Curry County declared 'emergency area' in response to COVID-19
March 29, 2020
CLOVIS — Curry County is now an “emergency area” in response to COVID-19 concerns. That means officials have laid groundwork for potential state and federal funding to help with ongoing shutdowns.
The Curry County Commission met Friday morning via teleconference for a special meeting at which it made the declaration. County Manager Lance Pyle said he’d been advised to do so by the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security, National Association of Counties and other entities.
As of March 20, the county has lost roughly $79,000 because of COVID-19, mainly revenue from canceled events at the Events Center. Roughly $15,000 of that sum included protective gear and cleaning supplies for staff and projects like the installation of a dropbox to help accommodate residents with county buildings shut down.
The declaration also allows the state to ensure compliance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s public assistance program and will help justify any emergency costs from the county, Pyle said.
County Attorney Steve Doerr said the resolution allows the county to modify the personnel policies to make changes to help deal with the pandemic. Doerr added that the restrictions put in place by state and federal government have made such changes necessary.
Clovis Emergency Manager Dan Heerding said there is no “crisis” in the county itself, but the declaration is still important because it will allow the county to accept any federal funds that might be provided. Heerding added that he expects the state government to declare a state of emergency like the federal government has, which in addition to the local declaration would allow the county to take advantage of federal funds. What is and isn’t reimbursable is still being decided.
Other action items included:
• The commission approved a contract allowing Curry County to send juvenile detainees to San Juan County from May 1 to April 30, 2021. The Curry County Juvenile Detention Center remains open, but County Manager Lance Pyle announced earlier this year that the county may consider closing it.
Commissioner Chet Spear requested Pyle and Detention Center Administrator Mark Gallegos prepare a presentation for the commission’s next in-person meeting to help the commission understand the pros and cons of a closure.
• The commission approved a request to auction or salvage two trucks from the Road Department and a budget increase for the Road Department to pay off two leased Caterpillars.
• Pyle said the county has begun working on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget despite also dealing with COVID-19 issues.