Friday, July 17, 2009

Bosque Friends Respond To SunZia's Proposed Route

By Mike Sievers

The Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge are the latest to publicly disapprove of the proposed route of a set of alternative-energy transmission lines that would run across the Rio Grande near San Antonio, N.M.
The Friends’ board of directors on Friday released a response to the proposed route of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, which is scheduled to be complete in 2014.
The Socorro County Board of Commissioners has also expressed disapproval, citing aesthetics and environmental concerns, including the flight paths of birds that fly to the refuge.
It is still very early in the process. The BLM is preparing its Environmental Impact Statement that is needed to issue a right-of-way permit. SunZia needs that permit to proceed, and the company is working with a number of other agencies that own land that would be affected by the project as well.
The BLM recently had a scoping meeting at New Mexico Tech to gather input from the public about the proposed route and the project overall. San Antonio resident Margi Lucena said she felt the meeting and the proposal were not adequately publicized, saying many residents had no knowledge of the project whatsoever.
The response was e-mailed to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management during the first comment period. The BLM has since extended the deadline for comments to Aug. 28; people can send comments to A copy also was sent to Sen. Tom Udall.
Members of the Friends of the Bosque were asked in a mass e-mail the week before July 13 to submit their own response to BLM. In the Friends' response, the group's executive director, Leigh Ann Vradenburg, expressed strong opposition to the route that has been proposed by SunZia.
“Following the public meeting in Socorro and the subsequent meeting with Bosque del Apache staff, it is obvious that there are many unanswered questions as to the effect that these power lines will have on migratory birds, specifically the sandhill cranes,” Vradenburg wrote.
“As a former resident of the San Luis Valley, I have witnessed the devastation that power lines can cause to flocks of cranes under adverse weather conditions and how they hastened the demise of the reintroduced whooping crane population,” she continued. “Running two 500kV lines (and countless ones to follow) perpendicular to the daily flight path of many overwintering cranes is further complicating an already obstructed path for this struggling population.”
Vradenburg suggested alternative routes.
“There are alternate routes to the south that appear to be better for this purpose since they do not intersect a daily flight path and may be in a location where many birds are flying higher on a longer migration jump,” she wrote. “However, there is not enough data or time at this point to determine the best route.”
Vradenburg said the Friends want SunZia to consider avoiding the Wilderness Study Areas on the alternate routes by gaining access on White Sands Missile Range in the far northwest corner of the range.
“This minimal use of military lands would be the most environmentally sensitive to the refuge, the Wilderness Study Areas and the local Rio Grande wildlife corridor, and preferred by the community of San Antonio,” she wrote.
John Ryan with SunZia said in a July 15 interview with the Mountain Mail that White Sands Missile Range’s commander was adamant about not wanting the transmission lines going through or bordering the range.
In her response letter, Vradenburg noted the economic impact of the Festival of the Cranes, which she said has an estimated impact of $4.3 million for the region.
“Ecotourism for the county is directly linked to the refuge, and anything that harms the wildlife or mars the view of this rural setting is going to have a negative impact on visitation. Since there is no obvious economic benefit of this project to the area, there is no excuse to compromise our community with this project,” Vradenburg wrote.
She said the Friends has a membership of about 1,000.
“Undoubtedly you (the BLM) have heard from many of our members following my urgent e-mail to a subset of them after the public meeting. Many more Friends, as well as the largely uninformed citizens of San Antonio and Socorro, would oppose this route if they only knew about it,” she wrote.
Vradenburg said the way to choose the best route is to give adequate time to involve biologists and the White Sands Missile Range in the process.

Here is Vradenburg’s letter in its entirety:

On behalf of the Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, I would like to express strong opposition to the proposed route of the SunZia 500kV transmission lines through San Antonio, and request that you extend the comment period until August 31st. Following the public meeting in Socorro and the subsequent meeting with Bosque del Apache staff, it is obvious that there are many unanswered questions as to the effect that these power lines will have on migratory birds, specifically the sandhill cranes. As a former resident of the San Luis Valley, I have witnessed the devastation that power lines can cause to flocks of cranes under adverse weather conditions, and how they hastened the demise of the reintroduced whooping crane population. Running two 500kV lines (and countless ones to follow) perpendicular to the daily flight path of many overwintering cranes is further complicating an already obstructed path for this struggling population.
There are alternate routes to the south that appear to be better for this purpose since they do not intersect a daily flight path and may be in a location where many birds are flying higher on a longer migration jump; however, there is not enough data or time at this point to determine the best route. Bosque del Apache biologists have given Tom Wray the name of Rod Drewien, a retired researcher and expert on cranes, and we expect that Rod will be consulted before a route is finalized. Additionally the Friends would like SunZia to consider avoiding the Wilderness Study Areas on the alternate routes by gaining access on White Sands Missile Range in the far northwest corner of the range. This minimal use of military lands would be the most environmentally sensitive to the Refuge, the Wilderness Study Areas, and the local Rio Grande wildlife corridor, and preferred by the community of San Antonio.
Socorro is the second poorest county in New Mexico, and the Festival of the Cranes, held annually at Bosque del Apache NWR is the single greatest income generating event. The Refuge has an estimated economic impact of $4.3 million for the region. Ecotourism for the county is directly linked to the Refuge, and anything that harms the wildlife or mars the view of this rural setting is going to have a negative impact on visitation. Since there is no obvious economic benefit of this project to the area, there is no excuse to compromise our community with this project.
The Friends of the Bosque are 1,000 members strong, and undoubtedly you have heard from many of our members following my urgent email to a subset of them after the public meeting. Many more Friends, as well as the largely uninformed citizens of San Antonio and Socorro, would oppose this route if they only knew about it. The Friends support our country’s efforts to supply renewable energy, and we support the Refuge working with BLM and SunZia to ensure that the corridor chosen for this project has limited negative environmental impacts. The only way that the best route can be chosen is if there is adequate time to involve the biologists and the White Sands Missile Range in the evaluation. This is a monumental project when the impacts of this and future lines are considered, and hasty decisions are not in the best interest of the wildlife, the community, Bosque del Apache NWR, BLM, or SunZia. Please make the time to do this right.

