By Tony Parra
PNT Staff Writer
The position of community development director has been filled by Darla Wilhoit, who will work in conjunction with Community Development Executive Director Kim Huffman towards the future of economic development of Portales.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Wilhoit said. “I’ve been working for private industries as opposed to the public sector. It’s a different direction, but I’m exited.”
The city of Portales hired Wilhoit on Nov. 4 and she is currently working on a couple of projects for Portales under the direction of interim city managers Tom Howell and Joann Martinez-Terry.
The primary project is the application for the Community Development Block Grant. This is an annual grant, which is federally funded and awarded through the state governments, according to Wilhoit.
Wilhoit must prepare the application for this year’s CDBG grant request by the application deadline on Jan. 14.
New Mexico awarded Portales a CDBG grant after it’s application in early 2002. Gracey Leary, the previous community development director, prepared the application for the grant and the application specified that the fund would go to maintenance and renovation of North Avenue M and North Avenue N streets, according to Wilhoit. The $457,882 fund will go to repairing the streets and drainage systems.
This is the other task that occupies Wilhoit. Wilhoit must now implement the funds toward the renovation process. The renovation process will affect North Avenue M from West Lime Street down south to West Ivy Street while the area on North Avenue N will be from West Lime Street south to West Gum Street.
“This was the specific territory designated by Leary in the previous application,” Wilhoit said. “The boundaries are set in the application. I’ve been busy, but I like things that way.”
Kim Huffman is the executive director of Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation and one of the primary projects he is working on is the certification of Portales from the New Mexico State Department of Economic Development. The next certification process may take place in January, according to Donnie Quintana, team leader of the community development team of the NMSDED.
“Kim is responsible for the economic development of Portales and Darla will be responsible for the community development process,” Mayor Orlando Ortega explained. “Kim works for a non-profit organization contracted by the city while the she was hired for a city position. Her role will deal more with grants, not only the CDBG grant.”
The position had been vacant for two years when the last community development director, Leary, resigned. Wilhoit will work under the new city manager, who the city hopes to have in place before the end of the year.
The city has narrowed its search for a city manager to two applicants: Michael Steele of Croswell, Mich. and Debi Lee of Hobbs.