Bingaman addresses local concerns

Thomas Garcia

Local officials met with Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., to discuss issues affecting residents in Quay County.

Money for improvements at Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital and transmission lines for wind energy were a few of the issues raised by officials who met with Bingaman on Wednesday.

“If there’s a possibility of more stimulus money becoming available, will it only be for those communities with shovel-ready projects?” said Tucumcari City Commissioner Antonio Apodaca.

Apodaca said the city was fortunate to have great planners who had projects ready to begin when the money was made available.

“The truth is most of the money to be allocated to these types of projects has already been allocated,” Bingaman said. “A lot of communities did not have that type of planning in place and missed out on the money.”

“The hospital is a county-owned facility. One of the things that concerns us is the sole community funds,” said Quay County Commissioner Bill Curry.

“We still need the federal government’s participating amount to keep going,” Curry said. “We urge you, Senator Bingaman, to ensure those funds do not go away.”

The hospital provides care not only for local and surrounding communities, but it also provides emergency services to the people traveling along Interstate 40, said Quay County Manager Richard Primrose.

“We are providing care and emergency services every year to a lot of people who are not residents,” Primrose said. “It is vital that we keep our hospital open.”

Bingaman said the sole community funding has been adequately protected in the new health care reform.

“I think Tucumcari and Quay County have been very fortunate in the stimulus funding that has already come here,” Bingaman said. “There are some additional needs and we are going to look into additional sources of federal support.”

Bingaman said the hospital is a priority for this community. Overall there are several projects that have started or been completed that do or will have an impact on the area.

Bingaman met with members of the Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees and President Phillip O. Barry.

Barry said that with the construction continuing on the North American Wind Research and Training Center, one of the issues is the construction of transmission lines for the power created by wind turbines.

“Clearly we need to make funding for the construction of transmission lines a priority,” Bingaman said. “The Tres Amigas project planned for Curry County will be a big help in the construction of those transmission lines.”

Bingaman said the state has its own authority which is working on renewable energy.

“At the federal level, legislation is in place to ensure the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the authority they need in order to construct these types of transmission lines,” Bingaman said.