Leigh Ann Vradenburg
Executive Director
Friends of the Bosque del Apache

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Allen Weh Chats Briefly With The Mountain Mail

By Mike Sievers
SOCORRO – Republican businessman Allen Weh, a potential candidate for governor in 2010 and former state GOP chairman, stopped by the Mountain Mail office on Thursday, July 16, to introduce himself and talk about a few issues with editor Mike Sievers and reporter John Larson.
Weh has not made his candidacy official, but has formed an exploratory committee. He said if elected governor, his top priority would be creating more transparency in state government, from the top down.
Weh, who lives in Bernalillo County, said he identifies with people who feel that Albuquerque gets too much attention from the state government. His business is based in Albuquerque, but he said he lives in another town in the county.
“I have spent a lot of time outside of Albuquerque,” Weh said. “If 65 percent of the people live outside of Albuquerque, 65 percent of the resources are going outside of Albuquerque if I’m governor.”
Weh said he is aware that law enforcement resources are stretched thin, especially in rural areas like Socorro and Catron counties. He said he would make it a priority to expand the state police force.
“There’s not enough law enforcement, and I’m going to fix that,” he said.
On education, Weh said he supports merit pay, which he said is not a bad idea, as long as it comes with the ability for school districts to fire bad teachers while rewarding good ones.
On the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or federal stimulus, Weh said there are lots of things that “absolutely need doing,” like repairing and widening roads.
“That’s the best place to work, infrastructure,” he said.
When asked about the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, which has caused some controversy in Socorro County, Weh said he would look into the issue.
Weh also came to Socorro County for the Magdalena Old Timers Reunion, where he said he shook lots of hands and walked the parade route.
Also on the Republican side, state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones of Albuquerque has formed an exploratory committee, while Brigadier Gen. Greg Zanetti has withdrawn his candidacy. Susana Martinez, district attorney in Dona Ana County, confirmed she is running in an interview with Heath Haussamen on Wednesday, according to Haussamen’s popular political blog.
“She’s a classy lady, and I have utmost respect for Susana Martinez and what she’s accomplished as a district attorney,” Weh said.
However, he said given the challenges the next governor will face in Santa Fe, he believes he is better suited for the job.
Weh is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and he is currently CEO of CSI Aviation Services Inc. in Albuquerque. Click here to see the Allen Weh for Governor 2010 Web site.

