Village plans for emergency readiness

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The tornado that touched down near Magdalena earlier this month was a reminder that community emergencies can happen at any time and without warning. That’s why the village of Magdalena is preparing for the next emergency – whatever it may be.

Mayor Pro tem Diane Allen has been faithfully attending Socorro County Local Emergency Planning Committee meetings the past few years and is spearheading efforts to organize a local group of volunteers to respond when there’s a community emergency. And at the village’s board of trustees meeting on Monday, May 21, the board unanimously approved a Statement of Understanding between the village and the American Red Cross New Mexico Chapter that establishes a framework for emergency response.

“What this is is an agreement between the Red Cross and the village that outlines what the Red Cross is responsible for and what the village is responsible for,” Allen said. “After this we’ll move forward and set up training.”

Allen said about a dozen people have already signed up for training.

“Anybody else who’s interested is welcome. The more the better,” she said.

Under the agreement, the village is responsible for recruiting volunteers for a Ready When the Time Comes partnership with the Red Cross. In addition, the village is to provide a space and time period for volunteers to be trained by Red Cross personnel.

The village is also obligated to:

  • Designate a primary and secondary contact person to whom requests for volunteers are to be made;
  • Make best efforts to respond to a “call-up” within 24 hours, providing volunteers if possible;
  • Allow community volunteers to participate in at lease one mock disaster preparedness drill each year.

The Red Cross New Mexico Chapter is responsible for:

  • Assisting the village in recruiting volunteers;
  • Provide disaster training to those volunteers;
  • Initiate the call for volunteers in a disaster relief situation;
  • Provide additional instruction and/or training as may be required at the time of call-up to fulfill the functions to which volunteers are assigned;
  • Manage the volunteers while on assignment;
  • Assign volunteers as close as possible to the area they live or work;
  • Publicly acknowledge the village as a Ready When the Time Comes partner in publicity and press releases.

Allen said establishing a weather alert system was also discussed at the most recent emergency planning committee meeting. She said Socorro County Emergency Services Administrator Fred Hollis told the committee the weather alert system would go directly to wireless subscribers and that there was no need to sign up.

Mayor Sandy Julian said the village was also looking into placing more weather alert sirens around the village. When the tornado touched down about two miles southwest of the village on May 13, many people were caught off guard.

“The (siren) at the fire department did go off, but people didn’t hear it because of the winds,” she said.

In Other Business

  • Mayor Julian reported that she will attend a hearing in Albuquerque tomorrow (Thursday, May 31) and appeal to state officials for funding to help pay for a new well to serve the village and a telemetry system to operate it.

The village applied for the Community Development Block Grant, which requires the village to match funds, in January. The estimated cost to complete the project is between $300,000 and $350,000.

  • Julian reported that the village received a letter from the state Department of Transportation informing them they will receive about $45,000 to help pay for completion of improvements made on Pine Street. She said the village had asked for a little more than $60,000.

“At least we can get some of it done,” she said.

  • For the second time this month, the board tabled discussion and a possible decision regarding a proposed solar panel business. A California-based company had proposed to manufacture solar panels and the electronic equipment that goes along with them but failed to send a representative to either of the board of trustees meetings this month.

“They did not appear again tonight and they didn’t email us,” said Julian, who appeared to be losing patience. “This is the second time they did not come, and they knew about the meeting. What’s that saying? Three strikes and you’re out.”

  • The board tabled several other items that were on the agenda.

One was an expenditure request for $1,200 to replace a transmission in a utility vehicle. Joint Utilities Director Steve Bailey was told three bids were required and he only had one.

Librarian Yvonne Magener also needed more bids for requests she made to stain the wooden deck outside the library and make repairs to the roof of the Boxcar Museum. The bids she had were for $600 each.

Also tabled were requests for purchases for the EMS and fire department, due to the absence of Fire Chief Donna Dawson, who also coordinates emergency services.

“This is the last time we’re tabling this,” said Trustee Barbara Baca, who was clearly frustrated.

Allen also made a plea that purchase requests be turned in earlier, so the board would have time to review them ahead of time.

Deputy Clerk Carleen Gomez told the board that Dawson was called away and was unable to attend the meeting.

  • The board did approve two other expenditures. One was to pay for a sign to be posted outside the library that will list the names of the mayor and trustees. The other was for a concrete pad in the area of the Indian Village at the rodeo grounds.

Julian said Frankie Martinez agreed to do the work for $1,000. The village will contribute $500 to the project and the Old Timers’ Reunion Committee will pay the other half.

The next village council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, June 3, at the village hall.

 


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