TorC City Manager Visits
With Council at Workshop
By Tony A. Archuleta
The Elephant Butte City Council recently signed off on a letter of support on behalf of the Copper Flat Mine project near Hillsboro, but it was all too happy to add a resolution of support during its April 4 meeting.
Following a presentation by Zack Gorstein, a project and sustainability analyst for THEMAC Resources, the council unanimously adopted the resolution “supporting the Copper Flat Mine as Generator of Jobs within the Confines of Sierra County.”
Said Mayor Eunice Kent, “I feel very strongly about supporting Copper Flat Mine. This is something great for our area.”
Gorstein told the council that THEMAC is “committed to environmentally sound mining and reclamation.”
He said the mine is on track to provide 150 permanent jobs, and 400 to 500 construction jobs lasting about a year and a half.
Gorstein said the mining company is taking extra steps to protect the Las Animas sycamores. Some area residents have expressed concern that the venerable trees will be negatively impacted by water use at the mine.
The permitting process should be completed by late 2013, with production starting in late 2014 or early 2015, according to Gorstein.
•During a workshop preceding the regular meeting, the council continued to discuss trash collection and disposal issues as the local landfill nears its August closure deadline.
Truth or Consequences City Manager Juan Fuentes also was on hand to participate in the discussion.
Fuentes acknowledged that “there wasn’t a lot of support behind” the city of Truth or Consequences’ initial proposal to create a joint powers authority among Truth or Consequences, Elephant Butte, the Village of Williamsburg and the County of Sierra to fund Truth or Consequences’ solid waste transfer station.
The city recently issued a $1.5 million general obligation bond to pay for the construction of the waste collection center, and while Elephant Butte, Williamsburg and the county may not partner with Truth or Consequences in an official capacity, it appears likely the transfer station will be the best option for trash disposal on a pay as you go setup.
Trash will ultimately be transported to landfills in Doña Ana or Socorro counties for disposal.
Fuentes said the city’s primary aim is to “make sure we recover the cost of our operation and debt.”
•City Manager Alan Briley wryly noted an Albuquerque TV news investigative reporter spent 30 minutes interviewing him, only to air a five-second sound byte that has a handful of activists from coast to coast calling for the repeal of the city’s recently adopted animal control ordinance.
Save for the Elephant Butte resident who contacted the TV news outlet to complain about a liability insurance mandate, the majority of individuals who actually reside within the city limits are largely aware of how much time and effort went into drafting the ordinance.
With the television station’s report available for viewing worldwide on the Internet, city hall has fielded complaints from New York to Texas to Alabama.
•The county is wrestling with a makeshift dumpsite in Butte City off State Highway 181, but the City of Elephant Butte is trying to figure out what to do with an arguably even larger eyesore – a long-standing auto junkyard also on Highway 181.
Since the junkyard has been in existence for ages, an argument could be made that the business is “grandfathered” in and not subject to the city’s existing ordinance concerning junked vehicles and the like. But the city’s attorney said the city could potentially address the problem through public nuisance enforcement efforts.
•Following the recent resignation of Patsy Barnett from the Lodger’s Tax Board, the council appointed Russ Trager to the board.