Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Toys From Cops To Tots

Socorro City Police delivered hundreds of toys to needy children Tuesday afternoon as part of the annual Toys From Cops To Tots campaign. Capt. Angel Garcia (right) said the department looks forward to giving back to the community every year. “We want the kids to know the police officers are here for them. All the time. Not just at Christmas,” Garcia said. “If they ever need help with any need, they shouldn’t hesitate to come to us.” Santa’s helpers also pictured (from left): Chris Carrejo, Dominique Montano, Amanda Gallegos, and Cailey Montano.

Bhasker: Socorro In Revenue Bind

By John Larson
Mountain Mail

SOCORRO - A radical drop in gross receipts tax has put the City of Socorro in a spending bind, according to comments made by Mayor Dr. Ravi Bhasker at Monday night’s city council meeting.
Bhasker said the drop was about $100,000, which the city had earmarked for retention pay for police officers, firefighters, and EMTs.
“This represents about a three million dollars drop in business,” Bhasker said. “Most comes from construction, but it also comes from retail sales.”
The proposed plan calls for adjustments in the payment of police officers, based on merit. It does not affect their basic salaries.
Merit pay will be based on time on the force, and satisfactory evaluations, and is needed to prevent a high turnover of employees, Bhasker said.
The resolution states that annual retention pay increments begin after an officer has been employed for three complete calendar years.
Those who have been on
the police force for three years
will receive an extra $50 per pay period.
After completing six years, an officer will get an extra $75 per pay period.
After completing nine years, there will be an extra $100 per pay period.
Merit pay for firefighters/ EMTs will be based on standby shift duty, certification level, and years in service. Their extra pay ranges from $120 to $180 per standby shift.
Bhasker advised the council that the resolutions not be considered until the Jan. 18 council meeting.
“I’m not opposed to the resolution, but just to making sure we have the money,” he said.
The Retention Pay resolution was based an average of GRT funds coming in December over the past five years.
“We have been very optimistic in the past,” Bhasker said. “But now we need to wait to commit ourselves until we know we have the funds.”
He said he will contact the Department of Finance and Administration. “The Tax and Revenue Department has no transparency,” Bhasker said. “We need to investigate how it dropped that much. It represents about a $3 million drop in business, sales, and construction.”
He said if “[gross receipts tax] continues to fall, I can offer some alternatives to the retention pay.”
The expected December GRT payment is from October revenues, said Councilor Donald Monette..
“What’s down is construction. Actually retail sales were up a little in October,” Monette said. “We’re now trying to get an answer from the DFA.”
Councilor Michael Olguin Jr. suggested that if the Retention Pay resolution is passed in January, that it could be worded so that the merit pay is retroactive to Jan. 1.
Other city workers receive bonus pay every year – designated salary adjustments – that is meted out over a three-month period.

Electric Co-op Hires Attorney Number Three

By John Severance
Mountain Mail

SOCORRO -- The Socorro Electric Co-op called an emergency meeting Monday night and what it discussed was not entirely clear.
Trustee president Paul Bustamante called the meeting to order and Leroy Anaya moved that the co-op go straight into executive session to discuss attorneys for the co-op. The motion was immediately seconded by Herman Romero.
Trustee Charlie Wagner said, “Can we discuss this?”
Anaya responded, “It’s a personnel matter. It’s cut and dry.”
Wagner then asked, “Do we have an attorney?”
Bustamante said, “I don’t know. That’s why we are going to executive session.”
About a dozen people left the proceeding, including three incoming Trustees who were elected in October but will not take office until Jan. 1.
People gathered outside the closed door. Then co-op general manager Polo Pineda came out the door and said, “They instructed me to tell you to go all the way outside.”
One of the trustees then yelled, “Tell them to get the hell out.”
Outside, Donald Wolberg, who will be a Trustee on Jan. 1 along with Priscilla Mauldin and Luis Aguilar, was visibly upset.
“It irritates me greatly,” Wolberg said. “This is an open personnel matter.”
Wolberg made a plea to members to attend the general meeting next year.
“The annual meeting is going to be important,” Wolberg said. “It is vital for the public to show up because there are some important resolutions that have to be discussed.”
Wolberg and the two other incoming Trustees were not informed of the meeting and have been kept in the dark about the co-op’s business.
“It’s just a matter of common courtesy,” Wolberg said.
Fifteen minutes later, trustee Harold Baca walked out of the meeting.
Wagner then came out and said, “They are supposed to tell you that they are out of executive session. They passed a motion to hire another attorney.”
When asked who it was, Wagner said, “It’s a secret.”
That means the co-op now will have the services of three attorneys.
The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 28 and the new attorney is scheduled to be present.
One mystery was solved, though. According to the minutes of the Nov. 16 meeting, the board adjourned to executive session at the request of attorney Joanne Aguilar. That was the meeting that the Socorro police were called to because of an altercation between Wagner and Wade.
When the board returned to regular session, a motion was made and seconded to employ Aguilar as counsel for the SEC on issues involving contracts, employment and regulatory matters. A motion was made and passed to utilize the services of Paul Kennedy for matters involving redistricting, bylaw and policy issues.

