Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bust Nets Ton Of Marijuana

By John Larson

SOCORRO – In what may be the largest marijuana bust in New Mexico history, officers from six agencies working together confiscated an estimated ton of marijuana plants from three areas along the Rio Grande.
“At a minimum, there were fifteen hundred stalks brought out,” Socorro police detective Richard Lopez said.
Leading the raids was the Socorro Police Department, with assistance from the Socorro County Sheriff, New Mexico State Police, New Mexico National Guard Eradication Unit, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Region 7 Drug Task Force.
According to a Bureau Of Land Management official, the site has been under surveillance for several weeks.
Lopez said the main site – located three miles south of Escondida 200 yards from the banks of the Rio Grande - can only be found by maneuvering through the thick growth of the Bosque on numerous cow paths.
After the plantation was discovered - by researchers studying the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher in the riverine area - about two months ago, it was put under surveillance in hopes of making an arrest.
“It was decided that we would go ahead and secure the site last Saturday morning (June 19), and at least remove the plants before their harvest time,” Lopez said. “There were up to 30 officers on the initial raid at five o’clock in the morning.”
Similar operations were conducted at two other plantations; one five miles south of Bosquecito and the other 10 miles south of San Marcial.
Some of the marijuana stalks were as high as eight feet, planted in small plots throughout the undergrowth. Law enforcement officers and members of the New Mexico National Guard spent most of the day Saturday locating and cutting down the plants.
Chief Deputy Shorty Vaiza said the growers had invested “anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 in equipment in the elaborate set up on the three locations.
Confiscated were solar panels, generators, hundreds of yards of pipes and hoses, and personal belongings.
The growers were running an elaborate drip system for the plants which was spread out among the trees and underbrush. Solar panels charged marine batteries which powered the generators for motors and pumps for the drip irrigation system. The drip system was even hooked up to an electronic timer.
“They had tarps tied over some of the larger plots to hide them from the air,” Sheriff Philip Montoya said.
He said the area near the river is already humid, and with the drip system the plants were able to thrive.
“They lost all of that, in addition to the possibly between $750,000 to a million dollars worth of marijuana plants we took out,” he said. “This was no small time undertaking.”
Montoya said that although the operation was stopped, no arrests were made.
“There was one person at the site and he quickly disappeared into the woods as soon as officers arrived,” Montoya said.
Officers searched for the suspect for about two hours, he said.
Detective Richard Lopez said at one point the male suspect was only 30 to 40 feet in front of them,
“Along through there the underbrush is so thick you can hardly see anyone a few feet off the paths,” he said.
Along the same section of the river were two other sites, each with two camping sites complete with tents small hotplates, grills, and food.
“The second site at Bosquecito was cleared out, then the one south of San Marcial,” Lopez said. “Those other two sites were smaller.”
Detective Rocky Fernandez estimated the growers had been operating at the Escondida site for possibly seven years.
“We can assume the two other sites had been there about the same length of time,” Fernandez said. “And there could be several other sites between here and [Elephant Butte Reservoir].”
Law enforcement personnel and civilian volunteers were at the Escondida location until about midnight, collecting evidence and cutting and hauling out marijuana stalks.
The New Mexico National Guard has an eradication unit, which used a Blackhawk helicopter to remove the plants from the dense woods.
The marijuana stalks were delivered by the helicopters to the airport, and then transported to the police department for processing.
Tuesday the marijuana was spread out across the police department parking lot to dry.
“We had to secure the plants for evidence, and sitting in a room rotting was not going to secure it. It had to be dried,” he said.
He said processing the evidence was too much for the officers to handle by themselves, from the Escondida site to the police parking lot.
“We got help from different parts of the community, who went above and beyond what was needed to be done,” Lopez said. “Credit goes out to the Socorro Electric Cooperative, who brought a chipper and trucks and helped us haul it, and volunteers from the BLM who helped to pull the marijuana.
“Civilian volunteers like Peter Trujillo came out to help haul the stuff in their trucks. Sonic employees brought us burritos and drinks. One of our dispatchers, Carlos Valenzuela, and even our mechanic, Tom Stidstone, came out on their own time, not asking for anything in return. Just to help
“It makes you proud to live in Socorro. With all the bad there is, there’s also a lot of good,” Lopez said.

Pictures (from top):

Sheriff Philip Montoya and Chief Deputy Shorty Vaiza insepct two heaps of marijuana plants, ready for transporting by the National Guard’s Blackhawk helicopter.

Police Detective Rocky Fernandez leads the way down one of the many narrow trails leading to the camping area in the marijuana plantation.

A quickly abandoned campsite. Investigators were able to collect much evidence, which they believe will lead to the operators of the three marijuana plantations.

Detective Fernandez explains how unused plants were used for mulch for newer plots.

One of the solar panels used to power the drip system and other equipment.

Police Officer Brandi Perkins and city employee Tom Stidstone collect dried marijuana from the police parking lot Tuesday afternoon.

Photos by John Larson

Left to right are Sean Moore, Levi Romero and Ricky Silva, who competed at the Sun Country Junior PGA Tournament on June 15 at Puerto de Sol golf course in Albuquerque. Competing in the 11-12 year old division, Romero finished in first place shooting a 3 under par 32. Moore was second shooting even par 35. Silva was in third place shooting one over par 36.

Photo courtesy of Herman Romero

Javon Tafoya, 4, Damion Phillips, 3, and Nathaniel Phillips, 2, enjoy a snowcone just outside the Water and Ice Store in Socorro earlier this week.

