By Gilda Morales
City Council had its first meeting Monday night after approving the change from twice monthly at the previous session. Council heard from Edward Torres, Utilities Director, who reported that construction on the new water tank is progressing as scheduled, with the tie-in and valves already put in, and welding on the prefabricated panels expected to start by the end of the month. Torres stated that although the specific completion date for the tank is unknown, there will be a sigh of relief when it is completed, especially since the old tank is starting to leak slightly. He also reported that the Thrift well is also acting up, and may need a new motor, but he advised Council that he was going to look into using a new repair company since the last repair only lasted three months. The Courthouse well will be put into use until the Thrift well is repaired and running again. On the leaks to the line going to Sierra Blanca, Torres told Council that lowering the pressure a bit seemed to take the stress off the pipes and there have been fewer leaks.
Torres also reported that much of his staff’s time had been taken up with maintenance on his heavy equipment and informed Council that it was going to take some investment to get the equipment where it needs to be. Torres happily reported that the new employee, Fermin Baeza is working out exceptionally well and he is already on the job putting his expertise on heavy machinery to use, especially in the areas where flooding is a problem.
Council was also told of plans by Bill Story to build three new houses now, in the area of 7th Street and JFK, with future plans to build a total of 12 new houses. Torres also reported that the improvements on Ash Street are almost complete with the PVC pipe being replaced by copper pipe, which is much more pliable and less apt to break and leak.
In other action, Council voted unanimously to accept the only bid for grant administrative services from Jerry Carvajal, from GrantWorks, and approved a proclamation in honor of Municipal Court week. Plans are underway to have a mock trial with the 4th-grade students participating.
The spay and neuter clinic will also take place on November 19th, starting at 10 a.m. in front of the Mercado, on a first come, first serve basis. Council voted as in other years, to offer a $30 utility credit for customers who take their pets to be spayed or neutered. Fran Malafronte, City Administrator, advised Council that she had heard from the USDA and was informed that there will be a grant available in the amount of around $360,000 with the City portion amounting to 40% of the grant amount. The grant can be utilized to replace old water meters with digital ones for the entire town, or for other improvements deemed necessary by the town.