Thursday, August 27, 2009

Socorro A Drought Disaster

By John Larson
This week has seen some welcome rainfall in Socorro County, but it may not be enough to rescue the losses ranchers may be facing because of drought-like conditions earlier this year.
Gov. Bill Richardson announced Wednesday, Aug. 19, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved his request to declare seven New Mexico counties as disasters due to losses suffered because of severe drought and high winds. The designations make farmers and ranchers in those counties eligible for federal financial assistance, including Socorro County.
Socorro County Extension Agent Tom Dean said the lack of precipitation in the entire southern part of the state has created drastic circumstances for many ag producers.
“A lack of rain and snowmelt, and the wind, has kept it dry,” Dean said. “There is still water for irrigation for the farmers, though, but that doesn’t apply to the ranchers, because the non-irrigated crops haven’t raised any feed.”
Robbie Jones of the Farm Service Agency said ranchers in both Socorro and Catron counties have had a rough year.
“We certainly are suffering, and makes it possible to apply for emergency loans,” she said. “The loans will be coming out of Dona Ana County, and we will direct them the Farm Service Agency office there.”
Randell Major is a Magdalena area rancher and a member of the New Mexico Cattlegrowers’ Association. He said, “This is the time of year we should be making our grass. Right now it looks like April out there.”
“It’s been horribly disappointing. Last year was a great year. We had grass that carried us over,” Major said. “Just about everybody this year is hurting, even out toward Apache Creek, Datil and over to Springerville.”
“Another big thing is stock pond water,” he said. “We may have to cut our cattle down unless we can get a good amount rain by September 15. This does affect our income.”
The USDA natural disaster declaration also covers Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln, Roosevelt, De Baca, Lea and Otero counties. In addition, the department named Dona Ana, Curry, Guadalupe, Sierra, Torrance, and Quay as contiguous disaster counties, as well as Socorro.
“I applaud the USDA for its prompt attention to this serious matter,” Richardson said in a press release. “These designations will allow for some much needed relief for New Mexico’s hard-working farming and ranching families who continue to suffer production and income losses from prolonged lack of precipitation and high winds.”
Jones said applicants could contact the Dona Ana FSA office directly at (575) 522-8775.

Socorro County Sheriff's Blotter

The following items were taken from reports at the Socorro County Sheriff’s Department.

July 30
A vehicle was pulled over at 11:45 p.m. for traffic violations at Sixth and Otero streets in Socorro. The officer detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from the vehicle, and from the driver. The San Antonio driver failed field sobriety tests and was taken to the Socorro Police Dept. for a breath test, and then to the Socorro County Detention Center. He was also charged with no insurance and no driver’s license.
July 31
A vehicle was southbound on Severo-Vigil Road at 8 p.m. when it left the roadway onto the shoulder. It entered back onto the roadway and crossed over the driving lanes, coming to rest facing south on the shoulder. No enforcement action was taken.
Aug. 1
• A woman in Veguita reported at 7:24 p.m. that she and her husband were away from the residence and were called by a neighbor who advised them that their back door was open. They went straight back home and found that unknown suspects had entered and had taken items from therein, including jewelry and a Wii game system. They were unsure about other items but they would do an inventory and forward it to the Sheriff’s Department.
• An officer was dispatched at 8:57 p.m. to a residence on Campos Road in Veguita on the report of a dog biting a child. The guardian stated that her child had been bitten two days prior. It was noticed that the child had swelling in the cheek area and she was unclothed and dirty. It was also noticed that the residence was dirty and smelled of urine and feces. An ambulance was called and the child was taken to an Albuquerque hospital where Child Protective Services were contacted. The guardian was highly intoxicated at the time of the incident.
Aug. 2
• A vehicle entered a sobriety checkpoint set up on Highway 60 at 6 p.m. and the officer noticed open containers inside the car. Neither the driver or the passenger had a valid driver’s license and the vehicle was to be towed. During inventory for towing controlled substances and paraphernalia were found, and the passenger admitted that the drugs and paraphernalia belonged to him. He was arrested and transported to the Sheriff’s Department for processing.
• A man in Luis Lopez reported at 6:45 p.m. that a neighbor’s dog is continually getting into his yard. He said he ahs spoken with her but the dog is still loose. The officer me with the neighbor and advised her of the leash law, and she agreed to keep the dog out of the victim’s property.
Aug. 4
• A vehicle was being towed by a grader on Highway 107 at 6:50 a.m. At mile marker 43 the hitch broke on the grader and the vehicle pushed forward, striking the grader. The vehicle sustained damage to the front end. The grader had no damage.
• A woman on Evergreen reported at 11 a.m. that the suspect drove her vehicle towards hers in an aggressive manner. She stated that she does not know her or the reason for the harassment. The officer met with the juvenile suspect who stated that the victim attempted to run over her sister. She said she would stay away from the victim. The woman wanted the incident documented but did not pursue charges.
• A Veguita man reported at 3:30 p.m. that he had placed coins for sale on eBay, and that a man in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania bid on and bought the coins. But the value of the coins went down, and the suspect advised eBay that the coins were not as described, and returned them. The victim had a three day return policy and they were returned after three days, but the coin box was not as sent, and rolls were missing. eBay is to contact the suspect in regards to the sale.
• A San Antonio woman reported at 4 p.m. that the suspect was given a protection order on July 23, but then started texting her that same day. He has continually texted her, and the officer saw the texts on her phone. The suspect was advised by the court to stop the violation.
• A man in Veguita reported at 5 p.m. that the suspect was cleaning his yard, but that when he went to check on her he noticed she had left. He check his property and found that she had taken tools and a bottle of prescription medication. She had left a public service number, but it was nonworking.
• An officer pulled over a vehicle at 5:30 p.m. for a traffic violation at mile marker 142 on Interstate 25. A license check showed the driver to have an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He was transported to the detention center.
• An officer assisted another deputy at a traffic stop at 7:50 p.m., where the vehicle had been pulled over for a traffic violation at mile marker 2 on Highway 380. A license check showed that the driver had a suspended/revoked license with an arrest clause. He was taken to the detention center.
Aug. 5
An officer assisted State Police during a warrant round-up, and received information that the suspect had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He was arrested and transported to the county jail.

