Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two Charged In Convenience Store Robbery

By John Larson

SOCORRO – The man and his accomplice who robbed the Pump ‘n Save gas station of $200 in cash Thursday, July 1, were arraigned in Magistrate Court last Friday.
Joseph Chavez, 44, of Albuquerque was charged with robbery, aggravated battery, conspiracy, and two counts of resisting arrest.
Eileen Vargas, 42, of Socorro was charged with robbery and conspiracy.
According to the criminal complaint, Chavez was at the Pump ‘n Save on South California at about 4:20 p.m., and told the clerk at knife point, “sorry but I need the money in the drawer,” and “I don’t want to hurt you.”
The clerk stated she was ringing up items Chavez had placed on the counter when he went around to the open portion of the counter brandishing the knife.
She told police she thought the knife had a four inch blade, which Chavez pressed against her, pushing her away to get at some cigarettes behind the counter.
He also stole some candy, and a Coke.
Chavez put the money and items into a (stolen) Styrofoam ice chest and ran out of the store. He got into a white Dodge extended cab driven by Vargas, and was seen by two customers to drive north on Sixth Street.
In the complaint, officer Kenneth Greenwood stated that State Police, Sheriff’s Department and city police were notified of the armed robbery and to be on the lookout for the pickup.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Shorty Vaiza said he was returning from a call in Veguita on Interstate 25 when he received the description of the vehicle.
“After they gave me more information on the truck, I realized I knew the truck and the driver,” Vaiza said. “I had it pulled over about an hour earlier for driving erratically on I-25 southbound. I met with the driver and recognized her as a local woman, Eileen Vargas of Socorro.”
Vaiza said after speaking with the woman and making sure she was fine, “I let her go.”
“An hour later I was looking for the same pickup, and saw it heading north at about 4:40.
“It no longer had a license plate,” he said. “I gave pursuit and it eventually pulled over into the Walking Sands Rest Area.”
Vaiza said he unholstered his weapon and ordered the driver to throw the keys out of the vehicle.
“I could see the male passenger fight with her to keep her from throwing the keys out, but she eventually did,” he said. “Then Joseph Chavez gets out on the passenger side and he’s got money in his hands and starts throwing the money at me. When I saw he had no weapon I holstered my weapon. Then he rushes me, and we get into a little scuffle.”
Vaiza was able to subdue Chavez, who backed into a cable bordering the parking area, and a bystander at the rest stop helped hold Chavez’s arm on the ground while he was handcuffed.
“He was a great help and I appreciated the assistance,” he said. “Other people helped pick up the money that was blowing around.”
Chavez, Vargas, and another passenger, Erica Vargas, were transported to the Socorro Police Department, where Chavez was questioned by Detective Richard Lopez.
Greenwood, in the criminal complaint, said while he was working on paperwork, “I heard what sounded like a struggle coming from Sgt. Lopez’s office.
“I entered [the office] and observed Sgt. Lopez in a struggle with Joseph. I removed my duty issued Taser and drive stunned Joseph in the middle of his back to gain compliance.”
Chavez was incarcerated after being cleared at Socorro General Hospital, along with Eileen Vargas. Erica Chavez was not charged.
“Erica stated she told her mother Eileen to stop the vehicle because Joseph has just robbed the store,” the complaint said. “[She] stated both Eileen and Joseph told her not to worry, that they would not get caught.”

