Curry County commissioner calls for more openness from EPCOG

By Thomas Garcia: QCS staff writer

The Eastern Plains Council of Governments met Wednesday at the Tucumcari Convention Center with Curry County Commissioner Caleb Chandler calling for more openness and accountability from the organization.

Chandler took over representing Curry County in place of Isidro Garcia.

“I am still trying to get up to speed,” Chandler said. “I will be asking a lot of questions. I just want to be sure that I fully understand what is taking place.”

Chandler raised questions about EPCOG funding and budgets. He said he would like to see a detailed account of what money comes in to EPCOG and what is spent.

“I can not speak for the rest of the board, but I would like to see those reports,” Chandler said.

EPCOG Chairman Richard Arguello updated the board on former employee Lori Howard, who was convicted of embezzlement March 31 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

“This is a big step forward for us,” Arguello told the board. “I am ready to put this whole thing behind us and move forward.

Howard pleaded guilty to 72 counts of embezzlement and fraud of $145,000 in tornado victim relief money.

“This hurt our agency’s reputation and livelihood,” Arguello said.

The board also discussed a review of EPCOG’s by-laws, and Chandler told the board at this time the committee recommended no changes of the by-laws. He said he recommends the by-laws be reviewed again soon.

Chandler also had questions for Renee Ortiz, who presented the board with a Property Management Report.

Ortiz told the board that the Rio Pecos Estates in Santa Rosa had four apartments vacant because they were in need of appliances.

“An additional expense was two water heaters had to be replaced,” Ortiz told the board.

Glennis Erramouspe, EPCOG chief financial officer, said the rent from the property barely covers the mortgage payment of $6,000 a month.

“If this property is operating at a loss for us we should look into selling it,” Chandler said.