Photo by John Severance

Murder Suspect Bound Over To District Court

By John Larson

SOCORRO - John James “Jack” Hayden, the man charged with being responsible for the death of Theresa Saiz-Chavez on June 8, was bound over to District Court Tuesday by Magistrate Judge Jim Naranjo.
Following closing arguments in Hayden’s preliminary hearing Tuesday, June 22, Naranjo said he had questions, but that there was probable cause for the bindover to District Court.
District Attorney Clint Wellborn called four witnesses for the prosecution including Lupe Tarango, the dispatcher who took the 911 call from Saiz-Chavez; Socorro Police Capt. Angel Garcia, who discovered Saiz-Chavez’s body in the trunk of her Dodge Neon; Gloria Vigil, an investigator from the Office of the Medical Investigator; and New Mexico State Police crime scene coordinator Steve Montano.
Defense Attorney Lee Deschamps called no witnesses.
Although Magistrate Court initiated a security alert with two sheriff’s deputies and two state police officers present, the only spectators were members of the victim’s family and friends of the defendant.
A major part of the testimony involved a recording of the 911 call made at 7 a.m., on June 8; and interviews with Hayden conducted at the State Police headquarters in Escondida.
Tarango testified that Saiz-Chavez sounded very scared and shaky. “Very excited.”
“She said she was in the trunk of her car and was unable to get out,” Tarango said. “She said she did not know where her car was.”
When Tarango asked her how she got in her trunk, “she was not sure how she got there.”
Tarango testified that she said a man named “Jack” was harassing her, stalking her.
“Then she added ‘Hayden’.” She identified her car as a dark green Dodge Neon.
Tarango testified that she told him he worked at Pizza Hut and that he lived in the Valverde, gave him his address and phone number. “She said [Hayden] was trying to be with her and was harassing her. She said she didn’t want to be with him.”
While he still had Saiz-Chavez on the line, Tarango called another officer on the radio to check the area around the Valverde.
He said the line went dead after about six minutes.
After a short recess, the recording of the call was played in court.
On cross examination, Deschamps asked Tarango that at any time “did Theresa say Jack put her in the trunk?”
Tarango said, “She did not know how she got in the trunk … She said Jack harassed her the night before.”
Deschamps said, “Her concern was that she could not get out of the car. Not that someone put her in the trunk?”
Tarango testified that she said Jack had been chasing her, that she didn’t know how long she had been in there, and that she hadn’t seen Jack “in the last hour or so.”
After Tarango was excused, Capt. Angel Garcia related how the Neon was discovered, and described the location of the bridge off Chaparral.
He said the car was located by Socorro County Deputy Sheriff Larry Smith, who contacted Garcia at 12:19 a.m. After the trunk was opened, calls were made to the State Police and the medical investigator.
Gloria Vigil, from OMI, testified about the condition of the body when she arrived at about 8 a.m., noting that the only marks were on the palm of one hand, and abrasions on two fingers.
She also said in the trunk were a purse, keys and cell phone.
Steve Montano of the state police investigative bureau testified that he interviewed Hayden three times that Tuesday. “He indicated that he got off work at Pizza Hut at 11 p.m. (Monday) and tried to locate Theresa through the night.
“He said someone told him she was cheating on him,” Montano said. “He said he was searching for her …and met up with her on Frontage Road, east of the interstate. He said he tried to get her to stop and rammed her car twice,” Montano said.
The second time he rammed her, she stopped and the two had a verbal exchange, and he asked her “why are you doing this?” he said.
Montano said Hayden told him he reached into her car and took a bracelet he had previously given her from the steering wheel area. The rear bumper was found on the road at that location.
Then Saiz-Chavez drove away and he chased her again and bumped her car a third time. near the bridge, Montano said. No debris was found at the spot he stated he rammed her the third time.
Paint from her car was found on his vehicle, and vice-versa, according to testimony.
Hayden told Montano that after the third collision near the bridge “they went their separate ways,” and that he left before she did.
Montano said he asked Hayden what his intentions were the night he was ramming her car. “He said he was very angry. He said his intentions (on the ramming) were to hurt her,” Montano said.
“He said ‘I didn’t mean to hurt her,” Montano said. “Then he said, ‘I mean her feelings’.”
Montano said Hayden had sent her threatening text messages, which were retrieved from Verizon.
The recording of the 911 call was played again. Although she at one point said she was not sure how she got in the trunk, Saiz-Chavez could heard saying somebody put her in the trunk, and at another point, “I knew he was going to do this to me.”
Deschamps questioned Montano as to whether Saiz-Chavez specifically said “Jack locked me in the trunk.”
Montano said no.
In closing arguments, Wellborn said there was more than enough evidence to find probable cause. “The phone call speaks for itself,” Wellborn said. “’Somebody locked me in my trunk. I was going home. He was chasing me and wouldn’t let me come home.’ She identified Jack by name.”
Deschamps closed with the argument that Saiz-Chavez entered the trunk under “her own volition. So he would think she was not there anymore.”
He then requested bail be reduced to $100,000, which Naranjo denied.
“I’m left with doubts, but today is about probable cause. I believe there is probable cause to bind the case over on all three counts,” Naranjo said.
At the close of the hearing, members of the victim’s family broke into tears.
Hayden will now go to trial on one open count of murder, one count of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated battery against a household member.

Picture: A cross and flowers mark the location where Theresa Saiz-Chavez's Dodge Neon was discovered under the bridge at the end of Chaparral Drive.

Photo by John Larson

Deputies Recover 2 Pounds Of Heroin At Accident Site

By John Larson

SOCORRO - Thanks to an alleged deer running across Interstate 25 at mile marker 121, over two pounds of heroin was recovered by Socorro County Sheriff’s deputies.
Gabriel Alonzo Rodriguez-Loya, a Mexican national, was arrested after packets of heroin stuffed into two socks were linked to his vehicle at an accident scene early Thursday, June 17.
Rodriguez-Loya, 27, of Durango, Mex., admitted to deputies he was delivering the narcotic to a location in Chilili, in Torrance County.
Deputy Sheriff Casey Spurgin estimated the street value of the heroin to be as much as $25,000.
Spurgin said he was at home asleep when he was alerted to a rollover accident at about 3 a.m. Thursday, June 17.
“When I arrived at the scene, he was sitting against the guardrail. He said he lost control while swerving to avoid a deer crossing the roadway. There were a couple of truckers who stayed with him until I got there,” Spurgin said. “He had some lacerations from the accident. He said he was heading to Albuquerque to compete in a rodeo in Chilili.
“I looked over the vehicle, and he did not have any rodeo gear in his vehicle. No saddle or any other rodeo related gear with him,” he said. “There was nothing to substantiate his statement.”
Deputy James Nance, who was on another call in Veguita, was contacted to assist Spurgin.
Checking around the vehicle, which had rolled twice, Spurgin noticed boot tracks and evidence of someone crawling up the small hill in the wide median.
“I followed the tracks until I found two black socks in the bushes. The heroin packets were in the socks,” he said.
Rodriguez-Loya was arrested and transported by ambulance to Socorro General Hospital, where he told Spurgin he “knew he had to hide it.”
He was treated for lacerations and incarcerated at the Socorro County Detention Center.
Rodriguez-Loya appeared in Magistrate Court later that day, where Judge Jim Naranjo dismissed the case, on a “nolle prosequi” filing from the District Attorney.
The case will now be taken over by federal authorities.

Picture: Sheriff's Deputies James Nance and Casey Spurgin at Baca's Towing and Repair displaying the two pounds of heroin recovered.

Photo by John Larson

Pool Reopens, Spa Stays Closed At Best Western Hotel

By John Severance

SOCORRO -- The New Mexico Environmental Board and Health Department reopened the pool at the Best Western Socorro Inn and Suites Tuesday, but the spa will remain closed until either the end of the week or beginning of next week.
The pool and the spa had been closed since May 7 after two people from South Carolina contracted Legionnaires Disease (a type of pneumonia) after staying at the hotel. Environmental Department program manager Raj Solomon said the firefighters, who were attending a seminar at EMRTC, had used the pool and spa, but he could not say definitively that the hotel was the source. Solomon said they were both hospitalized and one of them spent time in the intensive care unit but they are fine now.
“There is no definitive evidence,” Solomon said Tuesday. “It could be. It may be. It may be not. The health department did investigate and it found out these people had used the spa. It could be a likely source. But we can’t say definitely.”
Chad Smelser, who headed the investigation by the Health Department, is still waiting on some final reports. “We are done,” he said Wednesday.
When asked if the health department was going to investigate anywhere else in Socorro, Smelser said, “No.”
When asked what his final report was going to say, Smelser said, “The hotel is the likely source.”
The hotel owner, mayor Ravi Bhasker, said the spa did not pass the test because the water fell short of the 4 parts per million of bromine parameter.
“We had agreed to keep the level at 4 parts/million bromine,” Bhasker said Tuesday. “We had it up to 4.2 or 4.3. They tested it and it was at 3.6 something. We made a deal with them that it would be above four and it was not at four. We are going to raise the bromine levels and we are going to try to get them to come back as soon as possible to retest it.”
Bhasker said his hotel has gone through the remediation process, including 26 hours of hyperchlorination.
The Best Western hired a company that used high concentrates of chlorine and that was followed by a scrub and the surfaces were treated with disinfectants.
Bhasker said during the first month they will take cultures twice. Then it will be a monthly procedure and then quarterly.
“There were no other violations and we will inform you of when we will open the spa,” Bhasker said.
Solomon said it will be up to the hotel to follow its consultant’s (Evidence Based Solutions out of Chicago) recommendations.
Calls to EBSol consultant Gunner Lyslo were not returned.
Marie Yarroll from the Best Western headquarters in Phoenix said in an email, “Each Best Western hotel is independently owned and operated.
“We have been advised by the hotel’s owner that the New Mexico Department of Health has concluded its investigation, and that an independent third-party consultant did not find a link between the hotel and the health incident. It is also our understanding that the owner of the hotel cooperated fully with the investigation, and continues to safely operate his hotel.”
Legionnaires disease got its name in 1976 when many people who went to an American Legion convention in Philadelphia suffered from an outbreak of the disease, which is a type of pneumonia.