Deputies Bust Small Pot Farm

By John Larson
SOCORRO – Deputies from the Socorro County Sheriff’s Department, with assistance from District 1 Drug Task Force agents in Valencia County, confiscated 15 marijuana plants found in a makeshift greenhouse on Highway 47 in northeast Socorro County on Friday, Aug. 21.
Sheriff Phillip Montoya said Deputy Chris Pino lead a search on a residence Friday morning at about 9 a.m.
The marijuana seizure came as the result of an incident the night before – a domestic violence call.
According to Pino, the Valencia County Sheriff’s Department got the call from a woman at 9 p.m. Thursday from a telephone near the Rio Communities fire station, who reported that she was a victim of domestic violence, and that as she was leaving, “she heard gunshots, and was worried that he may have shot himself.”
Valencia County officers found that the residence was actually in Socorro County, and contacted Socorro County.
“Actually the driveway – it’s a long driveway – was in Valencia County, but the residence was in Socorro County,” Montoya said.
The suspect fled before Region I Narcotics agents and Valencia County deputies arrived, and during a protective sweep of the residence the plants were discovered.
“A protective sweep is done by entering the residence to make sure of the safety and well being of any occupants. In this case, the caller was afraid the suspect might have harmed himself,” Pino said. “In any case, the woman had evidence of being battered.”
The following morning Socorro deputies were able to obtain a search warrant based on what was observed, and returned to the residence.
“We found 15 marijuana plants growing in a makeshift greenhouse connected to the residence,” Pino said. “They averaged about 12 feet tall.”
The suspect, whose name has not been released by the Sherriff’s office, is currently at large.
“The suspect actually called the residence while the officers were there Thursday night, and made threats that he was going to shoot the deputies,” Pino said. “I will find them and shoot [the Valencia County deputies], he told them.”
Also found in the double wide was a baggie containing about three ounces of marijuana, scales and other paraphernalia.
The marijuana plants will be tested by the state’s crime lab, and then destroyed.

Magdalena’s New City Hall Ready For ‘Grand Opening’

By John Larson
MAGDALENA – Mayor Jim Wolfe reported to the Village Board Monday night that the new municipal building will be ready for occupancy within the next two weeks.
“We’re making progress on the building slowly. We should be in there by the next Village Board meeting,” Wolfe said. “The building is already approved for occupancy but some lighting fixtures and fire alarms have yet to be installed.”
Clerk Rita Broaddus said she was in the process of planning a “grand opening” ceremony for late September or early October.
“The ceremony will be for the new building, and the expanded library, which will take over the entire depot building,” Broaddus said. “Also, the Friends of the Library is putting in a botanical garden on the west side of the depot.”
In other business:
* In a 3-1 vote, the board approved the purchase of a motorized gurney for the village EMS. Cynthia Welton said it was something they needed for a long time. “Most accidents with EMTs have to do with lifting,” Welton said. “It gets to the point where we could really be hurting ourselves trying to move patients around.” Broaddus said the $10,598 for the gurney would come out of the ambulance fund.
* The board voted to allow the village to vacate a portion of Twelfth Street. Broaddus said the action would have to take the form of an ordinance, and that First Consideration will be at the next meeting.
* The board voted to allow the Village to spend $250 to host a lunch Sept. 15 for participants in the 18th Annual Multi-Cultural Red Ribbon Relay run sponsored by the Alamo Navajo Community.
* The board approved a request from Marshal Larry Cearley to spend $2,500 to purchase a surplus Ford Expedition to replace the office’s black Crown Victoria.
* The board approved the hiring of Manuel Monte to be a fulltime Marshal’s deputy.
* In reviewing the minutes from the last meeting, Broaddus confirmed that the final new water increase will go into effect in March 2010.

Socorro Schools Receive Technology Enhancement Grant

By John Larson
SOCORRO – Socorro Consolidated Schools has been awarded a grant for $60,000 to use for technology training.
Superintendent Cheryl Wilson received confirmation from Dr. Veronica Garcia, New Mexico’s Secretary of Education, that Socorro Consolidated School District has been awarded an Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) District Competitive Grant. The total allocation is for $60,000, including $15,000 committed to teacher stipends for technology training.
With this new funding, teachers will learn how to effectively combine technology with curriculum and teaching methods.
Technology Director Vern Smith that the money will be used for varying levels of training and equipment.
“The project will create a model technology lab at Sarracino Middle School that will serve a number of functions,” Smith said. “First, it provides a desperately-needed third lab for students to be used for work other than basic technology classes. Secondly, the lab will include a variety of new technologies and video/audio production equipment that can be used by all students and teachers throughout the district.”
“But most importantly, the lab will serve as a Technology Professional Development Center for every teacher in the district,” he said.
The program includes stipends and plans to help teachers learn about the latest technologies.
“We want teachers to learn how they can give assignments to kids where they can use technology,” Smith said. “Kids today love technology – look at texting – but when they come to school they are asked to put away their cell phones and other devices. Now … if we can incorporate technology into their learning, they will be engaged.”
The proper use of technology is undoubtedly an excellent way to improve engagement and, ultimately, student learning, student achievement and school test scores, he said.
“We want to take this to a whole new level for students,” Smith said. “Children are now expected to attain a new level of technology. More importantly, we’re preparing them for college.”
“My goal as Technology Director is for students to use the technology that will give them the best chance for success,” he said.

Annual Model Train Show Features Exhibits, Booths

By Jon Spargo
Socorro Train Gang Model Railroad Club

The 6th annual Toy Train Show and Swap Meet returns Saturday at the Best Western Hotel Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring toy and model trains of all sizes and gauges.
The show is sponsored by the New Mexico Division of the Toy Train Operating Society, the Socorro Train Gang model railroad club and the City of Socorro. There will be operating layouts, raffle prizes and vendors selling toy and model railroad equipment and railroad memorabilia. Raffle prizes will be drawn at 3 PM. Admission is $1 per person and $2 per family!
There will also be tracks available to test run any model train equipment that you may be considering for purchase. Many of the vendors are experts in all aspects of toy train operation and model railroading and will be happy to answer your questions.
This year the show will feature at least six operating layouts including the return of the “Summerville & Northlands Lines” portable model railroad. Kids will want to stop by and try their hand at doing some operating. As well, those who take a short quiz will earn you a 3 x 4 inch “Summerville & Northlands” sticker!
A new exhibit this year will be the layout built by the students of Saracino Middle School. The students did an outstanding job of scenery construction that demonstrates what can be done on a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood with a little imagination and a bit of perspiration!
The New Mexico Division of the Toy Train Operating Society will have its modular “O” scale layout set up and running. The Socorro Train Gang model railroad club will also have its Christmas Raffle layout set up and running.
Model railroading has been called “The World’s Greatest Hobby.” Whether you just like to run toy trains or build elaborate layouts, this hobby has something for everyone! Come join us and find out for yourself how much fun model railroading can be. If you have an old toy or model train set in the closet or attic and want to know if it still runs or how much it is worth, dust it off and bring it to the show! Some old toy train sets have become quite valuable and most can be brought back to life for the enjoyment of both big and little kids!
In conjunction with the show the Socorro Train Gang will host an open house at the Hammel Museum from 9 AM until 2 PM to run trains on the Club’s layouts. Directions to the Hammel Museum will be posted at the show. If you have any questions or are interested in a table to sell some toy or model trains, please call 575-418-7534.

