Roundhouse approves $6.7 million for Roosevelt County

By William Thompson

Out of a record $762 million in capital outlay approved for state projects, state legislators approved $6,743,000 in capital outlay for various projects in Portales and Roosevelt County as their 2006 budget session ended yesterday. Officials with Eastern New Mexico University, the City of Portales, Portales schools and Roosevelt County all said they were happy with the money tentatively allotted for their projects.

Gov. Bill Richardson could veto some projects. He has until March 8 to do so.

ENMU president Steven Gamble said no one knows for sure what projects, if any, the governor might veto. Gamble said he is happy the legislators worked hard for the university, to the tune of $3.3 million in total capital outlay.
If Richardson doesn’t veto the ENMU projects, the university stands to gain $1.1 million for technological improvments to its public broadcasting station KENW. and $1.5 million for an added wing and renovation at the science building.

“Our PBS station will convert it’s technology from analog to digital,” Gamble said. “It will allow for high definition (television) programming. All PBS stations are required by the federal govenrment to convert to digital.”

Among other projects, legislators allotted the university $100,000 for multimedia improvements to classrooms.

“It will allow us to present knowledge in different ways in our classrooms,” Gamble said. “It will allow us to outfit some of our classrooms with state of the art technology.”

The university also stands to gain $225,000 for construction of a language lab.

Meanwhile, the City of Portales was authorized $1.9 million by legislators. $325,000 of that money would go for street and road improvements within the city and a $200,000 chunk of money would go for improvements to the wastewater treatment facility.

Portales city manager Debi Lee, said she was most pleased with the potential funding for the treatment facility.

“The big thing is money for the wastewater treatment plant,” Lee said. “Another big one is $393,000 for the municipal swimming pool. It will help us put in new bath houses and install a new filter system.”

Lee also expressed pleasure with $400,000 alotted for renovation to the inside of the Yam Movie Palace. Although Lee knows Richardson can veto projects, she said he assured the city last year that he would include funding for the theater in this year’s budget.

Lee said she wished the legislators had authorized more money for repair to the roofs of city buildings. The city was autorized $50,000 for roof repairs and replacement.

“That $50,000 will go for replacement of the roof of the Memorial Building,” Lee said. “We needed money to replace roofs on three buildings.”

Portales schools were authorized $325,000 for elementary school renovations. Portales superintendent of schools Randy Folwer said, barring a veto by Richardson, he is happy with the funding although the school district had asked for much more.

“The $325,000 will go for renovations at Steiner, Lindsey and James Elementaries,” Fowler said. “We’ll have to sit down with our architect. We’ll have to prioritize. We’ll have to see where the greatest need is. We feel good that the legislators were willing to give what they did.”

Roosevelt County commissioner Paul Grider said he was pleased that the county could receive $535,000 for road improvements and $50,000 for improvements to the fairgrounds.

“We are always happy with any money we get,” Grider said. “Any money we can get for the fairgrounds would be greatly appreciated.”

Roosevelt General Hospital is seeking to install a new four-bed Intensive Care Unit, according to hospital administrator James D’Agostino. Legislators approved $175,000 towards that effort.

“”It’s always nice when our legislators fund healthcare,” D’Agostino said. “The ICU is gong to take some time. It may take a year, but we’re going to press on with it.”