County commissioners agree to form citizens’ committees

Sharna Johnson

Curry County plans to form citizens’ committees to study and provide input on jail and courthouse issues.

During a special meeting Wednesday, commissioners voted unanimously to form the two groups at a Dec. 7 meeting.

In the meantime, they intend to put out an open invitation to residents who are interested in serving on the committees.

Commissioner Caleb Chandler said he has received calls from residents who want to give input into the issues and have expressed a desire to be involved.

“I feel like we do need to create some citizens’ committees,” he said.

“If we’re going to solve this problem, we’ve got to have input and buy-in from the community. They’re the ones that are paying the bills.”

The measure was made in response to the Nov. 2 defeat of two bond issues, which would have raised taxes to pay for construction of a $33 million jail and courthouse.

The voters gave a resounding no to the project, with more than 72 percent rejecting the bonds.

Commissioner Wendell Bostwick said he was glad to see the public invested in local issues.

“It’s been a challenge to us to get the community involved until the water’s already gone under the bridge,” he said. “I think (the committees are) very important.”

Commissioner Frank Blackburn said he wants the committees to have autonomy from the commission and work with the county manager, jail administrator and courthouse officials.

“I think the commission should keep their hands off this process and let the citizens have their way,” he said.

Chairman Bobby Sandoval said he heard voters loud and clear in the election.

“They (voters) told us what they don’t want, now they need to tell us what they do want,” he said.

Commissioners agreed, residents will submit letters of intent to join the committee and the commission will formulate a structure for the committees — one for the jail, one for the courthouse — and make appointments at the first meeting in December.

They also agreed the citizens committees will work closely with the jail and courthouse security committees.

County Manager Lance Pyle said in the next couple days he would draft an announcement and circulate it to the media to begin the process.

In other business, commissioners:

• Approved a final canvass of the votes from the Nov. 2 election.

• Postponed discussion and consideration of the scope of work to be done on roads approaching Cannon Air Force Base’s south gate. Chandler said base command has indicated they are still in the process of identifying needs at the gate and are not ready to fine-tune the plans.

At a Friday meeting commissioners approved allocating more than $900,000 in federal money to address road issues leading to Cannon’s south gate from State Road 467 and Curry Road Q.