City commission renews Great Lakes contract

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis City Commission said yes to a renewal with Great Lakes Airlines at Thursday night’s meeting, but said no to an appeal request on a recent traffic sign decision.

Other items discussed Thursday at the Clovis Carver Public Library included a trio of task orders for the city landfill and a short discussion of disagreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

By a unanimous vote, commissioners awarded Great Lakes Airline a two-year deal to keep what CEO Charles Howell called the “status quo” arrangement of two daily flights from Clovis to Albuquerque.

The Cheyenne, Wyo., based airline was the only company to submit a proposal by the Feb. 3 deadline, and submitted a $2.9 million subsidy request from the Department of Transportation to fund the EAS (essential air services). Great Lakes first contracted with Clovis in April of 2005.

The service could expand later, as Howell said Dallas could be added to Clovis’ destination list. Four Arkansas communities Great Lakes contracts with now require service to Dallas, Howell said, and a Dallas service could begin in late 2009 if conditions are favorable.

Earlier in the meeting, during the public comments section, a pair of Clovis residents asked for an appeal of the Traffic Committee’s decision to change the Plains Avenue and Main Street intersection.

Formerly a four-way stop, Plains and Main was changed to a two-way stop on a trial basis with stop signs removed at Main Street.

The change was made permanent by the traffic committee in a unanimous vote at this month’s meeting.

Commissioner Chris Bryant, who sits on the traffic committee, said the previous situation resulted in three consecutive four-way stops on Main, prompting drivers to take routes through residential areas without signs.

Jessica Baker, who lives near the intersection, said that wasn’t a viable reason to make a change, especially with Highland Elementary located at the intersection.

“I think the convenience of (not stopping three times) should not override the safety of the children,” Baker said.

Mary Carrier, who lives on Plains, said she spent Thursday afternoon at the intersection and saw at least 20 cars driving in excess of the 30 mph, the speed limit when school zone lights aren’t flashing.

“It made the drivers stop,” Carrier said of the original four-way stop. “It gave children a chance to cross safely.”

Commissioner Len Vohs said he spoke with officials at the school and they said the change has worked better than anticipated.

In other business Thursday:

• Commissioners approved three task orders for the city landfill, all to be filled by Camp, Dresser and McKee of Albuquerque. The orders cover groundwater monitoring, permit modification and renewal preparation and air quality testing/reporting. The three items, approved together in a unanimous vote, will be paid through approximately $413,800 in cash reserves.

• Commisioners briefly discussed their disapproval with FEMA’s new floodplain map of Clovis. The issue, Mayor Gayla Brumfield said, is that the city feels FEMA issued a floodplain map identical to its 1988 map, but didn’t take into account nearly $20 million in drainage work by the city.

As a result, Brumfield said, homeowners living in the floodplain area have to pay a high rate for flood insurance when an accurate measure would have them paying low premiums or not needing flood insurance.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico, who dropped in on the meeting while visiting the area Thursday, said he wants to find out if other New Mexico cities have a similar problem and then approach FEMA as a group.