Cheese plant, Cannon expansion and Ute Water Project are big stories early in year

Editor’s note: The following is a brief look at the stories that made news locally in 2006. The PNT will run the year-in-review in each of the coming issues through at least Jan. 1.

January 2, 2005
• Bradley sees big things for cheese plant — Former Lt. Gov. and Clovis native Walter Bradley was in town handling government and business relations with Dairy Farmers of America. He said he will be working on road projects for dairies and said the Southwest Cheese Plant will have a huge impact on area dairies.
• Portales’ rainfall most since 1941 — Portales’ rainfall stayed constant throughout 2004 and when farmers and city residents turned their calendars to 2005, they said goodbye to the area’s wettest year since 1941 with 26.83 inches of precipitation through the first week of December.

January 4
• Tax changes create new budget balancing — City officials fear a new tax could dissuade businesses. New Mexicans are now free to purchase groceries without a tax, but it means they have to pay a higher tax for everything else. To compensate, the gross receipt tax in Portales has increased from 6.8125 percent to 7.5625 percent.
• Airport in Clovis gets new service — The air service at the Clovis Municipal Airport will be changing in the next couple of months. The city’s request made to the Department of Transportation for service change has been upheld at the federal level. However, the number of flights in and out will decrease under the new deal.

January 5
• Speeding concerns citizens — Portales residents expressed concern during Tuesday’s city meeting over road conditions, speeding and public safety. Rick Matthews said he has seen tractor trailers traveling at a high rate of speed in residential areas and suggested an alternate route for semi-trucks. Mayor Orlando Ortega said the state highway department has been contacted about the condition of First and Second streets, which are state highways.
• Commission upset about road funding — A rash of holidays crimes has the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s department deputies tracking down cases of burglary and forgery. Roosevelt County Sheriff Tom Gossett said during the Roosevelt County meeting on Tuesday that burglaries during the holiday season amounted to a loss of in excess of $32,000 in cash and property.

January 6
• Governor appoints regent — New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson appointed Pauline Ponce of Roswell to the Eastern New Mexico University Board of Regents. Ponce will replace outgoing regent Blaine Hess of Roswell.
• Portales resident wants to share gift of baseball — Former Ram pitcher working with Dodgers. Logan White, a 1980 Portales High School graduate who started as pitcher with the Seattle Mariners, is director of amateur scouting for the Los Angeles Dodgers and wants to bring his love of baseball to Portales and help youth of the city along the way. He hopes to hold clinics in the summer.

January 7
• Homans talks development with Portales, Clovis — Movies and cheese were the topics Thursday when officials met with the state’s top economic development official. Rick Homans was at the Yam Theater in Portales after speaking in Clovis about attracting movies to the state. MainStreet officials consider Yam Theater essential to city renovation.
• Restaurants seek new locations in Clovis, Portales — Burger King closes indefinitely. Portales residents will have to make an extended trip if they want it their way after Burger King restaurants in Portales and Clovis closed their doors.
January 9
• “Babe” calls it quits after 56 years as barber — James “Babe” Morgan has hung up his clippers. After 56 years of working as a barber, he’s no longer sharing stories and weather reports with his customers.
• CAFB gives details regarding proposed expansion’s impact — The Air Force has released a report outlining the environmental consequences of a proposed air space expansion. According to the report, the expansion will have some airspace and noise consequences and no noticeable impact on other environmental resources.

January 11
• Family comes first as Marty’s closes doors — LaDawna Brooks loves being a pharmacist and loves helping people. She loves her family more though, and that was a central reason for closing her business, Marty’s Pharmacy, which has been open since 1973.
• City planning weekend lock-in for area youth — A lockin from Sunday night to Monday afternoon is the capper to a weekend of activities to pay respects to the civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., following a parade, talent show and music performances.
• Board pleased with online traffic — Portales Municipal Schools Director of Technology Mike Rackler was pleased to report during a school board meeting that a good number of parents are going to the school’s Web site to view their children’s grades.

January 12
• Holloway resigns as superintendent — Portales School Board members on Monday evening approved to have James Holloway’s contract extended through June of 2006, however, Holloway went with a one-year contract based on a mutual agreement between the board and administration.
• No leads found in search for missing Alamogordo woman — The search continues for a missing Alamogordo woman who never returned from a walk on Sept. 24. She’s the mother of Josh Lynn, a former Eastern New Mexico University Greyhound football player and coach.

