Thursday, August 20, 2009

City Delays MMA Decision

By John Larson
SOCORRO – The use of Finley Gym to stage cage fighting matches is still up in the air, due to City Council concerns over insurance.
Mixed Martial Arts promoter Bill Partridge returned to the City Council Monday to ask that the council to consider renting him the city owned property for his event.
Mayor Dr. Ravi Bhasker said the city’s attorney, Jerry Armijo, had reviewed information concerning Partridge’s request.
“We’re concerned about the spectator insurance policy. The policy you showed us protected the fighters in the ring, but did not mention coverage for spectators,” Bhasker said. “There is no binder or information on injury for spectators that specifically covered injuries.”
“We did not purchase that because felt we did not need it,” Partridge said. “I told council we would get the insurance if the council approved the venue.”
Partridge said he was hesitant to purchase the policy because “if we purchase it and don’t get the venue, we’re out the money.”
Councilor Peter Romero said he felt that legal counsel was needed before approval. Partridge said he could find no standardized protocol on what the city needs.
“I am willing to meet any requirements the city needs. This leaves us in a gray area on what you need or do not need,” Partridge said. “This is a first for me. The armory, where we held fights before, doesn’t need the policy.”
Bhasker said he could not recommend approval to the council.
“I would really say to them at this point the information we have is not enough to protect the city of Socorro,” he said.
“This is a good starting point for the city to develop a good checklist of all the document that need to be lined up in order to be approved,” Councilor Michael Olguin Jr. said. “A checklist would be a good thing to have.”
Partridge said that without an approval “we have to wait an additional 30 days or 60 days,” which meant the event would have to be rescheduled.
Councilor Mary Ann Chavez-Lopez voiced concerned over small children being admitted to the cage fight. Partridge said the event would be limited to those 18 and over, and that ID’s would be checked at the door.
“I have a problem with little kids being around this kind of event,” Councilor Gordy Hicks said. “It would be something I can’t support.”
Partridge said kids are already involved in Mixed Martial Arts.
“The goal for me – I coach the youth – is to show them the right way to win, and the right way to lose,” Partridge said. “I don’t want to be associated with the past. We will do our very best to be upstanding.”
“We haven’t shied away from letting children see this event,” Partridge said. “We’re not at all worried about putting the wrong impression on people. We’d love to have the youth attend.”
Bhasker said the matter would be reconsidered after more documentation is examined by the attorney.
“I don’t think we can get this all together by the time you need. I don’t think we can accomplish this until the thresholds we need for liability are addressed,” Bhasker said. “If I had a vote I’d vote no because of some of the things we’ve had in the past – the frenzy after it’s over.”

Bobby Olguin Grand Marshal Of Expo Parade

By John Larson
SAN ANTONIO – The Buckhorn Tavern’s Bobby Olguin has been chosen as the Grand Marshal of the New Mexico State Fair parade.
In a press release from EXPO New Mexico, Fair Commissioner Luke Otero said “Bobby has just won a great victory for his hometown of San Antonio, and for the state of New Mexico. His green chile cheeseburger beat Bobby Flay’s and brought national recognition to New Mexico’s unofficial state sandwich. We want to honor that achievement and honor him by giving him the opportunity to lead the parade that kicks off the biggest show in New Mexico.”
“This is awesome,” Olguin said. “I am truly honored to have the opportunity to promote the green chile of New Mexico.”
Bobby has been serving Socorro County diners his home cooked food, including green chile cheeseburgers, for many years, but only recently – within the last two years – has his culinary skills been recognized nationally.
Most recently, his green chile cheeseburger was judged best in the Food Network’s Throwdown With Bobby Flay. The cable show gave the Buckhorn nationwide exposure, and the restaurant has seen its best business ever.
“This thing has taken on a life of its own. It’s growing and growing,” Bobby said. “You don’t realize until it happens, that people from all over the U.S. come to New Mexico.”
“People ask me, ‘What is your secret recipe’?” Bobby said. “I tell them the recipe is cooking with love. You’ve got to like what you do. No matter what you’re doing, you will be rewarded in one way or another.”
Olguin declined a previous offer from Gov. Bill Richardson to take on challengers at the state fair, but consented to being a judge at the competition.
The competition has now taken the form of balloting from the public, sponsored by the New Mexico Tourism Department. The ballot box will be at the Tourism Department’s Big Yellow Bus at the fair. People can vote online for their favorite burger restaurant at
Olguin said when he received notification that he was chosen to be the Grand Marshal, “I was ecstatic and speechless. It was like New Mexico wanted to honor me, and I would be ashamed to turn this down.”
He said the parade will begin at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, on Central just west of Louisiana St. The parade will travel east on Central Avenue, disbanding near Eubank about 2 miles east of the starting point.
“I hope to be riding in a big Cadillac between two ladies feeding me grapes,” Bobby joked.
That is, if it was OK with his wife, Debby.

