Area Tour Given To State Officials

collaboration

New Mexico Rep. (Dist. 38) Rebecca Dow, along with Neal Brown and local business owner Jake Forestner had the chance to show off the economic potential of Sierra County last month.
Members of the New Mexico Association of Commerce & Industry (ACI), CenturyLink, New Mexico Hospitality Association, Presbyterian Healthcare System, Taos Ski Valley, Public Service of New Mexico (PNM), Freeport-McMoRan, and several other state legislators toured the area as well as parts of Grant County Dec. 13-15.
“As we toured the state I saw positive economic outcomes when people put aside partisan politics and come together around common goals,” said Dow. “It’s going to take people of all persuasions coming together to turn the curve on poverty in New Mexico.”

Turtle Flies For New Year

Turtle-ascension

New Year’s revelers gathered at T-or-C’s Healing Waters Plaza for the annual ascent of “Theresa Tortuga” (inset), denoting the transition to 2018, Sunday evening, December 31. A record number of participants joined for this year’s celebration, which began with a procession from the T-or-C Brewing Company that safely delivered Theresa to the plaza.Those on hand were fortified against the chilly night air with an ample supply of warming food and refreshments offered by Friends of the Carole Wheeler Dog Park and Doggies in the Desert. Local musical group “Cat Alley” was also on hand and kept circulation flowing with a steady stream of toe-tapping favorites. Organized to coordinate with the currently more-famous ball-drop at New York’s Times Square, Theresa Tortuga ascended above Healing Waters Plaza at precisely 10 p.m. local time. Joining for a countdown and a resounding cheer, everyone appeared to enjoy the unique new tradition and happily welcomed-in 2018 together.

Spaceport Tours Return

spaceport

Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in eastern Sierra County, New Mexico, announced this week the re-launch of the Spaceport America Experience Tour.
In partnership with Final Frontier Tours, space enthusiasts and visitors can now have a hands-on, fun experience inside a real commercial space launch facility.
“We are excited to welcome back visitors from around the world to Spaceport America and to New Mexico,” said Rosa Bañuelos, Spaceport America Business Development.
Visitors begin their journey at the Spaceport America Visitor Center, an historic adobe building located at 301 S. Foch St. in Truth or Consequences, NM, where the old frontier meets the new. The Visitor Center is packed with exciting educational and interactive space exhibits and is the point of embarkation for the tour to the spaceport. Visitors can purchase tour tickets online or in person prior to journeying out to the Spaceport America site on rolling multi-media theater shuttles.

PUAB To Restress ECA Plan

City of Truth or Consequences

Following up a question from Public Utility Advisory Board (PUAB) Chairman George Szigeti regarding the implementation status of the approved Electric Cost Adjustment (ECA) December 18, city manager Juan Fuentes reminded members that city commissioners only approved a name change from the often maligned “Pass Through” charge appearing on monthly utility bills.
Fuentes said while commissioners supported the title revision, they did not endorse a proposed change in how the related charge is calculated.

Hillsboro Embraces Holiday Spirit

hillsboro-christmas

Hillsboro residents welcomed visitors, neighbors and friends to the community’s annual “Christmas in the Foothills” celebration Saturday, December 2. While most activities were centered around the community center, the downtown district was decked out proper with holiday cheer and local proprietors were out in force to welcome guests with a wide array of treats and treasures. Meanwhile, eager volunteers and vendors filled the community center with a seeming unending variety of handcrafted wares, art, and “just got to have it” gifts. The event also featured an ample supply of baked goods, refreshments and tasty snacks, ensuring patrons were happy and well-fortified for the holiday shopping fun.

Agencies Struggling To Find Permanent, Safe Homes

Johnson-Adoption

Christmas came a little early this year for William and Landon Johnson, as their grandparents legally adopted them both recently.
Having a permanent, loving home, however, is something many children will only dream about, but never get to experience.
Ten-year-old William and seven-year-old Landon had spent time off and on with the grandparents (now their parents). The New Mexico Children, Families, and Youth Department (CFYD) contacted the grandparents, asking if they would consider becoming the boys’ fulltime parents.
“We had been married one month when the CYFD contacted us,” said Don Johnson. Don, 61, is the father of a grown daughter, and his wife, Jody, 58, the mother of two grown sons.
And while Landon and William like gifts such as play station and Batman brands, they both said their best Christmas present is having a stable and loving home with Grandma and Pawpaw

Schools Show Improvement

kids holding books

The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) released their 2017 report cards for 89 public school districts and 71 charter schools, academies and other specialized institutes. The T-or-C Municipal District earned a B in the state’s A through F grading system. After five years of hovering at the mid-point of C-grade, the district is on the road to improvement.
While none of our schools across the district were rated in the top five percent statewide, none were listed as in Focus, Priority or Strategic status. These are the lowest performing schools, statuses reserved for the lowest 10 percent of those in the report.
In some of the specific key areas T-or-C Schools are performing above the state averages. Our graduation rate for the most recently documented year, 2016 is 82 per cent. While the educators, administrators and other staff of the district are committed to raising this number, it is well above the state average of 71 per cent. The district’s drop out rate for the same year, while higher than our schools are striving for, at 13 per cent, is significantly lower than the state average of 16 percent.
The report also looked at teacher qualifications. Though there were no state averages to compare against, of the teachers in the district, 38 percent have earned a university graduate degree, of Master’s or higher.

