Published: 2:03 pm, Wed. Jan. 11th, 2017Updated: 2:01 pm
The Artesia City Council expressed mixed emotions Tuesday over the request for approval of the retirement of Fire Chief J.D. Hummingbird but unanimously agreed that the Artesia Fire Department has flourished under Hummingbird’s leadership.
Hummingbird’s retirement was pulled from the consent agenda by Councilor Kent Bratcher in order to recognize the chief and his contributions to the community.
“We appreciate what you’ve done for the department and wish you well in your future endeavors,” Bratcher said prior to the vote, which received one tongue-in-cheek “nay” from Councilor Bill Rogers, whose son is a local firefighter.
“I don’t know how much everybody understands how much those kids appreciate you,” Rogers said. “You’re going to be missed. Those kids are really going to miss you. You’ve done a special job.”
“You’ve done a lot for our city, and it shows,” said Councilor Jeff Youtsey. “It’s evident in the pride the firefighters have in themselves, the department, their equipment. It’s going to be really hard to replace you, but you’ve set some good examples, and hopefully you’ve trained some people that are going to step up and continue the legacy.”
“I’ve lived here all my life, and I have never seen so much progress by any department,” said Councilor Nora Sanchez.
“We’ve been fortunate to have the services of J.D. Hummingbird during a pretty important time in this city’s history, and we received some extremely good service and leadership in that department,” said Mayor Phil Burch. “On the one hand, I really hate to see J.D. leave; on the other hand, being a retiree myself and getting to enjoy retirement as I do, I’m extremely pleased for him.”
Hummingbird’s retirement is scheduled to take effect Jan. 30.
The council subsequently gave permission to the Personnel Department to advertise and fill the position of fire chief, along with the positions of library supervisor, building inspector, community service officer, detention officer, and firefighter.
New hires included Dakota Corbell, certified firefighter, at a pay rate of $3,743 per month; Dallas Garthwaite, uncertified firefighter, $2,482 per month; and Anthony Heady, detention officer, $2,127 per month.
Patricia Hernandez was promoted to wastewater supervisor at a rate of $4,711 per month. Burch said he was pleased to see the promotion of an individual within the utilities departments, stating “this is a good promotion for the City of Artesia.”
In other business Tuesday, the council pulled the consideration of bids for the sale of real property from the consent agenda for discussion.
The city recently listed two properties – 916 S. Fifth St. and 914 S. Second St. – for sale with no minimum bid, while still reserving the right to refuse any bid. A bid of $3,780 was entered for the Fifth Street property, which was ultimately approved by the council; a bid of $150 for the Second Street property was denied.
Bratcher stated he preferred the $2,500 minimum the city had previously placed on properties for sale.
“$150 to purchase a piece of property in town… that’s pretty cheap,” Bratcher said.
“We put those minimums in there before just to keep from kind of giving them away,” said Rogers.
The council also approved the declaration of three new properties as surplus: 309 W. Cleveland Ave., 309 S. 40th St., and 601 N. 16th St. They, along with the Second Street property, will be advertised for bid at 50 percent of the value as estimated by local real estate agents.
Additionally approved Tuesday by the council was the designation of Don Plotner as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator for the City of Artesia, a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Resolution for the Artesia Housing Authority, and the consent agenda, which included:
• a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Eddy County DWI Program to manage county DWI funds.
• the resignation of Laura Mischke Simon as library supervisor, effective Jan. 13.
• the resignation of Michael Christensen, building inspector, effective Jan. 10.
• the resignation of Diego Bonilla, firefighter, effective Dec. 29, 2016.
• the resignation of Ryan Hagedorn, community service officer, effective Dec. 29, 2016.
• the resignation of Chad Drummond, firefighter, effective Jan. 7.
• permission for one police employee to attend Leadership Skills for Challenging Times training in Rio Rancho.
• permission for one Artesia Clean & Beautiful employee to attend the New Mexico Clean & Beautiful Grant Workshop in Socorro.
• permission for two Facilities & Administrative employees to attend payroll law training in Roswell.
• permission for one fire employee to attend Fire Officer III/IV combo training in Webster, Texas.
• permission for one Artesia Clean & Beautiful employee to attend the Keep America Beautiful 2017 National Conference in Washington, D.C.
• approval of second-quarter general ledger adjustments.