Published: 1:00 pm, Wed. Jun. 29th, 2016Updated: 2:14 pm
After their biannual tour of the Eddy County Detention Center in Carlsbad, the Eddy County Commission hosted a public hearing on the intent to vacate all or certain portions of multiple Eddy County roads Tuesday at its regularly-scheduled meeting.
The roads in question included Kingsnake Road (CR 419), Gypsum Road (CR 425), Ogden Road (CR 718), Catfish Lane (CR 726), Cooksey Ranch Road (CR 723), and Nicholas Road (CR 744).
By vacating all or sections of these roads, Eddy County would no longer own them and therefore no longer be responsible for their maintenance.
A board of five people, chosen by commissioners and dubbed the Freeholders Board, physically viewed and evaluated each of the roads and decided the five chosen were the most underused and difficult to maintain. Legal ads were purchased in both the Daily Press and the Carlsbad Current-Argus June 8 discussing the public hearing.
In total, the county intends to vacate all or portions of 22 roads. Assistant County Manager Kenny Rayroux said the discussion of the roads has been broken up into several meetings.
“I didn’t just want to overwhelm one meeting with 20-something roads,” said Rayroux. “So we’re going to do about a half-dozen roads at a time in the next four meetings and go through this process.”
Most of the roads in question passed without many comments from the public, with the exception of the future owners of Ogden Road, Alisa and Craig Ogden, as well as Francis Beeman, an Eddy County resident.
The Ogdens acknowledged the fact the county’s decision to vacate Ogden Road would mean the only entrance to Lookout Cemetery would potentially be through their private property.
“The primary reason for all of us wanting that road vacated is for the safety of not having all of the trucks going through our place of business,” Alisa Ogden said.
Beeman, on the other hand, was opposed to the vacation of the roads. During his public comment, he suggested temporary tax increases or using reserve funds and/or county expenditure adjustments to put more money toward road maintenance.
“When the roads are closed, they’re closed permanently; they’re never coming back,” said Beeman. “There’re never going to be any more county roads in that spot, and I think before all these roads are taken out, they should be looked at one at a time.”
The commissioners voted not to vacate sections of Catfish Lane (CR 726) and Nicholas Road (CR 744) due to recommendations from landowners; therefore, the potential road vacations, depending on approval from the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), are as follows:
• Kingsnake Road (CR 419) from CR 418 to Ranch; one mile
• Gypsum Road (CR 425) from intersection with CR 424 south to a locked gate; one mile
• Ogden Road (CR 718) from CR 716 to CR 720; two miles
• Cooksey Ranch Road (CR 723) from U.S. 285 to Ranch; .9 mile
In other business, the commissioners voted to move the public comment and announcements section to the top of the commission agenda, as per the request of Commissioner Susan Crockett.
“Given our April and May meetings and the amount of public comments that we had, and talking with a friend of mine who happens to be a department head here in the county … it’s my feelings that we should move the public comments to the beginning of the meeting,” said Crockett. “It gives people a chance to talk to us prior to us voting on any items. Right now, if they want to speak to us regarding an issue, they have to talk to us after we’ve already voted. I think we owe it to our constituents and to the public to move it to the beginning of the agenda.”
The Artesia Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) requested the commissioners consider voting not to accept checks at the MVD office in Artesia. Staff stated this is due to the State MVD mandating an account change that will place all liability of bad checks back on Eddy County, which in turn will place an additional liability on the Artesia office.
The total dollar amount of checks collected from April 2015 to April 2016 in the Artesia MVD office was $943,569.14. The county voted to approve the request.
The Cavern City Child Advocacy Center (CCCAC) requested an additional $15,272 be added to the $4,728 currently appropriated to the organization, for a total of $20,000.
The group gave a presentation on the organization, its actions, and its plans for the future, to advocate for the increase in funding. One of the biggest improvements the CCCAC has made is completing the remodel of and training to conduct Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) services locally.
The commissioners approved the additional funding, with the $15,272 coming from the contingency fund.