OBITUARY: De A. Gerard

De A. Gerard
July 9, 1925-June 14, 2010

De Alva Gerard, 84, passed peacefully into the arms of Jesus, Monday night, June 14, 2010 in Socorro.
She was a business owner and operator of several restaurants in Socorro, a volunteer at Socorro General Hospital Auxiliary, a Sunday school teacher and charter member of First Baptist Church in Socorro for many years. De was a loving and caring sister, aunt, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and a devoted servant of the Lord.
De is survived by her sister, Barbara Hawkes and husband, Jimmy; brother, Gordon Stirling and wife Margaret; daughter, Lynn Pence and husband Ray; and sons, Blake Gerard and wife Sonja; and Blaine Gerard and companion, Miriam Champion; 4 nephews, 1 niece, 9 grandchildren, Dan Gerard (Luz Alvarez); Sam Gerard (Elizabeth); Amanda Gerard (Kyle Jones); Jaime Gerard; Stacy Bailey (Robert); Stephanie Tex (Jeff); Sara Goodman (Steve); Blaine Gerard II (Caramia); and Pamela Smith (Bill); a cherished daughter-in-law, Linda Gerard, and 10 2/3 great grandchildren.
She was a resident of Socorro since 1942. De was preceded in death by her parents, Rev. Gordon and Ollie Stirling, her sister, Belle White, and her husband, Shirley B. Gerard (1987). Her love and devotion for the Lord, her family, her friends, and for her church will always be remembered. The family would like to share a verse: Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. Proverbs 31:31. A Funeral Service was held on Friday, June 18, 2010 at 2:00 PM at The First Baptist Church in Socorro with Pastor Bob Farmer presiding. Interment took place in the Socorro Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial contributions be made to Hospice of Socorro, First Baptist Church of Socorro, or Socorro General Hospital Auxiliary. 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: D. "Oleta" Hobbs-Burton

D. "Oleta" Hobbs-Burton
May 13, 1919-June 19, 2010

D. “Oleta” Hobbs-Burton passed away June 19, 2010. Born on May 13, 1919 in Loop, Texas to Lonnie and Fannie Effie Wright.
She was preceded in death by her parents and husbands, George Allen Hobbs; and Fredrick J. Burton; her sisters, Alma Florence Merrick; Shirley Ilene Weatherbee; Meta Fay Groff; and her brothers, Willis Orbry Wright; Lonnie Lindburgh Wright; Herbert Wayne Wright; Oswald Lee Wright; and Bill Wright.
Oleta lived in Old Springs, Reserve, Quemado, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. She also lived a short time in Colorado and Arizona. Oleta was a pioneering lady of many talents, she worked as a bartender at “Uncle Bills” for many years, she worked and managed the Sweet Shop CafĂ© and she worked as a furrier at Harpers Furs and seamstress for Sears Draperies. One of her passions was quilting at the Catron County Senior Center in her early retirement years; she made beautiful quilts for her children and grandchildren.
Oleta is survived by her sister, Laura Merrick of Portales, and four children, Doris Jean Norris of Las Cruces; Donald Lee and Caroline Hobbs of Quemado; Elvin “Al” Roy and Cheri Hobbs of El Paso, Tex.; Sharon Faye and Ron Malone of Albuquerque.
She is also survived by eight grandchildren, Dan; Laura; Kenny; Loretta; Todd; Cindy; Mark and Kelly; fourteen great grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A Funeral Service will be held Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 10 a.m. at The Community Center in Reserve with Mr. Jack Merrick presiding. Burial will take place in the Reserve Cemetery, Reserve, NM. Pallbearers are Danny Norris, Kenny Norris, Justin Smith, and Todd Hobbs.
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

Greenwood Named Lady Warriors Basketball Coach

By Nicky Romero
For the Mountain Mail

SOCORRO -- Marleen Greenwood, an assistant basketball coach at Socorro High School for 12 seasons, was promoted Wednesday to head coach.
The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon by Warriors Athletic Director Charlie Savedra.
“I believe in loyalty and she has paid her dues,” Savedra said. “We want to see some change and for her to do her own thing. Marleen was a good hire and she is a Lady Warrior. It is her turn. The community has to have confidence in their backing because she is one of our own.”
Greenwood replaces Joseph Garcia, who announced his retirement last month after serving for 20 years as head coach.
“I’m really excited,” Greenwood said. “It’s something working toward since I have been here. It is quite a privilege to play and now to be head coach here, not too many people get this kind of opportunity.
“I will try to keep the standards that have been set over the years.”
The Lady Warriors were 20-8 last season and graduated three seniors, including all-time leading scorer Roxanne Silva.
Greenwood beat out three other candidates for the job, including Magdalena girls coach Wally Sanchez, former Grants girls coach Joe Hernandez and Zimmerly physical education teacher Dennis Sanchez.
“Obviously, we’ve got a whole new type of personnel height wise,” Greenwood said. “We are now small. We will have to change things up a bit. Speed and quickness will be two of our strengths. Right now, we are all busy with basketball camps. We had one here, one in Gallup, one in Las Vegas and we are headed to Los Lunas next week.”
Greenwood also is the head volleyball coach, but said Wednesday that she is undecided on whether she will keep that position.
“We will have always had big crowds at the games and I hope the community keeps coming out to the games in support of the kids.”

County Amends Sun Zia Resolution

By John Severance

SOCORRO – Residents from eastern Socorro County were back in full force at the County Commission Tuesday night and their voices were heard loud and clear.
Through resident spokespersons Oliver (Sato) Lee and Sue Waid, they suggested to the commissioners that they amend their resolution regarding the proposed Sun Zia Transmission lines.
“We don’t want the line to cross the river in Socorro County at all,” Lee said.
And the commissioners agreed.
They amended their resolution to say the routing of the lines will result in less impact on the area’s economic, environmental and wildlife resources that would otherwise result from use by Sun Zia of any route across the Rio Grande River. Originally, the resolution went on to say at a point just north of US 380 and San Antonio.
Before the Sun Zia discussion, commissioner Danny Monette addressed the audience. “Sun Zia is working through BLM and we basically don’t have a say-so,” Monette said. “We have voiced our concerns but we all need to talk to BLM.”
County manager Delilah Walsh pointed out that only 17 percent of the land that Sun Zia wants to use is privately owned. “The rest is state land,” Walsh said.
Monette said the commission had three options.
They didn’t have to pass the resolution.
They could approve it as it was written.
Or they could approve it with the amendments they presented.
The commissioners voted to adopt the latter unanimously.
“Is this resolution going to make a difference?” commissioner R.J. Griego said. “Everybody who is here has to knock on BLM’s door because they are the ones who are making the decisions.”

In other business:
• The Commission appointed Zeke Armijo to the Workforce Investment Board and approved Tom Brown to serve on the DWI Council Board.
• The Commission also passed four resolutions that would pave the way for the county to apply for CDBG grant money from HUD.
•The Commission also approved a resolution regarding road signage maintenance.