January 13
• Jumping to help — R.M. James Elementary School students said they were jumping for joy and for a good cause during a Jumpathon to raise money for tsunami victims in southeast Asia. Students raised $500.
• CAFB: Expansion to create ‘noise consequences’ — An environmental report on the effects of a proposed military airspace expansion estimates increased noise that could be intrusive but would cause no damage to animals or humans.

January 14
• Students learn while shadowing — Portales Junior High students were in full force amongst the Portales workforce on Thursday as eight-graders took part in a job shadowing program.

January 16
• Two decades pass quickly for Ingle — State Senator Stuart Ingle, who was sworn into the New Mexico Legislature in 1985, now represents Portales as the minority leader in the state senate.
• Director pleased with PHS choir — Portales High School Choir Director Franklin Smith said Portales students represented the high school well for All-State, performing in Albuquerque on Jan. 8
• Sustaining state budget a central topic at new session — Sustaining the state budget will be a central topic when the New Mexico Legislature convenes for a 60-day session Tuesday. Local legislators said inflating health care costs and problems financing Medicaid have become an increased burden.

January 18
• ENMU selects fraternity founder as student regent — Diego Espinoza, founder of ENMU’s Lambda Theta Phi fraternity for Latino students and a sprinter for the Greyhound track team, has been appointed by Gov. Bill Richardson to the student regent position at ENMU.
• VFW patrons come to aid of sick child — Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Portales held a benefit dinner and concert on Saturday to raise money to help with the medical costs of ocular surgery for 2-year-old Jacob Strong of Albuquerque, grandson of Bud Strong, formerly of Portales.
• Child received all-night lessons regarding King — On Monday, men and women from different backgrounds and different skin tones joined hands to sing during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the Memorial Building.

January 19
• RCDC addition will cost $2.6 million — Roosevelt County Commissioners were told Tuesday it would cost an estimated $2.6 million to build a 72-bed addition to the Roosevelt County Detention Center. The addition would be funded in part by a gross receipt tax increase of 1/16th of a cent that went into effect Jan. 1.
• City officials commit to Ute Water Project — Mayor Orlando Ortega and city officials approved a Portales commitment to the Ute Water Project during Tuesday’s city meeting.

January 20
• Heartland takes care of minor issues — Officials at Heartland Continuing Care Center in Portales respond to a government Web site,, which lists 25 health deficiencies at the center, three less than the nursing home with the most in the state. Heartland administrator Ranelle Tweedy said the deficiencies are outdated and have been corrected.
• NMFA helps fund Ute Water Project — The New Mexico Finance Authority and governing body of the Ute Water Project reached an agreement Wednesday for a $2 million grant to help fund the initial stages of the proposed project.
• Proposed townhouse to go up in Portales — A proposed affordable housing unit of 72 townhouses, 60 of which will be eligible for low-income families, is in the works to go up on property east of Roosevelt General Hospital, according to Beverly Bennett of Vista Nueva Realty.

January 21
• Sunland Inc. celebrates opening of new building — Sunland Inc. President Jimmie Shearer said it’s been a long time coming, but on Thursday he and other Sunland representatives unveiled a new peanut butter processing building.
• Novak relatives want answers — In the back of Linda Crozier Sweet’s mind, the haunting memory of her niece’s mysterious death in October lingers. Her niece, Kimberly Susan Novak, 20, died Oct. 28 in her home at Cannon Air Force Base and three months later, the family is still waiting to hear how she died.

January 23
• Fewer patients translates to less revenue for RGH — The number of patients at Roosevelt General Hospital went down for November and December and Kevin Rampage, Roosevelt General Hospital chief financial officer, reported revenue and the number of patients were lower than projections.
• Roosevelt County cheese plant road plan full of snags — Roosevelt County and city officials hope of building a cheese plant road leading up from the south on Roosevelt County to the new Southwest Cheese plant encountered a snag on Friday – the acquisition of property.

January 25
• Ranchers: More noise from Cannon means more problems — Several ranchers and a non-military pilot brought up concerns at a public meeting here to discuss Cannon Air Force Base’s proposed military airspace expansion. Ranchers expressed concern over how the noise level would effect their ways of life.
• Police to speak on meth labs — New Mexico State police officials will be presenting a drug awareness seminar Thursday to discuss the health and law problems that come with methamphetamine labs to make the community aware of problems and how to handle such situations.
• Counterfeit bills making rounds — Portales residents may be carrying counterfeit bills in their wallets and purses and not even know it. Portales police will hold a seminar on how to detect counterfeit money, saying there were incidents during the Christmas holidays in which Portales businesses received counterfeit money.
• New education dean arrives — Jerry Harmon is the new Dean of the College of Education and Technology at Eastern New Mexico University, replacing Dr. Steven Russell, who accepted a position at another school.

