Smoking ban enacted near county property

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Smokers will have to stay 25 feet from county-owned property before lighting up under a new ordinance approved Tuesday by Curry County Commissioners.

Penalties for violating the ordinance include a $100 fine for the first violation, $200 for a second violation within a year of the first; and $500 for a third violation.

The ordinance also includes buildings within the county fairgrounds.

The ordinance was passed unanimously following discussion.

Meanwhile, the Curry County Mounted Patrol and the Commission continue to try and reach an agreement on use of the rodeo arena at the fairgrounds.

The non-profit volunteer group asked to use the Mounted Patrol Arena to put on the Pioneer Days Rodeo two weeks out of the year for three years without having to sign a user contract the county requires.

Commissioner Pete Hulder said the agreement conflicts with the state’s anti-donation law that prohibits private use of public property without payment.

To approve the agreement, he said, would leave the county open to other groups requesting the same treatment.

But Commissioner Robert Sandoval said the Mounted Patrol wasn’t looking for special treatment. He said they were trying to exchange labor for payment.

In the agreement, the Mounted Patrol offered cleaning, painting and welding work on the arena.

But County Manager Dick Smith said any type of construction work, such as welding, would require not only liability insurance, which the county already requires, but worker’s compensation insurance as well.

Mounted Patrol member Paul Barnes said he does not know if the Pioneer Days Rodeo will be held next year because planning has not been done for the event.

Smith said if the Mounted Patrol and the county do not work out an agreement, the county could do the planning of the rodeo as a county project.

“I think that would be plan B, if they decide not to do it,” he said. “I don’t want to speak for the commissioners on what they might decide to do, but, certainly, that’s one of the options.”

The Commission invited the Mounted Patrol to submit another proposal.

Commissioners also heard a proposal from Global Spectrum, a Philadelphia-based company the county is negotiating a contract with to manage the Curry County Fairgrounds and the Curry County Special Events Center.

The proposal indicated Spectrum would assume the management, marketing and booking of the properties, County Attorney Stephen Doerr said.

Sandoval questioned the county’s ability to afford paying the company to manage the fairgrounds since commissioners decided against a liquor license for it.

Smith said the county would pay a yearly $96,000 management fee, along with salaries and operational costs of the events center.

Hulder said the fairgrounds and events center were designed for public service, not revenue generating, and management could bring events to the county fair boards in the past could not.

In other business during Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners:

Renewed a contract for inmate meals with Aramark Correctional Services. The contract increases what the county pays to feed inmates by $50,000. The amount reflects the increase of inmates since opening the women’s annex, plus a 3.4 percent increase overall.

Approved applying for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to create a health clinic in Melrose. The clinic would be the first in Melrose, said Assistant County Manager and Melrose Mayor Lance Pyle. Another item considered for the grant was a project to improve a blighted area of Kimberly and Prince streets in the county. But under the grant only one item could be approved, said Grant Coordinator Connie Harrison.

Heard a report from County Detention Department Director Leslie Johnson that county inmates will receive GED instruction from Clovis Community College instructors via television.
The college received a Title V grant to improve its distance learning programs through instructional television and the detention center receives the broadcasts, Johnson said.
“It is a windfall, and it is very exciting to have,” she said.