SWCD Leads 5 County Brush Treatment

Beginning the week of Nov. 13, and continuing for approximately one week, the Sierra Soil and Water Conservation District, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management Las Cruces District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, will treat up to approximately 11,000 acres of creosote bush. Treatments will occur on BLM, State Trust and private lands within Sierra, Doña Ana, Hidalgo, Luna and Otero counties in southwestern New Mexico where creosote densities have surpassed historic, naturally-occurring levels.
The objective of the treatments is to improve plant species diversity, which will benefit wildlife, rangeland and watershed health by reducing the density of creosote, and result in an increase of native grasses, forbs and other herbaceous vegetation.
A low-flying airplane will drop Tebuthiuron pellets, a soil-activated herbicide that inhibits photosynthesis, on creosote bush. At the planned rate and timing of application, the herbicide will have minimal impact on desirable grasses and forbs. Since the herbicide is applied in pellet form, it will not drift from treated areas. When the pellets dissolve with favorable precipitation, they are absorbed into the ground to a depth of approximately two feet and into the target plants root system, eventually reducing the creosote bush cover. The pellets will not be dropped near waterways or on slopes greater than 10 percent.

Meeting Set For SR 152 Bridge Replacement

Lago Road Upgrades

The Federal Highway Administration ‐ Central Federal Lands Highway Division (FHWA‐CFLHD), in coordination with the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NM DOT), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will be hosting a series of public meetings in early November 2017 for the NM State Route 152 (NM 152) Bridge Replacement Project.
This project would replace two existing bridges on NM 152 between Hillsboro and Kingston. The bridges are located five (NM Bridge #1520) and seven (NM Bridge #1521) miles west of Hillsboro within Sierra County.
NM 152 is a major collector that connects Interstate 25 to US 180. The route also traverses the Gila National Forest.
PROJECT BENEFITS
Implementation of the project will address the structural and functional inadequacy of the two existing bridges, which have conditions ratings of “poor” or less. The project will also provide safer vehicular travel along NM 152 in the future by replacing single‐lane bridges with two‐lane bridges, thereby providing more reliable emergency and maintenance vehicle access as compared to the current bridges that are restricted by width and height limitations.

EB Aligns Gun Codes With State

city of eb logo

After recognizing numerous inconsistencies relating to the possession and use of firearms September 9, Elephant Butte City Councilors approved a motion to repeal present municipal regulations outlined in Section 131.12 of the city’s codes.
Councilors noted the previously adopted measures included many confusing aspects, and agreed that the city’s residents would be better served in aligning municipal regulations with related codes already established by the State of New Mexico.
•Following a formal public hearing, board members approved a motion to accept a bid award from Smith-Co Construction for planned improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. This action accepted Smith-Co’s low bid for three of four defined “lots” (projects) proposed to

Local 2017 PARCC Results Released

kids holding books

The state of New Mexico’s Public Education Department (PED) released the results of its 2017 PARCC Testing (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). One of only five states, plus the District of Columbia, still using this controversial and widely discredited common core testing system, New Mexico seems unduly reluctant to follow the lead of at least 30 other states and drop these questionable tests.
In 2010, when PARCC testing was introduced, 13 states and the District of Columbia used it. Altogether 45 states used either this or the similar system, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing. Together these two testing consortiums were the bodies awarded federal funding to develop and administer standardized testing that would ensure common standards in math and English education across the country. In just six years the number of states using either of them has dropped to 20. Of these, only five now use the PARCC testing system. Clearly there is a problem either real or perceived.

County To Receive $1.1 From Feds

Cash Money

Sierra County will receive $1,166,412 in Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) this year, an increase of $7,418 over last year’s payments to the county.
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior announced recently 32 New Mexico counties will receive a total of $38.7 million, to be distributed among the counties for fire and police departments, schools, roads and emergency services. In the previous fiscal year, these programs delivered a grand total of $781 million to local communities.
The state’s share of a record $464.6 million will be distributed to 1,900 local governments around the country this year – the largest amount ever allocated in the PILT program’s 40-year history.

EB Pauses On Rate Changes

city of eb logo

After convening a public hearing June 21, which included numerous citizen comments questioning proposed increases in the city’s water and wastewater rates, Elephant Butte City Council members opted to postpone consideration of the related ordinance.
During the board’s regular session public works director Jesse Cole outlined the proposed ordinance (No. 164), which sought an increase in the base water rate and sewer service fees, while also introducing the establishment of commercial water rates. Cole reviewed how the recommended fee structure was designed to assure all operational costs were addressed, while also allowing a sufficient level of income to properly maintain the respective systems.

Area Fires Bring In Smoke

fire-smoke

Anyone glancing toward the Gila Wilderness this past week cannot help but to have seen the growing plumes of smoke, which in Sierra County is primarily associated with the Round Fire burning west of the Winston and Chloride communities. U.S. Forest Service officials are also monitoring the Teacher and Gravel fires, which are burning in the Reserve Ranger District further west, although the Gravel Fire is located near Sierra County along Turkey Creek.

City Looks At Marketing

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Faced with cutbacks in state tourism department funding, Truth or Consequences (T-or-C) city commissioners approved a proposed job description for an in-house Marketing/Tourism Coordinator during their April 11 regular meeting.
In discussion prior to the vote, commissioner Kathy Clark noted that revenue for the proposed position would be derived from the city’s recently established convention tax. After asserting this was an appropriate use of the convention tax, Clark requested a modification for the job description to include responsibility for overseeing convention center operations, thus affirming a direct connection and the commission’s intent for the new position.