City receives block grant

By Tony Parra

Portales city officials received good news from New Mexico Department of Finance representatives on Thursday when they were approved for $466,528 to use for street repairs in the north part of Portales.
The money will be for street and drainage improvements in areas in the north part of Portales:
• North Abilene Avenue from East Ivy Street to East Lime Street
• North Austin Avenue from East Ivy Street to East Lime Street
• East Lime Street from North Main Avenue to North Boston Avenue
• East Kaywood Street from North Main Avenue to North Boston Avenue and
• East Juniper Street from North Main Avenue to the alley east of Abilene Avenue.
The installation of curb and gutter for the project is scheduled to have the design completed by May. Construction is scheduled to begin in August and end in December.
Mayor Orlando Ortega, city manager Debi Lee, city councilor Jake Lopez and county commissioner Dennis Lopez made the trip to Tucumcari on Thursday for a hearing on the community development block grant.
Jake Lopez said city and county representatives were at hearings last week to testify in favor of Portales’ CDBG.
“We’ve been targeting the area for so long,” Jake Lopez said. “Eventually it (the development) will catch up with the rest of the areas.”
The news comes one year after Portales city officials received bad news about a CDBG grant application which was denied last year. Ortega and Lee traveled to Albuquerque in hopes that Portales would receive a grant for $496,000 for street repairs, but it was denied.
“I think we were better prepared this time,” Jake Lopez said. “We worked hard last year, but we worked harder this year. If we wouldn’t have got it, it wouldn’t have been because we didn’t work hard enough.”
Lee, who was starting her tenure as city manager after the application was entered, said there were three categories in which Portales was better prepared in. Lee said city officials held more than the two required public hearings by holding four. This year the design was more complete than last year. According to Lee, the city of Portales have more money to match for the project. Last year, there was $50,000 and this year there is $115,000.
“I think what really helped the project was the testimony from citizens,” Lee said. “They came out and gave testimony as to how badly it was needed.”
Jeremy Sturm, Director of Community Development, will head the project. Ortega, on Thursday, said residents of the area requested the improvements at a public participation hearing held by the City of Portales.