Thursday, December 3, 2009

OPINION: Sylvia Writes Santa A Disturbing Letter Concerning Mice

By Anne Sullivan

“That’s interesting,” Sylvia said during Channel 4’s late evening broadcast.
“What?” I asked, slightly befuddled after waking from a catnap in my comfortable chair.
“Santa Claus is accepting mail again,” Sylvia informed me.
“I didn’t know that Santa wasn’t accepting mail. After all, that’s his job,” I said. “Kids write to him asking for Christmas presents and, if they’ve been good, Santa brings them what they want on Christmas Eve. That is, if their requests are reasonable and have been properly processed with the correct postage.”
“I think Santa wants mail,” Sylvia reasoned out loud, “and the objection seems to have something to do with the Postal Service and the Privacy Act. Do you suppose the Postal Service went Postal?”
“No, no,” I said. “The Postal Service didn’t go Postal. There are so many rules and considerations these days, it’s a wonder we get any mail at all. They have so much more to worry about and be accountable for now than there was years ago that it’s hard for any organization to function. We should just be glad they came to their senses,” I explained before asking, “Are you planning to write Santa?”
“I’m not sure,” she said, making the first turn of three in her bed. “There’s nothing I can think of to ask for other than that old staple – world peace.” After another two turns she asked, “What about you? Are you going to write Santa? And what do you want this Christmas?”
“I haven’t given it much thought. It’s not really a matter of what I want this year. It’s more what I don’t want.”
“What I want more than anything is a mouseless house.”
Sylvia’s brown eyes opened wide. “Can Santa do that?”
“It would be worth trying. Are you game to write him?”
“Why me?”
“You’re a lot younger than I am.”
“Not in dog years. We’re about even. However, I’ll write him. My handwriting is more like a child’s than yours,” Sylvia offered as she rose from her bed. “Get me pen and paper, please.”
After I had done so she settled on her stomach in front of the TV. Chewing the pen, she soon became lost in heavy THOUGHT.
“A penny, Sylvia,” I asked.
She spoke slowly, “Santa is supposed to be a very kind person, isn’t he?”
“Then he wouldn’t want to do anything unkind like poisoning the mice or sending them out into the cold, would he? And I have to state that it’s very cold here in Swingle Canyon. It’s barely 11 degrees now and it’s still only November.”
“And your point is?”
“If we get the mice out of the house we should offer them alternative housing at a price they can afford.”
“Which is nothing. There’s a shortage of jobs for mice here in Datil.”
“It is Christmas,” Sylvia pointed out. “We can’t expect Santa to do it all. After all, he is getting on in years.”
“Well,” said I, somewhat irritated, “what do you suggest?”
“I shall put my thinking cap on,” Sylvia said with great dignity, “ and give you an answer in fifteen minutes.”
Expecting nothing, I started to read the Arts section of the paper, but fell asleep instead.
A jubilant Sylvia woke me. “I have it!” she shouted. “We must build a mouse house. We’ll call it the Moushelter.” Her paws waved in excitement. “It will be somewhere safe for the mice, where they can go to school and get medical care without fear of sticky traps or DeCon or Coca-cola.”
“Coca-cola?” I echoed.
“Yes. Didn’t you know? They love it. They drink the fizzy stuff, go outside and it explodes their stomachs.”
“Oh, dear. Merry Mouse Christmas. And how do you plan to raise money for the moushelter?”
“That’s another column,” Sylvia said, sinking down to sleep again.

Socorro will host powerful Lovington for the championship.

By John Severance

SOCORRO – It does not get any bigger than this.
And no matter what happens on Saturday, the memories will last a lifetime.
The Socorro football team is on the threshold of playing for its first state championship since 1977 when it hosts Lovington at 1 p.m. at Eddie Castaneda Field at Warrior Stadium.
Back in 1977, the Warriors shocked the New Mexico high school football world by making it to the finals and upending Academy 12-7.
On Saturday, they hope to do it again but they have an even more daunting task.
Lovington comes to town having won 15 Class AAA state titles and there are rumors that its most famous alum Chicago Bears all-pro linebacker Brian Urlacher might be in attendance. Urlacher’s attendance, though, could not be confirmed at press time. Lovington coach Jaime Quinones said he had not heard if Urlacher would be attending but Socorro coach Damien Ocampo said he heard the Bears linebacker would be in attendance.
Lovington enters the game with a 10-2 record and has not given up a point in two playoff games.
They beat Hatch Valley 49-0 in the quarterfinals and Albuquerque Academy 31-0 in the semifinals.
“They are really good,” Ocampo said.
“They have no weak points and they have more depth than anybody else in 3A. The school is twice our size and not only are we an underdog on the field but we are as a program as well. They have all the facilities. These guys practice football all year round and we don’t have anything like that.”
Quinones said the Wildcats have picked the right time to gel as a team.
“We have been playing very well,” Quinones told the Mountain Mail Tuesday night. “Since district, our offense, defense and special teams have clicked and hopefully we can do it one more week.
“We have a balanced attack and the biggest threat is that we are deep. Our quarterback Jameson has five or six quality receivers to throw to. You just can’t stop one of our receivers because all of them can get the job done.”
And what does Quinones expect from Socorro?
“Offensively, they come out in multiple sets and they make you defend the whole field,” Quinones said. “They are going to run the football. They have some big offensive linemen. Coach Ocampo does a great job. We have our work cut out for us.
“Defensively, they bring the heat and the offensive line has to pick up where the pressure is coming from to give our quarterback time to throw.”
The Wildcats started the season 2-2 and have reeled off eight straight victories. The two teams, though, do not have any similar opponents.
Socorro enters the final with a 9-3 record and on a five-game winning streak. The key for the Warriors has been defense especially the past two weeks when they got past Las Vegas-Robertson 7-3 and Raton 21-17 last week in the state semifinals.
“The defense played hard and tough and finished it,” David Chavez said after the Warriors beat Raton last week. “The second half, we came out hard. The state championship game will be a tough one but I think we’re going to do good. We will have a good week of practice and we will play hard and go all out.”
The other good news for the Warriors is that they are playing at home for the third straight week.
Lovington, meanwhile, will make the 250 mile or so trip from the Texas state line to Socorro and will have solid backing as well. Lovington’s stadium, which was financed by Urlacher, holds 6,000 and the Wildcat faithful are known to travel well.
Ocampo, meanwhile, relishes the underdog role.
“We are going to work hard and give them all they can handle.,” Ocampo said. “By no means are our kids going to lay down. The community will be behind us.
“They (Lovington) expect to come down and kick the tail out of us. And all of their fans expect to wipe the field with us. Our kids are going to go out and battle. As a coach, you know that your kids will play hard for you and that’s a great feeling as a coach.
“Our guys already have made history and I expect nothing but the best out of them. I am excited for the opportunity to play these guys.”

Photo: Socorro football players take a break from film study Monday in preparation for their state title clash against Lovington.
Nicky Romero contributed to this story.


