Judge considers mending fences

By Mike Linn

Municipal Judge Fred Arnold told the Portales City Council on Tuesday that he will think about resolving issues with Portales police officers who refuse to file cases in his court.
“I will think about it … and I will let you know,” Arnold said.
Arnold said he initially declined an offer of mediation from Los Alamos Municipal Judge Alan Kirk, but told council members on Tuesday he will think about meeting with Kirk and city officials in the future.
Arnold came before the council seeking payment in excess of $1,000 for attorneys fees after three police officers appealed fines levied by Arnold. The judge fined the officers for not showing up to court cases.
Portales City Attorney Randy Knudson said in February he did not represent Arnold because the officers had legitimate reasons for not being in court.
As a result of the fines, Portales police officers have been filing cases in Magistrate Court for the past three months.
Portales Police Chief Jeff Gill said Tuesday he is open to resolving the issue.
“I’ll be quite happy to meet anytime, anywhere, any place and sit down with the judge, have a cup of coffee and work this out,” Gill said. “I am open to that, and I think this is something we should be able to settle among ourselves.”
Also at Tuesday’s council meeting:
— An announcement was made that the Portales Fire Department won the Emergency Medical System Excellence of the Year Award for region 3 in New Mexico.
The region encompasses the eastern part of the state, and includes the cities of Carlsbad, Clovis, Hobbs and Artesia.
“We are very lucky to have the employees we have working in our department,” Portales Fire Chief Steve Beaty said.
— The council approved the annexation of land recently purchased by Southwest Canners.
The company currently operates within city limits but has purchased 8.42 acres near the county line that is contiguous to its operating facilities.
The company would like the property zoned for manufacturing, according to a letter to city manager Gerry Depo from the Richard Hauptmann, the CEO of Southwest Canners in Portales.