By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 10.09.2021
After retiring for the third time and moving back to New Mexico in 2018, Don Curnutt looked for a way to put his extensive professional experience to good use. Curnutt has joined the City of Las Cruces (City) Capital Improvements Advisory Committee (CIAC) and believes that Las Cruces is full of potential.
The CIAC is a group of citizen volunteers who oversee major improvements to the City infrastructure. The CIAC members advise and assist the City with their capital improvements plan, for which impact fees may be assessed. The group monitors and evaluates the implementation of the projects that affect residents throughout the city.
Curnutt spent 22 years in the Navy; was the co-owner of a successful engineering firm; managed the engineering, recreational, minerals and real estate programs for a large National Forest; and worked chief facilities management and engineering at the Grand Canyon.
“I was anxious not to let my skills dwindle,” he laughed. Originally from Tucumcari, New Mexico, Curnutt has seen plenty of change in the state and Las Cruces as he graduated from New Mexico State University in 1972. “I want to help the community get to its full potential,” he said. “Las Cruces has a lot to offer if they are smart in how they do it.”
Curnutt said that he’s interested in casting an eye over different contract agreements that might help guide city growth while lessening construction impacts on businesses and citizens. “I’ve been a part of construction and public works projects across the world, and I’d like to point out any possible red flags and help advise on different approaches they may not have considered,” he said.
Curnutt believes that education and growing oneself is the same commitment that a city and community face when they hope to move forward but faces challenges in working across departments. “Sometimes it’s about looking at the collective issues throughout the city and planning upfront before work starts,” he said. “If something else beneficial to the city can be done at the same time, why not make sure that we do it? Effective planning takes time but yields the best results.”
Curnutt explained that sometimes it’s more helpful to let a contractor have some ability and flexibility to be creative with a project as they are planned, designed, and constructed. Let contractors be active team players throughout the multiphases of project development and execution by using creative contracting practices.
“Sometimes designers don’t have a great sense of what happens in the field, and when everything is too constricted, it’s hard for contractors to do the best job in a situation,” he explained. “Las Cruces could be the number 1 city in the state if it continues to provide the City services it has and are not afraid to shift their paradigm of what the future can bring.”
The CIAC meetings are every third Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) at 680 N Motel Blvd. which allows the public to participate. Public comments or questions can be emailed to CIACAdminSupport@las-cruces.org.
LCU Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: Don Curnutt joins the City of Las Cruces Capital Improvements Advisory Committee