Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Gave us Plenty of News to Report

By John Larson

The most talked about articles published in the Mountain Mail in 2010 included the death of Theresa Saiz-Chavez, fires in Magdalena, marijuana plantations on the Rio Grande, controversies at the Socorro Electric Cooperative, and a mixed bag of other happenings.
Some of the top stories covered by the Mountain Mail in 2010:
In January three new SEC trustees – Luis Aguilar, Prescilla Mauldin and Donald Wolberg – took office. They had been elected on the promise of supporting changes to the co-op’s bylaws.
Socorro’s only radio station, KMXQ, signed off the air in April after being acquired by a Wyoming-based broadcasting company. The signal at 92.9 on the FM dial is still silent.
Also in April, Socorro Electric Cooperative members passed sweeping changes in the way the cooperative operates at the annual members meeting.On June 8, John “Jack” Hayden was arrested in connection with the death of Theresa Saiz-Chavez, whose body was found locked in the trunk of her car under a bridge off Chaparral. At the preliminary hearing District Attorney Clint Wellborn made the case that Saiz-Chavez identified Hayden as putting her in the trunk on the 911 recording. Defense attorney Lee Deschamps argued that she entered the trunk herself in order to hide from Hayden, who was pursuing her. The case against Hayden is expected to go to trial in District Court on Jan. 18, 2011.
Also in June, the first of five large marijuana plantations along the Rio Grande bosque was destroyed by officers of Socorro Police, the Sheriff’s Department, and the Bureau of Land Management.
The Mountain Mail was tipped off to the presence of Legionnaires Disease at the spa and pool at the Holiday Inn Express in June. The owner of the hotel, Dr. Ravi Bhasker, had the areas cleaned and sanitized after being notified by the New Mexico Environmental Department.
Sheriff’s deputies broke up an apparent cockfight in Lemitar, and June saw the reporting of bears and mountain lions in the Magdalena area, and at homes and campsites in Catron County.
In July, a Datil man, Jason Lon Kirby, was indicted by an Arizona grand jury on charges of fraudulent schemes and artifices, trafficking in stolen property and two counts of theft after allegedly stealing 200 head of cattle.
Poor adobe plastering was the cause of a Lemitar Church wall collapsing in July and the closing of the sanctuary at San Miguel Church. In November, Father Andy Pavlok began using San Miguel’s Parish Hall for church services.
Socorro Electric Cooperative General Manager Polo Pineda and Kathy Torres were suspended and were eventually fired by the board of trustees. The following month a forensic audit was held.
In August, Martin Pyke, who was implicated in a March 2006 fire and theft at the Eagles Club four years ago accused in the theft of money from the Eagles Club, was allowed to make restitution in lieu of being prosecuted as part of the District Attorney’s Pre-prosecution Diversion Program
Joseph Vallejos, owner and operator of JM Abstract and Title Co., was arrested on two counts of fraud. He was arraigned in Magistrate Court on Nov. 19.
The Rode Inn Motel in Reserve was destroyed by fire on Dec. 14.
Businesses making news were the opening of Family Dollar in Magdalena, the Stage Door Grill closing and Old Town Bistro opening in the same location, Subway’s first week of business, and the Warrior Grill opening on California Street.
In 2010, a number of much loved and respected people passed away. Gary Perry, longtime president and member of the Socorro County Fair and Rodeo Association and Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, died May 5 after a short illness. Charles B. Moore, renowned researcher on atmospheric physics, passed away on March 2 in Socorro, and Jacky Barrington, founder and longtime publisher of the Magdalena Mountain Mail newspaper, passed away March 9 in Centennial, Colo.

Workshop Intended to Curb Narcotics Activity

By John Larson

The Socorro Police Department is taking steps to further curb narcotics activity in the Socorro area by attending training workshops hosted by the national High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.
Police Chief George Van Winkle said Detective Rocky Fernandez recently attended a “drug cartel” conference in Las Cruces and a Domestic Highway Interdiction workshop in Phoenix.
According to its website, the HIDTA program enhances and coordinates drug control efforts among local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies. The program provides agencies with coordination, equipment, technology, and additional resources to combat drug trafficking in critical regions of the United States.
Van Winkle said Mexican drug cartels are expanding their methods of getting cocaine, heroin, and marijuana into the Southwest.
“They’re trying to figure out new ways to smuggle the drugs into the country, and how to get them on the streets,” Van Winkle said. “Socorro is at the junction of two common routes for transporting narcotics, Highway 60 and I-25, and we’re constantly looking for drugs.
“We’re out there doing traffic stops and our officers are trained in what to look for when a drive is pulled over for a traffic violation,” he said.
Van Winkle said the practice of profiling does not apply when making traffic stops. “At night there’s no way you can see who’s in the vehicle, especially on I-25,” he said. “We are very conscious on that, and if you go back through the citations, [the suspects] are all different.”
He said officers are trained to spot inconsistencies in drivers’ stories, coupled with other indications, like out-of-state plates. “We work with the Border Patrol on some cases,” Van Winkle said. “But we’ve assisted them more than they’ve assisted us.”
 “The sheriff’s office has been good to work with. We assist each other regularly,” he said. “The whole idea is to get the bad guys.”
Detective Fernandez said the conferences he attended gave an insight into the extent of drug trafficking from Mexico, and how dangerous it is to travel south of the border.
“One Mexican who was stopped in Las Cruces said, ‘muchas muertes,’ when they asked him why he crossed the border,” Fernandez said. “On one day alone there were 280 killings in Juarez.”
While over 12,000 have been killed in Mexico in 2010, three thousand of those were killed in Juarez alone, he said. “Right now the government is saying simply do not go to Mexico.”
“In Mexico, people driving can be stopped anywhere by Cartel members dressed as police or Federales,” Fernandez said. “And they even have official looking vehicles. The only way you can tell if it’s a real police car is by the VIN.”
He said he learned that Mexican drug cartels are building their drug corridor out of Mexico northward, and infiltrating into Colorado, where companies are started as a front.
“They will hire Mexicans to work for them, and they know what their family connections are in Mexico,” he said. “They have photographs of their family members and tell them, “if you don’t do what we want you to do, everyone in your family will be dead within 24 hours.”
Van Winkle said the HIDTA program provides much needed funding for officers’ overtime.
“Federal money gives more opportunity for officers to earn a little more money, and have more officers working,” he said. “They have the option to be working on their off time, if they decide to.”

Co-op to Hold Info Meetings in January

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez

Socorro Electric Cooperative office manager Eileen Latasa at the board of trustee’s regular meeting on Dec. 22 outlined a tentative schedule for a series of meetings that could take place at various sites within the public utility’s service area in January.
She said the idea of the meetings would be to provide member-owners with information regarding the rate increases that are set to go into effect next year, along with an explanation of the cost of service study behind the rise in fees.
A meeting for District 1 would take place at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 at the Veguita Senior Citizens Center; a meeting for Districts 2, 3 and 4 would take place at 5:30 on Jan. 21 at Finley Gym in Socorro; as of Wednesday, Dec. 29, the details for a meeting for District 5 is still being worked on, according to Latasa. 
Meanwhile, the board scheduled its next regular meeting for 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 inside the co-op’s board room located at 310 Abeyta St. in Socorro.

Educational Retirement Board Revises Eligibility Recommendations

By John Larson

The New Mexico Educational Retirement Board amended its recommendations concerning retirement eligibility requirements for employees of all public schools in the state, from local school systems to universities. The new requirements will be submitted the state legislature during its 60 day session, which begins on Jan. 18.
After a public comment period during a special board meeting on Dec. 17 in Albuquerque, the board voted unanimously to recommend two new requirements for collecting retirement pay. Both used a formula based on years of service in addition the employee’s age.
For those employed before July 1, 2010, the current eligibility requirement of 25 years will be retained. For those whose employment began afterward, there is a new requirement of 30 years.
In addition, all employees will see a one-half percent increase in their retirement fund contributions. This increase will be phased in over a four-year period, resulting in an increase of .0125 percent per year.
New Mexico Tech President Dan Lopez said in light of the financial state of the retirement funds, the decision of the board was more acceptable than the initial recommendation, which called for raising the number of years a person is employed from 25 to 35, raising member contributions to 9.9 percent of salary, and reducing benefits by 2.4 percent if retirement is before age 60.
“What they are needing to do is insure solvency – that the funds are sufficient to fulfill retirement pay if everyone currently employed works until retirement. It’s a big improvement over the original plan,” said Lopez. “But, of course, this will all have to be approved by the legislature.”
New Mexico Tech currently has about 1,000 employees.
ERB Chairwoman Mary Lou Cameron said, “This recommendation is expected to achieve the board’s goal of reaching the recommended Government Accounting Standards Board criterion of 80 percent funding within 30 years.”
Those wanting more information can visit, or contact Jan Goodwin, NMERB executive director, at 505-476-6118.

Accident On California Street

No one was seriously hurt in a wreck Dec. 16 that resulted in the temporary closure of two lanes on California Street and the destruction of a light pole in the median. According to the accident report, Candice Baldonado was heading south in a 1992 Chevrolet SUV at 8 a.m. when her vehicle was struck by a Dodge van driven by Shane Savage, who was making a left turn onto California from Proto St. Savage was issued citations for failing to yield the right-of-way and driving on a suspended driver’s license.

