Conchas aims to save its deputy sheriff and his home

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Some Conchas residents are signing petitions and pooling their resources to save their Deputy Sheriff John T. Hartigan and the deputy’s county-owned residence.

“We need law enforcement out here,” Ed Wright, manager of the Conchas North Dock Marina, said.

Without a resident law enforcement officer, response times to emergencies and accidents go up.

Also, the presence of an officer and county marked vehicles helps to deter crime and adds to the protection of citizens and property, community leaders say.

“I have two marked vehicles here, my patrol car and a 4-wheel drive. If I had to live in Tucumcari, it could take 45 minutes or more to respond to a call. It’s impossible to find a place to rent out here. In the summer it costs $900 a month or $300 on a weekend to rent,” Hartigan said.

But last month, Hartigan received a letter from a San Miguel County official terminating the Residential Law Enforcement Housing agreement, effective Oct. 31.

The reason?

“ … repairs needed on the residence you are currently leasing are not cost effective in comparison to the value of the mobile home,” wrote Gilbert Almanza, executive director of San Miguel County’s Housing Authority.
The agreement allows Hartigan to live rent free in a single-wide trailer on Mica Drive on property owned by the Conchas Fire Department, Hartigan said.

In exchange, all Hartigan has to pay are his utility bills, Hartigan said.

Hartigan, who has served as a deputy in the Conchas area for about nine years, said the trailer is an old FEMA trailer that was donated to the county about five years ago.

Although Hartigan said he expected county officials to install the trailer, it was community groups such as the American Legion and others who installed the trailer on its lots.

But the single-wide trailer needs skirting and anchoring and other fixes to bring it up to code.

Those costs are estimated to be about $8,500, Les W. J. Montoya, county manager, said.

The trailer is only worth between $3,000 and $5,000 and cost of the repairs outweigh the value of the home, Montoya said.

In the meantime, Montoya said the agreement on the trailer between the county and Hartigan has been extended to the end of November.

At Conchas petitions are up at the American Legion hall, Conchas North Dock Marina and the 104 Store asking county officials to review and reverse their decision.

Montoya said he is awaiting a written proposal from the Conchas community. It may be that the community and the county could split the repair costs, he said.

“It just depends on what the written proposal says,” Montoya said. “We are open to anything that reduces the amount of money we have to spend on the trailer.”