OPINION: Letters to the Editor, Aug. 27

Medical System Needs Overhaul

To the Editor:
Why is it, when you are having a really, really bad day, when your daughter, recently graduated from college and working at a starter job with no benefits, gets T-boned and it is going to cost $100,000 to put her back together; when your wife, who has type-1 diabetes and works at a big box store, has her toes rotting off and is going blind because the chintzy insurance offered by the store denies her coverage; when you have been “downsized” into an $8 per hour job with no health insurance after 30 years and have just learned that you have colon cancer . . .
Why is it that you have to put up with busybodies who sneer that “you should have taken better care of yourself”; that radio loonies scream “nazi medicine” and “death panels”; that 25 percent of your private insurance premium is consumed by the company itself (it is 5 percent for medicare!); that you wait months for specialists who charge you $1,000 for 15 minutes of their precious time; that your friends and neighbors have to run bake sales (bless their hearts!) that cover maybe 1 percent of your bills?
Why is it that your brother in Canada and your uncle in France and your poor cousin in Costa Rica just go to the doctor when they are sick and don’t worry about being driven bankrupt?
Are you terrified that a medical problem will turn into a financial catastrophe? Then you need to tell Senator Jeff Bingaman (1-800-443-8658), Senator Tom Udall (1-505-346-6791), and Rep. Harry Teague (835-8919) to bring our health care system
up to the standards of the civilized world.
Time is short and big money and the fear mongers are winning the battle for peoples’ minds and Congress’s votes. Don’t let them succeed!

Dave Raymond

Catron Animal Group Thanks Supporters

To the Editor:
Fur and Feather Animal Assistance would like to thank all those who supported us in our second annual fund raiser at Jackson Park, Pie Town.  We welcomed many of you who joined us in music, food, raffles, dancing and activities.
We especially thank Gerald and Bethane O’ Connell without whom our fund raiser would not have been possible.  A special thank you goes to Ken and Sharon Bostick, Cathy and Gary Acord, Stephanie Randolph, Anne Sullivan, and Bob and Elaine Smith.  We also thank the two bands that graciously gave of their time - the “Misfits’ and “Los Ladrones”.
Thank you one and all,

Laurie Beauchamp
Fur and Feather Animal Assistance

Shop Local, Help Keep Taxes Low

To the Editor:
New Mexico does not have a sales tax. It has a gross receipts tax instead. This tax is imposed on persons engaged in business in New Mexico, but in almost every case the person engaged in business passes the tax to the consumer. In that way the gross receipts tax resembles a sales tax.
Gross receipt taxes are extremely important to our community. The County of Socorro receives only $40,000 a month and our City of Socorro’s General Fund Budget is comprised of about 55% gross receipts taxes. These gross receipt taxes are distributed and or assist with police and fire protection, park and recreation, street improvements, beautification projects, senior citizen and youth programs and much more.
As important as the tax is to our community, our two governing bodies have kept Socorro County’s and City’s tax rates lower than our neighboring counties and municipalities. The tax in the County of Socorro is 5.8125% and in the City of Socorro the tax is 6.875%. The State of New Mexico receives the largest portion which is 5 percent, thus leaving less than one percent for the County and about one percent for the City of Socorro.
In Sierra County and Truth or Consequences, their tax rates are 6.1875 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively. Up north in Valencia County and Belen, their tax rates are 6.375 percent and 7.8125 percent, respectively.
So whatever you call it; gross receipt or sales tax, thanks to our City and County government officials for keeping our consumptive taxes as low as possible while providing their excellent services for our community.

Terry Tadano
Socorro Chamber of Commerce

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. 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: Indulge Yourself With Wide Open Spaces

Magdalena Potluck
By Margaret Wiltshire

One of the luxuries of living in rural New Mexico is the wide open spaces. Even if you haven’t picked up 10 acres or more of our western desert landscape, we have plenty of parks and vistas to enjoy.
Now the mornings are cooler and the afternoons are bearable. It is time to get things done for the winter months ahead. It is time to harvest and prepare for the cold that will come.
It is a great time to be, to think, and make changes. It is a great time to spend outside with family and friends.
One problem with New Year’s resolutions is that this tradition falls on the day that it does. One way or another, we have just gotten through the holidays. More then anything, many of us just want to hibernate on New Year’s Day.
Hibernation is a good resolution for January 1.
Till then, there is much to be done. As any good bear knows, now is the time to do it.
With school starting, families have an opportunity to set new and better schedules. What routines work for the family now, which ones don’t?
Successful organizations usually have mission statements. Gather the family around the table, include everyone, and make a mission statement. Let everyone set reasonable goals for themselves and the family.
Done with love and respect, this is a great way to learn more about each member of the family. Does each family member have a place to rest, relax and play? A place and time to learn new things. Each family member needs space to be.
Does someone whine or bully; and who plays judge? Families with one of these conditions, usually have all of these conditions. These are often the conditions of fear. The fears can be current or past, long past.
They can mean professional help is needed but sometimes they just need to be noticed. Noticed without blame, without tags, without role assignments. These conditions could mean some family members are not trusting that they have any space to be. Respect is a great place to be, for children and adults.
We often make the short cut “assumption” about one another. Assumptions usually only “short” cut truth. We grow, we change, we weather storms. Just as each year’s harvest varies, we are different then we were. Remaining the same isn’t stability, it’s dead, inanimate and a very vulnerable space to be in.
We want our children to grow, to develop. Most of us want to continue to grow and develop, learn new and better skills and generally “get more” out of life. It surprises me to see children and adults get so upset about the changes in people and in situations.
“Change is the only constant.” Originally attributed to Heracles, a strong man indeed. If change is a subject that interests, troubles or excites you, you may enjoy an on-line search about what others have said about it.
Albert Einstein had much more to offer the world then math and scientific theory. This is what he had to say about change: “The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Now we harvest all the good and all the bad of our past; we prepare to survive our future. The winter hibernation is a good time to grow, to learn, to change.
If you care about the world you live in check out (six degrees) and It’s your nest.

