Commissioners use new ordinance to enact fire ban

By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor

After discussion Tuesday threatened to revisit Roosevelt County’s fire ban ordinance, county commissioners instead put a ban in place utilizing the provisions within the ordinance adopted last year.

Commissioner Gene Creighton said he had concerns that the ordinance wording still wasn’t adequate. He felt that verbage providing for local fire departments to be notified prior to a controlled burn simply placed more responsibility on local departments without addressing the problem.

“The way it reads now, all they (residents) have to do is call in and 24 hours later they can set the fire,” Creighton said. “Right now it’s like not having a ban.”

Creighton suggested that wording in the ordinance be changed so that residents would have to get approval from commissioners to burn when a resolution prohibiting burning is in effect under the ordinance.

Commissioners Paul Grider and David Sanders along with County Attorney Randy Knudson said they didn’t believe it was that easy to change the wording and feared it would reopen the whole fire ban debate that erupted last year.

“We agreed in our meeting (to outline the ordinance) that there ought to be a call placed, whether they (departments) do a standby or not,” Knudson said. “The departments made it pretty clear they wouldn’t be able to do standbys.”

Sanders said he wasn’t against putting a fire ban resolution in place, he just wanted to make sure any changes were done right.
“I think we could give this resolution a chance for a month or so and see how it works out,” Commissioner Bill Cathey said referring to the process as it stands.
The resolution passed by a 3-1 vote with Grider dissenting and Commissioner Dennis Lopez absent.

The resolution banning burning as outlined in the ordinance goes into effect until commissioners rescind it. According to County Manager Charlene Hardin this is the first time the ban provisions of the ordinance have been put into effect since it was enacted.

Commissioners also cleared the way for work to begin on remodeling the new office space for the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Portales by selecting Davtek of Clovis as construction management for the project.

Davtek’s proposal was rated over BRC Construction of Clovis in evaluations by District Attorney Matt Chandler, Kevin Spears of the district attorney’s office and Hardin.

Davtek was construction manager on a similar project for the district attorney’s office in Clovis recently.

The project is funded through a $180,000 appropriation from the state legislature along with $80,000 from the county, according to Hardin. Construction should get under way soon with a goal of occupying the space by the end of June.