Village gets offer to buy former Indian school

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The hot-button topic at the Jan. 17 village of Magdalena Council meeting was a proposal by an Ojo Caliente man to acquire the former Bureau of Indian Affairs school, purchased by the village in March, 1997. It poses serious redevelopment issues for the village, since there is asbestos throughout the property, as well as other potential health risks.

Ronald L. Horsely, who described himself as a jewelry designer, made a proposal to buy the property and convert it into a job training initiative for veterans. During his presentation, he indicated he was a former instructor with the Veteran’s Administration in Albuquerque, and identified himself as a Department of Defense contractor.

His proposal stated the initiative would “better serve those veterans who survived and are now physically impaired, and have disabilities … providing educational training and employment opportunities for returning veterans and other qualified persons.”

Training would be in the areas of metal arts, lapidary, sign making, maintenance, building repair and remodeling.

Trustee Diane Allen was quick to respond.

“Are you aware that the Army Corps of Engineers did a survey and the buildings pose a significant health risk?” she asked.

Allen also raised the issue of a potential problem with lead in the water leading into the building.

Horsely responded that he was aware of the problems, but he was not specific as to how he would bring the buildings into compliance and avoid any possibility of air contamination.

“My concern is the environment and the people living here,” said Allen. “We have disabled persons in this community and the release of asbestos would threaten the whole area and our residents.”

Horsely indicated that the abatement issues could be handled through the Veteran’s Office of Procurement.

Trustee Barbara Baca also expressed concerns about asbestos, as well as other potential health risks.

“The other problem not mentioned here is pest control — mice. We don’t want to possibly spread the Hanta virus,” she said.

Allen also questioned Horsely’s capacity to work with the disabled and asked if he had any specific training.

Horsely said that he had trained some vets with mild disabilities while working in Albuquerque.

A review of his resume, offered as part of his proposal, did not list any training or educational experience in the area of disability. He was also questioned as to the length of time he worked with veterans.

“I see you only worked for a year, 1989 to 1990,” said Allen.

Trustee Carmen Torres inquired as to whether this initiative would be open to non-vets. Horsely said that he would work “with women and community residents, everybody.”

Mayor Sandy Julian made a recommendation to table further discussion.

“This is something that needs further consideration,” she said.

Baca made the motion to place the matter under review, and it was unanimously approved by the council.

Special Projects

Village Clerk Rita Broaddus reported the village’s proposal for Community Block Grant Development was delivered last Friday. Funding will be for infrastructure improvement, specifically a second well.

She also broke the bad news that an assessment by Broken Arrow Electric found the village’s power source for the proposed well “to be way out of code.”

“Broken Arrow looked at generator repair. That, plus everything needed to bring it all up to code would cost $9,500,” said Broaddus.

She and the mayor are to meet with Rep. Don Tripp in Santa Fe on Feb. 3. Broaddus asked the village council to approve a request for $10,000. A motion was made and unanimously approved.

Joint Utility Director Steve Bailey, in his infrastructure report to the council, indicated the generator to the Trujillo well was functional, and that all that was needed was the tower assembly.

Allen wanted it known that the village’s water supply is secure.

“Please tell the public that the generator for the current well will work and the village will provide water,” she said.

Other Business

  • Court Clerk Armand Romano requested that Nancy Newberry be appointed assistant court clerk, to work under his supervision. Romano indicated this would provide Newberry with the best chance to learn the necessary tasks required. Romano has had health issues over the last year.

“If I need to step down, then the village will have someone right there,” he said.

Approval of the appointment passed unanimously.

  • The introduction of Adren Nance as the new village attorney. Nance introduced his partners, David Pato and Catherine Riley. The three will alternate attending the village meetings.
  • The Fire Department will regrade the access road to the village school complex in order to meet state fire code requiring emergency vehicle access be secured.
  • The purchase of two used four-wheel drive vehicles and three automobile batteries for the Marshal’s Office was approved.
  • The board approved travel expenses for the mayor and village clerk to attend Municipal Day, to confer with state legislators on Feb. 3. It was also approved that during the mayor’s absence, Barbara Baca will serve as acting mayor.
  • Allen moved that the village advertise and take sealed bids for a sale of one of the village fire trucks, valued at $7,000. Opening the bid process was unanimously approved.
  • A special meeting to appoint the precinct board for upcoming municipal elections will be held on Jan. 23 at 6 p.m.

 


-- Email the author at lalvarado@dchieftain.com.