Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winds Wreak Havoc

By John Larson

SOCORRO – After a weekend of wintry weather, high winds were a cause of concern for many county residents, especially those traveling on Highway 60, which had to be shut down near Magdalena for over an hour Tuesday afternoon.
The closure was the result of diesel fuel leaking from the tank of a wrecked semi tractor trailer.
According to Magdalena Marshal Larry Cearley, two semis were blown off the road; one at mile marker 126, and the other at mile marker 119.
“The semi at 119 leaked 240 gallons of diesel fuel,” Cearley said. “The highway had to be closed until the hazmat operation had been completed. It was closed from about 3:40 to 5 p.m.”
Magdalena Fire Department assisted the state highway department in the cleanup.
Truck driver Dave Gibson from Boise, Idaho, said he was on his way to Tucson when he experienced the estimated 100 mph gusts on Highway 60. His father, Dale, was also in the cab of his ’92 Peterbilt tractor-trailer.
Gibson said he had slowed down to about 15 to 20 mph, and was nearing mile marker 119 when he saw another semi heading his way.
“I saw the truck coming, making pretty good speed. He had a tailwind behind him,” he said. “I told my Dad, ‘this guy is going to push us over’.”
As the other semi passed him, Gibson said his rig was caught in its draft.
“I saw the trailer in the rearview mirror going up, and I thought, ‘we’re going to wreck’, he said.
“Then we were airborne. It took us completely off the ground. I was seeing blue sky out the windshield.”
He said the whole rig was upright and was “sucked up vertically about 10 feet. Then it flipped over and slammed down. We hit hard.”
“Never in my 35 years of driving a truck have I seen it so windy,” Gibson said. “This is my first accident. My cab was totaled.”
He said the other trucker never stopped, but a family from Alamo stopped to help, and a trucker following him pulled over to lend assistance.
New Mexico State Police and the Socorro County Sheriff’s Department assisted Cearley with traffic control. Magdalena EMTs said neither of the two men accepted medical treatment.
“People need to be aware of conditions, and slow down in high wind areas,” Cearley said.
There were no injuries connected with the other blown-over semi, and it was towed from the area Wednesday morning.
Higher winds were recorded at other stations in the county.
Magdalena Ridge Observatory’s Eileen Ryan said sustained wind speeds at the 10,600 foot facility averaged about 100 mph over a seven hour period Monday night.
“The strongest gust was 128 miles per hour during that period,” Ryan said. “We had very, very intense conditions on the ridge. We’ve never had this level of sustained winds.”
She said the road to the MRO on South Baldy became impassable because of four foot drifts.
“Our crews couldn’t keep up with the drifting, and evacuated the road about mid morning (Tuesday), Ryan said.
Gale force winds wreaked havoc on the City of Socorro’s special events tent at the plaza, which was had not been taken down after being used for the Festival of the Cranes.
Local weather-watcher Bob Schwiegerath said his instruments recorded gusts as high as 65 miles an hour late Monday night in Socorro.
A 55 mile an hour gust was recorded Tuesday morning.
“The average wind speed in town was around 25 miles an hour Tuesday,” he said.
Schwiegerath added that total precipitation for the year so far was only about seven inches.
Jennifer Palucki at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said a strong surface low across the northeastern part of the state resulted in a “tight pressure gradient” which caused the higher than normal winds.
“We were seeing a very strong jet aloft on the order of 80 to 90 knots at 10,000 feet,” Palucki said. “That, combined with a strong surface low across northeastern New Mexico resulted in a tight pressure gradient, causing the high winds.”
Socorro Electrical Co-op Engineering Operations Manager Richard Lopez told the Mountain Mail the storm caused minor power outages in the county.
“We had a couple of ranches in the Bingham area that lost power, and a line at Stallion on White Sands,” Lopez said. “Near Water Canyon we had a power line down that affected 15 to 20 residences. Their power was off about five hours.”
“A transmission line that goes to Magdalena was hit with high winds that caused about three bumps on the line, which affected everything all the way to Arizona, but no complete outages,” he said.
Lopez attributed the minor outages, in light of the high winds, to good preventative maintenance by the crews of Line Superintendent David Montoya.
“Two of our crews were even requested to help out Otero County last week to help them deal with their situation,” Lopez said.
In other parts of the state, Governor Bill Richardson declared Otero and Mora counties disaster areas Wednesday due to the effects of the storm.

Family Thankful For Best Gift Of All, Part 2

By Gary Jaramillo
(Continued from last week)

