Year in review: City experienced transition in 2012

Whether it was fixing a golf course, rebuilding a public landmark, or trying to tie up loose ends of an unraveling business arrangement, 2012 was certainly a year of transition for the city.

CNJ photo: Tony Bullocks

In the first Clovis City Commission meeting following the March 6 municipal election, Clovis citizens and commissioners debated new Mayor David Lansford's, left, views on President Obama, and whether they matter for the city going forward.

The city elected a new, yet old, mayor and several projects were tackled over the 12 months.

David Lansford, the first city-elected mayor in 1996, decided to challenge incumbent Mayor Gayla Brumfield, a Realtor who won the position in a five-person race after Lansford declined to seek a fourth-consecutive term.

The final weeks of the election were filled with discussion of Lansford's feelings on national politics, primarily President Barack Obama. An essay written by Lansford on the ATLAH Media Network the previous June and November, referred to Obama as an illegitimate president who was elected through a CIA conspiracy. Lansford said during the campaign that his views would not change, and they were his right.

Brumfield said she had a problem with his views, noting that a mayor has to work with other communities and federal agencies. Lansford contended that his personal views, which would not change, were his and would not affect how he operated as a mayor.

Voters seemed to agree, handing him a fourth term with a 2,914-1,718 electoral victory over Brumfield — nearly 63 percent of the vote.

File photo

Tierra Realty of Taos is hoping to ring in the new year with a certificate of occupancy on the Hotel Clovis.

The matter was discussed again in Lansford's first meeting chairing the commission, but citizens mostly sided with Lansford — with some noting they shared his views on the president.

Brumfield has remained as chair of the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority, a group tasked with construction and operation of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System, a pipeline project that would deliver water from the Ute Reservoir in Quay County to authority members in Curry and Roosevelt counties.

  • By an even bigger margin, Clovis citizens opted to ban elected officials serving in both city and county positions.

With 82 percent of the vote, citizens approved adding Section 2-6 to the city charter, mandating that, "No elected officer of the city shall be an elected officer of any county in the state of New Mexico while in office."

The section included a grandfather clause that allowed Bobby Sandoval and Dan Stoddard — who are on both the Clovis City and Curry County commissions — to stay in their current positions. Sandoval is term-limited in 2014 in the county and has no plans to seek another county office, while Stoddard was defeated by Ben McDaniel in a re-election bid for the county commission.

  • Citizens kept the Clovis City Commission intact, re-electing Randy Crowder in District 1 over Jan Elliott and Chris Bryant in District 4 over R.L. "Rube" Render. District 3 Commissioner Bobby Sandoval ran unopposed.

Fred Van Soelen declined to run for a third term in District 2. In the city's lone open seat race, Small Business Development Center Director Sandra Taylor-Sawyer defeated retired postal employee John Jones.

  • A business aided by city economic development money was nearing the chopping block after failing to meet job creation obligations tied to the funding.

Beauty Health and Science Innovations, Inc. was promoted as a pair of cosmetics firms that would merge and start operations in Clovis with goals to create 350 jobs.

However, the company ran into financial troubles, and the city is using its power as first lienholder to put the company's assets on auction. Lansford has been authorized by the commission to act on its behalf in the event of decisions the commission can't approve in its first-Thursday, third-Thursday meetings structure.

The city has spent $1.8 million on BHSI, and had a $1 million incentive available for the company if it employed more than 300 people for a 12-month period in the first three years of operation.

The matter has been discussed during numerous executive sessions by the commission, and the Clovis Police Department has been investigating the matter to see if fraud charges need to be filed.

  • Tierra Realty of Taos is hoping to ring in the new year with a certificate of occupancy on the Hotel Clovis.

Since August of last year, Tierra Realty of Taos has been working to convert the hotel, closed since 1983 and under city ownership since 2004, into an apartment complex. The company has been accepting residents into its Building A for about five weeks now, as it has been completing the main hotel building and Building B.

Collectively, the three buildings will offer 59 apartments of one-, two- and three-bedroom variety. The project has a deadline of Dec. 31, imposed by the state's Mortgage Finance Authority, to qualify for about $9 million in tax credits that fund most of the $12.8 million project.

Building Safety Director Pete Wilt said a preliminary walk-through didn't raise any red flags. The final inspection is set for Monday.

Tierra needs the certificate to meet eligibility requirements for tax credits that helped fund the nearly $13 million project.

  • Despite Brumfield's exit from office, changes she pushed for as mayor came to fruition in 2012 regarding quality of life renovations.

The city cut ribbons on a new dog park and splash pad, and said hello again to a renovated Youth Recreation Building in Hillcrest Park. The dog park, along with new soccer fields for the Clovis Youth Soccer Association, was created by the shuttering of the municipal golf course. The Youth Recreation Building, rebuilt through a $500,000 gift from the Sisler Foundation, is available for rental and provided a home for the YMCA's summer day camps.

The city is continuing to renovate the Colonial Park Golf Course, with many cost challenges. Residents, already frustrated from the closure of the municipal course, have dealt with a course that had nine holes shut down at a time while necessary irrigation upgrades took place.

  • On task for 2013 are a trio of noteworthy construction projects — two road improvements and one a water conservation project.

The city commission freed up money in its gross receipts tax structure to bond out for road work. The top two projects cited for the $9 million are Norris Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Any money potentially left following the bid process is likely to go towards road improvements on Wilhite adjacent to the new W.D. Gattis Middle School that will open next school year.

Additionally, the final meeting of the year saw the commission approve the award of $4.835 million to construct Phase 1A of the effluent reuse pipeline project.

The money will mostly go to upgrades at the city's wastewater treatment plant, and also create a pipeline to the city landfill.

The project involves treating wastewater to a level that is below drinking quality, but adequate for municipal uses like watering city and school properties.

When completed, the project would reach Colonial Park Golf Course and cost about $16.5 million. Commissioner Randy Crowder has been pushing for the project since 2004.

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