Episcopal Church Looks Into Renting Magdalena Building

By John Severance

SOCORRO – Father Woody Peabody, the pastor at Epiphany Episcopal Church, addressed the Socorro County Commission Tuesday, Nov. 24, wondering about the status of 202 Spruce Building in Magdalena as a place of worship.
County manager Delilah Walsh said the building currently is vacant and it had been used by road crews and commissioner Philip Anaya said it was the old senior center.
Vice chair Daniel Monette said Walsh would look into it.
“We have to go through a realtor and assess the real-market value and come up with a rent,” Monette said.
Peabody said this week they are going to pursue renting the facility. “We will take a look at it and see if it is affordable,” Peabody said.
About 12 to 16 people worship with Peabody on the third Sunday of each month at the Presbyterian Community Church.
“The building used to be an Episcopal Church back in the 1950s or so,” Peabody said. “They said they would get back to us in about 30 days but with the holidays, I don’t expect to hear back until the first of the year. We will have a meeting and work it out by the hour. And if we grow, we can buy more time.”
Two days before Thanksgiving and with chair Rosie Tripp not in attendance, the commission approved a number of items but also tabled a few as well.
The board approved:
•Keith Banks as a Land Use Commissioner and Walsh pointed out there still is another opening on the board.
•A project 10-AL-165-095, which is an agreement between NMDOT and the Socorro County Sheriff’s Office. The grant is used to pay for DUI checkpoints and police saturation in the area. “It’s the same grant we apply for every year and it is just time to renew,” sheriff Philip Montoya told the commissioners.
• Approved a sick leave buyout, a telecommuting policy, a telephonic participation by commissioners and a travel policy for county employees.
•Approved a rental agreement with Wagner Equipment Company in which the county will pay $1,800 per month for new motor graders.
The county also tabled:
•A consideration of a special senior performance of Merry-Achi Christmas.
•Discussion of changes to the public nuisance ordinance.
•A agreement with the Socorro Electric Co-op, which dealt with a fiber line project.

Socorro Teen Receives Kidney From Her Mom

By Gary Jaramillo
(First of a two-part series)

SOCORRO -- I recently visited with the Crespin family –Mom and Dad – Shanon and Jenny, and children –Janessa, Nicole and Joseph at their home on Melody Loop. The purpose of my visit was to talk with all of them about the catastrophe that had visited their home in a very silent way. Luckily it didn’t turn deadly. It all happened in a matter of months and changed their way of life forever.
As I walked in the home and was greeted by the Crespin family, everything seemed normal. It was like any other family home after a long day of work, school and daily living. The television was on and everyone was going about their lives as usual. I couldn’t pick up any signs that this family had been through the terrible ordeal I had heard about. All the kids looked fine and the parents seemed calm and in relaxed moods. Everyone was smiling and very pleasant. I was invited in and we all sat at the dining room table.
I was introduced to Janessa Crespin, 17, and a junior at Socorro High School who had unknowingly began her private nightmare some two years prior to the day in January of this year when her world fell apart. She never felt bad or complained to her parents about any illness or physical problems at all. She’d go to school, go to baseball practice and games, walk in the front door, drop her gym bag and fall to sleep immediately on the sofa, many times until the next morning.
Mom and Dad thought what every parent thinks when a kid who goes to school all day and then competes in athletics and comes home and crashes, she’s just bushed. Soon enough, Shanon and Jenny noticed that Janessa wasn’t looking the same and they begin to ask themselves questions.
Janessa has asthma, maybe that’s it? It wasn’t unusual for her to get a little sick during the change of seasons with her asthma so they thought that was it for sure. The usual flu possibilities came up and every other thing parents try to think of when their child is not looking well. They decided because she really wasn’t complaining much that after Christmas they would take her in to see their family doctor and maybe have some blood tests done.
What mom and dad didn’t know was that their daughter’s kidneys were in end stage renal failure and in fact already had all but disappeared, and the reality was that Janessa’s kidneys were virtually gone.
The first results from blood tests taken at the family doctor’s office after the holidays said that she was anemic and she was prescribed Iron pills. Mom and Dad were happy that they had probably found out what was wrong and felt great relief that it wasn’t something more serious. There were still some results that they were waiting on, but it seemed everything would be fine. Mom and Dad said it felt like they had dodged a bullet and they could relax a little bit after the first news from the doctor’s office.
As I sat at the dining room table with the family and we began to get further into their story, I could see the emotions begin to build in their eyes and some nervousness in their hand gestures and body movements. I begin to feel terrible for asking them to relive the worst moments, hours and months of their lives for me. I knew it would get worse as we continued but I think we all knew that their story had to be told and it would help so many families in Socorro to understand that they are not alone in their daily trials and family hardships when they are faced with serious medical and emotional issues. People may feel alone, but really aren’t. This story will show that giving up is never an option.
Two days later, the Crespins received a call from the doctor’s office and were told to rush Janessa to the emergency room because she was suffering from complete kidney failure.
End Stage Kidney Disease is the medical term. Janessa was immediately flown to the University of New Mexico Medical Center in Albuquerque. The freefall for the Crespins had started, and at breakneck speed. Shanon and Jenny were expected to remember things from their daughters past as little as dates of sore throats, earaches, colds and every little tiny thing that Janessa had ever gone through from the time she was born. History suddenly became so important because doctors were trying to understand why this was happening to Janessa.
A biopsy would help determine why this had
happened but there was nothing left of her kidneys to perform the procedure. Janessa’s kidneys had turned to nothing but small strips of scar tissue. Her body now filled with toxins was pushing anything it could out through the pores in her skin so that it could keep itself alive. Janessa’s body had not been filtering or cleaning anything that she had been taking in for a very long time and doctors were absolutely amazed that she was still living.
As I looked at Janessa’s mom and began to ask her what else they noticed about Janessa before finding out about her illness, she stopped as tears rolled down her cheeks and she said with a kind of gasp, “she was gray.”
Dialysis began immediately but Janessa had to wait almost three months before being placed on the transplant list. The doctors had to get her healthy enough to qualify for a transplant. There also were psychological qualifications that Janessa had to get through as well. Part of transplant criteria is that patients must be able to handle the mental stress of going through such a serious life-changing procedure. After getting somewhat physically better, she was allowed to be placed on the list, and that brought some comfort to Janessa and the family.
Amazingly, Janessa was able to come home after one week in the hospital. She felt much better and also now knew the difference between what she thought was normal and what a healthy normal physical body really felt like. She traveled to UNM Hospital for hemo-dialysis three times a week for 6 weeks. Each session was 3 ½ hours long.
The Crespins told me that there are far more children waiting for kidney transplants than anyone in New Mexico would think. Children as young as nine years old are having daily dialysis in order to stay alive and as many as seven were taking dialysis treatments with Janessa on every visit. That’s where I had to stop for a minute and take a deep breath. It’s so very sad. Some childhoods are not as trouble free and happy as others. I began to think of the kids in my family and all of the wonderful children in Socorro and how very lucky most of us are when it comes to taking our children’s daily good health for granted.
Mom and Dad were trained while Janessa’s treatments were going on so they could give Janessa her dialysis at home after hemo-dialysis was completed. Meantime, Janessa’s brother Joseph, who was living in California and serving in the Navy, had decided that he wanted to give his little sister one of his kidneys. Joseph was not a match because Janessa had a reaction to his blood. Dad couldn’t test because of high blood pressure. They were now down to mom being tested and younger sister Nicole was just too small to have a chance of helping big sister. Mom knew she and Janessa had the same blood type but wasn’t sure about all the rest.
It took the whole summer of testing, matching, meetings, doctor visits, driving to Albuquerque many times a week and then finally after their UNM group of doctors had painstakingly gone through every small detail, the word came that Mom would be donating her kidney to her daughter. The Crespins were now waiting and living the daily inner rollercoaster ride of mixed emotional feelings. Joy, that mom could do this for Janessa, uncertainty that mom’s kidney would work, hope that both would pull through the dual surgeries with no problems, and faith that God would somehow take care of what seemed to be the impossible situation their family still faced.
Everything they could ask for, so far, was in place. What came next would challenge everything they had always believed in, and their families’ love, faith, hope and closeness would be pushed to limits in the months to come.

