Thursday, March 4, 2010

Magdalena Marshal's Blotter

Information for the following items was provided by the Magdalena Marshal's office.

Feb. 8
An officer stopped a vehicle at 4:30 p.m. on First Street because the driver had an outstanding warrant from the Magdalena Municipal Court. He was arrested and taken to the Socorro County Detention Center.

Feb. 9
An officer was called at 6:30 a.m. to a residence on Spears Road where seven goats had been killed by dogs. The dogs were killed by the owner. The owner of the dogs was contacted and reimbursement was arranged for the loss of the goats.
An officer stopped a subject who was walking intoxicated on Fourth Street. The subject was charges with public nuisance and released to a relative.

Feb. 12
An office took a report at 9:50 a.m. of Criminal Damage to Property where a trailer had all the windows broken out. The case is under investigation.

Feb. 18
An officer took a report at 5 p.m. of the theft of two bottles of prescription pills. A suspect was identified, but has not been located.

Feb. 19
An officer took a report at 10 a.m. of an inmate in Socorro County Detention Center calling a victim of domestic violence. He faces several counts of Domestic Battery, and Breaking and Entering, and now has additional charges of telephone harassment and violation of court orders.
An officer was called at 6:15 p.m. to take a report of a battery which occurred at the Magdalena Schools. The case is open and under investigation.

Feb. 20
An officer took a report at 6:30 p.m. of an assault during the Magdalena basketball game involving two adult females. The case is under investigation.

Feb. 21
Officers from the Marshal’s office assisted Socorro County Sheriff’s deputies at 3 a.m. in locating two juvenile females who had been drinking and had run away. The two teenaged girls were located after they broke into a parked RV on Spruce. The two were released to their parents and charges are pending through Juvenile Probation and Parole.

Farr Recalls Life at Horse Springs

This is the second part of a conversation with Catron County rancher Dave Farr, recalling his family’s experiences on their Horse Springs ranch over the last 70 years
The interview was conducted by BLM archeologist Brenda Wilkinson, as part of an oral history project of the Bureau of Land Management in Socorro.

How was your operation affected by winter weather? Do you recall any major losses due to winter weather?

Uh, let's see. We had two big snow storms that I can remember here. I think one was in 1968 and the next one was exactly 20 years later. And we had to break trails for the cattle to go up in the mountains and get to the south slope where the snow had melted. The south slopes were melted off. So big snow storms are somethin' we're afraid of. Now there's been more here that I never saw, but they're pretty infrequent, fortunately.

As far as weather and hardships, did you lose a lot of cattle?

Oh, we didn't have any death loss, but we were able to get 'em to the mountains.

And then you mentioned that big drought, '50 to 57, do you remember any others?

It's a, almost a continuous drought...with a few good years.

Were there any fences on the ranch?

Oh fences, the ranch wasn't fenced 'til '57 and '58. The Hubbells was over there, they didn't want any fence to run sheep. Other side was uh, Luna-Vergere, they ran sheep. They didn't want any fence. So we had to get on our horse and go bring them cattle home. Until Oliver Lee moved in [1950s], and we built fence. Kenneth Mimms had the Y Ranch leased, and we got together and built that.

When did the ranch get electricity?

They had a wind charger way back in the 40s I guess. The late 40s. And they got REA [Rural Electrification Administration] here, probably '59, or somewhere in there. Yeah that would be '59. Telephones in the 80s maybe? Yeah, Catron County was the only county seat in the US without a telephone. [laughing]

Farr said that there never was a spring on the ranch. They never had a spring until they acquired Jack Spring. They did drill wells, and early wells were drilled with horse-powered rigs. Ben Kemp drilled about 4 wells before 1910, with horses.

Describe a round of work throughout the year, as you recall it from your childhood.

Well, you ride fences and fix 'em all year round. And you fix windmills, year round. And then of course, you had the spring round-up and brand, move the cattle to the mountains. And you have the fall round up and ship cattle. Winter you'd throw a lotta ice out of the water troughs. In fact, if you guys stick around, we can go pull a well today! [laughing]

When was additional labor hired?

From the beginning, they had sheepherders. Well, if they didn't herd 'em, the coyotes’d, bobcats and lions would put 'em outta business in the matter of a month. Or less.

And then later on, when it was cattle?
Well, it’d probably be my father and maybe one man. Probably year round. And he'd maybe get some help to deliver cattle, and brand.

That's a lot of country to handle on your own.

Well, they always had to work shorthanded.

How did your family market the livestock in the early days?

Oh, they'd meet cattle buyers, and contract the cattle by private treaty. I know one time my father took a bunch of cattle to Magdalena--big calves. And, and they were worth a nickel a pound, but he couldn't find a buyer, and they were in that stockyards in Magdalena. And he met Joe Swartzman, and Joe said, “Well, I'll give ya six cents for the calves that are worth a nickel, but, I can't pay ya. You let me take 'em and, feed 'em and butcher 'em and sell the meat, and then I'll pay ya.” So they shook hands, and away the calves went. After all this time…he got paid, with just a handshake deal…and that's the way it used to be. Now you gotta get advanced wired deposits before the cattle leave or you liable not to get any money. That's not with all the buyers, but some of 'em.

Before the cattle, when your family had sheep, do you know how they marketed the sheep?

Well, they always had cattle and sheep, but I don't know anything about how they sold the sheep. All I know is that they'd load 'em on double deck cars in Magdalena. They'd ship the wool, I think to New Orleans, and go by boat around to New York. They'd do that so it'd absorb moisture, and weigh more when it got there. [laughing] Somethin'--what I heard, I don't know.

How have market fluctuations affected the profitability of your ranch?

Well drastically! We'd sell bred heifers for four hundred dollars a head, and we've sold 'em for twelve hundred and fifty dollars a head. And I remember one cattle buyer…he was a friend of ours, and he came out and offered my father a certain price for a bunch of heifers. My father didn't take it. He left, the buyer did. They got together not too long later, a month, and they both decided - that's when two damn fools met. 'Cause the buyer offered way too much, and my father wouldn't take it. [laughing] So it changed that much in, a week or two.

In the early days, was it necessary to arrange for credit?

Yeah. My father told me a lot of bad stories about borrowin' money.

Do you know where he got money from?

Yeah. He'd borrow money from the First National Bank in Albuquerque, and maybe need a loan extension. And he'd go up there and sit all day tryin' to see the bank president, and he said he could watch the president sittin' at his desk, nobody in there, and the president wouldn't see 'im. Hafta go back and wait all day again. So that's trouble isn't it? That's during the depression.

Other than weather-related losses, did you have any major losses related to disease, predation, or toxic vegetation?

Oh, occasionally a little. We lost…I don't know…fifteen or twenty at once on the poison weed.

And predators?

That's constant. Well, you lose calves to the coyotes, and now it's startin' with the wolves. This year we lost three cows and a yearling to a bear. They trapped the bear over on our neighbors. We had a trapper out here trying to trap 'im, but he'd already moved. So they killed that bear…must've been the same one, we never had no more trouble.

What about disease?

Well, when we really started using trucks, that's when the disease come in. 'Cause they'd truck cattle from Florida to California, and come and load calves here, and a little manure'd fall out, and germs in it. Well, we could lose forty, fifty head right in a hurry there before we'd found the right vaccine. And that took several years. So anyway, a lot of diseases have been spread by the trucks. Be in the eastern seaboard, and two or three days later they're loadin' here. And then our cattle aren't immune to those foreign diseases.

