County officials to request grant for Melrose clinic

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson County Manager Lance Pyle looks at a photo of community members discussing a proposed health clinic in Melrose as he flips through a copy of a grant application that will be submitted next month.

CNJ Staff

Melrose has things to make life comfortable and meet basic needs — including two convenience stores, a hardware store, restaurant, senior center, a park and a swimming pool — but the nearest doctor is about a 30-minute drive away.

County officials want to change that.

Next month, Curry County will request a $500,000 grant to construct a health clinic in Melrose.

County Manager and Melrose Mayor Lance Pyle said the clinic will be a boon, not only to Melrose and its outlying residents, but to surrounding communities such as St. Vrain, House, Field and even Roosevelt and De Baca counties.

“It’s a huge need. I hate to have residents do without healthcare because of transportation costs or lack of transportation,” said Pyle, pointing out that some residents end up driving as far as Muleshoe because of appointment scheduling issues in Clovis and many elderly residents have continuing needs.

The county was denied a community development block grant last year because it did not yet own the land for the facility and lacked construction drawings.

Since then, seven adjacent lots of land on Main and Higby streets were donated to Curry County and $60,000 in state appropriations were obtained to create a plan for the facility.

Connie Harrison, administrative services coordinator for the county, said staff have worked for the last year to redraft the grant application.

That work is now contained in thick, neatly tabbed notebooks with information on every aspect of the proposed project from community surveys, plans, photos and budget estimates to letters of support from community members.

Harrison said though the grant committee assured them it would be approved if they took care of the missing items, “I will have butterflies until we hear the word that yes, we got it.”

The 19,000-square-foot-facility is also being designed with future expansion in mind, Pyle said. Dental and pharmacy services could be available down the road, he said.

“We have everything lined up so as soon as we receive funding we can request bids and move forward,” Pyle said.

Ground could be broken as early as August, with completion as early as 2010.

The county will own and maintain the facility, but the plan is to lease it to a healthcare provider, Pyle said.

La Casa Health Care, Pyle said, which operates clinics in Clovis and Portales and offers services for low-income patients on a sliding payment scale, has expressed an interest in leasing the Melrose facility.