County Year in Review: Events center crowning achievement

Opened in early 2009, the Curry County Special Events Center is booked solid through July, County Manager Lance Pyle said.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The year 2009 was one of celebrating Curry County’s centennial, seeing the Special Events Center through its first year of operation, welcoming three new commissioners, trying to help Cannon Air Force Base solve logistical issues and working to adopt a contentious health and safety ordinance.

“We’ve done a lot this year. It was a very busy year,” County Manager Lance Pyle said.

“The county had a lot of projects and tasks that we worked on and are continuing to work on, but we are all pleased and very proud of the Curry County Events Center.”

Just in time to ring in the centennial, the 96,000 square-foot, $7 million multi-purpose facility officially opened for events in the early months of the year and remained busy from that point forward.

Pyle said with the exception of two weekends, the events center is booked solid through July, and under the management of Global Spectrum, has come in under budget for the year.

“It was something that was started back in the ’90s and it was something that a lot of people worked hard on and it was great to see it utilized and the community enjoy it,” he said.

In 2009, the commission — including newly elected commissioners Wendel Bostwick, Caleb Chandler and Dan Stoddard — also took on an ordinance to create standards for “public health and safety,” a leftover issue from 2008, previously referred to as a nuisance ordinance.

In the summer, public outcry stymied a second draft of an ordinance that would require residents to correct any issues affecting health or public safety.

The opposition of more than 150 angry residents at an August meeting argued the county was trying to infringe on private property rights and the ordinance was really a form of zoning.

Commissioners sent the ordinance back to committee for a third look.

As the close of the year approached, Chairman Frank Blackburn said a clarified and thinner version of the ordinance would be brought forth early this year.

“I think something is definitely needed based on the number of calls we receive from county residents. Nobody likes additional rules and regulations, but our community is growing and times are changing and ordinance is needed to address these issues for the community,” Pyle said.

And in the next couple of months, ground will be broken on a $500,000, outpatient health care facility for the Village of Melrose.

Targeted for completion by November, Pyle said county officials worked diligently throughout the year to procure the grant needed to get the project going.

“That’s something that the county’s very proud of and it’s a need for the Village of Melrose,” he said.

“It will be a great asset for the residents of the Village of Melrose and surrounding communities.”

The county will enter the new year with ongoing projects too, he said.

Much work has also taken place to assist Cannon in resolving security issues with Curry Road R’s proximity to the base perimeter.

Though the commission has not yet decided if it will close the road, Pyle said the county was notified $974,000 has been earmarked by U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., to create a solution.

And a request is before the governor for an additional $2 million in stimulus money, which would fit with a proposal to pave and chipseal Curry Road T for use as an alternate route.

With growth and changes in the community, Pyle said next year is expected to be similarly busy.

“We’re off to a great start. We have a lot of projects right now moving for the community growing and it’s going to be exciting seeing where the community is in the next 50 to 100 years from now,” he said.

Pyle said after a year of events and celebration, the county centennial will be wrapped up in 2010 with a time capsule.