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

By Kevin Wilson

Mask-wearing resolution defeated


Last updated 10/31/2020 at 2:29pm

CLOVIS — Bobby Sandoval has repeatedly dedicated his end-of-meeting commissioner reports to asking Curry County citizens to wear masks and practice social distancing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic wave that has hit the county.

Fellow commissioners decided his message should stay there, and eliminated from Thursday’s special meeting agenda a resolution penned by Sandoval encouraging mask wearing in public. The 3-2 vote essentially had the same effect as defeating the resolution had it remained on the agenda.

Commissioner Seth Martin — who has been critical of mask wearing in prior commission meetings — motioned to remove the agenda item, noting it was redundant to ask citizens to follow a state public health order.

Sandoval said the resolution was “the right thing to do” and said he could cite many instances of the pandemic that could be alleviated or reduced with mask wearing.

The commission has approved resolutions asking the governor’s office to relax public health orders for the benefit of area businesses and to facilitate youth livestock events, but has not done a resolution requesting public adherence to the health orders.

Chairman Ben McDaniel, after noting he felt “people should use COVID-safe guidelines in their daily lives,” gave each commissioner the opportunity to speak on the agenda change.

“We need to do everything we can to help our friends and neighbors, and the only thing we can do that’s proven to help is to wear masks,” Sandoval said. “I know people are tired. I’m tired of seeing our businesses close, I’m tired of our children not being able to go to school, I’m tired of hearing my friends and neighbors died.”

Commissioner Chet Spear seconded Martin’s motion and echoed Martin’s sentiments.

“I think we all appreciate and respect the intention of Commissioner Sandoval,” Spear said. “He reminds us every meeting and encourages the county and its residents to do the right things. It’s the law of the state. Everybody knows that. It’s redundant we have to put something in writing. Our constituents, our neighbors and our friends know we should encourage mask wearing.”

Martin and Spear were joined by Commissioner Robert Thornton in voting to remove the item from the agenda, while McDaniel joined Sandoval in dissent.

In his commissioner’s report at the end of the meeting, Sandoval noted he would continue to encourage mask wearing. He said although some commissioners are tired of his message, he works for his constituents.

In other business at the Thursday meeting:

• The original reason for the special meeting, consideration of entering the next phase of development on the Curry County Courthouse renovations, was not on the agenda. County Manager Lance Pyle said the item wasn’t ready because inclement weather prevented necessary meetings between county officials and architects. The commission is expected to revisit the issue in its Nov. 10 meeting.

The special meeting still took place because the commission frontloaded all of the business it had for a Tuesday meeting it canceled to free up the county clerk’s office for Election Day.

• A request to sign off on a joint powers agreement from the Ute Water Commission was defeated, with commissioners unsure of the point.

The county last year left the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority and moved its reserved water at the Ute Reservoir to the city of Clovis. It remains in the UWC by statute and is an ex officio (non-voting) member because it doesn’t have a share of water.

Spear wasn’t sure why the county remained in the water commission, since he saw it as having the same power as anybody off the street. County Attorney Steve Doerr said the county retains the opportunity to buy back in later, and Thornton said the county retains its voice.

“Anybody off the street gets just three minutes,” Thornton said. “Even as an ex officio member, we would have the floor for whatever we decided to do.”

Thornton said it was a simple matter of getting a county signature, but thought, “it was better to bring it before the commission instead of just getting it pencil-whipped.”

Thornton was joined by Sandoval in a vote for the approval. Martin and McDaniel voted against, with McDaniel saying he didn’t completely understand the purpose of the vote. Spear abstained.

• The commission approved four CARES Act grants of $10,000 each to Go Fitness, Motel 6, Mom’s Cafe and Yo Tea Go. Expenses covered by the grants included vendor payment assistance, utility assistance, insurance and rent.

• A proclamation was approved recognizing November as Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in the county. McDaniel said he had relatives suffer from the condition and, “there’s no other way to put it; it’s a cruel disease and it’s a horrible way to watch someone go.”

• The commission approved a budget adjustment to reflect a recent $50,000 donation by the Yesway convenience store chain to fund its Imagination Library efforts.

The program mails a book each month to a child 5 or younger who registers for the program. Pyle said the county has 573 children in the program, with 929 children graduated and a total 41,877 books mailed out.

Martin credited McDaniel, noting securing the donation included plenty of unseen work.

• The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 10.


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