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The Artesia City Council received a brief update on Phase I of the 20th Street Reconstruction Project during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Infrastructure Director Byron Landfair told the council that, while the project got off to a slow start in its inaugural weeks, the installation of sewer lines is now ongoing.

“We are upgrading the size of the sewer lining at 20th Street, anticipating that we’ll have to eventually upsize the line that kind of comes from the southwest part of town over there, over to our other station next to the RV park,” Landfair said.

Landfair also reported his department is keeping an eye on the installation of water lines at the new Desert Willow Subdivision on Richey Avenue, approximately one-half mile west of 26th Street.

The subdivision, upon its completion, will encompass 61 lots within an 80-acre tract, with a 1-acre minimum lot size. Water will be provided by the City of Artesia and all liquid waste by individual septic systems.

“Here in about six to eight months, we expect that’ll be fully online and they’ll be filling lots out there,” Landfair said.

In answer to questions regarding the city’s street sweeper, which has been out of commission since mid-May, Landfair said the department is waiting on parts for the truck that should hopefully arrive within the next few weeks.

During the public safety portion of the meeting, Police Chief Kirk Roberts noted to council that crime has been up of late, as tends to be the case during the summer months.

“We’re seeing some pretty crazy stuff and some pretty bold stuff happening, so I’m not really sure what’s in the water or whatever,” Roberts said. “We’re going to do what we can to stay on top of things, but hopefully it’s just a little blip and we’ll move on from it.”

The Artesia Police Department continued to see an increase in auto burglaries during the month of June with 10. Elsewhere last month, seven graffiti incidents were reported, three breaking and enterings, and two each of residential burglaries, structure burglaries, stolen vehicles, robberies, and accidents with injuries.

Activity was also up in June at the Artesia Animal Shelter.

“Every end of June and into July, we get some rains and we get fireworks, and that gets animals scattered all over the city,” Roberts said. “So those intakes are up. Hopefully, we’ll get a lot of people coming and reclaiming animals.”

Eighty-two dogs and 75 cats were taken into the shelter last month. Fifteen dogs and 41 cats were rescued, 35 dogs reclaimed, and four dogs euthanized.

Roberts also noted that plans were in place to obtain a credit-card reader for the local shelter in order to increase efficiency.

“We have some difficulty when people have to go back and get a money order, and sometimes they just don’t come back to get their pet,” said the chief. “So if we can help that in any way, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The Artesia Fire Department (AFD) also saw a jump in fire calls in June, with 40 calls within city limits, up from 21 in May. There were 117 city EMS calls, 54 EMS calls in the county, and five county fire calls.

Fire Chief Kevin Hope also gave a brief report on the department’s recruiting efforts after testing over the weekend.

“We had 17 replies that they woulud show up for the testing,” Hope said. “We had seven that actually showed up, and we had three that passed, which is about statistically what we’ve seen the last couple of years.”

Should those three recruits become employees of the AFD, the department’s staffing shortage would drop to four.

Community Development Director Jim McGuire reported that the city is still lacking a code enforcement officer, with code-enforcement actions currently relying primarily upon complaints.

Councilor Jeff Youtsey noted that some residents may not be aware of the option to submit complaints to the Code Enforcement Office online. That online form can be found at artesianm.gov/275/Code-Enforcement.

In final business City Clerk Summer Valverde reminded the council of a special meeting, set for 3 p.m. Thursday, July 21, in Council Chambers, to establish the city’s list of priorities for Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) funding.

As part of its consent agenda, the council granted permission for:

• the resignation of Mary Ann Sparnon, Senior Center van driver, effective July 8, and Alyssa Samora, Infrastructure Department administrative assistant, effective Aug. 31.

• one fire employee to attend the 2002 New Mexico Municipal League (NMML) Resolutions Committee in Albuquerque.

• one finance and administration employee to attend the 2022 NMML Resolutions Committee in Albuquerque.

• two finance and administration employees to attend the Government Finance Officers’ Association (GFOA) annual conference in Albuquerque.

• one finance and administration employee to attend online public purchasing training for recertification.

• one police employee to travel to Albuquerque concerning an autopsy and interview.

• one police employee to attend First Line Supervisor and Management training in Albuquerque.

• two police employees to attend an online Foundations for Forensic Photography class.

• two police employees to attend forensic technician training in Rockwall, Texas.

• the approval of a request by the Eddy County Fair Board for stand-by fire and ambulance services for the Eddy County Rodeo and Concert, set for 7 p.m. – midnight Friday, July 29, at the Eddy County Fairgrounds.