BRAC process engulfs local area during summer

Editor’s note: The following is a brief look at the stories that made news locally in 2005. The PNT will run the year-in-review in each of the coming issues through at least Jan. 1.

May 1
• Softball squad wins first district title – For the Portales softball team, it was a Saturday like no other. When the Lady Rams arrived back in Portales that afternoon, they did it as District 4-3A softball champions, winning their first district title on the strength of a sweep at Lovington.
• Program provides gun locks – Parents in Roosevelt County will have free at their disposal gun locks to help protect children from accidental shootings. The Project Safe Van made a stop in Portales on Thursday and gave away 800 gun locks to law enforcement officials.

May 3
• VFW honors local veterans – The local Veterans of Foreign Wars is taking this week to show appreciation for its veterans with a Vietnam Veteran’s Day which was held on Sunday and a Loyalty Day.
• City budget estimated to have deficit for 2005-2006 – City finance committee officials are looking at an estimated $47,891 deficit for the 2005-2006 fiscal year, but City Manager Debi Lee hopes a continuation of economic success will make up the difference. Lee said the committee will be looking at cuts in some areas to help balance the budget which includes addressing a need for roof repairs for city buildings.

May 4
• Lawn space granted for victims’ memorial – County commissioners donated lawn space on the Roosevelt County Courthouse grounds and $1,500 on Tuesday to go for a memorial of victims of homicides in Roosevelt County.
• Commission trims proposed budget for next fiscal year – County commissioners narrowed the gap between the estimated revenue and expenditures from $1.4 million to $715,143 in an effort to balance the county budget for the fiscal year of 2005-2006.

May 5
• Local country fans excited for Nelson concert – People of all ages in Portales are eagerly awaiting the arrival of country music legend Willie Nelson to Portales. Nelson will be in concert on Wednesday at ENMU.
May 6
• Nelson promoters baffled by ticket sales – Organizers are at a loss to say why the Willie Nelson concert on Wednesday in Portales has not yet sold out. Bruce Williams, Joint Venture Productions promoter for the Nelson concert said only 1,250 of the 1,970 tickets have been sold and he didn’t understand why, stating possibly some people think he will perform at the UFO Festival concert in June in Roswell or in Clovis with Merle Haggard.
• ENMU cancels events – ENMU students were unable to celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Thursday in the patio area of the Campus Union Building due to inclement weather, but earlier in the week, they recognized students and faculty during a recognition banquet.

May 8
• Announcement leaves Cannon supporters optimistic – Far fewer military bases are likely to be closed and realigned than originally foreseen, in part because of the planned shift of thousands of troops in Asia and Europe to the United States, according to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld’s assessment is comforting news for Cannon Air Force Base. Rumsfeld previously said military bases have 25 percent more capacity than needed.
• Morgan finally receives medal – Johnny Morgan was one of 28 Roosevelt County men called up from the National Guard into battle in World War II he was a part of the U.S.’s 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Morgan is now the only surviving member of the 14 who went to the 804th and was given a French Croix de Guerre (Cross of Honor) during a ceremony at the Portales Senior Center.
• City bike path moves closer to reality – The reality of a new look to the downtown area and a walk and bike trail connecting ENMU to the downtown area is closer to happening. Community leaders met with students from the University of New Mexico who are working on their masters in designing and planning on Friday afternoon to view proposed designs of areas around the community.

May 10
• School board says OK to online courses – Portales school board members gave Portales High School Principal Melvin Nusser the go-ahead on offering online courses at Portales High School in the fall.
• Local students prepare for university graduation – Of the 330 graduation candidates set to graduate from ENMU on Saturday, 36 of them have their education roots in the Portales area.

May 11
• Portales schools work to provide master plan – Chris Rasmussen, an architect, is working on a master plan to help Portales Schools officials figure out the future and the school system’s need for space to accommodate a growing school district. Enrollment for Portales Schools has risen over the past three years from 2,783 in 2002-2003 to 2,931 in 2004-2005.

May 12
• Nelson a hit in Portales – Country music legend Willie Nelson made his first concert in Portales a memorable one for Eastern New Mexico residents on Wednesday, performing for more than 1,500 fans at ENMU’s Campus Union Ballroom.

May 13
• Morning to arrive with BRAC list – Local Cannon Air Force Base supporters are reacting positively to details released by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s press briefing on Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC). As specifics of the release circulated, Washington committee member Randy Harris’ hopes that Cannon would be absent from the list were boosted. Rumsfeld implied that the list of proposed closures will be shorter than initially predicted.

