Commission votes to steer grant application towards median

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson County commissioners voted Tuesday to apply for a grant to beautify medians between Cannon Air Force Base and Clovis.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Curry County Commissioners ranked a median project from Clovis to Cannon Air Force Base as a top priority for grant money during a Tuesday meeting in Texico.

The 4-1 vote followed a more than an hour of discussion weighing four options for a state Community Development Block Grant the county hopes to apply for in December.

“It’s long overdue,” resident Gloria Wicker told commissioners in support of the median project.

“This is a matter that has been pushed aside now for years and years.”

The grant, if obtained, would pay the county $500,000 toward a community project which directly impacts low-income members of the community. The county would be required to contribute a 10 percent match toward the project.

Projects considered for the grant were:

• A median project on US 60/84 between Cannon and Clovis to beautify and resolve correct environmental hazards presented by unkempt medians.

• Funding for the third phase of an ongoing Melrose Wastewater Treatment project currently being funded through a Melrose CDBG grant.

• Extension of Curry Road Q from Grady to Cannon to help bolster school enrollment and economic development in the village. The grant would pay for less than five miles out of 17 needing improvements.

• Purchase of land and construction of a new facility for the Hartley House, which serves victims of domestic violence. The Hartley House will be displaced from its 900 Main Street location in the event voters pass proposed bond questions to build a criminal justice complex in downtown Clovis.

Of the proposed projects, Assistant County Manager Connie Harrison identified plans for the Melrose wastewater treatment and median projects as most ready given the short time available to meet the deadline.

“Shovel ready are two words (the Department of Finance and Administration) like to hear,” she said.

The Hartley House project presents complications because the grant money cannot be used for administrative offices, which would require the project be divided and CDBG money only used on those areas where services would be provided to low-income clients, she said.

Several Grady residents attended Tuesday, asking commissioners to support improvements to Curry Road Q. However commissioners concluded more research —including resident income surveys and environmental and archeological studies — was needed on the project, making it difficult to meet an early December deadline.

Commissioners also expressed concern the money provided by the grant would barely scratch the surface of the project.

“All of these projects are good projects,” Chairman Bobby Sandoval said, “but we need to look at the most viable project,”

Grady School Board President Bill Page told commissioners having a direct and shorter route to the village than State Road 209 could be a boon to recruiting new students to the school there.

Grady officials have said dropping enrollment has put school funding at risk.

“If you don’t have a school, you don’t have a village,” he said. “We just wish that you’d take a look at this.”

Residents also told commissioners the road would aid economic development by providing a through route to neighboring communities for use by people transporting cattle and other goods.

“I think the county really needs to make a strong commitment to get that road done,” Commissioner Caleb Chandler said.

His sentiment was supported by his fellow commissioners, who agreed the county would work to make the request for improvements to CR Q a priority, whether it be planning for next year’s CDBG application or finding alternate sources to fund the project.

During its Tuesday meeting, the Curry County Board of Commissioners:

• Postponed discussion of a five-year road plan that was scheduled for consideration.

• Approved a resolution for an Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan from 2012 to 2016. The plan prioritizes projects the county plans to seek capital outlay money for.

Among projects the county has identified are a criminal justice complex, county road improvements, equipment and vehicles, improvements to the fairgrounds and events center and upgrades and additions to information technology systems.

Finance Manager Mark Lansford said the projects total $52 million.