The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

County breaks ground on jail addition


May 23, 2018

Tony Bullocks

Curry County Detention Center Administrator Mark Gallegos talks about the jail renovations, while Curry County Commissioner Ben McDaniel listens.

CLOVIS - Current and former Curry County officials looked to turn the page on Tuesday as the county held a ceremonial groundbreaking for its detention center addition and renovation project that has been debated for nearly a decade.

"We're starting a new chapter in our history of our county today and we're ending an old chapter," former Commissioner Bobby Sandoval said. "The new chapter is great that we're doing this. The old chapter that I'm talking about is a sad chapter that we worked very hard, we hoped, we dreamt, we prayed that we could get this done quite a few years ago."

The old chapter Sandoval spoke of was marked by more than just the inability to get the jail project off the ground. The county first started looking into the detention center renovation project in 2008 after multiple successful escape attempts by inmates held at the jail.

"Over the last several years our detention center has improved by leaps and bounds," Commissioner Ben McDaniel said. "When I started on the commission in 2013, the detention center was a mess. That is no longer the case."

The county had difficulty securing funding for the project. Three bond elections that would have raised property taxes to pay for the renovations were each rebuked by voters before the county commission voted in 2014 to raise gross receipts taxes by .25 percent. That will generate $14 million for the detention center project and the county's new administration offices on Gidding Street.

"In our minds we supported that because it wasn't just the property owners that was going to pay for this thing, it was everybody who bought a Coke, bottle of water, somebody driving through and bought some gas," former Commissioner Wendell Bostwick said.

The renovation and addition will include a new housing unit, medical unit, recreation yards, pre-booking area, video visitation areas, heating system, security electronics and a salleyport at a cost of $11.56 million.

Architect Ted Shelton from ASA Architects spoke to the crowd of several dozen public officials and community members about the challenges in designing a safe facility to hold criminals, while not having the employees feel like they too are in jail

"This is a building that must be functional, secured, safe and as pleasant as possible," Shelton said.

Officials were optimistic the project, estimated to be complete by October 2019, will mark the start of a bright future for the county and its detention center.

"This is only the beginning of what's going to happen over the next two years," jail administrator Mark Gallegos said.


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