May 15
• Base one of 33 recommended for closure – We will fight this. The refrain could be heard Friday from the city offices in Clovis and Portales, to the governor’s office in Santa Fe, to the halls of Congress, where New Mexico’s congressional delegation vowed support in efforts to remove CAFB from the Defense Department’s proposed list of military base closures.

May 17
• Baca pleads not guilty – A 19-year-old Portales man decided against a plea agreement Monday in court and instead will face a murder trial in connection with the death of a city teen. Baca pleaded not guilty Monday to a first-degree murder charge and two counts of tampering with evidence. He is accused of killing Amber Robinson, 19, of Portales, in April.
• ENMU regents approve course fee increase – ENMU regents approved an increase in course fees on Friday for art classes and to help in the expense of Macintosh computers and software. The board also extended President Steven Gamble’s contract for another year.

May 18
• Commission looks toward tax increases – Roosevelt County commissioners are looking at increasing taxes to help pay for increasing expenditures for the services provided by the county. Commissioners approved the intent to implement a 1/16 tax increment increase to the gross receipt tax to help balance the budget.
• License request coming – The first beer and wine license for the City of Portales needs only approval from the New Mexico Alcohol and Gaming Commission to be granted. There was no opposition from community members to Pizza Hut’s request during a public hearing Tuesday night.

May 19
• City promotes letter campaign to keep Cannon – The City of Portales is launching a letter-writing campaign in support of Cannon Air Force Base, thinking it may be the personal touch needed to get the attention of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission which has the task of deciding which bases to recommend be closed to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
• Officials tour area planned for online courses – New Mexico legislators took a look at what could be the future of public education when they took a tour on Wednesday of facilities which will be used for the online courses at Portales High School.

May 20
• Agreement proposed to align abilities and resources – A meeting will be held today at City Hall to create a mutual aid agreement to align the abilities and resources of four entities – Roosevelt County, Portales, Curry County and Clovis. The intent is to unite the entities and their resources in order to prepare for a June 24 BRAC commission hearing at Marshall Junior High in Clovis. A nine-member commission will hold a hearing in the community on why Cannon Air Force Base should be kept open.
• Portales business climate is good – Business is booming with more than 10 new businesses which have been started in Portales over the last year, according to the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce.

May 22
• Community working to save Cannon – The Portales aspect of the Operation Keep Cannon campaign is well under way with city officials and community leaders wanting as many people from Roosevelt County to be at the regional public hearing where Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) committee members will be present. The hearing is set for June 24 in Clovis.
• Lewis named NEI Teacher of the year – Leslie Lewis, who teaches at Portales Junior High and Broad Horizons Education Center, won the Newspapers in Education Teacher of the Year Award for Roosevelt County. The award was given by Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico.

May 24
• ENMU uses bonds to upgrade buildings – ENMU representatives are investing in the future of the campus in the form of building upgrades, courtesy of system revenue bonds. The ENMU Board of Regents approved the issuance of $9.325 million in revenue bonds to renovate the university. Renovations will include work on the Campus Union Building, West Campus Apartments, Chavez and Harding halls and perhaps new elevators for Bernalillo and Lincoln Halls.

May 25
• Smith, Self named greatest male and female athletes – Chris Smith and Rachelle Self were named best male and female athletes at Portales High School at the conclusion of Monday’s athletic banquet.
• Five finalists named for Portales’ superintendent spot – The committee involved in the search for a new superintendent has narrowed down the selection to five finalists – all with ties to Roosevelt County. The finalists are David Briseño, Jack Burch, Robert Crane, Randy Fowler and Melvin Nusser.
• ENMU’s letter campaign draws support for CAFB – A letter-writing campaign, mostly generated from door-to-door visits to university departments, has resulted in 1,136 letters addressed to the nine-member Base Realignments and Closures (BRAC) commission, all in support of keeping Cannon Air Force Base open.

May 26
• Top students to speak at graduation – Kari Jones has been named valedictorian at Portales High School and Aaron Stoutjesdyk will be salutatorian.
• Community urged to remember soldiers – Veterans want members of the Portales community to celebrate Memorial Day and help remember those who gave their lives for America’s freedom. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9515 will each conduct activities during the weekend in commemoration of those who served in the military.

