Prison progress and a myriad of economic development organizations

Prison progress and a myriad of economic development organizations

by Carol Bridge

RATON — Colfax County Commissioners met on September 11 in a lengthy meeting. Construction woes of the new detention center were discussed as another change order presented itself to the board for action.

Larry Osborn, Colfax County Fire Marshal, told the commissioners that problems with the newly installed electronic and manual key lock system in the facility present serious safety and security problems and it will cost an extra $36,000 to redo.

This is only part of the total change order costs at the expanded detention center of about $350,000. There was some discussion regarding responsibility for this error in security design that seems to have been due to the State of New Mexico transferring architectural and engineering design oversight onto local counties. Most counties were not equipped or able to do such detailed analysis of building plans which had been previously done by state industrial engineers.

Chuck Carlson and Byron Pompeo, representing the architectural and construction companies, were present to explain to the board why their companies should not be responsible for the added expense. They maintain final approval of the security system plans should have been the responsibility of the state.

Another problem is with regard to plumbing, the water line to cells, and whether to use copper or CPVC in the construction. Commissioner Roy Fernandez voiced general concerns about the many change orders that have been presented to the board during construction.

New non-profit to be formed to oversee all Colfax economic development groups

Geoff Peterson and Jessica Barfield from The Center for Sustainable Community addressed the commissioners about their efforts to consolidate regional economic development organizations (EDOs) to join forces for more success. Currently most of the towns in the county have their own economic development boards along with GroRaton and Raton’s ‘Mainstreet’. Add to that mix the various chambers of commerce and village economic efforts which have little communication or coordinated efforts between them.

Peterson requested $2,000 from the commissioners to create another non profit 501(c)(3) to create another EDO whose purpose will be to serve as a cohesive and inclusive entity to promote the whole county. He and Barfield have been awarded a $120,000 grant from Google in order to promote economic growth for Raton. Peterson and Barfield would like Colfax County to become another focus community which would bring in another $120,000 grant to the center to be used for county wide economic development. Peterson and Barfield will be creating web pages about the whole county to link people to area attractions and amenities and supply statistical demographics to area businesses and planners. Landon Newton, vice chair, commented that an overall county wide EDO may help existing EDOs be more effective.

Amtrak continues to demand PTC, or will bus passengers from Kansas to Albuquerque

Bill Sauble gave an update on the recent Amtrak meeting that was held in Raton with about 50 representatives from communities, congressional offices, city and county delegations and with a spokesman from Amtrak. Amtrak has agreed to continue working with communities, will maintain the line as it exists and that negotiations will continue. Amtrak is demanding that Positive Train Control ( PTC, safety equipment) be installed from Liberal Kansas to Albuquerque at the cost of over 50 million dollars that Amtrak refuses to pay for. If the PTC is not installed then Amtrak’s plan is to bus people along this route.

In Other Business

The county airport at Angel Fire will be transferring unused governmental entitlements to Los Alamos Airport. This is common practice among rural airports because the Federal Government spreads blanket grants to all rural airports so airports exchange these monies among themselves or the money would be lost.

Newton informed the group he has been selected to sit on the executive board of the North Central Economic District. He will attend the NEEDO (North East Economic Development Organization) meeting and the Angel Fire Airport Advisory Committee meeting.

After an executive session the board announced that no action regarding the purchase or sale of real estate had been taken and authorized county manager Mary Lou Kern to discuss conditions of the sale of 225 acres owned by the county.

Kern gave an update on the most recent R.A.I.N. (Regional Agency Intervention Network) meeting and related Rodney Gross did not appear to explain Tri County Community Service’s (TCCS) sudden closure. Because the building is now vacant, she proposed the county DWAI program be moved into it with some reshuffling of county service offices. Kern has recently met with Lawrence Medina from Rio Grande Counseling & Guidance Services in Albuquerque about local needs. Medina will be speaking at the next R.A.I.N. meeting in October.

Sophia Ortiz from the local employment service spoke to the commissioners about an upcoming job fair and workforce summit happening this week in Las Vegas. She is circulating a survey to learn about what employers need from government regarding training and education for their future or present employees. The job fair will be held on Friday the 14th from 10 am until 4:30 pm in the Luna Community College Auditorium. For more information call 505-429-1293 or 575-445-5445.

The next meeting of the Colfax County Commission will be on September 25 on the second floor of the county building on 3rd Street in Raton.