Blight battle: Committee taking beautification steps

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks The Keep Clovis Beautiful committee installed welcome signs at all four main entryways to Clovis.

Freedom New Mexico

Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield wants the city to make a good first impression on travelers.

That is why the condition of the city’s entryways comes up frequently when the “Keep Clovis Beautiful” committee gets together.

“Every meeting that we have, it’s talked about,” said Brumfield, who chairs the committee. “I mean, do you like to go into a town that’s junky looking?

“It’s just like anything with a first impression. … This is a quality-of-life issue. I go to different communities and you take ownership — you take pride in your community when it needs to be cleaned up and look good.”

Brumfield and other committee members point to new welcome signs for the four major entryways into Clovis as an important beautification step.

Len Vohs, a Clovis city commissioner also on the committee, said medians are a priority to improve the image of the city.

One reason welcome signs and medians are high on the list of improvements is because more obvious visual problems, such as abandoned properties, often can’t be improved unless the property owner gets involved.

“One of the things the committee is really focused on is the medians,” Vohs said. “If you make the medians more attractive, people might focus more on the inside of the highway rather than the outside.”

Committee member Rose Riley would like to see more efforts to clean up the city.

Four years ago Riley, a former television news reporter and now a Clovis business owner, compiled a video of entryway properties littered with trash and overgrown weeds.

She showed the video to Curry County commissioners at one of their public meetings.

Riley said Cannon Air Force Base’s new mission was a driving force behind filming the conditions of the city entryways because Air Force personnel and their wives are moving here.

“People are coming from Fort Walton Beach, (Fla.),” Riley said, “and this (trash) is what they are going to see.”

Riley said she approached the county commission because current code enforcement is “pathetic.” She asked the commissioners to join in a task force to educate the public on cleaning up Clovis.

“We don’t need to just give people tickets,” Riley said. “We need to give them a solution.”

Today, the fire still burns for Riley.

“My personal goal is that when people (Air Force personnel and civilian business transfers) are sent to Clovis, they don’t feel they’ve been sent to a place that’s not attractive,” Riley said.

To that end, she has trooped around the city making note of places that could use a little beautification.

Fellow members of city committees praise Riley for her enthusiasm and passion for making Clovis look better.

“She’s on several of our subcommittees. She works harder than anyone else, bless her heart,” Vohs said. “If everybody had the passion she has, there wouldn’t be any blight.”

County officials are trying to help.

“We’re trying to secure funding to do decorative concrete and maybe draw the interest to the median as they’re coming into town,” Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said.

“We’ve heard the residents’ concerns and that’s something that the city and county can do.”

As for private property …

“The city can’t just go in there, just because we may not like it,” Brumfield said. “But on the other hand, if it’s a safety issue, if a building is falling down — then we can (intercede).”