Transition to Morning sky Nearly Done

January Skies
By Jon Spargo
New MexicoTech Astronomy Club

For the past few months we’ve seen a slow transition of planets from the evening sky into the morning sky. With the exception of Jupiter, this transition is nearly complete. Jupiter is still found in the evening sky high in the south-southwest. Uranus is still hovering nearby, barely a half of a degree north of Jupiter. This will be the last opportunity to see these planets so close together until 2038. Binoculars or a small telescope should offer excellent views of both planets.
During the month, Saturn transits the midnight hour. At the beginning of the month it rises at 12:30 a.m. but by month’s end you will see it rise at 10:30 p.m. Saturn’s magnificent rings have opened to a tilt of 10 degrees, which is the best since 2007.
Dazzling Venus, at magnitude -4.5, will rise as much as 3.75 hours before the sun and climb to almost 20 degrees above the horizon before sunrise. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation on the 9th rising, about one and one half hours before the Sun. At magnitude 0 it should be easy to spot below and to the left of Venus during the first two weeks of the month.
The moon will be new on Tuesday, Jan. 4, first quarter on Jan. 12, full on Jan. 19, and last quarter on the Jan. 26.  On Saturday, Jan. 1, the waning crescent moon can be found, about one hour before sunrise, in the southeast halfway between Venus and Mercury in the early morning sky about one hour before sunrise.
On Jan. 8 and 9, the crescent moon will be keeping company with Jupiter in the west. On Jan. 25 at about 1 a.m., look for the waning moon just below and to the right of the ringed planet Saturn. In the early morning hours from Jan. 28 to 30, the waning crescent moon will be found parading past Antares and Venus.
For you orbital mechanics, the Earth will reach perihelion on Monday, Jan. 3. This marks its closest approach to the sun at about 91.4 million miles.
Clear Skies!

Socorro Police, Chief Honored for DWI Reduction

By John Larson

The Socorro Police Department and Chief George Van Winkle were honored this week by Gov. Bill Richardson and the state’s DWI Czar, Rachel O’Connor, for their increased efforts to reduce drunk driving in New Mexico in 2010.
Van Winkle received the Governor’s Superblitz Performance Award at city hall Wednesday. The police department was also awarded $10,000 to go toward DWI related equipment.
“We will probably use the money to buy cameras for four of our units,” Van Winkle said.
The department will also receive funding to attend the next national Lifesaver’s conference, a national highway safety meeting, in Phoenix.
According to O’Connor, since 2003 New Mexico has seen a 35 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatalities. The state had 221 alcohol-related fatalities in 2002. There have been 131 alcohol-related fatalities in the state to date in 2010.
Decisions were based on an independent review of all agencies participating in Superblitz activities. Awards were given to the top performers for large, medium and small agencies whose activities contributed to the reduction in alcohol-related fatalities.
Others receiving the award were Chief Faron Segotta of the New Mexico State Police and Chief Ernest Mendoza of the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department.
“We have all worked very hard to keep drunk drivers off our streets, and we are proud of the work of these law enforcement agencies,” Richardson said in a press release. “Their efforts have been crucial in the success of our statewide efforts in reducing DWI in New Mexico.”

OBITUARY: David E. Griego

David E. Griego, 61, passed away on Saturday, December 25, 2010 in Socorro surrounded by his loving family.
He was born June 20, 1949 to Elfego Griego and Caroline Cuellar.
He is survived by his loving wife of 38 years, Cathy Griego of Socorro; his devoted children, David Griego and wife, Barbara also of Socorro; and Elaine Montoya and husband Michael, of Bernalillo, NM; four grandchildren, Joshua; Madison; Jalen; and Tiara; his brothers, Paul Cases and wife, Frances; Rick Griego and wife, Julie; Elfego Griego Jr.; Levi Griego; Sam Griego; Anthony Griego; and Elmer Griego; his sisters, Ida Ortega; and Geraldine Rael; his aunt; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his beloved parents and his brother, Carlos Griego.
David was a life long resident of Socorro. He was a self-employed carpenter and a devoted member of San Miguel Catholic Church.
A Rosary was recited on Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. at San Miguel Catholic Church. A Mass of Resurrection will follow at 10:00 am with Deacon Mike Ybarra as Celebrant. Interment will take place in the San Miguel Catholic Cemetery.
Pallbearers are Daryl Cases, Rick Griego Jr., Joshua Griego, JC Griego, Miguel Griego, Robert Olguin, Tony Derryberry, and Jolinda Cuellar. Honorary Pallbearers are   Salo Griego, Mick Chavez, and Robert Chavez.
Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM  87801 575-835-1530.

OBITUARY: Anastacio S. Sedillo

Anastacio S. Sedillo, 85, passed away Thursday, December 23, 2010 in Socorro.
Anastacio was born on February 5, 1925 to Fillamon and Elisearia (Sais) Sedillo in Socorro.
He is survived by his sons, Dennis Sedillo; Paul Sedillo; and Herman Sedillo; his daughter, Viola Edwards; his half brother, Junior Eatman; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Anastacio was a lifelong resident of Socorro and a member of San Miguel Catholic Church.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his son, Michael. A Military Memorial service and internment will be held on Friday, January 7, 2010 at 11:00 am in the Santa Fe National Cemetery, Santa Fe.
Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM  87801 575-835-1530.

OPINION: The Government is Just Plain Embarrassing

Magdalena Potluck
By Margaret Wiltshire

We are not victims. We are the US in USA. We have never been perfect but we have always been worthwhile. Shock and Awe isn’t just a military experience. No matter what your politics are or have been, chances are our government has embarrassed you sometime in the past few years.
We let things slip by in Washington for decades so we are responsible, as well. We’ve been enjoying the kinds of comfort that are just not good for you, or anyone.
While 9/11 First Responders waited almost a decade for a real thank you, our government began two wars killing many more of US. Even in 2010 our government had such little respect for those who represent the best of US that they held their health care hostage right up to the holidays.  
There are some miserable souls in this world. Their goal is to make someone else miserable. It’s a lack of power they feel and have to deny to others. They are bullies. Bullies can be found anywhere from playgrounds to government offices and everywhere in between. 
Unfortunately there is often – not always, but often – a real trickle down effect. Yes, and one that works. Abusers create abusers and one street gang creates another. Tit for tat.
I guess we showed Saddam Hussein who can commit war crimes and who can’t; who can use weapons of mass destruction and who can’t. The Nuremberg War Crime Trials once got our full support, and so did our manufacturing. Times change, bullies don’t.
We are not the first people to have a government go sour on them. We can survive.
We knew in the beginning that a government would not represent individuals individually. What we demanded was that they respect us individually.
Later, we agreed to pay taxes for state and federal services. We hire these people to service us. Now they’ve got a better offer from multinationals. I am not going to wander through this maze. I just want to suggest that honing our survival skills might be a good idea.
First, decide and commit to survival. Second, become aware of your surroundings and situation. Do that without lying to yourself or getting overly emotional. This is not the time for wishing or feeling, it is a time to be objective. The ego is not a great help here. This is true in battle, it’s true in a VA hospital and in a cancer ward.  It’s true at the kitchen table with the bills in front of you. It’s true in a job hunt. Wishing, hoping, begging, and self-deceit will work against you. Know what your problem is and know what you are. These are tools.
Be curious. Situations may be similar but never forget they are always unique. Be fully aware of the now, this situation, this moment. Knowledge or intel is a tool.
Be flexible. Consider all possibilities. Surviving often means forgetting about rules. Holding on to patterns, habits, traditions and personal values and bias may bury you. Be willing to break some rules, even or especially if you wrote them.
Surviving is not about the ego. Keep the ego for R and R or at least ‘til you get to a safe place and you can say, “Did I just survive that.” (That’s not a question, that’s an assertion.)
Look at your take on a situation, up, down and sideways, as if you were evaluating someone else’s idea.  This is where being partisan can do you in.
If you can’t look at courses of action from every angle it can be worse than tunnel vision. The other person might have a good idea, if you can’t see it, you lose.
When in doubt, trust your gut. Einstein said, “The only valuable thing is intuition.” It’s because your mind and body want you to survive and all you have to do is ask, and listen. Don’t wait for a traumatic event, practice, practice, practice. It’s like fry bread, you’ve got to get a feel for it. If your gut is tough and tight, you are not there yet.

Here’s to your Health
You are what you eat.  If you are eating, you are alive and need to keep moving. Your health is your real social class, as in, you are as good as you feel. Sometimes we need help but help works better if we help ourselves as well.
Good for you food is not boring. White flour and white sugar are boring. I know I’m suppose to say that about white rice too, but just can’t bring myself to say it. I love white rice; I’m not eating it anymore (not very often).
Seriously, if you haven’t found a way to eat your vegetables, keep looking. We now have access to recipes from all around the world. Explore. The truth remains that most veggies are best pretty much as is. Some need a little cooking.
We nurturing adults are weird with our offspring. When they are at an age when they believe everything we say (2 to 5), we teach them to not like vegetables and to prefer junk food. Like, if you eat your vegetables, you can have soda, dessert, whatever later. We don’t count the wisecracks we make about vegetables. Like, I’m President now; I don’t have to eat broccoli.
I experimented with my daughters. I was excited when I put vegetables on the table. When I offered dessert, soda, I said nothing.
My first born just turned 41 and never wanted – or would accept – a birthday cake and still won’t drink soda. This complicated sleepovers.
There are well over a hundred foods, herbs and spices that are good for you. Many are believed to be life extenders and to fight disease.   
Tomatoes are full of lycopene, an antioxidant that mops up free radicals. Cooking actually concentrates the nutrient. Tomatoes are believed to reduce the risk of lung, colon, breast, cervic and mouth cancers. According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, men who ate 10 servings of tomato-based foods weekly slashed their risk of prostate cancer by 45 percent.
Check out the website It has a wonderful article titled “Cancer Fighting Foods/Spices”. Avocados, chile peppers and jalapeños are listed. This is the website of The Cancer Cure Foundation. Its extensive list of foods and descriptions will be familiar to many of you, but I’ll bet you’ll find a few surprises, too.
Many like to be macho about foods that are good for you and laugh them off. My baby brother (he’s 60) has been one. His idea of eating at a golden age has been to eat as often as possible at the golden arches. He’s been having small heart attacks in the last few years; a few days before Christmas he had another. When he got to the VA hospital they discovered that he also has leukemia. Now he has a two against one battle on his hands. Good food is nothing to laugh off.
In my family, four people have battled cancer in the last few generations. Two were smokers. All four avoided vegetables and would decline a cup of tea.

