City council discusses legislative priorities

By Tony Parra

Mayor Orlando Ortega and city councilors met on Tuesday an hour before the city meeting to have their legislative priorities in order for Gov. Bill Richardson.
They met and agreed the top priority is street improvements, followed by the purchase of equipment. The third priority is concrete approaches’ improvements. City Manager Debi Lee said park improvements and main street improvements are the other priorities which will be in the application sent to Richardson by Oct. 15.
The request for the street improvements combined is $725,000, while the request for equipment purchases range from $125,000 for a garbage truck to rubber tire roller for $75,000.
Lee said the governor sent out letters to state entities, such as county commissioners and city councilors, with a new process to identifying a new process of funding.
Some of the topics discussed in the city meeting included:
— Ortega and city councilors discussed a resolution of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission relating to economic development on and around the Ute Reservoir. The resolution sets guidelines for the Ute Water reservoir effecting two developers, Sid Strebeck of Clovis and Warren Frost of Logan.
The two developers sell lots along the south shore of the Ute Lake and they are asking the Interstate Stream Commission to pass a resolution in support of economic development, according to a Clovis News Journal article in late September.
Ortega said he is in favor of economic development, but does not like the idea of the one of the propositions from the developers.
Ortega said the developers are proposing to lower a flowage easement to build homes next to the Ute Water reservoir.
“There is a potential negative outcome with the requests,” Ortega said. “I’m not a big supporter. If it (easement) were moved it would hurt us because it would eliminate it offers room for growth (of the reservoir). It gives us an opportunity to raise the level.”
Ortega said the Interstate Streams Commission members have made a recommendation not to lower the flowage easement. The resolution will be presented to the ISC members on Oct. 18 and 19.
— Ortega and city councilors awarded Eastern New Mexico University football coach Harold “Bud” Elliott a plague to recognize his 37 seasons as a coach and because he picked up his 200th career win in September. Elliott will be retiring at the end of the year and Ortega asked Elliott if he would consider staying in Portales after he retires. Elliott told Ortega that staying in Portales is his plan.
“I’ve got a dedicated staff and players that we’re extremely proud of,” Elliott said. “I accept this plaque on behalf of the players and coaches. You’d hate to give up something you really love. I don’t see it as an end, but a new beginning.”
— Ortega and city councilors also recognized the Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do World Championship team. Coach Steve Blakeley is one of four coaches for the United States and three members of the U.S. team are from the Eastern New Mexico Taekwon-Do team. The three members are Audra Brown of Portales, Nicole Frank of Portales and Mark Yoesting of Clovis.
Blakeley said the team will leave on Saturday to Daejion City in South Korea for the world championships. He said it is a 19-hour plane trip to Daejion City and there are 45 black belt competitors from the U.S.