Residents flock to city council meeting to discuss rehab center

Mike Linn

The Portales City Council’s meeting Tuesday night was packed with residents seeking to discuss issues related to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center planned near L. L. Brown Grade School.
Mayor Orlando Ortega allowed only a few citizens to speak about the issue, stating that owners of the building must first obtain a special-use permit from the planning commission.
“I can tell you that our neighborhood is primarily single women and elderly women and families with small children and we are very concerned about our safety,” said April Stratton, who lives within two blocks of the proposed rehabilitation center.
A recovering alcoholic spoke for the center, and why substance abusers in the community need the help.
The center would house about 110 men convicted of crimes related to substance abuse, according to Sheila Savitz-Strange of Angel Ministries.
Also at the meeting:
• The commission approved a resolution that gives city officials the authority to tear down dilapidated, abandoned buildings within city limits.
Ortega spearheaded adoption of the resolution, stating in a letter that “this resolution will allow the city of Portales an effective means to eliminate abandoned, rundown structures.”
Ortega gave examples of two abandoned, dilapidated city buildings: the Saga Motel on Ave. D and the Hillcrest Motel on Highway 70.
Ortega wrote in a letter that the eyesores have existed for 15-20 years.
• Following a 20-minute heated discussion, commissioners denied reimbursement to Municipal Judge Fred Arnold for attorney fees tallied after he went to court to defend charges he filed against three Portales police officers for contempt of court.
Following the first case in district court in which Arnold lost, the judge decided to drop the remaining two cases.
City council members noted the Portales police officers’ attorney’s fees came out of their budget, and that Arnold’s payment should come from his annual budget as well.
• The Portales city council adopted a state statute that the 2003 Legislature amended regarding several Municipal Court fees.
The fees are now: correction fee of $20; judicial education fee of $2; court automation fee of $6; and a traffic safety fund fee of $5.