Socorro Man Arrested On Identity Theft Charges

By John Larson

SOCORRO – A local man was arrested Thursday, July 1, on charges relating to identity theft following an investigation by Socorro Police officers.
Charles Harper Lee, 37, is being held on seven counts of fraud, one count of theft, one count of larceny, one count of the disposing of stolen property, and two counts of conspiracy.
According to the criminal complaint, Lee attempted to open accounts with Wal-Mart Credit, Barclay Bank, Capitol One, First Premier, and Sears Credit; all using Social Security numbers of the individual victims.
In addition, the complaint said Lee used the identifiers of another victim to order a Verizon Blackberry cell phone, stole the driver’s license of another victim, and conspired with his brother-in-law and sister to pull off the felonies.
Lopez said the tip-off came Thursday when one of the victims reported to police that someone tried to open an account with First National Bank of Omaha using his Social Security number. Lopez called the bank and spoke with its fraud investigator and was faxed paperwork pertaining to the account request.
“A few minutes after speaking with [the bank official] two male subjects entered the Police Department … regarding similar incidences,” Lopez’s report said.
One man said his credit monitoring system showed that several accounts had been opened using his identifiers, and the other man said he found that a “Charles Lee” from Socorro had also attempted to open accounts in his name.
Lopez said in the complaint he had previous knowledge of Charles Lee and where he lived.
“While en route to his residence I located Charles Lee traveling south on California near Otero,” Lopez stated in the report.
After pulling Lee over, Lopez questioned him about the information and evidence he had against him. “Charles admitted to trying to open the accounts,” and that he had conspired with his brother-in-law, the criminal complaint said.
Lee then offered to participate in controlled narcotics buys for police with the condition he would not have to go to jail. That proposition was quickly rejected when police dispatcher Carlos Valenzuela saw Lee hide something in a hole in the cinder block wall in the police department parking lot, which turned out to be a California driver’s license be-longing to someone else; a neighbor of Lee in his apartment complex at 1101 El Camino Real.
Lee first said he found the license in a Wal-Mart bag in a dumpster, and then said he found it in a box in a shed at the apartment complex. Lopez told Lee he “could not have him lying to me if he was going to be operating as a confidential informant.”
A message was left for the license’s owner in California.
When asked if there was any other evidence of stolen identifiers at his residence, Lee said no, and agreed to let his apartment be searched.
A search of the apartment turned up a Verizon Blackberry cell phone which was found to be purchased by Lee’s sister using the identity of yet another person.
Lee was placed under arrest and incarcerated.
While completing paperwork on Lee, Lopez received a call from the owner of the driver’s license, who said he left his license in his desk in his apartment.
“Therefore Lee had to have gotten the license from that apartment,” Lopez said.
He said that personal information such as bank accounts and Social Security numbers can be stolen from mailboxes, and even during home break-ins.
Lopez encouraged the public, especially persons living in the vicinity of the apartment complex on El Camino Real, should check their credit scores and credit card companies.

Nothing Like An Old Timer’s Reunion

By John Larson

MAGDALENA – No matter what the weather – come rain or come shine- nothing puts a damper on the fun locals and visitors can have at this year’s Old Timers Reunion weekend.
The annual three day village party returns for its 39th year with rodeos, music, family fun, and, of course, the barbecue.
The complete overview of the Reunion can be found in the Mountain Mail Express as well as full schedule. Below are the final two activities that can be found during the weekend.
Arts and Crafts
The Magdalena Community Center on the rodeo grounds will once again offer an abundance of some of the finest arts and crafts to be found in New Mexico during Old Timers Reunion weekend.
Organizer Donna Dawson said many of last year’s participants will be returning.
“We get craftspersons and artists from all over Socorro and Catron counties and beyond,” she said. “You can expect a little bit of everything, and there will be lots to look over.”
Dawson expects the building to be bustling with visitors, both inside and out.
Inside the Arts & Crafts building: Smoake’s Honey from Lemitar, Desperados Silver, Earl Harvey, author of “What Happened To Charlie?”, Jean Ford – pencil drawings, Amy Stephens – braided rugs, Beverly Whitlow – Datil painter and photographer, Allen Aragon – jewelry, Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise (NACE), Nancy Coggeshall – author of Gila Country Legend, Donna Dawson – engraved glass, Fred Resler – woodwork.
Vendors outside include:
Little Mike’s, Navajo Tacos and Frybread, J.J.’s, Matt Montgomery, Justin’s Funnel Cakes, Eddie, David and Rose Rael, Duke City, JR’s Lemonade, Republican Party, High Country Propane Informational booth, and Socorro Electric Cooperative Informational booth
Also available in the Arts and Crafts building will be Old Timers Reunion t-shirts, cookbooks, and mugs.
Outside the building are additional vendors, selling everything from prickly pear jelly to novelties and toys.
“So far we a lot of the regular vendors signed up,” Dawson said. “Of course, we’ll have the usual food vendors, including roasted corn, fry bread, Navajo tacos, and much more.”
Raffle tickets for the Queen’s Quilt, donated by the Magdalena Quilters, can be purchased for $2.
Indian Village
The Indian Village, located south of the rodeo arena, will be providing the Old Timers crowd with a wide variety of Native American food and local music.
From fry bread to mutton to Navajo burgers and tacos, Old Timers visitors will be well fed with mouth-watering fare from popular Alamo vendors.
Organizer Wanda Mansell said the regular food vendors have signed on, and a band is coming from Monument Valley, Utah.
“They’re called The Renegade Boys and they will be playing two or three times Friday and again at eight o’clock Saturday night,” Mansell said.
There will also be horseshoe throwing pits next to Indian Village, set up by Gerald Ganadonegro.
He said horseshoe throwing had been a popular pastime at Old Timers in years past and he wanted to bring it back.
“There is a ten dollar entry fee, and prizes will be given to first,
second and third place,” Ganadonegro said. “Just be there at about one o’clock after the parade Saturday.”

