The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Clovis prepping for Racing Commission

Pro and opposition planning to show themselves Oct. 5

 

September 23, 2018



CLOVIS — As a cadre of racing commissioners prepares to visit Clovis early next month for public hearings on three racino proposals, local groups in support of and opposition to the idea are making preparations of their own.

“It’s an opportunity for the people of the community to voice their opinion one way or another, so the commission can hear the support or lack of support of the project,” New Mexico Racing Commission Executive Director Izzy Trejo told The News last week.

The five NMRC commissioners will be in Clovis all day Oct. 5 to visit proposed project sites and hear presentations from the three groups interested in the award by year’s end of the state’s sixth horse racing license, which is a requisite to a gaming license.

The Clovis meeting is the last stop on a tour that visits Lordsburg on Friday and Tucumcari on Oct. 4 to hear one presentation each.

In each case, the public comment period follows the last presentation. Trejo said signups will be requested in advance, but the commission will “certainly inform people of the process when they get there, if they want to speak, and go through them one by one.”

Meanwhile, organizers are planning to turn out in numbers in the audience of the Civic Center, in the public comments, and even in the parking lot as commissioners make their way out.

Audience participation expected

Representatives of Vision 2020 have said they’re supplying 200 yellow shirts to represent the sunny prospects that they believe a racino will bring to Clovis, and they encourage other supporters to wear yellow.

“We’re looking for the happiness of the people to encourage the racing commission,” said Kathy Elliott, who said Vision 2020 organizers would make a special effort to have a large showing in the form of a “support rally” as commissioners finish their day in Clovis.

“If (supporters) want to be there, if they want to sit through all the presentations — fine, fantastic. If they want to come and speak — fine, fantastic. But we also want to have some type of rally, a send-off, basically,” she said. “As the commission finishes their day, to have people there that encourage them, to say ‘Clovis wants this,’ and to leave them with a smile on their face, that this town is happy to have us here.”

Tom Martin said he and other Vision 2020 organizers are focusing on jobs, entertainment and tourism benefits from a racino, and just this past week the Chamber of Commerce voted to actively support the racino.

“We are being given a gift,” Martin said. “I mean they are laying at our laps a facility that’s going to create millions of dollars, not only for Clovis and Curry County in taxes and in revenue, but also the state of New Mexico.”

The group has numbers to reflect some agreement within the community, too. Elliott said 90 percent of some 300 people polled in Clovis in the past month indicated they support a racino, and an online petition circulated simultaneously accrued 500 signatures from those who also anticipated its economic advantages.

Not everyone is excited

But those opposed to a racino — rallying under the name “RaciNO” — have numbers of their own. One of the group’s representatives told The News that they also had “somewhere in the vicinity of 500” signatures between online and handwritten petitions.

“There’s quite a few people that aren’t in favor of having the racino here in Clovis, and yes we will have an effort to have people (at the public hearing),” Walter Bradley told The News. “Let’s just say a large turnout. ... We intend to have several speakers who have already agreed to speak (during public comments).”

Bradley, a “concerned citizen,” said in his time as the state’s lieutenant governor that he encountered “quite a bit of information on the casinos” and has a different perspective on how gambling can impact a community.

“One of mine is the addiction issue,” he said. “Addiction crosses all demographics, and it’ll getcha, and you’re done.”

The last presentation Oct. 5 is at 2:30 p.m., said Trejo, and they’re all limited to 90 minutes. Individual public comments that follow will be time-limited, he said last week, but what that limit would be was still undetermined.

 

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