County refuses to close senior centers

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Socorro County commissioners met at the Magdalena Senior Center Tuesday instead of their regular commission chambers.

As soon as the preliminaries were over and public comment was allowed, Magdalena resident Bill Fuller stood to say the meeting was probably illegal because of the open meetings act. Fuller felt the notification of the change in venue was not announced correctly.

“I won’t follow up if you agree to come back with proper notification,” he said. “I think people should have the opportunity to come if they want to.”

Commissioners agreed to direct staff to arrange for the Sept. 25 meeting to also be held in Magdalena.

All the chairs set up at the senior center were full of citizens for Tuesday’s meeting. Most seemed concerned over rumors the center may be closing down due to a lack of funding.

One audience member shared that concern with commissioners.

“There is no way any senior center will be closed in this county,” said County Manager Delilah Walsh. “The county has cut other things first.”

Walsh also addressed concerns about staff reductions and meal services at the senior center.

She said no one will be laid off but some staff reduction may occur through attrition. For example, if someone retires the position may not be filled.

Walsh also said meals will continue to be prepared on site at the senior center as long as the budget will allow. There are no immediate plans to prepare meals elsewhere and bring them to the center.

Transportation money has been cut and transportation for the seniors has been affected, she said.

“We are going to go back to the legislature every year,” she said. “But our transportation needs are unfunded and un-met right now.”

In other business the commission:

  • Approved a grant agreement with the USDA road department for performing maintenance on Forest Service roads.
  • Approved an 2012 severance tax bond grant agreement for Sabinal Community Center.
  • Approved an application for a road name change in a rural subdivision area to Unit 32 Loop.
  • Approved an award to ProPac Inc. for the order of self-contained emergency preparedness carts for the Fire Marshal Office which will provide shelter services in the case of disasters.
  • Approved an award to Animal Haven Veterinary Clinic for veterinary grade equipment, also a disaster preparedness measure according to Walsh.