Column: Ghost town N.M.’s newest treasure

Would it be crass of me to observe a presidential candidate ranted for months about how he would lead the nation out of debt and then closed his campaign with a $4.8 million debt? (Really!) We won't have Cutesie Newtsie to kick around anymore.

So toxic is the national political scene it makes us grateful to live in New Mexico with its small time politics, it splendid sunsets, its quiet lifestyle, and its sometimes exciting news. Exciting news? Where?

Suggested slogan: "It's Happening in Hobbs!"

You know about the Hobbs of old, the city of oil that oozes and basketballs that bounce. To understand the new Hobbs you must add to that mix horse racing, casino gambling, and the county-wide EnergyPlex which Hobbs Chamber exec Grant Taylor says is attracting an array of innovative companies. But if Hobbs were a sentence, its exclamation point would be recent announcement of one of the most extraordinary projects in the nation.

It's a high tech Ghost Town covering 15 square miles. The Albuquerque Journal's Winthrop Quigley calls it a "$1 billion suburb where no one will ever live." With completion scheduled next year, the initial phase will employ 1,500 in construction and 350 on site when fully operational.

Quigley talks about ancillary and supporting businesses that could employ 3,500 more people.

If this isn't a corporate daydream, it has to be the best small town "get" ever. To borrow a line from Abe Lincoln, we need to find out what Hobbs leaders are drinking and send a case to industrial development folks in the rest of the state.

Ghost Town will be the home base of CITE, the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation. It is rather difficult to wrap one's mind around the concept of spending a gadzillion bucks just testing futuristic stuff in a town no one lives in. They are talking about delivery trucks without drivers cruising the area, and "smart" washing machines, and other appliances and household products that will communicate with one another.

Although not in the initial plans, it might be wise to contract with psychologists to find out if anyone really wants to live in a house where you go to sleep knowing the toaster is chatting with the vacuum cleaner and the oven is cooking something up with the hair drier. Appliances with brains? Would you rather discuss the national debt with Newt or the garbage disposal? Okay, close call.

Assuming the Ghost Town developers are looking for futuristic ideas, here's one. Please find a way for me to quickly swoosh from Albuquerque to Atlanta without being patted down and felt up, or buying a separate ticket for my travel bags, or forking out even more cash if I want to sit in adjoining seats with my grandkids.

The unconscionable airlines are having their way with us now, but wouldn't we look forward to the day we can fork them the gesture of discontent?

Ghost Town could well turn out to be a New Mexico treasure, and, as such, we all need to get with the program. First, we need a new name. "Ghost Town" doesn't cut it. A ghost town echoes with the eerie voices of a distant past. The test city will echo with the humming voices of an eerie future.

So, today this column invites you to send in your suggestions for a really snazzy name that might capture the city and its futuristic purpose. Give us the name and the reason you think it fits. New Mexico awaits your creativity. As does the blender.

Ned Cantwell will be sitting by his Inbox, mailto: ncantwell@bajabb.com

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