Co-op Files Suit Against Its Members

By John Severance

SOCORRO  -- Dennis Francish, the co-op attorney, finally filed suit to test the validity of three by-law amendments that were passed by members at the annual meeting on April 17.
The suit was filed in the 13th Judicial District Court in the County of Valencia on July 6 in a letter received at the Mountain Mail late Wednesday.
The SEC is listed as the plaintiff. And the defendants are Charlene West, members of the Socorro Electric Cooperative, the Mountain Mail and the El Defensor Chieftain.
The civil lawsuit was entered in court by the SEC, whose objective is to obtain the Court’s declaratory judgment and injunctive relief invalidating and voiding certain by-law amendments.
The bylaw amendments required the SEC to:
1. Abide by the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act and the New Mexico Open Meetings Act;
2. Permit the press and the members to participate in and be present during regular and special Board of Trustee meetings.
3. Guarantee transparency of actions with open access to SEC books, records, audits to members for a proper non-commercial purpose except those which would violate the Privacy Acts.
Francish had gotten the go-ahead from the Board of Trustees two months ago to submit the paperwork to test the validity of the bylaw amendments in a court of law.
“I think it’s a shame that the co-op board is following this gentleman (Francish) who is quite obviously after nothing but a good paycheck and really cares nothing about anyone involved on either side of this issue,” Mountain Mail publisher Gary Jaramillo said.
When reached Wednesday, West said, “unbelievable”.
“They are out to persecute me. It is a witchhunt and they have made me the witch.”

Water Problems Continue At Alamo-Navajo Reservation

By Nathalie Nance
For the Mountain Mail

Scarcity, and water tasting like chlorine have lately been recurring complaints from Alamo residents. However, a low water supply is not a new problem, according to Alamo Navajo School board, Inc. (ANSBI) Executive Director Michael Hawkes.
“Use always escalates in summer,” Hawkes said.
This is mainly due to people using water for their gardens and livestock. Alamo has five wells, which produce more than four million gallons of water per month. The output is constant, but increasing use causes low supply. Some areas, like the so-called UFO area, have been more affected than others. In addition, when windmills filling stock tanks blew down during windstorms, it left some users at the end of a water supply line without water. When this happens, or when the water is turned off in connection with repairs, anyone can come to the water building and fill up water, Hawkes said.
Moreover, frequent power outages tend to drain tanks and there also have been cases of vandalism, when some one has drilled or shot holes in the tanks.
More importantly, the pipelines have been in a state of disrepair for some time, because of no revenues coming in. To deal with this, ANSBI and the Alamo Chapter formed the Alamo Water Users Association in September last year and introduced a monthly flat rate of $22 for water use. However, currently, only 60-70 percent of the households pay, according to Hawkes. The water bills have upset some people.
“It is true that some people are not willing to pay,” said Chapter President Scott Apachito.
However, a revenue base is necessary for water maintenance, and to apply for federal grant money in order to gradually repair all the water lines and to restore tanks.
“We also need to do an aquifer study,” Hawkes said. “But right now, we have the highest water quality since September. The water here used to be brown.”
According to Scott Apachito, the focus will be on the possibility of drilling more wells, hopefully within two years. He adds that anyone can volunteer on the board of the Alamo Water Users Association and that everyone is welcome to attend the quarterly meetings.
As far as the complaints of too much chlorine in the water, there is regular testing every month to decide how the water needs to be treated. In fact, according to Hawkes, if water smells like chlorine, it most often means that too little chlorine has been added.
“Right now we are trying as much as we can to get the water back to normal, but it is important to remember that the water is intended for personal use and not for commercial use, like stock and gardens”, says Scott Apachito.
Marcus Pino, who is responsible for maintaining the water system, often comes across people on the reservation watering their cows and horses.
“Water them every two days, not every day, and try to think about other people,” is his advice.

