By Angela Peacock
Tucumcari needs a theme.
That was the main focus for Don Welty, one of two finalist vying for a top position within the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation.
Since mid summer GTEDC has been conducted a nationwide search for a new Economic Develpment Director. The field has been has narrowed down from 14 candidates based on applications, background checks, phone and on-site interviews.
Welty met with the public Monday evening at Mesalands Community College, another step in the interview process before a final decision is made later this month.
Wayne Boling from Lubbock, Tex. is the other finalist. He will meet with the public Thursday also at Mesalands.
Welty currently resides in Oak Ridge Tenn., but has lived in various places across the U.S. He has four children, two daughters and two son and has been married to his wife, who is a registered nurse, for 23 years. He said his observation of Tucumcari is that it has potential for growth but lacks focus and needs to accept the notion that it’s ok to disagree but not to become disagreeable.
“ (Tucucmari) has to get a little more focused and be a little more forgiving,” Welty said. “This community has got to come to a consensus and learn from its mistakes, that’s what it’s going to take to get people to come here.”
Getting the entire community involved is also what Welty said it will take for Tucucmari to climb out of its current economic slump and begin moving towards positive development. He added how it obviously requires funding in order to tackle any economic development project, but stressed that without Tucucmari citizens making an effort to help out. gaining capital becomes an unrealistic goal.
“(Welty’s) underline message was that development is not a one man show,” said Tucucmari Economic Development Corporation President Leo Thrasher. “We’re going to have to learn to pull together in a concerted effort to make things happen because if we except a knight in shining armor to come and save us its probably not going to happen.”
Thrasher wants Tucucmari residents to understand Welty’s point about specific advantages the city has over other rural communities in similar situations.
“He pointed out that when you take the cities and towns all over rural America you have a lot of challenges to keep people in them, and it’s an uphill battle, Tucucmari is very fortunate that we have a railroad, interstate and community college to work with,” Thrasher said.
Former Director of Institutional Development for Mesalands Community College Sharon Fitzner and Trigg Memorial Hospital Administer Hoyt Skabelund agreed about how much they appreciated the realism Welty presented during his interview. They said he wouldn’t appear to be walking into the economic director position with his eyes closed, instead he’d approach the situation with the understanding that improving Tucumcari’s economic development status won’t be a quick or easy process.
“It’s about perception. Perception is reality and reality is that Tucucmari has service here that is unprecedented and the quality of life here is great,” Skabelund said. “Welty understands that for this city to move forward we must build a consensus. Now that doesn’t mean everybody has to agree, it means the majority discusses what’s best and they agree.”
Instructing people to get involved in whatever way they can and start developing ways to improve the overall appearance of Tucucmari is a good place for residents to begin their journey towards selling the city. Welty said regardless which candidate is hired for his position he wants residents to understand that economic director’s job is to sell Tucumcari, while the citizens do their share in making that possible.
“There are a lot of opportunities and challenges facing Tucucmari, but I’m driven by opportunity and challenge ” Welty said. “Everybody gets up in the morning wanting to do a good job and make a contribution. How much of a contribution we make is proportional to the amount of time we spend on it.”