May 27
• Commission joins mutual aid agreement – Roosevelt County commissioners are in, making it all four government entities in Roosevelt and Curry county which are donating money for the lobbying efforts to keep Cannon Air Force Base open.
• Tradition goes on – Students at Portales High School helped keep a 77-year Maypole winding tradition on Thursday night at PHS. PHS is one of the few high schools left in the country who holds an elaborate Maypole celebration.

May 29
• Portales’ 2005 class graduates – The end of high school started new beginnings for the 138 listed graduates of Portales High School during the annual graduation ceremony on Friday night at Greyhound Arena.
• 26th annual tele-auction begins June 6 – Call it shopping at home, but for a worthy, entertaining and educational cause. The 29th annual KENW-TV Tele-Auction will take over the area airwaves June 6 through June 11 as 2,000 items are auctioned, ranging from $5 “Steal of the Night” items up to a vacation for $5,714.

May 31
• Local service honors those who’ve served – Memorial Day represents the sacrifices of millions for some, and the connection to friends and family for others. Those views were shared Monday during Portales’ annual Memorial Day program held at the city cemetery.

June 1
• Locals splash into summer – As May ends and June begins, the Portales swimming pool is filled with children enjoying the start of summer. The swimming pool has been open since Thursday and many children have started going. Although it was slow the first few days when it was cloudy, once the skies cleared, the city swimming pool became busy.
• BRAC team meets – The strategic team formed to help save Cannon Air Force Base from closure by the Pentagon came together for the first time Tuesday. Comprised of local groups, state groups and three paid lobbying firms, the strategic team set up shop at Clovis Community College.

June 2
• Committee asks for economic analysis – Military value will be the main detail the Base Realignment and Closure Committee will be looking at, but Portales residents are making sure to cover all the angles by stressing the economic impact to Portales. The Keep Cannon Portales committee met Wednesday to discuss the economic impact to Portales, the regional hearing on June 24 and the marketing aspect of the Keep Cannon project.
• Seniors-to-be gather for Boys State – About 180 New Mexico high school seniors-to-be are staying on the ENMU campus this week for an annual introduction to government processes known as Boys State.

June 3
• Financing holds up downtown hotel refurbishment – Completion of financing details is all that stand in the way of starting the remodeling effort of the Portales Inn. Steve Nushimuta, a San Diego developer, is hopeful the remodeling of the Portales Inn will begin in the summer.
• Center offering summer youth program – Parents will have another option for their children this summer to help encourage health activity. Johnny Ledbetter, Portales Recreation Center director, said the goal of the inaugural summer youth program is to keep children healthy and active.

June 5
• Rodeo queens rally together for Hope Bilbrey – Hope Bilbrey’s health problems may have caused her coronation on Memorial Day to be canceled, but the rodeo queens of Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico continued to help in raising funds throughout the week. The queens have been doing radio spots and talking with media outlets, promoting a rodeo lifestyle and encouraging donations to the Hope Bilbrey Fund.
• Wilson calls BRAC round ‘uphill fight’ – Congresswoman Heather Wilson is concerned abut the guarded nature of the Pentagon in regard to releasing data to communities affected by BRAC. She believes it is hamstringing Eastern New Mexico’s efforts to get Cannon removed from the closure list.
• Heritage Days full of family fun – Whether people want to play poker riding a motorcycle or watch competitors carry 50-pound peanut bags and hurdle obstacles, the 2005 Heritage Days in Portales will offer many activities for families to enjoy.

June 7
• Economist wants community assistance for impact study – Erin Ward, New Mexico State University economist, wants to pinpoint the economic effect the closure of Cannon Air Force Base will have on Portales and she needs help from Portales business owners. The economic impact study will be presented to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) committee when they make a visit to Clovis in late June
• Area officials find flaws in BRAC reports – Randy Harris, a member of the Committee of Fifty, said deviations in the scoring system used to rate bases for closure were found in a report the Department of Defense has released regarding criteria used in the compilation of the BRAC list which includes Cannon as a possible site for closure.

June 8
• Husband rescues wife from house fire – A Portales man saved his wife from a fire which destroyed the interior of their house in the early morning hours. Bill Machen, 62, and Faye Machen, 58, escaped the fire which destroyed their house at 317 E. Kaywood.
• DA seeks death penalty – The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office will seek the death penalty against two men accused of killing an elderly Portales couple earlier this year. Jerry Fuller and Stanley Bedford are accused of kidnapping and killing Odis, 70, and Doris Newman, 69. The Newmans’ bodies were discovered in the trunk of a burned car on March 2.
• Support from neighbors – Not only are Clovis and Portales trying to keep Cannon Air Force Base open, but other parts of Eastern New Mexico and West Texas are contributing their support. Mayor Orlando Ortega and Clovis Mayor David Lansford traveled to Amarillo on Monday to talk about the Keep Cannon Open effort with Amarillo outgoing mayor Trent Sisemore and mayor-elect Debra McCartt.