As time grew closer to surgery day, so grew the anxiety and intense mixed feelings in the Crespin family. Would it all be OK at the end of the day? Could he take his daughter and wife home with him after what will have been the hardest and most trying day of his life? Will he ever be able to talk with them again?
Daddy and husband - Shanon must become two distinct and different people in and of himself for two of the most important reasons to live, his daughter and his wife.
He must also continue to be that pillar of hope and strength for his youngest daughter Nicole and eldest child Joseph who are sitting in the sterile waiting room scared beyond words and living with their own frazzled internal emotions.
He must find a way somehow to be with both as they wheel them to separate operating rooms at the very same moment.
Something I just couldn’t imagine going through and surviving as we spoke. Faith and love do bring strength. How else do people get through such difficult times?
Shanon miraculously kept his wits about him through all of the turmoil sweeping through his mind. I didn’t ask Shanon to tell me what he said or did before they took his sweet little girl and beloved wife away on that morning, but I can imagine he gently placed his hand on each of their heads, kissed them both and bravely smiled and said to Janessa, “you’ll be just fine and momma will be fine”, and to his wife Jenny, “you’ll be fine, and our baby will be fine”, we’ll all be fine. See you in a little while. And I’m sure to both, “I love you”.
Shanon spent what seemed an eternal surgery time pacing and waiting for word from hospital staff. What made all of the Crespin’s family trials so much easier on that day and the months before were the wonderful people at the University of New Mexico Hospital. All of the Crespin’s agreed that without the hospital staff, doctors, nurses, techs and other UNMH employees adopting and treating them as their family, they would not have been able to cope with the flood of emotions, treatments, tests, trips and every other hard hit they had to endure along the way.
Finally, word. Momma, Jenny had made it through donor surgery just fine and finally came out to recovery where Shanon was able to visit with her, but he still hadn’t heard anything from Janessa’s surgical suite. He began asking how Janessa’s surgery was going and was sent to the Intensive Care Unit where nurses told him Janessa had been taken back to surgery because she was bleeding. Still another kick in the stomach for Shanon. How many more downs can come with the few ups so far, he thought. Shanon went from his feelings of elation on what was supposed to be the day where everything was finally normal again, or at least as close to normal as life had been in the past 10 months, to square one and worried sick once again about what the days final outcome would be.
After an excruciating wait the doctor finally came out and explained that Janessa had not been taken out of surgery and rushed back in, but she was still on the operating table when doctors noticed that a stitch from the main artery to the kidney had not sealed and they quickly re-stitched and saved the kidney and Janessa in the process.
Shanon’s emotional roller coaster began to move again as the doctor told him that re-stitching and saving the kidney and Janessa was the good news, but the bad news was that momma’s healthy new kidney wasn’t working and they could not tell him when it would begin to work.
It’s at this time in the story that Jenny suddenly stood up and walked around behind me to the kitchen to get me a glass of soda and ice. I knew she had to move and do something to keep all those feelings and raw emotions from exploding from within her again. We paused again as I thanked her and everyone took another deep breath and continued. What the family didn’t know was that I was working as hard as I ever had, to keep from breaking down myself.
To be truthful with the readers of this story, I was not looking forward to sitting again and writing the finish to the Crespin’s story. Honestly, just writing the words to this story that were given to me by the Crespin’s a couple of weeks ago is much harder than I thought it would be. I think it’s only natural that little pictures of my daughter, grandsons, nieces and nephews pop into my head as I hear Janessa’s story. Somehow that mechanism works the same on all of us. I think that’s why everyone in Socorro and the world, is so ready to help anyone of their neighbors when such a scary and unsure things happens to a friend just down the road. It’s about all of us and those we dearly love in these little towns and villages in Socorro and Catron counties, and all over this great big country. I think we all know we’re one street address away from something like this happening to us. It can be a tough place, this journey we call life.
It turns out, what happened was when the main artery had to be clamped off in order to fix the faulty stitch, Janessa’s new kidney was traumatized and perhaps even put into shock because blood flow had been stopped for some time during the repair procedure. The doctors called it “sleeping kidney” syndrome. Shanon was, once again, crushed.
After seeing Janessa and somehow getting through having to watch her lying asleep and back to square one in Intensive Care, Shanon had to dig deep to summon the courage and put on his “it’s going to be fine” face again while finding just the right words that would not totally devastate Jenny who was lying in recovery just across the way by herself. This was certainly no time for some funny little “I have some good news, and I’ve got some bad news” conversation. I didn’t ask Shanon and Jenny what was said, and I can’t imagine the deep sadness that engulfed them as they consoled each other at that moment.
Perhaps the hardest thing of all to deal with for the Crespins was when the doctors told them she was just as sick after her surgery as the first day she was flown in from Socorro months before. The doctors told mom and dad that Janessa’s youth would play a big part in her recovery. In the meantime, as Janessa fought her battle for life, momma was able to be released within a week and was sent home to continue her recovery.
As time went by, doubt began to rule the long, slow days. Although doctors assured the family that she would be fine, time began to work against their hope for a good outcome. The sleeping kidney refused to wake. With all of the weight of the world on Shanon and Jenny’s shoulders, they told me that they felt helpless and at the brink of losing all hope. So completely worn down physically, mentally and with virtually no sleep in weeks, the word finally came. The sleeping giant in their lives had awoken. The gift from a mother to her daughter was now beginning to clean and pump the lifeblood to every vital organ of Janessa’s starved body. Two weeks seemed an eternity for the family, but maybe now, just maybe the roller coaster would begin to slow and roll to a stop so the Crespin’s could finally step off and begin to walk through the rest of their lives together. Perhaps little sister Nicole could come home at night from Grandma’s and Grandpa’s and sleep in her own bed more often. Maybe now she could get back to being the good student at school again and concentrate on things like math, science and her friends. She knew things would change if big sister was finally well again. Big brother Joseph could finally get back to the path he had chosen in life without feeling terrible and afraid that he could possibly lose his little sister. The fight for all of those things, for the whole family, was now up to Janessa.
The days of Shanon going to work and trying to concentrate on his job and still know that his daughter lay in a bed 75 miles away fighting for her life could only be described as excruciating and heart wrenching. Shanon told of a time where he had to lock himself in a room at work to sit and cry. He had to have those moments alone to survive.
He could not show any signs of emotions or let his family down. Dad’s do that when times are toughest. Jenny and Shanon said that there is no way in the world they could have lived through this if not for the people in Socorro. When I asked them about what kind of help they received, tears welled up in their eyes and it was hard for either of them to speak. I had my answer. I’m 55 years old and I’ve witnessed a multitude of kind acts from this town when one of its neighbors is in need. It’s tradition here. And yes, the translation for the Socorro really and truly is “help”.
There is not a better place on the planet to live, nor are there kinder, gentler or more caring people in the world, than in Socorro, New Mexico. The Crespins told me that they still feel so bad because there is no way they can ever repay the kindness shown to them throughout their ordeal. Janessa said that she received visits, cards, posters and tons of love from students and friends at school. They are still stunned at the unconditional compassion their hometown so freely gave to them despite the seemingly insurmountable odds they faced each day.
Although Janessa’s new kidney began to steadily improve, she still had to endure two more dialysis treatments which worked as a kind of primer to help make the kidney grow stronger day by day. After weeks of continued care at UNMH, Janessa came home with her family to stay. Perhaps the most touching moment in my interview with the Crespin’s is when Janessa quietly said that she feels like she should somehow pay her mom back for her kidney, “I feel like I owe my mom something”. At that moment Jenny couldn’t speak and just nodded her head “no” as another tear rolled down her cheek. She just smiled at her little girl. I told Janessa that I thought her momma had already been paid in full, and she flashed that great big beautiful smile of hers.
Janessa has steadily improved since coming home and grows healthier with each passing day. She still takes up to 30 pills daily which includes rejection medicine. She takes the first half of them each morning and the other half exactly 12 hours later, for the rest of her life. It’s a very small price to pay for such a wonderful gift. Her mother is doing great as well. And dad? Well, he doesn’t have to say much. His eyes say everything as he gazes at his girls.
I was invited back to the Crespin home today because the family wanted to share some wonderful news with me and everyone in Socorro. They received a letter of release from the doctors, and Janessa can get back to conditioning and working out in order to play softball come springtime. With a slight grin, she told me in her shy, quiet voice that she would probably be playing volleyball too.
Mom and Dad said it’s a great feeling to see her bound through the front door, drop her gym bag, get cleaned up and disappear right back out that door to go meet friends in town and live the life of a normal teenage girl in a normal little town. She doesn’t have time for the kind of sleep that once ruled her world, and she certainly doesn’t have the time nor the interest to look back. She’s got her mom and dad, her big brother and little sister, and a big bright future that had been in doubt for too long. Vanessa enthusiastically told me that she is going to be a pediatric radiologist. How cool is that!
I asked her if I could take one more photo of her, and then asked if I could have another photo of the family in front of the family Christmas tree. I didn’t have to ask them to smile. Just before I took the photo, I noticed through the camera’s eye that there was not a single present upon the traditional floor covering underneath.
I tried to re-focus my camera and attention on the Crespin’s standing there in front of that beautifully decorated Christmas tree, but couldn’t help thinking how delicate the balance between life and death can be. Janessa made it while so many other children and adults run out of time because the perfect kidney is nowhere to be found. I guess all we can do is continue to tell our kids, family members, and friends too, that we love them – every day.
There is no reason why anyone should be embarrassed to say I love you to anyone they truly care about. No one should have regrets about not using those words enough after someone has been lost.
The Crespins found their way through all of the darkness and doubt by using their love for each other and the love they received from the people of our wonderful little city. For them, this Christmas will be especially wonderful as they count their blessings. All of us should count our blessings and give thanks for the little everyday things in life that bring comfort to our hearts and minds.
We’re always looking for that simple great day with family and friends. No worries, no problems. Without fail, love has always been the compass that leads us back into the light and makes those very hard times in our lives so much easier to bear. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to tell the Crespin’s story. Their hope is that it will help other families, should they have to face such a challenge.
I took my last photo, then heard the last words that the Crespin’s said to me in unison as I walked to my car - “Merry Christmas”.

Photo: Janessa and Jenny Crespin stand in front of the Christmas tree.

