By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer
The port of entry building outside Texico was slated for demolition anyway. A vehicle accident that caused considerable damage to the front of the building on Thursday will simply speed the process, officials said.
No injuries were reported after a car struck the building, which is located just off of U.S. Highway 60, early Thursday.
“We had plans to tear the building down and replace it this year,” said New Mexico Port of Entry Supervisor Gabriel Romero. “We were waiting on state paperwork. This will just rush our schedule.”
New Mexico State Police Capt. Oscar Gonzalez said a car struck the building about 5:30 a.m. on Thursday. “And then by 2 or 3 p.m. (that same day) the balcony had fallen down on the porch,” Romero said.
Gonzalez said police were initially told by Hope Castillo that she fell asleep at the wheel while heading east on Highway 60, then veered across the westbound lane and hit the building.
“This story was later found to be untrue,” Gonzalez said. “Hope’s son, Carlos Castillo Jr., was the driver and he was driving on an expired license on his way home into Texico,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said misdemeanor charges are pending against Hope Castillo, 46, for issuing untrue statements.
Hope Castillo said, “I was trying to protect my son and got into a bigger mess”
No charges have been filed against the 23-year-old driver, Gonzalez said.
State officials had asked earlier that the 67-year-old building be demolished because it “can’t accommodate public safety personnel,” said John W. Murphy, the coordinator of the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs.
Romero said the purpose of the port of entry is to “collect state revenue, check big rigs for state paperwork and tax receipts, and commercial vehicles for log book maintenance and vehicular damage.”
“Civilians work in the building as port inspectors and deal primarily with truck traffic, but they work with assigned state patrol officers to chase down speeding vehicles and big rigs. We work hand-in-hand with the State Police Department,” Romero said.
“Complying with state preservation laws, the New Mexico Department of Transportation prepared a cultural resource survey documenting the building’s history. We believe the building is significant because of its association with the Depression era’s Works Progress Administration,” Murphy said.
“We were waiting to tear the building down so that archeologists could determine its historical context. Everything was approved except for paperwork from a few state agencies, which was supposed to be submitted to Santa Fe.
“We had contacted foundation-laying vendors, utility lines and then the accident happened. All it did was expedite our plans. We won’t be able to work out of the facility now,” Romero said.
The port of entry is now operating out of a recreational vehicle next to the building, Romero said.