By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Portales city councilors discussed the feasibility of adding a fire substation on the north side of Portales and the possibility of expanding the law enforcement center at Tuesday’s meeting.
Roosevelt County Commissioner Dennis Lopez addressed councilors on the topics, saying he had received several calls from people in North Portales in his six years as a commissioner concerned about emergency services possibly being delayed because of trains blocking tracks.
Since the line has been leased to BNSF Railway, Lopez said rail traffic has become much busier, and he worries it may eventually pose a problem.
“I just want to open it up for discussion and get some feedback,” Lopez said.
Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. said the discussion was not a new one for the city but something that had been on city officials’ minds for a while. He thanked Lopez for bringing it back to the forefront and raising the awareness level of the problem.
“As our community grows, we’re going to have more needs and we need to put public safety first,” Ortega said.
Lopez said he realized the process would take a long time. He commented that this was the first time in his tenure all commissioners were willing to work on the problem.
Portales Fire Chief Raul Muniz told the PNT his office had not had an incident of delayed response since he took over in late 2005. He said planning alternate routes and communication with police have always allowed response within the required 3 to 5 minutes in North Portales.
“Our efforts are to plan for future expansion, and I feel it’s important for the safety of the public to do that (plan),” Muniz said.
Ortega suggested the matter be referred to the city’s public safety committee and the city pursue a serious study of the needs.
City Manager Debi Lee agreed that the timing was right to get started and said the city also needed to look at police needs and possible expansion of the law enforcement center as well.
In other business councilors:
• Awarded a contract for the first phase of the city pool renovations to Nixon Construction for $84,000.
• Heard a report from Tower Twin Theater manager Michelle Goodwin about the premiere of the locally filmed movie “Believe In Me.”
• Heard an update on the Roosevelt County Emergency Preparedness Plan.
• Approved a proclamation naming Feb. 28 Floyd McAlister Day in honor of the retiring county extension agent.