Two Socorroans Rope Way To $20,000

By John Larson
Mountain Mail

SOCORRO – Coming in at tenth place in the World Series of Team Roping is no easy feat, and garnered two Socorroans $20,000.
Dawn Tarpley and Leon Mounyo had an outstanding four round average of 39.03, only .04 second behind the ninth-place team.
The event was held Dec. 12 in the sports arena at South Post Casino and Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
They began intensive practice sessions on their technique in October, getting ready for the competition.
“We’ve actually been practicing together for a total of about five years, on and off,” Tarpley said. “Leon is great at being both header and heeler, so he could go either way. I’m good as a header, but not a heeler.
“There’s a handicap in roping. The scale goes from one to 10, with 10 being the best and one being a novice. I am at a four level, “an upper novice,” and Leon is a six. Together we entered as a number 10 team,” she said.
Tarpley was born in Socorro, but was raised on a cattle ranch in Clayton.
After graduating from West Texas State, she worked as a scientist at Sandia Labs, but has always been involved on some level in rodeo activities except actual participation. She moved back to Socorro five years ago from Edgewood. “I didn’t start roping, or any kind of rodeoing, until I was 38 years old” she said.
Tarpley currently works at KMXQ radio, but is also known to many locals as a member of the band, The Westerners.
Mounyo has been roping as far back as he can remember while growing up on his family’s ranch in eastern Socorro County.
“[To be good at it] you have to practice a lot. You have to consider all the variables in team roping,” Mounyo said. “You have to know how your horse is working, make sure your horse in working good.”
He said during competition anything can go wrong.
“The variables include the speed of the calf. The length of its horns. Whether it’s going to the left or to the right,” Mounyo said. “We drew four good ones this time. I had a good win during the State Fair in August,” he said.
After splitting the $20,000 with Tarpley, Mounyo has brought his total winnings for 2009 to $28,000.
The team plans on qualifying for next year’s World Series of Roping. “I want to thank all of our sponsors,” Tarpley said. “Especially the Golden Spur Saloon in Magdalena. Darrel Pettis has been extra supportive of both my roping, and of my band, The Westerners.”

Local Masonic Lodge Makes $600 Donation To New Mexico Boys Ranch

By John Larson
Mountain Mail

SOCORRO – The Socorro Masonic Lodge has donated $600 to the New Mexico Boys Ranch in Bernardo.
Lodge Secretary, Gary Stendahl, said he and Representative Don Tripp presented the check to Boys Ranch Director Mike Kull at the facility Thursday, Dec. 10.
“Our lodge has tried from time to time to give money and help them out,” Stendahl said. “Money we can raise is matched by the Masonic Charities Foundation.”
“We try to real hard to be a part of the state and the local community, too,” Kull told the Mountain Mail. “Socorro is part of our community. We take the kids down there from time to time. We appreciate that support from Socorro. It means a lot to us.”
He said that Boys Ranch is not supported by the government, and relies on individual donations.
“We learned long ago that government money is very unstable money. You may get funding but that funding could be cut off,” Kull said.” The thing that makes us unique is that we don’t accept any government funding. It is supported totally by private funding.”
“We have people all the time asking us to teach them how we do that,” he said. “Rather than rely on one source of money, you could say we have thousands of sources – people, businesses, and organizations that contribute what they can. They have kept us going for 65 years.”
The ranch receives about 75 percent of its funding through individual donations, and 25 percent from civic organizations and clubs.
He said Boys Ranch provides young men with a complete education through high school, in a constructive and supportive environment.
“Most are really behind in school. We’ve also found that kids who grow up in poverty are afraid of college,” Kull said. “We have some take college courses while still in school, and as kids leave we help them get into college.”
The ranch uses a family-style living approach which helps them learn how to function as family members and develop healthy peer relationships.
“Each boy lives in a cottage with nine other boys and a married couple called Resident Advisors,” Kull said. “We don’t want anyone to replace their real families. The resident advisors are more like coaches, and take care to ensure the boys don’t worry about divided loyalties.”
“One of the biggest problems in a children’s institution like this is older kids doing something inappropriate to younger kids,” he said. “At Boys Ranch, we have a counselor the younger boys can talk to, who can take care of the situation without the older boy knowing who ‘snitched’.”
The typical resident is of junior high or high school age and lives at Boys Ranch about two and a half years, and all boys participate voluntarily.
“We have no gates. No fences. We tell them if they don’t want to come they don’t have to come,” Kull said. “If they want to come, they have to make a commitment to work on their issues.
“They are kids that for some reason cannot be at home, whether it be that their parent have been incarcerated, or there’s an alcohol or drug abuse problem at home,” he said. “A lot come to us through CYFD, which licenses us. They are recommended to us by the courts, parents, grandparents, a teacher, or church. When a child cannot live at home for whatever reason we take that child on a 24 hour basis.
“Our first goal is to get kids back home if we can,” Kull said.
Although a percentage of the alumni need additional counseling through a program in Albuquer-que, or continue on to a co-ed independent-living program at an affiliated ranch in Clovis, Kull said there are many success stories in the facility’s 65 year history.
“We had a young man who came to the ranch at five years old. He went through and graduated from high school, and continued on to college, getting his Bachelor’s degree,” he said. “He became a banker and worked for a national financial institution a number of years. Then came back, and is now president of New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation.”

