Serving the High Plains

Officials approve lease for festival

The Quay County Commission on Monday approved a lease agreement with Tucumcari Rawhide Days so the festival can use the fairgrounds for the 2022 festival, which plans a Texas Longhorn show in addition to its other western-themed activities.

The meeting also was the first attended by new county manager Daniel Zamora, who took over after longtime manager Richard Primrose retired in mid-April. Primrose sat quietly in the audience gallery during Monday's meeting.

Karen Alarcon, a chairwoman for the festival in previous years, said she has stepped back into her old role. Tucumcari Rawhide Days pays tribute to the "Rawhide" television show that was shot in the Tucumcari region from 1959 to 1965 and starred a young Clint Eastwood and Tucumcari native Paul Brinegar.

Alarcon said the 2022 festival would take place in late April instead of the usual early May so it doesn't conflict with graduation ceremonies and branding season.

She said 2022 Tucumcari Rawhide Days still would have its Longhorn cattle parade and live entertainment. A new wrinkle will be the a Texas Longhorn show that will be stepping stone to a national show in Fort Worth, Texas.

"We're hoping to get a lot of people," Alarcon said.

Tucumcari Rawhide Days was canceled in 2020 and this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alarcon said it was "devastating" for previous chairwoman TJ Riddle to refund money to vendors for a second straight year.

The festival's lease agreement requires a $1,000 deposit to use the fairgrounds, plus $1 million in general liability insurance.

In other business:

• Commissioners approved a resolution from road superintendent Larry Moore that requests $5.58 million from the state's Transportation Project Fund to replace Historic Route 66 Bridge No. 1042 over San Jon Creek between Endee and San Jon.

Though the resolution states the county's share for the project would be 5%, or $279,371.41, the county is requesting a waiver.

The resolution notes the bridge is used by local farmers and ranchers and as a detour when Interstate 40 is closed by traffic or emergency vehicles. Route 66 tourists also use the bridge.

Moore said the old bridge will be bypassed and left standing.

Quay County in 2019 received $3.67 million from the state fund to bypass another nearby bridge on old Route 66 over Trujillo Creek.

• Commissioners approved a $37,035 purchase of emergency air supply systems for all nine of the county's rural fire departments. County Fire Marshal Lucas Bugg said the money would come from its fire fund allotment and cash on hand.

The commission also approved an application to the New Mexico Finance Authority so the Bard-Endee fire department could borrow $100,000 to purchase a brush truck. The remainder will be covered by the department's cash on hand, Bugg said.

• Tim Farrow, exalted ruler of the Tucumcari Elks Lodge 1172, gave Assessor Janie Hoffman an Elks Distinguished Citizen Award for her local "Make the Call" suicide-prevention efforts in the last year. Hoffman, who attended the meeting, expressed surprise over receiving the award.

• The commission approved four budget adjustments requested by Finance Director Cheryl Simpson. It also approved an office rental agreement of $600 a month for fiscal year 2022 with the DWI Program.

• Zamora said he received an email from New Mexico Counties that clarifies the effect of the recently enacted House Bill 4, aka New Mexico Civil Rights Act. Many municipal and county officials feared the law will make firefighters and other employees liable in civil rights lawsuits. Zamora said the email states such lawsuits would affect the government body exclusively and that firefighters would not be targeted except in cases of gross misconduct.

• At Zamora's request, commissioners approved a New Mexico Department of Health memorandum of agreement where the agency will pay the county for janitorial services at the Quay County Public Health Office on Second Street.

• Zamora said the most recent gross receipts tax report for the county shows the beginning of a downward trend in the retail and food sector, which he attributed to more residents going out of town to buy items as the COVID-19 pandemic ebbs. He said overall revenue still was above last year's levels.

• During commissioner comments, Jerri Rush read a public safety announcement about May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Noting that many motorcycles are more difficult to see, drivers should be extra cautious in changing lanes and at intersections. Drivers also should leave four seconds of space and a full lane width with motorcyclists.

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