Midway Fire Chief Resigns Amid Embezzlement Claims

By John Larson
SOCORRO – The former Chief of Midway Fire Department has been charged with embezzling over $7,000 from Socorro County, after an investigation conducted by New Mexico State Police.
Orlando Pino, 24, resigned as Chief in the wake of the charges.
According to the criminal complaint, Pino used the county’s credit card to make personal gasoline purchases in the amount of $7,000.36. He has been charged 113 felonies: 112 counts of embezzlement, and one count of fraudulent credit card use.
The complaint said that County Manager Delilah Walsh advised State Police in January that since Pino was appointed Chief of Midway Fire Department in December 2007, “there has been an unusually high volume of transactions” on his county-issued credit card.
A printout of the card purchases between May 1 and December 31, 2008 showed charges for unleaded gas were from gas stations in Socorro, Lemitar, Belen, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Bernalillo and Santa Fe.
Walsh confirmed to police that Midway has only one vehicle that operates on unleaded fuel and “that is a 2,000-gallon fire truck,” and that Midway was one of the smallest fire departments in the county but spends more in fuel than any other fire department.
The complaint states that Socorro County Fire Marshal Fred Hollis and public information officer Jerry Wheeler made several unsuccessful attempts to talk to Pino about the purchases.
In a Feb. 18 interview with State Police, Pino said he had been told by Socorro County Finance Manager Michael Steinenger to use the card “as always” for County business.
The complaint states that Pino said he was not the only one to use the card, and that he would give the card – and its code – to other volunteer firefighters when they would clean the hose. He said he had receipts to prove he was using the card for county-related business at the fire house in Lemitar, but that “someone cleaned out his office."
Walsh told the Mountain Mail she had requested at the last Commission meeting that Pino be removed from his position.
“The Commission dropped the item from the agenda because Mr. Pino had turned in his resignation before the meeting,” Walsh said. “As far as were concerned, he’s resigned as Chief and we don’t have any comment at this time.”
Wheeler said Midway’s Assistant Chief Trini Padilla has been appointed Acting Chief.
Fire department members will elect a new chief in September, Wheeler said.
Pino was arraigned in Magistrate Court on July 18. A preliminary hearing has not yet been scheduled.
He is being represented by attorney Robert Perry.

Local Youngsters Start Rehearsals For Annual Show

National Dance Institute of New Mexico (NDI-NM) returns this year to Socorro.
The award-winning youth performance program begins rehearsals August 24 in cooperation with the Performing Arts series at New Mexico Tech. The three-week program culminates September 11 with three performances of “Lights, Camera, Action.”
Led by NDI-NM Residency Director, Emily Lowman, nearly 200 students in grades 4 to 6 from Cottonwood Valley Charter School, Midway Elementary, San Antonio Elementary, and Zimmerly Elementary; and kindergarteners from Parkview Elementary will participate. This year’s theme “Lights, Camera, Action!” celebrates the silver screen and the movies and personalities that have defined the American cinematic landscape.
National Dance Institute of New Mexico was founded with the knowledge that the arts have a unique power to engage and motivate children. The purpose of its distinctive programs is to help children develop discipline, a standard of excellence and a belief in themselves that will carry over into all aspects of their lives. The Socorro Residency is part of NDI-NM’s statewide Outreach which places a certified NDI-NM instructor and professional pianist in classes in 74 schools throughout New Mexico as part of their curriculum. NDI-NM also trains classroom teachers to get their students up and moving and incorporate its techniques into their language arts and math core curricula. All NDI-NM programs are character-building and use dance to teach an important life lesson - that working hard, doing your best, never giving up, and living a healthy life equals success.
Lights, Camera, Action! will be presented on Sept. 11 at Macy Center at New Mexico Tech in three performances, 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Admission is free for children under 17; $6 adults.
This Residency is supported in part by an award from The Sheila Fortune Foundation.

OPINION: Letters to the Editor, Aug. 20

San Antonio Elem Needs New Stage

To the Editor:
A logo at San Antonio Elementary? 
Great! I see that the school is now named after a San Antonio, Texas, basketball team. Actually, as an alum of San Antonio Grade School (1945-1952), when the school included grades one through eight, I remember the principal, Pete Eaton, decided to name the school’s athlete team the Bullets, but I’ll settle for Spurs.
What I would like to see done at San Antonio Elementary is the reconstruction of the stage, which was used at Christmas and the end-of-school to draw in members of the community for theatrical productions. In my last year, a Tom Sawyer play was performed at year end, and I was a proud member of the cast. The director was Mr. Valenzuela.
The stage was a fixture in most high schools and many grade schools built before 1950. At the high school level, the stage was at one end of the gym. In grade schools, as at San Antonio, it was an elevated area at the end of one room, and the adjoined room could be opened by folding back the wall so that a fairly large crowd could view the productions.
It would be great to have that ambience again at San Antonio Elementary.
Ben Moffett
Bosque Farms

Recycling Will Help Landfill Plight

To the Editor:
The future of the Socorro landfill, operated by the city of Socorro and located south of town on Highway 1, is on shaky ground. The Environmental Department of the Solid Waste Bureau of New Mexico recently rejected the city’s application to continue operating the landfill and the city is applying for a temporary permit. Our garbage will need to be transported to Valencia County if the city cannot get a plan approved. The community can do more to help keep our landfill open.
We are keeping some material out of the landfill by recycling, expanding the landfill’s useful life. The list of materials that can be recycled and the participating organizations attests to our community recycling efforts (See the Socorro Chamber of Commerce website: “Recycle Now” link). This fact should demonstrate to the NM Environmental Department that we, as a community, support a good solid waste management program.
We have an opportunity to increase our commitment to professional solid waste management, relieve landfill pressure even more, and increase our community’s list of recyclable materials. Chris Michel, owner of Morning Woodcutters, is a graduate of NMT with a degree in environmental engineering. He has operated his recycling business here for two years and, with community support, he would like to expand. He has a plan that could help relieve stress on the landfill and provide a valuable product.
He would like to obtain space in the Socorro industrial park, or other area, and begin diverting yard wastes and other compostable materials to that site. Yard waste (branches, cuttings, leaves) can account for 20-30 percent of the volume going into a landfill. He will add water, labor, and his education and experience and generate compost, a great product for agriculture and horticulture.
Compost is superior to peat moss or manure for amending the soil and if your property is at all like mine, the soil will benefit from amending. A large-scale composting operation here might eventually generate several jobs. Large and small property owners could benefit and help the community by contributing raw materials and purchasing a locally made product. Even if we end up hauling our refuse out of the county, a composting operation here would certainly save a lot of transport fees.
Chris is taking a survey to measure support throughout our community - government entities (county, city, NMT, BLM, K-12, et al), nonprofit organizations, private enterprise, families, and individuals - for a large scale composting operation. If you have any of the raw materials (leaves, grass clippings, branches, manure, shredded paper, agricultural waste), might purchase compost, simply like this idea, or have comments, organizational ideas, or services to offer, please call Chris at 838-2202 or me at 838-4512 or download the survey questionnaire at Chris’ website:
The city should inform the New Mexico Environmental Department of these ongoing efforts and future plans when they reapply for a landfill permit.