January 26
• Seminar set for small business owners in area — Members of ACCION and West Corp. are targeting Portales small business owners and entrepreneurs in an effort to help them with their businesses during a workshop at Portales City Hall.
• Quiroz begins stint as Zias’ softball coach — Armando Quiroz, a man who has won three Arizona prep state championships in a four-year-span at Tucson’s Flowing Wells, is ENMU’s fourth head softball coach in just over two years.

January 27
• High school students remember former classmates in Iraq — Portales High School students are devoting their time and efforts to provide food and hygiene supplies to United States soldiers in Iraq, helping former PHS graduates by sending them care packages.
• Health fair coming this weekend — Saturday’s Health and Wellness Fair will be an opportunity to explore the healthcare options available in Eastern New Mexico. The fair is sponsored by the Curry County Wellness Council and Freedom Newspapers.

January 28
• Second person charged with first-degree murder — A second man was indicted Thursday of first-degree murder in the death of a woman whose body was found buried in his backyard. Clifford Baca, 20, also faces charges of tampering with evidence and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with the death of 19-year-old Amber Robinson.
• Residents have mixed reaction of Cannon Air Force Base’s expansion proposal — Although representatives from CAFB said there will be no potential to convert farmland to non-agricultural uses – no significant impacts to livestock and no impact to property values – the results of an environmental impact study on CAFB’s proposed expansion did not sit well with some ranchers and residents.
• Group wants to persuade men to change their spiritual roles — Eight men, including Baptists, Catholics and Pentecostals, gathered at the Portales Public Library on Saturday for a “Men of God Arise” meeting to persuade men to change their roles in their families, churches and communities over concern of women becoming the spiritual leaders and financial supporters of the family.

January 30
• Supporters, critics speak out — Area ranchers’ dissent toward the Air Force’s proposed air-space expansion at CAFB was countered by support from Clovis residents at a town hall meeting Friday at Clovis Community College.
• Bill would help undocumented students get aid — Portales city officials and members of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, an organization at Portales High School, met at the PHS auditorium to discuss legislation, which if approved, would allow for undocumented high school students to receive financial aid at New Mexico’s college and universities. They are supporting such a legislative proposal.

February 1
• Voters to make school board choices today — Roosevelt County residents will be hitting the poles today to see who they want making decisions on the Portales district school board. District 3 and 4 seats are up for election.
• ENMU graduate serving as captain in Iraq — Capt. Henry Alvarez, a 1996 graduate of ENMU, recently became the new commander of the First Squadron 7th United States Cavalry Regiment serving in Iraq.
• New laws could be inconvenience for late-night businesses — New Mexico convenience store employees will not have to brave the graveyard shift alone anymore. Starting today, convenience stores must have two employees working between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or allow customers access through safety features such as a bullet proof glass under a new regulation passed by the New Mexico Environment Department.

February 2
• Commitment sought on Ute Water Project — Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority Project Manager Scott Verhines is trying to pick up steam for the Ute Water Project before his trip to Washington, D.C. Portales city officials are committed to the project.
• Garret, Brooks achieve school board victories — Alan Garrett won the District 3 seat on the Portales School Board election on Tuesday night and David Brooks held on in District 4 by a 33-vote margin.

February 3
• Man accused of abusing infant — A pretrial date of March 14 has been set for Robert Neely, 24, accused of abusing his infant son. According to medical reports, the child suffered internal injuries to the brain and broken bones.
• Greyhounds sign four to letters of intent — Four players signed national letters of intent with the Greyhound football team on Wednesday, including Marcus Robinson, Reggie Ellis, Michael Capparelli and Jeremy Thompson.

February 4
• Program created to curb sales of products for meth — District Attorney Matt Chandler has teamed up with law enforcement officials and area retailers to curb sales of products commonly used to manufacture methamphetamines.
• Building set for March completion — Roosevelt General Hospital Administrator James D’Agostino has had RGH board members and others tour the new medical office building addition and emergency room, which are set to be completed within the next two months.

