Year in Review: August 2007
Published: Tuesday, December 25th, 2007
A daily look at top news stories in August reported in the Clovis New Journal: Aug. 1: A 79-year-old Clovis man had posted a handmade sign in his yard on Calhoun Street, urging drivers to slow down and watch out for children. “I care for these kids and I’m afraid somebody’s going to get run over,” Marcus Urban said. Aug. 2: Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman introduced a plan to hike firefighters’ pay and benefits by $272,000 without additional funding. He proposed leaving six budgeted positions unfilled and using that money to increase pay and benefits for remaining firefighters in hopes of retaining a more experienced staff. City commissioners did not act on the proposal. Aug. 3: The state released its Adequate Yearly Progress report, which showed eight of 16 Clovis public schools did not meet federal academic proficiency targets for the 2006-2007 school year. Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said the standards were “unfair for special ed and English language learners. ... If you have enough kids to have special education and English language learners, you do not meet AYP.” ... A black bear was captured at Ute Lake State Park near Logan. District game warden Josh Waldrip said bears are almost never reported in the area, though they have been seen north of Logan. ... An 18-year-old Clovis man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the death of his infant son. Benito Valdez had pleaded guilty to intentional child abuse, which led to the Jan. 14, 2006, death of his 4-month-old son. Valdez was 16 when the baby died. ... An 8-year-old Fort Sumner girl died after falling during a community hayride. ... Newspaper readers mourned the death of longtime columnist Bob Huber, who died at his Portales home. Huber, 76, wrote columns for the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune for 12 years. Aug. 4: School officials were encouraging parents to begin preparing students for the new school year. Classes in Clovis were set to begin on Aug. 15. Aug. 5: Shoppers wrapped up a three-day tax-free weekend across New Mexico. One local retailer said sales more than doubled from a typical weekend. Aug. 6: Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas told a reporter, “It was an extremely bad judgment on my part,” following his weekend arrest on charges of driving under the influence and open-container violation. Thomas was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint on Aug. 3 between San Jon and Logan. Police said he failed a battery of sobriety tests and was arrested and booked at the Quay County Detention Center. Aug. 7: Clovis police hosted a town hall meeting to encourage residents to take an active role in crime prevention. Officials were disappointed with the turnout of fewer than 35. ... A business called AquaRanch was planning to convert the former Swift/Frozefruit plant to a fish farm. Workers were doing maintenance on the building. ... An 85-year-old Clovis man captured a teenager at gunpoint during an attempted robbery. Alton Tillman told police he set a trap and captured the boy after his home was burglarized three times in a week. Aug. 8: Clovis city commissioners issued a statement announcing City Manager Joe Thomas “will continue in his duties as city manager pending disposition of allegations initiated against him in Quay County.” Commissioners called an executive session to discuss Thomas’ weekend arrest on charges of DUI and open-container violation, but took no action on the matter. ... A former DeBaca County sheriff was arraigned on multiple counts of embezzlement, falsifying government documents and intimidation of a witness. Michael Chavez, 44, was accused of receiving kickbacks from county employees he hired to work overtime on road blocks and warrant service. Aug. 9: A Quay County jury found a Fort Sumner man guilty of killing his wife three years ago. Jose Garcia, 42, was convicted of killing Melody Garcia by shooting her in the head. ... A 20-year-old Clovis man was charged with hitting his girlfriend’s parents with a vehicle in an ongoing domestic dispute. Aug. 10: Dora High School was preparing for its first football season. About 20 boys were participating in off-season workouts. The Coyotes planned to participate in 8-man competition. Aug. 11: Area Habitat for Humanity workers raised the walls on a home at 1621 Cameo St., their sixth project since forming in 2002. Aug. 12: Area residents were preparing for the week-long Curry County Fair. One new attraction was a Pioneer Village, where demonstrations were scheduled to showcase late-19th-century culture. Aug. 13: New Mexico State Police released results of a blood test that showed Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas’ blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit when he was arrested Aug. 3 for DUI and open-container violation near Logan. Prosecutor Ron Reeves said he had not decided if the charges would be pursued. Aug. 14: U.S. Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman were in Clovis for a water field hearing in which they sought guidelines for federal funding of the Ute Water Project. Local officials expressed frustration that the project to pump water from Ute Lake in Quay County to Clovis, Portales and other local entities has been in planning stages for decades without results. ... Dan Buzard, former women’s basketball coach at Eastern New Mexico University, died of brain cancer. He was 39. Aug. 15: Alltech, which manufactures organic animal food supplements, announced plans to set up a base east of Clovis. Officials said the facility would employ 10 to 15 people and construction would begin in the fall. ... A 4-year-old Muleshoe boy died in a house fire. Sixi Alfredo Barrera Ortega was trapped inside the family’s residence on Sixth Street when the fire broke out and his mother tried to extinguish it with a garden hose. Aug. 16: A Clovis woman accused of kidnapping a baby from a Lubbock hospital pleaded guilty and was awaiting punishment. Rayshaun Parson faced up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. ... Clovis public school officials reported 7,884 students attended classes on the first day of the new year, up 99 from 2006. Aug. 17: Six applicants sought the 9th Judicial District judgeship created by the resignation of Joe Parker — Brian P. Brack, Kathleen Haynes, Donna Mowrer, Kent Peterson, Michelle Reeves and Drew Tatum. Aug. 18: Jack Ingram, whose wife Amy is a Clovis native, performed at the Curry County Fair. Aug. 19: The 9-year-old daughter of a Clovis police officer was trying to raise money for bullet-proof vests for police dogs. Destiny Muller needed $3,000 for three vests. Aug. 20: New Jersey-based White Hat Energy announced plans to build a $36 million biogas facility in Curry County to extract methane gas from cow manure. Officials said the company could employ up to 250 people in five years with wages averaging $27,000 plus benefits. Aug. 21: Air Force officials formally approved Cannon Air Force Base’s transition to a special operations wing. The first airmen and aircraft from a special operations squadron were expected to arrive in November as part of a slow buildup of personnel that would take about three years and ultimately result in an active-duty population of 4,400 to 5,600, officials said. Aug. 22: Clovis firefighters were going door-to-door to meet area residents and spread the word about fire safety. Aug. 23: Clovis police were short nine dispatchers and officers were being forced to work overtime to staff the phones. Officials said burnout was the reason most often given for leaving the job, which pays $10.17 to $11.47 per hour depending on training level. Aug. 24: The Roosevelt County Fair included an exhibit featuring dog agility skills. Aug. 25: Clovis Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Chase Gentry was expecting new businesses in the area would create 1,000 new jobs in the next five years. With unemployment at 3.7 percent, economic leaders were wondering where the workers might come from. Aug. 26: Officials with Clovis Biodiesel, the first occupant of the 237-acre Clovis Industrial Park, said construction was about 40 percent complete. Operations were scheduled to begin in January or February. Aug. 27: The first day of fall classes began at Clovis Community College. About 2,500 students had registered for classes. Aug. 28: Owners of the Prince Lounge said the Clovis bar would be closing soon after four decades. They would not say if the closure was related to a recent lawsuit settled out of court with the family of a man who died after being hit by a drunk driver. Aug. 29: The Curry County Sheriff’s Department sent four new Dodge Chargers into action on county roads. The cars were purchased to update an aging fleet, Undersheriff Wesley Waller said. Aug. 30: A Tucumcari man was charged with killing his wife. Police said Eppie Vigil, 55, was being held without bond in connection with the stabbing death of Lucy Vigil, 46. Aug. 31: The Clovis News Journal published a 100-page special section highlighting Clovis’ first 100 years. The paper had also published a book, calendar and video focused on the city’s history. ... Most area football teams kicked off their seasons. Clovis High opened with a 38-20 loss to defending state champion Las Cruces Mayfield. ... Wayland Baptist University’s Clovis campus awarded degrees to 39 students.
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