December 2007: Year in Review

CNJ Staff

The look at the top stories reported in the CNJ in December:
Dec. 1: Participants in the High Plains Harley-Davidson annual Toy Run donated more than 250 presents to area children.

Dec. 2: Five railroad cars carrying grain derailed at Peavey Grain Elevators just west of Clovis. No injuries were reported. … Fire destroyed three apartments at 1000 S. Oak in Clovis. No injuries were reported. Officials blamed a faulty heating system in one of the units for the blaze.

Dec. 3: Environmental Improvement Board members ordered the state Environment Department to hold a hearing within 60 days to take any new evidence on whether ConAgra should be allowed to build an ethanol plant near Clovis. EIB members said they were concerned Clovis residents had been misled about the plant’s location west of town.

Dec. 4: Curry County commissioners named Lance Pyle county manager, offering him a one-year contract. Pyle, 27, had been assistant county manager, then was named interim manager when Dick Smith resigned last month. … County officials reported they failed to meet state staffing requirements at the juvenile detention center during an annual evaluation in November. Officials said the county needed to increase the number of detention officers from 12 to 14 by March 15. … A Roosevelt County man awaiting trial for the 2005 shooting death of Causey’s Bo Chunn was accused of stabbing a Dona Ana County Jail detention officer. Donald Taylor was expected to face additional charges in the stabbing incident. The officer was treated for non life-threatening injuries.

Dec. 5: State Engineer John D’Antonio spoke at a New Mexico Rural Water Authority meeting in Texico, warning the state’s newly created Water Cabinet could impose metering on ground water within a year. … A 19-year-old Clovis man was convicted of a Jan. 7 armed robbery outside a second-hand store on Grand Avenue. Anthony Wallace was facing up to 35 years in prison. … A 47-year-old Clovis man was charged with 143 counts of child molestation and was being held on $2 million bond.

Dec. 6: Gloria Wicker and Rube Render joined Tim Ashley in announcing plans to run for the job of Clovis’ mayor. … A Tucumcari woman convicted of providing alcohol to a 12-year-old boy who drowned a few hours later was sentenced to five years probation. Crystal Cochran was also ordered to participate in a drug-abuse recovery program and undergo mental health counseling.

Dec. 7: Las Cruces Mayfield edged Clovis 49-48 in double overtime for the Class 5A state football championship. “I’ve been watching state championships for a long time,” Clovis’ fan James Wilkerson said. “This was one of the best I’ve ever seen.” … A 22-year-old Clovis man was convicted of robbing K’s Oriental Food Store in August 2006. Frank Lasky faced up to 28 years in prison.

Dec. 8: Clovis hosted its 11th annual Christmas Light Parade. More than 100 entries glided down Main Street on a cold, foggy night. … An armed Clovis man surrendered to police after a standoff that lasted three hours and involved multiple locations on the city’s west side. The man had pointed a handgun at his head after being stopped for a traffic violation.

Dec. 9: A Clovis veterinarian won a contest to name a pair of hyenas at Clovis’ Hillcrest Park Zoo. Dr. Leslie Morrow submitted the names Sere ’N’ Geti (Sarah and Getti) because Serengeti is the area of Africa where spotted hyenas are most common. Morrow received a year’s family membership to the zoo and a three-month subscription to the Clovis News Journal.

Dec. 10: About 50 friends and family members of homicide victims attended a memorial at Clovis-Carver Public Library. District Attorney Matt Chandler said the ceremony was intended to “reflect hope and peace in addition to letting families know their loved ones will not be forgotten.”

Dec. 11: The Melrose Rotary Club and Farmers Electric Cooperative were sponsoring a Christmas home decoration and light contest. Winners were to receive cash prizes or certificates to pay energy bills.

Dec. 12: Broadview’s Brent Armstrong, who won a 1989 Mustang convertible in a raffle, had donated the car back to the Desert Cruzers Car Club. Officials said they would sell the car, with money going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Lighthouse Mission and Clovis Community College.

Dec. 13: Clovis police were spending more time patrolling North Plains Mall in response to concerns and complaints about disruptive teens.

Dec. 14: City officials placed 67 items, ranging from publications to a cellular telephone, in a time capsule at the Clovis-Carver Public Library. The capsule was slated for opening during Clovis’ 150th birthday celebration in 2057. … A twice-convicted killer was indicted in connection with a third homicide. Police said undisclosed new evidence led them to believe Lorenzo Chavez, 56, was responsible for the 1998 shooting death of Daniel Jose Lopez. … Clovis Realtor Gayla Brumfield joined the race for Clovis mayor.