February 6
• Low funds, large rainfall total make for bad combination — Budget cuts, developments sprouting like mushrooms and a year of heavy rain have exacerbated drainage problems in Clovis.
• Spaghetti served for a cause — The Altrusa Women’s Club held its annual spaghetti dinner Friday in the Portales High School Cafeteria before the boy’s District 4-3A basketball tilt to raise money for eyeglasses.

February 8
• Arraignment comes to second person accused of murder — A second Portales man, Clifford Baca, 20, was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge on Monday in connection with the death of a Portales woman, Amber Robinson, who was found buried in a back yard. Baca is the older brother of Richard Baca, 18, who is also charged with first-degree in Robinson’s death.
• Applebee’s set to build restaurant venue in Clovis — Another national chain restaurant is scheduled to open in Clovis in the near future. City officials said construction of an Applebee’s west of North Prince Street on Llano Estacado Blvd. will likely begin at the end of the month.

February 9
• Proposal could keep drunken drivers away from alcohol — New Mexicans convicted of drunken driving may not be able to buy beer, wine, whiskey or other liquor for five years under a proposal by a Republican lawmaker, Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington.
• Judge declines to reopen ‘04 public records case — A state district court judge on Tuesday denied a Clovis News Journal request to reconsider a public records case against Curry County ruled on last year. Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Joe Parker ruled that he had no jurisdiction in the case because the CNJ’s motion to reconsider was not heard within 30 days as required by law. CNJ attorneys said they asked the court to hear the motion in a timely fashion but the 30 days passed because of scheduling conflicts relating to the holiday season.

February 10
• Jewelry store set for golden anniversary — The owners of Woody’s Jewelry, Danny and Chris Woodward, will be celebrating their business’s 50th anniversary in March. The store broke ground in 1955 with H.L. “Woody” and Myrtice Woodward, Danny’s parents, as the owners.
• Scouts celebrate birthday week for organization — More than 500 boys and girls in Curry and Roosevelt counties celebrated a birthday on Tuesday and the celebration for Cub Scouts is set to continue the rest of the month.
• Man returns for customized career — Homegrown in Portales, Ron Knowles has returned to his roots and planted a new vehicle custom-designing shop, After Flash Custom Trucks, for enthusiasts.

February 11
• Deputy shortage leaves county without some nighttime coverage — Roosevelt County Sheriff Tom Gossett said because of a depleted staff, there have been nights recently with no deputies on patrol. Gossett blames this on low salaries and an inability to hire replacements.

February 13
• Running hired as new Clayton city manager — Mike Running, fire marshall of Portales Fire Department, was voted in 4-0 by the Clayton City Council to fill the city manager position that has been vacant for two months.
• Weather doesn’t delay construction of hotel — Trushas Patel of TNJ Management has confirmed on Friday that the new Holiday Inn Express hotel in Portales is scheduled to open in November despite rain and snow in the area.
• Expo to host more than 450 exhibitors — The 13th annual Agriculture Expo, highlighting Eastern New Mexico and West Texas’s agricultural industries, is set to have more than 450 exhibitors of farms, ranch and dairy products and services.

February 14
• ENMU students make lobbying efforts for building, equipment — Eastern New Mexico University students are on a crusade to convince legislators to spend $130,000 in a pair of projects at the school, $65,000 to renovate an anthropology facility next to Greyhound Arena and $65,000 for equipment for the theater building.
• Board postpones action on Broad Horizons move — After a heartfelt delivery by Broad Horizon students and parents, the Portales School Board postponed action for one month on moving the alternative educational center. Owners of land the school sits on are moving forward with development of property for other usages. Also, a drop in enrollment and increased cost per student is forcing the board to look at relocation options.

February 16
• Rams get past Ruidoso, stay unbeaten in district — The PHS Rams extended their winning streak in basketball to seven on Friday by beating Ruidoso.
• Floyd superintendent resigns from position — Floyd schools superintendent Wayne McCullar turned in his resignation at Monday night’s school board meeting, effective after the end of the school year.
• Council approves purchase — City official’s during Tuesday’s city meeting approved to allow city attorneys to draft a contract with Eric Dixon of Portales on the purchase of a city building at 301 S. Ave. A in the downtown area. Dixon will use the building for office space.
• Commissioners stress importance of working together — County commissioners voiced their displeasure during Tuesday’s county meeting with recent comments made by Roosevelt County Sheriff ‘s Department officials regarding their deputy shortage, noting they are doing what they can to get funds from Santa Fe.

