Year in Review: March 2007
Published: Tuesday, December 18th, 2007
A daily look at top news stories reported in the Clovis New Journal in March: March 1: City commissioners approved plans for a $1.4 million multi-story fire-training facility to be located on Brady Avenue near Prince Street. March 2: The Clovis campus of Wayland Baptist University celebrated its 10th anniversary with graduation ceremonies for 35 students. March 3: Farmers around Elida, Floyd and Fort Sumner were complaining about an increase in the population of wild hogs. March 4: Joe and Clara Olona of Clovis celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. March 5: The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish was offering a $500 reward for information about the deaths of three doe mule deer dumped in northern Roosevelt County. March 6: Gayla Brumfield and Charles Guthals were elected to the Board of Trustees at Clovis Community College. … Curry County commissioners approved a redesign of the Curry County Adult Detention Center Annex at a cost of $75,000. The plan would provide for an all-female facility and increase capacity for women prisoners from 27 to 55. March 7: A Portales man was convicted in the 2004 slaying of a 19-year-old woman. Richard Baca was accused of killing Amber Robinson, burying her in his back yard. March 8: “Believe in Me,” a movie filmed in eastern New Mexico, premiered in Clovis. “It reaches every age,” proclaimed Paula Vander Dussen, among dozens of area residents cast as an extra in the movie. … A skull-and-crossbones flag that waved over the Clovis Public Defender’s offices for two days was removed without explanation. “The only thing I am going to tell you is that it was a case of bad judgment,” said New Mexico Deputy Chief Public Defender David Eisenberg, who ordered the flag removed. March 9: Texico won the Class 2A girls’ state basketball championship with a 41-38 win over top-seeded Penasco. March 10: Christina Benitscheck, an 11-year-old Clovis home-schooler, won the regional spelling bee and a trip to the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. The winning word: chimichanga. … A woman posing as a medical worker kidnapped a 3-day-old baby from a Lubbock hospital. March 11: A 21-year-old Clovis woman was accused of kidnapping the baby from the Lubbock hospital. The child was found safe and returned to her mother. Acquaintances said Rayshaun Parson had previously faked a pregnancy and told a neighbor she had a baby who was sick. March 12: Gov. Bill Richardson signed a measure to outlaw cockfighting in New Mexico. The prohibition would take effect June 15. March 13: Legislation to outlaw smoking in New Mexico bars, restaurants, stores and other workplaces was signed by Gov. Bill Richardson. March 14: A federal probe into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, allegedly for political reasons, revealed a Clovis native in the mix. Pat Rogers had complained about David Iglesias, then U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, in June 2006. Rogers was one of four attorneys recommended by U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici as a successor to Iglesias, but Rogers withdrew his name from consideration. March 15: Clovis city commissioners approved introduction of an ordinance requiring garbage be bagged before being placed in dumpsters. Enactment of the proposal was slated for April 19. March 16: Eastern New Mexico University graduates Dana Altman and Mark Fox coached against each other in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament in New Orleans. Fox’s Nevada squad beat Altman’s Creighton team, 77-71, in overtime. March 17: Gov. Bill Richardson called a minimum-wage hike approved by lawmakers his “crown jewel” of the legislative session. The wage floor will go to $6.50 in January 2008 and $7.50 in January 2009, with exemptions for agriculture. … A Clovis man was stabbed multiple times and robbed of $14 while delivering pizza, police said. Guido Fernandez, 20, was in stable condition. No arrests had been made. March 18: The owners of Clovis’ McDonald’s restaurants were offering $500 and free hamburgers for a year for the return of their lost dog, a 3-year-old brindle boxer named Wendy. March 19: New Mexico lawmakers prepared to return to Santa Fe for a special session just two days after adjourning from the regular 60-day session. Most were not pleased with Gov. Bill Richardson urging them to reconsider failed efforts at a highway funding package, domestic partnership legislation and a handful of other items Richardson said he still wanted approved. March 20: State senators adjourned without acting on any measures, rebelling against Gov. Richardson’s plan for the special session. … Federal authorities selected Great Lakes Aviation for a $1.99 million subsidy to provide air