A gigantic water splash park and hero firefighters took center stage at the quick, Bernalillo County Commission meeting of Jan. 9, 2018.
County Commissioners honored three Bernalillo County firefighters who went to Chino Hills, Calif., to help with firefighting efforts in the largest wildfire in California history. BernCo firefighters Josh Skrondahl, Brannon Porch and Robert Arguelles, along with other area firefighters from Albuquerque, Corrales, Los Alamos and Sandoval County, joined firefighters from around the country fighting the deadly California fires. Our local firefighters were a bit shaken because they were working the fast-moving Thomas Fire on the day a brave California firemen lost his life fighting the same ravaging fire.
The excitement didn’t end there. On Dec. 21, on their way home to New Mexico, the metro area firefighters came across a big rig on fire along the interstate. Lucky for the truck driver, the firefighters put out the fire and saved the load he was hauling. The commission thanked the crew for honorably representing New Mexico and the county.
Commissioners approved the second stage of awesome upgrades to the South Valley Pool located on Isleta Boulevard. Along with the pool’s new decking, additional cabanas and picnic areas, there now will be the state’s largest water splash pad. South Valley Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada said this project is the direct result of the county asking residents what they would like to have in their community. The water play area will have a bucket water drop, water slides, interactive sprays and some water cannons. The splash pad will cost about $1.7 million with the bucks coming from state and local funding sources. It should be open and splashing for a Memorial Day grand opening.
Commissioner Michael Quezada was unanimously elected as the 2018 commission chair taking the gavel from Commissioner Debbie O’Malley. Commissioner Lonnie Talbert was handed the vice chair position that Quezada held. Commissioners then adopted the annual sunshine law that requires the public business be done in full public view, requiring deliberations and actions by public bodies be taken in open meetings. The Open Meetings Act accurately says that “the democratic ideal is best served by a well-informed public.” The Act is enforced by the state’s Attorney General’s office, and violations of the open meetings act are a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500.
Bernalillo County’s Metropolitan Detention Center will soon be getting energy upgrades to the tune of $13.9 million dollars. County authorities, and the company that got the contract, say the money saved on utility bills will pay for the work. Some of the work includes a complete overhaul of the aged heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, roof and sanitation repairs, LED lights and the installation of a 1.5-megawatt solar photovoltaic system. Much to the chagrin of the local utility companies, the county expects to save about $500,000 on electric and gas bills during the first year alone.
Bernalillo County is looking for community members to take part in several Behavioral Health Initiative subcommittees. The BHI is funded by a 2014 one-eighth percent gross receipts tax, and is intended to improve access to mental and behavioral health. The tax generates about $20 million annually and went into effect Feb. 2015. The county joined up with the state and Burque to form BHI with the goal of providing an accessible, comprehensive continuum of care for the county’s children, youth and adults. According to county studies, nearly 50 percent of Bernalillo County residents need some level of mental health or substance abuse treatment. These untreated health conditions often intersect with police, increase incarceration rates and cause over use of our hospital emergency rooms.
There are four subcommittees—Crisis Services; Prevention, Intervention and Harm-Reduction; Housing; and Community Support. If one of these sound like a good fit, email a resume to BHInitiative@bernco.gov before Feb. 2. “We see programs, inspired by our subcommittees, supporting generations far into the future,” County Manager Julie Morgas Baca said. “Together we are truly building invaluable, legacy programs for our community,” she added.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales says if you get a phone call from a BCSO deputy or detective saying they have a warrant for your arrest, don’t believe them. This is phone scam that directs the person to call a number to pay the warrant. Sheriff Gonzales said the department never calls citizens to inform them of a warrant—though a phone call would be way better for some unfortunate folks who have had their doors kicked in or blown open by deputies serving a warrant.
If you get one of these calls let the department know as this issue is currently under investigation. The BCSO non-emergency number is 505-798-7000. That way, the real deputies might catch the fake deputies, with real warrants.
Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins invites everyone to her next luncheon on Jan. 24, noon to 1 pm, at the McKinley Community Center to hear Captain Jackie Lance White from the Albuquerque Fire Department. White is a former University of New Mexico softball athlete and former member of the Canadian Olympic Softball team who has been with AFD for 16 years. She will demonstrate techniques that might save some lives during an emergency, maybe even your own. Bring your own lunch and if you can, let firstname.lastname@example.org know you are coming.