Police, emergency management personnel step in to deliver Meals on Wheels

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

With icy roads and four to six inches of snow Thursday, police and emergency management personnel stepped in to deliver for Portales Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels chairwoman Fayrene Powers said she was concerned about the program’s drivers, many of whom are older adults, risking injury on the roads or snow-covered driveways and porches.

She called the police department and reached Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Wattenbarger, who volunteered to make sure meals reached the approximately 16 intended recipients.

“I think it’s wonderful that we live in a community where the police have the time and are willing to do that, to keep elderly people safe,” Powers said. “And I’m sure our recipients appreciate it.”

She had been thinking deliveries would have to be canceled for the first time in at least the 21 years she has served on the board of the program, which is separate from the Meals on Wheels program at the Community Services Center.

Wattenbarger said he didn’t want to risk people not getting their meals, and he thought the arrangement worked out well for everybody.

Police Deputy Chief Lonnie Berry said animal control, codes enforcement, patrol and emergency management personnel started delivering about 11:15 a.m.

“Everybody that had a vehicle out on the road today pretty much assisted getting the meals out,” he said.

The police had four-wheel drive vehicles and were on the road anyway, he said.

Animal control Sgt. Walter Chambers helped with deliveries. He said it took around an hour to take care of his portion of the meals, since he and other officers were taking other calls in between deliveries.

“The people were very appreciative, and it’s always nice to help out the community whenever we can,” Chambers said.