Improving all of the playgrounds in Tucumcari is important to the city said Tucumcari City Administrator Clara Rey for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the young people are the citizens of tomorrow, but for the four young men doing many of the improvements, it has some special reasons. It may help them afford college.
Michael Baca, John Sewell, Jonathan Reno, and Matt Braziel are area students who were hired by the City of Tucumcari to, according to immediate supervisor Max Jimenez, “fix up” the playgrounds of the city so the grounds are more attractive and safer for the children who will use them.
At the same time they are working on the playgrounds and earning regular pay checks, however, they are also earning a scholarship. If they work four summers for the city, they will earn a $1,000 scholarship to the college or university of their choice.
“It’s a wonderful program,” said Rey about the summer job-come scholarship set up. “It’s a good amount, and it can be used anywhere they want. One student who earned it in the past, used it at Mesalands (Community College) for their truck driving school. There’s no strings attached to how it has to be used.” Rey said it could be used for tuition, room and board, books or lab fees. She also said that there is even an option for the student if he decides not to go to college. “In that case they get $500 cash,” said Rey.
Rey said basically the only requirement is that the students work four summers for the city of Tucumcari. She said the students in the past have even come back during their summers at college thus enabling themselves to get the scholarship later in their collegiant careers. “That’s what Walter Henson of House did,” said Rey. Chris Gries, one of the overseers on the project in Tucumcari is quick to point out that while the scholarship is a good benefit, that doesn’t mean that the work is not hard and challenging. In fact, he said that some of the work is very skilled.
The young men are called upon to paint, pour concrete, build frames for concrete, install safety equipment among other jobs. In the past they have even built gazebos and other structures at the parks. “Not only are they earning this money,” said Jimenez, “but they are learning some very good skills, too.” This is Sewell’s forth year with the program. It is Reno and Baca’s second year and Braziel’s first year. According to Gries, 18 different student applied for the program this year.