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A new building for those that save us from ourselves, some long needed courtroom improvements, honoring a beloved priest and other happenings left the Bernalillo County Commission ready for a little break as they head into summer.

Moved To Teary Eyes

Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada held back tears, at the June 29 administrative commission meeting, while he read a resolution urging the renaming of a stretch of Coors Boulevard, from Central to the county line, in honor of Father Graham Golden. Golden was killed and another man seriously injured when their vehicle pulled out onto Coors while leaving the South Valley’s Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey and was struck by a speeding motorist. Coors is a state highway, so it is ultimately up to the state’s transportation department to decide on the name change.

A 22-year-old man was charged with vehicular homicide and causing great bodily harm by driving recklessly on May 21. Police believe he was driving at least 91 miles an hour while street racing when he slammed into the vehicle carrying the two men.

The Albuquerque City Council approved a similar resolution recently.

New Digs For First Responders

Bernalillo County’s first responders will have a spanking new custom-built training facility. The 41,000 square foot facility will be built in the South Valley for the sheriff’s office and fire department by a local developer. This is the county’s first ever “build-to-suit” lease agreement where the county will lease the building for 30 years for a total cost of about $51.8 million. Commissioners decided on trying this option because the county has issued $40 million in bonds to pay for the new administrative building Downtown.

The new digs will be built to meet sustainability standards. It will include classrooms, a gymnasium and workout areas, canteens, offices and much more. The sheriff’s office curently trains in an old courthouse building, and the fire department trains in a former fire station.

County bean counters said this unique arrangement does not reduce the county’s borrowing capacity, which could stall future projects. They also said that the lease and maintenance payments to FireEd LLC will start at $1.6 million and can be made through its normal operating budget. After 30 years the county will have the option to extend the deal or consider a purchase. FireEd LLC is owned by Jerry Mosher and Jan Wilson. Bradbury Stamm Construction and SMPC Architects are part of the development team as well.

Deputy County Manager for Public Safety Greg Perez  is all excited and said that this is a big deal and has been in the dreams for 12 to 15 years.

Trucks Are Bucks

It wasn’t easy, but in the end a large truck stop corporation got approval for some tax reimbursement to cover roadway improvements to the area around Interstate 25 and Broadway. The McDonalds/travel center deal is a just over $700,000 in gross receipts tax reimbursements. According to county economic people, the travel center/McDonalds will generate about 78 direct jobs and about 24 indirect jobs. 

This was the second time the commission considered this item. In May the commission rejected a request to waive project impact fees to the tune of $58,000. Opponents argued that the company was ranked by Forbes as the 10th largest private company, which does not need government incentives, and that the jobs being created are mostly minimum wage. It passed on a 4 to 1 vote with Commissioner Debbie O’Malley casting the lone nay vote.

New Fire Station 

A more than $617,000 purchase agreement was approved to buy some land for the West Side Fire Station 37. The property is located at the corner of Interstate 40 S. West Frontage and Atrisco Vista Boulevard.

Bucks for Solar

An eye-popping $430 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds were deferred until the August 31 meeting. The IRBs were up for approval for issuance to Atrisco Solar LLC and Atrisco Energy Storage LLC for a solar electric energy generation project and for battery storage facilities.

New State House Member 

At a special meeting held June 22, commissioners appointed Pamelya Herndon to fill a vacancy in State House District 28 left by Melanie Stansbury when she was appointed to fill U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland’s position when Haaland was appointed U.S. secretary of the interior.

More Room for Justice

The Bernalillo County Courthouse is getting a much needed courtroom. The new room will take the place of cafeteria space and will be on the third floor. This will bring the total number of courtrooms up to 23 with 29 judges. While the state is pitching in about $1.6 million for most of the bill, the county is coughing up a little over $100,000 for the new courtroom. In addition, the county is paying $2.2 million for renovations to the first and second floors that house various support services and the Domestic Violence Division.

El Camino Real Plan

A series of public meetings are set to get input on preserving and highlighting the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a 1,600 mile trail that goes from Mexico City all the way into Northern New Mexico. There is an entire website, camino-bernco.com, with an interactive map that identifies the different routes settlers took depending on how the Rio Grande was flowing at the time. There are a series of public meetings set for: 6pm, July 15 at La Esquinita (507 Fourth St. SW); 6pm, July 21 at Gutierrez-Hubbell House (6029 Isleta Blvd. SW); and 6pm, July 27 at Bachechi Open Space (9521 Rio Grande Blvd. NW).

Helping Out

It takes public participation to keep our local governments in tune with the people. Kudos to these people who were appointed in the last chunk of time to various county boards and commissions: Rose Sena to the DWI Planning Council; Mandy Funchess to the county’s Audit Committee; John Doran, Christine Marie Sierra, Nancy Robinson and Clint Whisonant to the Board of Registration; Dianne Layden to the Sheriff’s Office Advisory Board; Brandon Mason to the Youth Sports Commission.

The next meeting of the Bernalillo County Commission is set for a Zoom meeting at 5pm, Tuesday, August 17 and 31. Watch it at GOV-TV or on Comcast Cable Channel 16. 

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