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Local judge honored with highway adoption

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Tim Fuller, executive director of Character Counts! of Chaves County, and Amy McVay Tellez, board president, stand Friday afternoon near the sign on West Second Street, or U.S. 380, indicating a portion of the highway that has been adopted to honor Judge Alvin Jones. Board member Tim Parker is not pictured. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

A time to honor those who strive to live according to the “six pillars of character” has coincided with a tribute to a local man who was known for his principles and his efforts to help others.

Judge Alvin F. Jones, 1944-2019. (Submitted Photo)

Character Counts! in Chaves County is commemorating Character Counts! Month in October. It also is preparing to honor students and first responders during the local Character Counts! Week, Oct. 26-30. The week here is scheduled to coincide with Red Ribbon Week, which works with public schools on drug abuse and violence prevention efforts. Due to COVID-related restrictions, the organization is still deciding what programs or events will occur.

As it turns out, Character Counts! Month is occurring as the local group realizes that its efforts to honor Judge Alvin F. Jones, a lifelong supporter and volunteer with the group, also have come to fruition.

Jones was a retired New Mexico 5th Judicial District Court judge who also led many community efforts to help youth, those in need and his profession. A beloved husband and father of four, Jones also was key leader in such community groups as Chaves County CASA, the New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Academy and the Roswell Literacy Council. He died May 28, 2019, at 74 after a motorist hit him while he was bicycling in the 2900 block of West Second Street.

Board President Amy McVay-Tellez said that Character Counts! decided soon after to adopt a portion of the road, which is also U.S. 380 / U.S. 70, to honor a man that she and others consider a mentor and hero. It is just the latest in a year of tributes that have included dubbing 2019-2020 for the nonprofit as “year of the bow tie,” given that Judge Jones was known for his large bow tie collection and his frequent donning of them.

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It wasn’t until McVay-Tellez was driving back into Roswell from Ruidoso a few days ago that she saw the Adopt-a-Highway sign on the south side of the road and knew that the organization’s request had been granted.

“I just think that more than ever this can be a tribute to Judge Jones, and, in celebration of his life and Character Counts! Month, we need to challenge Roswell and the United States of America to come together,” McVay-Tellez said. “I ask myself all the time, what would Judge Jones do?”

Executive Director Tim Fuller said that he agreed that the best way to honor Jones is to live the six pillars of character. Those are responsibility, caring, trustworthiness, respect, fairness and citizenship. The local group and the national organization not only honor people but also design activities, seminars, and lesson plans to teach the value of the six pillars in daily lives.

According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the highway signs in honor of Jones were installed about July 27. The portion now under the purview of Character Counts! runs from mile marker 329 to mile marker 330.

The Adopt-a-Highway program allows individuals, groups of people and organizations to honor someone while also agreeing to periodic cleanups of litter and debris of their area of the road.

Fuller and McVay-Tellez said that a time for the first cleanup has not been decided yet. People with questions about the cleanup days or the Character Counts! Week events can contact Fuller at 575-626-4495, timfuller@plateautel.net.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.