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County commissioners to consider redistricting, LEDA funds

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Chaves County commissioners are expected to hold six public hearings at their regular monthly meeting on Thursday, four involving zoning cases and the others about redistricting and serving as a fiscal agent for state funds.

The Chaves County Board of Commissioners must redraw some or all of its five commission districts based on the recently released population counts of the 2020 census.

Five redistricting plans are being considered by commissioners. State law requires that the total population of 65,157 be equally divided among the five commission districts, with only a 5% variance either way allowed. Other concerns are to avoid splitting voting precincts and to keep communities of interest intact.

An ordinance that would make the county a fiscal agent for up to $4 million in funding on behalf of Ascent Aviation Services is being considered as well.

Ascent Aviation, which has two locations in Arizona, plans to erect a large, wide-body hangar at the Roswell Air Center so that it can provide maintenance, overhaul and repair services for commercial aircraft. It expects to invest about $18 million of its own money in Roswell operations.

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The New Mexico Economic Development Department has pledged up to $4 million in Local Economic Development Act funds, with disbursements tied to job creation and other project milestones. The company has said it expects to employ about 100 people when it opens in summer or fall 2022 and as many as 354 by December 2026.

As a fiscal agent, the county would receive and distribute the money, which is intended to be used for the hangar, infrastructure or lease of the Air Center property.

In addition to the six matters subject to public hearings, five business items also are on the agenda seeking commissioners’ approval.

The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday at the Chaves County Administrative Center, 1 St. Mary’s Place. It also will be livestreamed on the county’s Facebook page, facebook.com/ChavesCountyNM.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.