Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Year in review: Judge Garnett stepped down

A single-engine plane made emergency landing on Interstate 40.


January 4, 2017

File photo

File photo: Thomas Garcia Law officers secure the scene of an emergency landing of a single-engine plane April 13 on Interstate 40 west of Tucumcari.

The following is a glimpse of the top stories and photos published in the Quay County Sun in 2016:

Local/state government

• Despite a threat of recall by a county resident and public objection by several residents, Tucumcari city commissioners approved an ordinance placing a six-per-year limit on the number of garage sales residents can conduct a year during their June 23 meeting.

In April, Tucumcari resident Dena Mericle had started an online petition against the proposed ordinance.

Mericle, who resides just outside the city limits, said if there were no yard sales, then people would be prompted to leave to another town for yard sales then would proceed to buy their groceries and other needs out of town. She said if there is an issue of people operating a second-hand store and calling it a garage sale, and the commission should target them not the community as a whole.

The proposed change to the municipal code would require residents to obtain a permit at no cost from the city in order to hold a garage, rummage or yard sale, said City Manager Jared Langenegger.

• After more than nine years as Quay County magistrate judge, Joel Garnett traded a docket full of cases for spending time with his grandchildren at the end of September.

"After 34 years of law enforcement and serving the residents of Quay County, I am ready to give retirement a try," Garnett said.

Garnett said he began his law career with the Quay County Sheriff's Office, moved to the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office and rounded it out as magistrate judge.

Sept. 30 was Garnett's last official day as judge.

Timothy "TJ" O'Quinn, 34, was named the new Quay County Magistrate Court judge November.

On Nov. 4, Gov. Susana Martinez announced the appointment of O'Quinn to fill the vacancy left by Garnett.

Nov. 28 was his official starting date as a judge.

• After 24 years of law enforcement, including seven as Tucumcari's police chief, Jason Braziel retired November.

Braziel's last day was Nov. 21.

Other news

• Interstate-40 traffic was a bit more congested than usual on April 13 as an Indiana couple landed their single-engine airplane on the median about 15 miles west of Tucumcari after losing power.

Ronald and Bernadette Beyers were flying to their home in West Lafayette, Indiana, from Mesa, Arizona, when their 1958 Piper Comanche lost power.

Ronald Beyers said he was focused on landing the plane in the dirt median between the eastbound and westbound highways, and he did not notice if there was any other traffic.

New Mexico State Police reported there were no injuries related to the incident.

• A summertime Grinch stole toys and equipment from the playground of a local daycare on June. 20

Someone stole two tricycles and sports equipment that were bought with the money from a fundraiser held earlier in the year, according to Michelle Chavez, owner of Turquoise Child Development Center in Tucumcari.

Chavez said someone had jumped the fence, landed on the roof of one of the playhouses and collapsed it to gain access to the playground. She said the person or persons then removed the metal tricycles and several sports equipment items, including soccer balls, footballs, basketballs and baseball bats.

• Logan police officers shot a black bear to death on June 6, saying they did so in the interest of public safety.

Officers located the bear about 9:30 p.m. June 6 in a tree in the neighborhood of Perch and Sunfish in the village of Logan, according to Logan Police Chief Bob Gore.

Gore said two bears had been reported in neighborhoods near Ute Lake State Park in the past week. Officials had made several unsuccessful attempts to locate the bears prior to that day.

Gore said New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officials advised police to put the animal down.

Gore said the bear had been spotted on a picnic table and was rummaging through the garbage of several residences, but there had not been any reports of the bear attacking any humans or animals prior to it being killed.

Dan Williams, spokesman for Game and Fish, said that once a bear begins to eat "human food," the activity becomes a habitual occurrence that could result in an encounter with humans. He said the animal was showing no fear of humans and had been spotted several times in residential areas.

Local events

• A week filled with myriad artistic styles, meticulous planning and the camaraderie of kindred spirits from all walks culminated the night of March 11 with the pouring of 6,000 pounds of molten iron at Mesalands Community College.

Shouts of joy filled the air as the first stream of fiery liquid poured out of the blast furnace "Peechy Keen" from the Keen Foundry in Houston into the buckets at the 18th annual Iron Pour.

This was the largest pour done in the history of the event, according to D'Jean Jawrunner, Mesalands' fine arts faculty member and the creator of the college's Iron Pour.

The pour lasted 5 1/2 hours.

• Cowboys and cowgirls and the smell of food cooking in cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens overwhelmed the visitors on April 23 at Ute Lake State Park in Logan.

Each year residents are drawn to the 16th annual Chuckwagon Cookoff featuring Old West chuckwagon cooking, according to Sharon Reid, event coordinator.

"Its a family affair," said Walter Bressler, from Rising W Chuckwagon out of Happy, Texas.

Each year, the chuckwagons compete in cooking a meal in cast-iron skillets and Dutch ovens over a campfire. The entries, chicken fried steaks, potatoes, beans biscuits or roll and apple cobbler are blind judged with the top five wagons in each food category receiving cash prizes.

• Two days of festivities across the community, three families of "Rawhide" stars and more than 2,000 attendees have the Rawhide Days Festival coordinators looking toward next year's event.

Event founder Karen Alarcon said she was ecstatic and almost in tears as she rode in the Saturday parade in April along Route 66 in Tucumcari.

Alarcon said the parade was the final milestone in a dream come true in a concept that began with a simple question one year ago.

The inaugural Rawhide Days Festival was held April 15 and April 16 with events at both the Tucumcari Convention Center and Tucumcari Historical Museum.

Residents and visitors enjoyed gunfighter shows, trick ropers, vendors, performances by state and Nashville artist all celebrating the TV series "Rawhide" and the heritage of the Old West.

Special guests Shirley Brinegar, widow of Paul Brinegar, Kimber Eastwood, daughter of Clint Eastwood and Chrystie Wooley, daughter of Sheb Wooley, took part in the events.

• Twenty-three bands from around the world - including Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats - classic cars, a pin-up contest and vendors drew more than 3,500 people to Tucumcari for the fourth annual Rockabilly on the Route June 2- June 5.

"Lee Rocker was amazing; he is a very genuine person, and it was awesome to have him perform at Rockabilly on the Route," said Simon Cantlon, event co-founder.

"Each year the city welcomes visitors to Tucumcari to celebrate the spirit of Route 66 and Rockabilly," said Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield.

Events featured three nights of concerts at the convention center as well as live music performances across the city.

Litchfield said the venues throughout the town helped boost the local economy through sales at local merchants and gross receipt taxes.

• Another successful Rattler Reunion came and went this year with more than 400 alumni returning to Tucumcari to "Return to the 80s."

The host class for the reunion was the Tucumcari High School Class of 1986.

Christine Montano, who said she has attended the reunion in the past, said so many people helped to make the reunion a success for the host class.

The 45th annual reunion was the last for alumni board member Norma Jean Crellin, who said she stepped in 16 years ago to form a corporation and create a non-profit foundation to better run the reunion.

Crellin said she feels it is time for someone else to step in and run the foundation.

"All of the smiles and seeing old friends reunite has made all the work worthwhile," Crellin said.

• The crowning of local legend royalty, molten artwork and fire dancers drew more than 2,000 people to downtown Tucumcari on a September weekend.

Porfy Martinez and Abigail Lucero were crowned as Prince Tocom and Princess Cari on Sept. 24 at the sixth annual Fired Up!

The crowning of young royalty was one of the main events for the weekend festivities .

Martinez, son of Porfy and Jessica Martinez, and Lucero, daughter of Scotty and Amber Lucero were among 10 youth that competed in the contest.

Christine Montano, event coordinator, said the public's response to the event was lower than last year, but overall, it was a successful event.

Making its debut this year was the molten metal pour conducted by the faculty and students of Mesalands Community College's fine arts program.

Joel Kiser, a fine arts faculty member, said the aluminum was poured into sand tiles that were made and designed by the students of the dual enrollment program at Mesalands, adding that the tiles took two hours to cool, giving the crowd the opportunity to see the pour and the reveal.


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