County leads median beautification project

Senior Airman Franchisca Thompson didn't know what a yucca was until she helped plant more than 140 of them on a median on Highway 60/84 near Cannon Air Force Base.

"Now that I've seen them I think they're cool," Thompson said. "I hope they're here for a long time."

Thompson, who works in billeting in the Special Operations 4th Support Squadron, was one of 22 airmen who helped in a Curry County beautification project that gave a Southwestern motif to a bland median that was previously landscaped with nothing more than bleached-yellow gravel and dust.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Baird

From left, Senior Airman Franchisca Thompson, George Krattiger, Airman 1st Class Katelyn Glanding and County Clerk Rosalie Riley plant a yucca Wednesday on a median near Cannon Air Force Base.

County Clerk Rosalie Riley said the beautification of medians in Clovis is something she has been pushing for about eight years, and seeing this project finally happen nearly brought her to tears. She said this project will make the entrance to Clovis and Cannon more welcoming.

The desert shrubs occupy a 1,000 foot long strip of median on the east side of the Cannon entrance.

Yuccas, which are indigenous to the Southwest, are an evergreen shrub that are characterized by long dagger-like leaves. George Krattiger, a master gardener contracted by Curry County to be an advisor on projects such as this one, said the yuccas could grow up to about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The yuccas planted in the median are in the yellow and red varieties, and some of them are in bloom.

"These yuccas are native to New Mexico, and they don't require very much water," Krattiger said. "Once the yuccas are established they are drought tolerant."

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Baird

Tyler Cabledue, right, of the Farmers Electrical Co-op guides fellow serviceman Jason Lindsey, who is operating the auger. The auger was used to drill holes in the hard ground on the median so that yuccas could be planted.

Farmers Electrical co-op also contributed to the project. They donated an auger that was used to drill holes for the yuccas to be placed in. Two servicemen from the co-op were there operating the machinery too. Krattiger said it would have been difficult to dig the holes for the yuccas without the auger.

According to Assistant County Manager Connie Harrison, this county project was mostly funded by grants. The Keep New Mexico Beautiful grant awarded approximately $3,000 for the project while New Mexico Clean and Beautiful granted about $2,000. Harrison said the county's costs were related to providing a road department work crew and machinery.

Riley, who is on the city's Parks Recreation and Beautification Committee, said she will work with City Engineer Justin Howalt to try and improve medians within the city limits.

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