Fire Restrictions In Place For Cibola Forest

Mountain Mail reports

The Cibola National Forest, Magdalena Ranger District will implement fire restrictions starting Saturday, June 26 at 8 a.m. Cibola National Forest Supervisor Nancy Rose explained, "With the recent increase in temperatures, higher winds, continued dry conditions that are drying vegetation, the potential for Wildland fires has increased and we feel it is necessary to take these precautions.”
As always, fireworks are prohibited on all national forest system lands.
Beginning 8 a.m., Saturday, June 26, the following restrictions apply to the Magdalena Ranger District.

Open Campfire Restrictions:
• Campfires, charcoal grills and stove fires are prohibited on national forest lands except in Forest Service developed camp and picnic grounds where grills are provided.
• Pressurized liquid or gas stoves, lanterns and heaters meeting safety specifications are allowed. Please contact the Cibola National Forest for more details regarding where fires are allowed.
• Smoking is allowed within an enclosed vehicle or building; a developed recreation site; or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter and free of all flammable material.

Please call for more information, Mark Chavez, Cibola National Forest Supervisor’s Office at 505-346-3900, or the Magdalena Ranger District Office at: 575-854-2281.
Additional fire information for the Southwest Area is available at

EDITORIAL: Legionnaires Outbreak Was Kept Under Wraps, Why?

By Gary Jaramillo
Publisher, Mountain Mail

How many people here in Socorro do you suppose would let others know if they knew about something that was dangerous and had the potential to hurt their friends and neighbors and might even have the possibility of hurting others across the country as well?
We would like to believe that everyone here in Socorro would immediately get the word out about something that could harm innocent others, right?
Maybe even kill them?
Just recently The Mountain Mail found out that there was a Legionnaires Disease Outbreak at the Best Western Hotel owned by Mayor Dr. Bhasker.
We found out totally by accident from someone who came across the story in an Arkansas newspaper while surfing the internet.
The publisher of the Nashville Leader in Arkansas and his daughter had made a trip to the Southwest and stayed at the hotel and they were contacted by their state health department. The publisher wrote about his experience in his newspaper.
Two customers of the Best Western owned by the Mayor contracted Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires Disease, in the spa area of the hotel.
Apparently they were part of one of the first responder classes who stay exclusively at the Mayor’s hotel year ‘round.
We were shocked that not even one of the many media sources in New Mexico were contacted by the Mayor (who is also a doctor) and told about this very serious situation.
We can’t explain why the State Environmental Department wouldn’t warn anyone about something that has the potential to be quite deadly and devastating if not contained.
You’d think both a medical doctor and our state health department would at least seem just a tiny bit more concerned and a lot less apathetic about the possibility of this becoming a catastrophic event.
It’s aggravating as hell that something this important was kept under wraps and no one in our town would have known about it at all had both our Mayor and local doctor and the health department had it their way.
Yes sir, aggravating as hell.

Opinion Page Policy

The Mountain Mail Opinion Page is meant to be a forum for a diverse range of opinions. And the letters that appear in the Mountain Mail do not necessairly represent the views of the newspaper.
The Mountain Mail encourages signed letters to the editor or guest columns.
Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication, a telephone number is required for conformation.
Please limit the letters to 500 words and all letters will be edited for grammar, spelling and libel.
Letters can be sent to PO Box 62, Socorro, NM, 87801 or emailed to or faxed to 575-838-2808.

OPINION: Hunky Dory’s Curious Voyage

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

Denise Fort, Professor of Law at UNM, delivered a talk a week ago last Wednesday at the Magdalena Public Library’s reading program on “Water.” She informed us, in no uncertain terms, that everything is not “Hunky-Dory.” (A curious term, the origins of which I’ll explain at a later date . . . also the punch line of a very long, very bad joke told to me by a co-worker.)
The long, convoluted history of water law in the Southwest has left us with the current opinion that water is a “commodity.” It will be supplied to the highest bidder. Bad news for us.
There is no current set of laws, “on the books,” that forbids this type of insane “water mining.” The entire matter of the San Augustin Ranch LLC’s “water-grab” application has been left to the discretion of the State Engineer, a State Governor’s appointee. Let’s try to pin down the Governor candidates’ positions on this situation.
The red water jug protest art is coming together. For our Old Timer’s Celebration, we could pass those red jugs down the parade route to let the candidates on their floats know that we are serious about this matter. Another concept is to construct a cube using 555 jugs, representing the amount of water that would be removed from our common aquifer in one second. It would be 4 feet square and 7 ½ feet tall. This would be impressive, but not frighteningly so. A much more impressive display would be the “one minute removal” rate: 16 feet square and over 27 feet tall, representing 33,295 gallons!
The hourly rate of withdrawal would be represented by a line of water jugs (6" square) set side by side from Datil to the Litigation Unit of the State Engineer’s Office in Santa Fe. The daily rate of withdrawal would be represented by a line of jugs set side by side from Juneau, Alaska to Miami, Florida. Now we’re getting into Christo-type projects!
Now let’s consider the proposed yearly withdrawal rate as set forth by the San Augustin Ranch LLC. It amounts to gallon jugs (painted red of course), laid side-by-side, encircling the earth 66 ½ times.
Having trouble picturing us painting all of those jugs red? Consider instead, a shimmering cube of water, 1,327 ½ feet (about 1/4 mile) in all directions. Just how many of those beautiful cubes of water do you suppose can be removed from our aquifer before we begin to feel the effects? It wouldn’t be long before we all look as helpless and pathetic as those oiled pelicans on the Gulf Coast: just more casualties of “business as usual.”
If you thought of leaving the ranch, the old homestead or parts of our Village to your children or grandchildren, forget it! This area would turn into a desolate wasteland, populated only by the “pumpers” at the SA Ranch and a few struggling workers at the VLA, trying to keep their radio dishes upright.
It’s the least we can do, to clearly illustrate the staggering amount of water that this proposal suggests. So keep saving those plastic gallon jugs; rinse them out and if you can’t rouse us at 405 Pine Street in Magdalena, chuck them over our fence or gate. We’ll paint them red as fast as we can.
On a lighter note, the 3rd Water Program at the Magdalena Public Library is scheduled for Wednesday, June 30 at 7 pm. It will feature Ian Jenness, speaking about his trials and successes at rainwater collection in Magdalena. This is a positive, proactive technique that we can adopt or at least think about in the face of losing our current access to water. Bring your questions, experiences or alternatives to this age-old technique of survival.
This just in: the Hunky-“Dory” has been redeployed to the Gulf to help lay oil-boom. It’s got its work cut out for it! The latest estimate of the volume of oil that has been released into the Gulf since April is over 100 million gallons! That is over 307 acre feet of oil!
BP has been frantically spraying highly toxic “dispersants” into the oil-gusher. This of course doesn’t make the oil “go away” (as they would have us think), it merely brakes up the oil into smaller droplets so that it doesn’t seem like so much.
If you were a fish, which would you rather contend with? One large blob of oil that you could perhaps avoid or billions of tiny droplets mixed with more than one million gallons of the Neurotoxin Pesticide, Corexit?