County Loses $500,000 In PILT Funds

Mountain Mail Reports
Socorro County was expecting to receive $1.5 million in PILT money from the Department of Interior.
But at Thursday’s special County Commission meeting, county manager Delilah Walsh announced the bad news.
The county was only going to receive $1 million, a 35 percent cut, for the next two years.
Walsh said the county will suffer delays and cuts in the budget for the next two years.
“Our county does have reserves while others do not,” Walsh said.
Finance director Roberta Smith suggested that raises be cut and have a hiring freeze, but do not include layoffs.
But the news is not all bad.
Walsh said in an interview Wednesday that the county has enough money in reserve to cover the shortfall and services will not be cut.
“We are actually in good shape because we have enough in reserve,” Walsh said. “Other counties are in trouble because they don’t have enough. I know that Rio Arriba County lost something like $1.2 million.”
Walsh said most of the county managers were surprised. They received the PILT money on June 29 and when the county received the money, Walsh said, “I thought it was a mistake.”
What happened was the federal government recalculated how the money would be distributed to different states, Walsh said.
Walsh said there would be a budget meeting on Thursday for all department heads to discuss the matter.
“We are OK this year, but I am worried about the next fiscal year,” Walsh said. “Since we are getting $1 million, we are probably getting $1 million next year as well. So we have to adapt.”
PILT stands for “Payments In Lieu of Taxes,” which are federal payments to local governments that held offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries.
In the meantime, Walsh and Smith have sent out memos to department heads, discussing the cuts.
In other business, the county approved a resolution regarding the investment of funds at Wells Fargo Bank and First State Bank. The commissioners decided on an option that would put $2 million in First State at .4 percent for one year, $1 million to First State for 180 days at .35 percent and another $2 million to Wells Fargo at .25 percent.
The county also approved a contract regarding county attorney services. It was approved with an amendment that would go from one year to four years with a 30-day withdrawal period.
Members of the New Mexico Tech sorority Alpha Sigma Kappa spent Friday and Saturday carhopping for tips as part of a fundraiser for the organization’s activities next semester. Student Brittani Romero said the effort brought in about $1,000 to support the social and academics aims of the sorority.

Mountain Mail photo

Journey Of Hope Makes Stop In Socorro

By John Severance

SOCORRO -- The Journey of Hope cycling team made its stop in Socorro Tuesday, stopping at the Comfort Inn for the night after a 130-mile stage that began in Reserve in the morning.
The Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity has a team of 25 cyclists and seven crew members that are making their way across the country to raise that raises funds and awareness on behalf of people with disabilities in hopes to enhance the quality of their lives.
According to Mike Roux, who is doing public relations for Journey of Hope, they have raised $485,000.
There are two other tours of the United States that are going on simultaneously and they are going to meet in Washington, D.C. on the steps of the Capitol at 11 a.m. on Aug. 14.
“It’s going to be a pretty big deal,” Roux said.
For now, the Journey of Hope team left Socorro Wednesday morning at 6 and headed to Carrizozo.
Tuesday’s stage was the longest of the whole tour, Roux said.
“When we got to Datil, it got really windy,” said rider Corey Dickson from Fort Collins, Colo., who attends Colorado State. “It wasn’t too bad though. All of us are getting in better shape since we started.”
The tour started in San Francisco and the Journey of Hope team made its way down the Pacific Coast Highway. They also made it through Arizona where temperatures reached close to 115 degrees.
Coming to Socorro was a relief, Dickson said.
“This feels great,” he said. “It was so hot in Arizona and this wind just feels so much better.”
Walking around the cyclists in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn, one rider, though was complaining about coming down the hill from Magdalena.
“The wind was so strong that we were only going 15 miles per hour down the hill,” the cyclist said.
Before coming to Reserve on Tuesday, the team had gone from Globe, Ariz., to Lakeside, Ariz., to Reserve.
“Those mountains were pretty big,” Roux said. “Our main concern is safety and that is our biggest priority.”
Journey of Hope, organized by Push America , is a cycling trek. Push America is the national philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. Every cyclist commits to raising at least $5,000 on behalf of people with disabilities. Combine their individual efforts with corporate sponsorships and the Journey of Hope team will raise more than $500,000 for people with disabilities.

