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Looking back 40, 30 and 20 years ago, the following are excerpts from the Artesia Daily Press from Dec. 31-Jan. 6.

40 years ago
Dec. 31, 1977 – Jan. 6, 1978

“I’m just tickled to death,” said Eddy County Commissioner Johnnie Bowman Saturday morning as he boarded the flat car loaded with a long awaited rock crusher. “You just don’t know how hard I’ve worked to get the thing for the county or how much abuse I’ve taken from some people.” The rock crusher arrived in Artesia Saturday morning around 10:30 and was setting on a siding near Richey Avenue. Once assembled and in full operating capacity, the crusher will be making road bed material from rocks fed to it from the Sherrell pit located northeast of Artesia.

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Artesia girl athletes brought two state titles back home in the year of 1977, the volley ball team winning its first ever and the basketball team doing the same thing. The basketball team currently is in the midst of going after its second in a row, and the volleyballers are awaiting next year.

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As reported in the Pinon News: The Gage family went to Alamogordo Monday and after they left, the grass around their trash barrel caught fire causing quite a smoke. It was seen from Four Mile Gap and phoned into Pinon, as it was thought it was the Gage home. Dan Gage, Jack Large and Buster Stevenson went to it and got the fire put out before it was too bad.

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Artesia REACT President Tom Harwell presented George “Old Nick” Nickolds with a plaque honoring Nicolds as a lifetime member of REACT. Honorary membership plaques were also given to the police department, fire department and sheriff’s department.

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Three Artesia High School students placed in the top three categories in regional competition for the FFA Placement in Agriculture Production Proficiency Awards. The boys were given awards for achievements in activities leading to careers in agriculture. The award winners are Dwight Menefee, third; Gary Fanning, third, and Billy Collins, second.

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Renowned firefighter Red Adair said he will go to Loving if the two men he sent to check out a gas well fire near Loving say he is needed. The fire was reported burning out of control at a rig Wednesday, and a stretch of New Mexico 31 and two farm roads were closed.

30 years ago
Dec. 31, 1987 – Jan. 6, 1988

Don Bannister retired Dec. 31 from Gas Company of New Mexico, and was presented with a silver try by company supervisor Ray Jones. Bannister worked for the company for 27 years and held several different positions.

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As reported in the Pinon News: B.J. Bouden of the Pinon Ranch left Saturday the 19th of December to go to Monahans, Texas, to get his wife and bring her here to spend the Christmas holidays at the ranch. Two of their daughters and their families planned to spend some of the holidays with the Boudens at the ranch. Mrs. Wayne Brazil had the flu a few days ago, but was over it in time to have a guest for Christmas, her mother, Mrs. Erdean Behunin from Albuquerque, and Wayne’s dad from Mountainair, and Waynes’ sister and family from Artesia. His sister and family planned to return home Christmas night, but the storm and roads were so bad they remained until Saturday morning. Mr. and Mrs. Demry Andeerson planned to have a Christmas Eve supper and “get together” in their home Thursday evening, but the weather was so bad that a number of persons were unable to go.

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A court order is being obtained today at a federal court in Albuquerque to allow excavation and removal of the graves at the old Seven Rivers Cemetery to make way for Brantley Reservoir. Once the court order is received, a permit from the state will be obtained to allow federal workers to remove the graves. The graves will be moved to a site at the Twin Oaks Cemetery, north of Artesia, where headstones will be replaced as close to their original appearance as possible. That portion of the cemetery will remain covered with prairie grass and will be landscaped only with lilac bushes, a flowering shrub common to the original cemetery’s era. Among those buried in the cemetery, which dates back to 1879, are several participants in the Lincoln County War. The first person to be buried in the cemetery was John Jones, son of Ma’am Jones, who chose the site. His body was later moved to the Jones Ranch in Rocky Arroyo where it remains today with other family members.

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Charlie and Beth Williams are the parents of the first baby born at Artesia General Hospital in 1988. Steffani Lynn, sister of Jeremy, 2, was born at 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5. She weighed seven pounds, five ounces and as 19 1/2 inches long.

20 years ago
Dec. 31, 1997 – Jan. 6, 1998

Milk production has dropped in north Eddy County, where dairies and their cows had a frosty reaction to last week’s heavy snowfall and subsequent thaw. “The dairy facilities are not built for this type of weather. It has knocked production down. The animals are spending more energy keeping warm, and it takes longer for the dairymen to do anything,” said Woods Houghton, Eddy County extension agent. It’s also difficult to wash dairy cows in freezing weather, he said, because it requires water.

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Gregorio Onsurez, 83, said you are never too old to build a snowman, as he topped the huge one he built in his front yard on Paris Street. He said the project took about four hours to complete.

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As reported in the Pinon News: Mrs. Mary Ann Anderson of the Weed area had all members of her family home for Christmas, except one granddaughter and family, Mrs. Lee Ann Pierce, her husband and children from the San Antonio, Texas, area. Mr. and Mrs. Mike Anderson and family from Alamogordo, also were unable to come. The members of the Anderson family reported an enjoyable time together. About three feet was snow was reported in the Weed area, but none of the family reported any trouble getting to the home of Mrs. Mary Ann Anderson for Christmas Day.

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An Artesia woman led police on a wild chase after stealing an Eddy County Sheriff’s Department vehicle early Sunday morning, according to an Artesia Police Department report.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back is compiled each week by Daily Press Community Living Editor Teresa Lemon.)