Welcome to Doña Ana County
Welcome to Doña Ana County
Doña Ana County is one of 33 counties in the state of New Mexico. It was created in 1852 and is the second-most populated county in the state. The county seat, Las Cruces, has been ranked as one of the fastest-growing communities in the United States for the past decade. Doña Ana County's 800+ employees are proud participants in the national Character Counts! initiative to promote ethics in the workplace.
The quality of life in the county is characterized by a strong sense of community that is enhanced by a rural lifestyle. Assets identified by residents include peace and quiet, friendliness of the people, wonderful local produce and foods, and terrific weather in a rural setting where you can still see the stars.
The county comprises 3,804 square miles in south-central New Mexico, and borders El Paso County, Texas, to the east and southeast. The county also shares its borders with the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, directly south, Luna County to the west, Sierra County to the north and Otero County to the east. There are many physically diverse areas within Doña Ana, including mountain ranges, valleys and deserts.
In 1900, the county hosted an agriculturally based society with a population of 10,187. The market centers were Las Cruces, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. By 1990, the county was urbanized with a population of 135,510 and boasted an economy based on service and retail. Rapid population growth has occurred in and around the city of Las Cruces, as well as in the southern part of the county. The part of the county north of Hill remains primarily rural in nature. Las Cruces is home to New Mexico State University, as well as Doña Ana Branch Community College.
The population has risen dramatically since 1900 and is expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace (4 - 6 percent) during the next 20 years. This translates to a 2015 population of more than 300,000 people. The primary areas of growth will be in the Las Cruces metropolitan area and in the southern sector of Doña Ana County.
About the County Seal
George Gray of Las Cruces designed the Doña Ana County seal in 1958. The county sponsored a contest for a design, and he entered his rendition hoping to win the grand prize of a $25 savings bond. An art teacher at Las Cruces High School at the time, Mr. Gray said he designed the seal with the zia symbol to represent the State of New Mexico, the conquistador to represent the county’s history and our ties to Mexico and Spain, the Organ Mountains and Rio Grande to represent the county’s two major geographical landmarks, the rocket to represent White Sands Missile Range, the lamp of learning to represent New Mexico State University, and the cotton boll and chile pod to represent the Mesilla Valley’s agricultural heritage. The seal today remains exactly as he designed it in 1958. Mr. Gray is now retired, but he still lives in Las Cruces.
Doña Ana County Government Center
Photo Credit: Bob Peticolas
ABOUT THE BUILDING
The Doña Ana County Government Center opened to the public on May 12, 2006, the culmination of more than three years of planning and construction, which began in October of 2004 and was completed in May of 2006. Through a provision in the construction contract negotiated by Doña Ana County Manager Brian D. Haines, Doña Ana County locked in all prices for materials and labor prior to any work being done. Had this provision not been in place, the construction price almost certainly would have been inflated by rising energy and materials costs that swept the nation during the summer of 2005.
The building houses the Doña Ana County offices of the County Assessor, County Clerk, County Probate Judge, County Sheriff and County Treasurer. In addition, the county's administrative team is on site with the offices of the following departments: Legal, Purchasing, Finance, Planning, Facilities, Utilities, Public Information, Health and Human Services, Engineering, Flood Commission, Building Inspections, Human Resources, Information Technology and Risk Management. Like the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department, the Third Judicial District Attorney's Office is situated in a secure section of the building.
The building features a 280-seat Commission Chambers for the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners to conduct its meetings. The Commission Chambers are at the rear of the building's main entrance, with spillover seating for large gatherings.
The building also has wall space dedicated to rotating art exhibits by students and faculty of the Las Cruces Public Schools.
When he took office as chairman of the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners in January of 2003, District 3 Commissioner Paul B. Curry instructed the county manager and staff to begin work on a set of goals identified by the commission. At the top of his list were site identification, financing options and a plan for Doña Ana County to build a state-of-the-art administrative complex.
Chairman Curry made it clear that he envisioned a building that would be energy-efficient, ADA compliant and customer-friendly. He and his fellow commissioners gave staff six months to come back with a progress report.
With marching orders in hand, then-County Manager David R. King and his senior staff began planning sessions to determine what kind of building would best fit the county's needs and how to proceed from plan to design to construction without imposing a tax increase on Doña Ana County property owners.
When Brian D. Haines took over as county manager in April of 2003, he inherited the work done by the previous administration and kept the ball rolling. Haines, a certified public accountant, quickly determined that the county could leverage a recurring federal revenue stream to finance bonds at historic low interest rates.
Haines assembled a tiger team of Doña Ana County department heads to brainstorm about needs assessments and how the building would function for the public and the county's employees. Site selection was taking place by a separate team whose members identified 25-acre (or larger) parcels of land in and around the county seat of Las Cruces, N.M. for evaluation.
Within a few months, the county's Purchasing Department sent out a request for proposals (RFP) seeking to identify an architectural firm to carry the project through the final design phase. From a pool of responding firms, the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners settled on Design Collaborative Southwest of Albuquerque (DCSW) as the architectural firm with the experience and sophistication to best handle the complex job.
At Chairman Curry's urging, the entire process was public, and frequent updates were given to the commission as the plans became more cohesive and details were being worked out. On Dec. 9, 2003, ground was broken on a 27-acre Motel Boulevard parcel that had been selected as the site for the $20.3 million construction project.
DCSW worked for months with county staff to analyze space needs for people, records, conference rooms, computer support and public areas.
Under the leadership of Chairman Gilbert T. Apodaca, who succeeded Curry in 2004, a second RFP was issued to find a construction company to build the new complex. Of the proposals received, the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners unanimously selected Wooten Construction of Las Cruces, thereby insuring that most construction-related jobs and material purchases for the project would benefit Doña Ana County's residents and businesses.