CARLSBAD — Few people in Carlsbad could command the sort of crowd that was present Thursday evening for the dedication of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute building.
State representatives, officials, former mayors, and more were in attendance for the building's dedication in John Heaton's name.
"Nobody's done more for Carlsbad than John Heaton," Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said. "He's just the personification of a public servant."
During his time as a state representative, Heaton was responsible for obtaining federal funding for the institute and the $5 million building.
"None of these things happen without everybody working on it," Heaton said. "I'm humbled and honored to be the one with my name on the building, but believe me, it wasn't me. It was hundreds of people that made this happen."
New Mexico Secretary of Energy and Minerals Dave Martin, New Mexico representatives Jim Townsend and Cathrynn Brown, and former mayors Bob Forrest and Gary Perkowski were all present at the ceremony.
Janway read statements from former U.S. Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman.
"John Heaton has devoted much of his career to serving the people of New Mexico and particularly the good people of Carlsbad and Eddy County," Bingaman said in his statement. "His contributions to the community are enormous, and he is most deserving of this important recognition."
Heaton currently serves on the Mayor's Nuclear Task Force, the Eddy Lea Energy Alliance, and is chairman of the state mining commission.
Heaton, a former pharmacist, has used his knowledge of the sciences in various endeavors, including helping to open Carlsbad's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
"We've all benefited from John's intelligence, high level of understanding, and tenacity," Janway said.