Officials: Ute water project construction could begin next year

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis Postmaster John Yeast provides an overview to Curry County Commission Chairman Robert Sandoval and other county officers Tuesday during a tour of the Gidding Street post office building. Last month, commissioners announced plans to purchase the building for $750,000 and rent space to the post office.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Construction on the Ute Water Project is projected to begin as early as next year with completion slated by 2019, according to the Eastern New Mexico Water Rural Authority.

During a presentation to the Curry County Commission, officials laid out a timeline for the Ute Water Project and set the price tag at $500 million.

Creating an entity comprised of the communities of Clovis, Grady, Elida, Melrose, Portales and Texico; and Curry and Roosevelt Counties, the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Act takes effect July 1.

Scott Verhines, Kevin Powers and Joe Thompson gave commissioners a breakdown of the board created by the act and how the project will be funded.

Under the financial plan presented by Powers, Curry County’s starting contribution will be $14,590 in 2011 and will grow to a contribution of $233,543 by 2028.

Similarly, the City of Clovis will contribute $747,243 in 2011 and $11.9 million in 2028.

The purpose of the act is to create a regional water system project consistent with state-wide water planning. It also outlines an organized structure and entity to work with local, state and federal agencies.

The board, a subdivision of the state, will adopt rules, policies and procedures ratify acquisitions of property, engage in legal action, establish fees, tolls, rates or charges and issue revenue bonds.

Verhines said information about the project is provided on a web site to help inform the public.

The municipalities represented on the board are partners in a cost sharing plan and are responsible for 10 percent of the costs of the project, while the state is responsible for 15 percent and the federal government 75 percent, Powers said.

On the web: www.enmrwa.com

Commissioners also:

• Toured the Gidding Street post office building. Commissioners announced in March they planned to purchase the building for $750,000 and rent space to the U.S. Postal Service.

• Heard a presentation from Sandra Smith, The Lighthouse Mission’s board president. Smith said two contractors have donated their time and materials to help build a new homeless shelter on La Casillas Boulevard. Their will also be an auction to raise money for the project May 22 at the Curry County Pavilion.

• Approved a request from the sheriff’s office to purchase software to manage inmate records at the Adult Detention Center. The software, Sleuth Jail Management Systems, will cost a little more than $17,000.

• Heard a quarterly report from investment manager Rob Burpo. Burpo said a $2 million account with Macquarie Allegiance Capital has gained about $700 since last quarter, which ended March 31, and is performing as expected. In the next 15 days he said he will be putting $1.8 million of the county’s other holdings into certificates of deposit with local banks.

• Heard jail Interim Administrator Kirk Roberts say detention officer training has been completed and the last 50 inmates who had been sent to other facilities will be returning soon. The woman’s annex has also been re-opened, he said.

He said the facility expects to send some inmates out of county because it is short of having enough beds to accommodate the 252 inmates currently booked into the facility.

• Heard an update from County Road Superintendent Chris Pacheco, who said sometime this week his department plans to install rumble strips leading north and south to the intersection of Curry Road G (Sugarbeet Road) and NM 523. The intersection was the scene of a fatal crash in February.

• Was advised by County Manager Lance Pyle that next year the county’s Wellness Council will not receive state money. Pyle said the council has received more than $70,000 annually in the past and the county will have to evaluate how to continue the program without state money.

• Went into executive session and took no action, citing limited personnel matters, threatened and or pending litigation or the acquisition of real estate as the purpose of the session.