Socorro County Detention Center detainees in the RISE (Reach, Intervention, Support and Engage) program are using their talents to beautify local communities as well as enhancing their knowledge.

From using their artistic talents to spruce up the utility boxes to helping cleanup communities’ cemeteries, Administrator Eddie Garcia told Socorro County Commissioners last week the RISE program is on the rise.

The program was started to help reduce the revolving door of inmates at the county jail. And it’s working, Garcia said. “We now have detainees coming in saying ‘I want to be part of the program. How do they know about it? Through their loved one or reading or hearing about it.”

Chelsea Jones, Socorro Library Director, is the literacy coordinator for the Detention Center in charge of its beautification committee.

With literacy funding, Jones said they are trying to do things differently to reach the county’s underserved population.

Helping her are many wonderful community volunteers who assist detainees in helping them get their high school diploma as well as teaching interpersonal skills, critical thinking as well as financial skills.

More recently, the RISE program received a $5,000 grant to do a mural for the Puerto Seguro Thrift store. The grant will help with purchasing supplies and paying the artist.

Commissioners were complimentary about the RISE program’s success. Commissioner Ray Martinez said he knows it makes a difference. “I’ve heard Commissioner Duggins say many times how impressed he is with the program when he goes out to see the results firsthand.”

Chihuahua update
Socorro County Emergency Manager Gail Trip updated commissioners on the Veguita residence overrun by 114 Chihuahuas.

Adult Protective Services contacted her office on April 16 about an animal hoarding situation. Jose Gonzales, Socorro County Animal Control, contacted the dog owners in their home and confirmed there were a large number of dogs.

Tripp told the board she began reaching out to various animal rescues across New Mexico. Despite facing initial difficulties, she was eventually directed to PACC911, a Phoenix-based animal rescue coalition, which proved to be a crucial turning point in the rescue operation.

“They were able to send an email to several rescues at once which created the operation to remove the dogs,” Tripp said, noting all but 5 dogs were removed.
On April 18, 13 people were present to collect the chihuahuas, including the city of Socorro Animal Control, Socorro County Animal Control, and the two rescues, which brought vans to transport them.

Wolf, feral dog issue
Commissioners also were made aware of a pack of feral dogs as well as wolves doing damage in northern Socorro County by USDA Wildlife Services Officer Matthew Ellis.
The county’s animal control officer has responded to multiple calls of dogs attacking dairy cows and other domestic animals in the area. They have removed several dogs; however, they’ve identified 95 plus or minus dogs in the area running at large. They have attempted to track and contain the animals but have not had much success.

The USDA is also monitoring wolves in the area, Ellis said. In addition, they are working at New Mexico Tech to trap the ducks and test them for the high pathogen influenza.

The USDA also is working on a problem with sandhill crane hazing and the distribution of pyrotechnics to keep the cranes away from farmers’ crops.

Other business
• Listened to a presentation from Mike Scott on the voting machine tampering.
• Distributed the Mil Levy funds ($250,000) for the first quarter proceeds to the Socorro General Hospital.
• Approved the donation of property from Arthur and Janet Schreiber.
• Tabled a discussion of establishing and advertising for the position of Deputy County Manager.