The opinions stated here are not necessarily those of the Mountain Mail.

OPINION: Giving The Big Guys The Small Business

Leftish Drivel
By Paul Krza

In the Wyoming coal mining town where my grandparents and parents lived and where I grew up, my mother often related a story about my grandfather, a blacksmith. One day, he was helping out at the Nash garage service station where a woman stopped to have her car’s oil checked. After that, and in his characteristic thick Slovenian accent, he then asked her, “How’s your gas, lady?” Good question, but in Slovene, “g” is pronounced like an “h,” which is what the “lady” heard, which gave a whole new meaning to the question.
We all laughed, and I still do, when I re-tell the story. But besides the joke, what else stuck in my mind as a child was that my mother also mentioned that my grandfather was part-owner of the garage. Part owner? Gosh, I thought, that’s cool. All I knew about as a kid was that my father worked for somebody else, as a coal miner, for the only company in town, the great big Union Pacific. But to own, even part of, a business? Now that was impressive.
Turns out, as I learned later, that my grandfather, an 1890s-immigrant, was an enterprising guy. Not only did he own his blacksmith shop, he also had interests in the garage and a saloon. He was a small businessman.
Yep, with emphasis on “small.” That’s the kind of endeavor where one sees the rewards up close and personal. Folks know the hard work and just plain sweat that goes into the enterprise and are willing to pay for what they get out of it. The enterprise usually also means employment for a few other persons.
As opposed to “big.” That’s where I get worried about direct connections to people and quality of service or products delivered by a bulky organization. Even more uneasy when the behemoth controls such things like electricity, oil, drugs … or health care. Should someone be making a profit, a startlingly huge one at that, from commodities that have a shared public interest?
Let’s take electricity, for example. A lucrative business, even with the recession. Oh, sure, PNM of New Mexico isn’t doing as well these days, but it wasn’t long ago the company was wheeling and dealing, buying other companies, selling surplus power and racking up big profits.
Or oil. Aside from sticker-shock pricing at the pumps, let’s also point out that the (mostly) mammoth, multinational corporations who control the flow are in the U.S. sucking out a product that can’t be renewed, largely under public (translation: owned by you and me) lands. Now, after smash-and-grabbing our collective wallets, they have trotted out actors posing as regular people to say, gee, this is really a bad time to raise taxes on oil companies.
Here in the enchanted lands, you may have seen full-page newspaper ads or TV spots run by an industry group called “Energy Advances New Mexico” pushing their anti-tax message. Their website pumps the same message: Oil and gas taxes pay for our schools, highways and other stuff.
First, they should be paying taxes, just like you and me. Secondly, they have rightfully been assessed for something we own and dwindles away, what is called a severance tax. These are legitimate levies, and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or somehow beholden to the oil guys for them. And if this is a bad time to raise the taxes even higher, when is the good time? Ever seen these folks run ads saying that things are flush, and we should be paying more? Yeah, right.
And when it comes to our health, you can of course count on the big insurance companies to put us first, ahead of profits, correct? That seems to be message pushed by folks who oppose President Obama’s laudable efforts to “reform” health care delivery – that it will lead to socialized medicine, government control, blah, blah, blah.
In reality, it’s the great big health corporations that put somebody between you and your doctor, not the government. And where’s all that money going we pay for insurance? Here’s an example: United Healthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, pays its CEO about $100,000 a minute! No moms or pops in this operation, just folks getting wealthy and healthy on our backs. Oh – and if you really have some serious health concerns, well, no thanks, we’re not interested in insuring you, they say.
Ditto on drug conglomerates. Doesn’t take many trips to the pharmacy to learn that medicines don’t come cheap.
So how to level the health-care playing field? With that government option, that’s how. Perhaps the big guys are afraid of competition. Holy cow! Will the world end or just get better if folks find that the best deal is with the government company? Let’s find out. And, at least, everyone will get some kind of coverage.
As for small business, this is all really good news. Legitimate smaller enterprises will have an option for their employees. And, of course, if more people have access to health insurance, we are all better off in the long run.
My grandfather never did parlay his enterprises into a chain of blacksmith shops, service stations or saloons. As I recall, he was mostly just a really nice guy who loved what he did.
Oh, another thing. Many years later, I uncovered some materials when the local Slovenian lodge was being dismantled. Turned out that my grandfather’s brother and other assorted relatives all belonged to something called the “South Slavic Socialist Organization.” Side-by-side, free enterprise and collective ideas thrived back in Wyoming. We have, as they say, nothing to fear about this health-care reform except – fear, itself.

Paul Krza is a former longtime reporter and editor turned freelance writer, alive and well and living in Socorro. His opinions do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail

OPINION: Obama More Elusive Than Our Last Prez

The Right Side
By Rick Coddington

As the headlines are showing, Obama’s popularity is falling with the rising awakening of the voters to the dangers of his healthcare reform and with the staggering deficit.
Suddenly, and maybe because of the plummet, Obama is focusing more and more on getting Republicans to sign on to his disastrous plans.
Why? If his plans are good ideas as he still claims, and since he has the majority position in both houses, why does he give a hoot about Republicans? Wouldn’t it make more sense to press through with his great ideas without the Republicans so he would then be able to point out that he is the great hero in all this? For sure that’s what I would do.
Since all these programs are about getting reelected anyway, if I had a plan that was going to truly benefit the people I would count on the fact that I had 3½ years left of my term to make it work and that the people would eventually end up loving me for my genius healthcare reform once they see that it was not all the evil things that it had seemed to be.
Obama is going in the exact opposite direction! Surely, that’s not because he knows how bad his plan is and that he will need to be able to blame the outcome on it being a “bi-partisan” debacle once the real effects become undeniable. Right now, Obama is still able to deny whatever he wants because we are still in the position of being denied the truth of our predicament.
After all, no matter how bad the “potential” bills are they are not passed yet. So we are just facing potential healthcare rationing. Just “potential” mandatory counseling to encourage old folks to end their lives prematurely as cheaply as possible. And payments for abortion is just potential until everything is finalized. Then it’ll be too late to do anything about any of this!
We are in a very frustrating position here and it’s no surprise so many people are upset over all this. As Obama so arrogantly puts it “wee-weed about it.” Once again he just can’t understand our concerns.
You know, Mr. O, it’s really very simple, life and death are important to us. We have learned that government absolutely does not have out interests in mind. We have also learned that, particularly from you, Mr. O, that all the so-called change is not coming forth.
The main thing that has changed is the speed with which these bad ideas are coming at us. That’s why we are not sleeping well and why we are screaming our heads off at your little love sessions that you laughingly call town meetings. That’s why you are seeing the rise of the radicals packing guns and pictures of you with a Hitler moustache Mr. O. It’s because your smoke and mirrors dealings have left us wishing for the good old days of Bush when he was just outright secretive.
He was brutish enough in his methods that we at least understood him. You, Mr. O, you are just far too slippery. When the public opinion turns against you, you just tell us there must be something wrong with us. When your minions host a public town hall meeting and turn it into a love fest by refusing admission to people that don’t agree with you or by keeping the important questions from being asked by requiring that everything be submitted in writing and then only bringing out the feel-good questions from your supporters … you are out-Bushing Bush.
Your made a big deal out of pledging to create “an unprecedented level of openness in Government” and “establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.” Where did all that stuff go? Let me tell you how you can put all this to bed, oh fearless leader.
As soon as you get back from your little vacation, open up for public viewing the controversial sections of the healthcare reform bills. If you don’t know where they are you can go back three of my columns and read the page numbers. Being truly open and transparent will allow you to end the distrust and silence the protestors.
If the dangerous provisions are not really there, then we can all apologize to you. You can regain your approval rating and keep at least your transparency promise, all in one stroke. How about it Mr. President? Are you for real or are we all fearing you with good reason?

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

Magdalena Marshal's Blotter

The following items were taken from reports at the Magdalena Marshal’s office.

Aug. 13
Am officer was called at 9:45 a.m. to Magdalena High School where it was reported that six cameras were stolen from the Art Room sometime during the summer. After several interviews were conducted a suspect was located and five of the six cameras were recovered. A juvenile report has been turned over to Juvenile Probation and Parole for charges which included a felony.
Aug. 14
An officer received a report at 4:45 p.m. of a vehicle weaving on the roadway between Socorro and Magdalena. The officer pulled over the vehicle after seeing the vehicle driven by a male subject and found a second female driver had no driver’s license. The driver pointed out the passenger, her husband was driving and he was too drunk. The passenger was arrested for DWI third offense and blew a .14 blood alcohol content level.
Aug. 16
An officer arrested a female on Spruce Street on a Probation/Parole violation pickup order from Albuquerque. She was transported to the Socorro County Detention Center.
Aug. 18
An officer took a report at 10:35 a.m. of a stolen license plate from Alamo. The report was turned into Socorro MVD.
Aug. 19
An officer pulled a vehicle over at 9:10 p.m. for speeding and spinning tires on the streets of Magdalena. The driver was cited and arrested on an outstanding arrest warrant from Socorro Magistrate Court.
Aug. 20
An officer was called at 6:57 p.m. to Trail’s End Market for a two vehicle accident. A report was taken.
Aug. 21
An officer stopped a truck at 7 p.m. after seeing the driver fall out of the driver’s door and then get back in and drive away She was arrested and a blood test was obtained.
Aug. 22
An officer stopped a vehicle at 4:10 pm. for weaving in traffic on First Street. The female driver was arrested for DWI and blew a .37 BAC level. She was taken to Socorro County Detention Center.
Aug. 23
• An officer was patrolling at 6:25 p.m. and spotted a female driver on a suspended/revoked license. She was arrested and charged with the crime. She is the mother of the female arrested for DWI on Aug. 22.
• An officer was called at 6:10 p.m. to the Eagle Nest RV Park where an argument between a juvenile and an adult male had occurred. The case is under investigation.
Aug. 24
• An officer was called at 1 p.m. to Winston’s Service Station where an intoxicated male subject was causing problems. He was arrested and charged.

Socorro Boys Lose To Taos 1-0 On Fluke Goal

By Polo C’ de Baca
For the Mountain Mail

It took a fluke for the Class 4A Taos Tigers to defeat the Socorro Warriors 1-0 in the first game for both teams. No one has claimed responsibility for the mystery goal and most everyone has a different version of what happened.
Socorro assistant soccer coach Kenny Gonzales said, “When they finally scored it was actually a fluke shot. It was amazing that it went in. It wasn’t even a shot and all of a sudden they called a goal. Head coach Chuck Ngo and I thought it went over the net. We found out from the kids is that it was actually a deflection off one of their players, it came off his shin, went up and had a downward spin and took a quick dip. The goalie didn’t even have a chance to react. It was just a big shock to all of us that it went in.”
Gonzales said that Taos has a good and fast team and he couldn’t take anything away from them but that the Socorro boys looked good. Socorro had a couple of shots on goal in the last five minutes of the game. Warrior Kenneth Urban got tripped inside the box, giving the Warriors a penalty kick. Avery Ngo was about to kick the ball and he got a cramp and didn’t send a full shot, which the goalie stipped.
“That was our biggest chance to score and tie up the game. We had two more shots on goal after that and their keeper was able to stop us,” Gonzales said.
Socorro’s first game was at Grants. After a 1-1 tie in regulation, Socorro won in a shootout. Alq Fuierer made the winning shot for Socorro.
“We’ve got a few things we have to work on the midfield and our defense,” Gonzales said. “I think we’re going to have a great season.”

