Sheriff agrees to emergency proposal

Alisa Boswell

A new agreement allows the state Department of Health to store emergency medical relief and disaster supplies at the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department.

A memorandum of understanding between the Department of Health and Roosevelt County was signed last week. It also allows the department to use portions of the sheriff’s office as an emergency shelter for victims of disaster, such as fires and tornadoes.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the sheriff’s office to partner with another local agency; therefore, providing better services for our community,” said Sheriff Darren Hooker. “Having moved into the New Mexico National Guard Armory almost a year ago, I have tried to solicit outside sources and agencies to allow them to use space within our office, because we have additional space that we don’t use.”

Portales Emergency Management Director Keith Wattenbarger worked with Hooker and Christine Amicone of the Department of Health to bring about the agreement.

He said the agreement also allows Roosevelt General Hospital to store emergency supplies there during times of disaster.

Hooker said the hospital has considered signing their own agreement with the sheriff to store supplies at the facility on a regular basis.

“There’s a lot of security in using the sheriff’s offices,” Wattenbarger said. “It gave us a lot of space to work with. Them being on the highway also allows us to move around the county quickly. And a key factor was Darren being so cooperative.”

Wattenbarger said previous Points of Dispensing (PODs) locations through the department of health came up for review and he and Amicone began the search for good disaster relief locations in Roosevelt County. When he mentioned the space at the sheriff’s office to Amicone, she asked if they could arrange with Hooker to look at it.

“We’re in a position now where we can start building some Red Cross capabilities here, because we have a storage space for supplies,” Wattenbarger said. “Obviously, if we can build Red Cross resources and have the department of health involved, we can really help some individuals.”

Wattenbarger said if Red Cross resources had been needed during the recent fire Sunday, he feels confident the county could have taken care of those who needed it and provided them shelter.

“It starts with people like Darren saying, hey, I’ve got this space. How do I use it?” said Wattenbarger. “Once we get a generator in there, it will be 100 percent strong and stand on its own.”

Hooker said he is happy he can use the extra space in his facilities to contribute to the county helping residents in times of need.

“This is an awesome opportunity to provide another resource to the county for incidents such as the fire on Sunday,” Hooker said. “And any other situations that may affect us.”