By Helena Rodriguez: PNT Staff Writer
Georgia Gonzales has a new job and title. The City of Portales recently named Gonzales the Capital Projects/MainStreet Manager. The position replaces the Community Development Director position held by Jeremy Sturm who is leaving the post.
As the new Capital Projects/MainStreet Manager, Gonzales will be in charge of managing an estimated $3.5 million in grant money and capital projects. Major projects in progress right now include the redevelopment of the historic Yam Theater on Main Street and a downtown streetscape around the Roosevelt County Courthouse.
Gonzales said that although her new position will require a lot of responsibility on her part, many of these projects will be accomplished through teamwork. Gonzales — a lifelong resident of Portales — also feels very optimistic about the future of the city.
“With all of these projects going on and with MainStreet working on downtown, I feel we are really going somewhere. I feel Portales will end up being a nice and better town,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales has worked as the administrative assistant for the MainStreet project for almost two years now. Prior to that, she worked at Eastern New Mexico University. She officially takes over the reins on Jan. 12, when Sturm, who is currently training her, leaves his post in order to return to the mortgage lending business in the area. In addition to the MainStreet project, her new position will also include working with planning and zoning.
“I’m pretty excited about the new position,” Gonzales said. “I’m looking forward to all the new contacts and people I’m going to meet and work with.”
City Manager Debi Lee said she will be writing many of the grants herself. However, she said she will train Gonzales to write the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) which the city has continuously relied on to help fund street repairs and other projects.
“Georgia will oversee probably over 80 percent of our grant funds and special funds that come through the city,” Lee said. “This affects the public because she is the responsible party to make sure these funds are implemented and that our streets and parks are improved.”
Lee said other projects the city has going on which Gonzales will work on include a proposed truck bypass study and animal shelter, city swimming pool and playground equipment improvements.
In overseeing the funds of these projects, Gonzales said she will also make on-site visits to keep track of where progress is being made.
Regarding the MainStreet project, she said, “It is a wonderful program which is basically made up of volunteers. MainStreet has already done a lot downtown and we’re working on still improving the facade of downtown. Upgrading and the sidewalk project have really given a facelift to the downtown area.
“As far as the other projects, we’ve got the money, it’s just basically going through the process of working with architects and getting designs. It’s a lengthy process, but we work with what we’ve got,” she said.