Current DWI program set for sunset

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Quay County’s DWI program is winding up its current program so that it can be born again with its services provided by contract.
Pending changes in the program’s staff and administration follow a decision made in January by the Quay County Commission to no longer be the program’s fiscal agent.

After several failed attempts to get another governmental agency to become its fiscal agent, which approves and pays its expenditures, the DWI program, effective July 1, can no longer operate, said Noreen Hendrickson, program coordinator.

Wayne Cunningham, who was the then-interim county manager, told the commission earlier this year that the DWI program took up too many county man hours in fiscal administration. The commission voted to no longer be the program’s fiscal agent.

Without a fiscal agent, the program can no longer obtain state grants to operate, said Hendrickson. Grant funding comes to the program from the state’s liquor excise tax revenues.

At its regular monthly meeting on Monday, the DWI program staff and members of the DWI Task Force discussed its demise and what’s in the future for the program until the end of next month.

On June 30, Hendrickson and two staff members, Isabel Aragon and Vicki Strand, will no longer have a job, said Richard Primrose, Quay County manger, who attended the meeting.

Primrose said the county planned to re-open the DWI program at its current offices.

He said a request for proposals to offer services for misdemeanor court compliance, such as urine analysis, would be advertised soon. He said a service and not necessarily an individual person would be providing the courts with its compliance testing and processes for persons on probation who have been convicted of driving while intoxicated, substance abuse and other crimes.

Primrose said the county would be saving money because it would no longer be paying benefits, such as medical insurance, to the three employees in the program. Catherine Bugg, who attended the meeting, said the county did not pay DWI program employee benefits because those costs were covered in the state grants.

Hendrickson confirmed those costs were covered in the grants and were not taken from the county budget.

Members of the DWI’s Task Force, which serves as an advisory group to the program, said they were uncertain of their future.
The county DWI program is charged by the state to have a task force that serves as its advisory panel.

Pam Tompkins, president of the task force, asked Primrose what members of the task force should do if they wanted to serve on the new task force that would be associated with the new program.

Primrose said they should write a letter to his office indicating their interest in serving on the new task force.

The new program will start with $68,803 award from the state following a request by Franklin McCasland, chairman of the county commission, and Richard Primrose to the Department of Finance and Administration in Santa Fe.

In April, Tompkins and Tucumcari Police Chief Larry Ham, who is a member of the task force, said they were not certain how the county could request funds without the task force’s approval. Officials from the Department of Finance and Administration said that members of the task force did not have to sign off on the request for funds, according to a query from Catherine Bugg.

Other items discussed at the meeting were activities of the Tucumcari Police Department, New Mexico State Police and others regarding arrests of DWI offenders in the area.