Officials present updates at city-county luncheon

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Terry Myers during the city/county luncheon Tuesday at the Clovis Civic Center. Myers spoke about legislation and the challenges of teaching 200 more students with 20 fewer teachers in the district.

Kevin Wilson

What’s happened? What’s coming ahead? How does lunch sound?

Representatives from the area’s “Cs” — the city of Clovis, Curry County, Clovis Municipal Schools, Clovis Community College, Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis MainStreet and the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce — answered those questions during their quarterly city-county luncheon, held Tuesday at the Clovis Civic Center.

Speakers included:

• Col. Kirk Smith, vice commander of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, said its 522nd squadron was recently activated. That brings the Air Force Special Operations Command base to nine squadrons, up from the four it had during its days as a fighter wing base.

“The aircraft will start slowly showing up,” Smith said. “Some of the folks have already arrived, obviously.”

Upcoming events at the base include a June 4 capability exercise, a July 8 change of command ceremony to replace Col. Stephen Clark with Col. Albert “Buck” Elton and a Sept. 24 open house.

• City Manager Joe Thomas said the city is six months into its 18-month wastewater treatment plant refurbishment and is nearing completion on designs for its effluent re-use project.

A runway expansion at Clovis Municipal Airport is currently 30 days ahead of schedule. Thomas said the weather that created optimal construction conditions was a “mixed blessing,” because it also meant the area was more susceptible to the type of grass fire that burned an estimated 17,000 acres on Sunday.

He and Mayor Gayla Brumfield went to some of the affected areas, and Thomas said it’s uncomfortable enough to be there after the fire’s contained. He visited with the three firefighters who were treated for burns and smoke inhalation, and was impressed that they were at the hospital frustrated because they couldn’t help their coworkers battle the blaze.

He said 85 citizens have voted early in the city’s special election for a .25 percent gross receipts tax increase to help the city meet Ute Water Project financial obligations.

Brumfield said the city will take official ownership of the Chaparral Country Club on May 1. The city bought the property Thursday for $2.81 million as part of its parks master plan.

• Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said he and the county commission were using the luncheon as a break from a long commission meeting he expected to take much of the upcoming afternoon. He said work on Curry Road S was out to bid and the state would work on a railroad crossing. Another upcoming project is a deceleration lane on U.S. 60/84.

Pyle, like Thomas, said emergency personnel deserved recognition.

“It just shows that we have great people in great positions, and everybody works together,” Pyle said.

• Outgoing Clovis Community College President John Neibling said the biggest news was probably sitting at one of the tables, as he motioned to successor Becky Rowley.

He feels he’ll be leaving Rowley in good hands because its partnership with the Clovis school district and Eastern New Mexico University is one of the better partnerships he’s seen in 38 years in education.

But there will be challenges with state funding cuts.

“The state has been hurting, and that trickles down,” Neibling said. “We’ve had to absorb cuts, yet we think we have made appropriate cuts. I think I’ll be able to leave Becky with a little bit of money to operate the college.”

• Clovis Schools Superintendent Terry Myers said the district population is up by 200 students, and down by about 20 teachers, and further cuts are coming.

“We’re not going to lose any staff through (reduction in force),” Myers said. “I can do without stuff, but I can’t do without people.”

He said about 400 seniors were expected to graduate, with ceremonies set for 10 a.m. May 21 at the Curry County Events Center.

• Lisa Dunagan of Clovis MainStreet said the downtown area has gained 11 new businesses this year and lost three. She said there was also praise during its certification process from the state MainStreet operation.

“They were very surprised with what we’ve done with our downtown area,” Dunagan said. “Compared to other (non-profits) across the state, we’re faring very well.”

Ernie Kos, executive director of the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce, encouraged every department represented to enter the “kinetic sculpture” race during the April 30 Downtown Wind Festival. She suggested the last-place team pay for the next city/county luncheon.

• Raymond Mondragon, president of the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce, said he and other local officials took a trip to Hurlburt Air Field, the home of AFSOC, and said similar growth would be possible for Clovis.

“It’s quite an economic development project,” Mondragon said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction with everything the mayor and the county and the city commissions are doing.”