Inmate health care, city ditch on commission’s agenda

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

Jail inmate medical care and safety concerns about a city drainage ditch at the intersection of two county roads are set to come before the Roosevelt County Commission today.

The commission meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the County Courthouse.

County residents are asking the commission for help with a drainage ditch at Roosevelt Road 6 1/2 with Roosevelt Road Q.

The City of Portales ditch carries runoff to a holding pond and creates a deep dip in the road, blocking the view of the roads for drivers at the bottom.

“The bad thing about this ditch, it has become one of the city’s main roller coaster attractions for kids, and people of all ages for that matter,” said Pete Paiz, who lives on Roosevelt Road 6 1/2.

Thrill seekers drive into the dip at 30-40 mph and possibly as high as 50-60 mph, every day or every other day, he said.

Paiz estimates someone runs off the road into the drainage ditch, a fence or the bar ditch every three to four months.

Even if slower drivers checked for oncoming traffic at the top of the ditch, he said, a speeder could appear and hit them at the bottom of the dip, where their vision would be blocked to the north and south.

Also, people often use the driveways and yards of houses along the roads to turn around to avoid the dip or cut around it, Paiz said.

Portales City Clerk Joan Martinez-Terry said the ditch is necessary.

“That’s how we drain water off the city roads,” she said.

Martinez-Terry said the ditch would be dangerous only if someone was driving too fast.

County Manager Charlene Hardin called the ditch dangerous.

“We don’t know what the answer is,” she said.

Hardin said she understands a culvert would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. She said the county might end the road right before the intersection.

For the Roosevelt County Detention Center inmate medical care, commissioners will consider four proposals ranging in price from about $90,000 to $200,000 with varying levels of service, Hardin said. Commissioners previously rejected a proposal of $232,000, saying the cost was too high.

Hardin said adequate inmate health care is a civil rights issue and national standard. She said counties often face lawsuits over lack of proper medical care.

Although he hadn’t seen the proposals Monday night, commission Chairman David Sanders said $90,000 would be in the county’s price range but $200,000 was too high.

“We’re doing the best we can to keep this little county in the green instead of in the red,” he said.

In other business, commissioners are set to discuss:

• A contract with lobbyist Michael Miller for $25,000 per year.

• Confirmation that county employees will receive reimbursement of 55 cents a mile, the Internal Revenue Service standard, when they use their personal vehicles for county business.