Photo: The Crespin family sits in their dining room in their Socorro home. From left to right are father Shanon, daughter Janessa, daughter Nicole, mother Jenny and son Joseph.

Part 2 next week


Community Dinner

The Thanksgiving Eve community lunch Nov. 25 was enjoyed by scores of Socorro veterans, as well as those in the general public. Volunteers at the Disabled American Veterans chapter prepared and served generous plates of turkey, ham, and all the fixings to hungry residents. Cadets in the Civil Air Patrol volunteered their time to tend to the many diners and bus tables.

New Mexico Tech Enrollment Up For 2010 Fall Semester

By Thom Guengerich, New Mexikco Tech

New Mexico Tech is seeing an increase in student enrollment for the 2010 fall semester.
At the regular meeting of the Tech Board of Regents Nov. 17, it was announced that applications, accepted applications and paid applications are all at record-setting levels for November.
According to a press release, of the 708 applicants as of last week, 51 students have already paid their application fee. That figure is more than double the 20 paid applicants on the same date last year.
Admission Office Director Mike Koeppel said university recruiters attend college fairs across the West, and in online college fairs, in addition to recruiting within the state.
President Dan Lopez said the university has a pending agreement with Yangtze University in China that would see 30 new students in Socorro. Tech officials made a recruiting trip to India a couple years ago, and already has a significant number of graduate students from India, Lopez said.
In other business:
• Lopez said the state legislature cut the “instruction and general” budget by four percent and cut the special projects budget by 6.5 percent. He said the university-initiated budget cuts made at the beginning of the fiscal year should be sufficient to accommodate the state cuts mandated during the October special session. Lopez also said he’s struggling to get legislative staffers to understand that many of Tech’s “special projects” are truly part of the academic arm, like the Petroleum Recovery Research Center, the Bureau of Geology and the Geophysical Research Center. “They teach just as much as they do research,” Lopez said. “It’s crazy for the state not to recognize that some special projects are closely linked to the research and teaching mission.”
• Lopez said the state Legislative Finance Committee has preliminarily recommended $15 million for a new Bureau of Geology building, while the executive branch recommended $17 million for the same project. “I’m going to get Peter Scholle a building one way or another,” Lopez said about the Bureau director, sitting across the table. “I think we’ll be able to build that building.”
• Vice President of Finance Lonnie Marquez, who also serves as chairman of the Emergency Response Team, reported that the campus clinic has not seen a dramatic increase in swine flu cases in November. During the previous week, about 20 students reported flu-like symptoms, with several of them isolated their dorms.
• John Meason, director of the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center reported that the division is in the black. Meason also reported that EMRTC is finalizing a contract with a private company to conduct testing of unmanned aerial systems at the Playas Research and Training Center. Already, the company has brought in two new customers, Meason said. “We are working with them to develop contracts for which we will earn fees to support their research area,” he said. “Things are looking good in respect to Playas.” The research center in Hidalgo County still needs a larger airstrip and Meason said he has enlisted the assistance of the New Mexico Congressional delegation to engage neighboring landowners in negotiations. Playas would need more than 4,000 acres to expand the runway.

OPINION: Pablo Pedro Hidalgo

Pablo Pedro Hidalgo, 24, passed away on Monday, November 30, 2009 at home in Polvadera. Pablo was born on November 19,1985 in Socorro to Raymond, "Monch" and Alicia (Padilla) Hidalgo.

He is survived by his Parents, Raymond,"Monch" and Alicia Hidalgo of Polvadera; Brothers, Jesus Hidalgo and Wife Darci Deschamp of Las Cruces, NM; Jaime Hidalgo and Wife Michelle Castillo of Polvadera; Nephews, Adrian Hidalgo; Damian Hidalgo; Nieces, Lianna Carrillo; and Audri Carrillo. Pablo is preceded in death by his Grandparents, Isabel and Esther Padilla; and Ramon and Virginia Hidalgo.

A Visitation was held at Steadman-Hall Funeral Home in Socorro on Friday, December 4, 2009, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Arrangements were under the care of Steadman-Hall Funeral Home.

OBITUARY: Eustaquio G. Saavedra

Eustaquio G. Saavedra, 87, passed away on Monday, November 30, 2009 in Socorro. Eustaquio was born on May 13, 1922 to Sixto Saavedra Sr. and Leanore Gonzales, in Luis Lopez.
He is survived by his Wife,Priscilla Maria (Gonzales) Saavedra of Socorro; Sons, Joe Daniel Saavedra; and Edward L. Saavedra and Wife, Patty, all of Socorro; Brother, Sixto Saavedra Jr. of Albuquerque, NM; Sister, Gertrude Rivera of Santa Fe, NM; and Grandchildren, Zach Saavedra and Wife, Melissa; Amaiah Saavedra; Kiahna Reyes; and Marcos Reyes.
Eustaquio served in the US Army and worked at and retired from Socorro General Hospital as a Maintenance Boiler Operator.
He is preceded in death by Brothers, Teodoro Saavedra; Juan Saavedra; Sisters, Catalina Gonzales; Andreita Saavedra; Altagracia Garcia; Cristella Gonzales; and Julianita Romero. A Rosary was recited on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 8:30 am at San Miguel Catholic Church in Socorro, with A Mass Of Ressurection immediately following. Father Andy Pavlak as Celebrant.
Burial took place in the San Miguel Catholic Cemetery in Socorro. Pallbearers were Sigfred Rivera, Ted Saavedra, Joe Saavedra, Amaiah Saavedra, Zach Saavedra, and Felix Saavedra,
Arrangements were under the care of Steadman-Hall Funeral Home.

