“Welcome to Portales. Home of 12,000 friendly people and three or four old grouches” is the slogan on a sign that greeted travelers entering the north end of Portales for more than 30 years.
Toppled by a wayward truck almost three weeks ago, the signs’ founder and Portales resident and J.P. Stone Community Bank owner David Stone said a new sign will once again be giving travelers on U.S. 70 a warm welcome.
“It was my idea to do that thing and a lot of times, people don’t like your ideas but this was one idea of mine that people liked and a lot of people have come to take pictures of it,” Stone said. “You can’t imagine the amount of national publications who have had that thing in it.”
Stone said the sign, along with the landscaping around it, originally cost around $25,000, but should be less this time because some of the landscape was unharmed in the accident.
Signman Signs of Portales is creating the new sign.
“The background is still going to have text overlay against the sky and a windmill but there’s a little more color,” Signman Signs owner Seth Pritchett said. “We’re going to be replacing a vinyl wrap with printed aluminum panels and three dimensional lettering.”
Pritchett said the 12-foot tall by 36-foot long replacement sign is expected to be completed and set up at the previous location by Christmas.
Lt. Mark Cage of the Portales Police Department said the cause of the accident was driver fatigue.
The commercial vehicle, owned by Dee King Trucking of Amarillo, struck the Portales sign and came to rest on its side at 2 a.m. in the parking lot of the Stripes convenience store on First Street in Portales.
Portales Mayor Sharon King said she knows that the sign frequently makes New Mexico travelers feel welcome and at home when they come through town.
“I personally love the sign, so I’m glad he’s going to replace it,” she said. “I’ve been all over the state and had people frequently comment to me about it and about the old grouches on it, so I know they like it too.”