County staff holding benefit drive

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The Socorro County DWI & Community Alternatives office and the Socorro County Sheriff's Department are doing their fifth annual toy, food and coat drive.

During department reports at the Socorro County Commission's regular meeting Tuesday, Theresa Rosales, DWI & Community Alternatives director, said the first event was last Saturday in front of Walmart. It was very successful; they came away with two sheriff's units and the back seat of Rosales' truck full of toys and coats and $500 in cash donations.

Rosales said staff added the coat component to the drive last year because deputies often saw children by Veguita who didn't have coats for cold weather.

Rosales said they will be at Walmart every Saturday until the second week of December, except for Thanksgiving weekend when they will do it on Black Friday. She said staff will also set up boxes to collect donations in different areas of the county.

Rosales said it takes about 10 to 15 hours to deliver the toys and coats to those who need them, so she hopes to employ a Santa Claus if possible this year and have people come to retrieve the gifts instead. She said staff would provide transportation for people who need it.

In other compliance office matters, Rosales said the program needs better security in its building. People can walk in any door, and all the offices are wide open. She added compliance officers don't carry weapons. She is trying to get them Taser certified, but that won't happen until after January.

Two weeks ago, Rosales said a fight happened in front of the building during which one man pulled a knife.

Rosales said the compliance office pays the sheriff's department to be present every Monday, the busiest day of the week for the program.

"I worry just because we are getting a lot more violent offenders," Rosales said. "Then we've taken out some contracts with Adult Probation … we have about 35 Adult Probation clients."

In other county business, the commission:

• Approved a sheriff's office purchase with Jim's Paint and Body, which was tabled last meeting when it appeared paperwork was not in order. County Manager Delilah Walsh said staff tracked down the paperwork and the work was done for the amount originally quoted.

• Approved a community wildfire protection plan. Kenny Rogers with WXFireGraph LLC said the document is very important and helps the county's chances when the county emergency management office applies for grants. He said the wildfire protection plan is a living document that changes to mirror changing conditions in the county.

• Removed the 11th year — 2003 — from the county's property tax schedule. Walsh explained the county can only collect property taxes from the past 10 years. Tina Lujan, county treasurer, said the total amount removed is $62,497, and most of it was in Rio Grande Estates. Walsh said typically after three years' delinquency the state sells the property.

• Directed staff to publish the GIS data information fee ordinance and tabled a resolution delegating authority to the county manager to enter into data licensing agreements. Walsh said the fee ordinance was not completed as of the meeting day. Walsh, county attorney Adren Nance and Gail Rogers of the GIS/rural addressing department have been working on a fee licensing agreement for data the county owns.

• Affirmed a grant agreement with the state Department of Finance and Administration for just over $172,000 to plan and build the Veguita Health Center.

• Approved a health care facilities contract with Presbyterian Healthcare Services. Walsh said the contract was part of what passed in the mill levy, the funds collected on property taxes to help support the hospital. County attorney Adren Nance said the Hospital Funding Act requires the contract be entered before funds are transferred.

• Approved road naming requests for private drives: Nance Lane, Capone Lane and Sonnys Lane. Walsh said naming the roads does not make them county roads, it just makes it easier to locate residents on the emergency 911 system.

• Tabled a grant agreement for traffic safety projects. Walsh explained the agreement was for an annual grant that pays overtime for sheriff's deputies to set up road blocks and the compliance office to hold DWI events. The grant is for $11,776 for Operation DWI and just over $1,000 for Operation Buckle Down. District III Commissioner Phillip Anaya motioned to table the agreement because Rosales and Sheriff Phillip Montoya had already left the meeting, and Anaya felt they should be present when the commission was discussing the grant. District I Commissioner Pauline Jaramillo, who chaired the meeting in District IV Commissioner Daniel Monette's absence, said for future agreements, the heads of the departments affected need to be present.