Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Steve Hansen

Commission bans some aerial fireworks


A ban on some fireworks for 30 days received final approval Thursday from the Tucumcari City Commission.

District 1 Commissioner Ralph Moya cast the lone “no” vote because, he said the ban came after many fireworks dealers had already received airborne fireworks for resale.

The main reason for the ban, other commissioners said, was the continuation of severe drought conditions in the county, despite a few recent rainstorms.

The ban is limited to missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners and stick-type rockets, and does not cover all aerial fireworks.

Tucumcari Fire Chief Doug Hogan told the commission that low average humidity and high average wind speeds in the past 30 days had been in the range at which wildfires are most likely.

In addition, he said much of Quay County is currently in “extreme drought” conditions.

A map of the state presented by the University of Nebraska shows most of Quay County in extreme drought conditions, with only northeast portions in severe drought, which is less serious.

Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield said she did not want to see fires like recent ones near Cimarron and Eagle Nest in the area.

“It’s a tough decision,” she said, acknowledging that fireworks dealers would have fireworks on hand that they cannot sell.

“I feel bad for the people who have already purchased fireworks,” Moya said.

New City Manager Britt Lusk, attending his first commission meeting, emphasized the ban does not include all fireworks, but only those that go airborne.

The commission delayed a vote on the ban at its May 31 meeting, because the 30-day ban would have run out before the July 4 holiday.

Lodger’s tax budget

The commission also decided, on an item-by-item basis, to approve the recommendations of the Lodgers Tax Board for its fiscal year 2019 budget. The fiscal year begins July 1 and continues to June 30, 2019.

The greatest single line item change in the budget was to move $75,000 in Tucumcari Convention Center salaries to the executive side of the Lodger’s Tax budget from the promotional side.

The executive side includes administrative functions, such as Convention Center investments and maintenance. The promotional side generally includes contributions for specific projects and events that promote the city’s tourism industry.

The commission kept the full $23,500 requested by Hot Pan Productions, which will plan and promote a “Rockin’ on Route 66” event scheduled for late June 2019, despite questions about the size of the contribution.

Moya abstained from voting on the measure, because he said he was not convinced that the the uncommonly large contribution was justified.

The Lodgers’ Tax board recommended substantially less in contributions to many projects and events than had been requested.

Proportionately, the largest reduction from requested was two-thirds, from $18,980 requested to $6,500 recommended, to KC Keefer, a company that has produced YouTube videos for the city that have received more than 1 million views, according to Lodgers Tax committee chair David Brenner.

The Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce also received much less than it requested. It received $37,000, about $17,000 less than the $54,000 it had requested.

The chamber uses Lodgers’ Tax money mostly to purchase advertising in Route 66-oriented publications nationwide and to print brochures for information racks for area motels and restaurants, and at welcome centers at New Mexico state borders.

Other action

In other action, the commission:

• Reduced the size of the city’s Community Development Advisory Board to five members from its original size of 10. Community Development Project Manager Sharayah Sisneros told the commission in a public workshop before the regular meeting Thursday that the board is having trouble assembling a quorum, and that the board currently has only six members. The commission voted to reduce the size of the committee to five members, with one alternate, to keep all of its members on the panel.

• Approved funding totaling $126,630, of which only $6,574 comes from local tax funds, for design of two improvement projects at the Tucumcari Municipal Airport. Of the total, $105,587 is for design of reconstructed taxi-ways from the airport’s runways. The other $21,043 project is design of a new building to house the airport’s snow removal equipment, project manager Ralph Lopez told the commission. The funding for both projects is 90 percent from the Federal Aviation Administration, 15 percent from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and 5 percent local. Both engineering contracts went to WH Pacific, an Albuquerque engineering firm.

• Approved $94,000 in funds from the New Mexico Department of Aging and Long Term Care to fund Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion volunteer programs in connection with the Tucumcari Senior Citizens Center

• Accepted a $10,173 grant from the New Mexico Tourism Department for beautification projects in the city. The grant is for programs that employ young people to help with litter control and other beautification projects, a grant document said.

• Appointed Gar Engman, co-owner of Teepee Curios, to the Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board.


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