County: ‘No’ To Proposed Transmission Route

By Mike Sievers
SOCORRO – Some area residents and officials are balking at the proposed route of renewable-energy power transmission lines that would cut across the Rio Grande near San Antonio, N.M., and potentially impact the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
Socorro County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to draft a resolution opposing the proposed route of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project during its regular meeting Tuesday.
SunZia is planning to construct a power transmission system in New Mexico and Arizona to “harness clean, renewable energy,” according to its Web site.
“The SunZia Southwest Transmission Project would allow potential future development of power from renewable-energy sources, such as geothermal, wind and solar, to be transported by the SunZia Project to the Arizona and New Mexico regional transmission systems,” the SunZia site reads.
SunZia plans to select a route in November. The project is slated to begin operation in 2014 when construction is complete.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which is the lead agency on the project, had a recent open house at New Mexico Tech to solicit comments about the project and its proposed route. Much of the affected land belongs to the BLM, which will prepare an environmental impact statement required in order to issue a right-of-way permit needed to do the project.
Ian Calkins, public information officer for the SunZia project, said people at the scoping meeting were supportive of the project generally, and had varying opinions on the proposed and alternative routes. Calkins said SunZia hears the local concerns loud and clear.
“We see this as good news, that we’re getting feedback on the proposed routes,” Calkins said. “This is our starting point. These are very preliminary routes, and it’s very early in the process. This kind of feedback is extremely helpful.”
John Ryan, a contract employee of SunZia, said an alternative route would have the lines crossing the Rio Grande at Derry and would border the White Sands Missile Range.
“The commander of the range was adamant that that not be the proposed route. We have it included as an alternative route,” Ryan said. “We, too, have heard from the environmental community and the Bosque wildlife refuge and others around San Antonio, so we’re encouraging people to comment to the BLM.”
Ryan said the BLM may extend the comment period, which has ended, 30 days to allow for more feedback. People should comment via e-mail to or in writing to the Bureau of Land Management, SunZia Transmission Line Project, P.O. Box 27115, Santa Fe, NM 87502-0115. 
Margi Lucena, who lives just north of San Antonio, said the lines will run about a quarter-mile south of her home.
“The damage this could cause is unbelievable,” Lucena said. “These things are massive. They are massive power lines. You’ll probably be able to see them from Socorro and hear them from my house.”
Lucena said when she found out about the proposed project, “I started going to neighbors’ houses, and not one of them knew about it. Whatever public notices they had buried in the legal section … were not adequate.”
Lucena said officials at the Bosque NWR are “up in arms” about the proposal, but that could not be confirmed by the Mountain Mail on Wednesday. Marty Greenwood of the Socorro County Road Department said the Bosque is “definitely opposed to” the proposed route.
“It’s a huge, big insult to everything that everyone has tried to preserve,” Lucena said. “Anyone living in this area is going to be affected by this. This is so harmful.”
Ryan of SunZia is scheduled to speak at the next commission meeting, 6 p.m. Aug. 11, when the commissioners will consider the resolution.
County Manager Delilah Walsh mentioned the project toward the end of Tuesday’s meeting while delivering her report to the commission. She said in addition to locals having their views spoiled by transmission lines, the project could have environmental consequences, including interrupting the flight paths of birds at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. The proposed route would not cut through the refuge, but would run north of it along Highway 380.
“My concerns are that with the proposed route, the line will move through San Antonio and cut through the river there. This would affect that community (the aesthetics of it), as well as the flight paths of birds at the refuge. I’ve expressed my preference for the line to run along the missile range,” Walsh stated in a typed report to the commission.
Walsh said drivers on Interstate 25 would see the transmission lines running north and then crossing the Rio Grande at San Antonio.
Commissioners said officials at White Sands Missile Range don’t want the project to border the range.
Commission Chairwoman Rosie Tripp noted the proposed route is not the same one SunZia presented to the board of commissioners several months ago, before November’s general election, which brought three new commissioners to the Socorro County government.
“I am not happy with the new route that they are proposing,” Tripp said.
Walsh and County Attorney Adren Nance said they would begin to draft a resolution that will be ready for the next meeting. People will be able to comment briefly about the proposal.
Commission Vice Chairman Danny Monette said the wind-generating plants that would supply power to the transmission project are not yet in place; there are only proposed sites, as the entire project is still on the drawing board.
The transmission project is one of two that the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority hopes to finance, according to an April 17 article on the New Mexico Independent Web site. The 460-mile project would carry about 3,000 megawatts of power, mostly to Arizona, the article stated.

Senior Center Feels The Heat; Relief On The Way

By Mike Sievers
The Socorro County Board of Commissioners acted quickly Tuesday after county Senior Centers Director Lewis Auerbach said the center in Socorro is in desperate need of refrigerated air. The triple-digit heat and relatively high humidity have taken away much of the effectiveness of swamp coolers.
“We are frying in there, the way the weather is right now,” Auerbach told the commission.
Auerbach said some seniors have stopped coming in for lunch because of the heat. Walsh said all county buildings are hot because they use swamp coolers. Monette said the hot weather is harder on seniors, and the county should look into getting refrigerated air at the senior center.
Relief is on the way. The county will go out for bid to put air conditioning in place, and the commission should act on a bid at its next meeting.
County Manager Delilah Walsh said the county already had $20,000 to spend on air conditioning, in addition to $13,000 for parking lots and other improvements to the center. The county will receive $72,000 from the state for parking lots, so it will use the $33,000 it has now for an air conditioning and heating system.
In other business Tuesday:
• Walsh announced the county has been awarded a $165,960 grant from the Solid Waste Bureau of the state Environment Department to clean up an illegal tire dump in northern Socorro County. The bureau only awarded $300,000 total this funding cycle.
Walsh said the funds will purchase a portable tire bailer, a cutter and derimmer. She said the county has been talking about cleaning up the tire dump for years.
“As soon as we get the money in, we’re ready to hire a short crew,” Walsh told the commissioners Tuesday.
Walsh said the county will work with the Environment Department on enforcement issues and will use liens to recover money from the property owner.
In other business:
• The county approved a contract with David Handley to maintain 57.05 miles of road as needed for $1,000 and fuel costs. Commissioner Rumaldo Griego said he has been working to secure the contract for about nine months. Griego said Handley approached him and asked if he could perform the maintenance since he owned some equipment and “wants to give back” to his community.
• The commissioners re-awarded an engineering bid for the Polvadera Community Develop-ment Grant Block water project to Dennis Engineering. The county had previously awarded the bid to Socorro Engineering, which couldn’t perform the work because of another project.

