Jose Chavez, left, and Mike Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp., accept awards Tuesday from the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Foundation during a luncheon at the Instructional Technology Center on the ENMU-Roswell campus. Foundation Board President Steve Henderson, right, emceed the presentation. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

A local economic development group and a retired oil and gas business owner have been presented with awards by the ENMU-Roswell Foundation in recognition of their support for the school and foundation.

The foundation, which raises money for scholarships, academic equipment, employee awards and academic projects, held its 19th annual banquet Tuesday at the Instructional Technology Center on the ENMU-Roswell campus.

The honorees were Jose Chavez and the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp.

The Economic Development Corp. received the Diamond Service Award.

“Guided by their board of directors and president, Mike Espiritu, and his team, they work closely with partners to make the economic development program work,” said Steve Henderson, president of the ENMU-Roswell Foundation.


Henderson specifically noted the group’s work to facilitate three scholarships for ENMU-Roswell students provided by the New Mexico Solar Group and its collaboration with Ascent Aviation Services, which plans to open a large aircraft repair and maintenance operation at the Roswell Air Center in spring 2022. Henderson said Ascent Aviation will provide hands-on experience to aviation maintenance technology students.

Henderson also described another recent contribution by Espiritu, who participated in a video to inform people about the school’s aviation maintenance program.

Christopher Palmer, president of the board of directors of the Economic Development Corp., gave the acceptance speech, calling the recognition an honor and humbling. He also said the 125-member group is essential to the recruitment and attraction of employers and businesses, with Palmer stressing the importance of recruitment.

“We don’t just put signs up and watch the businesses come in,” said Palmer, who is also president of Pioneer Bank. “We have to actively recruit staff and businesses. I think that is the highlight of what I have to say. I think it is a different mindset to recruit people to come than it is to just attract them.”

Chavez was presented with the President’s Distinguished Service Award. According to an introduction by ENMU-Roswell President Shawn Powell, Chavez came to Piñon, New Mexico, at age 2 after being born in Juarez, Mexico. Following graduation from Weed High School, he attended junior college at New Mexico Military Institute on a basketball scholarship, becoming an officer and platoon leader. He graduated with an associate’s degree in general studies in 1980.

He then attended New Mexico State University where he met his wife, Shiela (Rodriquez), whom he married in July 1981. In 1984, he enrolled in the petroleum production technology program at ENMU-Roswell, moving to Roswell while his wife, a bookkeeper at the time, stayed in Bloomfield.

After ENMU-Roswell, Chavez worked in the oilfields for Atlantic Richfield and other companies until 2006, when he formed his oil and gas drilling company, Bobcat Production in Hagerman. Now retired, he joined the foundation board in 2012.

In his remarks, Chavez said he felt others on the foundation board were more deserving but also that he thinks he represents the type of outcomes possible by graduating from ENMU-Roswell.

“I am the typical example, or the example, that the people who built this university wanted to have,” Chavez said.

He said he “hustled” to complete a two-year program in about 13 months so that he could finish his degree and return to his wife. He said he, like some current students, had to wonder if he would have enough money to pay for gas to get to class.

When he finished his ENMU-R studies on a Thursday, he said, he had a job offer by Monday that changed the trajectory of his life.

“I am what this institution is supposed to do for people,” he said. “Now my part, what I’m doing is, I’m giving back. I’m giving back with (other people’s help), but I’m giving back.”


ENMU-R Foundation honors local man, group


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