Mike Finn
Socorro, NM

(Mike and Thelma Finn own and operate Hope Farms Nursery just south of the Socorro city limits – they do not have curbside trash pickup. They haul their trash to the landfill about every two months. They also contract with Chris Michel to collect their paper, plastic, glass, cans, and cardboard and put those materials into the recycling stream.)

The Mountain Mail Opinion Page is meant to be a forum for a diverse range of opinions. The Mountain Mail encourages signed letters to the editor or guest columns. Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.
Please limit the length of letters to 500 words. We reserve the right to edit for content, style and grammar.
Letters will be printed in a first-come, first-served basis, although e-mail submissions may receive higher priority. The deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday for the following Thursday’s paper.
Readers can send letters to Mailbag, PO Box 1912 Socorro, NM 87801; hand-deliver to the Mountain Mail office in the Adobe Plaza at 413 N. California St.; e-mail to mountainmaileditor@; or fax to (505) 838-3998.


OPINION: Paying For National Health Care Makes No Cents

Magdalena Potluck
by Don Wiltshire

It costs the U.S. Mint (and you and me, ultimately) 1.7 cents to make every penny and 10 cents to make every nickel. U.S. House Resolution 5512 states: “by simply reducing penny production costs to face value, the United States will save more than $500,000,000 in the next 10 years alone. Reducing the cost to produce a nickel to face value will save the United States an additional $60,000,000 per year.”
What if we simply eliminated the penny and nickel altogether? Round up or down all total purchases to the nearest dime. Bring back the Susan B. Anthony dollar (or make a new Lincoln or Obama dollar). The savings would be astronomical! How many of us want and need pennies and nickels? How many of us have even noticed the new designs on the back of the 2009 penny to honor the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth? Most of them litter our dresser tops or end up in coffee cans or penny jars. What a joy it is to count out and roll those little buggers. The savings would be enough to pick up the tab to insure those 50 Million of us without health coverage. Problem solved. End of discussion.
Moving on: there is a more sinister situation developing; one with not quite so easy a solution. It involves the legal wrangling over Google Book Search. In effect, Google is positioning itself to have a monopoly over digitized books, both copyrighted and out of copyright.
First, a little background using the Magdalena Public Library as a model: the library has evolved over the last dozen years from a community book sharing effort to a full service public library. Its mission is to provide the best possible selection of reading, audio, video and electronic services at no charge to all of the local public.
I keep marveling at the diverse selection: from Al Gore to Rush Limbaugh, from Michael Moore to Ann Coulter. Like a true democracy, ALL opinions are welcomed and encouraged. Like the stated mission of the American Library Association, it tries its best to “provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”
The availability of the printed word online promised to be as great a leap of public information as the Johannes Gutenberg Printing Press. This project should have been undertaken by the Library of Congress or some other not for profit organization. Indeed, the Library of Congress lists over 9 million items available online. There are many other groups of organizations that are assembling digitized versions of their archives online such as Internet Archive, American Memory and Project Gutenberg.
A major problem arises, however, when “for-profit” organizations like Google or Yahoo try to capture a chunk of the market. Just like our apprehension and reluctance to let the San Augustin Ranch LLC capture the rights to all of the water below our feet, so we should view with suspicion the seemingly altruistic motives of these companies to provide the world’s literature online.
The American Association of Publishers and the Authors Guild both filed class action infringement suits against Google in 2005. An out-of-court settlement was reached last year in which a Book Rights Registry was set up to compensate publishers and authors who agree to participate in the Book Search project. Part of the revenue for this “compensation” will be garnered from the free Public Access Service terminals to be set up in each public library that requests it. A patron could view the full text of all of the books in the database. A limited number of pages could be printed from the PAS terminal at a “reasonable” per-page fee dictated by the Book Rights Registry. Sound familiar? Didn’t I read something like this in the Cordova Public Relations report on the San Augustin Ranch Water “Project”?
U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin (yes, the very judge that sentenced Bernie Madoff to 150 years in prison) is set to have a final fairness hearing on this case in early October. Keep your eye on this one! The future of our digital world is at stake!
The opinions stated here are not necessarily those of the Mountain Mail.