Craig DeYoung Is Socorro High’s New Principal

By John Larson
Socorro High School welcomes a new principal Thursday, July 16, according to a press release from Superintendent Cheryl Wilson.
Craig DeYoung comes to Socorro from Silver City, where he was interim principal of the charter school Aldo Leopold High School.
“I am very pleased to be able to add someone with such experience and energy to the leadership team of the school district,” Wilson said in the press release.
DeYoung began his science teaching career in the Silver Consolidated School District in the 1980s after attending Western New Mexico University. DeYoung also coached football, basketball, and baseball in Silver City.
“I was originally from Minnesota, and after teaching and coaching for six years in Silver City, moved to Lakeville, Minn., to teach science and coach,” DeYoung told the Mountain Mail in an interview Tuesday. “After 10 years of doing that, I served as the district activities director for six years.”
As activities director, DeYoung managed a staff of 150, with 1,500 seventh- to 12th-grade students participating annually in sports, fine arts and other co-curricular activities.
He also led curriculum efforts and co-curricular program development; worked directly with students in leadership groups; and was involved in student discipline, designed evaluation instruments and evaluated staff.
DeYoung also worked in Perris, Calif., for four years in central office administration.
“Mr. DeYoung’s depth and variety of leadership experiences in the curricular, co-curricular and district management areas have given him the skills to really lead Socorro High School,” Wilson said. “We are really delighted to be able to add him to our team.”
DeYoung said he looks forward to getting settled in Socorro before the beginning of the school year.
“I am very impressed with the people I met at the high school and with their passion and how they view education,” he said. “Socorro High School always has had good kids and a good reputation around the state for its school district.”
“I’ve worked over the years with different superintendents, and I’ve seen only a couple who inspire people the way Dr. Wilson does,” DeYoung said. “I am very anxious to get in there and see what’s going really well and also, what could use improvements. I look forward to connecting with the staff, the teachers, the custodians and the students.”
Wilson said she was pleased to know that another finalist for principal, Brenda Baca-Miller, may relocate to Socorro.
“She indicated that she is hoping to return to Socorro for family and other reasons anyway, so we would not be surprised to see her become part of the Socorro educator community soon,” Wilson said.

Village Board Approves First Reading Of Water Rate Hike Law

By John Larson
MAGDALENA – In the absence of any dissention from the public, the Village Board of Trustees on Monday approved the first reading of an ordinance raising fees for water, sewer and trash pickup.
The increases for the services will occur in two increments, beginning with the final passage of the ordinance in August. The final increase will come in February 2010.
Village Clerk Rita Broaddus said an easy-to-read table showing the increases will be posted at the post office, Trail’s End Market, the library and at village hall.
According to the table, for a home using 5,000 gallons of water in one month, the cost would be $21.65 beginning in February.
Sewer fees will increase accordingly. Trash pickup will go up to $12.
All residential fees combined will result in an average $6 increase monthly.
Before the final vote, Trustee Jack Fairweather recommended that a paragraph be removed from the ordinance.
“There’s a note in Section 20 that I would like removed,” Fairweather said. “It refers to utility service to families’ residences outside Magdalena.”
The note stated that “there exists an implied agreement to serve existing utility customers of the Village of Magdalena utility services under one rate structure. The following provisions will not apply to currently billed utility customers. The provisions will apply to all new applicants for services after the enactment of this ordinance.”
The board agreed on the removal of the note and approved the first reading of the ordinance.
The passage of the ordinance will take place at the Aug. 17 board meeting, following a public hearing.
In other business:
• The board tabled a discussion on retaining the village’s membership in the South Central Council of Governments.
Fairweather argued that the SCCOG does nothing productive for the village, and the $500 annual membership fee is “money we don’t need to spend.”
Broaddus said the organization provides some services behind the scenes, such as sending out letters intended to help the village’s economic development.
Fairweather said he “feels we should withdraw our membership for the next year. We can always look at it again the next time around.”
Wolfe said he “tended to agree with Jack.” The vote to table the issue resulted in a 2-2 tie, which was broken by Mayor Jim Wolfe, who voted to table. Trustees Carmen Torres and Barbara Baca voted not to table.
• Marshal Larry Cearley made a request on behalf of Magdalena EMS to have the village pay EMTs and ambulance drivers $50 per call.
He said to avoid putting them on the village payroll as salaried employees, it could be classified as a stipend “set aside for drivers and EMTs.” Broaddus said she would research the issue. The board voted to bring up the proposal at a later meeting.
In his Marshal’s report, Cearley announced there is an opening for a new deputy. He said he has previous applications from which he could choose a new hire.
• The board approved a motion raising the Judicial Education Fee from $2 to $3. The fee is paid by people who pay fines for citations in Magdalena Municipal Court.

Socorro FFA Chapter Raising Money For Nationals

By Mike Sievers
Julio Gutierrez and the Socorro High FFA chapter are trying to get a jump start on paying their way to the national FFA convention, which is in October.
Members of FFA will have a car wash and bake sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at First State Bank on Manzanares Avenue. They will charge $5 per vehicle they wash.
Gutierrez, who will be a senior at Socorro High in the fall, said he attended the conference last year. He said the students learn valuable leadership skills, and they meet lots of other FFA students from across the country. FFA members also come from the territories of the United States.
“The streets are full of gold and blue jackets. It’s really nice to see. I learned a lot about what other FFA students are doing,” Gutierrez said.
The group didn’t raise enough money to stay for the full four days last October, only staying for two days. Gutierrez said the group raised $1,200 to send five students to the convention, which takes place annually in Indianapolis.
“I want to double that,” he said.
This year’s conference will be Oct. 21 to 24. Gutierrez said with the full four days, it should cost about $6,000 to send the group to Indianapolis this fall. He said the conference is for juniors and seniors.
The Socorro FFA chapter had 47 members this past school year. Gutierrez said FFA is not just about farming. He said FFA members learn to appreciate all that goes into farming – mechanics, for example, or computer technology – and that they understand that many everyday products are derived from agricultural products.
“Agriculture is all around us,” he said.
Socorro’s FFA chapter has a new sponsor after the departure of Steve Bouvet. Brian Mitchell will be the new sponsor, as well as the new agriculture teacher. Mitchell came from Estancia.
Gutierrez said the FFA members will sell fruit in the winter and meat next summer to raise more money. They also plan to have a pie auction in the fall with assistance from the Tumbleweed Equipment & Auction Co. in Lemitar.
For more information or to donate money to the local FFA chapter, call Socorro High School at 835-0700.

