By Kevin Wilson

Clovis chips in on feasibility study


Last updated 3/20/2021 at 2:57pm

CLOVIS — Calling it a needed project, the Clovis city commission chipped in Thursday on a feasibility study to bring a regional inpatient psychiatric hospital and mental health facility to Clovis.

By an 8-0 vote, the commission on Thursday pledged $29,400 — 49% of the total cost, based on its population that would be served — to the study.

The study, recommended by the United Way of Eastern New Mexico’s Youth Service Program, would assess the overall need, costs of land acquisition and employee recruitment, and available funding sources.

The memorandum of agreement also includes the cities of Portales and Tucumcari and Curry, Roosevelt, Quay and De Baca counties.

District 1 Commissioner Leo Lovett said he had an unrelated conversation with mental health leaders about a month prior, and that he could certainly get behind the study.

“It’s not just the dollars to open it; it’s the dollars to keep it open,” Lovett said. “We’ve got to know why (previous providers) closed, and make sure we avoid the major pitfalls.”

District 3 Commissioner Helen Casaus gave the study her full support and said that speaking as a nurse, “it’s absolutely needed.”

• District 3 Commissioners Fidel Madrid and Casaus expressed disappointment proposed capital outlay awards did not include improvements to Seventh Street or Martin Luther King Boulevard.

“Since my representative doesn’t own any land on MLK or on Seventh,” Madrid said, “I guess it’s never going to get done.”

Casaus said she had similar reservations, and noted seeing a man and woman in wheelchairs trying to get to the hospital.

“I guess it’s going to take somebody getting hurt or killed before we do something with Martin Luther King,” Casaus said. “There’s no sidewalk where they can walk or travel in their wheelchair safely down the road.”

The News extended a message to Rep. Martin Zamora, R-Clovis, whose representation includes District 3, but no response was received.

• The commission approved a change to Atriuum Book Systems for software services at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.

Head Librarian Margaret Hinchee said the city’s current provider, Innovative/Polaris, charges more than $10,000 per year and continues with annual increases of at least 5%.

The change would require a $6,385 data buyout from Innovative next May and $12,000 in first-year fees from Atriuum to build the new system, but future annual fees would be around $5,200.

• The commission appointed Thomas Martin back to his District 3 position on the public works committee, and elected Gene Porter to the District 2 position.

Porter said he didn’t know much about public works, except that it was a team effort and he felt like giving back to the community.

“I feel like I’m full of energy and bring a great perspective,” Porter said.

Russ Backoff, who was unable to attend the meeting, applied to retain his position.

Porter was elected on a 5-3 vote, with votes from Commissioners Lovett, Casaus, Madrid, Gary Elliott and Lauren Rowley. Voting for Backoff were Mayor Pro Tem Chris Bryant and Commissioners Juan Garza and Megan Palla.

• In his report, Morris said after his first meeting with the senior services committee he got a reminder of everything the department is doing despite the pandemic. He noted the Friendship Senior Center is doing numerous online activities and delivering nearly 250 meals per day to residents.

“I just applaud Barbara Riggan (department director) and everybody in Senior Services for their efforts,” Morris said.

• Morris said he is reaching out to the governor’s office about tweaking its “Red to Green” metrics for COVID-19 infections and requisite public health orders.

Counties are scored every two weeks based on whether they have 8 or fewer daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and test positivity of 5% or lower. Red counties meet neither, yellow counties meet one, green counties meet both and turquoise counties stay green for consecutive data periods.

Morris is concerned rising vaccination numbers will mean lower testing numbers.

“If you’re tracking, we have a good chance to go to green,” Morris said. “I would hate for the positivity rate to give us trouble.”

• The next meeting is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. April 1.


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