Commission advised events center needs horse stalls

CNJ file photo Curry commissioners instructed the county manager to develop a plan to build horse stalls at the events center in response to rising interest in the facility from the equestrian world.

Sharna Johnson

A horse sale manager told commissioners Tuesday that Curry County, because of its event center, could be the equestrian center of the nation if its facility only offered horse stalls.

Commissioners instructed County Manager Lance Pyle to create a three-person committee to develop a plan for the cost of building stalls and other items for the events center.

Steve Friskup commended county commissioners on building the events center and making it a success. However, he said, “One of the things that’s been put on the back burner is the stalls.”

Friskup is the horse sale manager for the Clovis Livestock Auction and proponent of the advancement of equestrian activities in the state.

He said he recently spoke to the governor’s office and recognition of Clovis as a center for horse activities is growing and the state is preparing to start an equestrian task force to help address the increase the center is experiencing.

Regional growth in equestrian events is recognized to the point he said the stalls might be built with state grant money for economic development.

“This used to be the horse capital of the world,” he said. “We’re ground central — they want to come here… (but if we don’t) start building stalls, they will not come.”

In its fourth year of operation, he said the county has not added indoor horse stalls at the events center, an amenity horse owners need when they travel to an event.

Friskup said horse owners will gladly pay a fee to use stalls while at events and the addition will pay for itself quickly.

“We have a $6 1/2-million facility that’s first class,” he said. “You can’t ask a man to bring his $250,000 horse out here to stand in the sun and be sand blasted.”

Friskup recommended the county start with 250 stalls and build up to 750 in three phases.

Facility Manager Kevin Jolley agreed with Friskup.

He said because there is nothing available, people use portable stall panels to contain their animals during events, a practice that is generally not allowed at other facilities.

“We have got to have stalls,” Jolley said. “The faster we can get on that the better it will be.”

In other business, commissioners extended restrictions on fireworks for an additional 30 days from the end of June.

Curry County resident Steve Qualls told commissioners he was a fireworks vendor in 2002 when a similar ban was enacted.

He said news coverage of the ban has not been clear and that commissioners need to understand that although the ban will limit items such as bottle rockets — that shoot wherever they are pointed and continue to burn — “there will still be a lot of fireworks going up in the air” that are legal.

He said people may also go to other areas where there are no bans in place to buy items that are prohibited.

Statute allows ban of missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, stick-type rockets and ground audible devices.

Use of allowed fireworks is also restricted to paved areas and barren land or areas with a readily accessible source of water.

Commissioner Wendell Bostwick pointed out that though fireworks are permitted on “barren land” and with accessible water, there has to be common sense.

If someone shoots off fireworks next to a large wheatfield, Bostwick said, “regardless of if they have a bucket of water… They’re going to face penalties (if they burn something).”

Texico Fire Chief Lewis Cooper said with conditions being as dry as they are, “If I had my way I’d ban all of them.”

County Attorney Stephen Doerr said under state statute, the county is not allowed to completely ban fireworks but the state has the authority to pass an emergency ban if conditions continue to be a danger.

Fireworks are only permitted to be sold June 20 to July 6.

At the meeting, commissioners also: