Stubborn self-reliance source of pride

By Karl Terry: PNT managing editor

Roosevelt County folks are a proud lot and the largest percentage of them are ready to live-and-let-live without much concern about what their neighbors are doing.

It’s downright hard to get them riled up, but once you do they’re a stubborn bunch. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

County residents, mostly people living inside a one-mile zone that has been studied as an ETZ (extraterritorial zone) packed the Memorial building to standing room only Thursday night and stood in line to make comments and ask questions addressing their fears that government was coming across their fenceline, possibly with new regulations they wouldn’t like.

They made their point resoundingly, and my guess is that after Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. offers a final report to the City Council and the County Commission there won’t be any further effort to proceed.

Only a couple of people spoke out in favor of creating an ETZ, one of those expressed fear in doing so but I truly believe that fear is unfounded. Most of the people in the room are concerned with their own business and their own problems and I don’t believe — at least I would certainly hope that everyone can accept the opinions expressed and get along together tomorrow.

Someone asked me the day after the meeting if what happened didn’t make me embarrassed for the people of Portales. I told the person that, no, it didn’t make me feel embarrassed at all. I grew up here and I know what people are like. I knew most of the folks who were there in fact.

In reflecting on it a little more, not only am I not embarrassed, I would say I’m pretty proud to claim those types of people as my own.

Those of us who grew up in the dirt of Roosevelt County know our neighbors are fiercely independent and self-reliant. If that stock hadn’t been in place here no one would have ever stayed through the droughts, sandstorms and economic bad times.

The mayor and his staff should be commended for bringing the ideas forward because there is no doubt there have been conflicts and complaints arising as we begin to grow for the first time in more than half a century. It’s doubtful that the time is here to enact more regulation. How we all act as neighbors will determine when or if that time comes.

Thursday’s meeting, even if it seemed rough around the edges, is the way government works. Some were upset that they couldn’t cast a vote and make ETZ go away that evening but they still had a voice. Their representatives — I’m quite sure, heard them loud and clear.

Karl Terry is managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481, ext. 33 or e-mail