Quarterly luncheon covers recent accomplishments

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Becky Rowley, president of Clovis Community College, opens the city-county joint luncheon Tuesday at the college. She announced registration was in full swing, which was evident by heavy traffic at the front entrance.

Kevin Wilson

City and county officials got together Tuesday for a small lunch and a talk over recent accomplishments and events, some of them louder than others.

The quarterly luncheon, held at Clovis Community College, offered a chance for officials with the city, county and other “C’s” like Clovis Municipal Schools, Cannon Air Force Base and the Chamber of Commerce to discuss what happened in the last few months, and what’s coming up before the next luncheon.

Many of the speakers touched on Thursday’s groundbreaking for the first phase of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System, better known as the Ute Water Project. They were met by hundreds of protesters, mostly from Logan, who fear the project would drain Ute Lake to achieve its goal of providing water to Curry and Roosevelt county members of the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority.

“I would say there are more challenges ahead, and Logan was an example of that,” said Daniel Bailet, vice president of New Mexico American Water, the city’s water provider for the last 25 years. The utility currently acquires water from the High Plains Aquifer, but would transition into a delivery utility if the $432 million pipeline project is completed.

City Manager Joe Thomas, the final speaker, said while it was impossible to experience the groundbreaking and not remember mostly the protests, “That is a giant step forward in the Ute Water Project, and we can’t forget that.”

Other speakers included:

• Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Terry Myers. He said the schools are ready for the first day Monday, and he is expecting around 9,000 students.

He remarked on construction work at The Arts Academy at Bella Vista and La Casita and Lockwood elementary schools, and upcoming work on a new junior high school and a replacement of James Bickley Elementary.

He said school performance is getting better despite negative Adequate Yearly Progress reviews, and said the measurement might be part of the problem when 88 percent of schools don’t make the grade.

• Becky Rowley, president of CCC. She said the college is looking for $1 million in a 2012 general obligation bond to do work on an Allied Health building, and is using money from the Sisler Foundation to do some renovations.

She said the nursing education departments require different resources.

“We don’t have any other programs that need lead walls,” Rowley said regarding the college’s radiation technology program, “so we’re going to have to do something different there.”

• Joe Gysel, senior vice president of Edmonton-based EPCOR. The company, owned by the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and in negotiations to buy the New Mexico and Arizona components of American Water, is getting set to appear before the state Public Regulation Commission. Gysel said the top focus is making sure there aren’t hiccups if and when EPCOR is allowed to take control of the companies.