Jail perimeter fence proposal tabled

Robin Fornoff

A perimeter fence to prevent escapes like the Nov. 13 flight of 35-year-old Narcizo Soto Jr. of Clovis from the Curry County jail didn’t make it off the drawing board Tuesday when presented to county commissioners.

If there was a consensus among commissioners on the reason for dismissing the idea, it was likely the cost — projected to be at least $81,900 plus tax.

“I think we’ve got other places we can better spend $81,000,” said Commissioner Wendell Bostwick.

There were at least four other problems with the concept cited in a report prepared by Lee Delk, chief of the county’s maintenance department:

• To provide separation between the fence and the jail, the fence would have to be extended curb-to-curb (into city right of way) as well as block off most of an alley.

• The fence would have to be built in a way that allowed the alley behind neighbor business Master Trim to remain accessible 24 hours a day (a security breach).

• Any kind of fence would require permission from the city because the fence would be encroaching on 900 linear feet of right of way.

• The alley that would be blocked contains numerous utilities such as electric, natural gas, telephone and cable television. If the alley is gated, all of the utilities would require keys for 24-hour access to meters, lines and shutoff valves as well as to perform routine maintenance (a security breach).

Commissioners took no action on the idea of a fence despite an impassioned plea from retired Col. Gerald Radcliff of Clovis, who said he had also commanded bases while in the Air Force.

“I think,” said Radcliff, “the security fence is an absolute necessity.”

Chairman Caleb Chandler said he, too, thought a fence was a good idea but one that required more thought and study.

“”But,” Chandler said, “we’ll leave it one the table.”