Year in review

QCS Staff

Some of the top stories from the year in Quay County.


• Jan. 10: Tucumcari City Manager John Sutherland was fired after the city commissioners voted 3-2.

• Jan. 14: A Mesalands Community College paleontology class found a fossil that could be of a new form of Triassic reptile at an eastern New Mexico dig site. The fossil was of an aetosaur or eagle lizard.


• Feb. 7: Tucumcari’s most wanted man, Nikko Nathan, was arrested in Clovis after a four month search. Nathan was wanted on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

• Feb. 14: The drowning of a 12-year-old has Tucumcari taking a hard look at underage drinking laws. A llocal attorney presented a proposal to the Tucumcari City Commission aimed at preventing these tragedies.


• March 4: Bobbye Rose was named city manager of Tucumcari after the Jan. 10 firing of John Sutherland.

• March 28: A snowstorm dumps ten inches of snow on Tucumcari forcing the closure of I-40 and U.S. Highway 54. Many motorists were stranded as hotel rooms filled up fast.


• April 2: Police found the body of Ronnie Hittson, 51, lying on the shoulder at State Road 523 and Sugarbeet Road in Clovis. Brandon Barela , 24, of Roswell was arrested and charged in Hittson’s murder.

• April 15: Local fighter Abel Cullem returns to Japan for second round of 2008 Grand Prix Featherweight Tournament. Cullen said “it was always a dream to fight in Japan.”

• April 18: Tucumcari’s FFA Chapter brought home the State Championship Horticultural Sweepstakes Award for the fifth straight year. No chapter has ever won the award more than three times in a row.


• May 13: New Mexico Secretary of Taxation and Revenue Rick Homans spoke to about 50 Quay County residents providing an overview of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in New Mexico.

• May 30: A proposed 15 percent water rate increase was approved as part of the city’s preliminary budget by the Tucumcari City Commission.


• June 6: Robert Wynashe pleaded not guilty to charges from the shooting of Howard Russell King in the parking lot of the Redwood Lodge. Wynashe is still being held on $1 million bond at Quay County Detention Center where he faces an attempted murder charge and is awaiting a district court hearing.

• June 11: James Burleson, a Socorro fight promoter, was accused of the Feb. 1, 2007 killing of Jason Pacheco. On June 11, 2009, a Curry County jury found Burleson innocent of voluntary manslaughter.


• July 2-11: Tucumcari Police Chief Roger Hatcher shot two taser darts at Kailee Martinez, 14, on July 2 while responding to a domestic dispute between the girl and her mother. One hit her in the head and the other struck her back. Hatcher was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

• July 11: Cannon Air Force Base officials briefed residents about what to expect during military fly overs that are part of training exercises for the pilots.

• July 15: James Hammer, 5, of Tucumcari died in a tragic accident on his grandfather Richard Shaw’s ranch. Hammer fell from a pickup truck and was backed over. The Tucumcari Rattlers football team dedicated their 2009 season in honor of Hammer.

• July 30: Magarita Montano Pacheco of Tucumcari turned 100-years old. She lived in Tucumcari since 1929. Pacheco passed away later in the year.


• Aug. 5: Redlodge Lodge shooting victim Howard Russell King died after spending weeks in intensive care.

• Aug. 12: Abel Cullem successfully defended his King of Cage flyweight title against Richard Montano at Mescalero.

• Aug. 12: Moses Earl Ingram, who was released from Quay County Detention Center twice while awaiting trial for assaulting his girlfriend Amber Simpson, was arrested in Clovis and charged with multiple felonies including attempting to kill Simpson the day he was released from QCDC.


• Sept. 30: Mesalands Community College trustees voted to start the construction of the North American Wind Research and Training Center. The center will be built by Gerald Martin Contracting of Albuquerque.

• Sept. 30: An Union Pacific train derailed outside of Nara Visa on U.S. highway 54. Service was interrupted for six hours. No one was hurt.


• Oct. 7: Federal drug officials and the New Mexico Nation Guard raided a San Miguel County ranch and found 1,500 pounds of marijuana. The pot was valued at $2-3 million.

• Oct. 21: Mesalands’ President Phillip O. Barry was suspended for five days after being charged with driving under the influence.

• Oct. 28: Mayor Antonio Apodoca was cleared of animal cruelty charges by Quay County Magistrate Judge Joel Garnett. Apodoca was accused of dragging a do with his car.


• Nov. 4: Tristan Honey, 25, of Fort Smith, Ark., surrendered to police in San Jon in connection with the shooting of an Arkansas police officer.

• Nov. 11: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson froze capital outlay money that had been approved and allocated to Quay County agencies. $290,000 was frozen in Quay County.

• Nov. 18: Tucumcari high school principal David Castillo was placed on paid administrative leave. The school board is yet to take action.


• Dec. 16: Tucumcari City Commissioners asked City Manager Bobbye Rose to seek bids for demolition of Sands Dorsey building.

• Dec. 16: After charges against Barry were dropped Dec. 4, charges were refiled on Dec. 16. Pre-trial proceedings are set to begin Jan. 4.

• Dec. 23: Brandon Barela was found guilty in a Curry County court in the murder of Tucumcari truck driver Ron Hittson.