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District 3 Newsletter, Edition # 6

04/23/2020

In This Edition:

Important Contact information
A Message from the Commissioner
BernCo at Work
How You can Help
Community Resources
A Good Read, Listen & Look


IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION:

Important Telephone Numbers to Keep Handy

COVID-19 hotline

1-855-600-3453

Non-health related COVID19 hotline

1-833-551-0518

Click here for an updated one-stop source of COVID19 information


MESSAGE FROM THE COMMISSIONER:

March was backwards this year – it came in as a lamb and went out like a lion! On Monday, March 16, the County Manager initiated the Work-from-Home policy for all non-essential BernCo employees. The next week Governor Lujan Grisham issued her first emergency public health order.

Now it’s April and, as we continue working from our homes, we are all wondering what will May bring? Or June? What happens when spring becomes summer? In the words of William Shakespeare (I know some of you will say a misuse), will “. . . the winter of our discontent (be) made glorious summer by this sun of York”.  - Richard III (1592)

Right now we don’t know if the summer heat will slow the spread of the coronavirus but we do know that the public health restrictions will slowly end. Will stay-at-home orders lift first? Will businesses open with limitations? Maybe offices will bring employees back in shifts and continue to rely on telecommuting. Will restaurants place tables further apart and have servers wear masks and gloves? When will students be able to go back to their classrooms? One day we will be able to leave our hand sanitizer and masks at home and return to the theaters, restaurants and stores reviving the economy and re-establishing our routines.

But, you ask, when do we go back to “normal”? Maybe the question should be, do we really want to go back to the way it was? Shouldn’t the lessons we learned during the fight against COVID-19 encourage change? Shouldn't we use this opportunity to make some realistic reforms in the way we govern and how we serve the public?

Let’s not waste this opportunity to re-imagine government.

There is no going back and I hope to go forward with all of you.

Send me your thoughts and ideas.

Meanwhile, take care, stay well and wash your hands — Jim Collie

Thank you to Sagebrush Church, Legacy Church and Nusenda Credit Union for their donations of cloth face masks, food bags and Girl Scout cookies to BernCo First Responders and Dispatch. We appreciate your kindness and concern for BernCo employees health and safety.

The latest edition of the BernCo at a Glance

Apply for an Absentee Ballot


BERNCO AT WORK:

Important Message from Nancy Bearce, County Treasurer

The 2019 second-half property tax payment remains as scheduled by state statute. Payments must be submitted via online, or deposited in the county drop box at Fifth and Marquette, or mailed and postmarked by May 10 to avoid any assessed penalties or interest. The Bernalillo County Treasurer’s Office does accept the postmark as the payment date.

County Treasurer Bearce says the county collects and sends taxes to other agencies such as the University of New Mexico Hospital, Central New Mexico Community College, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, Albuquerque Public Schools and the City of Albuquerque. Extending collections could have a direct impact on an agency’s ability to operate and its budget.

Treasurer Bearce recommends that any resident, or business owner, who is having trouble making their tax payment contact their mortgage or financing institution to discuss assistance or payment options that may be available.

BernCo Provides Non-potable Water to Residents of To'hajiilee

On Friday, April 10, the county delivered a 7,000 gallon, non-potable water to To’hajiilee, located in the NW corner of Bernalillo County. The water was to be used for livestock, watering crops and washing but is not drinkable for humans.

The water pressure of To’hajiilee’s only working well was not high enough to get water out to some of the far regions of the reservation, and due to COVID-19 challenges, the Navajo Nation was unable to provide immediate emergency support.

Five of the six wells that have provided water to this community have run dry over the years and the sixth well is producing undrinkable water, so the residents have been drinking bottled water.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority has been providing water tankers for To’hajiilee since March 13, due to the shortage of bottled water, created by panic buying and hoarding associated with the coronavirus outbreak on the reservation.

Second Street Trail Improvements Phase Two Project Construction

Bernalillo County Public Works will begin construction on phase two of the Second Street Trail Improvements Project on April 20. This project will construct a 10-foot wide asphalt multi-use trail along the east side of Second Street, from Prosperity Avenue to Rio Bravo Boulevard, approximately one mile.

Two lanes of traffic will remain open during construction. Project construction will be on the east shoulder of Second Street, parallel to the railroad tracks. Construction is expected to be complete by late August 2020.

In 2016, the first phase of this project, approximately one mile in length, constructed the trail between the South Diversion Channel and Prosperity Avenue.


HOW YOU CAN HELP:

The Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) requests that you complete their Community Survey.

They would like you to speak your mind and provide much-needed information so we can develop a comprehensive, accurate, and effective Five-Year Plan to help New Mexicans with disabilities.

The results of this survey will help identify what issues are the most important to New Mexicans with disabilities. If you know of other people who are involved in disability, please forward them this survey.

Food Distribution

Also, the DDPC, Aging and Long-Term Services Department and Roadrunner Food Bank are working together to put together food boxes and organize deliveries. DDPC will be delivering some of the food boxes directly to residences. If you live in the Albuquerque metro area please call DDPC (505) 841-4519 or APS 1-866-654-3219. For those outside the metro area, please call APS.

Vitalant Blood Donations

Albuquerque hospitals are in great need of blood donations during this time, and healthy residents are strongly encouraged to donate. You can make an appointment to donate blood by calling Vitalant at 877-25-VITAL or signing up online.

