By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
When the Tucumcari City Commission meets on Thursday, Mayor Amiel Curnutt will not be on platform.
Curnutt’s last meeting as mayor and as a commissioner was Feb. 27. John Mihm will be sitting in the position the mayor occupied as the commissioner for Tucumcari’s District 5.
Curnutt was mayor for last two years of his single four-year term. He leaves the post satisfied with what the city accomplished while he was mayor.
Those achievements include improvements to the city’s sewage treatment plant, construction of the reclaimed water line from the treatment plant to the Tucumcari Agricultural Experiment Station, construction of a new section for the city’s garbage landfill, and street improvements on Whitmore Avenue and the Daubs Addition on the east side of town, he said.
The reclaimed water line, he said, enabled many experiments to continue or begin at the experimental station that had been interrupted due to drought and lack of water to fill Arch Hurley Conservancy District ditches.
Curnutt said he was also proud of the way city employees “busted a hump” to construct a new cell for the city’s garbage landfill when the landfill’s first cell prematurely ran short of space. Their efforts, he said, saved $8.5 million, even though the city had to take trash to Clovis for a couple of months while the new cell was built.
With new compacting equipment, he said the new cell will not fill up as fast as the first one did. The city is buying a compactor with about $400,000 in capital outlay money approved by the New Mexico Legislature.
Curnutt praised city administrators for obtaining grants making many of these improvements possible, as well as others. Included are new lights on exit ramps from I-40 to the city, which he said, make the city a more inviting place, new runways and terminal improvements at the municipal airport and improvements to the city’s drinking water delivery system.
Curnutt said his main concern with the city now is making sure resources are there “to make the city better.”
The first priority, he said, is to ensure a “stable city commission.”
“The support is there,” he said.
The city’s bid to become the site of a proposed racetrack-casino, he said, should not be considered a sure thing.
In fact, he said, “we have to go ahead and plan like it’s not going to come,” and stay optimistic.
If the drought ends, he said, it could restore $40 to $50 million a year to Quay County’s economy, and that will help the city.
In addition, he said, he would like to see the city, the chamber of commerce, the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp., and Mesalands Community College cooperate to help expand the area’s economy.
He also advised patience in building Tucumcari’s recovery.
“It will happen in small steps,” he said.
Recent tension in city commission meetings, he said, have been disruptive to the city’s progress.
He said he has had to “suck it up,” but said public meetings are “not the time or place” to bring up many grievances.
In all, he said, “I think I did serve the people.”
He said he has received cooperation from most city employees and “most of the commissioners.”
Now that his commission term is over, he said, he plans to spend time in Tucumcari and Clovis, where he has business interests, but eventually plans to settle in Corrales with his family.
First District Commissioner Dora Salinas-McTigue, who found herself opposing Curnutt on some key votes, nonetheless said she’s going to miss Curnutt.
“He was the only other small business owner on the commission,” she said. “He and I could talk on the same level on business and on running the business of the city. He knows where I’m coming from” on business matters.
Fourth District Commissioner Robert Lumpkin said Curnutt has done a good job as mayor.
“There are a lot of things that mayors do that people don’t see,” he said.
Lumpkin particularly remembers trips the mayor made to Santa Fe and Albuquerque to look for ways to tear down and dispose of the Sands Dorsey building’s remains in downtown Tucumcari. Curnutt also attended many local meetings, Curnutt said.
“He worked hard, served as a liaison between the city and many different groups and represented the Tucumcari well,” Lumpkin said.