County commissioners ‘discouraged’ by costs

By Jack King

Curry County Commissioners visited Lea County Special Event Center near Hobbs on Nov. 7. During Monday’s commissioners meeting, they expressed concerns about what they learned concerning the costs of running that facility.
Commissioner Kathrynn Tate said they learned it cost “a lot” to build and run a special events center.
Commissioner Albin Smith said he “can’t help but be a little discouraged” by the cost of running the Lea County events center. The commissioners were told the events center runs a deficit every year.
“Obviously, that raised concerns. If they can’t operate in the red, how can we?” said Commission Chairman Tim Ashley. “For me, I’ll be waiting to see what our business plan looks like. We’ll hold that to a very high standard.”
According to county records, Global Entertainment Corp. of Phoenix, Ariz., is scheduled to present a business plan for a Curry County special events center to the commission in December.
Curry County voters approved using property taxes to generate $3 million for a dirt-floored, closed ceiling events center at the fairgrounds in October 2001.
In other business on Monday:
n The commission heard a presentation on building a new jail, or possibly a joint Clovis-Portales facility, from representatives of Ray Mitcham Architects of Roswell. Commissioners asked the representatives for all the information they could provide, but said discussion of a new jail had not yet reached the stage of asking for formal proposals, which would require issuing a request for proposals. Roosevelt County Commissioner Charlene Hardin and Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator Jesse Luera attended the presentation, but said Roosevelt County is not interested at this time in building a joint detention center with Curry County. Hardin and Luera said they were just gathering information.
“Everybody’s in the same boat. Inmate populations are growing and there’s not even a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We need to look at all the options for everyone,” Hardin said.
n The commission approved asking for $500,000 in this year’s Community Development Block Grant request, to use for design service in building the State Road 467 overpass. County Special Projects/Purchasing Officer Twila Rutter-Wooley said the State Highway and Transportation Department has sent the county a letter promising $1 million for the project. That would be combined with other county money, possible federal funding and money from Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. The project is expected to cost $2.8 million, she said.