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

Chamber director: It's kind of settling into a grind


April 22, 2020

PORTALES — Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Director Karl Terry had a good word last week when describing the new normal county residents have been dealing with for just over a month now.

“It’s kind of settling into a grind,” Terry said. “We’re adapting and doing things that we normally do at home. I’m about to do a committee meeting online, and we’ve got a board meeting online next week. So we’re adapting.”

Adapting is what everyone is doing in these unprecedented times. As the country moves into its second month of quarantines, business closings, staying at home and sheltering in place, it has indeed become a grind — on people’s patience, on our way of life, on the economy.

Not surprisingly there have been frustrations. A big one arose when it was announced late last week that the well of money made available by the CARES Act had already dried up, while Congress wrangled over approving more emergency funds.

Terry said the wrangling part is frustrating to him and local entrepreneurs.

“They knew that (the money had run out) before they adjourned,” he said of Congress, “and didn’t do anything anyway. So that’s kind of a real downer — that we just couldn’t overcome the partisanship and get the package that we needed. Sooner or later they’ll go back (to Washington), because I imagine the longer the representatives stay in their home district, the more of an earful they’re going to get. So I think they’ll be back at work pretty quickly. I hope.”

In the meantime, there is a lot still to be determined as Roosevelt businesses, like businesses throughout the country, wait for another stimulus package.

“Is there going to be some more money in there for people who didn’t get it?” Terry wondered aloud. “Things like that are some of the things we’re kind of dealing with, and we’ve got several things up in the air as far as where we stand with lifting the closures in relation to events and other things.”

There doesn’t yet seem a clear path to the closures being lifted. President Donald Trump has issued three-step guidelines to re-opening, but as was brought out in bitter debate early last week, it is ultimately up to the governors.

Earlier this month, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham extended her initial stay-at-home order through April 30, but no one is quite sure what will happen beyond then.

“We know what the president’s kind of outlined,” Terry said, “but we don’t know what the governor’s got in mind at this point. That just throws us up in the air as far as our businesses operating. And we have events in the summer that will be affected. Hard to plan right now with things so uncertain.

“We’ll hopefully have a little more information by the time of our next board meeting,” Terry added, “and maybe get a path on events and where else we fit in with our business members as far as helping them get back to business and overcome.”

Not all the news is troubling. Terry said the county has seen a number of “angel donors” in recent weeks. They have purchased gift cards from local restaurants, then brought those cards to first responders and front-line workers.

So, local restaurants received a much-welcomed infusion of cash, while those professionals who can’t work from home, those who are out risking their health, were given some free food.

“It was a double purpose that way,” Terry said. “Somebody says, ‘I’ll put this much in;’ somebody else says, ‘I’ll put this much in.’ Before I knew it, I had over $3,000 (in donations).”

Another bright spot is how Roosevelt County has come together to combat COVID-19.

“It seems our community is doing well in containing the spread of the virus,” Terry noted, with just one confirmed positive case in the county as of Saturday morning.

Still, it’s a scary situation for everyone.

“We have a lot of businesses that are really hurting,” Terry said, “and a lot of uncertainty of when will they be able to get back to business, or will they even have a business?

“That’s the hard part, the kind of thing that’s keeping me up at night. And I don’t even own a business. But it’s worrying me, so you can imagine what people who have invested their whole lives in a business in the local area are going through.”


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