West’s Contempt Charges Thrown Out

By John Larson

SOCORRO – Thirteen months after Charlene West was accused of trying to run over two Socorro Electric Cooperative board members in the co-op parking lot, she was back in District Judge Matt Reynolds’ courtroom Thursday, Dec. 3, in a contempt of court hearing for allegedly threatening outgoing board member Juan Gonzales with a bunch of grapes.
After hearing testimony from two SEC Board members – Juan Gonzales and Milton Ulibarri – Reynolds found West not to be in contempt, but ordered that West be banned from attending board meetings. The hearing was called by co-op attorney Joanna Aguilar, on a motion to show cause for contempt and sanctions for West’s violation of a preliminary injunction issued Nov. 5, 2008.
West was represented by defense attorney Lee Deschamps.
SEC Board members Juan Gonzales and Milton Ulibarri provided testimony surrounding the grape incident that occurred a few minutes before the start of the Oct. 27 board meeting.
Under questioning by both attorneys, Gonzales stated that he felt threatened when West dropped a bunch of plastic grapes in front of him as he sat at the boardroom table. He said she came from behind his back, and then went to sit down. Gonzales quoted West saying to him, “Here’s your sour grapes.”
He testified that the grapes possibly made contact with one of his fingers.
When asked what action he took after West dropped the grapes. Gonzales said he swept them off the table.
“I pushed them off the table,” Gonzales said. “I felt we had some problems and I didn’t like creating any more problems. I kept my mouth shut.”
Ulibarri’s testimony on the incident was similar to Gonzales’.
“She came up to Mr. Gonzales, and had the grapes, speaking in a rude manner,” Ulibarri testified.
Deschamps asked Ulibarri what made him think she was rude.
“Her looks. The way she laughs,” Ulibarri said. “The grin on her face.”
The plastic grapes were entered as “Exhibit A.”
Ulibarri testified that he saw Gonzales pushed the grapes off the table. “And in fact, you threw them at Ms. West?” Deschamps challenged.
Ulibarri said “I’m not sure.”
At that point, Deschamps requested the motion for contempt be denied. Reynolds agreed, and told West she “was walking on thin ice.”
He said Gonzales has lost his seat on the board and that by her joke with grapes, she was only “grinding his face in [his defeat].”
After the hearing, Deschamps said he decided not to call any defense witnesses because he thought Aguilar had not proved her case.
“Judge Reynolds made the absolutely correct decision that Ms. West had not violated his court order,” Deschamps told the Mountain Mail.
“They never had a case in the first place. Rather than put on our evidence that would’ve shown, in fact, that it was Mr. Ulibarri that had committed battery on West. Had we proceeded to do so it would’ve only fueled further childish behavior.”
“It is our fervent hope is that the trustees, regardless of the controversy, will take a closer look at what other duties to the membership they have, instead of what our perceived slights are,” Deschamps said.

Edible Houses

Winners of the Fifth Annual Gingerbread House Contest were announced Tuesday at New Mexico Tech. Organizer Edie Steinhoff said entries were judged on originality, overall appearance, choice and use of materials and difficulty of design. All entries came from children of the City Youth Program at Finley Gym. The top three winners of Wal-Mart gift cards were Javan Saavedra, Brianna Lara, and Vanessa Hinojosa. The entries were displayed in the cafeteria at Fidel Center.

County May Be Heading To Court

By John Severance

SOCORRO – Vice chair Daniel Monette shouted: “We’ll see you in court.’’
And with that, it appears that the Socorro County Commission and Veguita resident Brett Jones may be heading to court over a livestock petition that was presented Tuesday night at the County Annex.
Jones approached the board, wanting to apply for order that would prohibit the running at large of livestock within the limits of the Rio Grande and Terra Grande Estates.
Jones provided a petition with 60 names on it and he also illustrated the boundaries of where he wanted the order to be enacted. The boundaries were as followed. Hwy Route 60 and Hwy Route 47 interchange west to Hwy Route 60 and Hwy Route 304 interchange north to Socorro County line from Hwy Route 304 and Socorro County line east and Hwy Route 47 and Socorro County line from east Hwy Route 47 and Socorro County line to Hwy Route 60 interchange (i.e. the greater portion of the city of Veguita.)
Jones also said there is a law on the books that said that cows can not roam in a subdivision.
County attorney Adren Nance said Jones’ request only filled one of three requirements.
There only has to be 25 names on a petition and Jones got 60, but some of the commissioners wondered allowed about the authenticity of signatures.
Jones said: “If you have your next meeting in Veguita, I will bring you those people.”
As far as the town site is concerned, Nance said: “The law says you have to have a post that says this is a town site. You have to post your jurisdiction.
“There is a specific statute that creates a town site in New Mexico and this simply does not fit the statute and it’s a gigantic subdivision. It does not fit an idea of a municipality either. One of the things about a municipality is that there has to be one person per acre living there. And I don’t think there are 43,000 people living in Veguita.”
Jones insisted he had met all of the requirements.
But Nance disagreed.
“The petitioner has not met all three elements required for the Board of County Commissioners to issue an order prohibiting livestock running at large,” Nance said Wednesday. “ Although at least 25 residents of the area did sign the petition, they are not residents of a “town or district” as the area is a subdivision not a townsite, additionally the area was not properly posted. Therefore, the Board cannot issue the order,”
The board tabled the proposal until Jones could meet all three elements.
That’s when Jones told the board he would see them in court.
Chief Deputy Shorty Vaiza escorted Jones out of the building on the recommendation of Tripp.
“I knew this is how this was going to end,” Jones shouted as he left.
In other business:
• Approved the Community Development Ordinance, which is to allow public support of economic projects to enhance local economic development efforts while continuing to protect against the unauthorized use of public money and other public resources. It also allows the County to enter into one or more joint powers agreement with other local governments to plan and support regional economic development projects.
• Approved a motion that will publish the public nuisance ordinance. The changes in the ordinance says the County Manager or any duly authorized law enforcement officer shall enforce the provisions of the ordinance. Before, it was the Sheriff’s Department that was in charge of enforcement. Also each violation of the ordinance would be $300 instead of $750.
• Appointed Carlos Lopopolo as a Land Use Commissioner.
• Approved December holidays for county employees. They would be off on Christmas Eve and Christmas and work a half day on Dec. 31.
• Approved a resolution that dealt with sick leave conversion.
• Approved Verizon Tower Modification Application with conditions.
• Recognized county employee Michael Jojola for his 25 years of service.

Donation To The Troops

Students at Cottonwood Valley Charter School raised $200 to go toward Christmas gift packages for members of the 515th CSS Battalion, currently serving in Iraq. Eighth graders Eli Ware and Tessa Guengerich said students sold hot chocolate at school, and at a school dance; and held a bake sale to raise the money. “A total of 13 students were involved,” Ware said. DAV Commander Peter Romero accepted the check on Monday, Dec. 7, and told the students that individual boxes will be mailed to the six Socorro soldiers, and the rest of the boxes will be sent to the unit as a whole to be shared. Romero also reminded the group of the importance of Pearl Harbor Day. Pictured (from left) back row: Sam Thomas, Anthony Denton, Romero, Tessa Guengerich, Eli Ware, Sierra Driver, and Setayesh Fakhimi. Front row: Olivia Deters, Alice Zhang, Aubrey Anaya, Casper Huang, and Jenna Melanson.

