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Morning-After Report: News from Last Night's Village Council Meeting

Notes, Video, and a Time-stamped Transcript of the April 9th Meeting of the Village Council. Find Out What Happened Last Night, Today.
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This month’s regularly scheduled council meeting was kept short and mostly sweet, with some business being delayed until the upcoming Village Council’s annual budget retreat. Unlike years past when the workshop was hosted offsite, last year in Ruidoso, our village finances will be reviewed and debated at the Village Office from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Wednesday, April 17th through Friday, April 19th.

Mayor Turner, who seems firmly committed to his pledge of transparency, says the goal is to “save a little money” and have the meeting easily open to the public.

Last night’s village council meeting covered several interesting points. Before the meeting officially began, Turner thanked everyone in the audience for coming despite the spring snow (which our Fire Chief Erich Wuersching cheered with gratitude for the moisture.)

The mayor thanked Trustee Gail McCoy for her work with the First Baptist Church and volunteers who hid 4,000 eggs for the well-attended village Easter egg hunt. McCoy plans to host a village town hall, where village dances will be a topic at large.

In more sobering news, the village’s water wells currently produce only 65 gallons per minute, rather than a desired 90-100. If this rate continues and the wells do not recharge soon, the village will enact level-one water restrictions. Turner said, “The wells are down about seven feet. If we don’t get some rain in the next 30 days, we might have to take action.”

While discussing water, Trustee James Maynard addressed the completion of the Grand Cloudcroft Hotel swimming pool. He said the hotel would fill the pool with privately trucked-in water from Alamogordo rather than from the village supply.

Water was mentioned later in the meeting, where Turner thanked Utilities Clerk Crystal Menezes for catching a clerical mistake that contributed to errors in the water usage reports. Maynard said, “There had always been an imbalance. We had the right numbers taken at the wrong times.”

The village is installing cellular water meter readers to help with reporting and leak detection. While only 142 of the new tech are approved—out of over 1,100 needed—the council will review purchasing more at the annual budget retreat.

Turner recently met with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to request repainting traffic lines on James Canyon Highway, near the village’s busiest intersection by Allsup’s. With Police Chief Mike Testa’s safety recommendations, the village plans to improve “lines and signs” by installing caution lights, painting the Allsup curb that abuts the highway, and refreshing the turning lane and other painted lines on the highway.

Turner mentioned that the DOT will close one lane of the tunnel on Highway 82 for cleaning for one day in May, with a specific date to be determined.

During the Police Department report, Testa requested that better-lit crosswalks be added to the list of highway improvements. He also invited the public to a May 3rd ribbon-cutting at the new police department facilities, details to be announced.

The Fire/EMS Department reported that 100% of their hoses and ladders passed recent testing and inspection. Due to recent high winds, the individual property owner training through the Firewise USA program was canceled and will be rescheduled. Wuersching notified the council that the Fire department would give them emergency management training in the near future.

Michael Adams reported Ski Cloudcroft’s recent purchase of two new snow blowers with vertical turbine pumps and cannons. The village council will see the plans for a larger pump house in person later in the week. When asked if Ski Cloudcroft has “big plans for the summer,” Adams said, “Yes.”

Village Project Coordinator Vyanca Vega updated the council on the bathrooms by the Village office, stating “They are part of the Creative Industries Grant. Samantha [Odom] and her team will have murals [there.]” At Zenith Park, the Zamboni storage room is scheduled to be removed the week of April 22nd-26th to clear the way for a new concrete pad for the pre-fabricated restroom buildings at the ice rink.

The final action item on the agenda was the approval of a previous meeting from October 2023. The state did not verify the meeting because it violated the Open Meetings Act. Turner said the issue of uploading village agendas and minutes was resolved. Posting official documents now falls on the village rather than a third party, which has contributed to delays in timely dissemination.

The lost meeting’s minutes were read aloud, a law requirement, and the council unanimously approved.

When it came time to approve expenditures, the council had some questions.

The village is now contracting Mountaintop Accounting for bookkeeping, and village invoices will be sent to the firm. Then, batches of invoices will return to Village Clerk Shaela Hemphill for check runs and verification.

Maynard asked Hemphill, “Are our bills paid?” Hemphill replied, “All our past-due bills are paid.”

Turner said, “Any invoice we get needs to be paid within 24 hours.” After further discussion with the council, he said, “The daily operation of the village office is my responsibility. It’ll be my responsibility to make sure this is all taking place and getting done.”

To view the Village Council meeting in full, click the video screenshot at the top of this page. To view a meeting transcript, click The ‘Transcript’ link at the top of this article.

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