Outgoing senator tours Tucumcari

A visit to Tucumcari Thursday gave retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman a chance to see projects he helped fund while in office. "It's great to actually see the projects which I fought for in Washington D.C.," Bingaman said.

QCS photo: Thomas Garcia

Tucumcari City Manager Doug Powers, left, listens as Ag Science Center interim Superintendent Leonard Lauriault, right, speaks to U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman center about the projects at the center including the harvested hay being hauled by Calvin Henson.

Bingaman chose not to seek re-election. Republican Heather Wilson, Democrat Martin Heinrich and independent Jon Ross Barrie are seeking his U.S. Senate City officials took Bingaman on a tour of the new wastewater treatment plant, which he supported as a project through the stimulus act for $13 million.

The new treatment plant is part of the city's continued efforts to improve and expand, said Mayor Amiel Curnutt.

Curnutt said the treatment plant would accommodate residential and economic growth for industries that may come into the area, including a racetrack and casino. He said the city thanks Bingaman for his support in the past and hopes he will continue to support them while he still is in office.

Bingaman said it was useful for him to see how the new treatment plant will benefit the city and outside research at the New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center. He said the potential for the research gathered on the use of treated water for irrigation would prove useful to the region.

Bingaman toured Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital. He helped secure funding for renovations. "Senator Bingaman was the driving force in obtaining the funding needed to repair the roof at the hospital," said Bill Curry, Quay County commission chairman.

Curry said the county owns the building the hospital is housed in and the commission would not have been able to take on such a project alone.

He said Bingaman was also crucial in setting up the Sole Community Provider Fund.

Curry said the fund helps with indigent patient costs, matching $1 for every $3 spent by the county. He said this fund is reserved for those hospitals isolated from others and serving as the sole provider in a rural area.

Curry said Bingaman has also been a supporter of continued improvements of Interstate 40. He said I-40 is crucial to Quay County and Tucumcari's economic future.

"I will continue to support Quay County and Tucumcari as long as I am in office," Bingaman said.

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