OPINION: Health Reform Backlash Undermines Effort To Change

The Pencil Warrior
by Dave Wheelock

In a recent column I referred to a July 6 Washington Post story, which reported the for-profit health care industry was spending approximately $1.4 million a day to defeat reform of the U.S. health care system. As Barack Obama continues to ride a popular groundswell hungry for reform, desperation is growing among the corporations that owe their profits to their monopolistic control over our access to medical care. What is truly heartbreaking – and alarming – is the number of Americans who’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.
In an August 15 New York Times opinion letter, Obama wrote: “We are bound to disagree, but let’s disagree over issues that are real, and not wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed. This is a complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate.”
But the profiteers of health care are not interested in serious debate because they know on that level they will lose. And so they have reverted to the right wing’s stocks-in-trade: disinformation and fear-mongering. Righty think-tanks, columnists, bloggers and members of Congress have been busily trying to outdo one another with ridiculous claims of health care rationing, death panels, national bankruptcy, and, that old favorite, socialistic government takeover. All of these nuggets are easily disproven (for example, by visiting the website), but here’s where the long-range goals of so-called conservatism bear their most useful fruit.
Contrary to right-wing panics about “wealth redistribution” in our country, wealth has increasingly flowed upward in the decades since the “Reagan Revolution” that largely freed corporate America from public oversight. Millions of Americans were struggling (or failing) to make ends meet far before the housing bust or the Wall Street fiasco. This is why the issue of health care, which so clearly delineates the fundamental inequities of American society today, is such a flash point. Why, in a democracy, would the majority choose a model that actually promotes poor health, erects barriers to treatment, and actually does threaten to bankrupt the nation? The answer, of course, is that they wouldn’t. IF, that is, alternatives are presented clearly and honestly.
As corporate-owned media outlets continue to ignore, as they have so often done before, their responsibility to “fact check” claims by the right the field is thrown open to any kind of exaggeration, lie, or, as we are now seeing, tactics of intimidation reform that opponents can come up with.
Sadly, the strategy of spreading disinformation, lies, and fear work best in a poorly educated or under-educated society. For a long time Republican operatives and their weak-willed colleagues in the supposedly liberal party have worked, under the rubric of “fiscal responsibility” to underfund, among most other public institutions, the American educational system. You can just turn on the TV and see your fellow middle-class American bellowing against his own interests at a town hall meeting.
But the most damaging effect may have been to the image of knowledge itself. “Sorry, Snobs: Town-Hall Rage is Real Democracy” screamed the headline of an eastern newspaper owned by the world’s richest media baron. Emotional envy directed at a neighborhood “smarty pants” may not be uncommon among children, but it’s an alarmingly stupid way for supposed adults to make democratic decisions.
Nevertheless, without a single shot of reason being fired, the only true path to limiting health care costs, a single-payer system (most easily described as Medicare for all), has been completely removed from consideration by legislators-for-hire and the private gatekeepers of public information.
The true conflict is not over rationing, death panels, national bankruptcy, or socialism. The real bone of contention is that cleverly hidden behind all right wing onslaughts: taxes. More specifically, what has so fully mobilized those who haven’t hesitated to divide in order to conquer, is the possibility that those in the upper income brackets may have to pay a pittance more (surely less than a vacation house or gold-plated toilet seat) to heal the country.
You don’t see them rioting at town-hall meetings. They’re too clever to show themselves. Like old men sending the young under the guns, they direct from behind, and later write heroic eulogies to those who have so bravely fallen – in this case, under a mountain of medical bills.
At this point we should ask ourselves: who are we compromising with? Are we so easily wooed by the silver tongues of those with their feet on our necks that the end result is simply more business for them? If America is truly a great country, it’s time to show it.

Contact Dave Wheelock at Mr. Wheelock’s views do not necessarily represent those of the Mountain Mail.

OPINION: Health ‘Reform’ Is Just Another Cash Grab

by Rick Coddington

The Right Side

Good news! The headlines are finally turning against Obama’s disastrous “healthcare reform.” That may be a glimmer of hope because Obama really, really needs the media.
An article in the Journal says Waxman (of all people) is “questioning” the drug industry deal that Obama has cut with the corporations that are robbing us blind.
Evidently, there is “confusion” even among the Obama faithful about the drug deal. As I wrote weeks ago, that deal must benefit the drug companies or they would not have jumped on Obama’s bandwagon so quickly. If it works for the corporations, guess what … it works against us. We will somehow pay even more for our over-priced prescriptions!
The corporate bottom line is profits. The bigger question is: What is the deal that Obama is trying to give the drug companies anyway? Evidently, even insiders like Waxman don’t know. Why the secrecy Mr. Obama?
Once again, the whole process is totally rotten! We have people on the verge of riots in “town hall meetings” because the monstrous 1,018 page healthcare bill that nobody understands, including the people that are voting on it, evidently! This is all just too crazy!
Obama, Pelosi and Reid have brought America to the brink of riot by their obsessive pursuit of their agenda – an agenda that obviously is not the will of the people that they are supposed to represent.
Speaking of rioting and Reid, did you catch the news blurb that Reid’s fundraising meeting in Albuquerque was “marred by protestors”? Here is my question: Why is Harry Reid, a Senator for Nevada, having fundraisers in New Mexico anyway?! Are we now part of his constituents just because he is (unfortunately) the Senate Majority Leader? No, we are not!
The fact is we can’t vote for him and he absolutely does not represent us. Why is he here then? Is his message, “Hey, you better pay me or I’ll stick it to you even worse?”
Again, this guy absolutely does not represent us and if you take a close look at him he is actually disgusted by common people. Upon the opening of the $650 million Capitol Visitors Center which walls visitors off from the ruling elite like Reid, he was quoted as in D.C. Examiner as saying, “My staff tells me not to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway … In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. …We won’t have to smell the tourists anymore, the new Capitol Visitors Center is sectioned off.”
Evidently he is not offended by the smell of our money though. How is that for arrogance? And what about Pelosi? She is outraged by the fact that we are protesting the healthcare obamanation. Her disgust at our right to free speech led her to proclaim in USA Today that those of us who are standing up to her are “simply un-American.” I guess she gets to decide our citizenship based on our willingness to go quietly to the slaughter. And Obama? He is attacking the media for even showing those un-American protestors battling his healthcare obamanation.
This is not just egomania on his part though. Obama understands the media folks. In his heart of hearts he knows that he is President because of the media. He knows that if he loses the media then even the sleeping rabble in America will wake up and smell the deception.
The facts are already out there, they just don‘t get headlines anymore. The war in Afghanistan is in the toilet. We are taking lots of casualties and spending tons of money that we don’t have. It is just that the media is not trumpeting it like they did when they were working to defeat Bush.
Guantanamo is still there. The economy is still in the tank. The jobless rate is soaring and according to the Federal Reserve there is no end in sight.
But the media stays out of it and that is critical for Obama. Last week there was a picture buried on the internet of an armed guard protecting a grocery delivery truck in Detroit, where they are on the brink of food riots and looting since the supermarket chains have pulled out. Leaving the inner city with only neighborhood groceries and charities to feed them through their estimated unemployment rate of 20 percent. This is Detroit! Michigan! USA! It looked like a scene out of Iraq!
But… no media headlines. So, yeah, Obama has to keep the media focused on his cheery face because reality is too ugly for us peons to be allowed to see. If we were to get the truth from the media we would all become “un-American” and maybe figure out a way to shut down the whole insane big government/deficit agenda, not just “healthcare reform.”