Singing Principal Of The Alamo

By Nathalie Nance
For the Mountain Mail

Before you have even had a chance to get a glimpse of the man, you will probably have heard him sing, because Dr. James Garcia, the new principal of the Alamo Navajo School, is not shy to let his baritone be heard, be it in the church choir in Socorro, in the corridor at work or on the phone with a reporter. Just like in a musical, as soon as he talks about something which reminds him of a song - off he goes.
Ever since Garcia was raised by his likewise musical mother in the little, but multicultural (the neighbor was Italian, the store keeper Polish etc), coal mining town of Trinidad, Colorado, music, languages and a curiosity for different cultures have played an essential part in his life.
“If you learn the language, you learn the heart of a culture” says Garcia, and adds that he sees himself just as much as a learner as a teacher. Consequently, as soon as he started working at the Alamo in early November, Garcia also started taking classes in Diné.
“It is very musical and a beautiful language.” says Garcia enthusiastically.
His academic achievements include a doctor’s degree in Administration and he is a senior professor of English. He is a Master Teacher from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in English, social studies, modern classical languages and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). During his career he has worked with students from all over the world, but he spent many years teaching in Pecos, Española and Gallina, and he considers himself a native of the Hispanic culture of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Even so, he thinks that the Navajo and the Hispanic cultures are very closely intertwined. Besides academic leadership for the Alamo, Garcia would like to promote cultural awareness.
“I want all our kids to learn to read, to do mathematics and to learn about the world”, says Garcia, “but also to maintain their Diné self and be proud of it.”

Holidays Definitely A Time For Reflection

From The Publisher

As the year draws closer to an end, we all reflect on the wonders and sorrows that we have experienced. Some families have lost a loved one and others, many more. One neighbor may have lost a parent and some parents have lost a child.
My family lost a brother one year and a sister the next, on the same month almost to the hour. We lost our brother and sister and my parents lost two children. We’re not special, it happens to other families in bigger numbers and more frequently each year. Whether it’s one parent or both, one child or more, the devastation is complete and always the same.
When all hope seems lost, especially around this time of year when we ask why and we all grieve our lost loves, something special always happens. A tiny hand to hold or a little coo from a newborn baby seems to be the cure, at least for those more desperate moments when we are hurting the most. It seems that an instant healing in our hearts, minds and souls takes place when we hold a newborn or see that little boy or girl peek at us from around the corner, then smile and run away giggling.
As delicate as we really are deep inside, we try all year to be strong and strive to understand through our different faiths why these things happen and constantly ask for strength from whatever higher being we believe in. I believe that our answers come everyday in the form of brand new babies in each family. No matter our sorrow, no matter our doubt, the face of a sweet child in our lives seems to comfort and lighten our darkest hours.
This Christmas, and every Christmas to come, always remember those that we have lost, and those very special moments that we shared. Then, look down upon your family’s future smiling up at you. Grab them and squeeze them - and live. What an extraordinary gift!

Merry Christmas Socorro,
Gary Jaramillo

OPINION: We Are The Children

Magdalena Potluck
By Don and Margaret WIltshire

We are all the children of God, according to the child whose birthday we celebrate on the holiday called Christmas. What ever your spiritual beliefs, the child is always our salvation. Biology itself attests that having been a child and having children is important if we wish to exist at all.
Many of us are familiar with news stories of abuse, neglect and sexual assault of our young. Maybe you have wondered what is going wrong.
Was there any time in history where many children were not abused much of the time. In the western world with 2000 to 6000 so years of religious history, you might think that would be possible.
Possible maybe, but it didn’t happen. People of the bronze age thought, just like many in Soccorro County today, think they “own” their children and can do, therefore, whatever they like. Generation after generation of abuse occurs and is occurring.
Some people knew they didn’t “own” their children. Their children were a gift of life and as parents, their responsibility.
Responsibility is not ownership. Marriage licenses and birth certificates are not deeds of ownership today. Those documents today are contracts of shared responsibility, not ownership.
In this country, the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was organized before there was a formal organization to protect children. The first president of the SPCA, Henry Bergh, did play a major role in changing conditions for children. This according to the text Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect by Cynthia Crosson-Tower.
This author relates the story of a child, Mary Ellen Wilson, and even shows before and after photos of this child. Mary Ellen was the illegitimate child of a woman’s first husband. Mary Ellen continued to live with this woman when her father died and the wife remarried.
Neighbors had often seen Mary Ellen locked out of the house, shivering on the door step. What drove them to take action, were the screams coming from Mary Ellen when she was being beaten with a leather strap, inside the house. They contacted a church worker Etta Wheeler and she contacted Henry Bergh of the SPCA.
Attorney Elbridge Gerry, a friend of Bergh, prosecuted the case. The “mother” got a year of hard labor in prison. Mary Ellen was placed in the Sheltering Arms Children’s home. The before picture shows a badly bruised, skinny and sad bare foot child. The after photo is a smiling, healthy looking and well dressed child.
Elbridge Gerry, attorney, went on to help found in 1875 the SPCC, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. 1875 is not that long ago. Sexual child assault and abuse only really started to be studied in the mid 1970s.
Life is hard. That is a fact that in this country we like to ignore, until we can’t. However, life is hard, for everyone. Surviving hardship makes people stronger? Possibly.
The child that endures assault of any kind in their childhood may survive, may be stronger. However, thriving and becoming the best they could be, is much more difficult. Often such people may want, with great motivation, to make things better for their children but don’t have a clue how to do that.
We are suppose to represent our parents, our first teachers and to identify with them. All too often the abused child does.
“Spare the rod, spoil the child”, is a bronze age expression. Written when horse power meant horse power and most people walked. You’d think we’d be smarter now.
In a world where we pretend life is lollipops and roses, we often bribe our children. Now that is a spoiler. We are teaching corruption.
No matter how old and worn we become, that child we are, resides in us. Value that child, value all the children. That is your future and that is our future.

So, do you have any Comments? Problems? Solutions? Up coming Events? Cheaper Flomax? Contact me at or (575) 854-3370.

