By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
Peggy Tedford normally doesn’t have a problem filling her hotel, as she estimates all 69 rooms at the Fairfield Inn and Suites are booked four days per week.
This week, she’ll have no problem — period — thanks to the New Mexico Municipal League.
“We’ve actually been booked up for about two months,” Tedford said of the league’s annual conference, scheduled for this week in Clovis. “It’s a huge impact. It’s huge for the city.”
The league is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association whose member cities comprise 100 percent of the state’s 103 incorporated municipalities.
The conference, held at the Clovis Civic Center and Clovis Community College, runs Wednesday through Friday, though participants will be arriving Tuesday for registration and recreational activities scheduled around the conference.
The conference includes the league’s annual business meeting, which helps create statewide municipal policies for the upcoming year, and seminars on topics like preparation for the 2010 Census.
Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said at Thursday night’s city commission meeting he received estimates of 620-640 registered for the conference.
Randy Crowder, Clovis mayor pro tem and the city’s voting delegate, said dignitaries taking advantage of the networking opportunities could include U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish.
Roger Makin, communications coordinator for the league, said the conference is normally scheduled on the weekend prior to Labor Day but scheduling conflicts wouldn’t allow that. That’s one reason he doesn’t anticipate 2007’s estimated crowd of 1,000 in Las Cruces, but said a heavy “economic footprint” should still be felt in Clovis.
“We’re still expecting a fairly good crowd,” Makin said. “It’s down some, but I believe the scheduling difference is a big part … and probably the price of gasoline because it can be quite a drive across the state.”
Tedford has only been in Clovis for a few months, but was working at a company hotel in Roswell when the 2005 convention was in town. She called the economic benefit “fabulous.”
But Makin said the amount of business, and hotel requirements, mean few cities in New Mexico have the capacity to host the event. Clovis is one city in that group, and the presence of the Clovis Civic Center was a big factor when local officials made the pitch for the conference three years ago.
“It had been several years since the (last) visit (to Clovis),” Makin said, “and the civic center was an attraction, plus its proximity to Clovis Community College.”
Proximity is also what helps Portales. Mayor Orlando Ortega is the treasurer for the league, and said KENW has taken advantage of the conference with an 8:30 a.m. Friday political forum.
“It’s an opportunity for us to highlight our communities. Even though we’re not hosting it, there’s a lot of spillover to Portales.”
With the benefit, Crowder said, comes a “tremendous amount of work” to prepare for the conference. He highlighted the efforts of Community Relations Director Claire Burroughes and Clovis Curry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos.
“That will be a real plus for our community,” Crowder said. “I’ve attended from Tucumcari to Taos and Roswell. We will have and host as good a meeting as any city in the state.”