Love is a verb; Happiness is a choice
You can’t buy them, inherit them, own and possess them. That only leads to flirtations. You can’t expect them. You can’t match up with them like matching clothes. You can only do them and that’s a trip.
If you think you are giving out a lot of love and not getting any and your miserable, then you are working on bad intelligence (about the situation). Love and happiness are important to our survival. It’s not treason to be objective about ourselves and our others.
Happiness and love are wonderful motivators. The best part is they are always available. Having a sexual partner may not be always available. Having someone to share responsibilities and income may not always be available. Love and happiness, they are always available.
“Find somebody to love”, that’s how a song went and it is not that hard. Love is an ability, an action. It’s a matter of use it or lose it.
If you are available, perhaps lonely, don’t go without. We have a universe and planet full of things to love.  Open your eyes; be in the now, this moment.  Not only are you pretty neat but you are surrounded by neat people, plants and animals. Develop a relationship with good foods, good ideas and this good earth, and don’t forget music.
People say, “I see other people are so happy and it makes me so sad and lonely.” Drop the jealousy.  Jealous people are into power, not love.
See happiness and be delighted. See sadness and be concerned. See a respectful caring love and be moved.  Be there. Choose to join this universal group. You’ll be delighted at how much company you’ll find just waiting for you.
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional on any of this. I often think of myself as a slow learner and even slower practitioner. Everything I write is OK’d by me on a gut level. I have learned to love my intuition.
New Year Promise: I saw this tag at the end of an e-mail: Don’t dream it, do it. I’ve decided that’s my “byline” for this coming year.
Yes! Magdalena’s Recycling! Contact Laurie Ware at 575-854-2529, or e-mail for the details. A tip of my hat to Laurie and friends, who have worked so hard to make this happen. 

Know a way to get problems solved? Write me at

SGH Honored for Provided Care

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez

The area’s only full service hospital has once again been honored for maintaining a high level of care.
For the third consecutive quarter, Socorro General Hospital received the Brilliant Torch Award from the New Mexico Medical Review Association, an independent nonprofit health care consulting firm based in Albuquerque. This most recent recognition covers data between the third quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010.
The award, which was given to SGH in November, is earned by health care institutions achieving between 76 and 100 percent approval on surveys completed by patients regarding experiences in relation to core measures. Core measures, data pertaining to quality care as defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, include communication between medical staff and patients, pain management, room cleanliness and aftercare.
“We’re very proud of have been recognized for these achievements,” said Bo Beames, Socorro General Hospital administrator, “but more importantly it reflects the quality of care that is provided all of the patients at Socorro General Hospital.”
Veronica Pound, director of nursing at SGH, says that the hospital’s leadership team established the expectation of meeting the core measure requirements at the beginning.
“Providers were given data showing that specific interventions would decrease morbidity and mortality,” she said. “Staff then collaborated with providers to adapt the order sets to fit our patient population and practice.”
The NMMRA gives technical and professional advice to hospitals in New Mexico in maintaining the improvement of their core measures. The consulting firm began giving out accolades based on core measures in December 2009, mostly in an effort to recognize performances made by the state’s hospitals in improving patient care.
SGH is one two hospitals in New Mexico that received the Brilliant Torch Award for a third successive time last month, the other being Española Hospital.
“Hospitals across the country have made significant improvements in the evidence-based practices that support good patient care,” said Carlene Brown, NMMRA’s director of patient safety.
SGH is part Presbyterian Healthcare Services, which is based in Albquerque.

Socorro County Sheriff's Blotter

Information for the following items was provided by the Socorro County Sheriff’s Department.

Nov. 7
A complainant on Avenida Ladera in Socorro reported at 1 p.m. that he is being harassed by the suspect. He stated that they are divorcing and she is trying to make problems for him at his work and with co-workers. She has sent emails, filed false reports, stalking and gossip. He stated that she has been to his home with police on separate occasions. She was told not to return to the home unless with legal advisor.

An Albuquerque woman reported at 3:55 p.m. that she was driving her ATV on the dirt road to Riley from Bernardo and lost control of the vehicle and fell off. She suffered a bump to the head, and was treated and released by EMTs. No action taken. The victim did not want a crash report.

Nov. 8
A complainant in Socorro reported at 11:30 a.m. that a rock had been thrown through the driver side door window of the car his wife drives. No suspects at time of report.

Nov. 9
An officer assisted a city police detective and a caseworker from CYFD with a home visit in Lemitar at 1:15 p.m. During the course of investigation a controlled substance was located. The female suspect was placed under arrest and transported to the detention center.

Nov. 14
A woman from Cincinnati was driving westbound on Highway 60 in Veguita at 11:45 a.m. at the intersection with Highway 304. At the same time another vehicle southbound on Highway 304 passed through the stop sign and was struck by the westbound car. The westbound driver swerved in an attempt to avoid the crash but could not. The driver of the southbound car was cited due to her being at fault for the crash.

Nov. 15
A Socorro woman reported at 1 p.m. that she and the suspect had a child custody hearing at district court. She said that as they were leaving the suspect came up behind her and made comments to her. There is an order of protection in effect and he is not supposed to have any contact with her, verbal or physical.

Nov. 26
An officer pulled over a vehicle at 10:15 p.m. for a traffic violation on Interstate 25 at mile marker 155. A check with NCIC showed that the driver’s vehicle had to be equipped with an interlock system, and the vehicle he was driving did not. He was placed under arrest and transported to the detention center.

Nov. 27
An officer pulled over a vehicle at 10:30 p.m. for a traffic violation on Fairgrounds Road, and found that the driver did not have a driver’s license. There was no insurance or registration on the vehicle. The driver was cited and the vehicle was released to his spouse.

Nov. 30
An Albuquerque woman visiting in Veguita reported at 12:22 p.m. that her sister kicked and slammed her head into the door. The officer could find no physical evidence of battery. Their mother stated that there was no physical interaction between them as stated by the victim. The victim was asked to leave the residence by the sister and mother. Incident possibly turned into a civil matter due to victim wanting to change power of attorney from the sister to her.

A city police car was attempting to stop another vehicle on Center Street at 4:50 p.m. when the vehicle would not pull over. The officer pulled up in front of the suspect in order to make the vehicle stop. The suspect driver continued and rear ended the police car. The driver was placed under arrest and transported to the detention center.

Dec. 1
An officer pulled over a vehicle at 7:30 p.m. for a traffic violation on Highway 380 at mile marker 9. The driver, from Jarales, New Mex., did not have a driver’s license and the vehicle was not covered by insurance. She was cited and the vehicle was towed.

Dec. 2
An officer was dispatched at 11 a.m. to district court to take the suspect into custody and escort her to the detention center. She was booked and incarcerated.

An officer was dispatched at 7 p.m. to the truck stop in Lemitar on a DWI alert call. The vehicle was located and was pulled over for a traffic violation. The officer detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from the driver’s person. He admitted to consuming alcoholic beverages and was given, and failed, field sobriety tests. He was then transported to Socorro for a breath test - which he refused – and then locked up in jail.

Dec. 4
A deputy met with Border Patrol officers who had pulled over a vehicle at 1:10 a.m. It was learned that the suspect was driving on a suspended or revoked license with an arrest clause. A check confirmed the arrest status, and he was placed under arrest and transported to the detention center.

An officer ran a check on a suspect in Veguita at 6 p.m. and learned that he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He was arrested and transported to the detention center.

Dec. 9
A complainant from Middle Rio Grande Conservancy reported at 3 p.m. that someone shot out the windows of a backhoe and a grader parked on Farm-Market Road. A small caliber weapon was used. Tire tracks were located and photographed.

Tech Professor Runs Toward First-Place Finish

By Dave Wheelock
For the Mountain Mail

Aster nears the summit of Pike's Peak last August. Photo courtesy of Jan Aster.
Rick Aster of Socorro placed first in his age division and seventh overall of 57 finishers in the 50-kilometer Rodeo Beach Trail Ultramarathon in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near San Francisco on Dec. 18.
The 51-year-old professor of geophysics at New Mexico Tech covered 31 miles of trail near the Golden Gate Bridge with a time of 4:56.21, beating the next fastest finisher by more than 30 minutes. A winning time of 3:56:27 was run by 34-year-old Pieter Vermeesch of London.
The race took place in rainy and misty conditions that Aster reported as perfect for running a long race, with only one section of bad mud. The run had a vertical elevation gain and loss of approximately 6,000 feet.
Aster, who is chair of Tech’s Earth and Environmental Science Department, was in San Francisco for the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union.
Aster said he “really felt the difference in elevation running near sea level after training in Socorro and the Magdalena Mountains.” The elevation of Socorro is approximately 4,600 feet, and local runners can train at elevations of up to 10,700 feet on South Baldy.
Aster and his wife, Jan Tarr, are avid runners of trails and road races around New Mexico and beyond, and Tarr recently organized a community 5-kilometer running series in Socorro.
The couple competed in the Boston Marathon in April and has been running races together for the past five years. They have also competed in marathons and ultramarathons in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Oregon.
Aster noted that Socorro, with its highly varied elevations, trails, and terrain and great weather, is “perfect for trail running and training.” Tarr and Aster typically run 40 to 50 miles per week when training for races.
For the past several years, Aster, who is also president of the Seismological Society of America, has made close to a dozen field trips to Antarctica to conduct research of that continent’s geology, glaciology, and volcanology. These visits can extend for several weeks.
How does Aster manage to keep up his fitness?
“I run on the 10,000 foot runway,” he said.