Can you describe any measures taken to increase profitability, such as diversification, hybrid livestock or technology?

Well, I don't know. Roy's used the technology where we about have the diseases whipped. We don't have much death loss to disease anymore. And the cross breedin' has helped, and the weights of the cattle. And he's even sold some cattle on uh, all natural basis. You know, where they haven't received any antibiotics and all this stuff. No implants. We implanted for a few years. We quit it, so the cattle are pretty pure other than vaccines and shots they allow for immunization.

Do you get more money for 'em then?

We only did it once, and it was very profitable. We made a hundred dollars a head.

Really? I think more and more people want that.

Apparently so. He’s entered two more truckloads this year and we'll see what happens. They're pretty strict.

How did the Taylor Grazing Act affect you?

Well, they allotted us country that we could use, three miles from the waters, and before that it was open range. So then you knew where you could run cattle I guess, and where you could build fences.
Johnny Greenwald, he was the original District Manager or whatever you call 'em. Fact, I was a little kid, I can remember ridin' around with Johnny and somebody and my father, and they were allotin' all these permits, right after the Taylor Grazing Act. There wasn't any BLM then.

The final installment of the Dave Farr oral history appears in next week’s Mountain Mail.

Tents To Haiti

A group of New Mexico Tech students, led by the Engineers Without Borders interest group, kicked off a weeklong Tents Tarps and Rope Drive Wednesday to assist the people of Haiti. Responding to urgent need for portable, durable shelters in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the group will be collecting materials for immediate shipment to disaster relief groups. They are asking local people and businesses to donate tarps, rope, flashlights, batteries, and other materials that can be easily shipped and used to construct shelter.

Pictured (from left): Electrical Engineering Lab Manager Otis Tubesing; and students Austin Silva, Will Reiser, Elizabeth Barteau, and Lilian Martinez.

Photo by John Larson.

Julian Elected As Magdalena Mayor

By John Larson

MAGDALENA -- Voters in Magdalena have chosen Sandy Julian as their mayor for the next four years. Julian won with 139 votes, 49 percent of the votes cast for mayor. The second largest vote getter was Jack Fairweather with 109 votes, or 38 percent. The third mayoral candidate, Trustee Barbara Baca received 36 votes.
In an interview, Julian told the Mountain Mail that her priorities were to “work on the emergency services; EMS and Fire Department.”
“They need some help in recruiting more EMTs,” Julian said. “I will give them all the support they need in that area.
“I will also focus on the village assets. We have to find a solution for the BIA dorms, and keep our streets maintained,” she said. “I know the economy is pretty bad and the state government is short on money, but we need to keep plugging on it every day at the state level. It’s not going to be an overnight thing.”
Julian said she will also give emphasis to finding ways to help the youth of Magdalena.
“I think the young people in the village need to be doing something positive instead of negative,” she said. “We need to develop some kind of recreation for them.”
Julian was previously a village Trustee and Mayor Pro Tem. She took on the Mayor’s position after the midterm departure of Mayor Rudy Latasa eight years ago.
She said she was pleased with the overall outcome of the election and that “the Board will work very well together.
“I want to thank everyone for their vote. It was very much appreciated,” Julian said.
New faces on the Village Board are Diane Allen and Tommy Torres.
Top vote getter among the three candidates was Magdalena High School teacher Diane Allen. Allen received 178 votes, followed by Tommy Torres with 158. Incumbent Dolly Dawson received 117.
Allen said she looks forward to serving the village in any way possible.
“We have a lot of hard work ahead of us and will take it step by step,” Allen said. “I look forward to everyone coming together for the benefit of the community.”
She said she is looking forward to working with newly elected Mayor Sandy Julian.
“I know her and can work with Sandy, and am very amenable to work with all the trustees to do what needs to be done,” Allen said.
She said one of Magdalena’s continuing problems concerns animal control.
“It is a situation where the community has to step in and help,” Allen said.
Newly elected Trustee Tommy Torres said he is concerned about all the issues facing the village.
“I think the most important thing will be to take care of the roads,” Torres said. “I also want to see barrels where people can take their ashes, among other things.”

Socorro election

Socorro City Government incumbents retained their seats in the March 2 Municipal Election. Nick Fleming won the Ward I contest and will sit in the open council seat.
All were elected to four-year terms. The next election will be in March 2012.

Reserve election

It’s not official yet, but it looks like Edward T. Romero and M. Keith Riddle will be the two new trustees to sit on the Reserve board after the village held its election Tuesday night.
Romero had 99 votes and Riddle secured 91 followed by Robert Taylor with 90 and Richard Torres with 87. On Thursday, the canvassing procedure begins and the election will be certified March 10. Taylor or Torres also have the option of challenging the election within 30 days after it becomes official.

Vincent Barela Bound Over To District Court

By John Larson

SOCORRO – Two years after his arrest on a charge of murder, Vincent Barela, 36, of Socorro was bound over to District Court Tuesday, Mar. 2.
Barela faces three charges – murder, aggravated assault on a household member, and tampering with evidence - stemming from the death of a Socorro woman, Eileen Gabaldon, who had been severely beaten at her residence on Sixth Street in Feb. 2008. Gabaldon died at University of New Mexico Hospital three days later.
An autopsy report revealed she had received extensive blunt trauma to the head causing facial fractures, deep bruising to the skin and bleeding to the brain. She also had second and first degree burns on her torso and several broken ribs.
The report also said Gabaldon had first and second degree burns on her abdomen and chest.
After an investigation by Socorro police officer Richard Lopez, Barela was arrested Feb. 13, 2008.
The police report said Lopez reviewed tapes of a 911 call and learned that on Friday, Jan. 8 officers had been dispatched to Barela’s address on a report of a possible fight.
Barela had a large amount of blood on his face and body and scratch marks on his chest. Barela stated he got the blood from a fight he had just been engaged in with another man. Police noted that he changed his story several times about how got covered in blood.
Police obtained a search warrant for Barela’s residence, and found a space heater which was damaged, blood stained and had a hair sample on it. Other evidence included blood stains on a pillow case, couch, shower curtain, and several walls.
The charges against Barela include one murder count, one count of aggravated battery against a household member, and one count of tampering with evidence.
Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Perry told the Mountain Mail that the two year delay in the bind over from Magistrate Court was due to questions over Barela’s competency to stand trial.
“After those questions were raised, Magistrate Court transferred the case to District Court to handle the competency issue. Competency issues must be handled by a district judge,” Berry said. “He was sent to the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas for psychiatric examination, and once he was found competent to stand trial his case was heard again in Magistrate, and was officially bound over to District Tuesday.”
Berry said Barela’s arraignment in front of Judge Kevin Sweazea would be held in the next 30 days.

