Daycare, educational facility looks to expand

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Portales City Councilors, during their regular meeting Tuesday, gave the go-ahead for Eastern Plains Head Start to expand its facility at 501 E. First St. onto adjacent city land currently being used as a park.

EPHS plans on placing a modular building on the location and expand parking and playground area to accommodate its Early Head Start program which serves pregnant women, infants and toddlers. That program is currently located in leased space on South Avenue D that will be coming out of lease soon.

“We propose to relocate the EHS program so that we may reduce overall costs of operation and better serve children and families by providing child care and preschool education in the same location,” said Mary Rose Jimenez, Head Start director, in a letter to City Manager Debi Lee.

Jimenez told the council EPHS has an architect working on the site layout and the remainder of the property could be left available as a city park. She said they would spend the next year getting funding and would seek to have the facility operational by summer 2008.
Mayor Orlando Ortega noted that by the time everything is said and done it may be better for Head Start to utilize the whole property than to try to maintain a small part as a park.

“There’s a real demand for that (daycare) in our community,” Ortega said.

Ortega said that in talking with Air Force Special Operations officials, who will have people moving to Cannon Air Force Base over the next few years, they are very interested in daycare — particularly daycare for special needs children.

Head Start currently leases the former senior center on First Street, which they remodeled to their purposes at no cost. They seek to add the additional space onto the same lease.

In other business the council:
• Approved the interim budget. Lee noted revenues are up and all reserve funds except the water/waste water fund were flush. She said it would be possible to utilize as much as $250,000 in reserves for discretionary projects such as roofing buildings and other items that had been deferred.

The interim budget is due to the state June 1. The final budget will be considered by the council in mid-July.

• Appointed Robert De Los Santos to the Roosevelt County Community Development board. They also instructed the city manager to seek citizen applicants for an additional seat on that board.

• Approved contracts with Portales Municipal Schools, Portales Softball Association and Roosevelt County Little League for use of facilities.

• Instructed the city attorney to proceed with legal action on a public nuisance property at the corner of West 18th Street and South Avenue L.