Former NFL Star has Ties to Socorro and Reserve

By Gary Jaramillo

I had the unique opportunity to visit with Don Woods (former NFL great) at our local Supermart Store. He was in town raising money for kids at risk and his Ray of Hope Foundation, and also to visit his wife’s family, who live here in Socorro and are originally from Reserve. He is married to Margaret Montano and was excited to be able to spend time with his in-laws while raising money for the nonprofit foundation he and his wife began in order to promote values in post secondary areas of education.
Their foundation helps raise money for those kids who need funding assistance to attend college. Woods’ wife Margaret is a social worker and Woods teaches at risk kids in Albuquerque for charter schools.
Before teaching, Woods played football at Highlands University in Las Vegas his first three years of college and finished up at the University of New Mexico. His talents got him drafted into the National Football League by the New York Jets in 1974 and then traded to the Green Bay Packers, where he missed the final cut, and was finally picked up by the San Diego Chargers, where he played for one of his past UNM football coaches, Rudy Feldman, who had a pretty good idea about just how talented Woods was on the field of play.
Woods took advantage of an injury that placed the Chargers starting running back on the bench and really took charge and impressed the team’s coaches and ownership in the end. His almost 1,200-yard season ranked him a close second in the league that year behind Otis Armstrong of the Denver Broncos and just ahead of the great Buffalo Bills runner O.J. Simpson. He also garnered Rookie of the Year honors that season.
Woods finished up his NFL Career with the San Francisco ‘49ers in 1980, and resumed his educational goals in order to get his master’s degree and his interest and love for helping others realize their educational and life dreams have been moving ahead at full steam, like the way he used to run in the NFL. He hasn’t let anything slow him down when it comes to helping his kids in school. Woods has been teaching for more than 20 years in the Albuquerque schools and charter schools as well.
Each year, Woods hosts an annual golf tournament that raises money for kids who want to attend college and he has great plans to build a Ray of Hope Charter School in the south valley of Albuquerque within the next couple of years. His new school would help at-risk students, from kindergarten to 12th grade, and would also provide flexibility which would help special needs students as well.
“We don’t want to let any of our kids fall through the cracks ever again,” said Woods.
He smiles every time he talks about his kids and the possibilities that will come with his new school in Albuquerque. Football was a very special part of his life, but the kids that he cares about and love so much are just as special and fill his and Margaret’s hearts with pure joy and contentment.
It was a pleasure to meet a great former professional athlete and even greater man with a big heart and love for educating those less fortunate. It’s nice to know that he didn’t just sit back and rest on his laurels, but decided long ago that his life has only begun after he left the playing field so many years ago.
Congratulations to Woods for caring so much about our children, and congratulations to the kids who will succeed because he made a choice to make a difference in so many other people’s lives. It’s also pretty neat to have a gentleman of his caliber dropping in for a family visit from time to time here in Socorro. We wish him and his extended Montano family from here in Socorro and Reserve the very best always.

Catron Historical Society Throws Old-Fashioned Christmas Party

By Lisa Blessing
For the Mountain Mail

The Quemado School cafeteria on Dec. 11 was transformed into an old fashioned Christmas for the third annual Catron County Historical Society Christmas Party.
Members and their guests walked past sleds piled high with packages and guarded by a reindeer to enter doors hung with twinkling boughs of pine and large sprays of beribboned and belled juniper. Hot spiced cider and hot chocolate were waiting near the door to take away the December chill.
Tables lit by luminarias displayed items for both a raffle and a silent auction. Catron County businesses generously donated gifts and gift certificates while many talented CCHS members provided home crafted gifts that ranged from a lovely afghan to a hand forged BBQ fork, handmade dolls, art, edibles and gift baskets. A cowboy boot stocking was hung for donations to share with those less fortunate than we this season and was bulging by evening’s end.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Gatlin/La Luz Photography
Creating a homey feeling, the main wall was covered by a large mural of an old fashioned living room. A genuine old rocking chair on a braided rug with assorted antique furniture brought the mural into the room, as packages spilled out from under an old fashioned decorated Christmas tree topped by a red cowboy hat. On the edge of the living room the harp of Rebecca Ketts filled the hall and hearts with traditional seasonal music from the moment of welcome all the way thru dinner.
After an invocation, all headed for the buffet table where the Quemado FFA served a delicious traditional meal of ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with two kinds of gravy, candied yams, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn and rolls. Everyone appreciated not just the generosity and the effort of the FFA, but its success in creating such an elaborate and tasty meal for 60 people.
Some CCHS members contributed elaborate desserts, and as people finished a delicious variety of taste treats and coffee the entertainment began. Stories and poems about Christmases in different places and times were shared to delight and applause. Some adventurous women did a turn at line dancing followed by the raffle and silent auction. Even the artificial but artfully decorated Christmas tree in the living room went home with a lucky winner.
No gathering this time of year is complete without group caroling and the CCHS was fortunate to have Laurie Vance playing the guitar and leading the singing. Finally, the lingering strains of “Silent Night” gave way to folks gathering up their treasures from the auction and raffle, wishing their friends and neighbors “Merry Christmas” and heading home filled with the warmth of the season, of good friends, and good food.

Community Center to Host Quemado Food Pantry

Quemado News
by Debbie Leschner

Quemado Food Pantry will take place on Jan. 7 at the Community Center, sponsored by the Datil Community Presbyterian Church. Two programs run simultaneously: the federally funded commodities and a food fair. There are no eligibility requirements for the food fair, and you will receive about 50 pounds of food per household. You must arrive and sign up before 3:30 p.m. You will then be called in order, so prepare to wait – it is well worth it. Bring your own containers. Ice chests are recommended for frozen and refrigerated foods. 

There will be a food distribution the first Friday of every month at 3:30 p.m. in Quemado, along with Datil at 11 a.m., Horse Mountain at 12:30 p.m., and Pie Town at 2 p.m. The times might vary due to the food distribution truck’s arrival. You may attend any of these locations, but only one location per month. For more information, call or email Anne Schwebke at 575-772-5602 or

The Quemado Senior Center pool tournament will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 4, with quilting and bingo on Jan. 6. Lunch menu was not available at printing time. All seniors are welcome. Please call the center at 575-773-4820 before 9 a.m. to inquire about the menu and make your lunch reservations.

Quemado Schools resume classes on Monday, Jan. 3. Basketball games for the week: Jan. 6, the boys varsity and junior varsity teams play Magdalena at home while the girls varsity play at the Cliff Tournament from Jan. 6 through Jan. 8. The boys varsity and junior varsity play an away game against Ramah on Jan. 7.

The Western New Mexico Veterans Group Rummage Sale will be held on Jan. 8 and 9 from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. in the Veteran’s Hall, located at the corner of Baca and Church Streets in Quemado. All proceeds go to help local veterans, their families and for the renovation of the hall.

Leadership Camp at the Mojave Academy will be held from Jan. 15 to 28. During this time children are expected to learn greater responsibility, better communication skills, stronger initiative, improved judgment and the ability to maintain values. These are attained through study, drills and outdoor activities in an individualized program precisely tailored to the needs of your child. The academy is a private boarding school on 160 acres located in the Datil area. You can get more information by calling 1-800-576-3866 or visiting their web site www. .

Note: Know of anything going on or a special event in a family or school, please let me know. Good news can’t be shared if it is unknown. Call 575-773-4119 or email at

Sylvia and Friend Confront New Year’s Resolutions Head On

By Anne Sullivan

Lying on the living room rug with a spiral notebook in front of her, Sylvia clutched pen in paw. As far as I could tell from my comfortable chair, she hadn’t written one single word. A blank page stretched endlessly before her.
“What’s the matter?” I asked. “Inspiration won’t come?”
“I’m trying to do what you said,” was the gruff answer.
“Well, that’s a first. What’s the problem?”
“I’m serious.” She turned to look at me and, indeed, she wore her serious face. “You said I had to write down my New Year’s Resolutions and I can’t think of any. I’m quite perfect the way I am.”
“Oh, I see,” I said, returning to my newspaper.
Several minutes passed before Sylvia put down her pen and turned to me and asked, “What about your New Year’s Resolutions?”
“I haven’t done any. I never do. I gave that up years ago.”
Sylvia digested this as well as the chawed-upon end of a pig’s ear before pronouncing, “I have an idea. Why don’t I make resolutions for you and you do the same for me?”
“Okay, I’ll play,” I said. “But who makes resolutions for Gordo?”
“We both do. Let’s limit the number of resolutions to three each and we have ten minutes to write them.” Sylvia tore two pages from her notebook and brought them to me.
“One more thing,” I suggested. “We must have rebuttal time.”
“Okay,” she agreed, “as long as it’s limited to one minute.”
I wrote as fast as I could, looking up only once to see that Sylvia had already filled one page and was starting on the next.
A glance at my watch showed me that ten minutes had passed. “Time’s up.” I called.
“What have you got?” Sylvia asked.
I read from my paper, “One: I, Sylvia, resolve to stop arguing with my boss about everything.
“Two: I, Sylvia, resolve to always keep in my mind the fact that my boss knows what she is doing. Three: I, Sylvia, resolve to take any pills prescribed by the Vet without having to be wrestled down by my caring boss because—”
Sylvia did not let me finish before she interrupted with, “In the first place you do not have a dog who argues with you about everything. Your dog is patient and kind and…”
I checked my watch while she droned on.
“And in the second place. I cannot be sure that you always know what you’re doing at all. And in the third place—”
“Time,” I called. “Your rebuttal time is over.”
“It can’t be over yet. Your watch must be wrong.”
“It’s over. I have spoken.”
Sylvia glowered at me. “My turn to read your resolutions.”
“Go ahead.”
“One: I, the boss, resolve not to be so bossy. Two: I resolve to feed Gordo and the good Sylvia on time every morning and evening. Three: I resolve never to yell at Gordo and the good Sylvia and I must always remember that they are sensitive intelligent individuals. At least Sylvia is. I’m not so sure about Gordo.”
“Now listen,” I said, “I am the boss here and it’s about time you real—”
“Time,” Sylvia called. “Your rebuttal time is over.”
“It is not!” I shouted.
“Yes, it is. I’m hungry. It’s time for breakfast. The first breakfast of the New Year. Happy New Year, everybody!”

