County commissioners settled a dispute between two Highland Meadows factions this week.

The two camps disagreed about who should be the next fire chief and his assistant for the Highland Meadows Volunteer Fire Department, and they disagreed about how the board of directors should operate.

Concerned Citizens of Highland Meadows Community had submitted a memorandum to the commissioners asking them to table an item for approval of the structure and positions of the fire department.

After consulting county Fire Marshal John Cherry, the commission voted to approve Carl Backstrom as chief and John Ashmore as assistant chief, and Commissioner Frank Pando suggested that the residents resolve their differences.

The community has received funds from the State Legislature to build a firehouse. Meanwhile, two trucks have been purchased for the area, which is remote from the rest of the county.

In other business, the commission discussed an ongoing negotiation between the county and Waste Management about the Tri Sect landfill. Under the agreement, Waste Management would operate the landfill on behalf of the county.

According to the most recent proposal, the county would set aside 141 of the 640 acres that could be used as it wishes, except for anything that would conflict with the Waste Management operation.

Representatives of Waste Management brought a schedule of fees that showed that the price of dumping trash would be $24 a ton. Of that, $1 per ton would go to the county.

Pando said his major concern was that the price of dumping would go from $15 a ton to $24 a ton. Commissioner Alicia Aguilar said that the existing contract rate would go up anyway.

Pando suggested that the discussion be taken to Belen, Los Lunas and Bosque Farms. Aguilar said that the municipalities can go to Rio Rancho to dump their trash if they wish.

Representatives of Waste Management attended the meeting and brought with them a schedule of rates paid by other counties and towns in the area.

Waste Management left the meeting with a request to allow for a graduated fee increase. Negotiations will continue.

Commissioners also discussed setting up a schedule of meetings so people can discuss the comprehensive plan.

Commissioners also signed contracts to continue the services of the Torres and Garde law firm for $84 an hour.

Also, they approved a contract for Dr. Phillip Froman to oversee emergency medical services for the county.

But commissioners asked that Froman come to a meeting to inform them about his duties.

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Katherine Saltzstein