No fireworks ban in Portales

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Portales Fire Department and other city officials will be reinforcing public awareness on the drought conditions and the dangers of fireworks, but have elected not to place a ban on the selling of fireworks.

“I think in talking with Charlene (Hardin, county administrator) we feel we need to have community awareness, trying to get people to understand the dangers and enforcement from our police department,” City Manager Debi Lee said.

There is still a burn ban in the county and an ordinance prohibiting aerial fireworks which go up higher than 10 feet, along with other rules tied in with the ordinance.

Raul Muniz, fire chief, informed the city councilors of the drought conditions and the stance county commissioners have on a ban on the selling of fireworks. Muniz said because of the timing of a ban (late into the fireworks-selling season) county commissioners decided against a fireworks ban.

“It had been our (fire department officials) intention to have a ban on the sale of fireworks,” Muniz said. “The county asked us not to consider the ban because of the timing.”

Muniz previously stated that had a ban been passed, fireworks stand operators would have had to have the money they spent on licenses reimbursed.

Sharon King, manager of the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce, has already started collecting donations for the city’s fireworks display, scheduled to take place on Independence Day.

Also during the city meeting, city councilors unanimously approved the to award the bid for professional engineering services to GC Engineering of Albuquerque with a contract of $162,500 to pay for the costs of researching, planning and coming up with design improvements for possible relief routes to take traffic, especially truck traffic, off of U.S. 70 in downtown Portales.

The money will come out of the $250,000 capital outlay money set aside by Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Joe Campos, D-Santa Rosa through the 2005 legislative session.

The approval means the GC Engineering firm employees can begin conducting public meetings and a traffic analysis of different possible relief routes or not having a relief route at all. The study is expected to continue into the fall according to the timeline supplied by the firm. A mid-October presentation is likely.

Lee said the remainder of the money, almost $90,000, can be used for acquiring land or construction.