Council tackles multiple issues

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By Carol A. Clark

During Tuesday’s meeting, Youth Mobilizers, Emi Weeks, Annie Chroninger, Josh Dolin and Max Argo presented results to council of various surveys they’ve conducted this school year including how teens spend their money, how the skate park is doing and why teens drop out of school.

The Los Alamos High School juniors and seniors credit the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board for making it possible for them to conduct the surveys. They’ve presented their findings to the Los Alamos Board of Education and other organizations.

“You guys are making a difference,” said Council Chair Mike Wheeler who invited the youth to present their findings at Tuesday’s council meeting in the White Rock Town Hall.

“I think you guys are just awesome,” Councilor Sharon Stover said and gave the background of how the teen group got started. JJAB member Barb Marcille brought the concept back from a conference she attended and shared it with Family YMCA Executive Director Linda Daly and others who embraced it and helped move it forward.

Councilor Nona Bowman thanked the teens and told them to, “Keep up the good work.”

The county was recognized by council Tuesday for receiving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center and Siemens Corporation’s Sustainable Community Award May 4, for its efforts to improve the quality of life within the community by achieving complementary economic, environmental and social goals.

Los Alamos County was recognized in the “Small Community” category for its progress in creating a sustainable community through renewable energies, green buildings, free community-wide bus transportation and a partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory, among other achievements.

Wheeler accepted the award at a special ceremony in Chicago.

Resident Kerry Coffelt also was honored Tuesday evening by council and county staff for his participation and many years of service to local Little League and as an umpire in the “Little League Softball Regional and World Series.”

They also debated making insurance participation mandatory.

It costs employees about $1 per pay period or $26 per year to participate in the county’s insurance program.

About 50 employees do not participate and there have been a few instances where that has resulted in a hardship situation, said Assistant County Administrator Diana Stepan.

Councilor Robert Gibson expressed concern at making it mandatory for employees to participate in an insurance program.

After discussion, council voted 6-1 to approve the measure, with Gibson voting against it.

Council voted 6-1 to authorize County Administrator Max Baker or his designee to execute residential rental agreements with tenants of Los Alamos Apartments.

Councilor Vincent Chiravalle voted against the measure saying he did not want to see people forced to move out of their apartments during these difficult economic times.

Four of the five buildings will be demolished with the fifth building left to house low income and chronically homeless people.

Gibson, Stover and Councilor Ralph Phelps were praised for the work they did creating a citizen steering committee vision statement and guidelines for the siting of a new Municipal Building.

They were given 45 days to complete the task and actually completed a very thorough plan within just four weeks.

Following much back and forth discussion of maintenance projects and plans, council voted unanimously to approve a multi-year maintenance program for the county’s 17 tennis courts.

Council voted 6-1 to adopt the FY2010 budget in the amount of $195,602,342. Gibson voted against the measure.

Stover and other councilors praised County Finance Director Steve Lynne and his staff for creating their “excellent work.”

Monica Witt received unanimous support from council to fill a seat on the Environmental Sustainability Board.

County council meets again at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Community Building.

The meeting is open to the public.