Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers
Roosevelt County and Eastern New Mexico University representatives have each requested more than $5 million in capital outlay funds from the 2006 New Mexico Legislative Session.
The session begins on Jan. 17 and one of the focuses of Gov. Bill Richardson, senators and representatives is how the money will be divided among New Mexico communities.
ENMU president Steven Gamble said the total money requested from the capital outlay fund is more than $5 million for various university needs.
Gamble said he has talked face-to-face with Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs and Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell. On Thursday, Gamble spoke with Kernan and Gardner about the university needs. He said they requested prioritization of ENMU’s needs.
“The representatives of eastern New Mexico will do all they can to get resources for the institution,” Gamble said. “They are guardedly optimistic. We all (City of Portales, Roosevelt County) have needs. We need to be aggressive to get our share from the one-time distribution.”
This is also the path county commissioners are taking in requesting money for Roosevelt County needs. Charlene Hardin, county administrator, said they are requesting more than $5 million for road improvements, road equipment, detention center improvements, fairground improvements, youth shelter equipment and heating and electric improvements to the courthouse.
County commissioners received a little more than $900,000 from the more than $2 million they initially requested from the capital outlay session, last year.
Hardin said the capital outlay requests have been sent to eastern New Mexico legislators. Hardin said she spoke with Gardner on Thursday about detention issues, also. County commissioners are in the process of building an addition to the Roosevelt County Detention Center.
Commissioners already chose NCA Architects of Albuquerque for the architectural design services of the 72-bed addition to the original 83-bed facility. Hardin said other New Mexico counties are having to deal with overcrowding. Inmate numbers at Roosevelt County have been between 70 and 80 for the last three years, according to Roosevelt County jail administrator’s reports.
Area officials agree support from eastern New Mexico legislators is key to bringing in capital outlay funds to the area. Gamble said he has also spoken with Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis about the university needs. He said he, along with Harden, Ingle and Rep. Joe Campos, D-Santa Rosa have also been very supportive of ENMU.
Another big supporter is Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, who is also a member of the capital outlay committee. According to a Clovis News Journal story, Crook estimates the 2006-2007 legislative budget is $1.2 billion more than in previous years due to gas and oil tax revenue.
Gamble said the items requested for the university are work stations for a language lab, fine arts equipment (such as lighting equipment for the theater department), technology equipment for distance learning, communications center equipment, construction money for the Science Building and infrastructure needs for roof and sidewalk repairs.
University officials received $1.46 million from capital outlay requests, last year.