Rick Coddington is a third-generation native New Mexican. He has lived in Socorro since 1974. His opinions do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail.

Socorro Wants Owners To Clean Up After Dogs

By John Larson
SOCORRO – Dog walkers in Socorro may soon be obliged to clean up after their pet in public areas.
The Socorro City Council discussed the prospect of revising the existing leash law to include a provision requiring dog owners to collect their pooch’s poop in a receptacle for later disposal.
Mayor Dr. Ravi Bhasker said it was a subject that’s become “a little more topical.”
“It has been brought to our attention that there are animals that are not leashed and tend to poop in the wrong places, such as other peoples’ yards, and along School of Mines,” Bhasker said. “It’s great to have your animals out with you. If you love your pet and are responsible, keep your dog in back yard. Most cities have a dump law.
“It’s a health hazard when dogs do this. They breed disease,” he said.
A member of the audience said Clarke Field has no sign “about picking it up.”
“You don’t need a special bag. We have plastic bags hanging on just about every tree,” she said.
Bhasker said the time was right for an ordinance revision.
“We’ll work on that. It’s something we’ll look at and hopefully change,” he said. “We’ve heard from people whose neighbor’s dog comes over to their lawns. We will work on the ordinance.”
In other business:
• The council discussed the upcoming Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) for the city. Bhasker said the plan is to prioritize projects that need funding by the state legislature.
“This is what the legislature uses to fund at local levels. Any project that are funding have to be on the ICIP,” he said. “We’d like the public to come to City Hall with their project ideas, or talk to your Councilor.” Councilor Chuck Zimmerly said there are two important items that should be listed. “I can’t imagine two more important projects than the landfill and arsenic removal,” Zimmerly said. “I think money from the state level is going to be as tight as can be imagined.” Bhasker said the ICIP must be submitted to the state by September 30.
• Councilor Mary Ann Chavez-Lopez released the Police Oversight Committee public information agenda. She said copies of the Police Oversight Committee Ordinance and rules and regulations are available from the City Clerk at City Hall. Two public input meetings will be at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24, and Monday, Sept. 14.
The council will vote on the ordinance Oct. 5, and final approval is scheduled for the Nov. 2 meeting.
“This is what the public has been wanting for a long, long time,” Bhasker said. “We’ve sent special invitations for people who have been putting up blogs and posters. It’s important to come to the meetings and voice their concerns in public.”
• Utilities Director Jay Santillanes reported on the city getting stimulus money to extend sewer service to the northeast part of town, including Harold Drive and Chaparral.
“We applied for a USDA grant and received $1.085 million, and we also got $350,000 from the Environmental Department,” Santillanes said. “The application was for $1.5 million, so the city will cover the rest with a loan for $132,000.”
Bhasker said repayment terms would be from $12,000 to $15,000 over 16 years.
“It’s like we got $1.3 million for free,” Bhasker said. ”We encourage everyone to hook up right away. This project is moving quickly.”

Bosque Del Apache Looks For Farm Partners

Mountain Mail reports
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is soliciting interest from local area farmers for participation in its Cooperative Farming Program.
The Cooperative Farming Program is designed to assist the refuge in meeting its habitat management goals, while providing additional lands to the Cooperator for farming and harvesting their own crops, such as alfalfa. The refuge produces approximately 260 acres of corn, 760 acres of alfalfa, and 20 acres of milo within its Cooperative Farming Unit. The crops are raised specifically for providing high-quality food for cranes, geese, and other resident and migratory wildlife.
The refuge, eight miles south of San Antonio, currently has up to 1,039 acres available to offer an interested farmer. As part of the Cooperative Farming Program agreement, the selected farmer would be responsible for providing their own equipment, fuel, seed, fertilizer, and herbicides to qualify for the Program. Out of the 1,039 acres, 260 acres (25%) would be grown specifically for wildlife and left unharvested, while the remaining acreage would be available for the Cooperator to harvest. The Program currently operates under an annual agreement, which will be extended depending on the quality of crops produced.
For further information or questions regarding the Cooperative Farming Program, contact Bernard Lujan (Refuge Operations Specialist) or Aaron Drew (Assistant Refuge Manager) at (575)835-1828.

