QCS Senior Writer
Increased water levels and favorable weather conditions at Ute Lake and Conchas Lake state parks drew more than 49,000 visitors for the Fourth of July weekend to the Quay County area, according to Jim Winchester, New Mexico State Parks public information officer.
For the Independence Day weekend, Conchas Lake recorded 9,688 visitors over the weekend, almost twice as many as in 2013, when park officials counted 4,920 visitors. At Ute Lake, the visitor count was 39,416 almost 5,000 more than the 34,689 recorded in 2013. The visitor total to both lakes came to just over 49,100.
“This was a good weekend with great weather, it was a Chamber of Commerce weekend,” said T.J. Smith, Logan Ute Lake Chamber of Commerce president.
For Logan and Ute Lake, Smith said, the annual parade, coordinated by Bobby and Judy Casados, was a success, and about 2,300 people enjoyed the village’s free barbecue and bean feed, but there were fewer visitors than last year at the village’s street dance that evening.
As a part of the Fourth of July celebrations in Logan, the Logan/Ute Lake Chamber of Commerce held a raffle for the winner’s choice of $10,000 in cash, a Harley Davidson motorcycle or a golf cart. Proceeds from the raffle help to continue the events at Ute Lake, including its annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
The winner was Melissa Foster of Tucumcari, who said she is a firm believer in supporting local communities and chose to buy four raffle tickets at $25 each.
“It has been two days since I won the raffle, and to tell you the truth I don’t think it has really sunk in,” Foster said.
Foster said she was about to leave Tucumcari for Logan to watch the fireworks display when she noticed she had a missed call on her cell phone. It was from Diane Morency, from whom she had purchased the tickets.
“I thought she was messing with me,” Foster said. “I thought for sure this was some kind of joke.”
Foster said she then spoke with T.J. Smith and confirmed she was the winner of this year’s raffle.
“I don’t have any special plans for the money,” Foster said. “I picked up the check on Monday, and I am still in disbelief.”
The New Mexico State Police report a quiet weekend for both San Miguel and Quay County during the holiday weekend.
In total there were only two crashes in the area one without injuries and one resulting in injuries and the holiday’s only recorded DWI arrest in the area for state police.
Broom said there were five additional arrests, three for driving on a revoked license and two for warrants.
June rainfalls benefited Conchas Lake, where the water level rose six inches, to 4,177.22 feet above sea level. At Ute Lake the water level rose nine inches over the weekend, bringing the elevation to 3,779 feet above sea level.
Rex Stall, Ute Reservoir caretaker said the lake is 7.65 feet from the storage capacity limit of 3,787 feet above sea level. He said when the lake reaches that level, water will be released into the Canadian River to flow toward Texas.