Parks manager approves swimming lessons

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Bill Bizzell didn’t take long to dive in to his tenure with the city Thursday night.

Only working as the city’s new parks and recreation director since Monday, Bizzell met little opposition in approving summer swimming lessons a few minutes after his introduction by City Manager Joe Thomas.

“We got a lot of applicants (for the position), and his really stood out,” Thomas said. “We’re looking forward to a very active summer.”

Bizzell, a former assistant principal at Clovis High School and superintendent at Bovina, said previous swim programs have been requested but haven’t had the same level of organization he proposed.

The lessons, held in two-week blocks during June and July, would be a united effort between the department, the Clovis Swim Club and Clovis High swim coach Vince deMaio. He said lessons would be $70.

“The parents will make a commitment to us,” Bizzell said of the price tag. “If we don’t do that and charge a lower fee, it’s a recreation program and a babysitting service. And we don’t want that.”

Depending on demand, the program would require hiring up to eight seasonal employees at a cost of $12,110. If the program gets 300 applicants, it would generate $21,000, with profits going to the general fund.

Bizzell said he would hire staff in proportion to program interest.

The measure passed unanimously. District 3 Commissioner Bobby Sandoval asked if there were any expected staffing issues on lifeguards, and Bizzell said he didn’t expect any.

In other business at the meeting:

• The commission approved a contract with John Ryan for consulting services regarding federal action that could affect the city.

“It’s not uncommon at all,” for a city of Clovis’ size to have such a consultant, Thomas said. “In fact, it’s more uncommon not to have someone representing our interests in Washington, D.C.”

It is a seven-month contract, starting in June.

A former staffer with Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Joe Skeen, Ryan has operated Capitol Consultants out of Albuquerque and makes as many as 10 visits to Washington, D.C. every year.

He is aiding the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority on federal appropriations for the Ute Water Project.

A state senator, Ryan said his scope of work would have to be limited to federal advocacy.

• The commission approved a preliminary budget. The $36.24 million budget will be sent to the state department of finance and administration. The budget includes no salary increases, with cash reserves of $1.8 million.

Last year, the city sent a preliminary budget of $35.68 million.

• The commission approved noise variances for three separate graduation parties Saturday night and street closures for the June 19 Soapbox Derby and the June 5 Pioneer Days Parade.