LETTER: Farm Bureau Has Local Voice

To The Editor:
Remember when Steve Pearce's office ran monthly pieces in the Defensor Chieftain and other small New Mexico newpapers and included in them, word-for-word national propaganda from Heritage Foundation, a Republican think tank? (There was an AP news report regarding Pearce's plagiarism at that time.)
Similarly, the Defensor Chieftain now publishes the National Farm Bureau's pieces, believing correctly that agricultural news is of interest to small ranching communities like ours.
However, you can't really call those articles news--nor are they even opinion--because they are the product of a large, national organization--even though the author purported to be a farm girl herself (disingenuously). That makes them propaganda.
In the most recent one of Nov. 14, the author says that "Buying local is trendy and that's great, but we owe some respect to the farm families who raise the staples, as well. We should all be thankful that somewhere on the high plains and rolling hills that may be thousands of miles from our homes, a farmer is working — probably late into the evening — against the odds presented by uncooperative weather, markets and governments — raising the grains, oilseeds, meats, dairy products and fruits and vegetables that round out our abundant and diverse food takes a whole country to put a meal on the table."
That doesn't gel with what I've been hearing everywhere about the takeover of the medium-sized farmer by mega-agribusiness. There's also the fact that those guys use petroleum fertilizer to feed plants rather than re-building the topsoil. So we might need them right now, but it's not sustainable.
Jan Deininger

Letter: Co-op Board Does Have Quite a Gig

To The Editor:
First of all, welcome to Socorro Co. and thanks to the Mountain Mail for fair and balanced news. I too have only attended one SEC meeting, and to see the "trustees" act the way they do with the blessing of their attorney was one too many meetings. Yes they do have quite a gig.
But all of this will come to an end. If their attorney wants to leave, please do so. I understand that would save member-owners 100K a year? If she leaves now she might not lose her license.
The "trustees" that recently lost should be men and leave now, believe me they will do restitution. The other three "trustees" that retained their positions last year should resign as well, because the more they pay themselves now will only add to the total they will have to pay back later.
Mr. Wagner whenever executive session is voted on, leave the meeting in protest with the "HELPER" you will receive soon. Have a good holiday season, enjoy it, it will be your last in "power".
James Padilla,
San Antonio,NM - Tucson, AZ.

OPINION: Monk Would Not Have Been Content In Magdalena

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

Long before Monk had started to compulsively straighten framed pictures on the walls, I had laid the foundation for a very useful tool: “The Anal Factor.” It started out as a simple question: “just how much care does this project require?” At the time, I was working for several scenic shops in Orlando, Fla. We worked on projects for the Disney and Universal theme parks and on scenery for the many convention centers. The Account Executives needed a no-nonsense, straight-forward method to sell jobs to these clients with a feeling for just how “refined” the finished project should be.
The scale ranged from 1 to 10, “one” being “slap-and-dash” and “ten” being “polished-to-an-excruciating-level.” Scenery which would be seen for only a few minutes and from “forty-feet-under-the-lights” could range from a “2" to a “6".
Universal Studios required a “7" or “8" for their theme parks, while the Disney Art Directors would not be content unless the final project had been polished to a “9" or “10". It was generally understood that a “ten” project would never be good enough to leave the shop. We would resign ourselves to long nights of sanding, gallons of “Bondo” and very tight sphincters.
It’s unfortunate indeed that we still mix Freud’s diagnosis of a compulsive disorder with a method of determining the “care-needed” to undertake a project. This is not to say that all of those who aspire to “perfection” are necessarily suffering from “tight sphincters”. I have witnessed many an artist who can deliver that perfect highlight or a perfect blending of color with confidence, ease and even a sense of humor.
Here in Magdalena, a “4" or a “5" will suffice just fine. It’s not that we “don’t care” or that some of us have “given up” on perfection but with floors that slope and uneven adobe walls, a “7" or “8" just looks out of place. With floors and ceilings that converge like subtle optical fun-houses, art on the walls has to split the difference. Monk would not be content in Magdalena.
All of this came back to me recently after being inundated with Big Pharmaceutical ads that have to rate a “10" in the ad agency circles.
Big, full color, carefully orchestrated, glossy ads are followed on the next page by the mind boggling, micro-print disclaimers that I presume absolve the company should a fatal reaction occur. The 60 second (or longer) spots on TV are even slicker (and much more expensive).
The gentle, concerned, almost whispering voice tells you that you can be in perfect health or live almost forever and have the correct mental outlook if you would just take their brand of drugs. The whispering voice then mentions the serious side effects that may occur (like uncontrollable muscle spasms, convulsions or even death) but would most certainly be outweighed by the benefits.
It’s been estimated by some (but who can tell for sure) that the Big Pharmaceutical companies spend about $60 billion a year on advertising, lobbying and doctor “incentive” programs in the US. That’s just about how much we spend on public education in the US for our children. It makes me want to just run out and ask my doctor if Lipitor, Viagra, Pristiq, Levitra, and Advair are right for me.
The last big Healthcare “fix” was Medicare Part D. The Big Pharmaceutical companies have thereby tapped into $724 Billion in revenues between 2006 & 2015.
I for one, refuse to send $15 a month to the Drug Company of my choice. I hope we do better with our healthcare “fix” this time around.
On “meds” or not, everyone in Magdalena is perfect, just the way they are. I’d give them all a “10".
As always, if you have any Comments? Problems? Solutions? Up coming Events? Trudy’s Killer? Contact me at or (575) 854-3370.

EDITORIAL: For Socorro, A Chance Of a Lifetime Saturday

By John Severance, Editor

No matter what happens Saturday, the Socorro football team should stand tall.
The Warriors, who have endured a slew of injuries, have captured the imagination of the city and they are 48 minutes away from winning the school’s first football state championship since 1977.
Socorro has done it with defense, an opportunistic offense and with the help of a hometown crowd.
Socorro’s run to the state title brought back some high school memories of my own.
I did not play football. I was way TOO skinny. I’m not now but this was close to 30 years ago.
Not surprisingly, I was the editor of the high school newspaper. We had a lot more drama to deal with than Socorro does.
Our newspaper uncovered that the football coach illegally placed a tape recorder in a rival locker room. He was subsequently fired. He apparently thought our rival high school was going to try and cheap shot some of our best players so I guess his intentions were good.
Near the end of the season, one of the teams that beat West Springfield High School had to forfeit all of its games because of an illegal player. And with the added win, West Springfield gained a spot in the playoffs.
Nobody expected the Spartans to do anything. Yet, we made it all the way to the state finals after three very exciting playoff games.
Reality hit in the finals, though, as Hampton (from southern Virginia) came to town. We played them tough but we lost something like 14-6.
Most people thought we would lose by five touchdowns.
Anyway, Socorro already has exceeded the expectations of everybody. With its hometown support and its toughness that has been instilled by coach Damien Ocampo, the Warriors can compete with anybody.
And hopefully Socorro has a little more magic left in the tank.
No matter what happens, it should make for a spectacular Saturday.

