Help us support local, independent news.
100% of reader donations support our local journalists.
For less than a subscription to the Journal for one reader, you can keep our news free for everyone in ABQ.
Along with a new year there are a couple of fresh faces at the Bernalillo County Commission table, with newly elected Commissioners George W. Benson and Adriann Barboa taking their seats.
Three four-year seats were up for grabs last November. Commissioner Benson’s District 4 takes in parts of Northeast Albuquerque and the West Side. He ran on addressing crime and keeping our workforce here. Commissioner Barboa represents District 3, which maps out as Albuquerque’s inner core. She ran on a progressive ballot for the primary but did not face a general election opponent. Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada retained his District 2 seat that takes in the majority of the South Valley and Southwest Mesa. The other commissioners are District 1’s Debbie O’Malley, who speaks up for the North Valley and Northwest Mesa, and Charlene E. Pyskoty, who represents District 5 citizens living in the East Mountain area. Commissioner Pyskoty has the gavel and is the chair of the commission now, with Commissioner Quezada backing her up as vice chair for the next year. The commission only holds power when seated, and their duties are defined by state law. The commission is intended to be non-partisan. The current political makeup of the commission is one Republican and four Democrats, with Commissioner Benson being the lone Republican.
Tear It Down To Pave It Up
As part of their first order of 2021, commissioners approved tearing down the old jail in the middle of Downtown. Up until 2011 the building had been used by either the county or the feds as a lock-up. The $2.4 million contract was awarded to Guzman Construction Solutions to demolish the probably haunted building at Fourth and Roma NW. County deciders intend to use the property for a 149-space parking lot to accommodate vehicles.
It was costing about $60,000 a month to upkeep the empty building and more than $36 million to renovate back to up code as a usable jail. For those of us who love to watch a building implosion, we probably will not get the chance, as the county folks say it will take about 10 months to bring this monster down using a controlled, non-explosive process.
Art, Art Baby
Calling all sculpture artists! There is still time to propose conceptual sketches for ideas for midsized outdoor sculptures along visible avenues and boulevards within Bernalillo County. The deadline for applications is Jan. 29. Artists can be from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona, Colorado or Texas.
The project is named Outposts and was thought up by the Bernalillo County Arts Board. The idea is to combine the duality of the people and the coexistence of mountains, the valley, rain, drought, the ancient and modern cultures all tucked in our urban and rural landscapes.
This call is for Phase II of the project, as there are already five installations on Second Street from Montano to Osuna. This next set will be installed near highly visible tourist attractions such as the Balloon Fiesta Park and the Rio Grande Valley State Park. The pay for each sculpture is $25,000. When completed there will be 25 pieces by 25 artists, and the sculptures will be located in each of the five Bernalillo County commission districts. We Bernalillo County folks love art, and there are more than 400 pieces of public art located throughout county facilities. Check it out at artist.callforentry.org/festivals_unique_unfo.php?ID=7874.
- The Village of Tijeras, on the east side of the county, is moving toward increasing its population and its land mass with the proposed annexation of 763 additional acres. Public meetings are still in the works.
- Commissioners appointed Tom Ruiz to the Sheriff’s Office Advisory and Review Board representing District 1. Chuck McCune was appointed to the Code of Conduct Board
- A high five and big thank you was given to Rev. Trey Hammond, pastor of La Mesa Presbyterian Church for his many, many years of social justice and ministry to youth, adults and families in need. The commission wished him well on his future endeavours. Anyone needing an example of how to walk the walk and not just flap the jaws need not look any further than Rev. Hammond.
- Approved selling two chunks of General Obligation bonds, one for a little over $27 million and the other for around $13 million. The money will go toward roads, storm drains, libraries, parks, public safety, facility improvement and more fleet vehicles and heavy equipment.
- A shout-out to the county’s Records Section, which was awarded the 2020 recycling award of the year by the New Mexico Recycling Coalition for saving 132 yards of landfill space, 40 metric tons of carbon equivalent and 280,000 gallons of water.
- Commissioners also sent up a list of priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Top items include: no reduction in funding for essential services, increased funding for other services. Check out the full list and all the happenings at berco.gov.
The next administrative meeting of the Bernalillo County Commission is set for 5pm, Jan. 26 on GOV-TV.