Governor seeks money for rodeo

TV Hagenah

Rodeo in Tucumcari and across New Mexico will get a boost if Gov. Bill Richardson has his way.
A proposal from the governor’s office is aimed at promoting rodeoing and at least three of Richardson’s goals would directly affect the Quay County area:

• College scholarships totaling $400, 000 for New Mexico residents who attend and participate in one of four higher-education institutions that have rodeo programs. Those schools are Mesalands Community College, New Mexico State University, Eastern New Mexico University and New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs.

• Capital matching money totaling $400,000 for improvements to rodeo and fair facilities. The money would go to cities and counties for rodeo grounds, and will be contingent upon agreements to allow the facilities to be used at no cost or reduced cost for youth rodeo competitions.

• And $400,000 to enhance 4-H, high school and college rodeo programs, including developing the New Mexico Intercollegiate Rodeo Finals, which would be rotated between the four college rodeo programs.
The state Legislature is expected to consider Richardson’s proposal during the 60-day session that begins later this month.

Mesalands President Phillip O. Barry said he was “elated” with the news. Barry said that while the major universities in the state receive millions of dollars for scholarships, smaller schools such as Mesalands are often overlooked. He said much has changed in the last three years, with many in the Legislature being supportive. “So to have our governor come out with this proposal is great,” Barry said. “We might just be in a position to get some money, since if I am not mistaken, we have the biggest rodeo program in the state.”

Mesalands rodeo coach Danny Garcia said he too was happy with the potential of scholarships and competitions coming to Tucumcari. “Our program is growing but we can have more scholarships for students, which will help our students get an education,” Garcia said.

State Rep. Brian Moore, R-Clayton, said he has long been active in promoting the rodeo program at Mesalands and rodeoing in general. “It is great that he (Richardson) noticed just how big rodeoing is to us out here,” Moore said. “You can believe we’re going to do everything we can to make this happen.”

The governor’s plan also includes:
• Funds totaling $400,000 to support education and free rodeo clinics at Expo New Mexico.
• Improvements at Expo New Mexico totaling $553,000.
• Directing the state fair to reduce fees for use of Tingley Coliseum, the horse arena and other facilities in Albuquerque.
•Creating a New Mexico State Rodeo Commission at a cost of $100,000.