OPINION: How Can We Evaluate The Federal Health Plan?

By Doug May

This week started the debate in the Senate on the more than 2,000 page proposed federal health care plan. We are free citizens and have the right to voice our opinions to our senators and our fellow citizens. But how can we possibly understand and evaluate this massive plan?
Fortunately, we have newspapers, think tanks, news magazines, Internet, radio and TV from which we can learn some of the things in this legislation. As Americans, we have good standards by which to judge the federal health care plan. In the Declaration of Independence it states: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…
Will the proposed health plan pass the test when judged by our national standards?
Life is the first and most basic right. Does legislation that considers abortion as a medical procedure to be funded by our government pass the test? It is obvious that the fertilized egg is the first stage of human life. It contains all the genetic materials that person will ever receive. An abortion destroys that human life. Our government should secure that right to everyone. Liberty is the second basic right. Liberty is defined as: freedom or release from slavery, imprisonment, captivity, or any other form of arbitrary control/
Does legislation that mandates that every person must have health insurance past the test? There are so many mandates in this legislation. Doctors and other medical workers will be required to perform procedures against their conscious. The whole spirit of this legislation is government control. It is social engineering on a grand scale. Look at the people who are

Hispano Scholarship Drawing

Hispano Chamber President Tony Jaramillo and member Patrick Tafoya join high school students Samuel Boykin, Rebecca Martinez and Danielle Monette for the annual Scholarship Drawing of raffle ticket prizes. All money raised will be given in College Scholarships at the end of the year to Socorro High Students.

LETTER: Question For Motel Owners

To the Editor:
Why do you Socorro hotel/motel owners allow this “First Responder” situation to exist?
Which Socorro government employee (the Mayor?) is responsible for distributing the “economic boost” this town received?
Let’s hope Mr. Torres and the other hotel/motel owners in Socorro will turn this situation around.
Congratulations to Mountain Mail for continuing with the benefits of having a free press.
PS. What a nice Christmas parade.

Cynthia V. Kropp

OPINION: Priming State’s Revenue Pump

Leftist Drivel
by Paul Krza

It’s an old story at the gas pump, when price bumps up. Big Oil says a hurricane threatens Gulf of Mexico production, there’s an uprising in Nigeria or a fire at a Texas refinery. Overnight, it’s a dime or more and then up, up, up as the days go on. But when prices drop, it’s only by a measly couple cents.
Over the years, smart folks assigned to the task have come up with nothing even after long investigations as to why we get hit so hard at the pump. Even Sen. Tom Udall, back when he was attorney general, couldn’t pinpoint why gasoline prices spike big time.
My own theory – and I’m sure I’m not alone on this – is simple: Greed. Stick it to us hapless citizens for as long as they can, squeezing until we scream and probes start. Then back off, and wait for another opportunity to empty our wallets.
Why not, I was thinking the other day, take this same nickel-and-dime strategy and use it to our benefit? To help offset our looming state government deficit, let’s just squeeze a few more dollars out of the oil and gas industry, slowly but surely.
Oh, yeah, I’ve heard what passes for the New Mexico Republi-can Party these days – those wacky callers on Right-wing Radio in the Duke City – and their deficit “solutions”: Cut, cut government “waste,” get rid of free-spending Bill Richardson and corrupt Democrats and shut down the Railrunner.
For starters, I also think it’s smart to make “government” run more efficiently, and it’s time to rein in excessive, high-dollar, top-level public job salaries. But even with judicious trimming, the need for more bucks is clear, especially for schools, where, despite what you hear, we really haven’t thrown that much money at ‘em. Talk to any teacher (and there’s a lot out there doing great jobs) and you will immediately see they need be paid more, much more.
So where to get the dollars? The Gov has appointed a “revenue task force” to come up with ideas, which if you’ve been reading, have been mostly more “sin” taxes or even, gasp, making us once again pay taxes on food.
Whoa, I say. Instead, look at the big revenue elephant in the room: Oil and, maybe, gas, and even coal. Shhhh. You can hear the predictable screams already. “Now is not the time to raise taxes on the oil and gas industry,” goes the line we’ve been seeing in big full-page newspaper ads. (When ever is a good time, one might ask?)
Actually, a good chunk of the money we’ve raised and saved over the years comes from our resources (and the emphasis is on the word, “our,” meaning that most oil, gas and other minerals lie underneath state or federal public lands). This stuff is “severed,” never to be replaced, so we charge a “severance” tax, and royalties, on it to get our share of the action and to compensate us for the loss.
Now, thanks to earlier good legislative sense, we have billions tucked away (maybe around $10 billion) in what’s called “permanent funds,” part of which we use to build stuff we need (detractors call it “pork”) and also help pay for government operations. In fact, we can (and should) use some of this money now – it’s like when you or I get pinched for bucks and keep less in savings. We can postpone some projects, divert more of the incoming mineral revenue for operations and yes, dip a bit into the savings, even if it requires a constitutional amendment. That’ll help ends meet.
But we will still need more revenue, and that’s where my hit-‘em-with-a-nickel-or-a-dime proposal comes in. A slight hike will go a long ways, I figure. They won’t even notice, or if they scream, well, it’s just like us little folk at the pump.
Of course, they will scream. They already have. Just the other Sunday, NM oil and gas company officials were complaining about “tougher” regulations on their messy drilling practices. The compliant Albuquerque Journal bought the line, with the front-page headline, “Losing Our Golden Egg.” Industry didn’t even have to buy an ad.
And, yes, you will hear the wail of a legion of well-paid lobbyists along with a high-bucks media blitz warning that drilling will evaporate in New Mexico. Look at everything “our” money has paid for, they will say, forgetting that it’s not their money but our rightful tax revenue.
Oh, also, is it all surprising that the chairman of the state Republican Party is Roswell oil tycoon Harvey Yates ?
No, responsible oil and gas companies won’t shut down. Oil is going for $78 a barrel now. In June, Hobbs-area oil honchos were saying $70-$75 oil would revive the industry. I say let’s get in on the ground floor, with maybe even an escalating tax hike as prices inevitably improve.
Sure, oil and gas is already taxed in New Mexico, but when it comes down to hitting us with food taxes or squeezing a bit more out of our minerals, I’d say the choice is clear.
Paul Krza is a frequent contributor to the Mountain Mail but his views do not necessairly reflect those of the newspaper.