Quemado News: Senior News, Rockhounding; School

By Debbie Leschner
Quemado Senior Center monthly trip to Gallup will be Wednesday, Sept 2. Please make your reservation with Diana two days in advance. Cost is $6 and leaves the center at 8 a.m. Center phone number is 773-4820. The Winners from the August pool tournaments are Steve Candelaria, Doug Chavez, Will Chavez, Erv Howerton, Chris Hostepler, Jerry Hudson, John Laude, Bergin Riddle and Ruben Serna. If you missed these, there will be two tournaments in September. Diana Simpson, Senior Center Site Manager, wishes to thank the community for their support of the Friday night dinner and entertainment fund raiser. It was a good dinner and program. The next fund raiser will be a bake sale at the Pie Town Festival on Saturday, Sept 12. Start looking for your favorite recipes to bake. More information next week.
The “Chaparral Rockhounds” of Roswell invite all Rockhounds of all ages to “Agate Rendezvous 2009,” an annual 10-day camp out at Apache Creek Campground from August 29 to September 7. There are daily field trips leaving the campground at 8:30 p.m. You do not have to camp out, just come for the day.
Fruit Boxes
There are Fresh Fruit Boxes for purchase. Janene Prudler is coordinating the Quemado deliveries. Each come in a 40 pound box. The following fruits are available – Nectarines $34, Gala Apples $27.50, Peaches $33 and Pears $28.50. The fruit is fresh from farms in Utah. Orders and money need to get to Janene by Thursday, September 3 with expected delivery of the fruit around September 11. If you have any questions, please call her at 773-4739. For mailing, address is HC 32 Box 705 Quemado, NM 87829
School In Session
Quemado-Datil School has started. There are some new faces on campus this year: Phyllis Klumker, is the new pre-school and special education teacher and returning this year is Agriculture teacher Jason Lamb. A free Breakfast is served in the classrooms but lunch prices have been increased this year to $2 for lunch and .40 cents for milk. The Free and Reduced Lunch Program is still available. Please call the school office to see is your child may qualify for the program.
Eagles Volleyball
Quemado School will have their first Junior Varsity and Varsity Volleyball game at home on Friday, Sept 4, at 4 pm. The Eagles will play Gallup Catholic. The school website lists activities and notices for the school year at
Country Store
The Country Store has a new face behind the counter. Stacy Lopatesky says she is “happy to be in Quemado with all the friendly people.” Stop in to meet and welcome Stacy. Meanwhile Grover Armstrong is busy getting equipment ready for hunting season. Don’t want to do your elk? Now you know were you can get it done.
Fire Season
Quemado Ranger Station is happy to report that currently there are no active fires on the Quemado Ranger District. Smoke in the area is from the Arizona fires and Reserve. For the 2009 fire season, we are up to 29 fires for the district. The last one was a 300 acre fire detected on 7/21/09 located 23 miles southwest of Quemado and just south of Fox Mountain Lookout. It had a low to moderate fire behavior. Welcome to some new employees for the QRD Fire program: Tim Rainey joins us from Springerville, Arizona, Apache / Sitgreaves National Forest as the Engine Captain. Tony Medran joins us from the Carson National Forest as the Engineer on one of the Engines. Thad Marcoe joins us from Wall, South Dakota, Nebraska National Forest as the District Assistant Fire Management Officer. Nathaniel Nozie joins us from Mesa, Arizona, Tonto National Forest as the District Fire Management Officer. For more information about current fire activity in our area you can call Nate at 773-4678 or visit the website at
When you stop in the Ranger station you will get to meet Ernestine Nozie. Ernestine is our new Information Receptionist. She came to us from the Window Rock Unified School District.

Note: Know of anything going on or a special event in a family or school, please let me know. Good news can’t be shared if it is unknown.
Call 773-4119 or email at mmquemado@


Rodeo Thanks; Fair Time; Chicken Fry; Raffle News

Luna News
By Kay Mindar

Two weeks ago I wrote about how Catron County officially got its name. My goal was to spark interest and I received friendly feedback and even more valuable information from some folks around here. Searching a little deeper; as my space here is very limited; I have found that the earlier history of this area includes the Mimbres culture. This being part of the Mogollon people that lived throughout this region where Catron County sits today.
They are historically noted for their beautiful art. It is later that we find Sergeant James C. Cooney being the first person to discover silver and gold ore in the area. He was reportedly killed by the Chiricahua Apaches in what has come to be known as the Alma Massacre which is was said to be led by the warrior and chief Victorio whom history shows began riding with Geronimo who had several hideouts in the county.
There are also accounts that Butch Cassidy and his wild bunch hid out at a ranch near Alma around the turn of the century. Another notorious and infamous outlaw Tom Ketchum was noted to have lived in Catron County. The latter history here is rich and is indicative of many places in the real Wild West complete with gunfights, shootouts, massacres, and gold mines. A deeper history research will take you far back to ancient Indian tribes and a time line that leads you eventually to the Spaniards and true early settlers of the area, which to this day is the largest county in New Mexico and larger than some of the eastern states in the U.S.
Thank You Luncheon
The annual “Thank You Luncheon” for everyone who helped with the Luna rodeo was held last Saturday afternoon at the arena. There were about 50 present and the rain held back long enough for all who worked so hard to socialize, relax and have a great time.
Fair Time
The Catron County Fair is this week in Reserve. Our 4-H and many talented community members have been working tirelessly to be prepared for the event. We will work to post the winners in the different events and exhibits from Luna as soon as they are available. We will recognize those who will go on to the state fair competitions. This Saturday there are two buyers clubs available to help the 4-H kids raise money by buying selected animals. Please contact Joyce Laney for more information.
Annual Chicken Fry
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Luna Ward annual chicken fry will be at 5 p.m. with cooking to begin at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, in the Church parking lot. All are welcomed and invited, please bring cut and defrosted chicken pieces and a side dish for a great meal and social. This will be Labor Day weekend and we welcome family and friends visiting to come and join the fun.
Luna Historical Society
The old Luna School and Church building is back to getting much needed improvements to the siding of the building and we appreciate the donations that have made the work going forward possible.
Luna Community Center
The Community Center board will elect officers at the 7 p.m. September 10 meeting. Meetings are held the second Thursday of each month and all are invited to attend. We appreciate the locals who put so much of their time and talents into keeping the building running smoothly and the County Managers for their help in maintenance and repair that keep our old building useable. There is a lot of history in that building from it being used as a school, to Forest Service offices, to hosting community, club and church events.
Community Yard Sale
September’s community center yard sale will run three days over Labor Day weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There will be more tables including bake sale items and produce as gardens are coming into season. Tables are still available for $3 each. Contact Diana Moyers for more information.
Lunatic Stitchers Raffle
The Lunatic Stitchers quilt raffle will be held after Labor Day. Tickets are still available from any of the stitchers. Proceeds are used for improvements each year for our community center and we appreciate the hard work and effort this group contributes.
Preparedness Corner
Due to the current economic demands orders for an added canning session on Friday, Oct. 2, will be taken through this Sunday. The next orders will be due by September 27 for canning sessions October 23 and 24 and for the last canning session of 2009 orders will be due by October 25 for December 4 and 5’s canning dates. Please contact Joyce Laney for more information.
Quote of the Week
“Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.”
– Oscar Wilde

