By William P. Thompson
A total of 69 projects in Portales and Roosevelt County will receive a portion of $6.3 million in capital outlay funding from the state Legislature in 2006. The Legislature had approved $6.7 million in funding prior to Gov. Bill Richardson’s vetoes.
Richardson vetoed just four line items of requested funding from Roosevelt County. The four projects that had capital outlay money axed were: playground equipment for Portales parks, the purchase of videoconferencing equipment for Eastern New Mexico University, paving of the Greyhound Arena parking lot and improvement to ENMU athletic facilities.
Projects that escaped Richardson’s veto include county road projects and road equipment for which $635,000 was approved. Portales schools will receive $325,00 for renovations to Steiner, James and Lindsey Elementary Schools.
Portales schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said part of the money will be used to replace windows at those schools to save on energy costs.
“We’ll upgrade the restrooms in all three schools and we’ll renovate what is necessary for safety issues,” Fowler said. “I’m very appreciative of our legislators and their hard work.”
Jackie Grimes, road supervisor for Roosevelt County, said he was “tickled to death” to get the money from the Legislature.
“It will give us the ability to repair roads throughout the county,” Grimes said. “I don’t know yet what equipment we will buy.”
Roosevelt General Hospital will receive $175,00 in funding that will go for installation of a new four-bed Intensive Care Unit. The hospital’s administrator, James D’Agostino, said previously that the ICU “may take a year, but we’re going to press on with it.”
Portales City Manager Debi Lee said the playground equipment funding that didn’t survive the veto process would have gone towards construction of a skateboard park.
“We’re still going to work on the skateboard park,” Lee said. “The skateboarders have formed a non-profit organization, and we (the city) will meet them halfway. We will match the funds they raise.”
Lee said $250,000 in money for wastewater treatment will wind up making the city smell better.
“We will use that money to remove sludge from our reservoirs,” Lee said. That sludge causes a bad smell. We will also use part of that money to treat our wastewater so it won’t foam up and form that sludge.”
Downtown Portales will be spruced up significantly, Lee said, due to $250,000 of capital outlay earmarked for “streetscape” improvement and $400,000 for renovations to the Yam Movie Palace.
“When it’s done, people will see a huge difference in downtown,” she said. “New lighting and landscaping will be placed around the courthouse and the square. The Yam theater will be used to show special digital and film movies and we will partner with ENMU to have drama performed there. It will be a place for the whole community . With this capital outlay money we can move ahead with these projects and finalize them.”
Another $393,000 was approved for renovations to the municipal pool and Lee said new bath houses and a new filtration system will be installed.
ENMU will receive a total of $3.5 million in capital outlay including $1.9 million to go towards construction of a new science building, according to the university’s president, Steven Gamble.
“This will be added to the $7 million that ENMU received in the 2004 General Obligation Bond,” Gamble stated in a press release. “We are very pleased with the support we received from Gov. Richardson. He has visited Eastern several times and we believe his support is recognition of the vital role that Eastern plays in New Mexico’s higher education system.”
The university received $1.1 million for KENW’s conversion to digital technology, $225,000 for installation of a language lab, $75,000 for a mobile TV unit for KENW, $150,000 for an agricultural lab and $100,000 for multimedia classrooms.