By John Larson
The most talked about articles published in the Mountain Mail in 2010 included the death of Theresa Saiz-Chavez, fires in Magdalena, marijuana plantations on the Rio Grande, controversies at the Socorro Electric Cooperative, and a mixed bag of other happenings.
Some of the top stories covered by the Mountain Mail in 2010:
In January three new SEC trustees – Luis Aguilar, Prescilla Mauldin and Donald Wolberg – took office. They had been elected on the promise of supporting changes to the co-op’s bylaws.
Socorro’s only radio station, KMXQ, signed off the air in April after being acquired by a Wyoming-based broadcasting company. The signal at 92.9 on the FM dial is still silent.
Also in April, Socorro Electric Cooperative members passed sweeping changes in the way the cooperative operates at the annual members meeting.On June 8, John “Jack” Hayden was arrested in connection with the death of Theresa Saiz-Chavez, whose body was found locked in the trunk of her car under a bridge off Chaparral. At the preliminary hearing District Attorney Clint Wellborn made the case that Saiz-Chavez identified Hayden as putting her in the trunk on the 911 recording. Defense attorney Lee Deschamps argued that she entered the trunk herself in order to hide from Hayden, who was pursuing her. The case against Hayden is expected to go to trial in District Court on Jan. 18, 2011.
Also in June, the first of five large marijuana plantations along the Rio Grande bosque was destroyed by officers of Socorro Police, the Sheriff’s Department, and the Bureau of Land Management.
The Mountain Mail was tipped off to the presence of Legionnaires Disease at the spa and pool at the Holiday Inn Express in June. The owner of the hotel, Dr. Ravi Bhasker, had the areas cleaned and sanitized after being notified by the New Mexico Environmental Department.
Sheriff’s deputies broke up an apparent cockfight in Lemitar, and June saw the reporting of bears and mountain lions in the Magdalena area, and at homes and campsites in Catron County.
In July, a Datil man, Jason Lon Kirby, was indicted by an Arizona grand jury on charges of fraudulent schemes and artifices, trafficking in stolen property and two counts of theft after allegedly stealing 200 head of cattle.
Poor adobe plastering was the cause of a Lemitar Church wall collapsing in July and the closing of the sanctuary at San Miguel Church. In November, Father Andy Pavlok began using San Miguel’s Parish Hall for church services.
Socorro Electric Cooperative General Manager Polo Pineda and Kathy Torres were suspended and were eventually fired by the board of trustees. The following month a forensic audit was held.
In August, Martin Pyke, who was implicated in a March 2006 fire and theft at the Eagles Club four years ago accused in the theft of money from the Eagles Club, was allowed to make restitution in lieu of being prosecuted as part of the District Attorney’s Pre-prosecution Diversion Program
Joseph Vallejos, owner and operator of JM Abstract and Title Co., was arrested on two counts of fraud. He was arraigned in Magistrate Court on Nov. 19.
The Rode Inn Motel in Reserve was destroyed by fire on Dec. 14.
Businesses making news were the opening of Family Dollar in Magdalena, the Stage Door Grill closing and Old Town Bistro opening in the same location, Subway’s first week of business, and the Warrior Grill opening on California Street.
In 2010, a number of much loved and respected people passed away. Gary Perry, longtime president and member of the Socorro County Fair and Rodeo Association and Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, died May 5 after a short illness. Charles B. Moore, renowned researcher on atmospheric physics, passed away on March 2 in Socorro, and Jacky Barrington, founder and longtime publisher of the Magdalena Mountain Mail newspaper, passed away March 9 in Centennial, Colo.