OPINION: Rugby Faces Its Brave New World

The Pencil Warrior
By Dave Wheelock

Rugby Union Football is getting a lot of attention these days. At least by U.S. standards. In October it was announced the popular seven-man version of rugby is to be reinstated to Olympic status in Rio de Janiero in 2016. Two weeks ago, Clint Eastwood's film Invictus, portraying Nelson Mandela's complex relationship with South African rugby during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, premiered in mainstream theaters across the U.S. And last week a Wall Street Journal article titled What Rugby Taught BofA’s Moynihan features the playing career of the former Brown and Yale man freshly appointed CEO of Bank of America. What remains to be seen is how rugby survives its current form of success.
For those of us intimately involved with rugby in the United States, such widespread exposure would seem to be a dream coming true. Ever since men’s and then women’s rugby exploded on American campuses in the 1960s and -70s after decades of hiatus, we have dreamed and strived for a time when all Americans with an appreciation of sport - whether male or female, player or spectator - would have exposure to “the game they play in heaven.” Once they did, millions of Americans would, like us, become “hooked” - if not through actually playing the game, then by its fascinating spectacle and culture.
I use the term “sport” to specify athletic endeavor with an intent beyond simply winning, what you might call an ethic. For me, rugby has always embodied both a fiercely competitive contest and the maintenance of a kind of sportsmanship arising from self-discipline and respect for one’s opponent. Indeed, a sport so largely defined by physical confrontation could only survive with this understanding, jealously guarded and passed on by elders of the sport for over 180 years.
From the origins of organized rugby among upper-class students in 1820s England, the first article in rugby union’s law book has been a declaration of strict amateurism. No one - players, coaches, officials, or even those who wrote of their exploits in the game, were allowed to accept any compensation. Undoubtedly the policy originally served upper-class gatekeepers’ desires to bar those without the luxury of leisure time, yet in more recent years it was also seen as a way to ward off the win-at-all-costs attitude that was criticized in other sports - notably Rugby League, a version that went its separate, professional, way in the 1890s.
But rugby did not exist in a vacuum. As the “free trade” economic theories of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman gained influence in Washington and were spread throughout the world via neoliberal trade policy, powerful pressures developed for rugby to go pro. In Friedman’s brave new world, profit-taking became its own justification, and concentrated capital went on the prowl for new cash cows. As government spending for public services like local sports councils was cut around the world, athletic clubs of all stripes went on the block or passed into memory.
At the same time, top Rugby Union players began to jump ship to collect Rugby League salaries, and under-the-table payments to prevent the drain from Union increased. Finally, the all-too-obvious spectacle of “shamateurism” became too much, and Rugby Union’s international governing body officially allowed open professionalism in 1995.
Thus has modern rugby provided a unique and fascinating laboratory for the effects of professionalism on sport - for those with an eye for such things.
I played in both of rugby’s eras, taking up the oval ball in 1972 and hanging up my boots (unofficially, mind you) in 2000. While I won’t claim my playing abilities rose to a level that would warrant a salary in a major rugby country, I sampled the game in six other countries and have for eleven years been employed as a collegiate coach. Prior to this I played the American version of rugby, gridiron football, into college.
In my opinion the most corrosive effects of sports professionalism are on display in American football. At the highest level of play, the National Football League, the game has nearly ceased being sport at all, existing instead as a hyper-promoted shell for the televised marketing of consumer goods. This model, and more importantly, the win-at-all-costs business mentality that pervades it, exists with few modifications at the collegiate and even high school levels. Most sadly, it is not uncommon to witness pee wee grade players being berated by coaches and parents.
Professional rugby has begun to exhibit some of these traits, as wealthy owners and business professionals have moved in to acquire “properties” groaning under the weight of player contracts, increased travel costs, and professional staffs. Once-modest ticket prices have multiplied to a challenging level even as hallowed stadiums long associated with storied rugby clubs increasingly adopt corporate names. Injury rates have increased alarmingly due to the increased size and strength of athletes able to train full time, coupled with a new fascination with “the big hit,” imported directly from the American game. Player burnout is a major problem as owners seek to milk their “assets” for more profit.
Of all the many changes professionalism has brought to rugby, it is the attitudinal shifts which warrant closest scrutiny, since we know these are projected to younger players.
While I am not suggesting the genie of professionalism can or should be put back in rugby’s bottle, it is that institution long known as “the thinking man’s game” which offers the last best example of integrity in sport.

Dave Wheelock, a member of the Oneida Nation, coaches rugby and administers club sports at New Mexico Tech. Reach him at

Mr. Wheelock's views do not necessarily represent those of the Mountain Mail.


Holiday Music

New Moon Gallery made a celebration out of its seasonal closing with food and entertainment Saturday, with a Winter Solstice party featuring music from Magdalena folk singer Kim Dommer. She is a therapist with a PhD in Metaphysics and Doctor of Divinity, and has been writing and performing her own songs since 1970. Dommer also is an accomplished artist who has her paintings shown in exhibits in Socorro, Albuquerque, Magdalena, Chicago, Illinois, and numerous locations in Wisconsin and Michigan. As a therapist, she has had extensive experience in enlightening and helping heal others through imagery and art by means of lecture, counsel, journey, spiritual healing and exhibit. Also pictured (far right) is Frank Titus and Fancher Gotesky.

OPINION: Why Are The Christians Celebrating?

