City hears emergency options

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

A reverse 911 system in Portales could be activated before the end of the year while new emergency warning sirens could be installed by spring, according to local officials.

Roosevelt County Emergency Management Director Keith Wattenberger gave Portales City Councilors an update the project which he has been working on since he was named to the position this spring. The project, he said, took on a new urgency following the March 23 tornado that struck Clovis.

Wattenberger said the city had purchased the sirens with grant money but he’s seeking funds to install new warning devices. He said that installation is estimated at just under $20,000.

Wattenberger told the council that the old sirens no longer adequately cover the city.

He was also seeking funds for a reverse 911 system which he says could feasibly be in place before winter weather becomes severe.

He explained that the system could inform residents of an emergency situation such as a tornado or a wildfire.

“It allows us to notify people on an emergency platform as well as a non-emergency platform,” Wattenberger said.

In addition to its emergency application, the system can be used in non-emergency situations for polling or simple notification.

“It’s equivalent to having an employee who’s never on vacation, never sick and is always there,” Wattenberger said.

Wattenberger said the reverse 911 system he’s eyeing would cost $8,000 for initial installation with $15,000 annually for the service. He was proposing $42,998 in total upgrades.

Mayor Orlando Ortega told Wattenberger the next step would be to take the proposal to the finance committee, which would make a final recommendation to the council.

In other business councilors:

• Adopted a resolution allowing city police to hold a vote on changing its retirement level within the Public Employee Retirement Association.

• Heard a report on MainStreet Portales’ Arts and Culture Award program.

• Approved a resolution enacting an agreement with the state accepting Legislative appropriations made in 2007.

• Approved a downzoning from commercial to residential on property owned by Eddie Hiner, connected with the Berkeley Apartments on W. 18th Street.

• Approved a preliminary plat for a subdivision east of Portales being proposed by Alva Carter. The sought exemption from the city’s curb and gutter requirements. The 54-lot subdivision on just over 68 acres is in the county but must be approved by the city because of its proximity of 1.25 miles.

• Gave final plat approval, and adopted a notice of intent to annex, the Territorial Estates subdivision being developed by Larry Combs. The development is going in on the western edge of Portales near Cannon Estates.