Curry County commissioners request funds for cheese plant

Jack King

Curry County Commissioners approved a request from the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation Tuesday to transfer $300,000 from the county’s environmental fund to the city of Clovis to help pay for a wastewater treatment system for the Southwest Cheese plant.
But they said the money will not be transferred until other types of funding for the treatment system also have been obtained
“If the deal falls apart, we don’t give them a check,” said Commissioner Ed Perales.
CIDC executive director Chase Gentry told the commission the system will cost a total of $12.5 million and will include a five-mile-long pipeline from the plant to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. A new cell added to the city’s wastewater treatment facility will require three new employees as well, he said.
The Clovis City Commission voted Nov. 24 to ask the New Mexico Finance Authority for two loans totaling $12.5 million to cover the cost of building wastewater treatment facilities. Gentry said CIDC is looking for other sources of funding to offset the debt incurred from those loans. He also said Southwest Cheese will invest $7 million in the treatment system and will pay the city an operation and maintenance fee to pay off the debt.
The commissioners asked Gentry if county residents would be allowed to connect onto the pipeline from the cheese plant to the city wastewater treatment system, but did not make that a condition of approving the transfer.
“I would hate for us to get caught up in that issue, if it wouldn’t work from an engineering standpoint,” said Commissioner Albin Smith.
CIDC volunteer Gene Hendricks said the group also talked with Congressman Tom Udall Tuesday about getting $2 million in federal funding for a “highway-type” road from the cheese plant and for improvements on Highway 70 where it would join the road.
Udall told them to ask the state of New Mexico to transfer the money from the Gov. Richardson’s Investment Partnership (GRIP) package, Hendricks said.
“He said, ‘We’ve already given the state a large amount of highway money,’” Hendricks said.
In other business:
– Smith told the commission the Curry County Fair Board has approved a memorandum of understanding with the county for operating the fairgrounds.
– Perales said state Labor Secretary Conroy Chino told a meeting of the Work Force Board for eastern New Mexico that the state is considering transferring some work force development money from the eastern part of the state, where unemployment is low, to areas with higher unemployment. Perales added that Chino praised the board’s Youth Employment Program, calling it a model for the rest of the state.
– The commissioners approved a contract with dentist Jerry W. Crook for dental services at the adult and juvenile detention centers. Assistant County Manager Jimmy Dunn said the county spent about $4,430 last year for dental services at the two centers. Adult Detention Center administrator Don Burdine said the county only provides basic dental services to inmates, approving extractions in cases of pain or threats to health.
– Burdine said the adult detention center has 302 inmates in custody, with 203 held in the detention center, 81 held in Dickens County, Texas, nine in other facilities, six on electronic house arrest and three on court-ordered furlough. As of Tuesday, 16 juveniles were being held in the juvenile detention center, he added.
– The commission approved rebuilding one mile of County Road 23 to Stark Dairy, at the request of dairy owner Mark Stark. Stark has volunteered to pay for the materials and transport, Smith said.
But, commissioners said, before acting on a request to open the Thunderbird Road right-of-way off State Highway 60/84, they will first ask the state Highway Department for an impact study.