If you have any comments, problems, solutions, upcoming events, spare oil-boom, or Empty Milk Jugs, contact me at

OPINION: Republican Spinmeisters Working Overtime on Deficit Lies

The Pencil Warrior
By Dave Wheelock

Eight years of Republican Congressional and White House control witnessed tax cuts for high earners at the same time that two wars, estimated by Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz to cost over a trillion dollars, were opened. Taxes owed by huge corporations often went uncollected, and offshore tax havens thrived. A lax attitude toward the activities of Wall Street dreamers and schemers finally brought about the collapse of the Ponzi scheme erected at the heart of the world economy.
During the Bush Jr. years, the Grand Old Party set the table for an inevitable and unhappy reckoning with the forces of reality, which (should have) profoundly damaged their own credibility. Now, as the Party of No (Fiscal Responsibility) turns to a new mantra of “spending cuts to reduce budget deficits,” their breathtaking level of hypocrisy is on full public display.
If not for a stunning level of national forgetfulness supported by a failure of corporate media to point out fundamentally inconvenient truths, the simplistic “conservative” argument about deficits would be dead on arrival. But more important than who first kicked the deficit snowball down the hill (remember the tax cuts and unprecedented spending of self-proclaimed “war president” George W. Bush? Whose administration came up with the big bank bailout?) is the current need of our job-starved economy for some serious deficit spending.
Real economists agree the number one emergency and therefore priority today is JOBS, NOT DEFICITS. It shouldn’t take a degree in economics to imagine the long term effects of massive unemployment. In the words of Economic Policy Institute President Lawrence Mishel in testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on June 10, 2010: “When jobless workers exhaust their unemployment compensation, who will pay their rent or pay off their mortgages?” A high rate of long term unemployment is the real-world version of dominoes - as unemployment benefits run out, demand for products and services falls further, and more and more workers are laid off. In time the entire society must suffer.
But don’t take my word for it; see what some economists long considered to be “budget hawks,” have to say.
“It’s understandable to run deficits when you have a recession, a depression, or unprecedented . . . crises that we’ve had.” - David Walker, CEO of the ultra-conservative Peterson Foundation.
“It is a textbook principle of prudent fiscal policy that deficits are an appropriate response in times of war and recession.” – Greg Mankiw, former chair of Pres. George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.
The shrill and misleading calls for deficit reduction currently reverberating throughout the Republican echo chamber deceitfully equates national deficits with household spending. “What happens if a family spends more than they can afford?” the baited line is often set out. But spending more than they have is exactly what families do when they borrow to buy a car, or a house, or any other significant and worthwhile purpose. Why should government somehow be prevented from doing the same, especially when spending adjustments can - and routinely are - made further down the road?
The other red herring routinely regurgitated by Republicans hoping to gain a semblance of relevance for themselves is the bromide about “financial burdens upon our grandchildren.” But government debts are engineered through bonds, which means when payments are eventually paid on those bonds, the money comes back to the bond holders – a net gain to the economy, not the loss the voodoo economists would have us fear.
The outrageous truth is the Republicans consciously offer this tripe to benefit their base (which ominously has become that of the Democrats as well). Even though up to 74 percent of voters place more importance on continuing unemployment benefits and health coverage than on deficit reduction (The Nation magazine, 6/29/10), President Obama’s newly appointed “bipartisan deficit commission” may represent a real threat to Social Security if an obliging corporate media can stir up enough fear.
If the Republicans win, their corporate buddies will be thrown the prize they’ve always longed for – control over our Social Security funds.
We should consult relevant economists as we sit down to map our future, not the same Republican idealogues whose top-down theories have brought agony to so many.
EPI’s Mishel and many others are now urging we make a strong policy response to address the requirement of job creation, on the magnitude of New Deal measures that prevented the Great Depression from becoming a bigger disaster than it was.
An extension to the unemployment and health assistance extended to jobless Americans though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is a must to prevent conditions from deteriorating, but does not in itself address the root problem.
We must have the courage shown by an earlier generation of Americans if we are to escape a deepening chasm of nationwide poverty and hopelessness.

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.

LETTER: Tobacco Control

To the Editor
This month is the one-year anniversary of the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act that was signed into law on June 22, 2009. The new law gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products.
Tobacco companies are now required to provide larger, more visible, and more informative health warning labels, including color and graphics, on tobacco product packages and requires larger, more visible, and more informative health warning labels on advertisements. Smokeless tobacco warnings now must cover 30 percent of the two principal display panels of each package.
According to the New Mexico Department of Health 2007 Youth Risk and Resiliency survey, Socorro youth use smokeless tobacco at the rate of 17.3% compared to the state percentage rate of 11.8%. In the 2007 YRRS, a current smokeless tobacco user is defined as a youth in grades 9-12 in a public school who reports having used chew, snuff, or dip on one or more days in the past month.
Nationwide, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs nearly $100 billion in health care bills each year. Until June, 2009 tobacco products were virtually unregulated to protect consumers' health (Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids).
If you have questions regarding the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act or would like information about the NM Department of Health’s 1-800 QUIT NOW toll-free quit line, please call Socorro General Hospital’s Healthy Family Initiative at 575-835-8707. Thank You.

Laura Fazio
Tobacco Prevention Program Coordinator


LETTER: Elfego Baca Shoot-Out

To the editor
Russ Moore wondered what was going on when two people from North Dakota signed up to participate in the “notorious” Effego Baca Shootout. My brother-in-law Frank Myer (as I reminded him a bit past prime for the Shootout) and nephew, Loren Olson, had talked about participating for a number of months.
When they arrived and looked up at M Mountain both wondered about their joint sanity. Both men were mindful of the difficulty of golf from the rugged trek.
At the EMRTC morning organization gathering assistants were assigned to both men. While it was not apparent correct assessments were made as to what help both individuals might need as they trekked down M Mountain.
At one point I overheard someone from the ground group commenting on his cell phone that “the old guy is slow but he would be alright.” And Yes, thanks to members of the Socorro Search and Rescue team, Frank definitely was.
And finally, both men were astonished with the support and care provided by the EMRTC team, Socorro Search and Rescue, all assistants and the New Mexico Tech Golf Course personnel. They hold great memories from a walk of a lifetime.
So thanks Socorro for the exceptional hospitality provided to two visitors.

Andrea Blodgett


LETTER: On Immigration

Dear Mr. Jack Fairweather,
My question to you is have you ever read Senate Bill 1070? I gather from what you wrote in the June 117, 2010 Mountain Mail, you have no clue on how illegal immigration affects the U.S. Taxpayer. Here are a few immigration solutions for you to think about.
Why doesn’t the president invite all illegal aliens to the White House? That way he can keep track and know where they all are? Also, the Phoenix Suns NBA basketball team players AKA “Los Suns” need to fork the bill for all these people illegal in our country. Provide them housing, food and health insurance. Or best yet take all illegal aliens to your house and their babies.
The biggest problem is that all liberals that use and manipulate our U.S. Constitution to make it seem that entering our country illegal is OK. Why should we treat illegal aliens different who choose to enter our contry then have children and expect to have the rights that U.S. citizens do.
You really need to read the constitution again and read where it states that illegal aliens can enter the USA illegal and have children here for the purpose for the illegal parents to become U.S. citizens. Mr. Fairweather, are you aware that there is a process to enter our country legally? My wife came to our country legal and I am her sponsor, After almost two years, she will receive her green card.
Before she entered the U.S.A., I had to sign papers and give my oath that she will not become a public burden or charge to the U.S. Government.
So what gives all the illegals from Mexico the right to drain all our resources that were meant to help all our fellow Americans or persons who wish to enter the U.S.A. legally. When illegal aliens enter the USA and make children here, do you think that they are respecting our laws? Instead they are making babies and taking advantage of all of our rights and benefits which only citizens of the U.S. are entitled to.
Read how Mexico deals with the people that enter Mexico illegal!