Coffee Shop Gets New Owners

By John Larson

Socorro’s venerable coffee shop between California Street and the Plaza is going through another incarnation after being sold June 26 by Patty Frisch.
The new owners of Manzanares Street Coffeehouse, Eileen Comstock and Warren Marts, are known and respected by most everybody in Socorro.
Marts has been active in Socorro’s theater scene for many years, and Comstock is known as the director of the Community Band, as well as her work in the medical community.
According to Marts, there will not be a big difference in the operation of the coffeehouse, but there may be a couple of new faces behind the counter.
“Six of the eight staff members are staying on,” he said. “We will basically have the same menu with some new baked goods added.”
He said all the favorites from the old menu will remain, including gelato.
Marts, who admits he has been a coffee fanatic since buying his first espresso machine in 1991, said the quality of the coffee beans is important to him.
“We will always have fresh whole roasted beans from our supplier. We grind them here and try to use them up within two weeks of being roasted,” he said. “We’ve added a new organic coffee from Guatemala There’s nothing better than fresh roasted coffee.”
Although Marts, as the on site manager, has an office upstairs, regular customers may see him working on the coffee shop floor at one of the tables.
“I’m happy to have everything the way it has been,” he said. “It’s a nice place to sit and have a great cup of coffee.”

OPINION: 66 Gallons Of Milk On The Wall

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

Well, I have only sixty-five gallon jugs painted red: one for every year that I’ve been crawling around on this blue planet that we call Earth. It seems that the best use of them would be to festoon the deck of the library around the San Augustin Water Coalition booth. Carol Pittman will be at the booth on Saturday, July 10, from noon till late afternoon for the Magdalena Old Timer’s Celebration. If you’re not familiar with these insane “water grab” situations and the efforts of the SAWC to put a halt to them, stop by and find out. Condolences and support will be greatly appreciated.
The sixty-five red water jugs will represent the water that would be ripped from our aquifer in 1/10th of one second. At this rate, my dream of having enough red water jugs to line up, side-by-side from Datil to the State Engineer’s Litigation Unit in Santa Fe will be realized in the year 4571. That would represent the amount of water that the San Augustin Ranch LLC wants to drain from our aquifer in just one hour.
Just looking at all of this “throw away” plastic is beginning to make me a bit queasy. There has been so much disposable plastic making its way into the Pacific Ocean, that a swirling eddy of discarded plastic, twice the size of Texas, has accumulated in its center: plastic water bottles, Styrofoam cups, shopping bags, food wraps, diaper linings, fast food containers, plastic spoons and forks, soda containers, garbage bags, plastic chopsticks, broken coolers and on and on. The effect of the decomposition of all of this plastic (even before it is so cavalierly tossed aside) is of great concern to some.
This decomposition, which is happening inside of your plastic water bottles, even as we speak, releases potentially toxic bisphenol A (BPA) and PS oligomer. These substances have been shown to disrupt the functioning of hormones in animals and can seriously affect reproductive systems.
Many think that only alternative to this disposable society is one with peasants (complete with faded flannel jackets and babushkas) waiting in long lines to refill their glass or ceramic containers from large tank cars. It doesn’t have to be this way. I’m old enough to remember returnable glass jugs for milk and chicken feed that came in cloth bags with printed patterns for making clothing or stuffed toys.
We finally have another attempt at recycling here in Magdalena. A recycling bin for aluminum cans has been placed at the corner of 8th Street and Spruce (that’s the one that’s paved all the way to its end, just east of Main Street). This is being sponsored by the Grizz Project. All proceeds will be used for their good works to relieve the suffering of and to find good homes for dogs, cats and horses in the Magdalena area.
Last week, at our biweekly “water” meeting, Ian Jenness gave us much to think about, and much to do to collect our precious rain water. For those of us who really, really enjoy our “plant friends,” rainwater collection is a good way to provide all of the water that they need without “breaking the bank.” Plants also seem to enjoy the slight acidity of rainwater which prevents calcium build-up around their roots (much like what happens in our water heaters and our toilets).
The next Water Meeting will be on July 14 at 7:00 p.m. at the Magdalena Public Library. Cheryl Hastings will present a series of recorded interviews and lectures by Vandana Shiva. I’ve seen some of these sound-bite clips and they are indeed, “food for thought.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Vandana Shiva, she is a water activist from India who was outraged at the attempted privatization of her Sacred River, the Ganges.
She firmly believes that water, like air, is a common resource to be shared by all to maintain life. She has given this situation much thought and meditation. Her comments are insightful, “to the point” and inclusive of a much broader world-view: she certainly doesn’t pull her punches. She is to be listened to with the heart as much as with the mind.
Cheryl will also offer us a look at her interpretations of water in photographs at her gallery (right next to our Marshal’s office) throughout the month of July. So much to do in our little Village!

