Home Local News Standing room only: Lovington residents give commissioners an earful

Standing room only: Lovington residents give commissioners an earful

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It was another night of standing room only at the City of Lovington Commission meeting Monday night.

The city may need to expand the seating area for the pubic if residents continue to attend and be as involved in the proceedings as they have been in recent weeks. Seven different community members spoke to commissioners during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Several members of the public were at the meeting to address rumors about the Lovington animal shelter. Elaine Vigil, Estella Garcia, Jane McVay, and Shelly Saxton all spoke about the possibility of the city selling the animal shelter facility, and for the need to spay and neuter animals in Lovington.

“If you’re not nice to kids and animals, you’re not a nice person — and old people,” Saxton said while addressing the commission. She told commissioners she has been collecting funds via GoFundMe to have seven dogs and cats transported to Midland or Odessa to be spayed or neutered, then put up for adoption on Wednesday, and another five on Friday.

Several speakers also indirectly asked for the city to pick up the tab, or most of it, for the costs of spaying and neutering animals certain days of the month, so raising funds privately would not be necessary.

“Most towns, cities, or municipalities, they have veterinarians,” McVay said. “They have veterinarians who volunteer, and once a month they have a spay and neuter free to the public. … honestly, if anyone has been to the vet lately, they know how expensive it is. It can run, start at $300 and go upward. A lot of people in this community, they just can’t afford that bill.”

Trujillo told the group the city is considering several options with the animal shelter as a result of receiving $150,000 in funding from a state grant.

“We have been allocated $150,000 from the state. That’s why there’s more conversation and the board is considering many options right now,” he said. “When you’re provided $150,000, what direction, how are we going to spend the money, how can we best serve our community? That’s why there’s been discussion of do we sell the facility? Do we remodel the facility? Do we move the facility somewhere else? Do we just go with state requirements and build a shelter and that’s all we do is build a shelter? What is feasible? What is economical? What can the city afford? That’s being discussed, and that’s why you’re having different conversations.

“Nothing’s been etched in stone until this board approves final approval of how we’re going to allocate funding. Once that’s done, we’ll have a bigger picture on what we’ll do.”

Other community members who spoke to commissioners included several from organizations either informing commissioners of ongoing projects, or inviting them to upcoming functions.

Edith Taylor, co-sponsor of the Lovington High School Key Club, told commissioners the Key Club wants to help the city by working on the softball fields that have been vandalized in recent years, and bring those fields back to what they once were.

“We want to do is put (the softball complex) back the way it was when I played church ball out there, and some of my grandkids started playing softball out there,” said Taylor. “We want it back the way it was, and what it’s meant to be.”

Taylor said the fields are important for the community.

“We have nothing for the kids of Lovington right now,” Taylor said. “They go to Hobbs to play, and we want our kids in Lovington to stay in Lovington and we want our money to stay in Lovington. I feel like the Key Club, and the citizens of Lovington, we’re going to ask them to put your money where your mouth is. Because it’s going to be donations. It’s going to be them coming out and asking businesses and the citizens of Lovington to come out and help us.

“Looking at it, it’s going to need to be tilled and raked, and sand, aggregate is going to have to be brought in. We’re going to have to have a power washer. There is a lot to be done.”

Commissioners seemed receptive to the offer of help, and city attorney Patrick McMahon said it could be advantageous to the city.

“I don’t think it would be an issue,” he said. “As long as the Key Club coordinates with parks and rec and our city, and it matches up with whatever our plans are.”

Trujillo said the Key Club proposal would be added to the agenda for the next regular commission meeting on Oct. 25.

But residents weren’t the only ones speaking and asking questions.

Commissioners seemed to speak more, and ask more detailed questions about each issue brought up during the non-action item and action item portion of the meeting. In particular, commissioners Scott Boldt, Scott Gandy and Paul Campos raised pointed questions to Lovington Mayor, and acting city manager, David Trujillo, and department heads.

In action items, the commission:

Approved the retirement of all three K9 officer dogs. Two of the dogs are interdiction dogs trained on marijuana and cannot be used for police work because of the change in New Mexico law making recreational marijuana legal within the state. The other dog is an explosives detection dog, who has a career ending illness. All three dogs will be adopted by their respective handlers.

Approved to advertise for a permanent police chief.

Approved the amended road closures for the Heart of Lea County Fest to take place Oct. 23 in downtown Lovington. The road closures, including both directions of Main St. and Commercial, will begin on the evening of Oct. 22 and will last through Oct. 24.

Tabled the approval of Dawson Geophysical Company to conduct operations.

Approved a contract with SNMEDD/ COG to serve as fiscal agent on matters for the city.

Approved accounts payable with Campos asking specific questions about particular items, including $1,900 to NMJC for K9 certification so close to when those dogs were to be retired. Interim police chief David Miranda, who took over the position at a special meeting last wee, said he would look into the matter and have a response for commissioners at the Oct. 25 meeting.

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