Flood Director Barry Ragsdale. Flood Director Ragsdale was first to address commissioners and in prepared statement, began by noting he has been forced to operate without an appointed Flood Commissioners for three of the seven plus years he has held the position. In responding to the September 2013 floods which ravaged areas along Animas Creek and several other major watersheds throughout the county, Ragsdale relayed how he met with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials and how, over the past seven months, he has been working through mandatory application processes to acquire funding to address flood damage repairs. Ragsdale stressed his efforts have been focused on providing safeguards for area residents and addressing related property concerns in the best manner possible. Following Governor Susana Martinez’ April 29 appointment of Jim Goton to fill the long vacant Sierra County Flood Commissioner post, Ragsdale …

County Tends To Fire And Flood Issues

While significant focus was placed on the Sierra County Commission’s consideration of flood mitigation contracts, topping the board’s March 18 meeting’s action items was the initiation of fire restrictions for all unincorporated areas of Sierra County. Local residents may recognize this as a yearly measure adopted when rising temperatures and spring winds combine to create the often dangerous wildfire conditions. This year, so far, most of NM has experienced less than average amounts of precipitations, prompting state authorities to implement fire restrictions earlier than usual. During the commission’s Feb. 18 session, Sierra County Sheriff Joe Baca encouraged the board to implement fire restrictions. The sheriff explained how many areas of the county were very dry and said formal measures would allow him and his deputies to begin enforcing tighter control on inappropriate activities. As commissioners addressed proposed Ordinance No. 14-001, County Attorney Dave Pato acknowledged the standard measure included time constraints relating to restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks. Because of these established time limits and the early move to implement the fire ordinance, Pato suggested commissioners omit the normally included moratorium on fireworks, section 5-D, and address it as a separate measure on a future agenda. Commission members agreed and unanimously supported a motion to initiate an immediate moratorium on open and controlled burning including trash barrel burning. Agricultural burning may st…

Kingston Area Threatened With Floods

Kingston flood

Up to three inches of rain hit the Kingston area on Sunday, August 4, with flooding occurring at the Kingston Campground (off NM 152) where Middle Percha Creek is located north of the campground running in a west to east direction. The Kingston Campground was basically washed away with lots of debris at the site, and a picnic table was also washed away. The nearly black, muddy water was filled with logs and other debris due to runoff from the Silver Fire burn scar. In Kingston, flows were high and some damage occurred to fences, bridges, and porches located along Percha Creek. Residents are still evaluating damages and loss of property due to the flooding. No flooding occurred in Hillsboro.