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School bonds go before Hagerman voters

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Hagerman Municipal Schools Superintendent Ricky Williams (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Most Hagerman, Lake Arthur candidates face no opposition

Hagerman Municipal Schools need some facility improvements, especially for the middle school, so the district is asking voters to approve new general obligation bonds.

“I have had two community meetings,” said Superintendent Rick Williams. “What we were trying to do was to get feedback from the community in terms about our facilities’ needs and what we are trying to do to correct some of the needs and issues that they have. Our facilities look a lot … younger than they are.”

He said the determination was made that middle school upgrades are the top priority, adding that certain portions are 66 years old.

“Middle school is our priority, both inside and outside,” he said. “We have some structural issues that we want to address and then, at the same time, we want to get some natural lighting back into the middle school, which means that we need to take some of the outside shadings off and then we will change windows out. It will look very up-to-date when we get through with the project, which includes stuccoing.”

He said community support for the $800,000 bond issue has been good. The new bonds will not raise property taxes, as they will replace expiring debt.

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“I have been getting a lot of positive feedback and (people) saying that we support the direction you guys are taking in terms of keeping our buildings up-to-date and meeting the needs of our learners,” he said.

Hagerman schools also have four of five board positions up for election this year, but only three people are running for seats.

Destry Moss, the current board vice president, is running for re-election for Position 3 while Jerry Flores is challenging him for the seat.

Flores, a former Marine Corps combat infantry soldier, is a Hagerman graduate who retired two years ago from the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office. He said he has three children attending the school and is running to “better the school.”

“Improvements need to be done in this school as far as education-wise and spending of money needs to be done wisely,” he said. “Quality teachers need to be hired and athletics need tuning up.”

He also said that the appearance and maintenance of facilities need attention.

Moss is also a Hagerman graduate and parent, and has worked in integrated technology for the energy industry.

Current board member Lois Stephens has chosen not to run again for Position 2, so Christopher Pilley is running unopposed for the seat.

Jeniffer Salazar was appointed to the board in November and is unopposed to fill the remaining two years for Position 4.

Salazar is the emergency management assistant for the Hagerman Police Department, a Hagerman schools graduate and has children attending district schools.

“I really enjoyed the few months with our school board,” she said, “so there was no question that I wouldn’t want to continue on this learning journey.”

Another current board member, Heidi Gray, has announced her resignation, Williams said, but no one signed up to run for the position. A person will be appointed to that seat by the board after the new members join in January.

Lake Arthur schools

Lake Arthur Municipal Schools has four of its five positions up for election, with two incumbents seeking to return to their positions, one running unopposed and one position without a candidate.

Current Board President Edward Rubio said he wants to return to the Position 3 seat after about 20 years on the board. He has lived in Lake Arthur since 1975 and he served on the Lake Arthur City Council for 20 years. He runs an auto repair business in Artesia.

He said the biggest issue he thinks the board has to address is funding.

“The Legislature addressed part of the funding this past Legislature, but it is not nearly enough to keep and retain teachers, and some of the programs we need in Lake Arthur, we just don’t have enough funding for,” he said.

Incumbent Gene Bassett is running for the Position 4 seat. A potential challenger for Position 4 did not qualify to run, according to New Mexico Secretary of State records. Current board member Cynthia Buck also is on the ballot to complete the remaining two years on a Position 2 seat.

Another position that is currently held by an appointee does not have an eligible candidate running for the office, so a person will be appointed in early 2020.

“I appreciate the board member’s dedication,” said Superintendent Elisa Begueria, “and I appreciate that they are running again for the students.”

Municipal elections and special districts

Hagerman voters are also voting for a city councilor and a municipal judge. Incumbent Maria D. Ordonez is running again for municipal judge, with no opponent. Two city council positions are open, but only one person is running. Incumbent Mark A. Lovas is seeking re-election. The other city councilor to fill the seat being vacated by Ricardo Rivera will be appointed after January by the five-member council, which includes the mayor.

In Lake Arthur, two people are running unopposed for three at-large open positions. Harry Lewis Wesson is running again after having been appointed to the council previously. John Robert Teel is also a candidate. The third position will be filled by appointment in January.

Following a decision by the incumbent municipal judge Tabitha Salazar not to run for re-election, two write-in candidates signed up: Lupe P. Salmon and Noreen Margaret Teel.

The area also has eight people as candidates for supervisor positions in four different soil and water conservation districts in Chaves County, established by state law to prevent flooding, protect wildlife and conserve water, natural resources and taxpayers. All are running unopposed for their seats.

Joe D. Barraza, Doug M. Whitney and Jerry E. Vaz are candidates for the Chaves Soil and Water Conservation Board. Stuart McKnight Bogle, Trevor E. Gray and Robert Edwin Jolley are running as supervisors for Hagerman-Dexter Soil and Water Conservation Board. Tom W. Runyan is the Chaves County candidate for the Penasco Soil and Water Conservation Board, while Dwight W. Menefee is the Supervisor 2 candidate for the Cottonwood-Walnut Creek Watershed Board.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, with 11 voting locations in the county. Early voting is occurring through today, Nov. 2, at the Roswell Mall, 4501 N. Main St.; the Chaves County Administrative Center, 1 St. Mary’s Place, Roswell; and the Hagerman JOY Center, 503 E. Argyle.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.