COUNTY COMMISSIONER KEN MIYAGISHIMA ADDRESSES RIO GRANDE C.O.G.

COUNTY COMMISSIONER KEN MIYAGISHIMA ADDRESSES RIO GRANDE C.O.G.

Nearly 200 civic and governmental leaders from the Rio Grande corridor through New Mexico, Texas and Mexico gathered at the Camino Real Hotel in El Paso Wednesday, Sept. 16, to hear Dona Ana County Commissioner Ken Miyagishima’s departing remarks as president of the Rio Grande Council of Governments.
Miyagishima praised the organization for a year of successes highlighted by discussions of regional cooperation, growth, economic development and environmental protection. He said the 31-year-old council has made strides in all areas and will enter 1999 as a stronger organization whose members are thinking regionally rather than individually to promote the entire Rio Grande corridor from Taos to Del Rio, Texas. But Miyagishima said work remains to be done.
“Let us not forget,” he said, “that while we have been and continue to be successful in our efforts, we must firmly maintain communication lines through which local elected officials can best determine local needs and local priorities. We then can recognize and utilize regional strategies to involve state and local governments in the development and operation of future projects and programs.”
The El Paso-based Rio Grande Council of Governments has roots dating back to 1967, when it was known as the El Paso Council of Governments. By 1987, the organization recognized the need to expand its scope and invited the participation of Dona Ana County to the north and various Texas counties to the south. Miyagishima said the growth of the organization reflects the continuing importance of pooling resources and avoiding duplication of efforts to build the entire area.
With an annual budget of about $5 million, the Rio Grande Council of Governments operates as a service and support organization for local governments, promoting comprehensive planning, cooperative policies, legislative lobbying efforts and grant-writing assistance.
“This coming year,” Miyagishima told the audience, “brings real excitement to the prospect of true intergovernmental cooperation as we seek to focus on tourism as economic development throughout the region. In addition, we will this year complete a landmark health survey in southern New Mexico that will provide valuable data to decision makers. Further, our support of regional water planning can provide a valuable blue print for future water use along the Rio Grande.”
From assisting communities in adding police officers to assisting counties in providing for the needs of the elderly, Miyagishima said the Rio Grande Council of Governments makes lasting impressions on the residents that its member governments serve.
“Our programs,” he said, “continue to serve the people in the region in such diverse areas as social services and environmental protection, law enforcement and economic development. We must continue to meet local needs while at the same time offering innovative approaches to regional problem-solving.”
Miyagishima called his tenure as president of the organization both rewarding and challenging, and he said he will continue to remain active in pushing the organization’s goals and programs.
“While I’m leaving my position as president, I will continue to be an active participant in the organization, because I believe I believe in it, and I believe we must continue to preach the gospel of intergovernmental cooperation.”
Miyagishima also congratulated incoming president Vicki Icard of El Paso, and recognized the dedication and hard work of Justin Ormsby, director of the Rio Grande Council of Governments, and his staff.
“Together,” he said, “we must take leadership roles in our organization and in our communities, and we must continue our commitment to working together to meet the many challenges and seize the many opportunities that lie ahead.”