Roosevelt County enacts burn ban

By Tony Parra

Roosevelt County commissioners, during a county meeting on Tuesday, approved a proclamation prohibiting burning within the county.

The commissioners received the request from Portales Fire Department officials. The commissioners prohibited burning due to the lack of precipitation, high winds and low humidity, wildland grasses and fuels in all of Roosevelt County are at a hazardous level for burning.

The proclamation means all burning, including charcoal broilers, wood and coal stoves, except in yards of primary residences or business premises is prohibited. There is no burning of cropland, rangeland, weed burning or other burning allowed. Shooting of fireworks is also prohibited.

Roosevelt Sheriff’s Department deputies can give a person a citation if they are found violating the ban. At that point it is up to the judge as to the cost of the fine.

Tom Clark, county commissioner, argued for having an ordinance in place because it would have more teeth than just a proclamation.

“We could issue them a citation and they would have to appear before the judge by proclamation,” Capt. Rick Short of the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department said. “An ordinance would have a number for the citation (making it stronger in court).”

Charlene Hardin, county administrator, said a proclamation can immediately prohibit burning, whereas an ordinance would take 30 days to adopt.

Curry County commissioners also imposed a county-wide outdoor burn ban during their first county meeting in January. Curry County officials said the ban encompasses all types of fires, including fireworks and grills.

• County commissioners also approved a request from Roosevelt General Hospital officials for the first installment of the sole community provider fund. A total of four payments of $66,134 will be made by Roosevelt County officials for a total of $264,538 to the fund. The last three payments are reimbursed to the county. The hospital will receive matching money from state Medicaid funds for the grand total of $916,942.

Clark said it’s a wonderful program but was the only commissioner who voted against the measure stating hospital officials should also pay a portion of the $66,134 the county agreed to pay.

“I could if I didn’t have to write off $7 million,” James D’Agostino, hospital administrator, said. D’Agostino said on June 30 the hospital representatives had to write off $7.45 million for indigent, charity and other costs.
D’Agostino said last year the county paid $58,271 for the sole community provider fund and in the last five years it has increased every year.

• Dennis Lopez, county commissioner, took the reins as chairman and Paul Grider will be acting vice-chairman for the meetings. Lopez took over for Gene Creighton who had served a year as chairman in 2005. In 2004 Lopez served as chairman.

l Jesse Luera, Roosevelt County Detention Center administrator, said shortly after the new year the inmate population jumped to 95. He said as of Tuesday it dropped to 85 and continues to run high for the 83-bed facility. Luera said there are 16 females in the RCDC.

“The numbers continue to stay high,” Luera said. “The detention center is managing well even though we are high on population.”