City youth program aims to improve rec center

By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer

To employ youth, create murals in the Portales Recreation Center and clean up that facility, the City of Portales is entering into an agreement with the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps.

At their meeting Tuesday night in City Hall, city councilors approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute the agreement, contingent upon the addition of language specifying that the city would own the murals. Eastern New Mexico University art students are to create the paintings with help from Portales young people, City Manager Debi Lee said.

According to the resolution, the Youth Conservation Corps will provide about $14,000 for the project, and the city will provide $2,500.

“The focus is that we employ youth,” Lee said.

The city manager wants to get young people involved in the community, and she said all ages could help with the murals.

City Community Affairs Coordinator Nicole Wilkening applied for the grant money from the Youth Conservation Corps.

“Students and youth from the local community will learn responsibility, cleanup procedures, mural basics, ethics and the importance of quality infrastructure improvements,” Wilkening said in a written statement. “Employed youth will clean up the inside of the recreation center, repaint existing walls, and create murals to enhance the atmosphere and create community buy-in to the facility.”

Lee said the murals might be painted on boards or canvas so they could be moved if the Recreation Center changed buildings. The city has no ideas for the mural design yet, she said, but she wants to solicit public input and show the community the resulting design.

In other business, councilors:

• Awarded a bid for $699,000 to Hamon Contractors Inc. for work on the Industrial Park water loop.

• Recognized Fire Chief John Bridges for 20 years of service, Police Chief Jeff Gill for 15 years of service, and Lee for five years of service to the city.

• Adopted a strategic plan.

• Authorized Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. to enter into a contract with Code Studio of Austin, Texas, to create a downtown comprehensive master plan for $50,000. The planning is funded by a grant from the New Mexico Economic Development Department.