No Voting In Co-op Informational Meeting

By John Severance

SOCORRO – The Socorro Electric Cooperative will hold an informational meeting at 1 p.m. March 27 at the Finley Gym. And it will be for informational purposes only.
That’s the announcement Co-op trustee president Paul Bustamante made following the executive session portion of a meeting on Feb. 24.
There was some speculation that voting would be allowed at the March 27 meeting, but that will not be the case.
Members will vote on resolutions at the April 17 annual meeting at the same facility.
Before the board went into executive session, sparks flew as trustee Donald Wolberg confronted co-op attorney Dennis Francish about his response to member Don Steinnard’s inquiry regarding insurance.
“I wish we could have seen a draft of your response,” Wolberg said.
Francish responded: “My opinion is my opinion and I wrote it as if I was going to court.”
For the second time within a month, Francish said: “I represent the corporation and I don’t represent the members.”
Wolberg said, “You represent the co-op!”
Trustee Charlie Wagner got into the act, referring to several documents which could be used to raise the question of fraud in regard to the granting of insurance to the trustees
Francish said, “Who committed the fraud?”
Wagner shuffled some papers and after a couple more heated exchanges, the trustees voted to go into executive session.
Earlier, Wolberg unveiled an informal survey regarding the relationship between the co-op and its members.

Some of the highlights include:
• When the question was asked should the SEC trustees have term limits? 241 answered yes, 51 said no and 16 were not sure.
• Should SEC member/owners be able to vote ny mail, electronic, absentee or telephone balloting? 303 said yes, 7 responded no and four were not sure.
• Should the number of SEC trustees be reduced in number? 203 said yes, 95 said no and 17 had no opinion
• Should the SEC trustees receive paid medical insurance for service? 41 said yes, 262 said no and 11 had no opinion.
• Do you have confidence in the SEC Board of Trustees? 31 said yes, 288 responded no and 14 had no opinion.
• Should SEC trustees receive compensation and necessary expenses for service? 258 said yes, 43 said no and 21 had no opinion.
In other business:
• The co-op received a favorable review from the USDA Rural Development. The letter said the co-op’s facilities are being adequately operated and maintained and that the cooperative has an effective operations and maintenance program. The only two recommendations were that the co-op should maintain the line equipment and continue to perform inspections and treatments of poles on an annual basis.
• General manager Polo Pineda announced the hiring of Jason Baca of Veguita and J.J. Apachito of Magdalena as linemen.
•The co-op also will install a new computer software system and the cost is $37,000. Wagner questioned why the co-op did not seek competitive bids.

Morales: Bill Far From Perfect

By John Severance

SOCORRO – The New Mexico State Senate passed a bill late Tuesday night that would generate $240 million through various tax and revenue measures to help plug a large budget shortfall next year.
The bill passed 25-15.
“What this piece of legislation does, it combines many proposals that were discussed during the regular session,” said Senator Howie Morales, who represents Socorro, Catron and Grant counties. “This is not a perfect bill by any means but it does provide a compromise to addressing the budget shortfall we are facing in a fair and responsible manner.”
The House, meanwhile, still was in session trying to pass the budget when the Mountain Mail went to press.
Morales said the bill would generate $240 million by increasing the state’s gross receipts tax by a one-eighth of a penny, closing a state income tax deduction used by people who itemize and requiring the state’s compensating tax to be paid on goods purchased from out-of-state sellers without a physical presence in New Mexico. The measure also would allow the state to take back $68 million it gives to local governments to compensate for repealing the gross receipts tax on food several years ago.
“This legislation tried to strike a balance,” Morales said. “We were able to accomplish this by not laying off state workers or educators and more so by not imposing salary decreases upon our working families. In addition to this we also try to address the problem of a bloated state government by eliminating over 3,000 positions that would have otherwise been filled.”
At the start of the special session, the estimated revenue shortfall was $600 million.
Morales said the gap between the revenue and expenditure has been filled by cutting $162 million in spending, eliminating several thousand positions from state agencies, increasing new revenue by $238 million and using the final $200 million in federal stimulus money that will be available for a portion of the coming year
The senator said the measures have produced a total state general fund budget of $5.35 billion for FY 11. In comparison, general fund budget for FY09 was $6.1 billion and for FY10 was $5.7 billion.

Lopez Makes Good On 5 Of 6 Goals In Presidential Report

By John Severance

SANTA FE – New Mexico Tech president Dr. Daniel Lopez is pretty hard on himself.
Lopez released a status report to the school’s board of regents on Friday, Feb. 26 at the Inn of the Anasazi and he gave himself mixed reviews.
“We achieved five of the goals but failed miserably on the last one,” said Lopez, who has spent the majority of his time in Santa Fe lobbying for the university during the regular and special legislative session.
Regent president Ann Murphy Daly was amused.
“I walk with the president at the Round House and everybody is looking at us,” Murphy Daily said. “All of the universities want him. But he is our president and I could not be happier.”
The top goal on Lopez’s list was to manage budget cuts and minimize the need for layoffs. Lopez reported no layoffs in the past year.
Secondly, Lopez said the school would obtain at least $1 million from the stimulus package for energy and other types of research. The school acquired $4.1 million in stimulus funds.
Thirdly, the school wanted to develop a plan, write a proposal and seek funding to drill a geothermal well and build the infrastructure to deliver hot water for use on campus. The school awarded a $4.34 million contract to an Albuquerque contractor to begin work on the Hot Water Loop.
The fourth goal was to continue to increase enrollment and deliver additional online courses. “This we have accomplished,” Lopez wrote in his report.
Fifth, Lopez wanted the school to increase Hispanic enrollment by 1 percent. The Office of Admission listed 91 Hispanic students among a total enrollment of 314 for the 2008-2009 academic year. That works out to be 29 percent.
The sixth goal, that Lopez said the school did not reach, was to increase freshman to sophomore student retention from 73 percent to 78 percent for the coming academic year. The school sits at 72 percent even though it initiated a President’s Task Force on Retention in 2006 and most recently the Retention Committee in January 2009.
New Mexico Tech, meanwhile, received a clean bill of health from its auditor Larry Carmody. “We looked at more than financials. We looked at the whole picture,” Carmody said.
Regent Richard Carpenter asked Carmody if he had to meet with the regents privately.
Carmody replied: “No sir.”
Regent president Ann Murphy Daily said: “A good audit is indicative of the health of the university and it appears that we are in great health. We would like to thank the auditor for the thorough job that he has done.”
Tech also is doing well when it comes to enrollment with 205 paid applicants for fall 2010 so far as opposed to 105 last year.
“They are impressive numbers and our staff has done a great job but it is going to be difficult because of the challenges of the budget and not being able to faculty,” Lopez said.
Melissa Jaramillo Fleming, the Interim Vice President of Student and University Relations, said the increase in tuition can be attributed to the school’s recruiting efforts especially in the Rio Grande Valley.
“We owe Melissa a real thank you,” Carpenter said. “You guys have stepped it up and done a great job.”
Murphy Daily brought up the costs of transcripts but no decision was made on the issue.
“Right now, we are at $15 which is the highest in the state,” she said. “Maybe we should make it free or five dollars so we can compete with other schools in New Mexico.”
The regents also conferred the degrees for fall 2009 graduates.
Tech Vice President of Academic Affairs Peter Garrity, though, brought up a problem. He said most employers want proof that their future employees have college degrees. Graduates, looking for employment, are being hurt by the two-month delay in getting their degrees. One student wrote a letter to the regents stating he had lost $12,000 because he had not gotten his diploma yet even though he had completed all the qualifications for a degree.
“My recommendation is that we take a giant leap forward, it would really help our graduates,” Garrity said. “Maybe we can give the president the authority, We would take the lead in the state.”
Carpenter said: “That’s a reasonable request. We should delegate that authority to the president.”

Pictured: New Mexico Tech Dan Lopez (right) talks with Regents president Ann Murphy Daily before the Regents meeting in Santa Fe on Monday.

