Road funds go wrong way

By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent

It’s a good bet Curry County commissioners have heard the old saying about not looking a gift-horse in the mouth.

On Tuesday, the county’s governing body didn’t hesitate to accept $1.8 million in state funds to repair a road in Curry County — even though it wasn’t the road earmarked for improvements in its funding request.

On Tuesday, a resolution to accept so-called GRIP funds from the state’s Local Government Transportation Fund was approved. The funds will be used for County Road 3 instead of County Road 4.

County Manager Dick Smith characterized the error as one that originated with state officials, but didn’t think the mistake would turn out to be particularly egregious.

“For us, that ($1.8 million) is a big number, so we’ll probably be able to do nine to 18 miles of road. We’ll do County Road 3. They both need to be done, so that’s what we’ll do,” Smith said. “That’s what we put in for, but there was literally a mistake made in (typing) the number. The only way you can get that changed is to go to the Legislature next year.

“Four is the one that goes directly into the (Southwest) cheese plant, but so does three — so either one works,” he added. “It’s not a catastrophe.”

In other business, commissioners unanimously voted to award concrete work at the county’s special events center to Nick Griego & Sons Construction for $1.14 million. Southwest Concrete ($1.38 million) was the only other company to submit a bid.

Smith said he expects construction on the center at the county fairgrounds to begin within two months.

Also at the meeting, the county officially entered into an agreement to have Plains Regional Medical Center provide health care for inmates housed at the county’s adult and juvenile detention centers. Previously, local physicians have been contracted by the county for such services — which now will be provided, according to Smith, free-of-charge by PRMC.

“They basically have said this is what we can do for you and it’s a community service we should be providing,” said Smith, himself a former administrator for the medical facility.