By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Fourth District Commissioner Robert Lumpkin was elected mayor of Tucumcari by a unanimous vote Thursday of the City Commission.
Newly elected Third District Commissioner Ruth Ann Litchfield was unanimously elected Mayor Pro Tem, meaning she presides over commission meetings in the mayor’s absence.
The meeting was the first for Litchfield, Fifth District Commissioner John Mihm and Second District Commissioner Amy Gutierrez.
First District Commissioner Dora Salinas-McTigue nominated Lumpkin to be mayor, noting that Lumpkin had served on the commission since 2007 and his high degree of involvement with the commission since then.
Mihm nominated Litchfield to be mayor pro tem.
In the following comments from commissioners, Lumpkin thanked the community and commission for support and added, “I will do my best to represent Tucumcari.”
Litchfield said, “I’m looking forward to serving and working with all the commissioners. It will be a good commission.”
Salinas McTigue said she, too, is encouraged with new faces on the commission. “I heard a lot of new ideas in our work session,” she said. The commission held a public work session before the regular meeting.
The commission unanimously approved a grant agreement amendment from the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration that adds $28,718.50 to a $1.8 million grant to improve the 911 emergency dispatching system that serves all of Quay County.
The additional money will pay for telephone circuits and equipment maintenance, according to Scot Jaynes, assistant fire chief and manager of the dispatch system.
The commission also approved allowing radio stations KTNM and KQAY to start broadcasting commission meetings live on a 4-to-1 vote. Salinas-McTigue cast the only negative vote on the measure, preferring to wait until the city commission clarifies its public comment policy before accommodating live broadcasts.
For now, Russell Braziel, who represented the station before the commission, said, the stations will stop their broadcasts at the public comment portion of the meeting.
In the pre-meeting workshop, commissioners had discussed making changes in the public commentary rules, and in discussion preceding the vote allowing broadcasts, commissioners and Braziel said the broadcast policy could change if the public comment rules changed in a way that could assure civility in citizen commentary.
In his city manager’s report, Powers said he expects work to begin in about a month on the five-and-a-half mile pipeline that will deliver water from tanks at Five Mile Park, west of the Tucumcari, into the city. The project will be financed by a $2 million allocation from the New Mexico Water Trust Board of the state Financial Authority.
The new pipeline, he said, should halt water loss that is occurring in the current line, which was built in the 1930s, Powers said.
Powers also said roofing work will get started at the Tucumcari Convention Center within two weeks, and roof repairs at the Fire Department will begin soon, as well.
In public comments, Patsy Gresham, executive director of the Tucumcari-Quay County Chamber of Commerce mentioned community events that included:
• The Iron Pour at Mesalands Community College, a week-long sculptural art event that ended Saturday.
• A demonstration of blacksmithing from local farrier Jim Keith for a museum patron group from Santa Fe on Monday.
• A Model T collectors session that will include Model T tours of the city on Friday.
Ray Mondragon, director of economic development and governmental affairs at the Eastern Plains Council of Governments, said he looks forward to working with the new commissioners.
Rick Haymaker, pastor of the Agape West church in Tucumcari, said local churches will be giving away vouchers that let viewers see the movie “Son of God” about Jesus Christ, free at the Odeon Theater.