Randy Peralta


AG: Tech Violated Open Meetings Act

Mountain Mail Reports

The New Mexico State Attorney General’s Office has notified the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents that it has violated the Open Meetings Act.
In a letter addressed to Tech Regents attorney Mark K. Adams, the AG Office concluded the board violated rules concerning telephone meetings, going into closed sessions, approval of minutes and the emergency nature of meetings.
The AG office received a letter of complaint from Richard “Arf” Epstein of Socorro.
In 2008, the Regents held three meetings when in June four regents took part by telephone and three took part in July and December meetings. The AG office gave the Regents the benefit of the doubt but warned that “participation by telephone should occur only when circumstances beyond the member’s control would make attendance in person extremely burdensome.”
Epstein’s second complaint centered on the Board’s motion to go into closed session at an Aug. 2, 2008 meeting “For consideration of legal and personnel matters.”
The OMA requires that when a public body intends to close a public meeting “the authority for the closure and the subject to be discussed shall be stated with reasonable specifity in the motion calling for the vote on a closed meeting.” The AG Office believes the minutes recorded for that meeting do not adequately meet that standard. According to the minutes, the letter said, “We strongly caution the Board that it must meet the reasonable specifity requirement whenever the Board wishes to go into closed session under any exception provided by the OMA.”
Epstein’s third complaint concerns the failure of the Board to approve the May 16, 2008 minutes at the June 9 or July 3 meetings. The OMA requires a public body to approve, disapprove or amend the minutes of a meeting at the next meeting where a quorum is present. Since the Regents failed to approve the minutes at the next minutes, that constituted a violation. But since the minutes of the May meeting were finally approved in August, that cured the violation. The letter from Martha Daly, assistant attorney general, said, “we strongly caution the Board to comply with this and all other requirements of the OMA.”
The fourth complaint is about not enough sufficient notice given to two 2008 meetings on June 8 and July 3. The office said actions taken at those meetings are not valid.
“We here advise the Board to begin again, and to consider the items acted upon at the June 9 and July 3 meetings by rediscussing and voting again on those items at a properly noticed open meeting after listing those items on the meeting agenda.
“If the Board takes these steps, we will not take further action on these particular matters. We ask that the Board send us a copy of the agenda and minutes of the meeting at which such corrective action is taken with the next 90 days.”
During Farmer’s Market last week on the Plaza, Epstein said he was satisfied with the AG’s findings.
"After this and the judicial rebuke to Tech for withholding documents under the Inspection of Public Records Act last year, let's hope that Tech will be run in regard to how our community's right to know how their decisions are made," he said.

Socorro HAM Operators To Take Part In ‘Field Day’

Mountain Mail Reports

Socorro's Amateur Radio operators will join thousands of others throughout the Western Hemisphere in a giant emergency-communications exercise on Saturday and Sunday, June 26-27. The Socorro Amateur Radio Association (SARA) and the Tech Amateur Radio Association (TARA) will set up and operate emergency radio stations in Socorro and Catron counties.
The public is invited to visit these operations. In Socorro, the "ham" operators will work at the County Annex Building, 198 Neel Avenue, and in Catron County, the station will operate from the Datil Well Campground. The operation runs from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. Once the emergency radio stations are set up, the operators will make as many two-way contacts as possible with other participating stations.
The annual preparedness exercise is called "Field Day," and is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association for Amateur Radio.
During Field Day, operators set up in local parks, at shopping malls, or even in their own backyards, and get on the air using generators or battery power. Field Day was designed to test operators' abilities to set up and operate portable stations under emergency conditions such as the loss of electricity and other infrastructure.
Far from fading in the age of cell phones and Internet, Amateur Radio has been growing in the U.S. and 2009 saw more than 30,000 new people became “hams.” The technical skills of hams also improved as almost 50 percent of American Amateur Radio operators now go beyond the entry-level FCC licensing requirements and pass the more difficult testing to earn higher class federal licenses.
In past months, many reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications in emergencies have been in the news. From Haiti to California, during floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and other crises, Amateur Radio volunteers provide emergency communications for many rescue and recovery groups. Amateur Radio operators are often the first to report critical information to responders in the first hours of crisis situations. FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Weather Service, and local emergency management offices include Amateur Radio Emergency Service operators in their communications plans.
Field Day is a serious test of skill, but it also is a contest for fun and the largest "on-air" operating event each year. More than 35,000 Amateur Radio operators participated in last year's event.
"We hope that anyone interested in seeing what Amateur Radio is all about will come out to see our Field Day operations," said SARA President James Boswell.
Today there are more than 682,000 Amateur Radio operators in the United States and more than 2.5 million worldwide. For more information about amateur radio in Socorro County, see:

Socorro Man Arrested For Trafficking

By John Larson

SOCORRO – A Socorro man arrested Tuesday on four counts of trafficking marijuana and three on possession of drug paraphernalia made his first appearance in Magistrate Court Wednesday and was released after bonding out, paying $35,000 in cash.
Jacob Ray, 27, had turned himself in to police headquarters Tuesday following a raid on his home at 1104 Sean Ave at 7 p.m. Monday.
Socorro Police Detective Richard Lopez said a tip from New Mexico Tech officer William Armijo and information from Bureau of Land Management Ranger Mark Wheeler, led officers to check out the house, which was unoccupied at the time.
“When we got to the residence there was a very strong odor of marijuana emitting from a blower sticking out of a window in the back,” Lopez said. “We secured the property and executed the search warrant.”
According to the criminal complaint, inside officers found a large in-door marijuana growing area, and covering the walls were heat shielding, rotating lighting, timers, and humidifiers.
“Along the walls were boards which had the different names of the plants being grown, and care instructions,” the complaint said.
An offset room contained several marijuana plants in different stages of growth, all of which had lighting and the same covering on the walls.
The criminal complaint said that in other rooms more marijuana was being grown.
Also located were boxes of ground marijuana and several pill bottles “which had appeared to be used to house marijuana for resale.”
Officers also found many records and receipts for marijuana, grow chemicals, and grow instructions. In plain view were several glass bongs, bong stems, marijuana in plastic baggies, marijuana pipes, copies of High Times magazine, and the marijuana Grower’s Bible.
Other items included maps, a GPS device, an AR-15 rifle, and a Ruger 10-22 rifle.
In all, over 100 marijuana plants were seized from the residence.
The date for Ray’s preliminary hearing has not been set.

Co-op Meeting Ends With Police Call

By John Severance

Alvin Hickox walked into the Mountain Mail office Wednesday night and said, “I never envisioned it would be that bad.”
Hickox had just come from the Socorro Electric Cooperative meeting Wednesday night and he was wearing his SEC member-owner and my vote counts T-shirt.
“They started talking about the open meetings act and all hell broke loose and the meeting was over,” he said.
Trustee Charlie Wagner had drafted a letter to Trustee president Paul Bustamante, stating the SEC had been in violation of the open meetings act since April 17 when the members adopted 10 bylaw amendments.
Wednesday was the deadline for the trustees to respond.
And they did not take too kindly to member-owner James Cherry trying to videotape the meeting.
After a lot of yelling and screaming, Wagner said that trustee Milton Ulibarri called the police. The trustees then attempted to go into executive session (another OMA violation) and eventually adjourned the meeting.
Most of the trustees headed to the door, but Wagner said he wanted to conduct a meeting with the members and fellow trustees Prescilla Mauldin and Luis Aguilar stayed.
Wagner said the police eventually did show up and asked the members to leave.
“The members have won,” Wagner said. “And I have the attorney general to back me up.”
Wagner said that attorney Dennis Francish told him that he was heading to district court Thursday to challenge the open meetings act bylaw and two other amendments passed by the members.
Everybody then left and the gate to the parking lot was being locked up at 6:20 p.m., 50 minutes after the start.
Giving advice
Sarah Welsh, the executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG), has some advice for the Socorro Electric Cooperative.
Welsh was in town last month when the Attorney General held a variety of seminars including one on the Open Meetings Act.
Welsh wrote a letter to the trustees, lending some perspective from her office.
“It is not for us to say what the precise wording of the Cooperative’s bylaws should be. However, your Cooperative members have made their wishes clear – they seek a guarantee of free access to information about how their corporation is being managed. The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government supports that effort wholeheartedly. Transparency promotes good governance, in both the public and private sectors.
“Secrecy promotes the concentration of power and control in the hands of a few, in direct contravention of democratic cooperative principles.”
Welsh went to write that each individual member has the right to inspect the books of his rural electric cooperative, which is guaranteed by state law and upheld by the New Mexico Supreme Court in Maureen Schein v. Northern Arriba Electric Cooperative. Schein, a newspaper reporter and member of the defendant cooperative, was successful in obtaining access to legal bills paid by the company.
“We urge the Board of Trustees to work with its member-owners to guarantee and provide access to corporate information,” Welsh said. “This is the practice of private companies the world over, and we submit that is the best way to ensure honest, quality service and value for your shareholders.”
Capital Credits
The Board of Trustees of The Socorro Electric Cooperative, Inc., authorized the retirement of $300,000.00 in capital credits. Member/Owners received or will receive their capital credit checks in the mail. The check represented a share of Socorro Electric Cooperative’s margin for the year 1977 and a percentage of 2004-2008 and the check was based on the amount of electricity that was purchased.

