ActivePaper Archive City, county plan ‘giving back’ event - Hobbs News Sun, 2013-12-08

• COMMUNITY DINNER

City, county plan ‘giving back’ event

• ‘One Table, One Community: $50,000 dinner Dec. 22 to be funded by donors

The City of Hobbs and Lea County employees have less than 15 days to plan a $50,000 holiday community meal for more than 2,000 residents of Lea County.

The meal, which has been named “One Table, One Community,” is scheduled from 2-6 p.m., Dec. 22 at the Lea County Event Center.

During a Dec. 2 Hobbs staff meeting, city employees expressed their idea of hosting a community meal along with the help of their Lea County counterparts to show gratitude to local residents.

“I’m very impressed with the staff meeting about putting together a community dinner,” Mayor Sam Cobb said during the Dec. 2 city commission meeting. “All of you will be applauded and commended. I think it’s going to be a tremendous thing for our community and I was very impressed and proud to be part of it.”

City Manager J.J. Murphy said the meal is to say, “thank you” to area residents.

“From all of the morale committee members and all the department heads — everyone has jumped behind this idea and said, ‘this is a great year to give something back,’” he said.

County Manager Mike Gallagher said the county staff were already planning to adopt a few local families in need and provide them a meal during the holidays. With the City of Hobbs plan, Gallagher said it was perfect timing for the county staff to join in and give back to the community.

“As we were thinking about the planning for that kind of activity we started talking to the City of Hobbs about this community dinner,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for the county staff to show their appreciation to the public and a great time for us to continue serving the public.”

The $50,000 event will include dinner and dessert, catered by Furrs’ and Pacific Rim, live entertainment, a visit from Santa Claus and many other activities. City and county employees will volunteer to serve the meal, clean up and greet guests.

Funds for the community meal will be collected from donors.

“The goal is not expend any taxpayer dollars and making this truly a giving dinner,” Ann Betzen, executive assistant to the city manager, said.

Tickets for the community dinner will include four different time slots that Lea County residents can attend the event. At the top of each hour, from 2-6 p.m., 500 residents will be invited to receive a meal and dine at the festively decorated Event Center while enjoying the company of city and county staff.

“We’re going to divide the 2,000 people by four different times,” Mia Russell, community dinner project manager and Parks and Recreations director, said. “The tickets will be color-coded to tell the serving times at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.” Tickets will also be available at the Parks and Recreations Department and the box office at the Event Center.

“What we’re targeting are 2,000 residents that this could probably be their best meal,” Murphy said. “We’re trying to work with the social service agencies, the churches — we’re going to give tickets for the county to distribute for residents who live outside of Hobbs.”

The Hobbs Express will also be offering free rides to Hobbs locals to and from the event. Residents in need of a ride can call 397-9290.

“What we’re wanting is for people to call ahead to schedule their ride,” Jan Fletcher, transportation director and city clerk said. “I have five vehicles scheduled to run that day so we’ll be able to cover all areas and get everyone to the event center who needs a ride.”

Hobbs city commissioners said they were impressed with the staff ’s idea and excited for the event.

“I’m proud of the city staff of Hobbs for stepping up and wanting to give back to the community,” Commissioner Garry Buie said. “I think that it’s a great step and I’m very proud to be a part of that group.”

“I’ve been on the City Commission for five years and I’ve always seen the level of service and passion that city employees have,” Commissioner Jonathan Sena said. “I just felt that something came alive in this talk about a community meal and I feel the staff has been able to tap into the greatest part of city employees — that area of service and love for the community. It really touched my heart to see that today and I look forward to seeing what happens with this meal.”

For more information on the community meal, to make a donation, or for tickets, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 397-9291.

Denise Marquez can be reached at 391-5437 or at reporter@hobbsnews.com.