Development director looks toward Portales’ future

By Tony Parra

PORTALES — Darla Wilhoit, Portales’ new community development director, will work in conjunction with Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation (RCCDC) for the future of economic development of Portales.
The RCCDC is a non-profit organization and separate entity from the city’s community development office, where Wilhoit works.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Wilhoit said. “I’ve been working for private industries as opposed to the public sector. It’s a different direction, but I’m exited.”
The city of Portales hired Wilhoit on Nov. 4 and she is already working on a couple of projects under the direction of interim city managers Tom Howell and Joann Martinez-Terry.
The primary project is the application for a Community Development Block Grant. The annual grant, which is federally funded, is awarded through the state governments, according to Wilhoit.
Wilhoit must prepare the application for this year’s CDBG grant request by the application deadline on Jan. 14.
New Mexico awarded Portales a CDBG grant in early 2002. Gracey Leary, the previous community development director, prepared the application for the grant and the application specified that the fund would go to maintenance and renovation of North Avenue M and North Avenue N streets, according to Wilhoit. The $457,882 fund will go to repairing the streets and drainage systems.
Wilhoit must now implement the funds toward the renovation process.
The county’s Community Development Corporation is headed by Kim Huffman. One of its primary projects is helping Portales gain certification from the New Mexico State Department of Economic Development. The next certification process may take place in January, according to Donnie Quintana, team leader of the community development team of the NMSDED.
“Kim is responsible for the economic development of Portales and Darla will be responsible for the community development process,” Mayor Orlando Ortega said.