Serving the High Plains

City officials hire new attorney

The Tucumcari City Commission on Thursday hired a new city attorney to replace Randy Knudson, who had served as the city’s general counsel for at least 15 years.

The commission's choice and contract terms could not be announced before the Quay County Sun's deadline because of a state regulation that requires such contracts to be kept confidential until all parties have signed, City Clerk Angelica Gray said Monday.

After commissioners expressed dissatisfaction with Knudson’s service earlier this year, the city issued a request for proposals to seek bids for general legal counsel. The request was printed in the May 26 edition of the Quay County Sun and specified applications were due on June 16.

The city also tabled renewal of a contract with Egolf + Ferlic + Martinez + Harwood LLC of Santa Fe to handle water rights matters for the city.

The contract is expected to be considered in a special city commission meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday. That meeting will include a discussion of city budget matters as the commission seeks ways to reduce a $556,000 deficit for the fiscal year that begins Thursday and ends June 30, 2022.

At a work session before Thursday’s regular commission meeting, the commission continued its discussion of matters involved with legalization of marijuana for recreational use, which is expected to result in retail sales of marijuana and cannabis products by April 1.

District 5 Commissioner Todd Duplantis said the city should move quickly to establish building and zoning standards for new marijuana and cannabis businesses in the city because state law requires that marijuana business owners must also own the property on which the business is located.

Duplantis also discussed standards for constructing new cannabis-based businesses that would include appearance that would be either art deco, an architectural style popular in the 1920s, or in keeping with styles that predate Interstate 40.

The standard also could require neon lights to highlight buildings or on signage, Duplantis said.

Commissioners also discussed fee schedules, proposing a $2,500 fee for a retail business.

A question was raised on how fees would be charged to businesses that combine growing, processing and retail on the same property.

In other matters, the commission:

• Agreed to pay $21,780 to Bohannan Huston, the Albuquerque engineering firm overseeing the troubled Second Street renewal project, for additional work involved with the project’s extension and direct supervision. Commissioners said they intend to seek the additional expense from the construction contractor J&H Services, which has apparently made errors in concrete color and design, as well as in meeting other specifications on the project. District 4 Commissioner Chris Arias voted against paying the engineering firm, saying it should come directly from the contractor.

• Renewed the city’s agreement with Tucumcari MainStreet for the fiscal year that begins Thursday. The city will pay $50,000 to continue MainStreet’s services, which is $5,000 more than for the current fiscal year. MainStreet helps in the revitalization of downtown, using resources that include grants, events and expertise from state MainStreet specialists.

• Accepted New Mexico Department of Transportation funding totaling $260,419 for resurfacing of Gamble and Dohoney and other east-west streets between First Street and Rock Island Street. The city will contribute $86,806 for a total of $346,225. The latest state contributions have doubled the amount available for the resurfacing projects, said Ralph Lopez, project manager for the city’s Community Development Department.

• Approved funding for Tucumcari Senior Citizens Center programs from the North Central New Mexico Non-Metro Agency on Aging that includes $36,418 for nutrition services, $6,345 for non-recurring funding to some providers of services, $52,932 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, and $7,039 for home-delivered meals.

• Renewed a contract with Dr. Ronald Chad Carver of Lovington to serve as the city’s medical director. As medical director, Carver provides advice on pre-hospital emergency care, evaluates emergency medical services training programs, reviews quality assurance reports for EMS, and serves as a liaison between the city and Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital on EMS issues.

• Approved a zoning change along Quay Road 64.5 to allow Cody Meier, the property owner, to build homes for his mother and another family member. The change is from commercial to multi-family residential.