Glenwood Gazette

                A Monthly Publication for Frontier Communities in Southwestern New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona

 

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Catron County Solid Waste Report

by Bill Aymar, County Manager Catron County, New Mexico

As County Manager, I've spent quite a bit of time on the phone the last few weeks with Catron County citizens and thought that perhaps an article in the paper might help answer some of the questions folks have about the solid waste program and its recent changes.

This article isn't meant to be a complete review of the program, just some information that may help explain what's going on.

Years ago, the County Commissioners established a number of landfills, using special use permits on federal land, and I'm sure at the time they assumed these landfills would continue to serve the citizens of Catron County for decades, and possibly be replaced by similar ones should they become full.

Fast forward a little, and the changes in the culture of the Forest Service and BLM and ever-more stringent environmental laws brought about the closure of the Glenwood and Reserve landfills by the Forest Service and, more recently, the closure of the Pie Town landfill by the BLM.

Closing these landfills involves far more than putting a lock on the gate, as the New Mexico Environmental Department has very strict closure and post closure requirements, including engineering studies to assure cover material density, depth, and compaction, ground-water monitoring and test wells, and methane gas monitoring for 30 years. They even specify the type of vegetation that can be planted on the covered landfill.

Noncompliance with these requirements can result in an "administrative action" - a fine in the neighborhood of $250,000, which we certainly cannot afford.

So the hundreds of thousands of dollars in closure and post closure costs become part of the cost of the overall program-a not so apparent cost, but a real cost nonetheless. We calculated the costs, put together a grant request to the state Solid Waste Bureau for $601,000, and we received a little over $89,000 in grants, which we are thankful for but that fall far short of our needs.

While the County is not required by law to supply solid waste services, the charter of the County Commission states that they will provide for the health and welfare of the citizens, and providing for the solid waste removal certainly would seem to fit in that criterion. Once the County assumes the provision of services, it has to handle the program as an "enterprise fund" by state law, and that means it can't have a loss in that fund - it has to pay for itself from the fees associated with the program.

For many years the solid waste fee was charged at $72 per year (and I don't think it was raised since 1996) and that allowed citizens to dispose of their household solid waste pretty much anytime they wanted - we had three landfills and all was (apparently) peachy.

The forced closure of the landfills put us in the position of having to haul our solid waste out of the County, to Blue Hills Environmental in St. Johns, Arizona. Needless to say this was a far more expensive proposition than putting all our solid waste in the County owned landfill.

While we were considering how to make this work it became apparent that we needed to convert to a volume-based system, as we had folks filling the dumpsters with torn down houses at the same price as folks tossing their one bag a week.

By going to a volume-based system, those who use the facilities the most would pay the most-as it should be. After much discussion it was determined that continuing to bill a $72 plus tax fee and converting from the "mailing label" sticker to a punch card system made the most sense. The yearly billing gives the County a pretty good handle on the amount of revenue we can expect for budgetary purposes, and a determination was made to have each punch on the card represent three dollars, with the $72 fee purchasing two cards with 12 punches each, for a total of $72 (plus tax).

Using a cubic yard as the basis for the volume, we came up with a measuring system that was simple to implement and seems to offer good value to the citizens. A three dollar minimum charge (one punch) was established for anything under one cubic yard (3' x 3' x 3') -beyond that the charge is six dollars (two punches) per cubic yard. The actual measurements and the whole solid waste ordinance can be found at www.catroncounty.us in the section designated ordinances.

Contrary to some rumors (in Catron County?) there is no limit on how many times you can use the convenience centers - it's only limited by the number of punches on the cards you receive. The attendants also have the capability to accept payment at the center - it's put in an envelope and deposited in an "Iron Ranger" type drop box.

The system has been in place in the southern half of the County since February 18 and seems to be working smoothly. The same system will be instituted in the northern part of the County, with those who have paid their solid waste fee being sent the punch cards as soon as we get all the facilities in place for the program.

As with all change, it might take a while to adjust to the new program, and we at the County are continuing to refine the system to make it workable for the most citizens. Some adjustment in habits is probably inevitable, as taking one small bag of solid waste a week to the center probably doesn't make sense, and the purchase and use of a 33 gallon plastic or metal trashcan might make it into a twice a month trip instead. As information, a load of six 33 gallon trash cans is still under a cubic yard, so a three dollar (one punch) charge would apply.