February 17
• Ex-PHS runner qualifies for Boston Marathon — Bob Harmon Jr., a former Portales High School track team runner nearly a half century ago, will run in the Boston Marathon after qualifying for the 26.2-mile race with a time of 3 hours, 19 minutes and 42 seconds.
• Governing body aims to know worst-case scenario on Ute Water — The governing body of the Ute Water Projects hopes this spring to have an analysis that will show what would happen if the project is not completed, if communities were forced to retire farms to save water and estimations on when water wells will run dry.
• Portales Inn could be in operation by mid-summer — Officials working on the Portales Inn Hotel are optimistic that parts of the building could be open for business come this summer.

February 18
• Portales schools on mission to improve scores — Portales High School administration members said they are taking the necessary steps to ensure test scores will be higher than the last adequate yearly progress reports which labeled Portales Schools as not meeting requirements.
• Trial dates set for May — A trial date has been set for one of two brothers accused in the April slaying of 19-year-old Amber Robinson. Richard Baca, 18, will go on trial May 16-25 on charges of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
• Pending legislation keeps RGH waiting — Proposed bills in the state Legislature could leave the Roosevelt General Hospital board with a few answers to burning questions or create more questions themselves, including a pair of bills which would define marriage as being between a man and woman.

February 19
• Helping children with chili — The Kiwanis Club serves up chili at its annual fundraiser to help a rural school track meet for younger children in the spring, a swim meet at the city pool in the summer and the pet show at the Roosevelt County Fair.
• City officials aim to create guide for next 20 years — The future of Portales is not set in stone, but it is set in paper and Mayor Orlando Ortega and city councilors will have a chance to adopt the comprehensive plan of Portales’ future on March 1.
• PHS girls get back on track — Now that the Portales Lady Rams have the District 4-3A lead back (in basketball), they intend not to let it go.

February 22
• Former university employee charged with embezzlement — A former Eastern New Mexico University employee was arrested and charged Monday with forging her supervisor’s signature to embezzle more than $138,000 from a school account. Tammy Jo Garcia, 32, of arrested by Portales police on Monday morning and charged with embezzling over $20,000, one account of tampering with evidence and 70 counts of forgery.
• Speaker promotes value of farmers, ranchers in U.S. — Trent Loo’s message on Monday night at the banquet launching the 13th Annual New Mexico Ag Expo was clear: Stand up for the life of a farmer and rancher.

February 23
• Imports, college discussed by N.M. Cattle Growers — Phil Bidegain, former president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association updated Eastern New Mexico ranchers on topics ranging from the Canadian border to how to keep local agricultural students in the state.
• ENMU officials clarify details — An ENMU official said Tuesday that most of the money alleged to have been embezzled by a former university employee came from the New Mexico Higher Education Assessment Association and not from ENMU. Tammy Jo Garcia, 32, is charged with embezzling $138,314 from an NMHEAA fund and $1,359 from ENMU, according to an affidavit.

February 24
• Poetry comes natural for this cowboy — Cowboy poet and columnist Baxter Black will appear at a fundraising event for Miss Rodeo New Mexico on March 5 at the ENMU Campus Union Ballroom.
• Rotary marks 100th year — A century since Paul Harris and friends formed the first Rotary Club, there are 1.2 million members worldwide, including 60 who were in Portales on Wednesday as the Portales Rotary Club celebrated the anniversary.
• Weather not a problem on event’s final day The 13th annual New Mexico Ag Expo organizers and more than 450 vendors said they enjoyed the turnout on Tuesday and Wednesday which made the opportunity to create and maintain relationships with others involved in the agricultural industry.

February 25
• Theater comes full circle at festival — A half-century ago, the theater department at ENMU created a drama festival as a way to educate high school students and encourage them to attend ENMU. In its 50th year on the campus, the festival had another effect, as a feeder system for theater education in New Mexico.

February 27
• Rams get help for district title — PHS boys beat New Mexico Military Institute, winning the District 4-3A regular season title and assuring the Rams their first trip to the Class 3A state tournament since they won it in 2001.
• Sheriff’s department statistics indicated rise in burglary — Burglary crimes were up 27 percent in 2004 from 2003 in Roosevelt County, according to a press release from the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department.
• Holloway: Gaps exist in state’s budget proposal — The state budget approved Wednesday by the House would be “devastating” for Portales public schools if approved by the Senate, Portales Superintendent James Holloway said on Thursday. Holloway said the $4.7 billion proposed budget includes $2.1 billion for public schools, but Portales’ share will fall more than $1 million below budget expectations.