Mayor promotes youth council

By Jack King: CNJ staff writer

A mayor’s youth council and a city youth center are among the goals set by city officials Wednesday in a strategic planning session for city government.

Other goals are continued work on efforts to get a sustainable water supply, completion of a salary and benefits package for city employees and continued efforts to address city transportation needs, including goals to improve city bus service and getting more connections for Clovis’ airport.

Mayor David Lansford, city commissioners Isidro Garcia, Juan Garza, Catherine Haynes, Lunell Winton, Robert Sandoval and Fred Van Soelen and all city department heads met from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the north annex of Clovis-Carver Public Library.

Haynes was the first to mention the need for a youth center, saying Joanne King, an eighth grader at Yucca Junior High, had called her and Van Soelen, asking their opinions about starting a Clovis teen center.

“I told her she had perfect timing, since I could bring it up at today’s meeting,” she said.

Lansford quickly seized on the idea and added that it is important to involve young people in planning the center.

“This is something we can work on for the next four years. If we hand it to them, there’s no ownership, but if we involve them in planning it there will be,” he said.

He said he’d like to create a mayor’s youth council and a youth leadership program similar to the Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Clovis.

“Young people should be intimately involved in the creation (of the youth center), not just a building, but there could be programs, outdoor activities, like a skate park,” he said.

“Before the end of the school year I’d like to talk to principals, counselors, teachers, student councils and student organizations at all the schools to begin some kind of a selection process (for youth group members). We could start the selection process by the end of the school year and may hold the first meeting next fall,” he said.

Lansford said the second major goal identified during the planning session was improving city transportation infrastructure.

“This will include improving intra-city infrastructure, like city streets, expanding CATS (Clovis Area Transit System) and improving air service,” he said.

City officials in the past have said they will build new headquarters for CATS.

He said Clovis and Lea County have been working to obtain an air connection to the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport.

“Clearly, a Clovis-Dallas/Ft. Worth connection would be of benefit to Clovis,” he said.

City Manager Ray Mondragon said the salary and benefits package is also an important goal.

“If I have to cut capital needs from your departments to reach salary and wage goals, I’m going to recommend that to the commission,” he told department heads.

He said the strategic planning session is a good opportunity for department heads to review issues in their departments with city commissioners, especially in light of the city’s recent growth.

Assistant City Manager Joe Thomas said it is “refreshing” to look at the goals the commission set in 2002 — the last time a strategic planning session was held — and realize they had been accomplished.

Previous goals included pay increases and pay incentives for police and fire fighters, obtaining a micro-plex designation with Portales, city hall improvements and economic development achievements like the Southwest Cheese plant, according to a list provided at the meeting.

Goals not yet achieved, what the planners called “challenges,” include hiring and retaining qualified personnel citywide, aging municipal infrastructure, community beautification and planning for growth, officials said.

City Commissioner Isidro Garcia, the longest-serving commissioner, said city officials don’t hold strategic planning sessions on a regular basis, but held one this year to assess their success at reaching the goals set in 2002.