‘Sweet’ Win For Socorro’s Warriors

By Nicky Romero

SOCORRO – Raton had a Division I quarterback and was supposed to have too much firepower for Socorro. Raton was supposed to have too much speed for Socorro. And Raton was supposed to cruise into the state finals against the powerful Lovington Wildcats.
The Warriors, though, had other ideas.
Socorro depended on its usual stalwart defense and got some points from an improving offense that added up to a 21-17 victory against Raton Saturday, Nov. 28 at Warrior Stadium.
"Offensively, we got a little better from last week to this week,” Socorro coach Damien Ocampo said after the game. “We've got to continue improving and hopefully give Lovington everything we've got.
“The win is sweet, real sweet. The only coach to coach a state championship game in Socorro was Coach Eddie Castaneda in 1977. He was one of my coaches in high school when I first moved here. It's real special. I know Naomi and Edie (Coach Castaneda's wife and daughter) were at the game. It's real special to be in the championship game again. He's one of the people I really looked up to. He was special.”
And it was an extremely special day for the Warriors.
The Warriors will look to win their second state title in school history Saturday, Dec. 5 when they meet Lovington, which has won 15 Class AAA state championships in its rich history.
And the other good news for the Warriors is that they will get to play at home in the final football game of the year in the state of New Mexico.
“Socorro came out and just played better than we did,” Raton coach Brock Walton said. “They had a better scheme, their boys just played harder, and just wanted it more. We had a terrific year, but Coach Ocampo put together a great scheme today. He just shut us down to 17 points -- the fewest we've scored this year by a long ways. We just could never get on track.”
The key for Socorro was that it got off to a fast start.
And it was the defense that got the Warriors on the scoreboard first.
Socorro’s Zach Esquivel picked off Raton quarterback Dustin Walton, who stands at 6-feet-4 and weighs 219 pounds, and scampered 25 yards for the score with 5:03 remaining. in the first quarter. Zach Binger tacked on the extra point for a 7-0 lead. The key to the play was that Socorro’s Cesar Espino pressured Walton right before he threw the ball.
On the ensuing kickoff, Socorro’s Ray Vaiza made the hit on a Raton ball carrier, who fumbled. Socorro’s James Thorton recovered the ball on the 48.
Socorro’s offense went nowhere on three straight plays and Vaiza lined up to punt. Vaiza took the snap and threw a 29-yard pass to Maiga Ibrahim for a first down at the Raton 20.
Esquivel, though, gave the ball back to Raton when he threw a pass that was intercepted by Philip Mendez. Raton drove the ball down to the Socorro 19 on long passes from Walton to Mendez. Facing a fourth down and 15 at the Socorro 19, Walton passed for 10 yards and Socorro took over on downs.
The Warriors immediately took advantage. Jose Alvarado ran the ball 15 yards to the 25 and on the very next play he scooted 62 yards down to the Raton 18. Thorton picked up another first down with an 11-yard run. Esquivel did the rest and scored his second touchdown of the game with just over nine minutes left in the second quarter.
Raton’s offense got untracked and it cut the margin to 14-7 when Walton handed off to wide receiver Derrick Valdez, who threw a pass to a wide open Janti Abaza for a 37-yard touchdown with 7:56 left.
Raton got the ball back with 5:02 left and drove from its own 15 to the Socorro 11. Facing fourth and 10, the Tigers attempted a pass, but the Warriors were called for pass interference giving Raton an automatic first down. With 42 seconds left and the ball on the 2, running back Malachi Morphew scored to tie the game at 14-14.
Instead of running out the clock, Socorro opted to throw the ball and it proved costly. Esquivel was intercepted by Abaza. Raton settled for a 35-yard field goal by Abaza right before halftime for a 17-14 lead.
“They are very well coached and we knew if we let that quarterback have time to throw, it was going to be over quick,” Ocampo said. “So we had to pressure him and did what we could do."
Ocampo encouraged his players at halftime, telling them, "Keep playing hard and put pressure on them. We made a couple of adjustments that I think helped us in the second half. When you play hard for four quarters, good things happen."
And they did for the Warriors.
The Warriors took the second half kickoff and started at their own 26. Esquivel threw a 19 yard pass to Thorton, who then ran 13 yards on the next play. Alvarado carried for 16 yards to the 29.
Socorro seemingly stalled and it faced a fourth down and 12 at the 31. Esquivel went back to pass and could not find an open receiver. He scrambled and weaved his way through the Raton defenders for a 31-yard touchdown to give the Warriors a 21-17 lead after Binger’s third extra point split the uprights. “The defense stepped up real big,” Esquivel said. “They were up four and they said we’ve got to do this. And we did it.”
Socorro’s defense kept the pressure on Walton and Raton.
The Tigers began the fourth quarter with an 11-play drive as Walton threw passes for 25 and 23 yards to Silva. Using up almost five minutes, Raton faced a fourth down and 19 at the Warriors 27. The Warriors came up with another big defensive play as Walton was tackled behind the line of scrimmage by Matthew Lopez for a 4-yard loss.
Raton got the ball back with just over five minutes left. After two first downs, Walton handed the ball off to Morphew, who was hit by Esquivel causing a fumble. Sky Chadde pounced on the ball for the Warriors at the 45.
“Our defense today, they were incredible,” center Joe Carilli said. “I can’t say enough about them. We scored but it was them that kept Raton from scoring. Those guys are a big scoring team. We don’t win big but we win big games.”
Socorro’s offense then secured the victory. With four minutes left, Alvarado ran the ball two straight times and Socorro faced a third down and seven situation. Esquivel kept the ball for 12 yards and a first down. With Raton out of timeouts and just two minutes left on the clock, Ocampo instructed Esquivel to take a knee three straight times.
“We knew we had to run the clock a little bit,” Ocampo said. “We knew we had to run the ball. We were hoping we didn't have as many turnovers, but we also got a couple. They're just a really good football team. And when it comes to this point in time, everybody is good and you just can't make mistakes. And that's the bottom line.”

John Severance contributed to this story.

Publisher’s Note:
The Mountain Mail is proud to sponsor Warrior Playoff giveaways before each game and provide film study meals for the team this week. Alum Jonathan Jaramillo, a longtime Warrior Football supporter of Coach Ocampo and his teams throughout the years, sends his congratulations from New York and wishes everyone in Socorro an exciting and victorious championship day.


