By Tonya Garner: CNJ Staff Writer
In a darkened room, Curry County commissioners watched images Thursday of rundown buildings, tall weeds and accumulated trash flash across a screen.
Shot from a moving vehicle, the film showed what Clovis looks like to people entering Curry County, according to local businesswoman Rose Riley.
Riley said Cannon Air Force Base’s new mission was a driving force behind filming the conditions of the city entryways because Air Force personnel and their wives will be touring the area soon.
“People are coming from Fort Walton, (Fla.),” Riley said, “and this (trash) is what they are going to see.”
Owner of a local floral business, Riley said she approached the County Commission because current code enforcement is “pathetic.” She asked the commissioners to join in a task force to educate the public on cleaning up Clovis.
“We don’t need to just give people tickets,” Riley said. “We need to give them a solution.”
She proposed using inmates to mow the medians and pick up litter. “We (Curry County) have people who are a deficit to this community,” Riley said, “so they could do this (clean up) as community service.”
Riley ended her fervent presentation by referring to the Clovis conditions as a “crisis.”
“I don’t want our border town to be known as the Gateway of Trash,” Riley said.
Curry County Commission Chairman Tim Ashley said while he appreciated Riley’s passion, many of the roads she mentioned were under federal jurisdiction. Ashley said the commission considers the beautification of Clovis a top priority and plans to address it from a public safety issue.
The chairman said the county is considering enacting a fire code ordinance requiring residents to remove abandoned automobiles and maintain weeds.
“We (Curry County Commission) are definitely interested in starting a joint task force to address this issue,” Ashley said.
Clovis resident Gloria Wicker applauded Riley for her presentation. Wicker referred to areas of Clovis as an “unsightly mess,” but said nothing would change unless the commissioners stepped up and made ordinances regarding debris and weeds.
Other agenda items discussed at the meeting:
• Sheriff Roger Hatcher reported several burglaries have occurred in the area lately and asked citizens to be aware of their surroundings and report anything unusual.
• Curry County Detention Center Administrator Leslie Johnson reported 238 adult inmates and 13 juveniles are in custody.
• Curry County Treasurer Rhonda Bookout reported more than $2 million in overdue taxes has been collected since January 2005.