Resigned members form independent committee

Sharna Johnson

Though they resigned from serving on citizens’ committees created by Curry County, several former members say they remain vested in solving issues surrounding the jail and courthouse.

Wayland Thomas, who resigned from the jail committee Jan. 15, said Tuesday he intends to continue studying the issues along with others who walked from the committees.

Thomas said he is working with County Manager Lance Pyle to have resigned members included in a presentation by Rohde, May, Keller, McNamara Architecture of Albuquerque regarding options for the courthouse and jail.

Pyle has said he in the process of scheduling the presentation he hopes will take place in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday during a special meeting, the commission made no effort to restrict the presentation after Pyle announced that he planned to include former committee members as an independent committee.

Thomas said he and other resigned committee members are interested in hearing if there were options architects may have studied beyond those in bond issues defeated Nov. 2.

Commissioners created the two committees Dec. 7 following a 73-27 percent voter defeat of two bond issues aimed at building a $33 million jail and courthouse as the first phase of an estimated $90 million judicial complex.

In mid-January, eight of 15 committee members resigned, complaining about a lack of transparency and steering by the commission after the committees were ordered by commissioners to close their meetings.

The resignations reduced the jail committee to three members and the courthouse committee to five.

Committees are tasked with studying the issues and presenting recommendations to commissioners by April 19.

Thomas said the inclusion of resigned members in the architects’ presentation could lead them to make an independent recommendation on the issue.

“After that, I’m sure we’ll probably have a meeting or two to analyze the options then go from there,” he said.

Recognizing that since further involvement of former committee members is not sanctioned by the commission, Thomas said any conclusions they reach would be heard at the commission’s choice.

“If we come up with a recommendation, we’d probably ask to present our recommendation just like the other committees — they may or may not allow us to do that,” he said.

Thomas said in his mind there are two goals motivating former members to continue: To make information about the options available to the public and to have their recommendation heard by the commission.

“There was so much controversy on it during the bond election and nobody seemed to really know (what the options were); there was a lot of mud slinging,” he said.

“I would like to know what’s available… I think there’s definitely some problems with the jail and the courthouse, but things are (in limbo) something needs to get it off high-center.”

George Krattiger, who resigned from both committees, said he has decided not to pursue further involvement in the issue.

“I told them I wasn’t interested. Well have no standing with the county (and) not having Lance Pyle to answer questions for us it makes it more difficult for us to gather together,” Krattiger said.

“They can have a private committee, but the county commissioners don’t necessarily have to allow you to address them.”

He also said he was never interested in hearing the presentation from architects because Krattiger said believes the potential for them to profit from proposed designs creates a situation for bias.

Farmer and rancher Doug Reid, who also resigned from both committees, said he would like to hear the presentation by architects, though he has his doubts.

“I can’t really see the point if (the commission’s) not going to pay attention to what the committees would recommend,” he said.

During county commission meetings a public input session is held at the beginning and end of each meeting where members of the public are invited to address commissioners.