Photo by John Severance.

Cottonwood Student Works Legislature

By John Larson

SOCORRO – A Cottonwood Valley Charter School eighth grader got an up close and personal look at the New Mexico Senate in action when he was asked to be a page for two days during the January-February legislative session.
Matthew Lassey, 14, was kept busy on the Senate floor by Senator Sue Beffort of Bernalillo, who first met him during the Martin Luther King Jr., Commission meeting two weeks prior.
“As a page, I helped Senator Beffort with whatever she needed,” Matthew said. “Things like taking messages to other senators, getting her water, running little errands while she was in session.”
Beffort introduced Matthew to the senate floor Feb. 17, citing his contribution to the organization’s annual leadership conference and tour, as well as recognizing him as a gold medal winner at the 2010 regional Science Olympiad, and sole middle school medal recipient in the annual Battle of the Books competition.
Matthew said highlights for him were the passing of House Bill 150, the Hispanic Education Act, and the honoring of Sen. John Pinto, who was presented the Milagro Award for his service as a Navajo code talker, and his many years of advocacy for the Dine nation. Pinto is the longest serving member of the New Mexico senate.
Matthew said the presentation of the award to Pinto had special significance to him, because he had lived on the Navajo Nation before coming to Socorro.
“It was awesome to see him recognized and to hear the Potato Song,” Matthew said.
Matthew first met with Beffort at an Information and Education visit to discuss multicultural education issues.
“I gave a talk about my involvement in the Martin Luther King Commission and that it was important that the program keep running,” Matthew said.
Executive Director Joella Redmon of the commission introduced Matthew to Beffort following that meeting.
“Matthew is a very intelligent young man,” Redmon said. “One impressive trait is that he is able to adapt to his surroundings. He’s very observant. When he sees whatever is going on, what you’re doing, he can fit right into the situation.”
Redmon recommended his being a page during the legislative session, which Beffort supported.
“It was based on his interest in government, and especially the cuts that were being proposed in education and all the things to what Dr. King was all about,” she said.

Photo: Matthew Lassey with New Mexico State Senator Sue Beffort.

LETTER: In Defense Of The Animal Shelter

To the editor:

This letter is in reference to the article on the dog that had been adopted out and then reunited with it's owner. I feel some further information may be helpful to inform people about the City Animal Shelter and the work that is done there. It is a difficult place to be for those people who truly care for animals and their needs, and we are fortunate in the individuals that are there at this time.
It is an unhappy truth that in the city regulations, animals that are not re-claimed within 3 days of their acquisition are then deemed to be owned by the city, and after 5 days may legally be euthanized. I am so appreciative of the Shelter's policy to keep the animals as long as possible in the effort to find them placement. It is telling that in the instance reported in the paper, the dog had been cared for at the Shelter for 3 weeks.
The dogs are fed, their cages cleaned, dishes washed, and they are played with, socialized and petted daily. In addition, volunteers help them to be taught to walk on leashes, and follow simple commands if possible. If they are ill, employees from the shelter will bring them to a clinic for treatment, and follow up the therapy at the shelter until recovery.
I am sure that administrative glitches occur, as it looks like happened in this case, and all involved feel badly, I know. But the fact that the dog was kept for over three weeks, cared for and fed, is something for which I am thankful.
Our Shelter employees are dedicated and concerned, from the animal control officer to the manager, and I must say that they are almost always effective at doing a difficult job.

Thank you for your time,
Teresa Gonzales, D.V.M.
San Antonio

LETTER: What's Going On At El Puente?

To the editor:

This letter is prompted by my concern regarding the current status of Socorro's El Puente, the local organization that used to be extremely helpful for battered and abused persons and their families.
In the past, El Puente, in addition to providing trained and experienced counselors and assistance in obtaining restraining orders, had a "safe house."
My recollection as a former Board member, is that the safe house was purchased with a grant from United Parcel Service. It was a staffed four bedroom two bath facility. Does it still exist? Is it currently being used? By whom? For El Puente purposes? Is it maintained and staffed? Why then are local ministers reputed to be trying to raise money to send their needy contacts into local motels?
I believe El Puente used to benefit from public funding. Is this still true? Has there ever been an audit? What is the total source of their funds? Where and to whom is the money going? And where in the past has it gone?

Yours very truly,
Elaine Spencer Marr

OPINION: It Takes A Village ...

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

The Candidate Forum, last Saturday at the Magdalena Public Library, was a sparsely attended but lively exchange of candidates’ experience, positions and visions for the future of our little village. One of the major topics of discussion was how we might offer, as a village, more opportunities for our children to grow and flourish.
It was mentioned that these opportunities must firstly be provided for in the child’s home. Indeed, these questions, needs and opportunities must originate with the child him/herself.
Our present-day society is offering up such a smorgasbord of entertainment, diversions and distractions, that the child of today is hard-pressed to find the time or inclination to do any necessary soul searching on their own.
Many children that I’ve witnessed of late have been rushing from one carbohydrate-induced enthusiasm to another with an interim of low blood-sugar depression. It would be a good thing for the schools or the parents to mandate a “timeout” for our kids (and, indeed, for ourselves) for introspection and answers to the question “What the heck am I here for?”
The inner life of a child, if we take the time to remember, is a fragile tangle of emotions, boredom and wonderment. Rachel Carson expressed this nicely: “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he (/she) needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him (/her) the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
Our school system does a fine job of offering up a selection of after school activities as long as they pertain to competitive sports. This is a fine opportunity for exercise, coordination and to channel (or foster) natural childhood aggression.
This, of course is particularly pleasing to the Military-Industrial Complex. There are, however, many other facets of the inner child that need some sort of fostering or outlet.
The Magdalena Library is one place to start. I’ve had the honor to find and to place into the hands of several children, the book that might spark an interest or a viewpoint that might be followed. There really is no other facility in Magdalena that would serve as a meeting place or supervised “hang out” for our young adults.
Many adults have expressed an interest in fostering the interests of students in several areas: art, poetry, composition, performing arts, natural science, history, music and gardening.
Consider your own childhoods: you can never predict when a special “connection” with another being will take place; when that spark of interest will be ignited. We must always be on the lookout for these special moments in our children and to foster the self-confidence that they will need to follow these elusive dreams.
How wonderful it would be to have a facility where, without a competitive atmosphere or a judgmental supervisor, a child could practice laying down paint strokes with a brush, recite their own poetry, gain the confidence of public speaking, to wonder at a butterfly emerging from its cocoon or to make up stories about the passing clouds.
Adolescence is a frantic time of self-image building, peer-group conflicts, self-confidence formation and raging hormones. It’s a time when “No one understands me!” You might think that “I don’t like anybody very much!” That’s why it does take an entire village to raise a child. There is always someone to turn to (carefully and cautiously of course). We, as adults may not always be responsive: there is so much stress built into this “new economy” that many of us are preoccupied with just “keeping things together.” Keep thinking, watching, sizing things up and eventually, we’ll be there to help.
This is where I need the help of the young adults in our community. I need for you to seriously consider what kind of facility or support group you need to grow and thrive.
Ask yourselves “Why am I here?” “What is my special gift?” “What do I need at this time in my life?” “Whom can I ask about this problem that I’m having?” Contact me (e-mail would probably be easiest) with your ideas and suggestions.
I’ll try to sort things out and forward your ideas (anonymously, if you prefer) to the Schools, the Village or individuals who might be able to help. Believe it or not, we all have a deep interest in having you succeed. We just need a little prodding now and again.