June 9
• Restaurant set to open under new ownership – The Portales downtown area will be alive again after 5 p.m. this summer with the opening of a new restaurant at the site of the old Roosevelt restaurant. The Territorial will offer Mexican and American food.
• One-car crash claims man’s life – A Portales man involved in a one-car accident Tuesday night between Clovis and Cannon Air Force Base died Wednesday at a hospital in Lubbock. Danny Ruther, 21, was pronounced dead after 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
• Construction on horizon for north Portales – The Portales City Council, in a meeting Tuesday night, authorized the start of a construction project to improve curbs and gutters in north Portales.

June 10
• New emergency management coordinator settling in – Chuck Haman has been working as the Portales emergency management coordinator for about a month now, and together with Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry, they are putting together a standard operating procedure for emergencies and severe weather.

June 12
• BRAC could affect volunteers – Joyce Davis’ letter underscoring the impact of Cannon Air Force Base in Eastern New Mexico is currently on a postal trail to the Pentagon. The coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Curry and Roosevelt Counties wanted to point out to the Base Realignment and Closure commission which will decide the fate of the base the volunteer efforts of base personnel in the community.
• Execution chances generally are low – The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office announced Tuesday prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Jerry Fuller and Stanley Benford who are accused of kidnapping and killing an elderly Portales couple. The chances the two Portales men will actually be executed if convicted is low, officials with the attorney general’s office said. Seeking the death penalty is a long process full of pitfalls and appeals.

June 14
• ENMU’s Bennett, Gilliland in top 10 at national rodeo – Eastern New Mexico University sophomore Brittany Bennett and senior James Gilliland were both in the top 10 in their events after Monday’s first go in the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. Bennett is in barrel racing and Gilliland is in team roping.
• Dream continues for award nominees – Clytie Calton is one of the four finalists for the Pioneer of the Year Award which will be given out during the Pioneer of the Year reception on Friday to start the 2005 Heritage Days festival. Calton and her husband, George, started Calton Furniture more than 45 years ago.

June 15
• KENW-TV tele-auction deemed a success – Bid they did as viewers helped KENW-TV raise $65,000 during its 29th annual tele-auction which ran June 6 through last Saturday.
• Candidate carved path of his own – Jim Williamson epitomizes the pioneering spirit of Roosevelt County, said Rick Hauptmann, who has nominated the 92-year-old rancher for the Pioneer of the Year Award. The award will be presented to one of four nominees during Heritage Days on Friday.
• Residents prepare for BRAC hearing – At least 16 buses will be on hand June 24 to take Portales residents to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission hearing in Clovis, according to the Portales “Operation Keep Cannon” committee.

June 16
• Some communities can’t afford water project – The Ute Water pipeline project is in danger of losing another partner. Quay County Manager Terry Turner on Wednesday said the county will more than likely opt out of the project.
• Hilliard takes pride in county’s history – Jane Elizabeth Mauk Hilliard comes from a long line of community volunteers and leaders and not only devotes financial support to things she believes in, but she is a hands-on person as well. Hilliard is one of four nominees for the Pioneer of the Year Award to be given during Heritage Days.
• Elida mayor resigns after two years – Elida Mayor Gerald Lee gave his resignation to the Elida board of trustees on Monday night. Mayor pro-tem Nancy Ward will fill the role until March when the position is up for election.

June 17
• Former Hounds makes short trip to AAA ball – Former ENMU pitcher Gabe DeHoyos recently got a brief taste of life just below the bigs when he was called up to the Kansas City Royals’ Triple-A Omaha team for a couple of weeks. He was promoted from Class A Burlington, Iowa.
• Hospital receives grant for scanner – A full body MRI scan of patients in Portales in time will be a 24-7 option in the Roosevelt General Hospital with the help of a $1.04 million grant and loan from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program.
• Award nominee survived despite many hardships – Ellen Marcus and her husband went through The Great Depression as farmers and raised children at a time when they faced many struggles. The 95-year-old is one of four Pioneer of the Year nominees, one of which will be chosen Pioneer of the Year during Heritage Days.

