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City Council names fire station after Sanchez

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the first Albuquerque City Council meeting since Ken Sanchez’s death, his colleagues worked to ensure his service would not soon be forgotten.

In a gesture those who knew him described as fitting, the council on Wednesday voted unanimously to name a West Central fire station after Sanchez, a veteran councilor who died earlier this month.

“First responders were so important to him,” Sanchez’s daughter, Jaclyn Sanchez-Zamora, told the council. “There’s not a better way to honor him.”

Cynthia Borrego, Diane Gibson and Klarissa Pena co-sponsored the resolution to memorialize Sanchez at Albuquerque Fire Rescue Station 7, at 5715 Central NW. Their bill said Sanchez was “instrumental in securing funding for the land acquisition and construction of” the station, which opened in 2012.

Elected in 2005, Sanchez represented a West Side district that includes most of the area west of the Rio Grande between Central and Montaño. He was in the middle of his fourth term when he died Jan. 1, about a month after suffering an undisclosed “medical emergency.”

Gibson said renaming the station in his honor is the “perfect way to memorialize a really good man and wonderful public servant … truly because of his commitment to public safety and the people who worked so hard to keep us safe.”

Pena said Mayor Tim Keller supported the naming.

“What can I say? Everybody loved Ken; we loved Ken,” she said.

Before Wednesday’s vote, a constituent stood to tell the council about his own experience with Sanchez, who he said had addressed his concerns about safety and darkness in his neighborhood.

“There were no ribbons, no cameras, no pomp and circumstance, but he put a light in front of my house,” Franchesco Artist said. “Most people drive down that street and they just see a streetlight – they don’t think twice. But when I come outside now, it feels like somebody actually cared, and I don’t feel quite so alone.”

Also on Wednesday, the council approved two economic development projects.

The first is for California-based Kairos Power, which is building an engineering center at Mesa del Sol. The incentive package includes the city’s issuance of up to $125 million in industrial revenue bonds. The company – not the city – must repay the bonds, but the deal means about $472,000 in tax abatement.

The Kairos package also includes $5 million in Local Economic Development Act funds – $4 million from the state and $1 million from the city – that the company would not have to repay unless it failed to meet certain hiring benchmarks or ceases operations before 2029.

Kairos expects to employ 67 people with average annual salaries of $100,000, though some will probably transfer from California, city records show.

The council also approved a project participation agreement worth $500,000 in incentives for a Virginia-based company’s new customer service center in the north Interstate 25 corridor. The package for Faneuil, Inc. – which has announced plans to eventually hire 700 people locally – includes $400,000 in LEDA funds from the state and $100,000 in LEDA funds from the city. The company will put the public money toward its lease payments at 4420 The 25 Way, according to city documents.

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