If you have any Comments? Problems? Solutions? Up coming Events? Food for Thought? Contact me at mtn_don or (575) 854-3370.

OPINION: The Healthy Family Initiative Addresses Teen Pregnancies

The Right Emphasis
By Doug May

New Mexico is second in the United States in the number births to teenagers. The latest figures from the Center for Disease Control show that in 2006 the teen birthrate here was 64.1 per 1,000 population compared with 41.9 nationwide. We are 53 percent above the national average.
While no one is disputing the numbers, there is a variety of explanations for these figures.
Leslie Linthicum writing in the Albuquerque Journal said, “Our high pregnancy rate contributes to our perennially high poverty rate… A young woman is more likely to become a teen parent if she comes from a poor family.” There is no doubt that most single teenage parents become a new statistic in the poverty column. But it would be an error to think that poverty is a contributing factor to teen pregnancies.
It is more reasonable to assume that the attitudes, priorities and life styles that contribute to poverty might also contribute to teen pregnancy. This is an important distinction to make. Those in poverty need financial help for day to day living, but that help in itself will not reduce teen pregnancy. When attitudes, priorities and life styles change then we can expect a reduction in teen pregnancies and see a family moving out of poverty. This is a more comprehensive approach than simply teaching teens how to have “safe sex.”
We are fortunate here in Socorro to have Beth Beers, RN and the staff of the Healthy Family Initiative (HFI), a program of the Socorro General Hospital.
Since 1994 Beth has been working with boys and girls promoting risk avoidance/abstinence education as the healthiest life choice for young people.
Beth said, “We are not just about preventing teen pregnancy, we give them tools to choose not to drink, smoke, be peer pressured, or bullied, and to become positive leaders. We want them to develop into people of great character… Our goal is to reduce risk-taking behavior among youth, leading to more healthy families.”
Commenting on factors that influence teenage girls, Beth observed that some girls are looking for the love and attention that they never got from their fathers. The influence of a responsible, involved father is of utmost importance.
Beth realizes that it is a mistake to assume that teenagers are going to have sex. High expectations bear fruit. HFI is part of the state wide “Excel” program that is closely monitored.
Last fall, the evaluator wrote in his report, “While the in-school curriculum-based program may be lackluster, HFI’s “Excel” coalition of abstinence groups and youth around the state is very impressive… HFI is an innovative, shining [example] of the ‘Community-Based Abstinence Education’ pattern.” The high light of the summer is a 5-day national conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. It is attended by boys and girls from the six New Mexico programs in Animas, Lordsburg, Las Cruces, Socorro, Albuquerque and Veguita.
The evaluator’s study of the New Mexico’s program concluded, “Excel has a huge direct impact on a relatively small but significant number of kids. It also seems to be having an impact on some parents and other who interact with the program…”
The value of abstinence before marriage does more that just reduce the number of teen pregnancies. It also reduces the number of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). One in four sexually active teens will get an STD. Abstinence strengthens marriages. Couples that have not had sex before marriage are less likely to divorce. Sex has a strong bonding effect. But sex with many partners, simply for personal gratification, diminishes the bonding effect even after that person marries. Teens that make good choices, and learn and practice self-control make better use of their time and often become outstanding leaders.
The Healthy Family Initiative is a valuable asset for Socorro.

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

OPINION: Let’s Take Our Money And Play Somewhere Else

The Pencil Warrior
By Dave Wheelock

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” The bumper sticker came into vogue during the reign of Baby Bush. Yet if anyone thought it would lose its relevance with the ascension of Barack and the Demos, he should have had his head examined.
If Obama has taught us anything it is that we must do our own heavy lifting. There remain more than enough outrages to go around, so many it sometimes seems impossible that citizens will ever be able to focus their combined energies enough to make a dent, let alone reverse institutionalized injustice.
Yet this Wall Street Thing may prove different, if only because it begs an elegantly simple response, an action that most everyone from wild-eyed enviros to tea baggers may equally embrace.
I’m talking about the Move Your Money concept, which advocates that people withdraw their money from the big banks that refuse to lend out the money the federal government and their own customers have given them and invest it instead in community banks, small savings and loans, or credit unions. In doing so, ordinary Americans can do to the six big gambling houses --Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, and Citigroup -- what Congress fears to do: hit ‘em where they live.
Move Your Money is the brainchild of the Roosevelt Institute, which according to Wikipedia is the first student-run policy research group or "think tank" in the United States. Since January, Move Your Money has exploded on the internet and this past weekend even broke into the closely guarded studios of broadcast television with a segment on CBS’s Sunday Morning. In Los Angeles, the city council is reportedly considering a measure that would move government money out of big banks that habitually foreclose on citizens and move it into local institutions that actually serve the lending needs of the city. New York City has similar ideas.
Right here in New Mexico, HB 66, the State Funds in Community Banks Bill giving decisive preference in holding state funds to community banks and credit unions narrowly missed becoming law after unanimous approval by the House.
Only a Senate filibuster on an unrelated matter on the legislature’s last day prevented the transfer of between two and five billion dollars in taxpayer money from casinos like Bank of America and Wells Fargo into in-state institutions that actually serve the communities in which they operate.
According to economist Robert Johnson at, the six big banks listed above – which received billions in bailout money due to their “too big to fail” status – continue to control approximately 97 percent of the derivative markets now acknowledged to be at the core of our economic woes. In order to prevent any kind of accountability for these “economic weapons of mass destruction” (Warren Buffet, 2003) big banks spent $30 million last year lobbying members of Congress.
According to Ed Mierzwinski, a lobbyist for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "It seems like everybody is out of work except for bank lobbyists."
All this, while continuing to not lend money to small businesses, rightfully the primary engines of our economy.
Simon Johnson, economics professor at MIT and cofounder of, a vital chronicler of the current financial crisis, points to the political leverage Move Your Money can have if citizens begin to ask candidates the right questions.
“How can politicians claim to be against Too Big To Fail banks when they actually have an account or a credit card or a mortgage at one such offender? Shouldn’t state officials be held accountable for where they park the taxpayers’ funds? Who got what kind of commission last time a government body issued bonds?”
But Move Your Money is about more than the punitive effect on the legal conspiracies that cheat our citizens. It’s also about the positive effect of supporting local businesses and nonprofits that actually serve our cities, towns, reservations, and rural areas.
Research by the New Rules Project’s Community Banking Initiative shows that community banks and credit unions charge lower fees and lend out more money locally than the big banks. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland revealed that smaller banks and credit unions pay higher interest on savings accounts. As I mentioned earlier, this movement is for everyone.
At the core, Move Your Money resonates with people who want their money to reflect their values, those intentions of goodwill toward others which are so often spoken in deceit by those who profit from the misery of others.
The ultimate power lies in simply refusing to play the game as it’s been laid out for us, in favor of choosing our own path. Gandhi and King knew this. Simplicity is what gives this idea the makings of a genuine movement.

Dave Wheelock keeps his liquid rupees in the local credit union and his massive retirement account is parked with a "socially conscious investor." Reach him at Mr. Wheelock's views do not necessarily represent those of the Mountain Mail.