Area Briefs

Tech Hosts Blood Drive This Friday

There will be a blood drive from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, July 17, at New Mexico Tech’s Student Activities Center. Sign up for an appointment at The goal is to collect 70 pints of blood during this summer drive.

Program Assists Low- Income Phone Users

Western New Mexico Telephone Company, in conjunction with Federal Communications Commission, the New Mexico Human Services Department and the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, has worked to provide a Low Income Telephone Assistance Program to eligible customers that are served by WNMT.
People who receive Medicaid benefits or energy assistance through the New Mexico Human Services Department qualify for LITAP.
The program provides discounts for monthly basic telephone service, and if people currently do not have telephone service, they also may be eligible for reduced installation charges.
Customers of WNMT who qualify for LITAP are encouraged to contact the WNMT business office at 800-535-2330 for an application.
People also may contact the New Mexico Human Services Department at 800-432-6217 for information regarding the program.

Pie Town Water Association Meets

The Pie Town Water Association will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3, at the Pie Town Park pavilion. Members will elect two people to serve on the association’s board of directors.

Artist To Teach Kids About Making Pottery

Barbara Szabo, local artist and potter, will present a pottery workshop for elementary-age children at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16. She will teach children how to make a simple clay pot and more. The program is free.

DAV Sells ‘Best Of The Best’ Enchiladas

The Socorro chapter of Disabled American Veterans, 200 North Fifth St., will be hosting a red chile enchilada dinner Friday, July 17, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. DAV Commander Peter Romero said besides “the best of the best” enchiladas, the $6 plate includes beans and rice.
All proceeds support the veterans of the DAV, Romero said. For more information, call 835-0843.

Next Car-Seat Safety Class Is July 29

Healthy Family Initiative offers a child safety seat class the last Wednesday of each month, the next one being 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 29. HFI is located at 107 Faulkner St.
Participants who need a car seat are required to bring $15 in either cash or money order made to Safer New Mexico Now.
For more information, call Betty Cline at 835-8709.

Catron Democrats Meet Aug. 8

The Democratic Party of Catron County will have a planning and organizational meeting at 3 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Catron County Courthouse in Reserve.

Children’s Center Has Openings

There are full-time openings at the New Mexico Tech Children’s Center for children between the ages of 2 and 6. The center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and it only closes when the administrative offices are closed.
Enrollment is open to anyone in the Socorro community; rates are based on whether parents are students at Tech, work for Tech or are working in the community.
Income-eligible families can receive assistance from the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department Child Care Assistance Program.
Children do not have to be toilet trained, and children with special needs can be enrolled. People who are interested in finding out more about the center should call Ann at 835-5240 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Socorro Class Of ’80 Plans Reunion

All class of 1980 Socorro High School classmates are invited to the first planning meeting and potluck for the 30-year class reunion that will be sometime next year.
The meeting will be at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at Rio de Agua Viva, 802 Mitchell Rd., off Evergreen Drive in Socorro.
Organizers are planning a fun event. People should bring a side dish, dessert or drink to share, as well as ideas for the reunion.
For any questions or to provide ideas, call Cyndi Mae Wade at 575-418-1483 or Inez Aguilar-Davis at 505-896-1106.

Water Coalition Meets Aug. 11

The next meeting of the San Agustin Water Coalition board of directors will be Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 6 p.m. at the Datil Fire Station. The public is invited to attend.

Four Socorro Boys Stand Out In North-South All-Star Football Game

By Polo C’ de Baca
For the Mountain Mail

LAS VEGAS, N.M. – The South was completely dominant in the North-South All-Star football game Saturday from the first quarter and on, winning 34-6.
“They did a great job,” said Socorro football coach Damien Ocampo. “All the Socorro kids played strong. I didn’t see Daniel Boykin make a mistake. Adam Casey was solid. I didn’t see one bad snap, after that long of a layoff during the season. They played Elias (Mora) at every position on the field, it looked like.”
Socorro’s Andre Gonzales also played a vital role for the South.
The South All-Stars moved the ball effectively on the ground and through the air as quarterback Michael Trujillo of Portales hit his target with regularity.
The North was held deep in its own territory and could never put together a series of winning plays, not showing any life until midway through the final quarter.
“I thought it was a good game,” Ocampo said. “I thought it was pretty clean. The kids on both sides competed as well as they could.”
Ocampo credited the South players and their coaching staff. He was notably pleased with the players who represented Socorro.
Mora faced one of the best linemen in the state, Emory Atterberry from St. Mike’s.
“He was pretty tough; he was a really big guy, but our defense worked well together,” Mora said.
Mora had a sack and caused another fumble and a turnover.
“That’s the kind of player he is,” Ocampo said. “He’s a big strong kid who plays very, very smart. He literally shut down the side. Elias dominated.”
Gonzales had a big catch and a big knockdown in the end zone to save a touchdown.
“I just stayed with him all the time and knocked it away when it came down in the end zone,” Gonzales said.
Boykin said it was a good experience to play with the best of the state’s graduating seniors.
“It’s good to play with the best players around,” Boykin said. “It’s an honor and all that, so it was good to represent Socorro.”
“It was a great game,” Socorro defensive coordinator Chuck Zimmerly said. “I was really looking forward to having a good display of sportsmanship. Last year’s game was disappointing because of all the unsportsmanlike penalties. This year it was a much, much better experience for the kids.”
The first score for the South was late in the first quarter, and the South extended its lead to 13-0 going into halftime.
The South led 21-0 with 10:04 left in the third quarter. A pass to Justin Calder of Lovington put the South up 27-0, and a touchdown pass put the South up 34-0 with 53 seconds left in the third quarter.
Manny Trujillo of St. Mike’s ran the ball 68 yards to score the North’s first and only touchdown of the game with 8:01 to play.
Mora played linebacker, wide receiver, punted and played special teams.
“The kids seemed to have enjoyed themselves, which is really important,” Zimmerly said. “We had great representation of fans here. We had 33 kids from the high school with us.”
The team made the trip after traveling to Roswell, where they played in a seven-on-seven camp.

