A Little History of the Project

History Update: The Village of Chama and the HCHA have come to an agreement that will allow us to build the center in the Robert Gallegos Park at the present arena site. The referendum vote of the residence of Chama, past by an overwhelming majority. Our State Senator Mr. Martinez, our Representative Mrs. Rodella, Mr. Lujan and Mr. Salazar acquired $350,000 from capital outlay and state bond funds. This will enable us to make our project a reality.

This project was conceived by some of our members over morning coffee at one of our local restaurants. They were talking about their horses and the inability to exercise them during our winters. We usually have between 12 and 24 inches of snow on the ground, (Normal Winter). The talk turned to the need for an enclosed heated building. The idea quickly grew and involved the fact that local youth, as well as adults, do not have a place for winter or larger events. The group decided to talk the idea up and see if others were interested and if the idea was feasible.

January 2001, the following residents met to discuss the project: Mr. & Mrs. Dale Putman, Mr. Jack Wyatt, Mr. Dennis Wells, Ms. Amy Hurd, Ms. Amy Rector, Mr. Vernon Casados, Mr. Bud Harris. The first thing we decided to do was conduct a survey to find out how much support we had in the valley. The survey was very productive we received over 1000 signatures. At the next meeting, we discussed what kind of building would be appropriate and sort of put a plan together.
In May 2001, we had our first recruiting meeting. We formed the “Greater Chama Valley Association”, now known as "High Country Horsemen's Association", with the following officers, President: Mr. Vernon Casados, Vice President: Mr. Bud Harris, Secretary: Ms. Amy Hurd, Treasurer: Ms. Amy Rector. Our next project was to write the Associations bylaws and filed for Non-Profit status with the state of New Mexico. Fortunately members: Mr. & Mrs. Bill Talley had experience with forming a Non-Profit organization and was extremely valuable in this venture. We filed for and received New Mexico Non-Profit Corporation status in October 2001. We then filed for Non-Profit Status with the IRS. GCVA received its letter of recognition for its status as a 501(c)3 organization from the IRS in mid 2002. The Association name was changed in June 2008.

Next, we started a number of projects: One – To Design the building/complex, Two – to find a piece of property, Three – Acquire a financial advisor, Four – Organize fundraisers.
We acquired the services of Mr. Leo Valdez, of Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley & Co. as our financial advisor. April 2002 we filed for our 501 C (3) and in September 2002 we received our advanced ruling.
Designing the building proved to be a real adventure, we are in a fairly remote area and felt that we need to provide as many comforts on site as possible, i.e. Barns with stalls for holding and preparing animals, exercise areas, RV Parking with full hook-ups. The main building will have seating for up to 1500 for Rodeos, horse shows, etc. and up to 3000 for concerts. There will be a conference room that will seat 250 for dining and 350 for speeches/presentations. It will also have four concession stands for local clubs and school groups to sell goods at events. The site will also be used for 4H and FFA events, we hope to house animals and train young men and women to handle their animals for the county and state fairs. We have acquired the services of Duty & Germanas Architects, Inc. to put our ideas on paper. We are now writing grants, conducting fundraisers and implementing youth programs while we await the full event center.

Yearly Activities Since 2001

2001 -- GCVA incorporated in the State of New Mexico and applied for Non-Profit status with the IRS and State Agencies

2002 -- GCVA received its letter of recognition for its status as a 501(c)3 organization. GCVA met with architects, legal and financial counselors to determine the Events Center Project feasibility and parameters. A preliminary site plan and budget were set up for further evaluation based on land availability and community requirements.

2003 -- During the calendar year 2003 GCVA held fund raisers (First Annual Family Rodeo and Dinner Auction). Further refinements were made to the site plan and budgeting. Vernon Casados, our board President, made his first trip to the State Capitol to meet with Governor Richardson regarding GCVA activities and potenial.

2004 -- GCVA held fund raisers (Second Annual Family Rodeo and Dinner Auction) and began an ongoing brick fund raising drive (Walkway of Recognition in Downtown Chama). In addition we were able to bring the Creede Repertory Professional Group for a Dinner Theater. GCVA also established an academic scholarship fund for local youth. The architectural site plan is complete. These plans can be adjusted to accommodate the final facility location. Representatives went to the State Capitol and met with Governor Richardson to make him aware of the organization and its goals. Vernon Casados discussed the social and economic value of the Events Center and GCVA as a coordinator on activities as postive and necessary for the North County.

2005 -- GCVA is actively seeking grants from a wide variety of organizations for the project and have created a database of those businesses and individuals who have offered their assistance with goods, services and advertising over the last three years. We are currently carrying out our 2005 spring and summer events and working on our fall and winter calendar. Vernon Cassados made his third trip to the Capitol and was met with an enthusiastic response from the Governor. Governor Richardson has assigned a staff member to track our progress and has stated that he will make GCVA Events Center Funding a priority during the next legislative session. In addition, we have been in touch with private funding sources, one of whom has stated that they will be able to commit to this project as long as there are other funding sources available, and local support for the project. We are currently in negotiations with the Village of Chama to obtain a long term lease site for the Center. This plan assists the Village of Chama's move forward with portions of its Comprehensive Plan for responsible and effective development within the Village.

2006 -- Recieved an overwhelming vote of approval from the residences of the Village of Chama. The New Mexico State legislature awarded the Association $275,000 toward the Design and Engineering of our entertainment center.

2007-- Complete the Design and Engineering plans, continued with fund raising and seeking private donations.

2008-- New Mexico Legislators awarded GCVA with $75,000 for Construction of the Complex. The Association Board and Membership upon recommendations from private donors approved a name change. The association assumed the new name of "High Country Horsemen's Association", approved at the June 9th 2008 Meeting.

2009-- Due to the economic downturn the Association requested to use the remaining grant money to improve the existing arena. We are making plans to improve this arena and possibly enclose a portion of it. We are scheduling a series of calf roping, barrel racing and pole bending events for this summer.