Fight Is On Over New Energy Petition

By John Severance

SANTA FE – The Socorro Electric Cooperative passed a resolution at its Feb. 27 meeting, stating its opposition to the New Energy petition, which would cap greenhouse gas emissions.
The State Environmental Board (EIB) is considering a proposal from a New Energy Economy that would limit the statewide greenhouse gas emissions level to 25 percent below the 1990 level by 2020.
It’s a hot button issue and that was evident as opponents and proponents of the petition filled a packed auditorium at the Willie Ortiz Building in Santa Fe on Monday, March 1.
The Socorro Electric Cooperative was well represented as trustees Milton Ulibarri, Leo Cordova, Charlie Wagner and general manager Polo Pineda attended the proceedings.
Pineda said the co-op board fully supports climate change efforts and renewable energy.
“What we oppose is the outrageous cap that NEE (New Energy Economy of Santa Fe) has petitioned to the EIB (Environmental Improvement Board) to implement,” Pineda said Tuesday. “We feel that 25 percent of 1990 levels is much more aggressive than what is considered at the federal level. If this was to be implemented it would cause significant economic hardship to New Mexico.
“We also question the authority that EIB has; this should be done through legislation. I think that the NEE and EIB should take a few steps back and rethink this whole issue.”
Wagner, meanwhile, addressed the EIB Board Monday.
“Profit seekers may tend to disregard the public interest, without state limits on greenhouse gas emissions; does the EIB really have authority approve limits?” Wagner said. “If not, all else is moot. We recognize that historically, environmental polluters incurred no cost for the damage caused by their emissions. Then there is affordability.
“The economic cost of those emissions, were shifted to medical and health care costs, and a deteriorating quality of life.
“Can our consumers afford to pay the increased cost going forward, when we are currently writing off hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, for members who have already been priced out of the market? The EIB must deal with the affordability issue too.”
The New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association and other energy entities filed a complaint in the Fifth Judicial District of the State of New Mexico in Lovington last month. The complaint was about whether the EIB had jurisdiction to enforce the petition.
Senator David Ulibarri, who represents Socorro, Valencia and Cibola County, spoke against the petition.
Ulibarri, who was the first person to address the EIB because he had to head back to the Capitol for the Special Legislative session, said a cap on greenhouse gas emissions would devastate the state economically. “We just need to understand the big picture before we start making decisions like these,” Ulibarri said.
Another opponent of the petition was Springer Co-op general manager David Spradlin. Springer supports the Cimarron I Solar Project which when in production in late 2010, will be the largest utility scale solar project in the U.S. This project is being constructed to meet the RPS (Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards) requirements of Tri-State Generation and Trans member cooperatives and will be located in Colfax County.
Spradlin, though, says it is almost impossible for Springer to meet the conditions if the petition is approved by the EIB.
“To try to meet a requirement of 25 percent below 1990 levels, Springer could only use our existing generation sources to serve 12 percent of our current load,” Spradlin said. “It would be hard for us to supply 88 percent of our load with non-emitting resources such as wind and solar which are only available between 20-30 percent of the time. Springer simply cannot turn the energy clock back to 1990 without losing a majority of our load.”
The proponents, though, meant business. “Air is turning brown and we are drowning in our waste,” said Four Corners resident Anna Romdan. “You should do whats right for the people of New Mexico.”
Katherine Campbell, the president of the League of Women Voters New Mexico, said the state can not wait for federal legislation.
Campbell, who works at Los Alamos, said the state needs to adopt emissions cap legislation now. “Change is never easy, but inaction is not a choice," she said.
Hearing officer Gaye Dillingham said no decision would be made Monday or anytime soon. The EIB still is accepting written testimony until June.

Warriors Roll To Crown

By Michael Olguin Jr.
For the Mountain Mail

SOCORRO - March Madness has arrived for New Mexico high school basketball. For the Socorro boys basketball team (13-13), its quest to the “Pit” in Albuquerque will begin against the Bloomfield Bobcats at 7 p.m. Saturday March 6 in the Warrior Dome.
The Warriors secured the ninth seed and Bloomfield was seeded eighth. Even though the Warriors are the higher seed, they were regular season district champions and got the nod to play at home. Bloomfield finished second in its district behind Tohatchi.
“I kind of knew we were going to get a seven to a 10 seed,” said 3-3A coach of the year Lawrence Baca. “I think we are better than a nine seed but we will take it. We will have to do what we have to do.”
The Warriors took care of the Hot Springs Tigers on Saturday night in the Warrior Dome, 65-41, to secure the district tournament title. It was the Warriors’ third tournament title in the last four years. It was also the Warriors seventh straight win.
“I think we are playing good basketball at the right time compared to early on in the season,” Baca said. “I don’t want to say we have peeked yet but we are definitely playing a lot better basketball.”
Senior Erik Garcia got the Warriors off to a quick start scoring the first six of eight Socorro points. Before the Tigers knew it, the Warriors had jumped to a 15-1 lead. By the end of the first quarter, the Warriors led 24-3.
Garcia led the Warriors with 19 points. Jared Marquez added 13 followed by Andrew Contreras with 11.
“It is going to take a whole team effort from here on out,” Baca said. “We can’t count on one guy in the tournament. We are going to need everyone to step up. We have had several guys step up and get into the scoring column and we need that to happen in the tournament.”

Photo by Demetria Fenzi-Richardson

Socorro Girls Fall In District Final

By Nicky Romero
For The Mountain Mail

SOCORRO -- The Hatch Valley Lady Bears (10-15, 4-3) defeated the Socorro Lady Warriors 44-40 at the packed Socorro gym on Saturday, Feb. 27 to win the 3-3A district tournament. This was Hatch Valley's second victory over Socorro in the last two weeks.
“Hatch got hot at the right time,” Socorro coach Joseph Garcia said.
Socorro's record dropped to 20-7 overall and 5-2 in district play. Despite the loss, the Lady Warriors received a better seeding in this week's state basketball tournament than rivals Hatch Valley and Hot Springs.
Socorro received a No. 8 seed and will host No. 9 St. Michael's High School (14-13, 5-6) in the first round of the state tournament on Friday, March 5 at 7 p.m.
During the regular season, Socorro beat St. Michael's 56-43.
If Socorro wins, they likely will play top seed Portales at “The Pit” in Albuquerque, on Tuesday, March 9th at 8 a.m.
Socorro got off to an early 4-0 lead when senior Roxanne Silva went down with an injury with only three minutes gone in the game. She returned with two minutes left in the 1st quarter and her team tied 4-4. Jaden Jones and Brittney McDaniel were the only players to score. But Socorro trailed 6-4 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Hatch Valley continued to stymie Socorro's offense by playing a box-in-one defense against Silva. Socorro regained the lead late in the quarter 16-14 thanks to a three-point shot by Kianna Gonzales. Socorro outscored Hatch Valley 12-11 in the second quarter but trailed 17-16 at the half. Silva was held to only 5 points in the first half. Jones had 6 of her 8 total points this half.
McDaniel opened up the third quarter with a two-point shot giving Socorro their only lead this quarter. Hatch Valley's Rebecca Hays than took over and scored 9 of her team's 16 points this quarter. Socorro than fell behind 33-23 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Silva tried to help her team come from behind by hitting two shots and two free throws to narrow the margin to four points. McDaniel hit a two and a free throw. She missed the second free throw, but Silva was there to put it back in and give Socorro a 34-33 lead with six minutes left in the game.
“We had a real good run to start the fourth quarter,” Garcia said. “I thought a real key was when Brittney got her fifth foul. That was big when she fouled out.
Hatch Valley tied it with a free throw. Silva was then fouled and made two free throws for Socorro's last lead of the game. Hatch Valley's Leticia Varela banked in a three-point shot to regain their lead 37-36. Socorro tied the game twice, the last time coming with 1:40 left and a 40-40 tie. Crucial turnovers than proved too much for Socorro to overcome. Hatch Valley's last two winning baskets were on a putback and a layup with 30 seconds remaining.
“Had our chances,” Garcia said. “We had three key turnovers at the end of the game and a key missed assignment at the back of the press at the end of the game.
“Defensively, we played better than last week holding them to 44 points instead of 65.
“Where our success has been this year has been when Jaden, Brittany, and Kianna have contributed, along with Roxanne. I thought we would shoot better in our gym today. We had open shots, we just didn't hit out shots today.”
Silva finished with 22 points.
Hatch Valley had three players in double-figures--- Shelbey Carson (13 points), Rebecca Hays (11 points), and Leticia Varela (10 points). Coach Sara Davis was voted the district's “Coach of the Year”.
Socorro's starting lineup were all voted into the “All-District Team”-- McDaniel, Gonzales, Tristen Peralta, Jones, and Silva.