The Right Emphasis
By Doug May

Christmas time is the most profitable business season of the year. Many stores will gross more than 25 percent of their yearly business in less than 5 weeks. How did the business world establish such a profitable bonanza?
It started many years ago with Christians celebrating in their churches and in their homes with worship, much singing, festive meals and gift giving. It was a ready made, natural situation for the businesses that gladly joined the merry making with enthusiasm. Today this commercial Christmas is understood by everyone, but few really know why the Christians are celebrating.
The celebration centers around the birth of a boy named Jesus. This boy was a descendent of an ancient king of Israel named David who reigned 1,000 years earlier. David was the greatest king of Israel, a godly man, but not without sin. Israel prospered mightily under his leadership. In the generations following his reign the nation was split by rebellion, declined and eventually was completely destroyed by foreign powers and the people taken into captivity. But God in His mercy promised to send a descendent of David whose kingdom would never end. There were numerous promises from God about the coming Messiah or Christ. From the time of Jesus’ birth until now people have celebrated the coming of Jesus as the promised Christ. The night that Jesus was born God’s message was “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” God demonstrated that He has not forgotten His people. Christians cherish God’s faithfulness and take His promises seriously.
God had told Joseph, Mary’s husband, that her son should be called Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. Sin is an offense against God and something that incurs God’s anger. To be delivered from the wrath of God is no small thing. Christians rejoice in the forgiveness Jesus earned for all people and they celebrate His coming.
Sin is more than disobedience, sin is the corruption of man’s human nature. All mankind is self-centered and desires things that are evil. Our evil desires are partially controlled by civil laws, public opinion and the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to free us from the complete control of the devil and our sinful nature. Through Christ’s forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit Christ defeats the forces that would destroy us. Although we will always struggle against temptations and evil desires Christ has insured our final victory. The gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus brings makes a person a child of God and an heir of eternal life. Physical death is not the end, but the doorway to heaven. Christians rejoice in the hope of eternal life and celebrate Jesus’ birth.
All these blessings that Jesus accomplishes for sinners are possible because Jesus is true man and true God. He had no earthly father, but Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. He has a human nature and a divine nature. Christians celebrate the incarnation of the Son of God. There is no greater event in the history of God’s creation. Jesus’ coming is a gift from God the Father and a demonstration of His love for His creation. Jesus is also called Immanuel, which means God with us.
Christians are happy to see others being kind toward one another and giving gifts, especially to those in need. But their real joy comes as they celebrate God’s mercy and love toward all mankind demonstrated by the incarnation of the Son of God.

Doug May is a retired Lutheran pastor and his views do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail.

Sylvia Celebrates Christmas

By Anne Sullivan

Sylvia dashed up the porch steps shouting, ”It’s done! It’s finished! Isn’t that wonderful!”
I opened the front door to ask, ”What’s done? And what’s wonderful?”
“The Moushelter,” said Sylvia, pushing her way into the living room, shedding snow and dirt in equal amounts on the newly-swept floor. “It’s ready for occupancy. And it’s before Christmas.”
“That is indeed wonderful news,” I acceded. “You’ve been working very hard. Now you’ll be able to relax a little before Christmas.”
“I can’t relax yet,” she cried as she raced into the kitchen. “I’ve got to get the mice resettled first.”
“How do you figure to do that?” I asked, handing her a small Iams biscuit.
“After a great deal of thought,” Sylvia began, taking a pompous stance, “I now know how to do it. It’s Christmas. We’ll invite all the mice with their belongings to the Moushelter’s Multi-Purpose room for a Christmas performance.”
“That sounds like a good idea. What’s the performance to be?”
“The Mouse King. It’s a very popular seasonal performance. You might know it as The Nutcracker.”
“Ah, yes.”
“The mice will all want to come for the performance, seeing as it’s about a mouse that’s king. We’ll have a bit of jolly cider and a Christmas dinner afterwards and they’ll be happy to stay.” She grinned at the thought. “I need to work on the apartment assignments now if you’ll lend me some paper and a pen.”
After grabbing the proffered paper and pen, Sylvia stretched out on the rug, pen in mouth, to think while I once more relaxed into the softness of my comfortable chair.
I must have dozed off for the next thing I knew, Sylvia jumped up on me, shouting, “There, it’s. done and I’m totally tired. I’ve got it all figured out and on paper. All the mice who lived in your bedroom have apartments in Pod A; those from the living room are in Pod B and those from the Guest Bedroom share Pod C with the kitchen mice. It’s all very logical. You see, they already know each other so they’ll be able to get along.”
“One hopes,” I said.
Sylvia ignored me and went on, “I must say, I’m exhausted with all this thinking. A little Christmas cheer would go a long way towards renewing my spirits.”
“I bet it would and it will come after you’ve figured out how to transport the mice from the house.”
“That’s already in the works,” Sylvia replied. “Hear that banging? That’s Gordo making a sleigh. The plan is to put all the mice and all their belongings in the sleigh on Christmas Eve and transport them up the hill to the Moushelter.”
“Who is going to pull the sleigh?” I asked with a sense of dread.
“Not you. Don’t worry. You’re too old. Brandy’s going to pull the sleigh.”
“Does she know about this?”
“Not exactly,” said Sylvia, “but she knows about the performance and the meal and she’s anxious to come to that. She told me she’s never been invited to a play before. As long as she’s going, she might as well pull a sleigh. I think she’ll enjoy it.”
“Let’s hope so. Who’s cooking the meal and what are you having?”
“Gordo and I are supervising the chef we’ve hired to cook for the Moushelter. He used to cook at a fancy restaurant in Albuquerque. The entrée will be a hearty helping of peanut butter ringed by a wreath of crackers followed by a delicate compote of American cheese. And we’ll have mulled cider to drink after the performance. We’ll have some hay for Brandy and some chocolate for you. It will be the biggest event of the year for Swingle Canyon and every mouse will be dying for an invitation. Do you know what would make it even bigger and better?”
I bit. “What?”
“If everybody who reads this column would come and have good cheer and peace with the mice and the rest of the world and celebrate Christmas and the opening of the Moushelter with us,” Sylvia said, adding, “They could bring their own food.”

