Portales High School Principal Melvin Nusser is hoping a local lawmaker’s request to help fund renovations to the school’s performing arts center will receive support in Santa Fe.
Veteran lawmaker Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, is seeking $250,000 for the high school’s performing arts center, a facility that gets used by numerous school and community groups. The auditorium has the largest seating capacity in Roosevelt County.
As part of the renovation project, new carpeting would be replaced, seats would be upgraded and fire resistant curtains would be hung.
“We have some chairs that have missing seat cushions,” Nusser said. “The carpet is in bad shape. The building has had 32 years of heavy use.”
The auditorium, which was built in 1971, hasn’t received a face lift in its history.
“The building isn’t just used by the school, the entire community takes advantage of it,” he said.
The facility is used by the school’s drama and theater departments and fine arts students.
In addition, it’s the home to numerous events throughout the year including spring and fall concerts and Christmas concerts.
Nusser said the junior high and Lindsey Elementary also use it for events.
Different contests are also held in the building.
In December, the Portales Police Department and the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department held a drug awareness information night for parents in the auditorium.
“It’s sad to say, but there’s so much interest in holding events in the building that we sometimes have to turn people away,” Nusser said.
Nusser faces a tough situation in that if the request isn’t granted by lawmakers the improvements won’t be made anytime soon.
“We just don’t have any other options,” he said. “We don’t have any other funding available for it. I guess we could put a bond plan in place and five to 10 years down the road we could get the improvements. But right now we are strapped.”
In addition to the high school’s request Ingle submitted a few more capital outlay requests.
l Purchase and install furniture and equipment for the expansion of the medical office building and equipment for the emergency room at the Roosevelt County Hospital. $100,000.
l Renovate, repair and add lighting to Eastern New Mexico University’s sidewalks. $40,000.
Kernan on the issues
Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, spoke out on a variety of legislation from her office in Santa Fe on Tuesday afternoon. She serves both Roosevelt and Curry counties.
On the tax authority, Kernan said she imagined a bill approved by a Senate committee on Monday would be controversial.
The bill would give counties to right to levy additional taxes to fund their services. Counties would be able to raise their gross receipts tax rate by an additional one-sixteenth percent, according to The Associated Press.
But the key is that it could be done without voters having a say.
Voters would have to file petitions to force elections concerning raising taxes.
Kernan said sometimes tax increases are what’s best for a county.
“I think sometimes when voters are faced with any kind of tax increase their first answer is always no,” she said. “But those in office and those who provide services — even when we don’t want to raise taxes — we realizes that it’s sometimes what’s best for an entire county.”
Kernan said she thought the bill would generate a lot of interest because currently it’s being proposed as something that wouldn’t need voter approval.
The Medicaid crisis continues to be a hot topic among lawmakers and many others, Kernan said.
“I have received a lot of messages from people who do not want to have any cuts to Medicaid,” she said.
She said decisions lawmakers will be facing in the coming days concerning the program won’t be easy.
Santa Fe Today
l 7:30 a.m. — Health and Human Needs Advocacy and Service Organizations, Methodist Church Legislative Breakfast, St. John’s Methodist Church
l 4 p.m. — Department of Cultural Affairs New Mexico Culture Day Celebration, Capitol Rotunda
l 5:30 p.m. — N.M. Coalition Against Domestic Violence Legislative reception, La Fonda
l 6 p.m. – N.M. Automotive Dealer’s Association Dinner, El Dorado Hotel