Top five local stories of 2004

Curry County saw 11 homicides in 2004.

Editor’s note: The Clovis News Journal asked readers to help us identify the top news stories of 2004. Here are results from our Web site poll:

1. Homicides were too frequent: 38 percent
Curry County experienced 11 homicides in 2004, including 10 in the city. The most recent was Tuesday’s bludgeoning death of a 75-year-old woman. Her 55-year-old son is charged with her slaying.

Arrests have been made in nine of the 11 cases.
Officials say Curry County has seen a huge jump in homicides in the last six years — from one each in 1999 and 2000 to 15 between 2001 and 2003.

Clovis Police Chief Bill Carey said increased gang-related activity and soured personal relationships are the biggest factors in the recent homicides.

2. Booming economy: 31 percent
The Clovis area grew in 2004, led by a surge in the residential home market, a nearly 8 percent increase in city gross receipts taxes and the addition of several new businesses.

There was plenty of other good news.

Construction began on a $190 million cheese plant that will ultimately employ 220 and generate $350 million in annual sales.

Clovis was also the primary site for the filming of a $10 million movie called “Believe in Me.”

3. A great year for rain: 18 percent
Clovis experienced its wettest year in four decades and the fourth wettest since the National Weather Service began keeping statistics in 1910.

The 28.82 inches of precipitation trailed only 1941 (46.91), 1923 (36.06) and 1960 (32.29).

Clovis received 3.31 inches of moisture in November, which slowed what was touted as a record cotton harvest.

It was the wettest November on record.

4. City and county financial struggles: 6 percent
The Curry County Adult Detention Center continues to be a financial drain on the county, with the number of inmates doubling since 2002, according to jail officials. The commission is still working on a proposed events center.

Meanwhile, the city debated long and hard before giving police officers a significant pay raise.

Now, officials are trying to find a way to fund the $714,000 annual raise.

5. Transition in leadership: 4 percent
Three top government officials resigned in the second half of the year.

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Neil Nuttall resigned after seven years to take a job with a Missouri junior college. County Manager Geneva Cooper resigned after 15 years and City Manager Ray Mondragon also stepped down.