EDITORIAL: Risk May Have Been Worth It For Romero

By John Severance
Mountain Mail editor

The state football championship game between Lovington and Socorro was full of plot twists and turns.
With the exception of the people in Socorro, not many people gave the Warriors a chance against perennial power Lovington. Socorro gave it all it had and took Lovington right down to the wire before falling 28-21.
The Warriors played with heart and guts and left it all on the field.
But there was an interesting subplot.
In the second quarter, quarterback Zach Esquivel took a hit and was flat on his back, writhing in pain. Esquivel finally got to his feet, holding his shoulder.
Socorro coach Damien Ocampo told senior Ryan Romero, who had been injured six weeks ago and was the starter for the first half of the season, to warm up.
“I saw him get hit and didn’t realize he had a real serious injury,” Romero said. “I was excited, I didn’t want to see Zach hurt, I was excited to get in there. I didn’t know I was going to play that much. I did the best I could and tried the best I could.”
Throughout the second half of the season, Ocampo had told reporters that Romero was done for the year and that the senior would concentrate on his golf career.
The Warriors kept winning and Romero knew he wanted to play football again.
“When I got hurt in the Robertson game, I went to the doctor and he told me I had sprained the AC joint in my shoulder,” Romero said. “He said it was not a good idea to play for four to six weeks and I sat out those games. Playoff time came and my coach and parents still did not want me to play.
“We won the Robertson and Raton game and it killed me not being able to play. I have been playing football since the seventh grade and I wanted to be out there. For the state title game, my dad and coach decided it would be all right to dress out.”
The plan, though, was that Romero was just going to take a couple of snaps and he was under orders not to run with the football.
“Beforehand, we thought there was no chance,” Ocampo said. “They talked to some other doctors who got him cleared.”
Romero’s injury was similar to the one suffered by Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, who won the Heisman Trophy last year but came for his senior season in his hopes of leading the Sooners to a national title. It didn’t happen as Bradford got hurt and he probably lost his chance at millions because he was assured of being a top ten draft pick.
Romero’s stakes are not quite as big. But he still took a big risk.
Romero is quite the accomplished golfer and he has plans to play on the college level.
“In my eighth grade year, the team won state and ninth grade, I was the individual runner-up,” Romero said. “My sophomore year, I was fifth and I didn’t do so well last year.”
Romero played the final two and one-half quarters and came close to leading Socorro to victory. The best thing, though, was that he did not sustain any injuries to his shoulder.
“We could minimize the chances of him getting hurt so we did not want him to run with the football,” Ocampo said. “For a kid who had been out six weeks and not taken a snap, I thought he did a good job.”
And the best thing is that he did not get hurt. And as a matter of fact,on the day after the championship game, Romero went up to Tech and hit some golf balls.

LETTER: Catron County Corrections

To the editor
Thought I'd offer a couple of small but important corrections to the Dec 3, 2009 article about Catron County.
The headline on page B3 refers to the “trash taxes” - this is incorrect, it isn't a tax, but a (solid waste) fee. I know it doesn't sound like much of a difference, but is is legally a very different animal.
The fee is $75.60 per year per unit, so you can see that an accrual of $1000 or more represents a great deal of non-payment. The County had placed liens on the property of the non-payers, but felt this new policy needed to be enforced in fairness to those citizens that do pay.
The solid waste fees are collected by the County Treasurer, not the NM Dept of Finance. The NM Dept of Tax and Revenue does, however, collect the property taxes, through the county.
Thanks for keeping the citizens of Catron County informed of what's going on in the County.

Bill Aymar
Catron County Manager

To Be Or Not To Be

Magdalea Potluck
By Margaret Wiltshire

I am too liberal to be a conservative and too conservative to be a liberal. I have had an abortion, an illegal abortion.
We have as many friends who are conservatives as we have friends who are liberals. All of them love our constitution. All of them make Magdalena, Socorro County and Catron County a better place to be.
I grew up in a conservative family. They taught me values that stay with me to this day.
What my mother taught me about love was this: it is not what you say, it’s what you do that’s love. Lies are a weak defense and become a burden to continue defending. Do not stare, make faces or call out unkindly to people who are different from you. Besides being impolite, you won’t know they’re story, their truth. There is more to Christmas then gifts and Santa, there’s an important story. Sunday school is a good place to learn good things. Bullies are really cry babies.
It’s not just what “mommy” said, I find these truths self-evident. The truth is that as the decades passed, these truths have become a wedge between us. She also was the first person to tell me “those who can’t do, teach.” (And sometimes, preach)
At 14, I wanted to be a reporter like Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow and even like Ernest Hemingway. I wanted to travel the world telling the truth, especially all the good stuff about US of the Americas. I wanted to study at an expensive school and my family couldn’t really afford, IF I could get in.
The hunt for “okay what will I do now” took many turns. I loved history and art as well as writing. I loved kids. I did not really enjoy baby sitting but I did do it a lot. You can ask my younger brothers if I was a “happy” baby sitter. They think they barely survived. End game, my parents sent me to a state school in Early Childhood Education, cheap enough and “do able”.
Like a “real” journalist, I loved learning stuff, but not early childhood education. Family conflict, no more school.
By then, my conservative family had lost much confidence in education and even religion. My questioning things, the fear I might expose some truths, had made me a “problem”. Or to put it another way, one of THEM. I was pretty much kicked out of this conservative clan, before I had really left. Or gone left. Whatever.
The abortion. Being nice and polite to people who are “different” can often lead to love. My first big, overwhelming great love was a man of another race. After a while, he broke up with me, telling me I was wishy-washy. I wasn’t working to do any great good in the world. Then I discover I was pregnant.
Long story short, after checking the system for this situation, and consulting with lots of friends but not family. (I knew they weren’t THAT friendly by then) I added in what I could earn, without college, without family and as a woman then, I agreed to an abortion. Abortions being illegal at that time. It almost killed me physically and emotionally.
A real doctor in a real hospital saved my life. He was very unhappy with me because he preferred delivering babies. He told me he would call it a D and C (which it was) to protect me and my family. My mother told me she knew it had been an abortion and she let me know she was pleased. I felt destroyed.
Later, always a loyal conservative, she told me she was a right to lifer, wasn’t that wonderful. She still doesn’t have that grand son and he could be President, he could have been a conservative.
I’m not wishy-washy. I’ve spent a lot of time mending myself.

OPINION: We Want Good Health Care

By Doug May

Health care is a very personal thing and we want to have good choices. I want to be able to choose my doctor. I don’t want to be told by my medical insurance company that I can only go to certain doctors and specific health care facilities. I want competition among the insurance companies so I can choose what is best for me and my family. I don’t care if my doctor makes as much as a basketball coach. If he is good he deserves it. I don’t want his income to be regulated. I want my doctor to be free from the dictates of insurance companies so we can decide together what is the best treatment for my situation. I don’t want my doctor to fear malpractice law suits that force him to prescribe certain tests of questionable value. The doctor and patient should talk over the pros and cons of various procedures and not be under pressure from outside forces.
Health care insurers should be free to set their rates according to the risks for each person. The one who does not smoke and drink, is not overweight and not involved in some other risky practice should pay a lower rate. Auto insurance varies according to varying risks.
I want the really needy to have health care. Not all of the 31 million without health insurance are really needy. That number is closer to 7 million. The State or County should run health care clinics to provide care on a sliding scale according to one’s ability to pay. This should not be a federal program. Counties and states have a better understanding of the needs in their areas. Emergency rooms in hospitals should not be used for health issues that can be handled by clinics and other emergency care facilities. Catastrophic health insurance should also be provided on a sliding scale on the basis of one’s ability to pay.
I will have more choices if I can pay into a medical savings plan instead of paying Social Security taxes. Such savings should not be taxed. There will be greater freedom if each employee purchases his own insurance rather than it being provided by the employer. This would eliminate the problem that arises when one looses his job or takes another. I want to be free to buy what ever kind of insurance I think is best for me. The government should not fear that people will not properly take care of themselves. All of us will have to seek information and advice from others to make good choices and that advice will be available from many sources, including labor unions, employers, AARP, insurance companies, and others.
All of the federal health programs need to be phased out gradually. Even the federal government admits that there is much fraud and corruption in the system. This would take time, but now is the time to start. This alone would save us billions of dollars each year. Most Americans want less government, not more. Why are our senators and representatives not moving in that direction? I believe there are three main factors. They are not listening to the people, they are influenced by the lobbyists and the party leaderships that pressure their members to fall in line.
Changes will not come until the people pay closer attention and speak up, individually and collectively. If our representatives are sure of our active support for doing the right thing, then they can resist these other pressures in Washington. Forego watching the first half of that football game and write Senator Bingaman and Senator Udall and Representative Teague.