Dec. 15: Eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle awoke to more than 2 inches of snow that began falling the night before. A train crashed into a truck’s trailer at the state line in Texico, but no serious injuries were reported due to weather-related traffic accidents. … The Lighthouse Mission hosted a Christmas party for nearly 200 needy families, including more than 500 people.

Dec. 16: Curry County officials had notified state police they were reviewing financial records and could be missing an undisclosed amount of money. County Manager Lance Pyle said the review was focused on county fair revenues.

Dec. 17: A state district judge announced he would not hear a lawsuit related to more stringent emission standards for new vehicles in New Mexico. Curry County farmer Scott Pipkin was among those who alleged the new standards were improper because they were more stringent than federal air quality requirements. … Longtime Texico volleyball coach Mike Littlejohn learned he’d been dismissed by the school board. The team went 25-0 and won its sixth state title this season. School officials did not return calls seeking comment, but Littlejohn said they told him he would only be retained as a teacher.

Dec. 18: A state district judge dismissed a lawsuit by eastern New Mexico retailers against the New Mexico Lottery. The retailers alleged the lottery had adopted a practice of prematurely pulling games while substantial cash prizes were still available. Lottery officials filed a motion to recover attorney fees.

Dec. 19: City officials were considering major repairs on the Hull Street bridge, which was built in the late 1950s. State inspectors had declared the bridge structurally sound, but the deck of the bridge had an estimated life of one to five years. Repair costs were estimated at $3.6 million. Rebuilding the bridge would be a $10 million project.

Dec. 20: A proposal to rezone a residential neighborhood for commercial purposes was voted down 8-0 by city commissioners. Lea Street residents asked commissioners deny the change because they felt it would compromise their privacy and devalue their property.

Dec. 21: Formal ceremonies marked the end of the 522nd Fighter Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base. The squadron was the third and final fighter squadron to be inactivated as part of Cannon’s transition from Air Combat Command to Air Force Special Operations Command.

Dec. 22: The family of an Army National Guard soldier who died in Alamogordo was frustrated by what they said was a lack of answers regarding the death. Benjamin Griego’s family said they did not believe he hanged himself as Army officials told them.

Dec. 23: Letters to Santa published in the Clovis News Journal included requests for video games, a motorcycle, a cell phone, movies, a pellet gun, toy cars and dolls. … A Texico man was electrocuted while cleaning a basement at a Farwell residence. Rocky Horton was 44.

Dec. 24: A Roswell man was arrested in connection with the theft of $40,000 worth of copper wire and tools near Elida.

Dec. 25: Salvation Army officials had raised about $46,500 with their Christmas projects — about $8,500 more than in 2006.

Dec. 26: Associated Press editors and news directors voted the retirement of U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici as the top New Mexico story of 2006. The Clovis tornado of March 23 was voted No. 9.

Dec. 27: Curry County Attorney Stephen Doerr said the county was not missing any money, but state police had been asked to investigate because “our book entries don’t jive.” The accounting discrepancy was between $2,000 and $7,200, Doerr said. … The Committee for Clovis progress reported it had gathered about 2,000 signatures of residents who favored a vote on Sunday alcohol sales. Officials said 725 valid signatures of registered voters were needed to call an election for March 4.

Dec. 28: Clovis hosted the Plateau Holiday Classic and one of the visiting basketball teams was from Alaska. Members of the Lathrop Malemutes said they were surprised the Clovis weather was so cold — in the 40s for a high on Dec. 28.

Dec. 29: Clovis’ boys improved their record to 9-0 by winning the Milk Cow Classic basketball tournament at Rock Staubus Gym.

Dec. 30: A letter to the editor in the Clovis News Journal suggested concerns about a proposed ethanol plant in Clovis had been overstated. Carl E. Armstrong wrote, “There are good and bad points associated with everything from firearms ownership to motor vehicle operation. … The benefits to the community (from an ethanol plant) … far outweigh any negative impact.”

Dec. 31: With just a few hours left in 2007, Curry County was hoping to record its fewest homicides since 2000. Only two homicides had been recorded during the year, matching the number recorded in 2000. The county had 34 homicides from 2001 through 2006.