Get Ready For A Stampede In Magdalena This Weekend

By John Severance

Magdalena is hosting a Stampede from Thursday until Saturday.
But it’s on the basketball court.
The Magdalena girls will take on Alamo at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3. Other first round matchups include Menaul vs. Carrizzo, Hot Springs vs. Rio Rancho and Tularosa vs. Mountainair.
The Magdalena boys will take on the Alamo at 7:30 p.m. Other first round matchups include Menaul vs. Carizzo, Hot Springs vs. Mountainair and the Rio Rancho JV vs. Mascelero. The finals are scheduled for Saturday night
The Magdalena boys team is coming off a 17-10 record and 10-2 district mark.
“I’ve got a good group of boys and they have been in the system for a while,” Magdalena coach Jory Mirabal said. “We’ve won four out of the last five district championships, losing last year to Temple Baptist in the semifinals by two points in overtime. The boys want to win the district championship again this year and are focused on that.”
The Magdalena girls, meanwhile, finished 27-3 last year and a second-place finish at state.
“Expectations are always high in our girls basketball team,” Magdalena coach Wally Sanchez said. “They are expected to play hard and our fans expect us to play 94 feet both on offense and defense. That’s the only way to play basketball.”
Sanchez also outlined a number of goals for his team. “No. 1, we always want to win 20 games. No. 2, we want to be district champions. No. 3, We will go to state, We’re still looking for that blue trophy. We have seven seniors and five underclassmen on the team.
On the Magdalena boys roster: Reggie Peralto, Duster Apachito, Abie Pino, Arquis Nelson, Gene Leseberg, Ryan Alguire, Daniel Hand, Matthew Lopez, Quanshai Apachito, Dyron Apachito, Myreon Apachito, Kendall Apachito, Bryce Milligan and Miles Parscal.
On the Magdalena girls roster: Deanna Sue Apachito, Kameron Armstrong, Karly Chavez, Keanda Chavez, Nicole Hardy, Camille Mansell, Michaela Marquez, Jennifer Mati, DeShawna Monte, Leona Monte, Shannon Secatero and Merissa Tafoya

Road Trips Abound For Socorro Girls

By John Severance

SOCORRO -- You can call the Socorro girls basketball team the “Road Warriors.”
Their first 10 games are scheduled for the road and they will not play their first home game until Jan. 2 when they host Las Vegas-Robertson.
On Dec. 3, the Warriors travel to Las Vegas for the Brian Gallegos Invitational.
“The people in Socorro won’t see us until 2010. So we have 19 road games this year and seven home games,” said coach Joseph Garcia, who is entering his 20th season at Socorro. “ That’s a record. It breaks last year’s record of 16 road games which no teams – boys or girls – has ever done.
“Thank God, I have eight upperclassmen, because on the road with pressing, you’re going to get a lot of foul calls on the road so that worries me having to go on the road. It could be interesting,”
And with so many road games, that also makes for a tough schedule. Garcia said that will help as they get ready for district play down the road.
“Talk about a tough schedule, you look at our schedule and the tournament we go to and the teams we play,” Garcia said. “District teams will be better finally, for a change. Hopefuly, barring injury from key girls, we should be right there in the mix.”
Garcia said the Warriors return four starters from last year including seniors Brittany McDaniel, Tristen Peralta, Jaden Jones and Roxanne Silva. Garcia said Samantha Sedillo likely will be the fifth starter.
“The girls seem to be in as good a shape in a long time,” Garcia said. “A lot of them played volleyball, a lot of them played soccer so that helps out. Hopefully, we can do a little more pressing than we’ve done in the past. But since we are so small, we need to try to pick up the tempo a little up the court and in pressing.”
Socorro and Garcia also will be counting on Silva to have another stellar season. “Roxanne, regardless of class, is probably one of the best players in the state, because she can play inside and play the outside. She can dribble the ball. She’s a tough player.
“She’s on pace to break Audra Major’s record for career scoring, the rebounding record and the steal record. She’ll break three major records this year.”
Nicky Romero contributed to this story.

New Era For Socorro Boys Hoops

By Michael Olguin

SOCORRO --- Dawning a new coach, a new gymnasium floor and a new attitude, the Socorro Boys‘ Basketball team look to embark on a mission to reclaim the District 3-3A crown and clear the state quarterfinal hurdle that has plagued them the last few years.
Lawrence Baca will be at the helm this season as he makes the leap from seven years as the junior varsity coach to the head coach position.
“I am very excited about it,” Baca said about replacing one-year coach Hamilton Doyle. “Every coach dreams of getting to the next level.”
Baca explains that the transition will not be a difficult one since he has been a part of the Warrior program for seven years.
“I have been with the program the last seven years. I know the kids and the kids know me. That has made the transition a lot easier.”
Baca will be joined by Robert Mata who will be the junior varsity coach. Mata has also been with the Warrior program the past five seasons. Mark Sanchez will complete the coaching staff, taking over the C-Team.
The Warriors will have a solid group of seniors that Baca will count on to provide the leadership the team will need to compete against the rigorous schedule Socorro is faced with this season.
The senior group includes four year varsity member, Erik Garcia.
Garcia is looking forward to finishing off his high school career in a strong way with a strong team.
“It’s going to be a good team,” Garcia said. “Defense is key this year. I don’t think offense will be a problem. I am looking forward to this being a successful year while having a lot of fun.”
“I will be looking to Erik to take a leadership role. Erik has been on Varsity for four years so he will play a very important role on our team,” said Baca.
Also providing some key experience will be senior Kenneth DeCosta who saw a significant amount of varsity minutes last season. Avery Ngo, Sky Chadde, and Andrew Contreras round off the list of seniors.
Juniors Jared Marquez and Zach Esquivel should also give the Warriors some offensive firepower.
“Jared and Zach have a lot of experience as well and I will be expecting them to step up,” said Baca.
The Warriors’ frontcourt should have a solid presence with 6’3”, Sam Hale and 6’5”, Rio Chadde. Both Hale and Chadde are only sophomores but saw minutes last season on Varsity. Each of them showed their ability to compete at the Varsity level and could be a dangerous duo once they feel comfortable in the paint.
Last season, the Warriors were in fact the “road Warriors.” Socorro played well over half of their games on the road. This season the Warrior faithful will have an ample amount of time to enjoy their team at home with Socorro playing 13 games in the Warrior Dome. Socorro finished last season with a 15-14 record.
Baca is excited and optimistic about the upcoming schedule.
“There are a lot of big games this year,” said Baca. “We probably have one of the hardest schedules in 3A.”
Two notable home games will be against the Sandia Prep Sundevils and the Pojoaque Elks. Sandia Prep advanced to the 3A state semifinals last season before losing to eventual state champions Hope Christian. Pojoaque is also a 3A powerhouse, winning the State Championship two seasons ago. Socorro will host Pojoaque on Dec. 12.
Also on the schedule this season is a trip to St. Michael’s. The Horsemen made it as far as the state championship last season. Socorro narrowly lost to the Horsemen last year and this year could be just as exciting.
One more noteworthy game will be the first round of the Annual Ben Lujan Tournament in Pojoaque starting on Dec. 21. Socorro will go up against 4A powerhouse Los Alamos which boasts their 6’11” forward, Alex Kirk, who recently committed to play for the University of New Mexico Lobos.
“This schedule will definitely prepare us for the state playoffs,” said Baca.
The Warriors’ season will begin Monday, Dec. 7 as they host the Grants Pirates.