Doug May is a retired Lutheran pastor and his views do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail.

Declamation Winners

Socorro County held its annual declamation for children in Socorro, San Antonio and Magdalena in four categories at the Socorro Consolidated Schools Building on Dec. 3. From left to right in the back row: Royce Olney (third, humorous prose), Matt Major (second, humorous poetry), Haley Kiehne (third, humorous poetry), Jorrell Mirabol (second, serious prose), Tasmen Justice (third, serious poetry), Edy Swedberg (first, serious prose) and Anah Farmer (first, humorous poetry). Front row left to right: Changrui Liu (first, humorous prose), Brandon Dennis ( second, humorous prose), Autumn Bjorklund (second, serious poetry), Joshua Walsh (third, serious prose), and Maria Carilli (first, serious poetry).

OPINION: Reform of FIRE Sector Is Critical to American Future

The Pencil Warrior
By Dave Wheelock

This week the battle over possible reform of the US financial system reaches a milestone of sorts with consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (HR 4173). As with the so-called health care reform “debate” the prospects for changes that will make a lasting difference are far from slam dunk status, especially considering what may happen to the bill in the Senate.
While damage to the world economy, estimated in the trillions, will stunt the futures of the next generation at least, business continues essentially as usual in the economic sector known as FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate). Wall Street “innovators,” their actions and even identities shielded from public or official scrutiny by “proprietary knowledge,” continue to collect staggering rewards not for creating anything of lasting value, but for shifting the mountain of debt that has increasingly come to define our economy. Without a radical change in course, further calamity beckons.
The average citizen could be forgiven for thinking the meltdown of Wall Street's financial monoliths was a sudden and unexpected phenomenon. Although references to the "Crash of September 2008" are common in mainstream media stories, such simplistic framing only hampers our ability to recognize and correct the false recovery Wall Street has laid out for us.
In the wake of the 1929 collapse of Wall Street, Congress sought to eliminate conflict of interest and fraud by erecting barriers between the activities of the insurance and real estate industries, commercial banks, and investment banks. Almost immediately large corporate interests, including the Wall Street financiers soon nicknamed “banksters” by the working class, went to work to overturn these measures.
Their success in eliminating legal firewalls eventually gave birth to an industry characterized by a nearly impenetrable web of cross-ownership, holding companies, interlocking boards of directors, and above all, the marketing of debt. By 2000, the FIRE sector, accounting for 20 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, had surpassed manufacturing, whose shrinkage to 14.5 percent is still playing out in the lives of the millions whose jobs have been outsourced in part by the activities of, you guessed it, the FIRE sector. It is more than mere coincidence that as the level of household, corporate, and national debt grew, the power of FIRE grew right along with it.
The struggle to return to a sane economy is an asymmetrical war. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, operatives of the FIRE sector have given 3.8 billion dollars since 1998 for lobbyists to “educate” our members of Congress, even surpassing expenditures by the healthcare industry. In the two years of the 2008 election cycle, FIRE donated over $475 million to election campaigns. Standing outside the capitol one day last summer, Illinois senator Dick Durbin ruefully admitted, “The banks frankly own this place.”
Which brings us to the showdown over the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. While the message the banksters want us to get is “this is too complicated for normal folks,” the vital principles of this legislation are pretty simple: if it operates in the dark, depends on huge levels of debt for its existence, is outside regulations set by society, and/or is so big everyone else depends on its welfare, we probably ought to be rid of it.
First, the intense opposition by FIRE against the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency is a huge hint. An entity tasked protect citizens by regulating ALL kinds of financial products and services is a no-brainer.
A transparent and tightly regulated market is in order for the so-called shadow banking industry including derivatives, credit default swaps, hedge funds, and private equity funds. Some of these illusory schemes have caused so much trouble they probably should be banned altogether.
The actions of the Federal Reserve, which should have acted before the housing bubble burst, must be hereafter transparent to the public. The Fed is in need of a regime of good old-fashioned audits to determine whether some of their power should be rescinded.
“Too big to fail” mega-companies should be broken up, especially if they’re not doing their job by loaning money to regular folks and small businesses.
The perversions known as “off-balance sheet entities” and tax-dodging “offshore accounts” need to end now, if not sooner.
And why not a tiny tax on every market transaction, to encourage useful long-term investing while collecting billions for an economy in deep trouble?
Understanding the roots of our economy’s problems is vital to charting a course of correction. Just as when popular sentiment forced the hands of FDR and Congress in the aftermath of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the choices that must now become policy will profoundly affect everyone, not just the denizens of Wall Street. This is our business, not the banksters’.

Dave Wheelock, a member of the Oneida Nation, holds a history degree from the University of New Mexico. Contact him at Mr. Wheelock’s views do not necessarily reflect those of the Mountain Mail.

Mercury in December Skies

By Jon Spargo
Tech Astronomy Club

Tiny but bright Mercury puts in an evening appearance this month for about the first three weeks. Shining at magnitude -0.5 it will be best viewed around the 12th when is should be seen as a bright dot about 6 degrees above the southwestern horizon about a half hour after sunset.
Jupiter still shines brightly in the early evening sky but will set around 8:30 p.m. by the end of the month. The best viewing will be early evening while it is still relatively high in the sky. For a good part of the month a bonus will be that the planet Neptune will be within one degree of Jupiter and only 0.6 of a degree for several days surrounding the 21st. For those with telescopes, the tiny blue sphere of Neptune will be found slightly above and to the right of Jupiter.
Now is the time to view Mars in spite of all those bogus emails that flooded the Internet last summer. Mars will continue to rise earlier each evening and by the end of the month will do so only 3 hours after sunset. We can also watch as Mars’brightness grows to magnitude -0.7 as the Earth begins to catch up to Mars. However, the closest approach of the Earth to Mars (in January) will see Mars appear only half as big as it did in the summer of 2003.
On Dec. 21, we will experience the shortest day of the year as the winter solstice begins at 10:47 a.m. MST. For folks “down under” it’s “put another shrimp on the barbie mate, summer has officially begun!”

Socorro Falls In Final

SOCORRO – The Warriors did all they could Saturday Dec. 2nd in the state championship game against Lovington.
It just wasn’t quite enough as Lovington escaped with a 28-21 victory to claim its 16th Class AAA state title.
“I am proud of the kids,” Socorro coach Damien Ocampo said. “They played with a lot of effort and passion. They played hard and that was our goal. We just made too many mistakes to be a good team like that. People thought it was not going to be close.”
But it was -- it was extremely close.
Check out the stats: Lovington held a 357-341 advantage in yards and a 17-16 margin in first downs. The key for the Warriors is that they were able to run the football as they gained 326 yards on the ground.
“We got in a groove on offense,” Ocampo said. “We did a good job blocking up front and our running backs ran really hard.”
Charlie Savedra ran for 120 yards, including a 56-yarder for a touchdown. Jose Alvarado had 89 yards rushing and James Thornton added 87 yards, including a 58-yarder for a touchdown to give Socorro a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with 3:23 left.
Socorro had some problems containing Lovington quarterback Jacob Jameson, who threw three touchdown passes and ran for another. Especially vexing for Socorro was Jameson broke containment on a couple of third down and long situations and he was able to run for a first down.
“They played us a lot tougher than we thought they would,” Jameson said.
Jameson led Lovington to a 21-7 lead late in the second quarter.
The Warriors suffered a big blow when starting quarterback Zach Esquivel got leveled after throwing a pass. He stayed on the ground while coaches tended to his shoulder.
Esquivel finally got helped to the sideline and the Warriors turned to their starter for the first half of the season, Ryan Romero.
Right before halftime, Socorro got within 21-13 when Alvarado scored from 34 yards out. The extra point was missed.
On Socorro’s first drive of the third quarter, Savedra broke loose on a 56-yard run. Near the end zone, he fumbled, but he was able to recover for the touchdown. Alvarado ran in the two-point conversion to help Socorro tie the game at 21-21.
“I thought we did a lot of things that people thought we could not do and we stuck with their guys,” Savedra said. “It was a good fight the whole game. It just happened they ended up winning.”
Defenses dominated until late in the fourth quarter when Lovington took over on its own 41 after a Socorro fumble.
With 4:17 left, Jameson threw a 24-yard pass and then he ran for 13 yards. After a four-yard gain, Jameson found Kyler Gilbreath for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 2:57 left. Socorro got the ball back one last time and mustered one first down before Ryan Romero threw an interception.
Lovington celebrated and the Socorro players walked slowly back to the bench. Jameson took a knee three straight times and the game was over.
Ocampo probably summed it up best. “It was a really special year,” Ocampo said. “These guys made history. They truly did.”

