Commissioners extend fire ban

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Roosevelt County Commissioners decided to err on the side of caution where the fire ban is concerned as they voted to leave in place the ban that was passed by proclamation in January.

“We’re in no better situation than when we enacted the ban,” Commissioner Tom Clark said in a county meeting Tuesday morning .
Commission chairman Dennis Lopez agreed, noting that the rains received in the county have been scattered with good general rainfall.
Roosevelt County Adminstrator Charlene Hardin introduced the agenda item by informing the commission that Darwin Chenault, assistant fire chief with the Portales Fire Department had recommended that the ban be lifted since conditions had improved.

“I’ve had several phone calls in the last few weeks asking if they were going to lift it (the ban), Hardin said.

After some discussion a motion was made to leave the ban in place but to allow controlled burns with a fire department stand-by. The motion passed 5-0.

Commissioners also heard a request from Serferino Montano, executive director of La Casa Family Health Center, for the commission to consider allowing money from the indigent fund to be directed into primary care claims.

Montano said that putting money into to primary care could be a better use of the indigent fund than paying claims for emergency room treatment for patients that didn’t necessarily belong in the emergency room but went there for care because that was their only option through the indigent system. He said that when the local hospital was closed his organization prepared estimates that showed as much as 90 percent of the patients that had used the emergency room were not true emergency cases.

“You have to consider, where do you want to invest your money,” Montano said.

At commissioners’ questioning, Montano said he didn’t have an estimate of how much might be turned in if the county decided to provide for primary care because he hadn’t fully studied it.

Lopez asked that staff study the ramifications and bring more information to a future meeting.

In other business:

• Appointed Randy Knudson as representative to the Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation Board of Directors.

• Approved an agreement with USDA Wildlife Services for predator control.

• Approved cooperative agreements with New Mexico Department of Transportation for three road projects for a total cost to the county of just over $150,516, which will be matched at 75 percent by the state.

• Approved fiscal year-end budget adjustments totalling $128,763 in three departments.

• Approved the final 2006-07 budget with expenditures of $8.78 million.