Mayoral State of the City
The City of Socorro entered 2018 in a very stable and financially sound position. The New Year always brings exciting changes to the City. Many City employees have recently retired and most are being replaced by others in the departments. It is always rewarding to see our residents fulfill their careers with the City and others step in to do the same. This is also a time other departmental employees are given more responsibility in order to keep their careers moving forward.
Below is an update on the wonderful and hard-working City staff and the projects they are working on:
The Mayor’s Office continues to have an open door policy. It is with input from community members the Administration and City Council are able to prioritize and plan for the City’s Future. The City Council continues to be active in multiple projects including the rodeo and soccer complex, economic development, police oversight and infrastructure improvements. As before, the City Council agenda, minutes and videos from the meeting are available on the City’s website www.socorronm.gov.
The Finance Department continues to work with the public on utility billing, ambulance billing, purchasing, grants administration and accounts payable. The Finance Department continues to offer Budget Billing for utility customers. Collections and cash flow for the City continues to be steady. In early 2018, creative solutions were implemented to save City resources while maintaining a strong and experienced workforce.
Summer Youth Employment Program
The City of Socorro continues to hire over 100 students ages 16-19 for the Summer Youth Employment Program. Our summer workers work a total of 20 hours a week for six weeks. The summer youth participants are placed in various City departments. The program is also made possible due to the participation of several organizations such as NM Tech, NRAO, Socorro Schools, Cottonwood Valley Charter School, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, Bosque del Apache, Socorro County, NM Department of Workforce Solutions, El Camino Real Housing Authority and Healthy Kids Socorro. The program provides valuable work experience to our youth. Another 15 summer employees are hired to work at the City’s swimming pool which offers a variety of programs such as swim lessons, swim team, open swim, lap swim and a baby pool.
Socorro Public Library
The Socorro Public Library has seen new renovations including new carpet and fresh paint. We believe the roof is finally repaired correctly and no longer leaks. The library continues to serve the public by offering exciting children and adult programs, providing tax forms and offering computer training classes. One of the Departmental changes mentioned above is Chelsea Lyons, the previous Adult Services Librarian, has been promoted to Library Director.
Our new director of one year is working with a committee to improve the City’s animal control ordinance. City staff has attended certification training for our animal control officers, which will help them enforce the new ordinance once approved by the City Council. There continues to be multiple improvements at the Animal Shelter both inside and outside of the buildings. Animal control calls are being tracked in order to recognize problem areas and proper enforcement action is being taken. The City has been able to work with the City of Truth or Consequences to provide animal services while they are in the process of acquiring a new shelter
The Police Department continues to serve our community efficiently and professionally. We continue to provide a school resource officer at the high school. The Police Department will soon have new graduates of the Police Academy serving Socorro. The City also strives to provide our officers with new police units as the budget allows. You will see these new units patrolling our City.
The City of Socorro Dispatch Department has recently been upgraded with all new 911 equipment, including new 911 mapping software, 911 call handling software and phone location tracking software. The Dispatch Department continues to map calls such as traffic accidents, animal control calls and criminal activity in order to identify problem areas. The Department then continues to work closely with the Socorro Police Department on prevention of crime in these areas. The Department continues to grow in staff, recently adding a new certified member and another completing the required training at the New Mexico Department of Public Safety’s Telecommunications Academy in Santa Fe. With the recent closing of the local NM State Police Dispatch Center (NMSPDC), the City Dispatch Department has now become the only PSAP (public safety answering point) in the county. The Dispatch Department now receives every 911 call in Socorro County, while continuing to provide Local and County wide EMS, and Local and County Fire Department services. A new addition added to the Dispatch Department since the departure of the NM SPDC is the dispatching for the PHI life flight helicopter. This will be a great addition to the Socorro Dispatch Department. The mission of the Department is to serve and support the public safety communications needs of customers in the most efficient and responsive manner possible by providing organized and protective communication services to any public or private agency, utilizing staff involvement and operations with the integrated systems at the highest quality and proficiency possible.