Lady Warriors Host Socorro Cup

By Polo C’ de Baca
For the Mountain Mail
SOCORRO – The Lady Warrior Soccer team will host the annual Socorro Cup eight team tournament beginning at 1 p.m. Friday. The tournament will conclude on Saturday.
The games begin Friday with Valencia playing Grants. At 3 p.m. Belen with play Hatch, at 5 p.m. Alamogordo will play Bloomfield and at 7 p.m. Socorro will play Monte del Sol, a Santa Fe team.
Friday’s winners advance to play in the semifinals Saturday morning, with Friday’s losers playing in the consolation bracket. The third round will be Saturday afternoon and evening.
The Socorro girls and boys traveled to Grants last Saturday for a scrimmage.
“Actually we played pretty well,” Socorro girls coach Mitch Carrejo said. “We ended up winning 4-0 I believe. I just moved girls around and tried to play some different combinations. There were a lot of good things that came out. I like to be able to play somebody else besides just playing each other. For a first scrimmage we’re coming along pretty good.”
Carrejo said that there were still a lot of things the team needed to work on. So far this year Carrejo said he had 19 girls on the team, including six seniors. Class 5A Alamogordo would likely be favored to win the tournament according to Carrejo.
Alamogordo had participated in the tournament distant past but not in the last few years. Class 4A Belen had a strong team last year and is expected to do well. Valencia and Grants are also Class 4A schools.

Chuck Ngo Leads New Warriors Boys Soccer Coaching Staff

By Polo C’ de Baca
For the Mountain Mail
SOCORRO – Trung “Chuck” Ngo will be the new head coach of the Socorro boys soccer team this year. He is replacing coach Paul Wilkie who had coached the team into the state tournament for the last three years. According to Ngo, Wilkie left unexpectedly and is the assistant girls soccer coach in Bloomfield, N.M.
Joining Ngo on the coaching staff are Kenny Gonzales and Dave Urban.
Ngo is a familiar face in the area. He works full time for the U.S. Postal Service and is also often seen officiating soccer and volleyball games.
“I’ve known this game (soccer) since I was a little boy in Vietnam,” Ngo said. “We didn’t have a program, but I played with other boys that hung out together. We didn’t have grass. We didn’t have shoes. We played barefoot on the dirt. We just played for fun. I enjoyed the game and leaned a lot by watching the pros.”
Ngo said that he would not necessarily concentrate on a good win-loss record but hoped to integrate education and sports in his program and emphasize education. He said that there will be no “try-outs” as such because the numbers of players was not as high as those found in bigger schools.
“I will work with kids of all levels,” Ngo said. “I’ll work with beginners who may have never touched a ball before.
The team had a scrimmage with Grants last Saturday. Ngo said that so far they have about 20 kids show up to play and they took all of them on the trip and that he expects more players will show up to play for the team later. There are about 10 seniors on the team this year.
“Every kid got to play at least 20 minutes,” Ngo said. “I didn’t leave anybody out. I want all the kids to get some experience. I have kids ranging from the eighth grade to seniors. I told the kids that I wouldn’t guarantee that we’d go to state, but we would work on it step by step and game by game. If things work out as I expect, we’ll have a good team.”
The team will play its first four games away beginning with Taos High School this weekend.

Fire Danger Remains Extreme In National Forests

Fire conditions continue to be extremely dangerous throughout New Mexico.
On the Gila National Forest, no new fires have been reported since August 13. Rain showers developed across most of the forest last weekend and moderated fire behavior on existing fires. Hot and sunny days followed, and fire behavior increased slightly on several of the fires that are being managed for resource objectives. Only natural ignitions, those started by lightning, can be managed to achieve resource objectives. Under the right conditions, fires are allowed to function ecologically, within fire-dependent ecosystems of the southwest.
On the Magdalena Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest, the region has received widespread lightning over the past few weeks. As a result, a new wildland fire has been reported. The weather forecast for this area is continued afternoon thunderstorms over the region throughout the week. These thunderstorms could bring more lightning, with the possibility of additional wildfires.
Magdalena District
Fisher Fire: Detected on 8/08/2009, located 35 miles Southwest of Magdalena. The fire is 51 acres, burning in Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. The smoke from this fire is visible from Highway 60 west of Magdalena.
This fire is being managed to achieve resource benefits, with the primary objective of providing for public and firefighter safety. The management strategy allows these fires to function ecologically within a fire-dependent ecosystem. Fire personnel are regularly monitoring the fire’s progression. Currently, 25 personnel are assigned to the fire.
This Fisher fire will remain active until the temperatures and relative humidity moderate and the weather patterns established over the region receive enough precipitation to extinguish the fire. The Fisher fire will continue to be monitored and patrolled.
For more information, please contact the Magdalena Ranger District at 575-854-2281 or visit the Cibola National Forest website:
Three of the five ranger districts on the Gila National Forest include much of Catron County. Here is the report on active fires.
Quemado District
Willie fire:  Detected 7/21/09, and located 23 miles southwest of Quemado and just south of Fox Mountain Lookout. Some burnout operations have been conducted along Forest Road 770.  Mitigation measures have been established, reducing potential threats to the Fox Mountain Lookout and communication towers. Low to moderate fire behavior has been observed. The fire is 300 acres in size, as it burns in Ponderosa pine understory, including needlecast and grass. 4 personnel are assigned to the fire.
To report fires to the Quemado Ranger District, call (575) 773-4678.
Reserve District
Moraga fire:  Detected 7/19/09, and located 19 miles east of Reserve, NM and on Long Canyon Mountain. The fire is 2580 acres in size.  Rain showers moderated fire behavior last weekend, and the fire showed minimal activity. Monitoring activities continue and 10 personnel are assigned to the fire.
Eagle fire:  Detected 7/29/09, and located 10 miles east of Reserve, NM. The fire is currently at 420 acres and minimal fire spread is expected. The fire has been burning in a Ponderosa pine vegetation type. Rain showers moderated fire behavior last weekend, resulting in minimal fire activity. Monitoring activities are ongoing.
To report fires on the Reserve Ranger District, call (575) 533-6231.
Glenwood District
Radar fire:  Detected 8/2/09, and located about 8 miles south of Mule Creek. The fire was contained at 367 acres and remains in patrol status.
Whitewater fire:  Detected 7/25/09, and located in the Gila Wilderness, about 8 miles east of Glenwood, NM. The fire is estimated at 240 acres in size and continues to burn in very rough, rugged terrain. The fire received light rain showers last week, however the fire continues to spreads slowly to the east and south. Fire managers are visually monitoring the fire daily.
To report a fire on the Glenwood Ranger District, call (575) 539-2481.
If a wildfire starts naturally, the Forest Service can use different strategies and tactics in different parts of the fire. These fires are being managed to achieve resource objectives, including public and firefighter safety and ecosystem health. A combination of responses can be used to meet these objectives. These fires can remain active until the monsoon weather pattern establishes and provides enough precipitation to extinguish the fires.
For more information about current fire activity on the Gila National Forest, contact the fire information officer at 575-388-8245 or visit the website at