Police To Collect Toys From Cops To Tots For Christmas

By John Larson
SOCORRO - Socorro City Police are in the process of collecting toys and donations for its annual Toys From Cops To Tots program.
According to police Capt. Angel Garcia, there are many children in the area have benefitted from the yearly project.
“The reason we do this is simple – we want the underprivileged boys and girls of the community to have a little happier Christmas,” Garcia said.
He said the entire police force tries to get involved.
“Just before Christmas we take Santa Claus in the police van to the children’s homes,” he said. “The kids will then see Santa himself come to their door with a gift.”
Both individuals and local businesses are getting involved, Garcia said. “We will also accept monetary donations to purchase toys.”
“Right now we have a shortfall on toys,” he said. “We get with the people at CYFD for families that are most in need. We’re trying our best to supply all children with something nice.”
Garcia said they are in need of toys of all types and “all age groups.”
For more information or to make a donation, contact the Police Department at 835-1883.
All donations must be made by Dec. 20.
“We’ll get toys to the kids no matter where they are, and try to make this a happier Christmas for them,” Garcia said.

Socorro Art Stroll Will Light Up The Night On The Plaza

By John Larson

SOCORRO – The Plaza area will be lighted up by hundreds of well placed luminarias, this Friday, Dec. 4, for the Annual Socorro Art Stroll.
Organizer Joy Miler said the candles will be lit from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and businesses and shops in the vicinity will stay open, providing art, goodies and music for holiday shoppers.
Music and entertainment will be provided by the McTeggart Irish Dancers, Roon, Mary Templton and Shirley Coursey, Doug Figgs, and more.
Local artists displaying their latest works include:
Liz Alvarez, Shawn La Brier, and Linda Martinic, at Socorro Office Supply
Bobbi Jo Lesperance at Sundance Gifts
Paula Riley at Jessie’s Dress Shop (in the beauty salon area)
Karyn DeBont and Beverly Hansen at Socorro Insurance Mart
Olaf Heintz at Spoke ‘N Word
Leon Miler and Jill Domschot at Manzanares Street Coffeehouse
Burt Calkins at Gambles True Value
Maureen Wilks at Socorro Picture Framing
Other participating businesses include:
Casa de Regalos
Capitol Bar
Stage Door Grill
Curious Crow/Fullingim, Isenhour, Leard Galleries
Socorro High School students will be displaying their art and providing complimentary gift wrapping at the Chamber of Commerce.
Official lighting of the Christmas tree will be at 6 p.m. Santa will be on hand as well as young carolers from the Socorro Youth Program.
La Gran Pastorela
Celebrate the winter holiday at the El Camino Real International Heritage Center with a special presentation of La Gran Pastorela. This traditional New Mexico Christmas Play will begin at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 12.
La Gran Pastorela is a version of the shepherds’ plays performed in New Mexico for centuries in villages all along the Camino Real. The story and script has been passed on from generation to generation, and recounts the shepherds’ journey to Bethlehem as they encounter manifestations of evil that attempt to keep them from reaching their destination.
Presentation of the story had been a traditional part of the Christmas season in Socorro thanks to the efforts of the late Bobby Romero, who for many years took on the responsibility for producing the play featuring elementary school children.
This year’s play is performed in colonial Spanish by Los Pastores de Belén, a group of amateur actors who have been performing and keeping alive this traditional Christmas play for the past thirty-six years.
The City of Socorro will provide transportation for la Pastorela, departing from the Socorro Plaza at noon and returning at 3 p.m. Reserve your seat on the shuttle by calling 835-1501. Shuttle fee is $1 each way.
Admission to the center is $5 for adults, kids 15 and under are free. For more information call 854-3600.
Origami Workshop
Socorro County Arts will be holding a workshop on making origami gift boxes, Saturday, Dec. 12, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Alamo Mercantile and Gallery, 1008 N. California St.

Photo: Crews decorate the tree in the median in front of City Hall last Wednesday. The lighting of the community Christmas tree will be this Friday during for the Luminarias on the Plaza and Art Stroll. Pictured on the Fire Department ladder (from left): Matilde Acosta, and Mario Amaro.

Have A Very Merry Merry-Achi Christmas

By John Larson

SOCORRO – Rising talents Manuel Romero and Lorenzo Mendez are headlining this year’s Merry-Achi Christmas, Saturday, Dec. 12.
The annual Christmas celebration of music and dance, produced and presented by Les Torres, has consistently been a sell-out show at Macey Center since its inception in 2002.
“This year, we are trying some new things we hope the audience will like,” Torres said. “Lorenzo is coming back, of course, and a new face will be Manuel Romero, a young singing sensation from San Jose, California.”
Also appearing is local singing favorite Leanne Jojola of San Antonio, the Socorro High School Choir, under the direction of Elizabeth Suoranta, and the dance troupe from Albuquerque, Baila Baila Ballet Folklorico, returns by popular demand.
Providing the music is Mariachi Las Encantadoras del Rio Grande, from northern New Mexico. The nine member band is comprised of various musicians of varying degrees in music education.
“They’ve been playing together a year and a half, and have just released a CD,” Torres said. “They are an all female mariachi under the direction of Nick Branchal, who is an old pro and founded the first high school mariachi group in the state of New Mexico.”
The ensemble regularly plays shows in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos.
Torres said singer Manuel Romero, 19, is from the San Jose, Calif., area and is well on his way to stardom and fame.
“He sells out all his concerts and fans leave enchanted by Manuel’s voice,” Torres said. “He sings a wide range of musical styles, from mariachi and ballads in Spanish to classical Ave Maria and Christian contemporary as well as pop and romantic songs in English.”
Besides performing as a top 20 contestant on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” Romero has received the International Trebby Award for best popular album and song of the year for the self-titled album ‘Manuel Romero.’ A long-awaited religious CD, ‘Santa Maria.’ brings his album total to four. The new album includes a song that Manuel wrote with the help of his father as he has added songwriting, guitar, piano and drums to his list of talents.
Personal highlights of his young career was to sing for Pope John Paul II during one of the Pontiff’s visits to Mexico, and to sing both America’s and Mexico’s national anthems for President Vicente Fox.
While in Socorro, Manual Romero will perform at San Miguel Church, Sunday, Dec. 13 for the 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Mass, Torres said.
Lorenzo Mendez of El Paso has become a perennial favorite with Merry-Achi Christmas audiences.
“I've been singing since the age of three but on stage performing since the age of seven,” Mendez states in his bio. “At 16 years I won first place on the Univision show called ‘First Festival De Mariachi,’ recorded and aired internationally from Disney World. Because of that victory I was featured on ‘Don Francisco Presenta’. Two years later, at 18 years old, I decided to try out for another singing competition, ‘Gigantes Del Manana’ on the Sabado Gigante show.”
Since then, he has performed in hundreds of venues around the United States, and has three albums to his credit.
“We’re still working out some of the details, but I think this year’s Merry-Achi Christmas will be one of the best we’ve presented,” Torres said. “We have some great talent, and we’re working to make it a fun and memorable two and a half hours.”
To keep things moving along, Albuquerque radio personality Michelle Romero will handle the emcee duties.
Torres said a DVD of the show would be available one week later.
Admission is $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for children.
Tickets are available at Sofia’s, Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, and the Performing Arts Series office.

Photo: Manuel Romero