Letters To Myscie: A Western Love Story By Suzanne E. Smith

Part 16 of the series.
Letters to Myscie is a true story. It reveals to us a “yankee’s” view of the area and the times, and the impact it had on new comers.
Suzanne E. Smith

Sunday P.M. May 30th 1883
San Mateo Mts.
Delta Ranch
Socorro Co. N.M.

My dear dear Myscie

I have just returned from hunting our horses. I have been out looking for them over two hours and I am quite tired; only found one of them after all either, and Mr. Phillips has just taken that to go over to his ranch and will not return until night. Mr. Walker who went into the Magdalenas yesterday and took the letter I wrote yesterday will return tonight too so I shall only be alone this afternoon. We expect to have some trouble over these ranches and in fact we have had some already, but then we have got the drop on the right side and they can kick just as hard as they please and it will do no good. About two weeks ago the "Terry outfit" as we call them started out to take these ranches by "storm".
There were four of them T.J. Terry brother of the one that claims them. T.E. Walker brother in law of the same and two cowboys. They were armed to the teeth just as if they expected to meet Indians or Rustlers, the blamed cowards that they are. Well before they started out they made the boast that they would run us out (as we have been told since by a party that loaned them his gun). The day they came Clay and two "old timers" who have been out here for years; (stanch friends of Clay's) started out for a bear hunt over in what is called the "Big Rosie Canon" about eight miles from here. (I have a "Desert Claim " of 640 acres of land in that same canon.)
San Mateo Ranch cowboys
Well, they had been gone about two hours. Jim, he had taken a gun and gone off too, for a little hunt. I had got tired of waiting for him to come back so wrote a note to him stuck it up on the door and saddled up my pony ready to start off over to the Little Rosie Ranch to do some work, which I wished to do that day. I was just about to jump into the saddle when I caught sight of something moving down the canon. I waited and soon saw three men on horse back coming up. There were Clay and his two friends. As they rode up Clay says “the Terry outfit are just on their way over to the Little Rosie (that is where my ranch is).” He said they saw them just as they were crossing the Little Rosie Canon to go into the Big Rosie Canon. That they run right on them; that they drew their guns from their saddles but made no trouble. They had a little talk with them and then Clay and his friends came back here and the "Gang" went on. Just as soon as Clay had told this I was determined to see the thing through for the ranch is mine and I can hold it by law and if they think they can scare me off or drive me off because I am a "tenderfoot" they are mistaken.
So I just jumped into my saddle and started off over the mountains to my ranch detemined to hold it in spite of them and to show them that I didn't scare "worth a cent". I expected to find that they had broken in the door and taken posession but they had got there long before I did, had pulled down my notice, whittled it all off and stuck up an other notice. They did not break in. I do not think they dared to. After they had taken lunch which they took on the ground out side, they started off again for the Pine Tree Ranch.
It was here in the mountains just half way between the "Pine Tree" and the "Little Rosie" that I met them face to face right in the woods. It was truly picturesque I know it must have been and quite romantic. I thought of it afterward that night after I got back. To see us five parties riding up onto one another with our guns in hand and six shooters shining in our belts while the sun peeped down between the branches of the big pines to see the fun. I wasn't afraid one bit and I shouldn't have been if there had been 40 instead of four, for I knew I was on the right side. That they were on the "bluff" game and was trying to scare me out of it. I knew there wasn't one of them had the sand to draw his arms on me, for they know as well as we know how tight we have got them, and as far as being safe I would just as soon have met them without my gun or six shooter as to have had them. They are cowards from the word go. I knew the two cowboys and as I drove up they spoke and said that I was Smith and the man he (Terry) wanted to see.
I pulled up my horse side of Mr. Terry so clost that I could touch him and asked
what was wanted. Terry asked me if I was the man who was locating these ranches out here. I told him I was, and then he opened up on me with his threats and warnings etc., talked law, talked force, talked everything that would tend to scare me, said if I placed foot on the Little Rosie Location he would prosicute me to the full extent of the law etc., etc., etc. I let him go on for some time in this way and then I said just as cool as could though I admit I was a little nervous. “ Mr. Terry your ranches have been jumpable for some time. In fact we have jumped some of the, and I for one intend to keep the one I have jumped. As for law, the sooner we go to the law, the sooner you will see where you are getting left, and as far as going on to the Little Rosie claim, there is just where I am going now.” Pointing to my saddle where I had a saw, an axe and a hatchet strapped I said..” there is my axe, hatchet & saw that I am going to do work with over there this afternoon. Furthermore said I, we are both wasting time standing here talking in this way so good day.”
I then turned my horse about and drove past them. They called to me to stop and I stopped and turned around and one of the cowboys whom Terry had to locate the ranch in his (the cowboy's name) said to me, “Smith I warn you before these parties, not to set foot on the Little Rosie Location for it is mine.” “ George” said I “ you heard what I said to Mr. Terry. I don't care to make any more talk with you whatever”, and then I drove on.
But to go back a little way to Jim, he had wandered off towards the Little Rosie and knowing that I would be there soon had lain down side of the cabin to rest and wait for me instead of returning, as I had expected, to Hoyt's, before I left. While he was siting here, down came these four upon him with their guns flashing as he told it, and asked him if he was put in charge of that ranch. He said he was not and had nothing to do with it.
Unknown group of armed men
They wanted to know where Smith & Cowles were. If they slept there or where they did sleep. They said they knew where we would sleep tonight! Jim asked them where and they said out in the brush somewhere and they laughed as if they were on to us as big as an ox. They asked Jim what his name was, where he came from and a thousand and one questions. They just pumped him dry. They made him stop to lunch with them and gave him lots of taffy about Cowles & myslf. They said they just wanted to see that Smith, and he was the man they were after. Jim was a little scared I know, but he says he was not and will not admit it a bit. I know he was from what happened and what they said he told them. As soon as they left the Little Rose, Jim, he skipped out across the mtns to Frank Pierce's ranch. So when I arrived at the cabin he was not there. They told me about finding Jim there and what he told them and lots of stuff he didn't tell them, just to scare me, so I expected to find him when I got there. But I did not find him for he had slipped out as soon as they had left.
I went to work and worked about two hours when Clay came and we went back to Hoyt's where we are making our head quarters. I told him what I had gone through and what I had said. He said I had done just right and praised me up by saying that he told the other fellows when I started off to come over, that these fellows wouldn't make anything out of Smith, if they did try on their "bluff" game. It is a State Prison offense to destroy or tear down a location notice, as they did mine, and I have almost positive proof that they did. Jim was there all the time but did not see them do it; but I have found over in the bushes the shavings with the writing on that fits into the same board that they have got their notice written on. You see they were not so very smart after all for they just whittled off the side my notice was on and wrote on the other side. I have several witnesses to seeing my notice there first also witnesses to the shavings which I have saved and tried into the same places where they were whittled off. So if they destroy the board, I can proove by witnesses that have seen both board & shavings all about it. I've got them down fire and if they go to kicking too hard I will "squeeze" them a little.
San Mateo cabin
After they left the Little Rosie they went over to the Pine Tree and tore down our notice there and put up one of their own. I have also found a part of this notice which they split and cut up. Then they came over here where Cowles & his friends were but were very quiet had nothing to say about running anybody out of the country or that anyone has got to sleep out in the brush that night, neither did they lay down any notices but just simply posted up one of theirs over. They asked Cowles some questions about Hoyt's right as location and he told them he knew nothing about it but must go to Hoyt if they wanted to make any talk for he owns the location and the one who claimed the ranch. After they left here they went to five other of Terry's ranches and stuck up notices but they don't amount to any more than the ones out here only to proove that they are "behind time". Last Sunday I went over to my ranch and found the same outfit there again with an addition to the gang of an other of Terry's brothers. This time armed as before. I don't know what they intended to do but found them camped out side. I opened the door and went in just as they were posting a warning up on the door. I got what I was after and came out; They asked me if I was going to lock the door and I told them I was. Well they said they guessed they would sleep outside. I told them they had that privledge. The warning they stuck was a precise copy of the one I had put up of my own. I read it over to them, it reads like this
To any person or persons who may trespass on these premises to molest or disturb or do harm to any part or portion of property belonging to this location. I do hereby give warning and shall prosicute to the full extent of the law such intrusions.
May 25th '83=Signed Jos E. Smith=Location (Seal)

I guess none of them knew enough to make out one of their own so had to copy. The next day they came over here stoped all day, camped out all night-about 50 yards from the cabin under the trees; posted up their warning and went away the next morning with out disturbing a thing anywhere or making any disturbance. I guess they are finding out the "Bluff" don't count. Our lawyer; Judge Cartwell was out the other night and gave me a few pointers. He says I have done well and to keep a stiff upper lip and we will teach them a few things they don't know yet. We may have some fun yet, but there is plenty of money and the right side of the law to back us so we are all OK. You must be tired of this stuff for here I have written seven or eight pages of it. I did not know I had written so much, but when I get to going I don't know when to sto, so forgive me if I have tired you Myscie. I'll change the subject.
The J.E. Smith Collection is wonderful. However a large number of the photos and the people in them are unidentified. One of the the two ranch photos were validated by Buddy Tigner, as being located within the old Tigner Ranches in the San Mateos. The photo of the “armed” group is odd because some seem to be wearing military uniforms; some casually dressed, and there are a couple of “little fellers” and some dogs. It was possibly a “hunting party”.

