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County approves $10 million for new emergency management center


The Doña Ana County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved funding for a new emergency management center during a meeting on March 26. 

The Office of Emergency Management serves as the emergency management agency for both Doña Ana County and the city of Las Cruces. OEM has played a major role in local disaster response, including the 2006 Hatch flood, the 2013 South Valley floods, the 2019 migrant crisis, the 2020-21 Covid-19 pandemic,and the response to the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority water safety emergency in December. 

The commission approved nearly $10.9 million for a new home for the county’s emergency management operations. Steven Lopez, OEM’s director, said the new building would help OEM better respond to disasters. 

“I’m very in favor of the OEM building,” said commission chair Christopher Schaljo-Hernandez. “I think it’s a very needed thing for our community.” 

Commissioner Susana Chaparro and Manuel Sanchez joined Schaljo-Hernandez in affirming the vote. Commissioners Diana Murillo and Shannon Reynolds were absent. 

Half of the money the commissioners allocated was about $5.6 million in unspent American Rescue Plan Act money. ARPA was a stimulus bill passed by the federal government to alleviate the effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic. 

The building will house OEM’s administrative offices and a disaster supply warehouse. The building can also be a coordinating center for disaster response and training centers. Lopez said the new building will cost $12,453,309.70, with another $650,000 for furnishing and computer equipment. 

“We know that we can wait a year for furnishing and equipment because the building’s got to be built before we can put in any of those anyway,” Lopez said.   

Some of that has already been covered. Lopez said federal money has covered about $2.9 million of the construction cost. 

The new building is set to be built on land leased to OEM from New Mexico State University. The parcel is located near the NMSU Golf Course. The lease is 45 years long, with two 10-year renewable leases. 

“In 65 years, this building will need at least some pretty significant improvements, at least from a maintenance side,” Lopez said. 

Emergency management center, $10 Million, Doña Ana County Board of County Commissioners