Search for jail administrator continues

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

Curry County continues to accept applications for its vacant jail administrator job.

The position has been vacant since September, when the county dismissed former administrator Lois Bean.

Sheriff Matt Murray has had oversight of the jail since four inmates attempted to escape Feb. 21. That incident led to the resignation of interim administrator Carlos Ortiz and several members of his command staff.

County officials say Murray will command the facility until a new administrator is hired, a process they estimated in February would take 60 to 90 days.

Undersheriff Wesley Waller said Kirk Roberts was named interim administrator on Friday after Keith Bessette requested to be moved back to the sheriff’s office for personal reasons.

Bessette had served as interim administrator since the escape attempt.

Roberts, a former Clovis police officer, was hired following the escape to serve as chief of security for the jail.

In the administrator search, Pyle said the county is verifying references and he hopes to conduct interviews with finalists by early May.

“I’m not going to turn anybody away,” he said. “If somebody’s interested in the position and meets the minimal qualifications, we’ll definitely look at it.”

Pyle said 15 people have applied since September, but some have since withdrawn their names from consideration. Ortiz was among applicants before his resignation.

Roberts is also an applicant for the job, Pyle said.

The position will pay between $68,000 and $90,000.

Interviews will be conducted by a panel that will include Murray, county Commissioners Bobby Sandoval and Caleb Chandler, Pyle and Manny Romero from the New Mexico Association of Counties. Pyle said another representative from NMAC may also join the panel.