Photo: Charlie Savedra accepts the runner-up trophy from his father, athletic director Charlie Savedra.

Socorro boys basketball team lose in overtime

Socorro—When winter arrives, people dust off their sweaters and jackets then try to get into the daily grind of cold weather and short days. For the Socorro boys basketball team, all it took was a pair of new shoes, a clean Warrior jersey, and a loud home crowd to warm up their winter season.
Socorro narrowly lost a thrilling opening game at home on Monday night to the undefeated Grants Pirates, 86-82 in overtime.
Socorro will have a busy week ahead playing 3 games in five days. Socorro will face off against the New Mexico Military Institute on Friday night, followed by Volcano Vista, who is ranked seventh in 4A, on Saturday night. On Tuesday, December 15 Socorro will host Pojoaque, who is ranked fourth in 3A.
Coming into Monday night’s game, Grants had already played 5 games and had a perfect 5-0 record, which included a win against Pojoaque. It was not only the Warriors first game of the season but it was first time Coach Lawrence Baca had a full team.
Socorro picked up five players from the State Runner-Up Warrior football team over the weekend. Two players wasted no time getting acquainted with the team.
Senior Andrew Contreras looked as is if he was immune to any basketball cobwebs during the off-season. In fact he looked like the seasoned veteran Coach Baca expected.
“Andrew is a great athlete!” Baca said of Contreras. “As he showed it out on the football field, he is very aggressive and moves very well for being such a big guy and is very basketball smart.”
Contreras made his presence known both on offense and defense. He put up a solid 18 points, had a couple steals and took a few charging fouls that disrupted the Grants offense.
“It was not a surprise that Andrew stepped up and had a big game, I know what he’s capable of doing and he showed it last night,” said Baca.
Junior Jared Marquez showed he has not lost his shooters touch during the off-season. He racked up a game high 21 points including four three-point baskets.
“I am very happy with the effort and energy they (Socorro) came out with on the first game of the season,” Baca said of the game. “If we can play with that kind of effort and energy night in and night out a lot of good things are going happen for us this season.”
Effort and energy was a constant in Monday’s see-saw battle. The game included nine lead changes and eight ties.
It was the Pirates that came out of the gate first, taking an early 6-1 lead in the first quarter. A sweet behind the back pass from Michael Contreras to Andrew Contreras gave the Warriors their first lead five minutes into the game. Socorro extended their lead after a three pointer by Kenneth DeCosta before Grants countered, eventually leading to a 16-16 first quarter tie.
The Pirates tried to separate themselves from the Warriors to start the second quarter going on a 12-4 run, extending their lead to the biggest of the game, 30-22. Marquez started a 10-1 Socorro run giving the Warriors the lead with 1:30 left in the first half. Grants struck back with a bucket and an old fashion three point play to give them a 36-32 halftime lead.
It was Socorro coming out of the locker room swinging taking the lead 49-42 with a minute left in the third quarter.
Perhaps one of the game changing moments came with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
DeCosta was called for a technical foul following a shooting foul called on him. That gave Grants two technical free throws, two shooting free throws, and the ball. The Pirates hit all four free throws, followed by another shooting foul. Grants made one out of two for a quick five point swing cutting the Warrior lead to 49-47. A last second three by sophomore Humberto Lucero gave the Warriors a 52-47 lead going into the final quarter.
Socorro and Grants traded basket for basket for the first six minutes of the final quarter with Socorro leading 71-65 with 1:15 left to play in the game. Two costly Warrior turnovers with less than a minute left allowed Grants to capitalize going on a quick 7-0 run. Socorro found themselves down 77-74 with less than 10 seconds left.
Lucero was fouled beyond the three point arc with 1.4 seconds left and the fate of the Warriors first game rested in his young hands. Looking as if he was shooting free throws in the park, Lucero drilled all three to send the game into overtime.
Socorro was unable gain any more steam in the overtime period going scoreless for three minutes, giving Grants an 86-82 victory.
“You can say some turnovers were the deciding factors in the loss, but those are things that can and will be fixed as we get more time together and the team jells together,” said Baca. “I told them that I was very satisfied with the effort they gave and that there was nothing to be ashamed, we played a great game against a pretty darn good team… I saw a lot of great things out there from every single one of them and not to beat themselves up over the mistakes because those can and will be fixed with time.”

Magdalena teams win Stampede

MAGDALENA -- The Magdalena boys and girls basketball teams both won the Steer Stampede this past weekend.
The boys beat Alamo 63-29, Carrizozo 47-26 and then trailed by 14 to Hot Springs before falling 45-41.
“All the teams had a good experience and it is a good chance to get 3 games in a row early in the season and see where you are at,” Jory Mirabol said. “We were able to see things each day we need to improve on and the boys did a great job working through those things in the three games. I think that our boys worked really hard this weekend and that can make up for a lot of short comings in other areas. If they continue to work hard they have a chance to be a good team.”
In the Alamo game, Magdalena was led by Reg Peralto with 16 and Bryce Milligan with 13. Milligan had 16 and Peralto added 13 against Carrizozo and Daniel Hand had 13 in the win against Hot Springs.
The Magdalena girls rolled through their tournament, beating Alamo 87-19, Menaul 80-26 and Tularosa 47-31 in the finals.
“Tularosa really came out to play,” Magdalena coach Wally Sanchez said. “It was a tough game.”
The two teams meet again this week on Dec. 12 at Magdalena.
The Quemado boys team finished third in the Cliff Roundup, beating Cobre 75-38, losing to Lordsburg 63-61 and beating Animas 85-41 as they improved to 4-2 on the season. The Quemado girls opened their season, losing to Ramah 42-35 and beating Pine Hill 29-26 for its first win of the season.
The Reserve boys and girls teams were both victorious against Temple Baptist with the boys winning 86-30 and the girls winning 41-21.

Photo: The Magdalena girls celebrate their championship in the Steer Stampede Saturday.

Socorro girls finish third in Las Vegas tournament

By Nicky Romero
For the Mountain Mail

The Socorro girls basketball team opened its season with a third-place finish in the Brian Gallegos Tournament in Las Vegas Dec. 3-5.
The Lady Warriors opened the season with a 56-34 win against the Valencia JV. Roxanne Silva led the way with 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals and Jaden Jones added six points.
“This was the game we started strong and ended strong but the middle two quarters we didn’t play that well,” Socorro coach Joseph Garcia said.
On the next day, Socorro fell to second-ranked West Las Vegas 45-31. Silva got in early foul trouble and Socorro trailed 10-0 in the first quarter and 20-12 at halftime.
“It was a really good last three quarters but we only scored 31 points. We shot 31 percent and we had 29 turnovers.”
Despite sitting out the first quarter, Silva finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds and Jomes added six.
Socorro finished the tournament falling to Valencia 37-32. The Lady Warriors led 23-16 at halftime but Valencia outscored them 23-9 in the second half. Silva had 14 points and Jones added 10 points and nine rebounds.
“We also had a couple of girls missing from this tournament, which really hurt us,” Garcia said. “It just gave the other girls an opportunity to step up and play. The effort was there. We just had a hard time hitting shots./”
The Lady Warrios will travel to Belen on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.
“Belen is ranked sixth in the preseason poll in 4A. They pretty talented,” Garcia said. “They made it to state last year in 4A. They will press and fast break like crazy. Hopefully, we will be at full strength this week and continue to improve.”
Senior Erik Garcia contributed 18 points.

