Funding spark

By Tony Parra

With a little over a month left before July 4, Roosevelt County Chamber Commerce officials are hoping to get a big funding boost or they may not be able to conduct fireworks’ displays in the future.
Chamber Manager Pat Willis said the goal is to raise around $10,000 for this year’s fireworks display. She said the chamber has already spent $7,500 on the fireworks display because the fireworks have to be ordered early.
Willis said as of Wednesday, chamber officials have raised $3,750 for the fireworks display.
“It’s funded strictly by donation,” Willis said. “The money we raise is used only for fireworks. We can only continue to do it each year if we raise enough money to at least make up the $7,500.”
Willis said last year the RCCC was able to raise $8,000. She said usually the RCCC receives a little over $7,500. Willis said the chamber also has to spend its own money on ads in the newspaper and postage for sending out funding request letters.
“Usually, we just get by (with $7,500),” Willis said. “We do it (organize funding efforts) on good faith. If we were to receive $10,000, then the money over the cost of the display would be saved for next year’s fireworks display.”
The fireworks display will be conducted by Allan Silvers, owner of the Desert Star Pyrotechnics in Clovis. Willis said he conducted the fireworks display last year.
“Alan did a great job for us last year,” Willis said. “It lasted about a half an hour last year. The finale lasted for a long time. It was really nice.”
The fireworks display will take place by the Greyhound Arena at Eastern New Mexico University, Willis said.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without the university’s cooperation,” Willis said. “It costs them money to have the display take place there. They have to spend overtime money to their staff for clean-up efforts.”
The fireworks display took place at the Portales Softball Complex a few years ago on the west side of Portales, but Willis said most people prefer it take place in the parking lot of the Greyhound Arena.
“People like it there because of the proximity,” Willis said. “People can stay at home and watch the fireworks from their back yard. Some people said they couldn’t see it from their homes when it was at the softball complex.”
The terrain was also another concern for having the fireworks display by the softball complex. Willis said there were stickers in the fields.
“I remember one year it rained out there and the clay was sloppy and it was stuck to a lot of vehicles,” said Helen Stinnett, former fireworks funding organizer.
The fireworks displays used to be conducted by Portales attorney Stephen Doerr and members of his law office. But they had to give up the project because of increased workload in the law firm, said Stinnett, who is also the firm’s secretary.
“Our business grew and it was a lot to take on,” Stinnett said. “It was hard to do, but we would raise $10-to-$13,000 a year. If they keep working at it they’ll be able to raise the money needed.”
Contributions can be dropped off at the RCCC and contributors will be recognized in local advertisements.