By Marty Mayfield
Raton City Commissioners spent about 50 minutes of the two-hour meeting Tuesday evening listening to and discussing the recent power outage that put Raton in the dark for about eight hours last Friday.
Local business owners Mauricio Lemus and Mike Mulligan were present at the request of Raton Chamber president Paul Jenkins to explain to commissioners the problems they had with the power outage. A letter from Lee Phelan indicated that McDonalds lost about $16,000 in revenue due to the outage while Mulligan told commissioners he lost about $8200. The biggest complaint however was the lack of communication about what was going on and when the power would be back on. The situation was also complicated by road closures of I-25 going over the pass and highway 64/87 to Clayton.
Laura Brewer suggested Facebook as the preferred method of communication as most people are on Facebook and with the power being out the local radio stations were unable to broadcast. The problem with Facebook is you have to have a method of looking at Facebook that doesn’t rely on electricity or has an electrical backup.
Robert Walton Jr., RPS General Manager, was present to explain the problems they had with the weather and the very bad luck as the one pole that broke was on the transmission line that brought power into town from the Raton substation that connects Raton with either Burro Canyon or Springer Electric. It was noted the pole was in a very difficult location to get to, and required the use of a bulldozer which was donated to the city by Bill Serazio, to pull equipment in and out of the location. The weather was the biggest problem getting to the pole and getting it temporarily repaired in order to get the juice turned back on. Once that power did come on RPS had to deal with other issues in the service area. Many of the linemen with RPS were up for over 30 hours straight so it became a safety issue as well.
Walton noted that they would start the commissioning process on the new generator in mid-April and the actual commissioning in May hopefully have it online in June. He noted the generator is only a 4.3 KW generator that would support part of Raton but not all of the town at once. If the power goes out from the primary source, Burro Canyon, the city would then see rolling black outs with the business areas and the hospital being the priority.
Commissioners instructed City Manager Scott Berry to move forward with the ordinance process for placing an electric gate on the Old Pass road and to define the process for vehicular access through that gate to the old pass road. Commissioner Ron Chavez brought forth a proposal to place a gate at the “Y” where the road splits and goes up to Goat Hill and the Old Pass Road.
He calls the gate an accountability gate that will create some kind of accountability for vehicular traffic on the old pass road. The gate is felt to be necessary because of the vandalism that has occurred to both public and private property on the old pass road. It is also hoped that it will curb some of the indiscriminate shooting that goes on up there. The fear is that someone will fire off in the direction of I-25 and the bullet could hit a passing car. Chavez noted that the city is not giving away the property but is trying to have some accountability so that if damage is done they have a place to start looking. It’s the old adage a very few ruin it for everyone else. Pedestrians, mountain bikes and horses will have access to the road via a smaller opening by the vehicle gate.
Berry noted that Skyline road which is now unpassable for most vehicular traffic will have to be closed so that off road vehicles won’t be able to gain access that way. (other reading might include the pack it in pack it out editorial on the KRTN Web page)
Commissioner in action items moved the approval of Raton Mainstreet’s Cinco De Mayo celebration. During the meeting the Commission also approved an Economic Development grant of $260,000 to go along with other monies that MainStreet is in the process of acquiring for the Great Blocks project on First Street.
Commissioners approved a revised budget adjustment for JJAC at the request of CYFD. Commissioners then heard the financial report for February 2017, noting an increase in GRT again this month. It was up 6.32% over what was budgeted while the city continues to operate under budget by about 5%. The city had budgeted $200,000 in small cities assistance but the recent check came in at $177,488 a short fall of $22,551. (Link to Feb2017 Financial Rpt001) (Link to Budget Adjustment#9 FY17001)
Commissioners approved budget adjustment #9 for FY17 which dealt mostly with the Police and Fire Department budgets. City Treasurer Michael Anne Antonucci noted that there had been some savings in salaries at the police department and those savings were transferred to the overtime line item.
Commissioners approved paying off the loan for the visitor’s center early and the purchase of a steel building for the transfer station at a cost of $136,631.98. The building will be a 120 by 120-foot steel structure with six doors to allow vehicular access for loading and unloading of refuse.
City Manager Scott Berry gave a very short report on upcoming meetings before the commission moved into executive session for limited personnel matters. Listed is the city manager’s evaluation.
Commissioners will meet again on April 11, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. for their next regular meeting.