Jessica Pound Plays For The Majority Of Basketball All-Star Game

By Polo C’ de Baca
For the Mountain Mail

LAS VEGAS, N. M. – In what turned out to be one of the most exciting and closest all-star games ever, the North All-Stars defeated the South 74-73 in the girls’ all-star basketball game Friday.
Jessica Pound, Socorro’s only graduating senior, was given the unenviable job of guarding 6-foot-2 Jackie Bartleson of Pojoaque. When Pound (5-foot-11) was in the game, she only gave up two points to the usually unstoppable Bartleson, who scored 20-plus points for the North.
“I do believe we could have won if we would have made our free throws there at the beginning,” Pound said. “Actually, we made a good percentage of our shots.”
Socorro girls’ basketball coach Joe Garcia said Pound was upbeat about her experience in Las Vegas. Pound started and played about 30 minutes of the 40-minute game.
“I thought she held her own,” Garcia said. “She represented Socorro really well. She’s a team player, and she does what they ask her to do. They asked her to guard the ‘big’ girl, and she did that. When I’d ask her not to score points, she did as I asked.”
The game was close all the way. The previous few years, the North blew out the South, and Garcia was pleased with the one-point margin, despite the loss.
Pound said she thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing with people who are normally Socorro’s opponents during the regular season. She said she will re-connect with quite a few who also plan to attend New Mexico State University in the fall.
“Even though we got second place, we all walked off of the court with pride,” Pound said.

Group Comes Through Socorro County On Walk For Peace

By John Larson
Farmers and ranchers along Highway 1 south of Luis Lopez are not used to seeing Buddhist monks in yellow robes, beating ceremonial drums and walking down the road. But that’s what greeted them Tuesday morning as a group of seven people on a pilgrimage for world peace were on their way to camp overnight in the public park in San Antonio.
The walkers will end their trek Thursday, July 16, at White Sands Missile Range’s Stallion Gate on Highway 380 for a 24-hour silent vigil on the anniversary of the detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb.
The spiritual pilgrims, including Albuquerque Catholic Workers and monks from Temple Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, began their walk at Los Alamos National Laboratory on July 5. Their trek has taken them through Santo Domingo and Isleta pueblos, Albuquerque and Socorro.
They average about 17 miles a day. Along their route, the group stops to educate those interested in the effects nuclear weapons have on humans, using photographs and data from the bombing of Nagasaki.
“The mission of the Inter-Faith Peace Walk is to pray for the elimination of nuclear weapons and for those who were downwind of the mushroom cloud in New Mexico,” said Gilberto Perez, a Buddhist monk based in Washington State. “We’re praying for world peace. This particular cause is for the disarmament of nuclear weapons. We need to love each other and have to love the earth. If we don’t, we die.”
He said this the 20th year for the vigil at Trinity Site and the first year for the pilgrimage from Los Alamos.
After the Trinity Site vigil, the pilgrimage will pick up again in California and end at the trident nuclear submarine base in Bangor, Wash.
Walkers coming through Socorro County included Buddhist monks Perez and Senji Kanaeda from Temple Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order, Bainbridge Island, Wash.; Erica Freeman, also of Bainbridge Island; Dennis Duvall and Iris Wolfe from Prescott, Ariz.; and Hiro Takahashi, Tokyo, Japan.

Astronomers Find New Information About Galaxy ‘Engines’

