Magdalena Senior Center, 500 S. Ninth Street.
File photo

The Village Board of Trustees last week voiced its opposition to a proposal by the Socorro County Commission to turn the operation of the county’s senior centers over to a private contractor.

In an open letter to County Manager Michael Hawkes, Magdalena Mayor Richard Rumpf stated that local management of the senior center had the support of both the residents and the Board of Trustees.

“We understand that the cost of running the senior centers is considerable and there are significant financial constraints to fund the operation of these centers,” the letter said. “We applaud the efforts of the Socorro County Board of County Commissioners to pursue the most cost­ effective means to maintain the operation of these centers and understand that if the funding available does not cover the cost of operating these centers they are at risk of closing.”

That being said, “the Village of Magdalena Board of Trustees would like to submit that it is in the best interest of our village to maintain local personnel employed to operate the senior center that serves our village.”

Rumpf pointed out that the current employees are residents of the village who personally know the local seniors that benefit from the senior center and “well understand the needs of the seniors as well as the Village of Magdalena.

“Therefore, we respectfully request that you consider our desire to continue to employ current local personnel in the operation of the Magdalena Senior Center as you consider the best financial avenue to keep the center in operation,” the letter stated.

In other business, the Board postponed action on a “dark skies” ordinance following a public hearing for Night Skies Ordinance No. 2022-02. The ordinance would call for all village outdoor lighting to be shielded, that is, in such a manner that light from the fixture is projected below a horizontal plane running through the lowest point on the fixture where light is emitted.

The resolution recognizes that Magdalena attracts both professional and amateur astronomers and is known for its rural character and dark skies.

Opponents of the ordinance contend that shielded outdoor lighting would result in lowered security. The matter will be taken up again in an upcoming meeting.

The Board also approved a loan agreement with the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration in the amount of $107,756 toward the purchase of a new backhoe loader and respective equipment.