Letters to Myscie, a Western Love Story written by Suzanne E. Smith, All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Accident on Highway 107 Results in Fatality

By John Larson

A rollover accident on Highway 107 resulted in the death of a Winston man last weekend. Magdalena Marshal Larry Cearley said Adam Peterson, 22, was returning home for Christmas from a tour of duty in Afghanistan when the accident occurred. He was serving in the Marines as a Lance Corporal at 29 Palms Marine Air Ground Combat Center in California.
According to the New Mexico State Police, officers responded Sunday, Dec. 19, to a single vehicle rollover off Highway 107, just south of Magdalena.
A press release from Lt. Eric Garcia said that the State Police believe the crash sometime occurred between Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
“The Office of the Medical Investigator will advise on time of death after an autopsy has been completed,” Garcia said in the release. “Alcohol and failure to wear seatbelts are contributing factors.”
The officers’ investigation showed Peterson was traveling southbound in his 1997 Ford pickup approaching a curve at mile marker 27 when he lost control. The pickup slid off the roadway and subsequently rolled nearly three times.
During the rolling momentum Peterson was thrown from the vehicle and killed when the vehicle came to rest on top of him, Garcia said.
Adam Peterson was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Weapons Company, and conducted combat operations in Helmand and Farah provinces in Afghanistan from March through the end of October.
“He had lots of friends in the Magdalena and Socorro County area,” his father, Paul Peterson said by telephone Wednesday. “He will be missed by many.”
Before joining the Marines in 2008, Peterson was a wildland firefighter working with the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico State Forestry.
Funeral services will be held at the Church of the Butte in Elephant Butte Monday, Dec. 27 at 11 a.m. including a Marine honor guard. Burial will follow at the Peterson family ranch in Winston.

Decision on Ordinance to Boost Economic Growth Delayed

By John Larson

The Magdalena Village Board decided Monday, Dec. 13, to table a decision on an ordinance designed to encourage economic development within the village limits.
Village attorney Tom Fitch told the trustees he read the ordinance and said it could be used as a tool to attract the type of businesses the community wanted.
“It appears to be one way of being able to offer businesses incentive to locate in Magdalena. A way of stimulating growth,” Fitch said. “Is that good? That’s the age old argument. It’s a judgment of what you want for this community.”
Trustee Barbara Baca said she was wary of opening the village up to the “wrong kind of growth. We don’t want to see a lot of influences coming in and taking all the power away from the people here.
“You’ll end up with people wanting to leave town,” Baca said.
Fitch said there were two aspects to consider. “First, if you do pass the ordinance you would have the Magdalena Community Development Commission to be an initial screen on each project. They would make recommendations to the board,” he said. “Number two, would you vote off on this support. The ordinance is a tool which allows you to do. So, if you have the tool do you use it?”
Trustee Diane Allen quizzed Fitch on several sections of the ordinance, objecting to the imposition of a village gross receipts tax of .25 percent earmarked for economic development projects. “As I read this we could impose another infrastructure project passed on people in the community as a local tax,” she said.
Fitch said, “The board is the one makes the final decision.”
The second objection Allen had was with a section of the ordinance which said that “policies and objectives of the county’s economic development plan shall receive priority,” including “projects which … meet the mission of New Mexico Tech and Very Large Array.”
Allen questioned why the village should give priority to New Mexico Tech and VLA projects. “As far as I’m concerned, this is not what I want,” she said.
Clerk Rita Broaddus said the ordinance, proposed by Tim Hagaman of the New Mexico Economic Development Department, “appears to be a boilerplate copy that can be used by any county or municipality, after appropriate changes are made.”
Broaddus said it appeared that that section was overlooked when Hagaman copied the version he submitted to the county.
Baca moved to table the issue indefinitely, and the board unanimously agreed.

Students get Head Start at Socorro School

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez

While attending Southwest Child Care in Albuquerque, T.J. Silva Jr., then 3 years old, spent most of his time inside his classroom at the daycare facility staring off into space and not interacting much with the other children and instructors.
“He’s a fast learner and pays attention at home,” said his mother, Sonya Silva, 23, “but they weren’t really teaching him anything there.”
T.J. Silva Sr., 24, added, “He got bored real easily.”
It wasn’t until the Silvas moved to Socorro a little more than a year ago that the childcare situation for T.J., now 4, improved. That was when his parents enrolled him at the Early Childhood Development Center in Socorro, the city’s lone Head Start-affiliated program.
And though the program is geared toward children ages 3 to 5, this is anything but a daycare facility.
Head Start program teachers must prepare a curriculum for their students and include a lesson plan consisting of reading stories, writing in journals, basic arithmetic, science projects, and hygiene awareness. Lead teachers must also have earned a Child Development Associate credential, and beginning in 2013 all teachers must have at least an associate’s degree.
A recent visit to the school on a Friday morning witnessed activities that were very much similar to your average elementary school: yellow school buses dropped children off in front of the school; parents, students, teachers and administrators crowded the corridors before class; there were announcements delivered by someone working in the front office over the public address system.
And then a few minutes later the school day officially began.
Lorie Padilla, who has worked at the Early Childhood Development Center for the past eight years, teaches 3 year olds and begins each school day by providing breakfast for her students, followed by a simple health evaluation of each student to check for signs of illness. She said that if any of the students show signs of illness, they are sent to the health office to have their temperature read. If the temperature reading is too high, the students are then sent home, said Padilla.
Another teacher of 3 year olds, Veronica Tsinajinnie, who has been teaching at the Early Childhood Development Center for the past three years, encouraged her students to listen to stories and then afterward ask questions.
The Federally-funded Head Start program came to fruition as included in the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, an initiative of then-President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, and then later was assigned to fall under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services. The program has gone through numerous changes since its inception, mostly recently in 2007 when then-President George W. Bush signed into law an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act intended to help homeless children in the United States enroll into their locally-administered Head Start program.
Funding for the Head Start program comes from grant money. There are about 1,600 different Head Start programs across the United States, operating more than 48,000 classrooms. As of 2005, more than 22 million pre-school aged children have participated in Head Start since 1965.
The only other Head Start program in either Socorro or Catron Counties is at the Alamo Navajo Early Childhood Center in Magdalena, which is falls under the American Indian-Alaska native Head Start project.
Not every child may enroll into their local Head Start program. Aside from space restrictions, eligibility is largely geared toward children of low-income families, though each locally-operated Head Start program might include other admission criteria such as disability.
Head Start Programs are administered locally by nonprofit organizations, such as the Midwest New Mexico Community Action Program, which oversees the Early Head Start facilities in Valencia, Socorro, Catron, Cibola, and McKinley Counties.
There are seven classrooms at the Early Childhood Development Center, which uses a few buildings that once were part of the now-defunct Edward E. Torres Elementary School, and each classroom is assigned two teachers, including a teacher’s assistant. Many of the classrooms also receive help from family members who volunteer.
“The curriculum is excellent,” said Caroline Benjamins, a volunteer, whose grandchildren attend the Early Childhood Development Center. “There aren’t many quality childcare facilities around here (in Socorro), but there really needs to be.”

Pictured: T.J. Silva Jr., 4, shows his parents, T.J. Silva Sr. and Sonya Silva, his favorite toy inside his classroom at the Early Childhood Development Center in Socorro.

Photo by Patrick Jason Rodriguez


Magdalena Plays Host to Fashion Model Photo Shoot

By John Larson

The Village of Magdalena played host to six fashion models who were in town last week for a photo shoot for a Milwaukee-based department store chain.
The pictures will be featured in advertising mailings promoting the spring apparel line for The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. nationwide. The company operates 278 stores under various names in seven states.
Markus Barrington, senior photo producer for The Bon-Ton Stores, said Magdalena was chosen for the photo shoot because he knew the area well. Barrington is the son of Magdalena resident Tom Barrington, and grandson of the late Jacky Barrington, founder of the Mountain Mail.
“I’ve been coming here since I was young, visiting my grandmother. Many of my memories as a child were of her working on the newspaper,” Barrington said. “I’ve always felt like Magdalena was my second home.”
Another of Jacky’s grandchildren was part of the team. Gina Barrington, sister of Markus, was the hair and makeup stylist.
“We love coming back here to visit,” he said. “This the second time this year they’ve been in Magdalena. We spent a week here in April, using the Kelly area for backgrounds.”
Barrington said the rustic settings of the village were perfect backdrops for The Bon-Ton Stores’ 2011 spring mailer. The stock pens, Magdalena Peak and surrounding mountains were used as backdrops for the latest fashions.
Another member of the Bon-Ton crew, photographer Michael Bollitine, said the light in Magdalena was perfect for shooting pictures, and prefers the early morning.
“The light is the best in the morning. Toward the middle of the day we get shadows on the models’ faces.” he said.
Markus Barrington has been senior photo producer for Bon-Ton for four years. Before that he spent five years as a model and eventually becoming director of an agency representing models.