Alamo Schools Receive $706,000 Grant For Preschool Program

By John Larson
Alamo Navajo School Board, Inc. has announced that its Early Childhood Division has been awarded a grant for $706,981 to help in preschool preparation for Alamo children, and to prepare Alamo High School students in their transition to college.
The grant is part of $3.5 million distributed by the U.S. Dept of Education’s Office of Indian Education. The $706,981 will be dispersed over four years.
The school has already received the first payment in the amount of $197,360.
ANSBI Grants Manager Gail Campbell said Colleen Alivado, the Early Childhood Division Director, will be implementing the new initiatives in September.
The grant money will be used to improve children’s literary environment, improve oral language usage, develop early reading readiness skills, improve family literacy, and improve children’s literary acquisition.

Sylvia The Employed Fixated On The Lost Adams Diggings

By Anne Sullivan
“Hurry up, Sylvia. Get out of my chair and into the pickup,” I said.
“Can’t you see I’m busy reading,” was Sylvia’s reply. “Please do not disturb me.”
“Out of my chair now!” I ordered. “We have to be in Socorro in an hour and 15 minutes.”
Sylvia didn’t even take her eyes from the book when she asked, “What’s the hurry and why are we going to Socorro?”
“Because you have an appointment to get your stitches out and your shunt removed. I know you’ve been trying to do it yourself but now is the time for professional aid.”
Sylvia perked up. “Will I see my friend Terri?”
“Yes, you will.”
“Well then,” she said, closing her book, “I guess I’ll go. Can I drive?”
“Why not?”
“You don’t have a license.”
“Do you have a license?”
“If you have a license to drive, it can’t be all that hard to get one. Where do I go?”
“Reserve, but a licensed driver will have to take you there and I won’t.”
Sulking slightly, Sylvia struggled into the pickup. I won the usual argument over who was going to drive and we were off with Sylvia staring at the greening grass dotted with yellow daisies and pointing out cattle and other beasts to me.
“Just relax,” I told her, removing her paw from my arm.
“Easy for you to say,” she muttered and she did not relax. Instead she talked the entire 68 miles into Socorro. “I was reading when you so rudely interrupted me. ‘Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver.’ That’s the name of the book. It’s all about the Lost Adams Diggings. It’s really interesting and well written by J. Frank Dobie and it has these wonderful illustrations by Tom Lea. The more I read the more I can visualize the treasure being in Swingle Canyon. I just have to find out where the old cabin was. It’s burned down but the treasure’s buried under the hearth. Maybe our house was built over the old cabin and that’s why no one can find any trace of it. We could take the floor up and if –“
“We will NOT take the floor up under any circumstances, Sylvia. I have spoken.”
“You have remarkably little vision, Boss. The book says there’s $100,000 worth of gold under there. We could buy a lot with that. It would pay for my operation and then some.”
“You don’t have to worry about paying for your operation. I put it on the credit card.”
“Don’t you have to pay for that eventually? I don’t want you having to go to jail for non-payment. Who would feed me?”
“Yes, I do have to pay for it eventually. And I won’t go to jail. Don’t worry your wooly head about it.”
“I can’t help worrying. They say the recession is over but I don’t see any evidence of it. You’re not employed.”
“I haven’t been employed for years. I’m retired. I get Social Security.”
“Will I get Social Security when I’m old enough?” she asked.
“In dog years you’re old enough now, but, no, you won’t get Social Security.”
“Is that because I’m a dog?”
“I think so.”
“That’s not fair,” she wailed. “I earn money. In fact, any earned money that comes into this house is money that I’ve earned.”
“True. It’s a good thing you’re self-supporting.”
“But I can’t support you and RingWorm and Gordo and Brandy. Hay costs a lot, to say nothing of Stouffer’s Frozen meals.”
“That’s all true.”
“This worries me. I even lose sleep over it. How am I going to support all of you? That’s why I’ve got to find the gold from the Lost Adams Diggings. When I do fall asleep I dream about it. Last night I dreamed it was so close I could smell it.”
“That was probably whatever died under the house. I don’t think you can smell gold.”
“I can. I’m a dog, remember.”

