By Lily Martin
Staff writer 

Roosevelt County officials review pandemic-related challenges


Last updated 10/6/2020 at 4:06pm

PORTALES — Roosevelt County officials provided commissioners with a review of a few pandemic-related challenges both statewide and in the county during its Tuesday morning meeting.

County Manager Amber Hamilton presented information on unemployment given by the New Mexico Tax and Revenue Department and the Department of Finance. Unemployment for the state peaked in July at 12.7%; Roosevelt’s peak of 10.3% took place in July as well. For August, the state rate was 11.3% and Roosevelt was 8.8%. The most severe declines in unemployment were in the leisure and hospitality areas.

In the same report, Moody Analytics estimated New Mexico will recover to pre-COVID employment levels in 2025.

In other business at the Tuesday meeting:

• Detention Center Administrator Justin Porter reported the facility had 44 men and nine women in custody, with 11 of the detainees from outside the county.

Porter also reported a quicker turnaround on COVID-19 tests, with an average of seven days now compared to twice that in months past. Over September, the facility tested 200 detainees and about 60 staff.

Hamilton commended the detention center for not having experienced an outbreak at their facility, and being able to keep cases contained when they do emerge.

• Road Superintendent Ricky Lovato said the department has been busy, with projects including laying down chip seal on South Roosevelt Road 7 from 7 to S, widening North Roosevelt Road D for farmers and fixing the lake bottom on a baseline road off of the Floyd highway.

• Hamilton said the county is continuing to watch the U.S. Drought Monitor in consideration of a potential burn ban. A ban goes into effect at the “extreme drought” designation, and the county is in the “severe drought” designation.

• Various county employees were recognized for work anniversaries between one and 15 years of service.

• Seferino Montano of La Casa proposed changes for its building, including three additional dental chairs, a storage unit to eliminate rental costs and xeriscaping to lower water bills that reach around $2,000 in summer months.

La Casa will also be installing automatic doors for accessibility, and a new roof is planned before the end of the year. La Casa is covering the project costs.

• The commission approved adjustments for hail damage claims from June. The claims are expected to be nearly $2 million, with 40 vehicles and numerous buildings affected.

“Basically every roof that the commission is responsible for sustained some type of damage ” Hamilton said.

Roofing on the courthouse, rated to withstand hurricane forces, needed less repair. Hamilton said the intent is to work with local contractors, but there may be some outsourcing for expediency.

• Four vehicles from the Sheriff's Office and detention center were approved for public auction due to their high mileage.

• Hamilton provided an update on the county’s CARES Act Grant. Nine applications have been submitted so far for small businesses in Roosevelt County.

• The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 20.


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