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Commissioners approve bids on long-planned projects

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Part of the two-phase Chaves County Fitness and Walking Trails project would involve improving this area on Southeast Main Street near East Hobbs Street, including incorporating and refurbishing the iconic sign that many in the area remember from their youth. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Chaves County commissioners officially accepted $6.2 million in state funding Thursday and voted for bids for two improvement projects, one of which will be funded in part by the current appropriations.

Commissioners voted 5-0 during their regular monthly meeting to accept the capital outlay funding on seven items that had been approved by the 2020 New Mexico Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The items included $200,000 to develop a walking and fitness trail near the Chaves County Administrative Center at 1 St. Mary’s Place; $75,000 for a cooling system at the Chaves County Courthouse on North Virginia Avenue; $5 million for site work and infrastructure development at the Roswell Air Center; $80,000 for security system upgrades at various county facilities; $125,000 for cooling system upgrades at the administrative center; $400,000 for security system improvements at the courthouse; and $235,000 for Sheriff’s Office vehicles.

Later in the meeting, the elected officials unanimously approved bids for the first phases of two projects, the replacement of historic windows at the courthouse and the development of the walking and fitness trail, both of which have been planned for many years.

The first bid accepted was from Phoenix Restoration and Construction Ltd. of Texas for $285,277 for the window restoration project.

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The first phase will involve replacing the windows in the dome and the third level of the courthouse. County staff said that they have been deteriorating over the past 100 years, with leaks and other problems as a result.

“This is one of those things we have been talking about since I became a commissioner,” said Robert Corn, who began serving on the commission in January 2013. He noted that the project has required years of planning, coordination with various governmental entities and negotiations for funding.

Public Services Director Bill Williams said the county has to ensure that the windows will retain their same appearance because the windows are in the historic section of the building and any improvements have to be done according to the guidelines of the State Historic Preservation Office. While the windows will be reconstructed to look the same, they will be upgraded and modernized, he said.

The county cannot do all the windows in the historic section of the building because the bids for the first- and second-level windows came in at $1 million. He said each window is different and the construction company must measure and build each one individually.

With the approval of the bid, county staff now will negotiate with Phoenix Restoration, with the plans to bring a contract in October to the commissioners for their approval.

The other bid approved was $328,508 by Constructors Inc. of Carlsbad for the first part of the development of a fitness and walking trail around the administrative center.

Williams said the trail will include low-impact and handicap-accessible fitness stations near the medical and business offices that lease space in county buildings directly to the south of the administrative center. More intensive training stations for deputies or others will be located near the Sheriff’s Office, which is housed in the administrative center.

The trail is envisioned as going entirely around the administrative center and the county office buildings and also would include landscaping, exercise equipment, a decorative bridge and benches.

The nonprofit Keep Chaves County Beautiful intends to help with the project, Williams said, by providing signage, benches, trees, plants and trash cans.

“It should be very nice for this part of town, for all of the community actually, but especially for people in this area,” said Williams. “It will be a pretty extensive trail.”

He also said the Terrace Hills Miniature Golf sign near the detention pond on Southeast Main Street will be refurbished and fitted with LED lights so that it can remain a part of the area. He said it is a sign that has sentimental value for many people in the area.

“Probably about on an average of once a month, we get a call from somebody who wants that sign,” he said.

Williams said it is anticipated that the trail will be used not only by county employees and people working or visiting the office complex, but by the entire community.

Phase one of the trail is expected to be completed in the first half of 2021. Phase two will require additional funding before work can begin. The county has the project on its Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan for possible future legislative allocations and also could decide to set aside its own funds for the project in the years ahead.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.