By Dave Finley
Using a worldwide combination of diverse telescopes, astronomers have discovered that a giant galaxy’s bursts of very high energy gamma rays are coming from a region very close to the supermassive black hole at its core. The discovery provides important new information about the mysterious workings of the powerful “engines” in the centers of innumerable galaxies throughout the universe.
The galaxy M87, 50 million light-years from Earth, harbors at its center a black hole more than 6 billion times more massive than the sun. Black holes are concentrations of matter so dense that not even light can escape their gravitational pull. The black hole is believed to draw material from its surroundings – material that, as it falls toward the black hole, forms a tightly rotating disk.
Processes near this “accretion disk,” powered by the immense gravitational energy of the black hole, propel energetic material outward for thousands of light-years. This produces the “jets” seen emerging from many galaxies. In 1998, astronomers found that M87 also was emitting flares of gamma rays a trillion times more energetic than visible light.
However, the telescopes that discovered these bursts of very high-energy gamma rays could not determine exactly where in the galaxy they originated. In 2007 and 2008, the astronomers using these gamma-ray telescopes combined forces with a team using the National Science Foundation‘s continent-wide Very Long Baseline Array, or VLBA, a radio telescope with extremely high resolving power, or ability to see fine detail.
“Combining the gamma-ray observations with the supersharp radio ‘vision’ of the VLBA allowed us to see that the gamma rays are coming from a region very near the black hole itself,” said Craig Walker of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
“Pinning down this location addresses what was an open question and provides important clues for understanding how such highly energetic emissions are produced in the jets of active galaxies,” said Matthias Beilicke of Washington University in St. Louis.
The gamma-ray flares from the galaxy were monitored by systems of large telescopes designed to detect faint flashes of blue light that result when gamma rays enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Data from sensitive cameras in these systems can allow astronomers to infer the energy of the gamma rays and the direction from which they came.
Their directional information, however, is not precise enough to narrow down the gamma-ray-emitting region within the galaxy.
The VLBA offered a millionfold improvement in resolving power, allowing the scientists to determine that the gamma rays are coming from the immediate vicinity of the black hole. Though gamma rays are the most energetic form of electromagnetic radiation and radio waves the least energetic, both often arise from the same regions.
This was shown clearly when M87’s most energetic gamma-ray flares were accompanied by the largest flare of radio waves seen from that galaxy by the VLBA.
The radio flare began at about the time of the gamma-ray flares, but continued to increase in brightness for at least two months. 
“This tells us that energetic material burst out very close to the black hole, causing the gamma rays to be emitted and the radio flare to begin. As that material traveled down the jet, expanding and losing energy, the gamma-ray emission ceased, but the radio continued to increase in brightness,” Walker explained.
“The VLBA showed us with great precision where the radio emission came from, so we know the gamma rays came from closer in toward the black hole,” he added.
M87 is the largest galaxy in the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, at the center of a supercluster of galaxies that includes the Local Group, of which our own Milky Way is a member. The black hole in M87 has an “event horizon,” from which matter cannot escape, roughly twice the size of our Solar System, or a tiny fraction of the size of the entire galaxy. The new measurements indicate that the gamma rays are coming from an area no larger than 50 times the size of the event horizon.
The telescope systems that detected the gamma-ray flares are the VERITAS array in Arizona, the H.E.S.S. system in Namibia, Africa, and the MAGIC system on La Palma in the Canary Islands.
The VLBA is a system of 10 radio-telescope antennas stretching from Hawaii to the Caribbean, operated by the NRAO from Socorro. The VLBA offers resolving power equal to the ability to read a newspaper in New York while standing in Los Angeles.
Walker and Beilicke worked with Fred Davies of NRAO and New Mexico Tech, Henric Krawczynski of Washington University, Phil Hardee of the University of Alabama, Bill Junor of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Chun Ly of UCLA, and large research teams from VERITAS, H.E.S.S., and MAGIC. The scientists reported their findings in the July 2 online edition of the journal Science.

Sylvia The Repentant And The Swingle Canyon Diggings

By Anne Sullivan
“Sylvia!” I screamed. “I’ve just fixed the screen door, and now you’ve broken it again.”
“I guess you didn’t fix it very good.” I barely heard her say.
“What did you say?” I bellowed. “It’s ‘very well,’ not ‘very good.’ Can’t you even speak English correctly while you’re complaining? You are in trouble, young lady, mark my words. I told you to be careful with the door and now look.”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean any disrespect, especially to you. You do everything for me, and I really appreciate it. The whole thing with the door was an accident. I don’t know how it happened. I was just trying to tap on it to let you know I was there and ready for dinner, and it just happened. The duct tape came loose. It doesn’t like to stick on screen. I beg you, please, please, please forgive me.” Having recited all this at top speed, Sylvia burst unto tears.
“Stop it, Sylvia. What’s the matter with you? It’s just a door – not the end of the world,” I said, collapsing into my comfortable chair.
Without seeming to hear me, Sylvia sat at my feet and ranted on. “Don’t send me away. Please don’t send me away. I can’t bear it.”
“What’s gotten into you, Sylvia? What ever gave you the idea that I’d send you away?” I ruffled her bristly hair.
Sylvia made an attempt to stop crying and succeeded only as far as hiccups.
“Sylvia, you’re more than my companion. You’re my family,” I said. “You don’t give away family, no matter how much you might want to at times.”
“But … but …” Sylvia stammered. “It’s not my fault, really. It’s all the fault of the economy. I read that some people are giving their pets away because they can’t afford to feed them. And I realize that I eat a lot.”
“Oh, Sylvia, things aren’t that bad here, and you don’t eat that much.”
“I feel so sorry for those animals and their people. And then I get scared that it could happen to me.” Tears ran in rivulets down her face, dragging dirt with them.
“Lighten up, Sylvia. Don’t be so dramatic. Even if we should have to starve, we’ll be together.”
“I’m not very good at starving,” Sylvia admitted.
“I was only kidding. We’ll manage somehow.”
“I’ll help.” Sylvia offered. “I won’t eat so many biscuits, and I have an idea for raising money. I’ve been thinking on it ever since I read that article in the Mountain Mail.”
Of course I had to ask, “What article?”
“The one about the Lost Adams Diggings. They could be anywhere, but I’m pretty sure I know where they are.”
“Where?” I was sternly skeptical.
Sylvia dropped her voice so even the gray mouse who’s taken to roaming the house, carefully avoiding the sticky traps and the DeCon, couldn’t hear, “They’re here, right up-canyon of our house, just beyond the pond where the big rocks start.”
“What makes you think that’s the place?”
“I just know. I can see it. I feel it in my bones. They’re saying, ‘Gold.’ Gold. Just think of it. Gold not even a half-mile away. We’ll be rich. Rich, I tell you. But you mustn’t breathe a word of this to anyone.”
“I can safely promise you I won’t say a word to anyone at all.”
“It’ll be easy. All we have to do is dig, and we’ll be rich. Rich beyond our wildest dreams. Too bad we missed the full moon, but we’ll just have to work by flashlight. Candlelight would be better, but we don’t want to take a chance on setting the forest on fire. We’ll be rich. We’ll be able to buy whole new screen doors. No more duct tape for us.”
I could swear that Sylvia’s eyes glowed.
(Continued next week.)