Recreation, Youth Center & Tourism Departments
The City of Socorro Recreation Department continues to offer athletic programs to our youth and adults including basketball, volleyball, flag football, swimming, etc. Many local events/programs are housed in Finley Gym including the Community Arts Party, job fairs, the annual haunted house and in 2018 the Youth Center will be located at the facility. The Youth Center offers programs for children all day in the summer and after school during the school year. With this move, the home to the Teen Center will now be in the building located at 1002 Ake Street, near Sedillo Park. The Tourism Department continues to promote our City and provide information and gift bags to tourists. The Department is currently developing a strategic plan and branding strategy to help promote the City and increase visitor spending. The Rodeo and Sports Complex, which opened in 2017, has been a great asset for the City. Many events were held in 2017 and the calendar for 2018 is almost full. These events are focused on bringing travelers to Socorro to fill our restaurants, stores, and hotels. The City is also working with the Friends of the El Camino Real Historic Trail Site and the State of New Mexico to relocate the displays housed in the now closed site. Some items are currently displayed at the Alamo arts gallery, however the City would like to work with the other entities to build them a permanent home. These three departments work hard every year to produce other events including Socorrofest, Cinco de Mayo and parades. Please visit the City’s tourism website at www.socorronm.org.
The Fire and Ambulance Department continues to deliver ambulance and fire service efficiently to Socorro residents. To this end, a new fire truck has been purchased as well as a new ambulance. PHI medical helicopter services is still housed at the City’s municipal airport. City of Socorro firefighters and EMTs continue to further their education with training classes in order to better serve Socorro.
Sanitation and recycling staff continue to pick up on a daily basis and during the holidays. The first cell at the landfill has been closed and the new second cell is now in use. The new Recycling Center is open at the landfill and receiving recyclables. Many of the landfill staff have received their certifications. City staff in these departments also work very hard on cleaning up litter in order to keep the City clean.
The Gas Department has completed a valve replacement project which has increased the amount of natural gas the City can deliver to Socorro residents during the winter season. Since the replacement, no significant drops in pressure have been experienced, providing residents with a reliable supply of natural gas. Another project being developed is the addition of a parallel gas line that will allow for future system expansion. Gas Department crews have been replacing natural gas lines throughout Socorro. The Gas Department yard is also home to a compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel station where City staff can fuel their CNG vehicles. Two new tanks have been added that expanded the capacity of the station. Another City employee has been promoted to Director of the Gas Department. With the retirement of long-time City employee Abie Baca, Isaac Angle has taken over daily management of the Department.
The Auto Maintenance Department has been consolidated into one location. The City hired a Fleet Manager who has helped inventory our fleet and place each department and their vehicles on a maintenance schedule, ensuring City vehicles achieve the longest useful lives possible. A new software system helps keep track of vehicle logs and maintenance records.
Street Department crews continue to work on customer work orders and street maintenance, including pots holes, signage and striping. Road Department crews are working on special projects including the rodeo arena, the CDBG project on Texas Street, the continuing MAP project on Fairgrounds Road and will soon be chip sealing sections of the Hilton Hills area. The City of Socorro will be planning a Spring Cleanup wherein City crews will pick up appliances, weeds and other items. Soon, please look for flyers to learn when your area of the City is scheduled for pickup.
As stated above, the City Airport continues to house the PHI medical helicopter. The new fuel farm project at the airport has been completed. The annual fly-in event brings in visitors from all around the state. The Socorro Civil Air Patrol unit has assisted the City with keeping the airport clean and attractive for pilots.
The City of Socorro Water Department continues to operate the arsenic treatment plants and replace water lines throughout Socorro. Production Department staff regularly clean the lift stations and have already started getting the swimming pool ready for the summer.