Enjoy Each Day To The Fullest

Luna News
by Kaye Mindar

I hate to confess, but this year finds me once again awake in the early hours of the morning; by the fire and Christmas tree. I suppose I would not be my mother’s daughter if I did not still have presents to sew and gifts to wrap closing in on the countdown to Christmas morning. I have been taught to enjoy each day – each moment - to its fullest, even if the dishes and laundry waits for another hour.
There is a song on the radio that harmonizes the words “A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year… I hope it’s a good one without any fear.” At first I wondered how strange to say the word “fear,” then I realized that fear is probably second only to love as the strongest of human emotion. We all have to overcome fear to ever get anything or anywhere in this life. We may never have gone on to higher education, loved, married, had children, gained a career, moved, or made any other decision without first overcoming a fear. We also may be held back by fear to forgive or ask forgiveness, to teach, to stand up for our beliefs or to allow ourselves to love life and live it to its fullest. So my holiday wish for you once again is: have a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year. I hope it’s a good one, without any fear.

Christmas Dinner
Santa made it to Luna safely last Friday evening after a wonderful dinner at the Luna L.D.S. Church and greeted both children and adults with Christmas spirit and good cheer. Many thanks go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Luna Ward and to Idonna Bradford and all who helped make the evening go so well.

Food Bank Boxes
Another special recognition of thanks goes out to Keith and Jamie Spiller and Ali Gray who work so diligently each month in organizing and making sure so many families of our community have the extra food they need with commodities from the New Mexico food bank. Keith and Jamie went the extra holiday mile and delivered many boxes to homes themselves last Friday evening.

Preparedness Corner
During this holiday season please take care to remember the 10 rules of safe food handling:
• Rub-a-Dub-Dub: Always wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
• 2-Hour Rule: Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within 2 hours. Do not leave them sitting out at room temperature.
• Thaw Law: Always thaw food in the refrigerator. Never defrost food at room temperature on the countertop.
• Temperature's Rising: Cook food to the proper internal temperature and check for doneness with a thermometer.
• Cutting Edge Clean: Wash cutting boards and knives with hot soapy water after food preparation, especially after cutting raw meat, poultry or seafood. Sanitize cutting boards and counters with a dilute bleach solution - Add 2/3 cup bleach to a gallon of water; put in a spray bottle for easy use.
• Raw Deal: Never place food on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood unless the cutting board has been thoroughly washed.
• The Eyes Have It: Use visual signs of doneness when a thermometer is not used:
Steam rises from food.
Clear juices run from meat and poultry, not pink.
Pork, veal and poultry are white inside, not pink or red.
Shellfish is opaque and fish flakes easily with a fork.
Egg yolks are firm, not runny, and egg whites are opaque.
• Bottom Line: Store raw meat, poultry and seafood tightly wrapped on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. This prevents the raw juices from dripping on other food.
•Mindful Marinating: Always marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the countertop. Discard leftover marinades that have been used with raw meat, poultry or seafood.
• Towel Turnover: Replace and wash dish towels and sponges often to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria throughout the kitchen. Use paper towels to dry washed hands after handling raw foods.

Quote of the Week
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt creep in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Reserve Mayor Resigns Post

By Richard Torres
for the Mountain Mail

RESERVE -- Village of Reserve Mayor Gregg Baca submitted his resignation to the Board of Trustees last Wednesday, Dec. 16. Citing personal reasons, his request was effective immediately. The Board of Trustees will fill this position at a special meeting to take place on Tuesday, Dec.22.
Also, a quorum of Reserve Drainage Committee members has elected Bob Caylor as spokesperson. The eleven community members of the committee will address the drainage concerns in the Village of Reserve. Caylor will then give a report to the Reserve Trustees and submit its findings to the Mayor.

