County hopes for project funding from Legislature

January 21, 2014 • Local News

As the 30-day legislative session begins [auth] today, Chaves County will wait to hear whether a wish list of projects it submitted will be approved for funding.

The county submitted 10 funding requests to its state legislators for road construction, a walking trail, public dumpsites, a new fire engine and other projects.

In total, $2.66 million in Chaves County projects were put into a “book” that will be handed to local representatives, said Hubert Quintana, executive director of Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District.

The projects are prioritized, according to need.

“We just wait to find out whether we were successful in any of our funding requests,” said Chaves County Development Director Charlotte Andrade.

The county’s first priority is a $500,000 request to fix Hobson Road. The road has deteriorated and needs to be rebuilt from N.M. 256 to the east.

The second biggest priority listed is a $500,000 request to fund the construction of a retention pond, improve storm water drainage and construct a dog park and Americans with Disabilities-compliant walking trail in the area around the county administration building.

The trail would run around Southeast Main Street to Hobbs Street. The retention pond would be built along Hobbs Street, according to a depiction provided by the county.

Another project requested includes a $101,000 funding request for garbage “convenience centers.” The county proposes to purchase six large compactors to be placed at locations in the county and allow residents to dispose of residential waste. The idea would be to decrease litter and debris that is now illegally dumped.

A fourth project is to fund $200,000 for a fire engine for Sierra Volunteer Fire Department. Berrendo Volunteer Fire Department’s Main Station is also requesting $500,000 to expand or replace an outdated station to provide better housing of larger equipment. Midway Volunteer Fire Department is also requesting $100,000 for new command vehicles.

The county is also looking for $60,000 for new rescue tools for the East Grand Plains district.

A $400,000 request was submitted for a new voting warehouse to house voting machines that are now stored in the west wing of the county building.

The county has also submitted a request for $174,000 to purchase five passenger vans and one nine-to-12 passenger van for the Veterans’ Transportation Network of Southeast New Mexico.

The last request is for Save Our Youth Mariachi for $130,000.

Andrade said local legislative representatives, who convened at the county chambers two weeks ago, asked questions about the requests and were receptive.

“It seemed to go well,” Andrade said.

Quintana will be on hand throughout the session in Santa Fe to answer any questions state representatives have, he said.

“We provide technical assistance to our legislators,” Quintana said.

Quintana estimates $260 million will be available in severance tax bonds for capital outlay projects this year. Last year, $138 million was available.

Each project proposed will become a separate legislative bill. Quintana is taking with him at least a couple of hundred projects, he said.

SNMEDD is the largest planning district in the state, covering more than 26,000 square miles.

The bills are not given a final blessing and signed until the final days of the session, Quintana said.

“It just depends on how much money becomes available,” he said.

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