Astronomer Dan Klinglesmith Displays Fiber Art At Chamber

By John Larson
SOCORRO – The fiber art exhibit at the Socorro County Chamber of Commerce this month not only features Navajo-inspired designs, but abstract and night sky images.
All are the creation of full-time astronomer and part-time weaver Dan Klinglesmith.
His wall hangings include traditional geometric patterns, seen most commonly in Navajo designs, but the weaver does limit himself to those shapes.
One wall hanging suggests a stylized stairway, and another is an abstract design over a full-color spectrum gradient.
There also are two long pieces that feature the constellations of the astrological zodiac.
Klinglesmith said he got into weaving while on a retreat at Ghost Ranch in 1989.
“That summer, I took a workshop in Navajo-style weaving, and it caught on,” he said. “Actually, I became interested in the medium about two years before. In 1987, a friend gave me a small loom when I was up working with the Joint Observatory for Cometary Research for the Goddard Space Flight Center.”
Klinglesmith, who is an astronomer at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory, said he has always had an eye for geometric shapes, and he found he could incorporate them into his weaving.
“I really like geometrical designs, and I work with digital images all the time,” he said. “I can draw geometrical designs on the computer and use them in what I want to create.”
“I enjoy creating something that is pleasant to look at. Like the color combinations and the geometry of it,” Klinglesmith said.
He said an example of geometry in art is what is known as the golden rectangle, which has a ratio of about 1:1.618, width to height.
“For some reason, people find this shape pleasant to look at,” Klinglesmith said.
Many artists and architects have proportioned their works to approximate the form of the golden rectangle, which has been considered aesthetically pleasing.
One of his works was entered in a county fair in Maryland, and won Best of Show in Navajo and in weaving.
Locally, this is the second show at the chamber in which Klinglesmith has participated.
“When we moved to Socorro, we were looking for a house, and I told the realtor we needed a ‘one bedroom, five-loom house’,” Klinglesmith said. “It turns out now I have seven.”
He said his biggest loom is 45 inches wide. His biggest Navajo work in 6 feet tall by 3 feet wide.
“It takes hours and hours to make these things,” Klinglesmith said. “When I started, I was heavily into it, but these days, I can only do it on the weekends and in the evening. It’s very relaxing. Plus it keeps my hands busy.”
The 15 fiber art wall hangings will be on display at the Socorro County Chamber of Commerce office through the end of July.

Monday, July 13, 2009

School district names new SHS principal

Mountain Mail reports

Note: This is a brief version of a story that will appear in Thursday's edition of the Mountain Mail.

Socorro High School’s new principal will be Craig DeYoung, who was most recently interim principal at Silver City’s Aldo Leopold High School.
Socorro Consolidated Schools Superintendent Cheryl Wilson said in a press release Friday she is pleased the district hired someone who has experience and energy.
“Mr. DeYoung’s depth and variety of leadership experiences in the curricular, co-curricular and district management areas have given him the skills to really lead Socorro High School and to complement the skills of Ms. Comiskey and Mr. Savedra and other teacher-leaders of the high school,” Wilson stated in the release.
DeYoung began his science teaching career in the Silver City school district in the 1980s after attending Western New Mexico University, according to the Socorro school district’s press release.
After teaching and coaching for six years in Silver City, he moved to Lakeville, Minn., where he taught science and coached for 10 years before serving for six years as the district activities director, leading a staff of 150 and 1,500 students annually participating in sports, fine arts and other co-curricular activities.
While in Lakeville, he led curriculum efforts and co-curricular program development, worked directly with students in leadership groups and was involved in student discipline, designed evaluation instruments and evaluated staff, and managed the resources and budget for all of those programs. Additionally, he worked for over four years in central office administration in Perris, Calif., the press release stated.
“We are really delighted to be able to add him to our team,” Wilson said. “We were very pleased with the opportunity to meet and learn about the skills of the other finalist, Brenda Baca-Miller, too. She indicated that she is hoping to return to Socorro for family and other reasons anyway, so we would not be surprised to see her become part of the Socorro educator community soon.”