Lady Steers Finish 2nd In Tourney

By Polo C’ de Baca
For the Mountain Mail
MAGDALENA – The Lady Steers volleyball team finished runners-up in the annual Magdalena Invitational Tourna-ment last weekend, falling to Cobre in the finals.
Socorro’s varsity won the consolation championship and the Socorro JV showed spunk after filling in for Alamo who opted out at the last minute.
Socorro will host Magdalena at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Magdalena played well against Gateway and Carrizozo but faltered against Cobre. Earlier in pool play against Cobre each team had a win.
In the first game of the finals Cobre led early but Magdalena closed the gap and trailed 19-17. Cobre went on a five-point run before Magdalena got possession and served into the net and Cobre won 25-18. The second game was the most competitive. The teams were tied 10-10 then Magdalena jumped ahead 15-10 then 21-13. Cobre rallied to win 26-24.
In the third game the teams were tied at 10 when Cobre scored 13 consecutive points to lead 23-10 and win 25-11.
The classy Lady Steers accepted the second place trophy with dignity. It was just one of those rare awful nights that will inspire and motivate the always resilient Lady Steers.
Nicole Hardy of Magdalena and Chantilly Gallegos of Socorro made the All-Tournament Team.
Socorro varsity coach Marleen Greenwood spoke enthusiastically about the JV team.
Greenwood said that the varsity’s loss to Cobre in the first round was probably due to fatigue. She said she claimed responsibility for the loss because she’d failed to get her girls in shape.
“They just couldn’t jump toward the end of that match so I’ve got to do a better job in practice of getting them in game shape,” Greenwood said.

State Completes Mine Reclamation in Carthage, East of San Antonio

Mountain Mail reports
The State of New Mexico recently completed reclamation projects at three abandoned historic coal mining areas – the Carthage mining area in Socorro County, and Sugarite and Yankee Canyons in Colfax County near Raton. The Mining and Minerals Division employs grant money from the U.S. Department of the Interior to address threats to public safety and the environment from abandoned mines. These projects were undertaken to reduce erosion from coal mine waste piles and to protect water quality in surface streams.
At Carthage, ten miles east of San Antonio, New Mexico, Runyan Construction of Silver City seeded over sixteen acres at several coal mine waste piles using a drum imprinter, which is pulled behind a tractor to make impressions in the soil that hold precipitation and help seeds get started in arid conditions. Seven underground coal mines produced coal in the area through 1967, providing coal for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, the Albuquerque school system and local markets. Soldiers from Fort Craig first mined coal in the Carthage area in 1856.

Sylvia Attacked By Gold Fever While Dispensing Frontier Justice

By Anne Sullivan

I was watching an afternoon episode of “Law and Order,” one I hadn’t seen before, when my attention was seized by a tremendous commotion outside the house. Sylvia was barking like the world was coming to an end. Recognizing that this was an important bark, I ran outside but Sylvia was nowhere to be seen.
“Sylvia, Sylvia, where are you?” I called loudly and frantically.
I could hear her frenzied barks which seemed to come from the back porch, which was unusual as I was unable to figure out how she could have gotten in there since all doors were locked. Nevertheless, I ran up the back porch steps but was stopped by RingWorm who pointed toward the front of the house. There I was able to pinpoint the noise and hear, but not see, Sylvia who was somehow under the back porch. She was hidden by the wooden siding around the bottom of the porch.
“Take that, you rapscallion,” she was yelling. “I know what you’re after. You can’t fool me. No squirrel is going to steal our gold.”
I could hear desperate squeaks from the offending squirrel. Since I don’t speak Squirrel, I could only surmise it was denying everything and pleading for its life.
Both RingWorm and Gordo watched with concern as I bounded into the house and returned with a hammer. After some nail removal I was able to pry enough edge of the siding away so I could see Sylvia, who totally ignored me as she went at what I guessed was the hapless squirrel.
The following epithets and threats came between violent shakes: “Listen, you dirty rat, there’s a place for vermin like you. I said all along that the Lost Adams Diggings was here under our house. This is our claim. I recognize you in spite of the mask you’re wearing. You’re one of our string of squirrels that pull the wagon. You’re nothing but a traitor and a spy. And you know what happens to spies. Take that, you dirty squirrel.”
“Sylvia,” I called into the dark underground, “that’s no way for a lady to talk.”
Sylvia paid no attention to me. Her eyes were on the squeaking squirrel. “You’ll regret the day you fooled with me (thump). We gave you a job and this is the way you repay us (thump).”
The thumps were accompanied by piercing squeaks from the what must now be repentant squirrel.
Unattracted as I am by any form of vermin, I was still forced to holler, “Sylvia, cease. Desist.”
Sylvia continued with her dirty work.
“Sylvia, you’re an absolute beast,” I called through the siding.
“You bet,” she paused long enough to say. “I’m protecting our home. This is our gold. It belongs to us.” With that, she gave the wretched squirrel another thorough shake. “I’ll Gotch Ear you, you unspeakable rotten rodent. Is that how you demonstrate loyalty to your employers? We gave you nuts to feather your nest with and now this!”
“Sylvia,” I asked, “where did you get the nuts? It’s too early to gather them.”
“Uh uh…you remember those nuts you had in the cold room?”
“Do you mean the walnuts I store in there for my brownies?”
“Well…uh…I guess that could be them…I guess.”
“I guess you’re in real trouble for not asking me if you could use my walnuts.”
“Aw, gee whiz, it’s for a very important cause. We’re not going to keep all of the gold. Some of it is going for household expenses.”
“That’s very sweet of you. However…”
During this exchange the squirrel, who I have to say looked pretty sneaky, had slowly backed away from Sylvia and was headed for an exit.
Sylvia finally noticed. “Get back here you filthy four-flusher and take your punishment like a man…er…squirrel.”
“Sylvia, it isn’t like you to behave like this. Whatever’s come over you? Come over here and let me feel your forehead. I want to see if you have a fever.”
“A fever!” she shouted. “Of course I have a fever. I have gold fever!” She began to sing as she dug at a huge rock that was probably holding up the house, “Gold fever. I’ve got gold fever. Gold fever’s coming over me.”
I must say the sound was horrible.
Unlike some of these columns, this one is absolutely true. It really happened. Spooky, isn’t it?