Magdalena Boys Fall At Gallup Catholic

By Nicky Romero
For The Mountain Mail

MAGDALENA - The Magdalena Steers basketball team (20-6, 10-3) are the District 6-1A runner-up after falling to host Gallup Catholic High School 59-48 in the district championship game on Saturday, Feb. 27. The two teams had split games during the regular season.
Magdalena will now travel to No. 1 and District 5-1A Champ Cliff High School to play in the first round of the Boys State Basketball Championship on Saturday March 6 at 4 p.m.
Cliff's record stands at 24-1 and 6-0 in district with its only loss coming Jan. 8 against Tec de Monterey 62-53.
“Why not go out and measure yourself right off the bat?” Magdalena coach Jory Mirabal said. “ In my opinion, this is the best team that Cliff has ever had. They can beat any 1A thru 4A team in the state. They're big, athletic, and shoot the ball well. We're excited about getting after it.”
In the district championship game, Gallup Catholic led Magdalena 9-8 after one quarter of play. Gallup Catholic extended its lead in the second quarter by hitting five 3-point shots, outscoring Magdalena 26-11 in the quarter.
Magdalena's defense held Gallup Catholic to only 22 points in the 2nd half. Their offense outscored Gallup Catholic 12-10 in the 3rd quarter and 17-12 in the 4th quarter.
Point guard and ball handler Reg Peralto got into early foul trouble in the third quarter, causing Magdalena problems on breaking its opponent's press.
Magdalena cut the lead to only 4 points with two minutes left in the game. But untimely turnovers hindered the comeback and Magdalena was forced to foul.
“The boys played hard to the end,” Mirabal said.
Bryce Milligan had a high of 15 points. Daniel Hand and Reg Peralto each had 9 points.

Tech Rugby Club Loses In Colorado

By Dave Wheelock
Tech Rugby Coach

After advancing to the Western Rugby Union Collegiate Division Two playoffs with a 34-17 win over New Mexico State University on February 20, the Pygmies were comprehensively beaten 64-7 by Colorado School of Mines the following Saturday in Denver. With wintry Colorado weather forcing three changes in match location and kickoff time, the Tech team was fortunate to return safely to Socorro in time to prepare for Monday classes.
Tech had hoped to compensate for weaknesses in their eight-man forward pack with the superior back play which had been their hallmark since the autumn 2009 season. Absent from the scrum through injury or prior commitments were captain Jerod Aragon, veteran flanker Marcus Chavez, and hooker Blaine Trujillo. Added to the December graduations of scrum captain Bart Hegarty and Matt Kretz, hopes of containing CSM's big and athletic pack proved futile.
Tech's best run of play came in the minutes before halftime, when they scored their only try and were disappointed on two occasions when finishing passes went astray. The try came when scrumhalf Dustin Webb ran from a scrum, drew a defender and passed to fly half Royce Beaudry, who advanced the ball before finding Isaiah Sanchez running into a gap. Sanchez scored and Webb tacked on the extra two points. Webb was recognized as Tech's Man of the Match.
New Mexico Tech will challenge University of New Mexico at home on March 6.

Photo by Dave Wheelock

Gamez Gets 12 Years For Murder Of Tech Student

By John Larson

SOCORRO – One of those implicated in the death of New Mexico Tech student Garrett Joe was sentenced to 12 years in the penitentiary by District Judge Edmund Kase Friday, Feb. 26.
Jose Gamez, 20, of Socorro, received the maximum sentence for second degree murder.
The charges stem from an incident the evening of June 5, 2008 at Clarke Field which resulted in the death of Joe, of Crownpoint, who was 22 at the time.
The original criminal complaint stated that Joe was stabbed four times in the back and beaten in the head with a socket wrench. He was found alive by a jogger at the park the following morning, but died shortly after while receiving emergency medical care.
Along with Jose Gamez, Socorro police officers also arrested his brothers, Rafael Gamez and Manuel Gamez, also of Socorro, along with their mother, Jennie Gamez, of Polvadera, who admitted in the complaint to trying to dispose of her sons' bloody clothing.
Manuel Gamez was the prosecution’s main witness at a preliminary hearing in Magistrate Court in June, 2008.
At that time, Manuel testified that Jose told him he had stabbed Joe several times in the back and once in the buttocks.
“I knew Jose carries a knife on him all the time [but] I never saw the knife in Jose's hand,” Manuel said. “I said I don't want any part of this and that somebody should call an ambulance.”
Manuel testified that a short time later Jose threw the knife into ditch.
Manuel Gamez, 21, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to aggravated battery and tampering.
Rafael Gamez, twin brother of Jose, was given a six year prison term plus two years probation in June, 2009, and Jennie Gamez, 51, was found guilty of tampering with evidence but has not been sentenced.
Assistant District Attorney Stacey Ward said she was very happy with Jose Gamez’s 12 year sentence.
“It was the maximum under the law,” Ward said. “However, I wished the legislature had allowed for a stronger sentence for second degree murder.”