Tech Earns Forbes Ranking

Mountain Mail Reports

Forbes magazine recently ranked New Mexico Tech No. 20 for best colleges for women and members of racial or ethnic minorities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
The top spot was given to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (Winona, Minn.), followed by Westmont College (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Colorado College (Colorado Spring, Colo.), Christopher Newport University (Newport News, Va.), and the University of Colorado Denver.
In its rankings, the magazine excluded schools whose student body is made up almost entirely of female or minority students.

Thrift Store Celebrates 30th Year

By John Larson

Tierra de Segunda Thrift Store, located at the north end of the Smith’s shopping center, on Dec. 7 celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Sally Nelson, president of the nonprofit organization, said the need for the store is as great as ever.
“Right now we serve about 400 people on a regular basis. Last week for the 30th anniversary we had about 150 people come into store,” Nelson said.
Past president Lola McWhorter said volunteers are what make the business work.
“We started out originally to help the elderly, to make donations for Good Sam’s seniors,” McWhorter said. “Wanda Ramzel, one of the founders, helped open the store the same year Good Sam’s opened, 30 years ago.”
Founders of the organizations included Ramzel, Francis Senn, Evelyn Fite and the late Florence Kottlowski.
The group started out selling off racks set up at the fairgrounds before it was able to use two rooms in a residence near San Miguel Church in the early 1970s.
After a few years they moved to California Street, occupying the building currently housing the New Mexico Educators Credit Union. Before moving into its present location last year, the thrift store was located on Fisher Street.
“It represents the life blood of the community,” McWhorter said in an interview. “People who shop here … where are they going to go? Many can’t even afford to buy clothes at Wal-Mart.”
She said donations are always needed.
“We provide three services,” McWhorter said. “First, a place to get rid of clothes and items. Second, a place for people to shop. And third, the donations we make to help seniors.”
In addition to regular contributions to Good Sam’s, the store donates money to support the senior citizen centers in Socorro, Veguita and Magdalena, Socorro Village, Vista Montano, Meals On Wheels, C.P.A., La Vida Fields, and the DAV.
“The store continues to have a steadily increasing number of customers,” McWhorter said. “They come from Magdalena, Veguita, really all over the county, even from Reserve and Datil. “A lot of people buy their kids’ school clothes here each year. They can’t afford to go elsewhere,” she said.
The group has 27 active members, all who work on a volunteer basis.
“We do it because we enjoy it,” volunteer Susan Miller said.
The store also tries to have walkers, wheelchairs, and crutches on hand.

Pictured: Volunteers at the Tierra de Segunda Thrift Store on Tuesday, Dec. 14 (from left): Clarence Lopez, Della Benavidez, Lupe Lukesh, (an unidentified customer), Sally Nelson, Lola McWhorter, Wanda Ramzel, Cynthia Kopp, Estella Reichenbach, Jan Reed and Judy Muncy.

Photo by John Larson


Escape From Mexican Prison Could Affect us

Message from The Mountain Mail

In the early hours of the morning on Friday, Dec. 17, about 150 prisoners escaped from a Mexican prison close to the border just outside of Laredo, Texas. Authorities say they are investigating the possibility that employees were involved in releasing the prisoners.
What does this have to do with any of us in Socorro County? It is believed that a good number of those prisoners will end up passing through this area (and may already be in the area) by train or established walking trails to get to family in our area.
“It can be dangerous up and down the Middle Rio Grande Valley because the trains stop just about everywhere at one time or another,” said immigration officials. “There’s a possibility that unknowing families along the way, such as farm owners and residents close to the railway could come in contact with one of the escaped prisoners and experience a dangerous or deadly encounter.”
The Mountain Mail management and staff want to let everyone who lives along the railway close to Socorro and all the small villages up and down the Rio Grande Valley to be extra mindful of people who you do not recognize in your area. Those of you who live close to where trains make their stops should always keep your doors locked and always know who is knocking before you open your door. Leave outdoor lights on around your home at night. When walking to your vehicle outside your home, be aware of your surroundings. Only leave your car running for warming purposes in the mornings or evenings if you have the ability to lock it and unlock it with a spare key. It is not beyond these people to hide in the back seat of your car and wait for you to come outside.
Don’t let your children play outside without adult supervision, and never leave your kids in the car while you run back inside to get something that you may have forgotten.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to call the police the second you feel something is not right. Paying attention to detail can help authorities with their investigations. Keep your guard up at all times and teach your children to do the same.

OBITUARY: Wilfredo M. Mata

Willfredo “Fred” M. Mata, 82, passed away Saturday, December 18, 2010 at his home in Polvadera.
Fred was born on February 6, 1928 in Socorro to Olivero and Sinforosa (Madrid) Mata.
He is survived by his sons, Fred Mata; and Robert Mata; his daughters, Dina Mazon and husband, Kenny; Janet Valles and husband, Manny; Pamela Berringan and husband, Henry; and Eloisa Romero and husband Jason; seventeen grandchildren; twelve great grandchildren; three brothers, James Mata and wife, Patsy; Mike Mata and wife, Frances; and Danny Baca and wife, Elda; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Fred was a Socorro resident for 35 years after serving in the Military. He was a Veteran of the US Army.
Fred was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, David Baca, and one sister, Rosita Pena.
Cremation will take place but no formal services have been arranged at this time.
Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM 87801 (575) 835-1530.

OBITUARY: Helen Isabel Hazard

Helen Isabel Hazard, 80, passed away Monday, December 20, 2010 in Socorro.
Helen was born on May 21, 1930 in Syracuse, New York, to Earl and Martha (Spinning) Ashton.
She is survived by her sons, David Hazard, Douglas Hazard, and Daniel Hazard; her sister, Jean Herzog; five grandchildren; nieces Deborah Murillo and husband George , Martha Jean Fairbanks and husband Robert ; nephew Robert Otis; and numerous other nieces and nephews.
Helen was a Socorro resident since the early 80’s. Helen enjoyed playing classical music on the piano which she did quite beautifully.
A Memorial Service will be held 2:00 pm, Wednesday December 29, 2010 at the Socorro Good Samaritan Village, 1203 Hwy 60 W.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made in Helen’s honor to Socorro Good Samaritan Village, 1203 Hwy 60 W, Socorro, NM 87801 or the Socorro General Hospital Hospice, 1202 Hwy 60 W, Socorro, Nm 87801.
Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM 87801 (575) 835-1530.

Effort to Have Trinity Named National Historic Park Grows

Mountain Mail Reports

The birthplace of the atomic bomb is open to the public for only two days each year. That could conceivably change.
A move is underway to have Trinity Site designated as a National Historic Park, which would allow visitors to enter the White Sands Missile Range site at Stallion Gate, conceivably on any day of the year when there is no missile test scheduled.
In its annual “Internet Christmas card,” the nonprofit Atomic Heritage Foundation is urging the National Park Service and the Department of Energy to again recommend a Manhattan Project National Historical Park to Congress.
The issue is expected to have strong bipartisan support from the congressional delegations of New Mexico, Tennessee and the state of Washington, according to the release.
“We are optimistic that the new Congress will officially designate the park at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Hanford, Wash.,” the report said. “In addition, Manhattan Project sites such as the Trinity Site, Wendover Air Field, Utah, and others may become affiliated areas over time.”
Trinity Site, just off Highway 380, southeast of San Antonio, has long been viewed as the one “goose bump” site among those being considered because it is the site of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion. Other sites were largely manufacturing sites.
“The term ‘ground zero’ originated at Trinity Site, and has since become a part of the language,” said Ben Moffett, a retired public information officer for the National Park Service and a ground zero “survivor” as a resident of San Antonio when the bomb was exploded. “Viewing it, one gets the same chills as are produced at such other NPS areas as Little Bighorn Battlefield, Ford’s Theater, and Gettysburg, all part of the National Park System.”   Trinity Site has been excluded from recent legislation on the Manhattan Project, in part because it is already protected since it is within White Sands Missile Range, but also because of the fear that recognition of it as an NPS area will increase efforts to open it to the public more than two days a year as is now the case. Proponents of opening Trinity Site on a daily basis, claim that White Sands Missile Range officials can close the park on days when they need to for security reasons, just as they have done at White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo.
They also argue that costs would come from the Department of Interior’s NPS budget, not from the military budget.

OPINION: Message of Love for Humanity, Neighbor and Stranger

Can We Talk?
By Jack Fairweather

Just two days until Christmas 2010.
You can tell.
The sellers are playing Xmas music nonstop, the buyers (obedient consumers that they are) arise in the wee small hours to rush in order to hand over their dwindling cash supply for “bargains,” many of them are suffering from seasonal depression brought on by higher and higher prices, the knowledge that many of their neighbors faithfully follow the schedule of food pantries and semi-truck delivery of free food and the constant media barrage that tells them on one channel we’re all doomed and another that everything is improving and that next year will be better. Well, now, the preceding comments are cynical, aren’t they? Yes, they are. Sorry about that.
At this season, too, Christian ministers and pastors are attempting to come up with homilies (sermons) with which to assure their congregations of the truth of the basic Christmas message: Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in the little town of Bethlehem, and that birth brought into the world a message of love and forgiveness.
Of course, we know very little of the actual birth of Jesus. There are two stories in the Bible. The New Testament books of Luke and Matthew have slightly different versions. Other accounts in the biblical canon speak of Jesus as an adult. People of faith, whether they view the Bible as the inerrant word of God or as history will continue to believe in the Christ and the message he brings. The central message, which resounds through the New Testament, is one of love for humanity; love from the Creator and love for neighbor and the stranger. That message was, apparently, known or sensed by the “magi,” the men from the East who were over-whelmed with joy, when they saw in the place a star that led them to the baby and Mary. They knelt down and paid him homage.
A great many people, individuals and groups, are concerned to pay extra attention to others during this season, giving gifts of clothing, food, money (if they have it this year) and demonstrating their opposition to systems of domination and oppression. In Ireland, citizens are taking two ambulances, a mini-bus, and a truck filled with 10 tons of humanitarian aid over 4,000 miles to Gaza in Palestine. Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin has described Gaza as an “open prison”. Other Irish citizens are flying to Cairo, Egypt, to meet up with the Irish convoy participants. On Dec. 27 they will attempt to enter Gaza and join Gazans and other International participants on the “Gaza Freedom March”. Bowing to pressure from Israel, Egyptian officials have already indicated the crossing may be blocked. However, the message of such an outpouring of concern over the situation in Palestine indicates the message of Jesus is alive and well, especially among the common people.
What else can be said about the birth celebrated at Christmas time? St. John Chrysostom, in the 4th century said in his Christmas homily, “What shall I say? And how shall I describe this birth to you? The Eternal One has become an infant…he now lies in a manger. For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His word, taking my form He gives me His spirit, and so, He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares me for the treasure of Life. He takes my form to sanctify me. He gives me His love that he may save me.”
As a Catholic Christian, I can’t think of much more to say.
Have a blessed Christmas.

