Curtis Michaels, Editorial Director

My greatest passion is telling someone their own story. I am in awe of the variety of ways people live their lives and fulfill their passions.

Whether coming through a major health scare with a renewed passion for life and service, or steadily plodding along toward a long-sought-after dream, every person sees the world from a place that nobody else can. That difference makes for a fascinating world.

The people I love writing about the most are those who live to serve. When someone feels the need to make a positive difference for others, I can’t help but to love them for it. Invariably these are the happiest, busiest, and most interesting people I’ve ever met. That’s why I took such great pleasure in spending time with area first responders.

First responders make serving all of us their highest priority. Not only do they work for our fire departments, police departments, sheriff’s offices, ambulance companies and more. Many also work as volunteers with rural fire stations. These folks can’t stop helping people in need.

In this issue of Focus on Roswell, first responders talk about their work, their lives, their passions and even some regrets. The paramedics, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and police officers we spoke with are all living lives of service to our community.

Kim Northcutt never imagined he’d become a police officer. On page 18, you can read about how his journey to become a lieutenant with the Roswell Police Department started while he was working at a local bus manufacturing plant. He discovered a passion for law enforcement work. He saw how he could serve. His career has taught him a lot about life and the people of our town. He has helped a number of Roswellites get motivated to be their best selves. Coaching his son’s baseball team brought him face-to-face with people he’d arrested and their family members. Northcutt understands that a man is not defined by a few mistakes. His grace and courage has won him the respect of peers and private citizens alike.

If you want to learn your job well, train others. That’s one of the bigger lessons Donald O’Connor has taken from his job training officers for the Roswell Police Department. O’Connor shares how he started 16 years ago with the New Mexico State Police, and when his wife landed a job in Roswell they chose to make this their home. O’Connor has sage advice for all police officers that could well apply to any job.

The multi-disciplinary focus of volunteer first responders is where some of the most fascinating stories come from. The stories about the people unrolling fire hoses on Tuesday morning and taking someone home from the hospital to die peacefully at home on Tuesday afternoon before picking up their kid from school. These people are the very backbone of Chaves County’s first responder culture.

Jesse Davis, Stacie Nason, Justin Powell, and Rodney Ray are all part of the Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic school at Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell. Ray has been a part of the calling since the early 80’s, he teaches with unequaled passion. The story of how he, Nason, and Powell have been part of that multi-disciplinary first responder force for years is located on page 8. When the tornado ripped through Dexter in March, Nason and Powell were in the thick of things. Powell was reporting daily to the public about the fire that ran along the Pecos River near East Grand Plains in May as he and other volunteers saved houses and worked non-stop for days to get that fire under control and finally extinguished.

It’s our first responders that make us safe in our too-busy world. They devote their lives to saving ours. Whether they’re stopping someone who was driving too fast so an accident could be avoided or running into a burning building to save a life, the first responders keep taking care of the community. There is not thanks enough to give to these remarkable people. It was an honor to sit with, interview and ride along with these public servants.

Another vital service Roswell enjoys is offered by those who feed us. Graves Farms grows more than forty crops every year. Their most famous crop is green chiles. Andrew Graves is among the fourth generation of the Graves family to feed people and cows in the Roswell area. In their article you will find that their goal is to satisfy all customers with their farm fresh products, especially their chiles.

As you read about these devoted men and women in this issue of Focus on Roswell, you’ll see how much their lives are like your own. Then you’ll see how very different their lives are from anything you’ve seen. They define resilience, dedication and grace under pressure. Roswell and Chaves County have truly good people serving us.

Best Wishes,
Curtis M. Michaels, Editorial Director

Curtis Michaels is the editorial director of Focus on Roswell.
He can be reached at

Letter originally published in Focus on Roswell 2019: Summer Edition.