At its April 11 meeting, the Socorro County Board of County Commissioners voted to move forward with the demolishment of the former Sports Page lounge on Francisco de Avondo and replace it with a new building to house offices for the Socorro County Fire Marshal.

County Manager Michael Hawkes said the long-vacant structure currently serves no purpose, and the property could be best used as a new county office complex.

The former Sports Page bar and one-time location of the Boys and Girls Club.
Courtesy photo

He said other uses for the building were considered, but they proved too costly.

“We had gone through a process of trying to renovate the Sports Page as an incubation center for entrepreneurship in an agreement with New Mexico Tech,” he said. “We applied for different grants and even hired a grant writer to do that and help us along with the economic development. “We reached out to the Feds, and they said. ‘yes, we have money available.’ They were talking about $2 million,” Hawkes said. “But they would only pay 75 percent, and we would have ended up paying $500,000. Within that, we would have to do an architectural and engineering study on the Sports Page building.”

He said the need for repairs and structural upgrades would be cost-prohibitive.

“We scrubbed that and put the building up for sale but didn’t get any takers on what we needed to get for it, based on market value,” Hawkes said. “After that, we discussed other ways to utilize the property, and what we came up with was to create a county Fire Marshal’s office. So, the building will soon be torn down, and the new structure will be built in its place.”

Hawkes said financing the construction would come from state fire protection funds.

“This is good because we won’t have to dip into the general fund,” Hawkes said. “Right now, we’re going through an asbestos study and are getting different cost analyses on that.”

He said an architectural and engineering design will follow, “and a cost analysis of what a building of that type would run.”

In other business, the commissioners approved an ordinance to modify the salaries of the County’s Undersheriff, Sheriff’s Administrator, Chief Deputy Assessor, Chief Deputy Clerk, and Chief Deputy Treasurer.

“The commissioners wanted to raise the percentage of what the commission had set years ago,” Hawkes said. “I did a market analysis of other counties and gave them the numbers, and then they decided to increase the percentage based upon what the original was.”

The idea was to be competitive and retain personnel.”

The ordinance modifies the 2016-02 ordinance, which set the Chief deputies’ salaries at 85 percent of their respected elected official’s salary and the Sheriff’s Administrator’s salary at 70 percent of the Sheriff’s salary.

According to the new ordinance (2023-01), the Undersheriff will receive 90 percent of the Sheriff’s salary, and the Sheriff’s Administrator will receive 85 percent of the Sheriff’s salary.

In addition, the Chief deputies for the Assessor, County Clerk, and Treasurer will receive 90 percent of their respective elected official’s salaries.

The salary modifications take effect in 30 days.

The Commissioners also:

  • Approved a contract with landscape architectural firm Sites Southwest to begin renovation of Escondida Lake Park. “We have APRA and grants for this,” Hawkes said. “Right now, we have $475,000 available, and that’ll get us started.” Plans for the park involve expanding and improving RV sites and oxygenating Escondida Lake. “We’re getting final bids on the aeration of the lake water,” Hawkes said. “I’m hoping for renovation concepts to present to the commissioners by late June.”
  • Recognized Adren Nance for 20 years of service to Socorro County and the Senior Centers Staff.
  • Passed a resolution to transfer all of the Magdalena Senior Center equipment to the Village of Magdalena. “That has to be done to fulfill our audit requirements,” Hawkes said.

Groundbreaking for the construction of internet access to Midway Elementary School is slated for 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 20. The project also includes San Antonio Elementary, the last two schools to get connectivity in the state.