Festival of Cranes attendance down

By John Larson

SOCORRO - Attendance at the Festival of the Cranes was down from last year, according to a report to the Socorro City Council from Robyn Harrison.
“All in all it was a success. It ran very smoothly,” Harrison said. “I wanted to formally thank the city for supporting the event again this year. Deborah Dean is so easy to work with and she made partnering with the city such a no-brainer.”
“By all accounts most people were very pleased with the way things went; the workshop, tours, and exhibiters,” Harrison said.
She said there was a 16 percent decrease in attendance.
“The day trippers accounted for most of the decrease, like those from Albuquerque, because there was only a four percent decrease in hotel rooms,” Harrison said. “Overnighters accounted for 567 hotel room nights.”
After the meeting Harrison told the Mountain Mail that the total attendance over the six days was probably “somewhere around 2,100.”
“We did have a lot of no-shows, but actually it was OK because for once we came out even,” Harrison said.
“We tried a couple of different things this year that were experiments, like moving the main exhibit tent to the plaza,” she said. “Another was the photographers’ bus. A diesel bus is not a good blind, and it was a dismal failure.”
“We learned from our mistakes,” she said.
She said she heard frequent comments on how friendly everyone was.
“In the surveys we got back, people were saying all there questions at the information booth were answered, and they were impressed at the friendliness of the volunteers,” Harrison said.
Next year the Festival of the Cranes will be November 16-21.
“The next one we’re aiming for perfection,” Harrison said.
In other business:
• The council approved both a joint resolution and Memorandum of Understanding with the county and Magdalena on the creation and operation of the 911 central dispatch center to be located at the Socorro Police Department. The joint resolution was to set up a committee comprised of the three entities to find the best solution on how to run the center. The MOU was to ensure that each entity would assume equal responsibilities for mapping and addressing. Mayor Dr. Ravi Bhasker commended the E911 work the county assessor has accomplished, but that the three entities who will benefit from the dispatch center must continue the addressing and mapping.
• The council approved an MOU with Socorro Consolidated Schools on the expenditure of not more that $8,000 for renovation and improvements on the all weather track at the high school.
• Salls Brothers Con-struction was awarded the winning bid for repaving and improving California Street. The company’s bid of $651,172 was the lowest of three bids. The funding is provided by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, specifically for improvements to California St. The project is slated to start in April, 2010, and will take about four months to complete.
• The council voted to transfer $100,000 from the city’s general fund to allow for engineering of the arsenic treatment plant to continue. Bhasker said the total cost of the arsenic treatment plant would be about $4.1 million. He said the city will be seeking grants to pay for it, but has not ruled out loan applications. “This is a mandate form the federal government, and we don’t have a choice,” Bhasker said. “People have been drinking the same water for a millennium, but that’s what the EPA wants.”

Pre-Trial Motions Filed In Sex Abuse Case

Defense attorneys for Martin Handley, 41, charged with 12 felony counts relating to sexual contact with a female minor, filed several pre-trial motions in District Court Wednesday, Dec. 9.
The charges against Handley stem from a criminal complaint dated Sept. 22, 2008, filed by the Socorro County Sheriff’s Department.
In the complaint, a female minor under the age of 16 reported that Handley began sexually abusing her when she was in the fourth grade. The abuse lasted for three years, the report stated.
In addition to the sexual contacts, the complaint also detailed physical injuries on the minor, which were photographed by the mother, and will be used as evidence.
The complaint stated that the abuse stopped in September, 2007, and that the Sheriff’s Department “was never notified of the incident until a protection order was to be obtained.”
Handley was arrested on Oct. 14, 2008, and the case was bound over to District Court one month later. The motions filed were requests for CYFD records, psychological records, and a psychological evaluation on the victim, as well as discovery requests.
According to Assistant District Attorney Stacey Ward, District Judge Edmund Kase ruled that he would review the psychological records and would make the decision to pass on any pertinent information to the defense. Kase also denied the request for psychological evaluation, and the request for CYFD records was postponed.
Handley is being defended by the law office of Lee Deschamps.
Trial for Handley is tentatively set for Feb. 22, 2010.

New Mexico Tourism Cites Ella’s Cafe Cheeseburgers

By Richard Torres
For the Mountain Mail

Congratulations to Ella’s Cafe in Reserve. It was selected by visitors for having a most delicious green chile cheeseburger.
This selection by the customers allowed Ella’s Café to be included on the New Mexico Tourism Department “Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail”. By accessing their website at “”, follow the prompts to an interactive state map for the best places to eat a green chile cheeseburger.
“We wish to thank all our customers and guests for helping us achieve this wonderful recognition,” stated Marianne Conolly. She and husband Aaron own and operate Ella’s Café.
Other selected destinations for this dish are The Owl Bar & Café in San Antonio, Blake’s Lottaburger in Socorro, and Bobby Olguin’s Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, winner of a recent “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” episode on the Food Network, which brought the State so much recognition for its burgers that Governor Bill Richardson honored it with Buckhorn Tavern Day statewide

OPINION: Sylvia Studies Catalogs and Switches Careers With A Suddenness

By Anne Sullivan

“Wow, will you look at that,” Sylvia exclaimed, waving a Christmas catalog in my face.
“What?” I said, not raising my eyes from the cherished L.L. Bean catalog.
“It’s right here in the National Geographic catalog.” Sylvia thrust the catalog into my lap. “It’s a camera.”
“I already have a camera. As a matter of fact I have three but I only use one,” I said.
Sylvia’s excitement was not to be discouraged. “This is a camera for dogs,” she cried, “a dog’s view of life. With a camera like this I could shoot pictures for my column. And we all know one picture is worth a thousand words. I could really do some powerful articles. I want one for Christmas.”
I cut right down to the nitty gritty. “How much is it?”
“Only $45.95,” she answered in a small voice.
“Only? That’s a lot of money.”
“But look at what I’d get.” She put her paw on the ad and read, “ ‘Water resistant and extremely durable, the internal memory stores many photos. Included is a USB cable and lithium-ion battery. For ages 8 and up.’ That’s me to a tee. I’m going to write Santa this very minute.”
“It’s still a lot of money and you haven’t yet figured out how to pay for the Moushelter.”
“’Ask and ye shall receive,’” quoted Sylvia. “Something will turn up.”
“I hope so or those mice are going to be very upset. They were so excited when you told them about it at the meeting yesterday. The sum of $45.95 would go a long way towards building the shelter.”
“I suppose so,” she admitted, “but that was before I saw this nifty camera. Do you know that it would fit right on my collar and weighs hardly anything? I really really want it.”
I played for time, asking, “What are you planning to take pictures of?”
“The sky’s the limit. Scenery, that’s what I’d like to take the most. And then wild animals, elk and deer and Brandy. People’s feet. I could do an article about dusty shoes. A dog’s eye view of the world. It’s about time technology caught up with this concept. I could publish a whole book of fascinating photos. I could become a real photographer and make lots of money to say nothing of revolutionizing canine journalism.”
“Please keep in mind, Sylvia, that it might be years before you made enough money as a photographer to justify the expense.”
Sylvia stood firm. “But I want it. That’s all I want for Christmas besides a few pigs’ ears and biscuits and maybe some steak.”
“Alright, alright, you’ve made your point.” I heaved a mighty sigh and envisioned $45.95 plus postage flying out the window. “Give me the catalog.”
In a flash the catalog was in my hands with Sylvia leaning over me pointing to the ad. It was illustrated with a very clean-cut and no doubt clean noble dog proudly wearing a brand new collar with a small circular object resembling a religious medal dangling from it.
“That’s the camera,” Sylvia said. “See how small it is and no weight at all. Do you want me to read the whole blurb to you?”
“No, thank you. I’m still capable of reading it for myself.” Which I did and I have to say it sounded intriguing. That is, until I got to the last line.
“Look, Sylvia, it says you have to have a Mac Computer to make the camera work. We don’t have a Mac.”
“I knew it!” Sylvia wailed. “I knew there’d be some reason I couldn’t get what I wanted for Christmas. It isn’t fair. Now I’ll never be a famous rich photographer.”
I rose from under my heated throw and hastened to the kitchen for a handful of Iams biscuits hoping to quell the flow of threatening tears. “Here, Sylvia, maybe these will help. They’re your favorites.”
“They won’t. Nothing will help. Nothing at all,” she yelled and strode to her bed, kicking it before she turned her back to me and plopped down.
However a few minutes later I could hear her crunching. And crunching. And it wasn’t long before she asked, “Could I have the $45.95 it would have cost for the camera?”
“What for?”
“I want to build the Mouse shelter. I have this great idea. If you’ll give me some paper, I’ll design it now so you can see it. After all, if I’m going to be a famous architect, I’ve got to start somewhere.”