Local Hospitals Welcome Food Donations if Done Safely

Local hospitals are experiencing an outpouring of support from the community, especially restaurants, during the around-the-clock response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Food donations for health care workers are very much appreciated if they follow safety guidelines.

Click here for more information.


COMMUNITY RESOURCES:

PNM Good Neighbor Fund

The Good Neighbor Fund is a low-income program and is given out according to low income guidelines.

All appointments and assistance are handled by phone making it safe. In Albuquerque, customers should call 967-8045, Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to make a telephone appointment for help. If you leave a message, please speak clearly and leave your name and phone number so we can call you back.

When you call, you will be asked some questions about your need, and see if you qualify for a phone assistance appointment.

Avoid Scams

What to do if the caller claims to be a PNM employee and threatens to shut off your power and you're uncertain if it's a scam:

  • Hang up
  • Check your paper bill copy, go online, OR text #BAL to 78766 (If there is no BOLD disconnect notices on page 1 of a paper bill - it's a scam)
  • Or, contact PNM at 1-888-342-5766

Federal Student Loans on Temporary Forbearance through End of September

Federal student loans have put a temporary forbearance on payments through September 30, 2020, as part of the CARES Act. During this time, there will not be any interest accrued on outstanding balances either. To learn more about this financial relief for federal student loans click here.

NMConnect

The state of New Mexico has launched NMConnect, a new phone app that provides free 24-hour crisis and non-crisis support and access to behavioral health professionals who can text or talk via phone with individuals needing a listening ear or referrals to longer-term support. The app links users to the New Mexico Crisis Access Line (NMCAL), which provides safety net services statewide. NMCAL is still available via phone 24/7 toll-free by calling 1-855-NMCRISIS (1-855-662-7474). Additional information can be found online.

The New Mexico Department of Public Health’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

The WIC offices remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, with services modified to a curbside service. The WIC program is now providing four months of food benefits instead of three to further limit direct contact for services.

Applicants and participants may request services by contacting local WIC offices, or visiting the NM WIC website and requesting an appointment using the Contact Us page.

Participants who do not have access to a smart phone or transportation can contact the local WIC clinic, visit the NM WIC website, or call the Customer Service Hotline (866-867-3124. The hotline is available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Social Security Administration

The U.S. Social Security Administration is warning residents about an increase in scam attempts. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Callers claiming they are with the SSA and asking you for personal identification information.
  • Callers claiming there is a problem with your SSA account or your Social Security number.
  • Callers claiming you must pay them by a certain time/date and with a pre-paid gift card, retail card, or by sending cash.
  • Callers threatening you with legal action or arrest if you do not send money.

If you receive any type of call asking you for personal information or demanding payment, hang up immediately. You can learn more about these types of scams and how to protect yourself online.

Comprehensive List of Resources for Businesses and Individuals

Federal Government

  • Small Business “Paycheck Protection Program” Offering zero interest loans for businesses with fewer than 500 employees to cover 2.5 times eight weeks of payroll costs, rent and loans. Learn more
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the SBA provide working capital of up to $2 million to help overcome temporary loss of revenue. Learn more
  • Business Tax Provisions that delays payment on employer payroll taxes until 2022.
  • $500 billion in business loans including $425 billion through the Federal Reserve.
  • Families First Corona Virus Response that temporarily expands the Family & Medical Leave Act and makes available two refundable payroll tax credits for small and mid-size employers. Learn more
  • Stimulus Bill that offers payments up to $1,200 to individuals ($2,400 for married couple) and expanded unemployment benefits for individuals making less than $70,000 and couples making less than $99,000.

State of New Mexico

  • The New Mexico Small Business Investment Corp. has committed up to $25 million to its lending partners to help New Mexico businesses. Learn more
  • The New Mexico Coalition of Community Foundations has created the All Together NM Fund to help provide food, medical and cleaning supplies for at-risk communities, support for childcare workers supporting front-line employees, and grants to assist smaller businesses and employees. Learn more
  • The New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD) has created a program to assist businesses seeking emergency loans or lines of credit through the COVID-19. Learn more
  • SIC’s New Mexico Recovery Fund and DreamSpring will be making $25-$50 million in new small business loans in New Mexico related to the COIVD-19 crisis. Those loans will complement federal loan and grant programs, as well as the New Mexico Recovery Fund. The NM Recovery Fund information is available on the Sun Mountain Capital website.
  • The Department of Workforce Solutions has added information to its website about who is eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, along with information about how to apply for them. Visit their website for information about how to apply for them.

Other Support

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides a resource for small businesses: Everything You Need to Know About SBA Disaster Assistance Loans. Learn more
  • For individuals impacted by COVID-19, the State of New Mexico has compiled a comprehensive list of resources ranging from job loss to childcare. Learn more
  • Internal Revenue Service Coronavirus Updates. Learn more
  • Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. Learn more
  • Google is offering free ads for impacted businesses. Learn more

A GOOD READ, LOOK & LISTEN:

Virtual Museum Tours

Many world-famous museums are offering virtual tours of their art treasures, and this is a great way to see some of our great paintings, sculptures and other art while social distancing. From the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. to the Uffizi in Florence, Italy, this is an excellent way to be an armchair traveler right now: Travel and Leisure lists them here.

Ever wonder why we shake hands as a greeting? Click here to find out why.

Interesting article from Forbes

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