County still after Veguita clinic funding

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The proposed medical clinic in Veguita is temporarily on hold, at least until the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration's Local Government Division approves the funding.

A request by the Socorro County Commission for a Community Development Block Grant was initially approved but then canceled.

At the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, May 13, Veguita resident Leo Mendoza told the commissioners he was "very disappointed" and asked County Manager Delilah Walsh if grant money was still available.

"I hope we can get that money back. If there's any way we can help we will. I know how the system works," Mendoza said. "My question for the county manager is do you have the paperwork ready for the next cycle?"

Walsh said the county had asked the DFA for a one month extension on the funding request but "instead they just pulled it. They advised us to come back in October for the next cycle.

Walsh said all paperwork will be ready for the next ICIP cycle, but that participation in the county's CDBG public hearings this summer was crucial.

"We need to make our application as strong as possible," she said. "We'll start scheduling hearings in June or July."

"Get us as many letters of support as you can," Walsh told Mendoza. "The DFA had canceled grants in 10 communities, so the biggest advice I can offer is please come to those hearings."

The South Central Council of Governments in Elephant Butte initially took on the project of helping the county get the funding, but because of a series of personnel changes at that agency the process was delayed.

Walsh said the SCCOG is hiring a project manager exclusively for Socorro County.

"The COG was on our side," District 4 Commissioner Danny Monette said. "We'll be getting everything re-funded."

In an interview on Monday, State Representative Don Tripp said he has no doubt that the funding will be re-approved.

"We had the money, but then the Feds authorized it to go somewhere else, so we don't have all our money, but we should able to get the rest before too awful long," Tripp said. "We're pretty sure we'll get it in the next cycle. Get that thing completed."

"The $100,000 in legislative funds are still there," he said. "That money is being used for site preparation."

Total cost of the project is estimated to be about $400,000.

The commission began looking into the project in 2006, and has submitted ICIP requests for funding as far back as the 2009 cycle.

In other commission business:

• The commission approved the purchase of six new patrol cars for the Sheriff's Department at a cost of "not more than $225,000." The money will be coming out of the county's cash reserve.

• The positions of Jail Administrator and Road Department Director are now classified as hired positions as opposed to Commission appointed positions.

• District 5 Commissioner Juan Gutierrez asked the county road manager to look into improving the road between Hop Canyon and Paterson Canyon. "I'm concerned about an escape route in case of a wildfire. There should be another way to get out of the canyon," Gutierrez said. "There's that road that starts at the end of Hop Canyon and goes around to join Paterson Canyon. That needs to be more accessible."

• The commission approved a plan to sell the old Sports Page building on Francisco de Avondo through an online auction on the county's website www.socorrocounty.net. The starting bid would be set at $150,000.

• The commission voted to reduce the hours of the La Joya transfer station from 40 to 30 hours a week.