Legion Post 82 Shows How To Dispose Of Flags

By Richard Torres
For The Mountain Mail

“Today’s’ ceremony, The Dignified Disposal of Unserviceable Flags, is an opportunity for the public to view the proper way a Flag is disposed,” American Legion Post 82 Commander Jeff Terrell said last week.
Terrell was standing among Post members assembled at the Catron County Fairgrounds in Reserve for the ceremony June 14.
Approximately 20 citizens gathered for the event. Post members planted two rows of small American flags as an honor guard leading to the pyre. Atop the pyre were 60 flags
”These flags have been collected throughout the county. They are no longer in serviceable condition,” said Post member Joseph Thompson. “This is the first time such an event has been held here, and we are looking forward to this being an annual event.”
After a brief ceremony, the pyre was lit. Flames soon engulfed the nylon material.
“The blue field is cut out of the flag prior, and this decommissions its life as a flag. The blue field is burned along with the stripes. The grommets are buried separately,” Terrell said.
“I am here to support my husband Stephen and members of the American Legion. To witness this ceremony for our Flag is an honor,” Eddilu Brown said.
Post 82, known as Benevida Granee Post 82, is named after a serviceman killed in World War I.
“Our Post has members from all branches, and new members are welcomed,” Terrell said.
For more information on joining, contact Terrell at (575) 533-6140.

High School Students Attend Explosives Camp

Mountain Mail Reports

Nine high school students are learning the science and engineering of explosives at the second annual Explosives Camp at New Mexico Tech this week.
Teenagers from New Mexico, Wisconsin, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas are spending the week in classrooms, laboratories, and field tests with national experts in the field. Each day’s activities begin with a lecture by a prominent instructor currently working in the explosives field.
“In this day and age, the world needs more scientists who understand the basic science of explosives and the finer points of studying energetic materials,” said Dr. Christa Hockensmith, program director. “We launched this program last year because it’s important to develop future explosives’ experts and because the campers are going to have an experience they’ll never forget.”
The intensive camp includes lessons in the history of explosives, the physics and chemistry of explosives, chemistry, instrumentation, blast effects and industrial applications of explosives. On Thursday, the campers take a daylong field trip to a construction company. Students also get plenty of social activities in the evenings, including movies, bowling, swimming, golf and cook-outs.
“These students are going to have incredible amounts of fun,” Hockensmith said. “They will not only get to see explosions, but also they can set them up, detonate them, learn how to evaluate explosives in our chemistry laboratories and find out how to protect buildings.”
Journey Of Hope
A team of cyclists participating in Journey of Hope, presented by KRG Capital, will arrive in Socorro as a stop on their 4,000-mile cycling event across the country to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities Tuesday, July 6.
The team will be arriving to the Comfort Inn at 2:30 p.m.
Journey of Hope is a program of Push America , the national philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, which raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities. The team will cycle an average of 75 miles per day, a total of 4,000 miles, beginning in Seattle (June 9) and San Francisco (June 13) and ending in Washington, D.C. on August 14.

Wagner: Co-op Has Made Several Open Meetings Act Violations

By John Severance

SOCORRO – According to trustee Charlie Wagner, the actions taken at the last three Socorro Electric Cooperative are null and void.
One of the bylaw amendments passed at the annual meeting by members was the Open Meetings Act.
Wagner addressed a letter to Trustee president Paul Bustamante, dated on June 7 and the trustees have 15 days to respond to the claims. They were expected to respond at Wednesday night’s meeting, which occurred after the Mountain Mail went to press.
Wagner also sent copies of his letter to attorney general Gary King, district attorney Clint Wellborn, New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Sarah Welsh and co-op general manager Polo Pineda.
Wagner says the co-op board has made numerous OMA violations at the three meetings since April 17.
• April 23, 2010 Violation Part II, 10-15-1 A. C. F. and G. Failure to make allowances for audio and video recording devices, failure to post proper notice, Failure to provide a timely agenda, failure to record minutes accordingly, failure to deliver timely draft minutes, etc, 10-15-3.
• April 28, 2010 Violation Part II, 10-15-1 A. C. F. G. H. and I. Failure to make allowances for video and audio recording devices, failure to post proper notice, failure to provide a timely agenda, failure to record minutes accordingly, failure to deliver timely draft minutes, Failure to state a proper purpose for closing a meeting, Failure to disclose items discussed and limited to a closed portion of a meeting etc, 10-15-3.
• May 26, 2010 Violation Part II, 10-15-1 A. C. F. G. H. and I. Failure to make allowances for video and audio recording devices, failure to post proper notice, failure to provide a timely agenda, failure to record minutes accordingly, failure to deliver timely draft minutes, Failure to state a proper purpose for closing a meeting, Failure to disclose items discussed and limited to a closed portion of a meeting etc, 10-15-3.
“The SEC Board of Trustees, under the provisions of the New Mexico Open Meetings Act (NMOMA), the membership made clear their intention to enhance the principal of democratic control by members,” Wagner wrote. “Just as taxpayers have a right to know as much as possible about the actions and deliberations of their governmental agencies, the member/owners of SEC whose capital is used to achieve at cost electricity have a right to the truth of all information possible.”
SEC attorney Dennis Francish drafted a letter to Trustee president Paul Bustamante and the other trustees last month that he wanted to test three bylaw amendments in court with one of them being the open meetings act. The trustees passed a resolution allowing Francish to go forward with his court filings.