Silva Breaks Scoring Mark

By Nicky Romero
For the Mountain Mail

Senior Roxanne Silva became Socorro’s all-time leading scorer and broke another school mark when she scored 38 points in a 67-44 win against Taos in the first round of the Ben Lujan Tournament in Pojoaque Monday.
Silva broke the record previously held by Audra Major, who scored 2,240 points in her career. Silva also broke the school steal record which was previously held by Renee Gallegos, who had 339.
Silva added 10 rebounds and six steals in the win against Taos. Socorro played in the semifinal of the Lujan Tournament against host Pojoaque.
“The press worked good,” Socorro coach Joseph Garcia said. “Just 15 turnovers and we shot 48 percent from the field.”
Within the span of four days last week, Socorro found out how it stacked up against the top teams in Class AAA.
On Dec. 15, the Lady Warriors lost to second-ranked West Las Vegas 53-43, but on Dec. 18, Socorro, behind 35 points from Silva, rolled past defending Class AAA state champion Pojoaque 61-48 on the Elkettes’ home floor.
“Pojoaque, the last four years, has pressed us like crazy, causing havoc with us,” Garcia said. “We did it to them finally. We were pressing the heck out of them.
“Tristan Peralta made a key steal in the first quarter going in for a layup. They were flustered for most of the game. Our press worked.”
Socorro led Pojoaque 32-17 at halftime and never looked back.
The Elkettes made a run in the fourth quarter but Socorro answered with a 7-0 run to put the game away.
Silva was helped offensively by Jaden Jones, who had 10 points. All-state guard Dionne Montoya had 13 for the Elks.
“We only had 16 turnovers compared to 41 against West Las Vegas,” Garcia said. “We shot 51 percent from the field. Obviously, not turning it over and having a good shooting percentage, being aggressive the whole game were all keys to winning the game.”
Pojoaque Valley coach Lanse Carter said the Elkettes could not contain Silva.
"We had a hard time defending her," Carter told the Santa Fe New Mexican. "Unless you put more than one player on her, she's going to hurt you."

Socorro Boys Start off Season With 1-5 Record

By Michael Olguin
For the Mountain Mail

SOCORRO -- At first glance, a 1-5 start for the Socorro Warriors Boys’ basketball team might seem a little lopsided. However two losses have come against fourth and fifth ranked 4A teams and two losses came at the hands of third and fourth ranked 3A teams.
Games against quality teams may be very beneficial for the young Warriors as they progress throughout the season. Socorro has been in a situation to win in each of those games but turnovers continue to the thorn in the Warriors’ side.
Socorro lost to the third-ranked 3A St. Michael’s Horsemen on Friday night in Santa Fe followed by a loss to the fourth-ranked 4A Los Alamos Hilltoppers on Monday night in the first round of the Ben Lujan Tournament.
After the conclusion on the Ben Lujan Tournament, Socorro will kick off 2010 with six straight road games. The first game of the road trip will be against Tularosa on January 2, 2010. The Warriors will not see their home court until January 16.
In Santa Fe on Friday night, Socorro looked to have cured their turnover blues during the first half of the matchup.
Socorro was leading by seven at one point in the second quarter before the Horsemen (4-2) went on a 9-2 run to close out the half tying the game at 31.
“We were tied at halftime, we only had four turnovers in the first half,” head coach Lawrence Baca said. “Then we had 12 turnovers in the third quarter and ended up with 23 for the game.”
Those 12 turnovers in the third quarter allowed the Horsemen to go on a quick 6-0 run to start the third quarter and finished the quarter with a 10-0 run to give St. Michael’s a comfortable 52-36 lead going into the final period.
The Horsemen maintained their lead throughout the fourth quarter and went on to win 69-46.
According to Baca the Horsemen shot a remarkable 79% from the floor.
Junior Jared Marquez led the Warrior offense with 14 points followed by Junior Zach Esquivel with 13.
Monday night’s game against the Hilltoppers proved once again that the Warriors are capable of competing with some of the top teams in the state. One major challenge for the Warriors was trying to find a way to contain 6”11” Alex Kirk.
“We played a zone the whole game and put a man in front and back of him (Kirk) and held him to 19 points,” said Baca.
The Warriors were able to hold Kirk to just 6 of his 19 points in the first half which kept the Warriors within reach down 27-20 at halftime.
According to JV coach Robert Mata, the Warriors found themselves down by three points with 30 seconds left in the game and the ball for an inbounds play. Socorro ran a play which resulted in a Warrior turnover and sealed the win for the Hilltoppers 48-43.
“This was one of the best games we played so far,” said Baca. “Overall we had a good game. ”