We continue to look at the possibility of countywide recycling, but the small population and large geographic area make it more of a challenge than it is in the city setting. We intend to continue to pursue this goal.

While this is a pretty broad overview, I would invite you to call me at (575) 533-6423 with any specific questions you might have. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

 

Who are the CowBelles?

Copper CowBelles are women of diverse interests! Foremost, we work to educate the public on the specifics of the beef industry from raising beef, getting it to the marketplace and to your dinner table. Our beef education programs are about the significance of smart eating, good nutrition and purchasing "quality beef."

We educate individuals so that they can make better nutritional choices. The importance of choosing wisely affects our very existence as the old saying goes "we are what we eat," and the selections we make when eating affect our moods, energy, thinking, play and sleep. Secondly, the Copper CowBelles are committed to keeping the Western heritage alive and active in our community. We hope to encourage the public to become knowledgeable about the history of ranching and beef production to help us keep the industry thriving.

Volunteerism is at the heart of the Copper CowBelles organization. Our community involvement includes events such as the Ranch Days at Alma, the Wild, Wild, West Rodeo Parade, and the State and County Fairs. Other avenues of service include the "Choose Wisely" nutritional program in the classroom, beef for the back pack school program, beef for the high school culinary programs and donations to El Refugio.

We assist local agriculture related students further their education with our annual Scholarship program. The Copper CowBelles finance these activities with our annual fund-raiser "The Denim and Pearls" Dance and Auction, and everyone is invited!

Members of the Copper CowBelles are also members of the New Mexico CowBelle organization. "Active, Aware, and Informed", New Mexico CowBelles are interested in the welfare of the Beef Industry and the conservation of the natural resources required for its continued viability.

Become a CowBelle today!! Membership for the local and state organization is $25 per year. For more information go to our website at ~ www.coppercowbelles.com.

Frisco CowBelles Annual Art Auction, Barbeque and Dance
29th Annual Event to be Best Ever
!

On July 2, 2011, the Frisco Cowbelles will hold their 29th Annual BBQ, Western Art Auction and Dance at the Glenwood Park. The dinner will be pit barbeque beef, beans, potato, slaw, roll, dessert and drink - all homemade and delicious! We will begin serving dinner at 5:30 pm.

The Western Art Auction at 7:30 is loaded with great items every year and this year is no exception! You do not want to miss on bidding on Limited Edition Signed and Numbered Prints by New Mexico artists such as the "Shoofly" seen above (donated by Robin Gierhart), several Grem Lee prints, a set of prints from Tim Cox, a print from Bill Vaughan donated by the Running Horse Gallery, a print by Susan Ley of Luna or a beautiful necklace set or rhinestone purse from Kim Kindle, so plan on attending!

Then at 8:30 pm, our live band, the Jason Yarborough Band from Las Cruces will play for everyone's dancing pleasure!

This event is the only fundraiser for the Frisco Cowbelles and proceeds support a high school scholarship, the annual Ranch Days agricultural awareness program and donations to winning 4-H beef producers at the Catron County Fair.

This is an evening of food and fund, suitable for the entire family! We hope to see you there!

29th Annual Frisco CowBelles' Western Art Auction, Barbeque & Dance

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Glenwood Park CatWalk Road Glenwood, New Mexico

Barbeque Dinner begins at 5:30 PM (Adults, $ 10.00 ... Kids under 12, $ 5.00) Price includes Barbeque & Dance

Western Art Auction begins 7:30 PM Exquisite Western Art for your bidding pleasure!

Dance at 8:30 PM following the Auction Dance only: $3.00 Singles, $5.00 Couples Great Music by "Yarbrough Family Band"

All Proceeds Benefit Agriculture Education & Support of the Beef Industry, including ~ a High School Scholarship, the annual "Ranch Days" agricultural awareness program, and donations to the youth beef exhibitors at the Catron County Fair

Come For Delicious Food, Fine Art, Fun & Dancing!

 
   
         
 

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