Commission opts against horse racing ban

By Tony Parra

Rick Short, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant, said the department has been busy working on drug bust operations and answering calls to disturbances from horse races on private property.
“We’ve been very busy in the month of March,” Short said. “We (Portales Police Department and Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department) were involved in 10 operations in nine days (with) 13 arrests.”
Short also relayed a request from Sheriff Tom Gossett to the commissioners that they put in place an ordinance forbidding horse racing on private property.
The department is concerned about illegal activities that may go along with those races.
“The property owners charge admission to have horse races,” Short said. “There’s alcohol and they sell food and drinks with no permit. His (Gossett) concern is alcohol, fighting and loud noises.”
The commissioners denied the request, citing legal issues.
Commissioners said the department still has the authority to issue citations for loud noises and public nuisance. Short said Gossett wanted an ordinance with stiffer penalties.
Randy Knudson, county attorney, advised the commissioners on the issue and the commissioners decided to deny the request because of the problems with specifying that people can’t race horses on their property and what defines a horse race.
Short thanked Charlene Hardin, county administrator, and the commissioners for getting money for the sheriff’s department from the 2005 state legislative session. Eastern New Mexico legislators were able to appropriate $233,000 for the department for purchase of vehicles through capital outlay requests.
Gov. Bill Richardson still has to sign the requests and has until Friday to be able to do so. He could also line-item veto some or all of the requests.
• Roosevelt County Detention Center Administrator Jesse Luera said the detention population is at 77 — 63 male, 14 female. Luera thanked the commissioners for deciding to build an addition to the RCDC.
Commissioners already chose NCA Architects of Albuquerque for the architectural design services of the addition. It is estimated to cost $2.6 million for the 72-bed addition to the 83-bed facility.
The addition will be paid for through the 1/16th of a cent corrections tax, which began taking effect on Jan. 1. The tax will create approximately $113,000 in revenue per year to pay for the cost each year. Commissioner Dennis Lopez said Lea County and Curry County have had to transport detainees to Texas because of overcrowding in their jail facilities.