Commission increases emergency preparedness

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County commissioners approved several requests to increase the county's level of preparedness during emergencies during a December meeting.

They unanimously approved a mutual aid agreement with the village of Los Lunas for an emergency operations center at the village's transportation center.

Emergency Management Coordinator Glenda Chavez told commissioners an emergency operations center would allow for the coordination of management services, information and resources during an emergency.

"Last year (2011), we began looking for county property to do that in, but there's not a lot available," Chavez said. "There weren't a lot of funds available then and there still aren't now."

During the search, she said county staff discovered that a portion of the second floor of the transportation building was actually built for an emergency operations center.

Former Commissioner Georgia Otero-Kirkham asked how dispatch would be handled.

"Does it make sense not to have this where the radios are, at the dispatch center?" Otero-Kirkham asked.

Chavez said typically an emergency operations center would be in the dispatch center, however there wasn't enough space at the Los Lunas Police Department, the current location of the dispatch center.

"But we also found that the second floor has the infrastructure built in so we can go ahead and establish a couple of stations there for dispatch during emergency situations," she said.

While on the topic of emergency preparedness, Otero-Kirkham asked if the county had established emergency shelter plans for any travelers stranded during the cold weather.

Chavez said the county is working with the American Red Cross to develop a plan.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to accept a grant for $50,665 from the state's department of Homeland Security to use for emergency management preparedness functions.

There are no matching funds requested from the county.

They also approved a $36,000 grant to develop a multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan. The plan allows follow-up requests for additional grant funds to be requested for mitigation actions identified by the individual entities covered by the plan — the county, city of Belen, village of Los Lunas, village of Bosque Farms and town of Peralta.

Chavez said the plan addresses hazards in the individual areas through historical documents, population data, housing date, insurance data and geographic settings.

The funds may be requested for infrastructure projects to help mitigate against the hazards identified.

There is a match cost of $12,000, Chavez said.

"Each entity has agreed to come up with $2,000 of in-kind services," she said. "That includes things like attending meetings and picking up information from the assessor's office."

In other action, the commissioners:

• Approved a budget adjustment request in the amount of $100,000 to accept a 2012 legislative appropriation for work on Fire Station Road;

• Approved the acceptance of $31,670 in grant funds from the New Mexico Department of Transportation for the sheriff's department to reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths.

The funds are administered through four programs — Operation DWI, $24,500; Operation Buckle Down and Click It or Ticket, $3,690; and 100 Days and Nights of Summer, $3,480.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.