Sylvia Starts Long, Slow Dig To China

By Anne Sullivan

“What’s that?” Sylvia pointed to the two slices of apple I’d put in her dish.
‘That’s apple,” I said. “It’s a fruit. It’s good and it’s very good for you.”
“Thank you, no.” Sylvia glared at the offending slices. “Dogs don’t eat apples.”
“Yes, they do. I read it in a magazine,” I said. “The article said that people should give their dogs apple slices and vegetables instead of doggy treats.”
Sylvia shook her head so hard that her tags jangled. “I’m surprised at you, believing such nonsense. Here I thought you were a reasonably intelligent person and you turn out to be so gullible. Next thing we know, you’ll be giving all our money away to a Nigerian ponzi scheme. What magazine did you read that in anyway?”
“I forget.”
“You forget everything,” said Sylvia with a tinge of disgust.
“I know. But I refuse to let it upset me.”
“It’s not going to upset me either. It’s very simple. I refuse to eat this healthy junk.” Whereupon Sylvia nosed the offending apple slices out of her dish and onto the kitchen floor.
“Stop that, Sylvia. Remember your manners. What would Emily Post say?”
Sylvia gave me a look of incredulity and scooted the apple slices between my legs like hockey pucks.
“Goal,” she announced.
“Sylvia, what has gotten into you? That’s good food you’re playing with. You will apologize immediately.”
“Do I get to apologize publicly with all the news media present?”
“The only public here is that spider in the corner and he’s busy spinning and I doubt the Mountain Mail will send out a reporter. Just say you’re sorry and have done with it.”
Sylvia puffed up her chest and intoned, “I, Sylvia, being of sound mind and body, do swear that I own this imaginary podium. I wish to state that I apologize to all America and the rest of the world as well, for tossing my apple slices. I am sorry to have disappointed you and I shall endeavor to do better.”
“Cut the drama and pick up the apple.”
She complied, being very careful not to let a bite of it soil her tongue. “There,” she said after dropping the two pieces in the trash. “Now, what’s for breakfast?”
“The usual kibble.”
Sylvia scowled and pushed her dish away.
“I don’t understand,” I said. “In that article I read, the dogs just loved apple slices.”
“Don’t believe everything you read,” Sylvia warned me. “Now, if you would please let me out, I want to practice digging. With all the melted snow, the ground is pretty soft today. I should be able to make some headway on my hole to China.”
“Where are you planning to dig?” I asked.
“I thought the lawn would be a good place. It’s close to the house, so I can warn you if anyone comes up the road to attack us.”
“That’s very thoughtful and caring of you, but the lawn might not be the best place to dig a large hole.”
“Why ever not?”
“For one thing, it’s so close to the house that I might fall in. I like China but hurtling through a tunnel is not my chosen form of travel.” At this point I could see that Sylvia looked perilously close to a melt-down so I added, “Just think, if I were to get stuck in there, you’d have no one to feed you.”
It didn’t take Sylvia long to take that into consideration. “Okay,” she said, “I’ll dig over by the far cabin. Anything to make you happy.”
“Thank you. Remind me again, why is it so important for you to get to China?”
“It’s for the contest. So I can get on a Reality Show. Everyone’s getting on those shows and it’s high time dogs had their turn.”
“Oh, yes, now I remember. How do you think the Chinese are going to feel about a bunch of holes in their country’s infrastructure? They’re very security-minded. Much more than we are.”
“We shall have to see, won’t we?”

Councilors Learn About Purple Toilets

By John Larson

SOCORRO – Members of the Socorro City Council met in regular session Monday night, and were greeted by the presence of a purple toilet in the council chambers.
Socorro High School student Mariah Deters, representing the INTERACT club, told councilors that the toilet was part of a fund raising project for the annual Relay For Life.
“This is a different way to raise money for the American Cancer Society,” Deters said. “We will deposit a purple toilet in people’s front yards. The idea is to have people pay ten dollars for us to move it off.”
She said people can have other options.

“For fifteen dollars you can have it moved to a specific person’s lawn, and for an extra five dollars you can do it anonymously,” Deters said. “For every day the toilet is on someone’s lawn, they will be charged five dollars.
She said a $20 donation to the Relay For Life will buy immunity from the game.
“The INTERACT club has always done fund raisers Socorro’s Relay For Life, like car washes and bake sales, but this year we wanted something more fun, more interesting,” she said. “In years past we’re procrastinated until the last minute, so this time we started earlier to give more time to surpass our goal.”
The purple toilet fund raiser began Tuesday morning, when a purple toilet appeared on the lawn of Jon Spargo.
A second toilet is being donated by Councilor Gordy Hicks.
“We’re starting with a goal of one thousand dollars, but the more we reach the better,” Deters said.
The INTERACT Club is Rotary International’s service club for high schoolers which commits to at least two community service projects each year. The club recently showed children how to make woven heart pouches at the Community Arts Party at Finely Gym last month.

In other business:
Police Chief George Van Winkle gave the councilors copies of the department’s Dispatch Policies and Procedures. He said it outlined the basic standard operating procedures, but needed to be updated for the Enhanced-911 center, which “should be operational by the end of the month.”

Pictured: The lawn of Jon Spargo was the first location for INTERACT’s purple toilet Tuesday morning. Spargo said he paid the $10 fee for removal.

Photo by John Larson


Flapper, Pianist Entertain In Quemado

By Anne Sullivan
For the Mountain Mail

It was the perfect winter evening in Northern Catron County on Feb. 26.
First of all, it didn’t snow. Then, our stomachs were warmed by the tasty beef stew dinner served by the Quemado Senior Center. And to top it off, our spirits were really heated up by the performance of ‘I Want To Be Bad -- The Flapper and Her Song.’
Singer Jane Voss and pianist Hoyle Osborne put on a superbly bittersweet show. The minute Osborne started to play and Voss began to sing ‘There’ll Be Some Changes Made’ the audience was transported back to the carefree days of the 1920s.
But, lest we long too much for the days of yore, their repertoire included: ‘Downhearted Blues,’ There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth the Salt of My Tears’ and ‘Ten Cents a Dance’ (the ultimate working girl’s lament) which showed another side of an era in which women were emerging from the kitchen but not from the heat. Evidently the flapper’s life was not all it was cracked up to be.
Between musical numbers both Voss and Osborne read interesting quotes and poetry of the times explaining what was going on in those years. Did you know that Dorothy Parker was considered the epitome of a flapper?
And did I tell you that Voss sang beautifully in a bouncing flapper way and Osborne played a mean piano?
Brought to Quemado by Northern Catron County’s Roadrunner Arts Council through the auspices of the New Mexico Humanities Council and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, ‘I Want To Be Bad’ is a shining example of the works they offer to rural communities.
That’s Entertainment!

Mars To Dominate The Sky In March

March Skies
By Jon Spargo
For the Mountain Mail

Venus begins its steady climb into the early evening sky. By the end of the month it will be about 12 degrees above the western horizon one half hour after sunset. Shining at magnitude -3.9 all month we can welcome the dazzling planet back to the night sky.
Mars continues to dominate the evening sky although it will fade slightly in magnitude to +0.1 by the end of the month as the Earth has passed by it and is now increasing the distance to Mars. Through a small telescope its disk will still appear to be about 10 arc seconds wide, which will allow decent views of some surface features and the polar ice cap.
Saturn is placed for prime time viewing during the month rising just after sunset on the first. It will reach opposition on the 21st thereby being visible all night long. Shining at magnitude +0.5 it will easily rival the nearby bright stars Arcturus and Spica. Ring watchers should concentrate on the early part of the month when the rings are inclined at and angle of 4 degrees. By the end of the month they will close slightly to 3 degrees.
Mercury will be briefly visible on the 31st and will be seen about 3.5 degrees lower and to the right of Venus. Shining at magnitude -0.9, Mercury will get even closer to Venus in April.
The Moon will be last quarter on the 7th, new on the 15th, 1st quarter on the 23rd and full on the 29th. This month the Moon can be used to help you locate a couple of constellations as well as some planets. From March 6 through 10, about one hour before sunrise, the waning Moon moves from the head of Scorpius passing the entire constellation and also the constellation Sagittarius (Teapot) on successive mornings.
30 minutes after sunset on the 16th and 17th the crescent Moon will help you find the planet Venus about 5 degrees above the western horizon.
Spring begins on the 20th at 11:32 a.m. MDT as we reach the Vernal Equinox. This is a special time of the year for small telescope owners. With some hard work it is possible to view all 109 Messier objects in a single night’s observing from dusk to dawn. Happy hunting!