‘Importance Of Being Earnest’

Mountain Mail reports
From a cool London drizzle to a Dallas summer sizzle, the Socorro Community Theater’s upcoming production of The Importance of Being Earnest offers a new look at a much loved classic comedy by Oscar Wilde.
Setting the play in Texas in 1955, director Christopher Watts said, “I wanted to do something different. Shakespeare is often set in modern contexts. Could I do that with Earnest?”
Oscar Wilde, a master of witty conversations, puns, and paradoxes called this play “a trivial comedy for serious people.”
Originally set in Victorian England, Wilde makes fun of the social conventions the upper classes held dear – manners, property, love of money, morality, and class structure.
“Though on the surface it’s a trivial comedy, the underlying themes still ring as true today as they did 100 years ago,” Watts said.
The plot centers around two friends, Jack (the romantic) and Algernon (the cynic). Both men lead dual lives in order to escape their daily routines – one to leave his dull existence in the country to play in the city, the other to leave the city in order to relax in the country. Their deceptions soon collide, resulting in a series of funny situations that might compromise Jack and Algernon’s romantic plans. Will Gwendolyn still love Jack when she finds out his name isn’t Earnest? Will Cecily still find Algernon utterly charming when she discovers the truth about him?
“The cast is a good mix of SCT veterans and several new faces,” Watts said. “Excellent character dynamics have developed and we’re all well on our way to a captivating performance.” The cast includes Alan Roes, Katy Weaver, Dietrich Bachman, Rauni Montoya, Rheda Brown, Virginia Alguire, John Stokes and Tom Fitch.
Watts called The Importance Of Being Earnest “a light, fun play that pokes fun at our social customs and even ourselves. The absurd premise and dry one-liners will keep the audience laughing.”
Performances at Garcia Opera House are Friday and Saturday, Aug. 28-29 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 30 at 1 p.m. Tickets at the door are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $6 for students. For information call 838-0379 or visit www.socorro. com/sct.

Friends of the Bosque Selects Cover Art For 2009 Festival

Mountain Mail reports
A manipulated photograph of Sandhill Cranes by photographer/graphic artist Christopher Vest has been selected as the theme art for the 2009 Bosque del Apache Festival of the Cranes. The full-color artwork is being printed as the cover of the festival catalog and will be featured on T-shirts and other festival memorabilia offered at the festival Nov. 17-22.
To create the finished theme artwork, Vest manipulated a color photo taken at Bosque del Apache by Kevin Cole.
Vest describes himself as a self-taught artist with a 25 year background in pen and ink drawing, oil painting, scratch-board, photography and screen printing. In the 1990s, he embraced the computer revolution and developed a way to merge painting and photography in the digital medium.
“In the tradition of Alfred Steiglitz’s ‘Photo-Secessionist’ movement, the photographic image is transformed by intense painterly manipulation to create textures and effects that attempt to bridge the unique properties of photography and painting,” Vest explained.
He has dubbed the process “painted photo montage.”
Vest professionally divides his time between fine art, graphic design and natural history illustration. He is currently contributing to a birding field guide to be released soon by the American Bird Conservancy.
He and his partner Cathy, along with 25 companion animals, live on a six acre farm near Dolores, Colorado. Together, they are restoring the land, formerly badly overgrazed by cattle. In addition, they operate a small animal shelter, rescuing and fostering animals from across the Four Corners area.
Vest’s artwork was chosen to represent the 2009 festival by a committee representing the Friends of the Bosque del Apache, sponsor of the Festival of the Cranes.

Magdalena Trail Drivers Host Shooting Event, Competitions

Mountain Mail reports
MAGDALENA – Cowboys and Cowgirls, get your six guns, lever guns and scatter guns all oiled up and ready to go because the Magdalena Trail Drivers will host the second of their Saturday-Sunday shoots this weekend, August 22 and 23. 
This is the best Cowboy Action Shooting in the area and if you’re hankering to go after the bad guys it is sure to be one of your best weekends this summer.
Dry camping starts Friday evening and the first shoots begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, including both a Long Range Competition and a Wild Bunch Match, based on the classic movie, The Wild Bunch.  Competitors are invited to contact “Dirt Dan” at for information on these side matches.
Set-up for the first five stage Cowboy Action Shooting match begins at 11 a.m. Saturday with the lead going down range at noon. There will be another five stage Cowboy Action Shooting match Sunday with set-up at 8 a.m. and competition beginning at 9 a.m. The Saturday match and the Sunday match are two separate shoots and any and all are welcome to join the fun with the Magdalena Trail Drivers for one or both days.
Cowboy Action Shooting with the Magdalena Trail Drivers is a multifaceted amateur shooting sport in which contestants compete with firearms typical of those used in the taming of the Old West: single action revolvers; lever action rifles; and side by side double barreled, and pre-1899 pump, or lever action shotguns. The shooting competition is staged in a unique, characterized, Old West style.
Contestants shoot in several one-to-four gun stages in which they engage steel targets. Scoring is based on accuracy and speed.
The truly unique aspect of Cowboy Action Shooting is the requirement placed on authentic period or western screen dress. Each participant is required to adopt a shooting alias appropriate to a character or profession of the late 19th century, or a Hollywood western star, and develop a costume accordingly.
It’s the closest you’ll get to the Old West short of a time machine!  For Friday evening dry camping on the range or for information about the Magdalena Trail Drivers, contact Club President Grizzly Adams at or find them on the web at