Wastewater Department/Wastewater Treatment Plant
The Wastewater Treatment Plant has received several upgrades in the past few months with more upgrades to come. The City is working with a local engineering firm to develop a Preliminary Engineering Report that will map out City resources, indicate areas of need and help plan for the future of the City. This report should be completed in 2018. Once completed, the City will qualify to apply for funding from numerous sources, sometimes being able to combine different funding sources to maximize public funds.
Parks Department crews are very busy keeping our local parks, street medians and Plaza area beautiful. The Parks Department created a walking path and exercise area at Sedillo Park. A 5 kilometer track has been installed at the Rodeo and Sports Complex offering residents an alternative exercise option while enjoying Socorro’s beauty and climate. The City is also working with the Beautification Committee to plan an organized update to the Plaza. As you will see driving through Socorro, the City and the Beautification Committee have implemented a mural program. You will see more of this in 2018.
The Transportation Department continues to serve our community both with local and out of town routes. The City hopes to soon add a fixed-route in the City of Socorro and work with New Mexico Tech to help fill any transportation voids the students might experience when trying to frequent Socorro businesses.
2017 saw the reopening of the Loma Theater. New Mexico Tech, the top rated university in New Mexico and one of the most highly regarded universities in the country, was instrumental in achieving this milestone. The City provided funding to help ensure this project came to life. Speaking of New Mexico Tech, the campus is home to a one of a kind mineral museum. Please stop by and enjoy the incredible displays.
Another must see in the Socorro area is the nationally recognized Bosque del Apache national Wildlife Refuge. Numerous species of wildlife can be seen via walking trails or driving paths. While you are visiting our area please do not forget the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array just west of our City. On your way, be sure to take note of the Magdalena Ridge Observatory located on South Baldy Ridge in the Magdalena Mountains. These are but a few of the many activities offered in Socorro.
Though the City has seen some businesses close over the last couple of years, there are many successes to be celebrated. The City welcomes and celebrates the business developers that have brought commerce, industry and services to Socorro. For example, Solaro Energy, Inc., located in the City of Socorro’s industrial park, continues to expand their operations and offerings and employ Socorro residents and New Mexico Tech students and graduates. Another recent addition to the industrial park is Fresenius Kidney Care, a dialysis treatment center. The center provides local services to patients experiencing renal failure. Socorro General Hospital has built a large, state-of-the-art medical office with internists, family practitioners, surgeons, midwives, pediatricians and multiple other ancillary services, such as physical therapy and audiology services. Also in the medical family, the City has a new dentist, optometrist and pharmacy.
Other business successes to be celebrated are: Near the industrial park, Dicaperl is experiencing record production, is expanding and continuing to hire people from our area. Domino’s has a completely refurbished and state-of the-art facility, located in the closed KFC building. Yo Mam’s Grill has expanded their business by moving to the closed Denny’s restaurant. A new flower shop has been opened. The new owner of what was once Gambles has opened a completely refurbished True Value hardware store. Two medicinal cannabis stores have opened along with a “vap” shop. The Sourdough Mine restaurant is open for business across from City Hall. Tractor Supply is operating off State Road 1, on the way to the Rodeo and Sports Complex. Local financial institutions, First State Bank, Wells Fargo, Washington Federal and the NUSENDA are all faring well. These a just a sample of the great things taking place in Socorro. As you can see, the City of Socorro has seen some down times, but this has not stopped the City from moving forward. As the saying goes, “when one door closes, another door opens”.
The City of Socorro
The City has much to offer residents and visitors alike. With our beautiful landscape and temperate climate, Socorro is a beautiful place to visit, work and live. Socorro is home to a full service hospital with 24/7 emergency care, a top rated university, great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and friendly people. We will continue to keep Socorro moving forward, while maintaining our small city ambiance.
-Mayor Ravi Bhasker
111 School of Mines Road
P.O. Box K
Socorro, New Mexico 87801