Commission refuses to bend contest rules

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Roosevelt County Commissioners briefly became the focus of the Roosevelt County fair queen’s contest during its regular meeting Tuesday.

Portales resident Charles Bennett, representing the contest organizers, asked commissioners to sidestep the contest rules so that the county will be represented at the state competition. Last year’s fair queen, Maricruz Cole, has told organizers she will not be fulfilling her role at the 2008 State Fair. Since she was the only contestant last year, there is no runner-up to pass the title to.

The commission denied the request on a split 3-2 vote, meaning the county will be unrepresented at the state fair queen’s contest.
Bennett said the organizers would like the commissioners to sponsor this year’s winner to go on to the Albuquerque competition in September — even though the rules require the Roosevelt County fair queen to compete the following year.

Fair board members apparently don’t agree with the solution, according to Roosevelt County Fair Board President Tim Allison, who said he had polled his board on the matter.

“My contention is, we hate to change the rules a week before the contest,” Allison said. “The consensus (of the board) is the rules are in there for a reason.”

Allison said he feared a precedent being set and other contests connected with the fair could try to circumvent the rules as well.

Sue Disney, who is a former superintendent of the fair queen contest, spoke up in the meeting to say she was against breaking the established pattern for sending the winner to state the following year.

“If the fair board wants to change the rules, they should start the year before,” Disney said. “We’re circumventing the fair board,” she later added.

“I’ll be the first to admit this is an unusual request, but it’s an unusual circumstance,” Bennett said. “If you don’t do it now, I don’t see how you’ll ever get caught up.”

Commissioners Dennis Lopez and David Sanders argued for granting the request on the basis of having representation at the state contest. But other commissioners weren’t as keen on the idea.

“We’ve got a good relationship with our fair board and I don’t want to mess that up,” Commissioner Bill Cathey said.

In other business:

In other business during Tuesday’s regular Roosevelt County Commission meeting, commissioners:

• Tabled a request from Mike Mitchell of Grande Vida Dairy to take over a road east of Portales, which would connect North Roosevelt Road H 1/2 to Cacahuate Road, because of problems with the petition noted by County Attorney Randy Knudson.

Commissioner David Sanders told Mitchell the road would take a lot of money to bring it up to county standards, money he didn’t have available in his district road budget. He urged Mitchell to find a way to improve the road before asking the county to assume responsibility for it.

If Mitchell presents the county with a complete petition, a panel of road observers would be appointed and offer an official recommendation to commissioners before they would vote on the matter.

• Approved a payment request for the state’s Supplemental Sole Community Provider for Roosevelt General Hospital. The hospital provides the $45,451.53 matching payment as a flow-through to the county, which submits it to the state to leverage the $161,922.09 amount the state will repay the hospital.

• Approved a grant agreement from the New Mexico Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department that will provide $6,275 for wildland firefighting equipment.

• Approved a project agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, allowing the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s office to participate in the Community Driving While Impaired program.

• Approved a joint powers agreement with Quay County for housing inmates.

• Took an afternoon tour of the addition to the Roosevelt County Detention Center, which is still under construction.