transportation for Clovis. City commissioners had recommended Great Lakes over competitor Pacific Wings Airlines, which claimed it could provide the service for less money using smaller planes. March 21: A state Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner had recommended a 12.6-percent rate hike for New Mexico American Water, Clovis’ water provider. NMAW had asked for a 20-percent increase. A final decision had not been made. March 22: A 17-year-old male was charged with attempted murder and armed robbery in the March 17 attack on a pizza deliveryman. The suspect admitted taking $13, police said. The victim, Guido Fernandez, suffered a collapsed lung and punctured trachea. … United Way of Eastern New Mexico officials announced they had exceeded their fundraising goal of $525,000 by about $950. March 23: The worst tornado in Clovis’ 100-year history roared through the city’s east side, injuring dozens of people, severely damaging hundreds of homes and businesses and downing power lines. The twister, wrapped in rain, hit at 7:54 p.m., about 20 minutes after sirens warned of the danger. A Portales dairy was also hit by the storm and hundreds of cattle were killed. Earlier in the day, a tornado hit a trailer park in Logan, destroying about 30 homes and injuring one person. Weather officials estimated 16 tornadoes swept the Texas-New Mexico border during the late afternoon and into the evening. March 24: Clovis awoke to flattened homes and businesses, damaged vehicles, uprooted trees and miles of scattered debris caused by the previous night’s tornado. The injury toll was estimated at 35 with at least one critical injury. Officials said much of the city lost power when the storm hit and 1,000 homes were still without power 24 hours later. Rescue workers distributed close to 2,000 meals in distressed neighborhoods. Weather officials estimated the tornado packed winds of 125 mph, giving it an Enhanced Fujita Scale rating of 2 on a 0-to 6-point scale. March 25: Gov. Richardson visited Clovis and announced $750,000 in state funds would be released to help pay for storm damage in Curry, Roosevelt and Quay counties. March 26: About 450 Cannon Air Force Base personnel joined volunteers from across the region as the city continued to clean up from the March 23 tornado. Officials estimated 500 homes and businesses were damaged in the storm and 60 structures were destroyed. March 27: A 90-year-old Clovis woman whose trailer home was destroyed in the March 23 tornado died from injuries she suffered in the storm. Heleneta Blevins’ death was the first known fatality caused by a tornado in Clovis’ history. … Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas estimated cleanup from the tornado was about 35 percent complete. He said the city landfill had received 700 tons of debris from the storm. Salvation Army Capt. Tammy Ray said 180 people displaced from the tornado were still being sheltered at local hotels. March 28: A 65-year-old Clovis woman, Shirley Boothe, recounted how her trailer home was demolished by the March 23 tornado and how she and a 90-year-old friend, Walter Cravy, were pinned beneath rubble for about an hour before help arrived. “I just stuck my arm up … and wiggled it,” she said, describing her efforts to attract attention. Boothe remained hospitalized in Clovis but expected to be released soon. Cravy was in the intensive care unit at Lubbock’s Covenant hospital. March 29: An Air Force environmental study predicted population associated with Cannon Air Force Base would drop, spike and drop again before leveling out between 2011 and 2014. The report predicted population at the transitioning base — including family of active-duty personnel — would ultimately rise from the current 8,900 to about 10,800. ... A 91-year-old Clovis man was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer as he attempted to get past a checkpoint in a tornado-damaged neighborhood. Family members said Clinton McDaniel needed an oxygen tank from his home and panicked when police refused to let him past the checkpoint. Police said McDaniel would not tell them why he needed to return home and that he hit a police officer with his vehicle when they tried to stop him. March 30: Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said 95 percent of the cleanup needed from the March 23 tornado had been completed and city workers would be taking a few days off “because they need rest and family time.” March 31: About 50 volunteers helped clean up debris at Grande Vida Dairy east of Portales. The March 23 tornado destroyed the business, killing about 300 cattle and causing more than $3 million in damage. National Weather Service officials said the tornado that later hit Clovis was strongest when it touched down at the dairy.
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