Progress met with protest
Hundreds attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System in August at Ute Lake.
The first phase is an intake structure, or pumping station, that would move the water from the reservoir to authority members that have reserved it — Clovis, Portales, Texico, Melrose, Grady, Elida and Curry and Roosevelt counties. Planned delivery is 16,450 acre feet annually, or approximately 5.4 billion gallons.
It is viewed as a long-term solution for eastern New Mexico’s water supply with a projected cost of $432 million.
During the ground breaking, three dozen public officials, supporters and media members were far outnumbered by Logan and Quay County residents, who lined the road leading up to the reservoir and surrounded the small ceremony with jeers and chants to protest concerns the authority will drain the lake, which is tied into local economies.
Chanters suggested not too subtly that the visitors, “Go home,” but also requested they, “Save our lake,” and respect “3,765,” in reference to the community’s desired elevation in feet for the reservoir.
Every dog has its day
Ceaser, a Maltese dog, was reunited with his family in Clio, Mich., more than a year after he disappeared following a vehicle accident on Interstate 40 that resulted in the death of two family members.
Monica Benson, 30, and her family including Ceaser was traveling on I-40 near Tucumcari in June 2010 when their mini-van driven overturned.
Gary, her husband, and Emily Benson, her daughter, died from injuries in the accident.
Ceaser was lost during the accident and could not be found. The family returned to Michigan.
More than a year had passed when Christina Fleming, a member of the Tucumcari Animal Rescue Group, found Ceasar at the Tucumcari animal shelter. Fleming said she was at the shelter looking for the weekly rescues eligible for adoption. She said seven dogs were taken to a veterinarian, where they were scanned for microchips. Following the information from a chip, Fleming eventually made contact with Benson.
A series of transports was set up by way of motor vehicle and plane to help Ceaser travel the traveling 1,424 miles home.
Train of thought
The dedication of the Tucumcari Train Depot was a success with the addition of arrival of the Union Pacific’s Steam Locomotive 844.
More than 150 Quay County residents were on hand for the dedication of the depot and to welcome the centennial locomotive, which will be traveling across the state as a part of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Centennial Celeb-ration.
Tucumcari was the first of many stops planned for the steam train tour.
The Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees announced in April that Mildred Lovato will succeed Phillip O. Barry as the next president of Mesalands Community College, effective July 1.
Lovato has worked as vice president of student services at Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, Calif., since 2005. She also worked as assistant vice president of academic support and student retention at Santa Fe Community College.
On March 24, New Mexico State Police investigated the deaths of Gabriel Baca, 37, and Bobby Gonzales, 57, both of Tucumcari. The two were found dead at the Tucumcari Inn, 1700 E. Route 66 Blvd.
The State Police Investigations Bureau treated the case as a double homicide.
Muziwokuthula “Muzie” Madonda was arrested without incident in April by U.S Marshals and Texas Rangers in Conroe, Texas, at a Denny’s restaurant.
While awaiting extradition from Conroe, Texas, Madonda, 33 of Chicago, was identified as the suspect in two additional homicides that occurred in Ohio in February.
Madonda appeared before Magistrate Judge Joel Garnett in July at the Quay County Magistrate Court via closed circuit television from the Quay County Detention Center. He acknowledged the two charges of murder and said he understood his rights and requested a court appointed attorney.
Prosecuting the case is Tenth Judicial District Court Senior Trial Attorney Tom Blakeney.
Also, state police investigated the shooting death of 32-year-old Ty Fields in Nara Visa. In July, state police responded to a report of a fight between two men on Second Street. Upon arrival, officers discovered one of the men dead from a gunshot wound.
State police also investigated the slaying of 33-year-old Shirley Pacheco. Pacheco’s body was found at her home on Arapahoe Street in Tucumcari.
Initially, police called the case a suspicious death.
After further investigation state police labeled the death a homicide and named 20 year-old Randall Jones as a person of interest. Jones was later arrested in Tucumcari without incident on an unrelated charge.
Jones was later charged in the slaying of Pacheco. Five other suspects were arrested in connection with the slaying: Juanita Trujillo, 31, Jennifer Urioste, 39, Orlando Martinez, 21, Henry Martinez 19,Dennis Joseph Hendren 36, all of Tucumcari.
After a four-month investigation state police were cleared of any wrongdoing in the October shooting death of a Tucumcari man. It was ruled a justifiable shooting, Tenth Judicial District Attorney Ron Reeves said.
“The officers were acting in the line of duty when they had to shoot,” Reeves said.
Reeves said he reviewed a report that included all of the information gathered by state police on the Oct. 18 shooting death of Daniel Gonzales, 56. The shooting followed a six-hour standoff with police.
Stephen Hensley, 41, was arrested in a New Mexico State Police Internet sting charged with four federal felony charges of child pornography.
A four-count indictment returned by a grand jury in Dec. 2010 according to Elizabeth M. Martinez, assistant U.S. Attorney for public affairs. Hensley was arrested in Jan and arraigned in federal court in Albuquerque where he pleaded not guilty.
Counts 1 and 2 charge Hensley received visual depiction’s of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Counts 3 and 4 allege Hensley possessed computers containing visual depiction’s of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
If convicted of either count 1 or 2, Hensley faces a maximum 20 years in prison. Counts 3 and 4 carry a maximum 10 years each.
Racing for economic boost
The New Mexico Racing Commission announced in March that a license granted La Mesa Racetrack in Raton has expired and the commission planned to consider applications from other interested communities across the state.
The New Mexico Racing Commission began accepting applications in May for the license from June 2 to the close of business Sept. 2.
In August, the Racing Commission extended the deadline to Sept. 23, for other entities interested in applying for the license.
In September, District Judge John Paternoster in Raton granted an injunction to La Mesa, the original license holder. Paternoster’s ruling ordered the New Mexico Racing Commission to stop taking applications for the state’s final racing license until La Mesa’s appeals could be heard.
• The San Jon Coyotes and Tucumcari Rattlers made appearances in state basketball championships. The Coyotes lost 67-64 to the Quemado Eagles in the Class B Championship. The Rattlers lost to 69-42 the Mesilla Valley Sunblazers in the 2A Championship.
• Robert Vargas, a four-year veteran of the Tucumcari Police Depart-ment was arraigned in March in the Quay County Magistrate Court on the charge of aggravated assault and battery of a household member. Vargas pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to court documents. He was ordered to complete anger management classes.
• A Tucumcari police officer resigned in October amid a criminal investigation by New Mexico State Police.
State Police Public Information Officer Lt. Tim Q. Johnson confirmed the officer was the subject of an investigation, but said “the identity of the officer and the nature of the investigation” could not be revealed.