By Mary Alice Murphy

The Gila Economic Development Alliance monthly Roundtable took place on Friday, May 16, 2014, with two featured speakers.

Before the speakers, Archi Padilla, Relay for Life organizer, announced this year's event will be held June 27 -28 to raise money for cancer research.

"Relay for Life has been in the county for 14 years," Padilla said. "In that time we have raised more than a half a million dollars. Last year's goal was $60,000. This year's is $80,000. The volunteers and many of us involved in the relay are personally affected. I am a three-year survivor. Most of the money raised goes for cancer research and some for services locally. Those who have just received a diagnosis are asking; 'Am I going to die?' They need to know we have the best treatment available."

The first featured speaker was Lee Gruber, who, with her husband, David DelJunco, owns Syzygy Tile. "We make tile that is sold all over the U.S. and into Canada," Gruber said. "This year, our Silver City showroom was 12th in volume in the U.S. I am also the co-chair, with Faye McCalmont, of the Silver City Arts and Culture District, which was established in 2008. It was an attempt by the state to be a medium to push economic development. We are proud of our heritage, Anglo and Hispanic, mining and ranching. The Arts and Culture District was formed to collaborate, the same as this group. We are sitting together figuring out how to move forward."

She held up the current issue of New Mexico Magazine, of which the inside back cover is a collage of collaborative advertising and has the Clay Festival as part of it. "We are gaining cachet by being on Times Square. This ad alone is New Mexico Magazine has brought me nine calls." She also held up the centerspread in Zócalo Magazine of Tucson, which was also done by collaborative advertising. "I applaud everyone trying to do something with little money."

"Clay is a bonding kind of medium," Gruber said. "We build houses with clay, and people are making a living as ceramicists. We want to move Silver City forward in the eyes of the world. The upcoming Clay Festival just got its first entrant from South Korea. I'm hoping for people to come stay for a week.

"We have tours of Syzygy Tile whenever someone wants one," Gruber said. "We have had people from Sweden, Japan, Germany and all over the states.

"July 26 will be the clay poker tournament fundraiser for the Clay Festival," she announced. "We had clay ceramic poker chips made. They cost a fortune, and it may take years to pay for them, but I have heard from B&Bs and hotels that they are offering poker classes that morning. Last year we had 40 people at the table. This year we hope to double that. Floyd McCalmont will have his mobile pizza oven outside and Little Toad, City Toad, as I call it, will have drinks available. Starting on the Wednesday after the poker tournament, we will have fabulous workshops. Claude Smith comes to me with a list of the best clay artists and I call them. When you say New Mexico and Silver City, they want to come. Go to clayfestival.com for all the details. Beginning that Friday, we will have a set of lectures, including a panel of archaeologists that Cynthia Bettison has put together. The gala will be Thursday night at the old Carter House, which is all fixed up."

Paul Leetmae of the Gila EDA said Lawley Toyota is one of the sponsors.

Gruber said a street dance would feature Brandon Perrault and a showing of the murals around the area. Gruber said Down to Earth yoga would hold sessions in Gough Park.

Sean Ormand of the Gila EDA asked if the poker chips were for sale. "Some people have bought some," Gruber said. Ormand suggested preselling sets of the chips. He also noted that Syzygy runs a fantastic business. "It's a wonderful economic development model. Create value here and sell it outside the area and bring the dollars back."

Leetmae said he takes his visitors to Syzygy for the tour. "I took my mother, and I took my colleagues from Japan."

L.J. Lundy, Gila EDA member said the colors are so unique. "If I'm in any tile showroom in the country, I can pick them out."

Gruber said the red body of the tile and the high firing makes the colors unique. "Most tiles are on a white body, so these are unique."

The second speaker was Nick Seibel, the new owner/publisher of the Silver City Daily Press. "As a kid, I went to Lee's house where the tile work began."

"There are so many good stories in this town, that why I reopened the local newspaper," Seibel said. "When I saw the local newspaper was going away, that was the longest, craziest weekend of my life. Tina (Ely, former owner and publisher of the Silver City Daily Press) really worked with me. She wanted desperately to keep it going. Every day we have put out a paper."

"The Daily Press is a history," Seibel continued. "We have piled high archives in a storage unit. I'm most proud that we will keep publishing these books. Newspapers keep history alive. Every day, back in 1950, Col. Clyde Ely, the founder of the Daily Press, wrote about the eyesore of the highway department yard. Finally the state highway department transferred it to Silver City. That site is now Gough Park, where most events in town take place.

"The Daily Press of today is not Col. Ely's newspaper," Seibel admitted. "It's a tabloid of eight pages, but we have investors and yesterday's paper is the last small one you'll see for a long time.

"How can you help?" he asked. "I have advertising rate cards, and also, just as important, a subscription form. It's important to establish the Daily Press as the place to go for the news in print media. We have the opportunity to lead on events. Newspapers can really tie people together. This is a community of communities, and the local newspaper is where we can engage one another."

Hurley Mayor Ed Encinas said his town does legal advertising with the Daily Press. "The clerks asked:' Where are we going to advertise, because we don't want to go to the Sun-News?'"

"Make sure we're in the loop, so we know when things are happening," Seibel said. "All of our staff returned with the exception of one. Jim Owens, after thinking about it over the weekend, decided he didn't want a desk job anymore."

Earl Montoya, describing himself as a community watchdog, said Nick and he "go way back. In the past you haven't addressed conflicts in the community. To be a success, you have to decide: 'Do we have the guts to address sensitive issues?'"

Chelsea Hotchkiss of Insurance First asked what the circulation of the paper is.

Seibel said it is about 6,000 paper and online. "The rates are the same as they were with the same flexibility for frequent advertisers."

Cynthia Martinez, Small Business Development Center director, said: "I can track my child's life in the Daily Press. I have a scrapbook of his life through the Daily Press. There's his history."

Seibel noted that he served on the Town Council about 10 years ago. "People asked me when I would run for mayor. I've wanted to be mayor since I was a kid, my mom says. When I was in kindergarten, Mayor Lucy Stermer read to us. There was a photo of me in the Daily Press, sitting on her lap. My mom said I came home and said: 'I want to be mayor someday.'"

Lynda Aiman-Smith, Town councilor, suggested giving a subscription to the Daily Press as a gift to friends and family.

Arlene Schadel, Gila EDA member, said to Seibel: "On behalf of the EDA, thank you for reviving a business."

"It's entropy," Seibel said. "Things fall apart and you have to put them back together. The local newspaper going away couldn't be allowed to happen."

The next article will cover the rest of the meeting—the organization reports.

Live from Silver City

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