Quemado: Christmas Music on Dec. 13

Quemado News
By Debbie Leschner

Christmas Musical Program Dr. Edwin Nebbletts and his family will be performing along with other families on Sunday, December 13. It will be held in the old gym of the Quemado High School at 6:30 p.m. The program is sponsored by Pie Town Seventh Day Adventist Church .
Quemado Schools
The Elementary School Christmas program will be Monday, Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Old Gym. The community is invited to see the children perform various Christmas numbers. Santa’s Workshop will take place on Dec. 14 and 15. Students, parents and teachers get gift items together that the elementary students can purchase at a dollar or two as presents. Gift wrapping is also provided.
Basketball schedule:
The Quemado junior high boys and girls teams will play an away game against Reserve on Dec. 17 at 4 p.m. On Dec. 18 at 10 a.m. the JH boys and girls team will play a home game against Magdelena. An away game against Ramah at 3 p.m. for the boys and girls varsity and boys junior varsity. On Saturday 19th all games are away. At 10 a.m. JH boys and girls play Alamo . At 2 p.m. the boys and girls varsity and boys junior varsity will play against Magdalena.
Christmas Dinner
Datil School will hold their Christmas Dinner on Wednesday, December 16 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The Christmas program will follow at 7 p.m.
Fellowship Luncheon
Women’s Fellowship Luncheon is Tuesday, Dec. 15 at noon in the Cowboy Church located off Hwy 32. It will be a Christmas party with activities, music and more. There will be a cookie exchange. Please bring three dozen of your favorite cookies or candy to share. Bags will be provided to bring home some cookies and candies.
Senior Center
Quemado Senior Center will have their Christmas Party and a visit from Santa Clause on Thursday, Dec 17 at 10:30. If you would like to be part of the gift exchange, bring a wrapped $10 gift. Men bring a man’s gift and women bring a woman’s gift. Lunch for the day is ham, yam bake, green bean casserole, vegetable salad, roll and millionaire pie. Bingo will be played after lunch.
The pool tournament will be played on Tuesday, Dec 15. Menu for the week: Monday - Meatloaf, Tuesday – Tacos, Wednesday – Chicken strips and Friday – Apple tuna sandwich and vegetable soup. Please call the center at 773-4820 with lunch reservations by 9 a.m.
Vet Meeting
Quemado’s Western NM Veterans Group monthly meeting is Thursday, December 17 at 6 p.m. Instead of a potluck dinner, please bring finger foods to share and an item or two for the Christmas food baskets. For more information, contact Commander Sharp at 575-773-4350.

Alamo Students Put Together An Artsy Table

By Nathalie Nance
For the Mountain Mail

Estelle Roberge and her art students at the Alamo Navajo School came up with a great idea for a school trip: They want to go to the Heard museum of Native American art in Phoenix, Ariz.
But how would they be able to afford the trip?
As an extracurricular activity they decided to make a table, featuring their own art, and then sell it to raise the money. Each student came up with a design, inspired by traditional Navajo art. The different motifs and figures were painted on tile. After the tile was baked, it was put together and framed with trimming made in shop class, where they also made the table’s stand.
All in all, the students estimate they spent two to three months working on the project. Now they hope that some one will buy this unique piece of contemporary Navajo art. They have put up flyers and might decide to eventually auction it off.
Hopefully the profit will soon take these creative students all the way to Phoenix.
And who knows, maybe the table one day will end up on display at the Heard museum?

Eberta Apache, Adina Alonzo, Douglas Apachito, Jovita Smiley and Marshelle Curley all have their original artwork featured on the table. Missing in the picture are Ambrose Begay, Elijahwan Apachito, Sasha Guerro, and Filliam Herrara, who also helped to design the tiles. Elizabeth Thomas helped with the entire project.

Old Man Winter Pays Luna A Frosty Visit

Luna News
By Kay Mindar

Luna has officially been visited by Old Man Winter. On the night of Dec. 14, he blew into town and still was making a visit not to be soon forgotten the following morning. Even now I am typing my column as quickly as possible; as the power cannot decide if it will stay on or off and I am not sure of the battery capability of this computer or if I will be able to print this.
I was picturing in my mind how I would be sitting at the desk, next to a lantern; OK, it would be battery operated and in a notebook; by hand today’s community news.
Although I would still be taking advantage of some technologies where when the Internet goes down; the fax machine still works. I am still hoping for a blip of electric to print this out.
Lunaity is an amazing valley in its extreme degrees of weather; you can unfortunately get to the point of taking for granted the sun and dry roads and within hours be buried by under three feet of snow hoping to conserve the well water in the tank long enough to get through to the next transformation in the weather pattern that will come.
Sun electric, warm, even freezing nights and mild days that will be bringing you back to nearly parched lands and the tall grasses. The only thing that I have found you can count on in this valley is just that: change.
Christmas At The Community Center
While many of us here in town are decorating for our personal family seasonal traditions there have been many volunteers busy to make our Luna Community Center a light in the middle of town.
The trees are decorated each year by volunteers that selflessly give their time and talents. We thank all who work so tirelessly to have aplace that the town can call their own and enjoy year round. Remember meetings are the second Tuesday of each month and all are welcomed to attend.
Please Travel Safely
The Luna valley roads can be treacherous this time of year and we ask that you travel with great caution where on moment you may see dry paths; a shadow may bring black ice under your wheels and the twists and turns on highway 180 are famous in motorcycle roads of the southwest; but can be deadly when traveling at one extreme or another; either at high speeds or riding your breaks. Our state road crew can attest to the many guardrails being replaced each winter season.
Christmas Music Program
Practices are stil be held for the first Luna “Night of Christmas” program which has been set for 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13, at the Lunda L.D.S. Chapel. Please contact Alberta Nicolds for more information and watch for flyers as more information becomes available.

Quote of the Week
“How you treat me is your Karma. How I react is mine.”
-- Taken from James Van Praagh