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At the regular meeting of the Muleshoe City Council Monday, May 9, community members spoke regarding the possibility of combining Heritage Foundation offices with Chamber of Commerce offices.

“We’ve been in discussion about this for a couple weeks, trying to see what’s feasible, what the possibilities are, the pros and cons, and see what avenues we can take,” Scott Miller, president of the Heritage Foundation, said in an interview.

Combining the two offices could benefit both organizations in several areas.

“Both organizations are non-profits,” Miller said. “We both need financial assistance and a manager to help run both organizations. We each have our own set of books and two sets of boards.”

The idea is that by combining one manager and one office, the two non-profits could reduce overhead.

“The Chamber promotes local businesses and Muleshoe; the Heritage Foundation preserves local history,” Miller said. “We have lots of grounds and buildings to maintain. Like everything, that takes money.

“We have an office at the Center, a nice office. Moving the Chamber office to the Center would help keep the bills for electricity and cleanup down. Currently, we don’t have a manager. If we combined offices, we have plenty of for apparel and memorabilia, enough room to accommodate them. We have another large building, almost a barn, for storage.”

Miller pointed out that moving the Chamber office to the Heritage Foundation would get the office away from traffic at the stoplight.

“The Chamber is close to a railroad track and located on a Highway 84, which intersects with Highway 214, a major highway. The Chamber and Pete the Mule are right beside a convenience store. There’s a lot of congestion and not a lot of room to park at the front. It takes away from our tourism,” Miller said. “Nobody likes change, but a move to the Heritage Center would help make the Center a focal point. People could get in and out and see what we have to offer. There’s a lot of history and tourism that we could promote at one location.”

At the council meeting, Chamber President John Villalba, said discussions about combining the two offices should be looked at in the context of people who care about Muleshoe, who want to honor the past and make things better for the next generation.

“When this idea kind of came to the Chamber, we had kind of mulled it around for a little bit. We have not had any kind of detailed conversations,” Villalba said.

Villalba said he attended a Heritage Foundation meeting along with Chamber Manager Brittany Pendley.

“We talked about the idea, but our board has not approved that yet. Once projects coming up this next month are over with, we’ll be able to formalize a better decision. We just want to wait and form some unity amongst us. I’m not saying there wasn’t any, but we want to be transparent as all of us are serving the public. People have put us in those positions to be able to make decisions, and we want all the different entities that are going to be involved in this kind of decision to be on the same page.”

During the meeting, the questions of who owns the property the Chamber office sits on and who owns Pete the Mule were raised. City Manager Ramon Sanchez said the Chamber office sits on city property. The Underwood Law Firm is looking into the lease agreement, which is also available to the public.

“One of the things we really want people to understand is that this is by no means a discussion taking place to forget anything that was ever done in the past,” Villalba said. “It’s a few ideas and plans that kind of honor the people that put it together to begin with, and by that same token to think about the people coming through, whether they be travelers, businessmen or homeowners, whoever they may be.”

Gail M. Williams

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

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