Sylvia’s Friend Receives Gracious Return Home

By Anne Sullivan

Sylvia was all smiles and wags when I drove up to the house after a month-long trip to Australia and New Guinea. Since it was the season of shedding, the wags were extremely productive and soon my jeans were covered with wisps of brown hair.
“I see you’re back,” Sylvia said. “What did you bring me?”
“Well,” I answered as I struggled into the house with some of my luggage, Sylvia at my heels, “I was going to bring you a handsome leather doggie coat from Australia but they didn’t have it in Extra Large.”
“You mean like your size,” she replied, venom dripping from her mouth. It was as though I’d never left home.
To gain her favor, I opened my suitcase. “Here,” I said after a lengthy search, “I brought you a chocolate bar with a picture of a dingo on it. The picture looks just like you, only younger.” I handed it to her.
“How nice,” she said. “But where’s the chocolate?”
“Oh, I had to eat it. You know chocolate is bad for dogs.”
“I hope it was good.”
“It was.” I salivated at the memory while watching Sylvia chew a hole in the dingo picture.
I took the hint. “I’ll bet you want your dinner.”
“I certainly do. It’s past ten o’clock.”
As I was spooning out the kibble topped with a touch of Pet Pride, I heard Sylvia behind me talking to the wall.
“I’ll bet SHE didn’t spend one single minute thinking about me while SHE was away,” she muttered.
“Who are you betting with? And you don’t have to talk around me. I can hear you. I’ll have you know I thought of you just the other day when I ate in a German restaurant in Sydney. That was the first time in 12 years I didn’t leave with a doggie bag. I had to eat all the steak by myself because I couldn’t bring you half.”
“Why couldn’t you?”
“I couldn’t take it with me on the plane – no refrigeration.”
“I might have known,” she sneered with sadness. “Nothing for Sylvia. Out of sight, out of mind.”
“You’re very Eeyoreish tonight. Excuse me while I get my violin to accompany your plaint.”
She glared at me as she finished gobbling her kibble. I ignored her while I put my Stouffers dinner into the microwave.
Sylvia whined and I figured she wanted out. As I went to the door a woebegone Sylvia was mumbling. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it. I tried to get out but I couldn’t.”
When I neared the door I was able to see what she was sorry for.
On the threshold lay her dinner in a pathetic puddle.
“You threw up!” I exclaimed. “I knew it. You were eating too fast.”
I could scarcely hear her answer, “ I know. I couldn’t help it. I was just so excited that you were home.”
“It’s okay, Sylvia. I’ll clean it up and in a few hours I’ll make you some nice rice. Now I know I’m really home and truly home,” I said before I went to get some paper towels.

NMDOT Reopens Highway 159

Mountain Mail Reports

The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) opened Bursum Road (NM Highway 159) on Friday, June 11, 2010. The NMDOT has completed the majority of its annual spring maintenance.
Motorists can expect roadbed conditions to be corrugated (washboard), rough, and spread with loose, sharp rocks and are urged to exercise extreme caution on the Mogollon-to-Willow Creek portion of NM 159 to avoid tire and vehicle damage.
Bursum Road is a popular access point to the Gila National Forest's backcountry, and trails as well as to Willow Creek and Snow Lake Recreation areas.
The road is paved up to the town of Mogollon and reverts to native material as it climbs into the mountains. Narrow and winding, Bursum Road is characterized as single lane with turnouts.
The recommended vehicle length is 20 feet maximum. An alternative route for motorists having larger vehicles is FR 141 south of Reserve.
For more information, contact the Glenwood Ranger District office at (575) 539-2481 or the forest website:

Quemado: Fourth of July Activities

Quemado News
By Debbie Leschner
For the Mountain Mail

The Fourth of July weekend is a busy one in Quemado and activities start on Friday, July 2, with the 5th Annual Independence Day Freedom Shoot.
There is a mandatory safety meeting at 8:30 a.m. for all participants. The shoot starts at 10 a.m. at the Quemado shooting range just north of the Rodeo grounds. There are two age groups; youth (12 to 15) and adult (16 and older) with four classes in rifle and two classes in handgun. Suggested donation is $5 for each gun/stage or $15 for all four. Quemado Gun Shooters club will supply ice tea. For more info call Doug at 773- 5774 or Greg at 602 670- 1481.
A full day is planned for Saturday, July 3, starting at 7:30 a.m. with the America's Family Flea Market at the First Baptist Church. You never know what treasures await. For more information call Margaret and Don Marshall at 773-4133 if you would like to have a space.
The Quemado Senior Center will have a bake sale across the street from the Country Store beginning about 7:30 a.m. Any donations of baked goods can be brought to the center on Friday or to the booth on Saturday morning.
The Quemado Independence Day Parade will go through town at 11 a.m. Parade entries will line up behind the Quemado Firehouse at 10 a.m. There is still time to enter the parade. A $10 entry fee and signed waiver are required to participate. Judging will take place with a $50 prize in each of the four categories: animal, cars/trucks, floats and kids/other. For more information or to sign up go to J and Y Auto or call 575 773-4775.
Lunch is served at a community barbecue which starts noon at the Quemado Firehouse. BBQ brisket, coleslaw and rolls are prepared by the Senior Center. Potato salad, chili beans and cake are prepared by the Quemado Auxiliary, Quemado Lake Fire Department and friends of the Quemado Fire District. Suggested donation is $6 adults and $4 youths.
The afternoon doesn't slowdown. The Rito Quemado, the newest gas station and convince store is holding their Grand Opening on Saturday, July 3. There will be a DJ providing music, with various vendors giving away samples and prizes. One of the prizes is a O'neal MX helmet in black, gray and char truce with the Monster Energy logo. The helmet is on display at the store.
The High Plains Outlaws, Old West Re-enactments will present two western gunfights after the community BBQ. Larry and Missy Iams, Kansas City Kid and associates of Datil will perform reenactments of the shootout at the OK Corral and No Guns in Town.
A gun safety demo will be offered before each show. The Outlaws perform in authentic, period correct costumes from the years 1860 – 1900.
They have a stage setup that includes a saloon and a jail. You can get your photo taken in Tombstone Days western costume or get a warrant and send your friend to jail. You set the bail
To end the day, fireworks will begin about 9:30 p.m. These Independence Day community events are brought about through the hard work of the members and associates of the Quemado Auxiliary (a New Mexico non-profit corporation), the Quemado, Quemado Lake, Pie Town and Red Hill Volunteer Fire Departments, and community-minded volunteers from northern Catron County.

Alamo’s Recognition Day

By Nathalie Nance

On Wednesday, June 23, at Walter’s Park, Alamo celebrated academic achievements with a Community Recognition Day.
The Alamo Navajo School board, Inc. (ANSBI), Division of Community Services was in charge of the ceremony that focused on learning and education.
Manuel Guerro Sr. played the drum and entertained the audience with traditional Navajo songs. He got expert help with the singing from young Tierra Apachito and Louandra Ganadonegro, who were beautifully turned out in traditional dresses.
They also led several dances, in which the audience joined in. Alamo veterans then officially opened the ceremony by the posting of colors.
In her welcome speech, Community Services Director Marlene Herrera thanked her staff and the Alamo community leaders, who all help to make the different educational programs happen. Steve Guerro and Berna Vicente, president and member respectively, of the ANSBI board of trustees also talked about the importance of education.
“Learn, and then you can be out in the world!” Steve Guerro said.
Sherri Bennett, Post Second-ary Counselor, awarded diplomas to Alamo community members who recently completed different academic achievements.
“You are never too old to go back to school” she said.
The following persons received diplomas during the ceremony:
AA Early Childhood Educa-tion through Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute: Cortha Apache, Angie Apachito, Stephanie Crum, Renaynia Guerro, Janet Ladd, Delfina Monte, Desiree Monte, La Tanya Pinto, Sharon Secatero.
AS Business Office Techno-logy: Eloise Tracey-Guerro.
AS Office Businees Administration: Jacob Thomas.
CNA 8 credit hours through UNM Valencia: La Shonda Apache, La Tanya Apache, Shirlina Herrera, Elizabeth Thomas.
BA classes through NMHU: Lisa Baca, Jeanette Garcia, Mary T Guerro, Ella Monte, Virgie Monte, Bernadine Pino, Edith Vicente, Olivia Vicente.

Picture: Louandra Ganadonegro, Tierra Apachito and Manuel Guerro Sr.

Photo by Nathalie Nance