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October 2008 - New Rodeo Arena Nearing Completion

October 2008 - New Rodeo Arena Nearing Completion photo 10/8/2008 5:10:38 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. Fall semester is in full swing at New Mexico Junior College, which means students and student-athletes have returned. One group in particular, the men's and women's rodeo team, has returned to an entirely new practice area, with a brand new arena and stalls to work in. Throughout the summer of 2008, the sands shifted, along with panels, chutes and gates, under the guidance of head rodeo coach Philip Berry and assistant rodeo coach Richard Morris.

Some of this was made possible through help provided by work crews from the GEO Group, Inc./Lea County Correctional Facility, who assisted in the welding of the gates and panels and in the relocation of the stalls.

"I feel fortunate to have them," said Morris. "They've been good to work with - they are willing to work, follow instructions, and clean up as they go."

Morris and Berry put in a request for a work detail to come and help finish the new arena and work being done to the stable. Groups of six to nine inmates, under guarded supervision, came several times over the summer.

Currently, the coaches, along with help from Ismael Zuniga of NMJC maintenance, are putting the finishing touches on pens and
equipment. Since August, the rodeo team has enthusiastically put the new area to use.

"This is a huge step up," said rodeo team sophomore Tatum Patten. "Both arenas are a better size, the stock pens are bigger and more accessible, and everything is easier to use. The box pens can now be setup different ways; before they were stationary, now all of it is adjustable."

Plus, she adds with a smile, "It has the potential to host a rodeo one day."

To read more about the initial work done to the arenas, click here.

For more information, please contact Berry at (575) 399-0640,, or Morris at (575) 492-2748,

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