The Hobbs Municipal Schools Maintenance Department returned from this week’s New Mexico 2015 Facility Manager’s Workshop with a state championship.
As top point earners among school districts its size, Hobbs warehouse employees were named recipients of the Ben Lujan Award for Maintenance Achievement.
In addition, HMS Operations Director Gene Strickland won an individual Ben Lujan Award for his leadership of a school district that completed construction of two new elementary schools within less than 24 months.
Both awards came as a surprise during this week’s three-day Albuquerque conference.
“I didn’t know they were going to call my name and we didn’t know about the department award,” Strickland said on Thursday, “but honestly, when you walk through our buildings and see the extent of work that our maintenance and custodial staff put in on a daily basis, it makes sense.”
The state group didn’t rely solely on observation to bestow its department-wide honor, however. The decision was based on a statistical analysis of work-order completion rates, preventative maintenance ratios, vandalism eradication and energy efficiency. In the latter category alone, HMS has reduced energy costs by several million over the past several years.
When the final tabulation was made, Hobbs Municipal Schools beat out Clovis Municipal Schools as highest achiever in the 6A school category. “That really tickled me to beat them,” said Strickland, who added that only one other school district in any category compiled enough points to win the Ben Lujan recognition.
Strickland’s individual honor came after HMS Supt. TJ Parks nominated him for the award. Pointing out that Strickland worked to pass a $25 million bond issue, supervised construction of the new Broadmoor and Murray Elementary Schools and headed the effort to redistrict 13 elementary schools, among other things, Parks said Strickland acts with professionalism while maintaining an ability to listen to staff. Most importantly, Parks said, “Gene Strickland keeps kids first in his thought and actions.”