Otero County Commissioners Meeting December 7th

Description: Otero County Commissioners Meeting December 7th. November 23rd Minutes. Arkansas Valley Coalition of Pastors Speaks During Audience Participation...

Published: 12/07/2020
Byline: Hart


Otero County Commissioners Meeting December 7th

Otero County Commissioners Meeting Agenda seconews.org

Otero County Commissioners Minutes November 23rd seconews.org The Otero County Commissioners Approved Their Previous Minutes From November 23rd.

Pastor Anderson representing the Arkansas Valley Coalition of Pastors spoke during audience participation.

"As you know I've engaged you over the last few months a number times both as a citizen and a pastor of a local church. Last time I was present here we brought a request that the county follow the example of other counties in the state in light of recent court precedence in identifying the fact that churches are exempt from restrictions that limit the number of people who can gather together for the purposes of worship, fellowship and study as church gathers weekly to do. I am not here today on my own, I am here representing a larger group. The Arkansas Valley Coalition of Pastors, a coalition that has been put together in last fifteen days. A coalition who authored a letter to you commissioners and was delivered to you Thursday of last week...I'm not going to re-read the whole letter, but I am going to reiterate the request that we made that was under the authority that you posses in managing a local response to the state Covid-19 Dial and corresponding restrictions, you identify the churches under the jurisdiction of your health department including Otero and Crowley Counties, are exempt from restrictions limiting the number of people allowed to be present during the free exercise of our faith no matter where we may gather for the biblically directed activities of worship, study, and fellowship."

"This coalition of pastors that I am representing includes nineteen individuals who signed this letter stemming from eighteen congregations in Otero and Crowley County. Congregations made up of just under 2,000 individuals in these churches. We are seeking your interest in this matter because we understand that there are times when freedoms and liberties have to reaffirmed as a means of preserving and protecting them. We've seen recently from the supreme court that the liberty to do as we requested is in fact ours, and we also recognize that none of us are currently any scrutiny or interest from the health department in anything that we are doing. Every one of us has made it clear that our greatest interest is in fact preserving and protecting the health of our church families that we minister to, because there is no one, including the county health department, who care more for them than we do. And so our interest is in preserving and protecting our freedoms by having you affirm that in fact we are exempt. In part because many of us were participants in a phone call earlier this year with our health department and the county attorney where we were threatened with civil and criminal suits if we did not undertake the responsibility of policing these matters in our congregations, and so because we have been once subject to the threat of some civil or criminal activity from our county health department and the county attorney our interest is in hearing from you the civil authority who govern those institutions, that there really is no reason for us to concern ourselves with what might be in terms of punishment from local authority, but rather a confident affirmation that we are at liberty to practice as we have practiced in the past the freedoms that are enumerated in the founding documents of this nation."

"I know I'm over the three-minute mark, I appreciate your time and I hope you understand the seriousness of the matter as it is presented from us to you and we would only ask again that you would take the time to consider and to respond to this request."

New Business

Otero County Commissioners Meeting Department of Human Services seconews.org Supplemental Budget Request 040 from DHS, Donna Rhode said, "We received some extra family CARES and Covid Dollars and we would just like to spend them." The supplemental budget for Fund 040 in the amount of $289,654 was approved by the commissioners.

Otero County Commissioners Department of Human services seconews.org Fund 070 Community Service Block Grant, COVID CARES, according to Rhode, it allows the county to serve more people as well as the additional funds for housing and food.

Non Emergent Medical Transportation has exceeded expected services and received an additional donation from the City of Las Animas for $5,000.

 The commissioners approved the Department of Human Services supplemental budget request for Fund 070 for a total of $139,377.

Otero County Clerk and Recorder, Lynn Scott reported that the county received two CARES ACT Grants to help with COVID-19 relief.

The first totaled $2,954.45 and will be used to offset general election expenses, according to Scott.

The second totaled $2,636 and pays for election safety and for extra election judges, as well as a new computer system, according to Scott.

The Otero County Commissioners Approved Payroll and Expenditures.

A Tobacco Retail License was up for Renewal.

Otero County Commissioners Tobacco License Bausermans Market seconews.org

"This is the second one in county history, first renewal, nothing that draws red flags after review." She suggested the renewal of the tobacco retail sales license for Bausermans' Market in Manzanola, The Commissioners approved.

Scott reported that the Otero County Clerk's Office is still taking appointments through the end of December. "We are not having issues with that at this point, and we're good."

Otero County Administrator Amy White-Tanabe gave her director's report next.

She said she attended a great presentation regarding the underfunded courthouse. The county is hoping to add a structure to the north side of the building for Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility and create a single entry point, according to Tanabe.

Tanabe said, this is the first step in garnering funding for the project. The second step is a DOLA grant, which will be presented by the same group at the first of the year.

Tanabe said they are the most excited about the business grants, which can be found on the county website as well as the application.

It offers up to 10,000 in grant funds for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, according to Tanabe.

The deadline is December 9th and checks go out next week. Tanabe said, the exciting part is that the commissioners have agreed to match the amount, so that will double the funds that go out next week.

Tanabe pointed out that the 1041 hearing scheduled for tomorrow as well as one scheduled for later are both open to the public and links to join are available on the county website.

Otero County Commissioners Schedule seconews.org