June 19
• Hilliard has strong, helping presence in community – Jane Elizabeth Mauk Hilliard, a longtime volunteer, was named the 2005 Pioneer of the Year during Roosevelt County’s Heritage Days.
• Heritage Days: Fiddlin’, fun – Hundreds of people came out to the annual Heritage Days celebration at City Park on Saturday to fiddle around, rev up their cycles, place their pets on parade and show off their wheels.
• Chamber’s new manager aims for future – When Sharon King retired from ENMU in May, her original plan was to relax. Instead, she took over as Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce manager on June 1.

June 22
• BRAC tickets available tonight – Ticket distribution is tonight in Portales for the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) hearing set for Friday in Clovis. Tickets are free and on a first-come, first-serve basis with a limit of one ticket per person.
• Council, judge, spar over duties – Portales City Council members verbally sparred with Municipal Judge Fred Arnold on Tuesday over the judge’s salary and office hours. Councilors discussed increasing the judge’s salary from $15,000 to $20,000 but wanted language in the agreement to require a minimum number of hours for the higher salary and approved 7-to-1 the intent to adopt the ordinance.
• County approves gross receipts tax increase – Roosevelt County residents will see an additional tax on their gross receipts beginning Jan. 1 after county commissioners approved a 1/16 gross receipts tax ordinance on Tuesday.

June 23
• Skeleton crews expected during BRAC hearing – Essential public services will be available during the Base Realignment and Closure Commission regional hearing on Friday, but many public offices will operate on skeleton crews and others will be shut so employees can participate in the rally and events.
• Crowds sparse for BRAC tickets – Officials expected crowds throughout Wednesday night at the ticket giveaway for Friday’s BRAC hearing but left the Roosevelt County Courthouse with about 75 percent of the tickets unclaimed, with 50 tickets still available for the auditorium where the hearing will take place.

June 24
• Survey says ‘Close skate park’ – The Portales Recreational Board recommended the closure of the skate park at Rotary Park after receiving results of nearly 500 surveys, many of which indicated the skate park wasn’t safe.

June 26
• Bus caravans feel confident upon return – Portales resident, wearing canary-yellow shirts, stepped off the school buses at Greyhound Arena about midday Friday with a feeling of optimism. They had been to the BRAC regional hearing in Clovis to show support for Cannon and felt mostly good about their efforts.
• And now what? Officials plan to keep fighting – By all accounts, supporters of Cannon Air Force Base on Friday made a compelling argument to spare the facility for closure. Now what? Keep arguing is the advice of Clovis’ Walter Bradley, who was New Mexico lieutenant governor when Kirtland Air Force Base was removed from the BRAC list in 1995.

June 28
• Wheat yields double yearly average – Randy McCasland, vice-president of Garvey Processing in Roosevelt County, said the county wheat growers usually produce 12 bushels per acre but are seeing numbers in the 30s.
• Sales start slow, finish with bang – Fireworks stand operators are keeping an eye on sales as the July Fourth weekend approaches and fire department officials are keeping an eye on stand operators.

June 29
• Officials decline to release autopsy related to Cannon death – The autopsy report for a female military dependent who died at CAFB last year has been completed. However, eight months after 20-year-old Kimberly Novak died, the investigation is still ongoing and officials declined to release autopsy findings.
• New Mexico Secretary of Health, entourage discuss issues at La Casa – Teen pregnancies, drug use and a lack of local mental health services were major concerns that New Mexico Secretary of Health, Michelle Lujan Grisham and an entourage, discussed at La Casa Family Health Center on Tuesday.
• Youth summit impressed local teens – Area high school students left a motivational speech from Liz Murray thinking they don’t have it that bad in their lives and they can overcome obstacles. Murray went from being homeless to going to Harvard University. Her speech was part of a day-long youth summit at ENMU.

June 30
• City, county task force nets 55 drug arrests since March – There have been 55 drug-related arrests since early March in Roosevelt County after the formation of a drug task force between county deputies and city police officers. The majority of the arrests have been for methamphetamines, but there have also been arrests for marijuana.
• Feds aim to combat meth production – Federal legislation is in the works that could tightly regulate the sale of ingredients used to produce methamphetamines. However, similar measures on the state, county and city level could be in place well before a national law takes hold. The Combat Meth Act aims to eradicate the production and distribution of meth, largely by eliminating the opportunity to purchase pseudoephedrine.