Chamber celebrates recent economic growth in area

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

The annual Chamber Banquet held Friday night at The Landing on Cannon Air Force Base was full of awards, slide shows and even a song by 12 former Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce presidents.

The “Celebrating the Momentum” banquet was attended by legislators, city and county commissioners, law enforcement officers, area businesses, media, representatives of Southwest Cheese and Air Force officers. The point was to bring together the people responsible for the positive economic growth in Clovis and Curry County.

“In very recent years we’ve been very blessed here to see success in that effort (to make the economy grow), and it’s a great feeling,” said Stacey Martin, 2005 chamber president.

Martin said under his administration Clovis will see the cheese plant open and perhaps even the civic center. However, those events, he conceded, were set in motion long before he took charge.

“In my mind, what we are seeing today is the result of years of laying the groundwork by past chamber and county leaders and the volunteers that work with them,” he said in his speech.

Perhaps the most entertaining moment of the banquet was when 12 former Chamber presidents formed an impromptu singing group dubbed the P.P. Corral, and without rehearsal, sang Kenny Roger’s “Through the Years.”

A slide show presented by the Chamber showed all the economic progress over the last year, highlighting the groundbreaking at the Southwest Cheese plant site and the introduction of Hollywood into eastern New Mexico with the arrival of the “Believe in Me” production team.

Of course, the annual award winners were also revealed.

T. Ray Little was named ambassador of the year for his active participation as a chamber ambassador, his near-perfect attendance at ambassador functions and his enthusiastic and committed attitude, 2004 chamber president Jay Neff said at the banquet.

Wells Fargo Bank was named business of the year. Neff said the bank is a valued partner in the momentum being celebrated. Virtually all Chamber meetings are held at the bank and they hosted the temporary offices for the “Believe in Me” production team in the fall.

Volunteer of the year went to Sarah Zufelt of High Plains Harley-Davidson. Her service on the Chamber board’s retail committee, her participation in Cannon Appreciation Days and her leadership in her annual toy run that delivered toys to 600 children were among the reasons she was chosen.

Citizen of the year was presented to Randy Harris, president and chief executive officer of Clovis National Bank. Neff said he received the award for his banking savvy, his contribution to a resurfaced road between Clovis and Cannon and his efforts to secure Cannon’s place in the future of this community.

The heart award went to former Clovis City Manager Ray Mondragon. Neff said the award is given to one who has given their heart to the community. Under his leadership as city manager, many positive things happened in the community, Neff said.

Mondragon said he shares the award with everyone who has been involved in producing the momentum in Clovis.

Two other special momentum awards were presented to Chamber Executive Director Ernie Kos and Clovis Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Chase Gentry for their efforts behind the scenes working toward economic development.