OPINION: A Market Based Solution for a Market Caused Problem

The Pencil Warrior
By Dave Wheelock

Lock up your daughters. This might be the next good piece of advice for mothers and fathers of the so-called developing world, as they face the “market solution” to the worldwide problem of disappearing forests. For the industrialized countries of the northern hemisphere, those which invented and continue to advance the phenomenon of manmade global warming, the carbon offset scheme known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a win-win. In return for cash payments to ostensibly preserve the carbon-absorbing quality of the global south’s remaining forests, corporations increasingly doing business as governments purchase the legal right to keep right on pumping pollutants into the sky.
Unfortunately for the indigenous people living in and around these forests, REDD represents the opportunity to relive the experiences of sisters and brothers elsewhere who have already learned what it means to be guilty of living anywhere near something that can be bought and sold. Unfortunately also for you and me, because these threatened life ways are undoubtedly the last ones successfully practicing sustainable life on planet Earth.
In case you missed it, the latest in an ongoing series of sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Cancún, Mexico, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 10. True to the form of UNFCC gatherings since the 1997 session in Japan produced the Kyoto Protocol – a treaty signed and ratified by nearly all the world’s governments, agreeing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – delegates from the more than 190 “parties” significantly squared off as “developed” versus “developing” countries.
Among developed nations, REDD, first introduced in 2000 by the United States (which remains virtually alone in not ratifying Kyoto), was all the rage in Cancun, a market solution to a market problem; i.e. the loss of profits that are likely to occur as a result of global meltdown. Or more optimistically I suppose, the mouth-watering prospect of being allowed to continue to produce the majority of greenhouse gases while simultaneously cashing in on a whole new and extremely lucrative market: trading in carbon offsets. The wonderfully natural function trees fulfill by reducing carbon concentrations in the atmosphere is now being sized up as just another billable service.
But just as with the Black Hills in what is now western South Dakota, there are the party poopers. Not so much among governmental leaders in South America, Africa, Indonesia, and other places where large, biologically diverse forests still stand. After all, those market-worshipping newcomers to the high plains of yesteryear could always manage to kidnap some poor resident who’d succumb to the right mixture of bribery, threats, or drunkenness long enough to sell that which he knew couldn’t be sold anyway.
Without a doubt, many so-called leaders of the so-called Third World can be counted on to support REDD. It’s the commoners who cause all the trouble.
In Cancun, Indigenous Environmental Network executive director Tom Goldtooth (Dine’ and Mdewakanton Dakota), had his United Nations-issued entrance credentials yanked on Dec. 8, the day after informally voicing in public his protest of the REDD model. Other opponents of the cash-for-trees program were also banned from official negotiations while still more were physically removed from the area.
In an interview the next day, Goldtooth gave his witness. “There’s (sic) institutions, there’s financiers, the governments of the North – they’re all invested in a carbon market scheme. And here in Cancún, the United Nations climate meeting is selling the sky to the highest bidder, using indigenous peoples’ forests to soak up their pollution instead of reducing emissions at its (sic) source.”
“Instead of reducing emissions at their source”? Now, now. If there’s one concept of the environmental justice movement that’s consistently underreported (other than environmental justice itself) it’s the notion that alternatives exist. Especially when those alternatives conflict with culturally embedded economic assumptions (or prospects for a killing). Nevertheless, for the intellectually daring, here are some observations paraphrased from the Indigenous Environmental Network’s ( Four Principles of Climate Justice:
“(The) production-consumption regime pursues profits without limit, separating human beings from nature. It establishes a mindset that seeks to dominate nature, turning everything into a commodity: the land, water, air (carbon), forests, agriculture, flora and fauna, biodiversity, genes and even indigenous traditional knowledge. The world must forge a new economic system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings.
“Climate justice calls upon governments, corporations and the peoples of the world to restore, reevaluate and strengthen the knowledge, wisdom and ancestral practices of Indigenous Peoples, affirmed in our experiences and the proposal for “Living in a Good Way”, recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship.”
In this country, non-Natives have always laughed at Indians for saying corny things like “Mother Earth.” Nowadays, they’re tossing Indians for talking about new economic systems. Indians don’t say these things because they’ve been reading Marx. They just have fresh memories. And unlike some, realistic plans for the future.

Dave Wheelock, a member of the Oneida Nation, is a collegiate sports administrator and coach. His history degree is from the University of New Mexico. Reach him at Mr. Wheelock’s views do not necessarily represent those of the Mountain Mail.


OPINION: Who’s Running This Ship?

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

Are we on “Auto-Pilot” or is there really a group of people in charge of where we’re headed and what we’re supposed to do once we get there?
At some point in the two weeks before my column is due, two or more events, books or ideas will smash together in my head. This time it was the movie Titanic and several small news articles about the austerity measures being imposed on Ireland.
The recent bailout of Ireland’s banks, to the tune of €85 billion ($112 billion) will cost the average Irish citizen €12,500 ($16,460). In contrast, the average American citizen has only assumed a $10,000 bailout for our banks, auto industries and the too-big-to-fail corporations.
“Those in charge” of the economic situation in Ireland deemed it necessary to slash billions of Euros from social services, health care and infrastructure expenditures. Unemployment in Ireland is running at about 14 percent, and wages have been cut by 20 percent. The stoic Irish (bless them) have had about as much of this nonsense as they can stand and are about to take to the streets in massive demonstrations of civil unrest.
Watching Ireland is like looking at a mini-scale version of our own country. “Those in charge” are basically the same: the banks, the investment companies and the multinational corporations. The austerity measures being put in place are to insure that the appropriate amount of profits flow to those “in charge.”
The movie Titanic was also a metaphorical play in miniature of our own situation. The ship is sinking and the affluent assume their rightful position in the lifeboats while the lower class passengers remain locked below deck. This same assumption is also available in a “trickle down” format. I’ve read more than my fill of blogs about income inequity where the less fortunate are told to “stop their whining”; “if they had any smarts, they would be wealthy too”.
So just who is in charge of our ship? Who is steering our Titanic? Go ahead, call me a “conspiracy theorist” but a fairly solid guess is The Carlyle Group. Founded in 1987, it was named after the luxury New York hotel, a favorite of the company’s first investors, the Mellon family. The firm, valued at more than $13.5 billion, manages $88.6 billion of capital (other peoples’ money), making it, until this year, the largest private equity firm in the world. It’s called a “global alternative asset management firm, specializing in private equity.” It claims to have four fund “families”: buyout capital, growth capital, real estate, and leveraged finance investments. Sound like a club for the “big boys”? Indeed it is.
The home office is on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., right between the White House and the Capitol building. The cast of characters includes, or has included, former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, former Secretary of State Jim Baker, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, former White House budget director Dick Darman, former British Prime Minister John Major, former Philippines President Fidel Ramos and, oh yes, members of the bin Laden family.
So just how does this seemingly respectable model for an investment firm generate its billions of dollars with a 36 percent annual return? Basically it buys privately held companies or divisions of big public corporations that are deemed to be in the most lucrative of future niches. These new “cash cows” are then repackaged, polished up, pushed in the “right” direction then sold off for many times their purchase price, after, of course, the managing directors and Carlyle partners take their 20 percent cut.
What sort of crystal ball allows Carlyle to peer into the future and decide which company cow will give the richest milk? Carlucci seems to have a good handle on the $150 billion per year U.S. defense industry. Will many more tanks or drones or airport scanners be needed next year? Buy, invest, position, persuade and profit.
Not only are defense contractors, like United Defense, Magnavox, GDE, Vought and Booz Allen Hamilton, subject to the insatiable appetites of Carlyle, recent acquisitions have included the Hertz Corporation, HCR ManorCare (senior care facilities) and Dunkin’ Brands, makers of the all American favorites, coffee and donuts!
This directly from the pages of Carlyle’s glossy annual report: “Diverse teams with deep expertise focus on buyout, growth capital, energy and power, infrastructure, real estate, and credit alternative transactions, as well as distressed situations.” I guess that last phrase means us.
Because of its global reach, this also appears in the annual report: “Perhaps more than any other country, China has a greater number of assets that could grow dramatically in value.”
Carlyle has 27 offices worldwide, including Denver, New York, and Milan, Italy. Hmm, I wonder if Bruno Modena has positioned himself for maximum growth potential. We will all know soon enough.
This was probably not the most uplifting topic I could have picked for the Christmas column. To end on a more cheerful note, the Magdalena Public Library is busy planning many workshops and events of local interest. Watch the community bulletin board outside the library for dates and times.

If you have any comments, problems, solutions, upcoming events or extra life vests, contact me, Don Wiltshire at