Conference opens for business

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

As students-to-be filled the registration lines at Clovis Community College, education was already going on at the school.

Dignitaries were doing the learning, as they soaked in policy and how they could effectively implement it at the first day of the New Mexico Municipal League Conference.

The conference, held at the college and the Clovis Civic Center, has drawn nearly 700 municipal employees to Clovis for activities that conclude Friday.

Wednesday morning’s sessions included numerous subsections on topics such as creating community involvement in libraries and fire protection grant applications.

In the afternoon, attendants went to the college’s town hall to hear professional speaker Matt Rix talk about the importance of communicating effectively.

Rix said 97 percent of people surveyed preferred death over public speaking, and saw that perception as an opportunity to be a leader.

“Think of all the networking opportunities you lose” Rix said, “by not being able to start a conversation where people remember you.”

He said stories were the most effective way to get a point across, because people are voyeuristic by nature and will pay to be entertained by stories. For example, Rix said, the average person can vividly remember details from a movie they enjoyed years ago but would be dumbfounded when asked what they had for breakfast three Thursdays ago.

Michael Anne, a clerk and treasurer for the city of Raton, said a mix of information and entertainment helps during extended conferences such as the NMML’s.

“I think they try to present a good balance,” Anne said. “These events wouldn’t be much fun if they were just policy.”

League Communications Coordinator Roger Makin said the balance between policy and presentations like the one from Rix varies from year to year, the first day usually includes the most policy meetings because it’s the only day many dignitaries can attend.

After Rix spoke, Makin prepared the room for the league’s resolutions meeting, where a book half an inch thick would be discussed.

“The next (state legislative) session will be a 60-day session … which is why the regulations are so thick,” Makin said. Each city in attendance has one voting member to approve the resolutions and the league’s statement of municipal policy, which guide the league throughout 2009.

Those in attendance get more than policy lessons, though.

“I value the networking. You talk to these people on the phone a lot, but you (value) putting a name with a face,” Anne said.

And Anne has also had time to take in Clovis. She worked a golf tournament Tuesday night, selling mulligans to benefit a Clerks and Finance Officers Association scholarship fund. She also got time to hit a few drives herself and go shopping downtown.

Between the entertainment opportunities outside the conference and the facilities available during the conference, Makin felt Clovis has been a great host.

“The community college has been wonderful, the people at the civic center have been wonderful,” Makin said. “We’ve been having a great time in Clovis. Everybody has bent over backwards.”