Lady Warriors Take Home Title

By Polo C’ de Baca
For the Mountain Mail
SOCORRO – The Lady Warriors finally had their day and their way with the Class 5A Alamogordo Tigers defeating them for the first time ever in the finals of the Socorro Cup Tournament 3-2 on Saturday. Socorro led at the half 2-0 and went ahead 3-0 with just over 10 minutes left in the game. The Tigers threatened in the final minutes scoring two goals.
The Socorro girls will be tested next at the Roswell Goddard Invitational Tournament in Roswell. Socorro will be the only Class 3A participant at the Cielo Grande Soccer Complex in Roswell. They will play Class 5A Carlsbad on Friday. On Saturday they’re slated to play Class 4A Roswell. Goddard, Silver City and Clovis are among the other teams.
“The reason we play these tougher teams in big tournaments is to prepare us for district and for state play,” Socorro coach Mitch Carrejo said. “We rise to the occasion every time.”
All three of Socorro’s goals in the championship game with Alamogordo were scored by freshman Dezirae Armijo. Credit for the assist on the first goal goes to Amanda Saenz. A pass from Jennell Lopez set Armijo up for the second goal. Katy Welch got the assist on the third goal.
“The girls just came up and played hard aggressive soccer,” Carrejo said. “We’ve been practicing our passing and it worked. They’ve really committed themselves this year.”
Alamogordo defeated Bloom-field 6-0 in the first round of the Socorro Cup. Then they beat Belen 5-1 in the semifinals. Belen had defeated Hatch in the first round. In first round play Grants defeated Valencia 3-1 and Socorro shut out Monte del Sol 8-0. Socorro then defeated Grants 4-1.
“I really feel good for the girls. They deserve it, they’ve worked so hard, Carrejo said. “I’ve had the group of seniors for four years. So it’s nice to see the seniors winning our tournament.”
This is the first time that Alamogordo has lost at this tournament. The last time they played in the tournament they won it three times in a row.
“Playing against Alamogordo is fun,” Socorro goalkeeper Mileva Gacanich said. “It’s a little challenging, but it’s fun.”
“The last year they won it they broke my daughter’s nose,” Carrejo said. “So I guess I can say this is payback for that. I talked to her this morning and she said, ‘Beat Alamogordo. They broke my nose.’ So I’ve got to call her and tell her we got payback.”
Carrejo said that the Lady Warriors played as a team and would not credit any one player. He said that they all played awesome. Armijo capitalized on the timely passes she got by being in position to score. The Lady Warrior defense held. It was a total team effort. Alamogordo raised Socorro’s anxiety level when they made a run and scored two goals scored in the last minutes of the game. Carrejo attributed the let-down to fatigue. The Lady Warriors had played three games in just under 24 hours.
“They’re hurting a little bit,” Carrejo said. “We’ve been going hard. We’ve had maybe six days off since we started our three-on-threes.”
Gacanich is a junior and this is her third year playing keeper on the varsity.
“It means a lot (to beat Alamogordo),” Gacanich said. “This is the first time we’ve beat them and it’s really cool. I felt a little jumpy in the last couple of minutes but that was about it. We were getting tired.”

Fisher Fire Burns 407 Acres Near Magdalena

By John Larson
MAGDALENA - The smoke seen on the horizon west of Magdalena last week was from the Fisher Fire, located about 35 miles southwest of the Village in the San Mateo Mountains.
The fire was detected on Aug. 8 and by Saturday, Aug. 22 increased to 407 acres in size.
The fire, burning primarily in Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, 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.
District Fire Management Officer Gabriel Holguin said the Forest Service’s strategy is to let fires burn, depending on the location.
“The Fisher fire was scheduled for prescribed burn next spring, so instead of trying to just put it out, we let it burn,” Holguin said. “Forests have to have fire to function properly. The Fisher Fire burned out all the stuff – the hazardous fuels - that’s accumulated over the years.”
He said management of the Fisher Fire will result in habitat improvement and will stimulate grass and forage product.
“So far, it’s done nothing but good,” Holguin said.
Forest Service officials said the 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. It will continue to be monitored and patrolled.

September Skies Full Of Surprises

By Jon Spargo
Tech Astronomy Club
Jupiter, just past opposition, will provide us with a very unique opportunity on the night of September 2-3 here in North America. Between the hours of 10:43 pm and 12:29 am MDT all four of Jupiter’s Galilean moons will be invisible! This is because they will either be in front of or behind the giant planet. Io and Callisto will be behind Jupiter while Europa and Ganymede will pass in front. This is the last time this will happen until 2019!
The phrase that best describes Saturn’s appearance this month is going, going gone! Barely 5 degrees above the western horizon at the beginning of the month, Saturn will be tough to find in the glare of sunset. If you have a good sized telescope and get lucky you may be able see the rings edge on as the Earth crosses the ring plane on the 4th. This is the first time this has happened since 1996 and the last time until 2025. Try finding Saturn about 15 minutes after sunset.
Mercury will be about 13 degrees to the left of Saturn at about the same elevation above the horizon. Both Mercury and Saturn will be visible for the first few days of the month. Both are heading for conjunction with the Sun and will next appear in the morning sky.
Nothing much changes for Mars as it will rise around midnight. During the course of the month its brightness will increase slightly from magnitude +1.0 to +0.8. Mars can be found in the constellation Gemini and will approach the bright star Pollux by the end of the month. Venus, blazing away at magnitude -3.9, rises about 3 hours before sunrise. On the 20th it will be only ½ degree north of the bright star Regulus in the constellation of Leo the Lion.
Many times it is difficult to estimate just how close or far objects are from each other or from the horizon. There is an easy and useful trick you can use to determine the angular distances involved. Make a fist and hold it at arms length in front of your eyes. The width of your fist at that distance will equal about 5 degrees. This works for everybody because it turns out that the ratio of the size of the fist to the length of the arm is about the same for all people, regardless of size.
The Moon will be full on the 4th, last quarter on the 11th, new on the 18th and 1st quarter on the 26th. On September 2nd the Moon will be slightly above and to the left of Jupiter. This position of the Moon will be almost exactly repeated on the night of the 29th. In the early morning hours of the13th a waning crescent Moon will be about 4 degrees above Mars and on the 16th about 4 degrees to the right of Venus.
The Sun will reach the Autumnal Equinox at 3:15 on September the 22nd signaling the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere. Folks below the equator get to welcome spring.