Rains quench county fire ban

By Thomas Garcia: PNT staff writer

The Roosevelt County commissioners lifted a fire ban in Roosevelt County because of recent rains.

Portales has received 2.14 inches of rain since July 7, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

Commissioner Paul Grider made the motion for lifting the burn ban.

“We have received a lot of moisture throughout the county,” Grider said.

“If we continue to have the ban in place when it is not needed, people will ignore it when it is necessary,” Commissioner Gene Creighton said.

Portales Fire Chief John Bridges also advised the commission before its vote that the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department had lifted its fire ban.

The ban had been in place since April 7 and included prohibiting campfires on state park lands and open burning of crops on a field unless the field was properly irrigated.

Bridges had recommended that the commission stay in line with the state in regards to their fire bans.

Residents are still required to notify the fire department prior to burning any materials. There is a 24-hour notification required for the burning agricultural waste such as field stubble.

Notification is important because they prevent the fire department from responding to calls that turn out to be controlled burns, Bridges said.

The commission also discussed a drainage issue that exists on the corner of South Roosevelt Road Q and East Roosevelt Road 7.

“It is a major problem when it rains heavy,” Roosevelt County Road Manager John Bohm said.

The house at the corner is almost under water and the county has tried to divert the water without any success, Bohm said.

To try divert the water, work has been done on existing ditches on both sides of RR 7. The idea is to run the water back west away from the home, but utility lines located on both sides of the ditch prevent the ditch from being deepened, Bohm said

“We have approached the city about diverting the water behind the landfill,” Roosevelt County Manager, Charlene Hardin said.

Portales Public Works director Tom Howell said that when the landfill was closed a cap was placed over it. The cap is designed to hold rain water and prevent it from seeping into the closed landfill. It was not designed to handle additional flood water, Howell said,

“Any additional water on top of the landfill could possibly bypass the cap and contaminate the ground water below,” Howell said.

Other items before the board included:

• The commissioners approved the courthouse parking lot design proposal presented by Portales City Manager Debi Lee.

The proposal is part of the Downtown Master Plan that was approved July 1 by the Portales City Council.

“I most definitely approve of the proposal,” Commissioner Dennis Lopez said. “It will improve Downtown Portales 10-fold. I would like to see it completed before I am out of the commission or soon after.”

• Three road viewers were appointed by the commission to determine if a one-mile section of South Roosevelt Road T should be closed.

A petition to close the road was made by David Stone. A previous petition was filed by Stone in 1999 and denied by the commission. At the time, 90 acres owned by Herman Rhoades was at the end of Roosevelt Road T and the closure would prevent access to that property.

Stone owns land adjacent to Roosevelt Road T and the road dead-ends on his property.

“The three road viewers will examine the stretch of road in question and recommend to the commission if it should be closed or remain open,” Hardin said. “The commission will make the final decision on whether to close or keep the road open.”

Stone’s petition contends that the road has not been maintained by the county in the past four years and is not used by the public.