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

OPINION: Elites Abuse Information Sources to Advance Deficit Panic

The Pencil Warrior
By Dave Wheelock

Sometimes one swipe at the poisoned apple is not enough. Two weeks ago, Pencil Warrior Number 134 exposed the current firestorm in the media against budget deficits as a deliberate hoax perpetrated on the public in an attempt to prolong the life of an economic paradigm that produces little of value to anyone other than the tiny group at the top of the corporate food chain.
Contrary to what you’ve probably read, heard, or seen in any commercialized source, while the gap between government spending and the economy’s ability to eventually pay for it is properly of concern, it pales in comparison to the immediate need to provide the level of funding necessary to ensure those who are able to work can find jobs.
For the few apparent “winners” in our society, the number one priority has become finding new ways to keep afloat the only economic system they know – profit without production. It’s not that these people don’t understand the futility of short term speculation, pillaging far-off resources, and virtual slavery – they just don’t see the need for honest work or fair competition.
For these “masters of the universe,” the target of choice, their last and easiest source of huge mounds of cash, has become the public funds the middle class has accumulated throughout its short, sweet existence: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and any other public program they can get their hands on. At this critical juncture in our economic history, the continued success of the wealthy elite will mean the destruction of everyone else, including the earth itself.
The situation is dire and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The battle has been joined in print and broadcast media, yet due to the one-sided nature of what should be an open public discussion, much of the public haven’t a clue of the true motives or level of propaganda that have been unleashed upon their futures. Small wonder then that so many Americans have fallen into the panic over deficits.
In his July 1 New York Times column, Nobel economist Paul Krugman expressed “amazement and horror” that “somehow it has become conventional wisdom that now is the time to slash spending, despite the fact that the world’s major economies remain deeply depressed.” Methinks Dr. Krugman is being coy; someone as immersed in influencing public opinion as he is certainly knows the tricks of the trade.
At the most base level, what political observer Noam Chomsky terms “manufacturing consent” calls for a blanketing of available media with a version of reality that serves one’s own interests. Regardless and independent of the facts (tax cuts for the wealthy, momentous corporate subsidies and fraud, a vast military money pit, the true costs of poverty) a steady diet of propaganda (bankrupt social programs, prominently including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; overpaid government employees; gouging labor unions) gets results.
Since space does not permit a fair survey of examples of media bias in the public discussion of budget deficits, I urge those who can to search for “deficit” on the media analysis website of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting ( There you will find articles with titles like “Deficit Fascinates Media – Its Causes, Not so Much,” “The Deficit Distraction”, and “Inventing a Nation of Deficit Hawks.”
While it’s important for the “deficit hawks” to get the message out, it’s equally vital to suppress dissenting voices, something easily accomplished in a country where business-funded sources of information go virtually unchallenged. The term “virtually” is appropriate, as the internet offers some relief – as long as we employ our own tool, the principle of “net neutrality,” to keep it free of total corporate control.
Often overlooked is the power of popular entertainment to shape people’s attitudes. Storylines acted out on television and in movies overwhelmingly portray a winner-take-all, us vs. them, pro-free market world where violence is the standard path to resolution. Excluded is the vast range of perspectives and possibilities that actually exist in our diverse world. When was the last time a commercial television program depicted say, a union organizer’s struggle to win members a fair shake against overwhelming odds? How about a magazine ad for an office copier used by a building inspector to blow the whistle on a developer’s collusion with public officials?
As a wise man said, if media reform is not your number one issue, it needs to be number two. We can and should go further than simply becoming aware of how commercial media is used by corporate ownership to pad its own nest. It’s time we went on the offensive by harnessing the power of media to educate to help bring about a new economy based on long term investment in people and sustainable energy, technologies, and products. If we want our creations to serve rather than damage our shared interests we should nurture existing public media and invest substantially in new ways to inform democracy.

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 davewheelock Mr. Wheelock's views do not necessarily represent those of the Mountain Mail.

OPINION: Pansa Yena Corazon Contento

(Stomach Full, Heart Content)

By Gary Jaramillo

Can you imagine – your child sitting in your living room – here in America – without a thing to eat for dinner? Can you picture your little girl or boy not able to concentrate on their classwork in the mornings because all they are thinking about is lunch time in the cafeteria? Is it even possible to think of your child going to bed at night with a grumbling stomach, and unable to sleep because of the awful sound and thought that they must wait until tomorrow at lunch time in school to eat again?
Dear Lord, could this be happening to children that live in the next home over from yours? Is there a possibility that more homes in your neighborhood than not, have children in them that don’t ever have three full meals a day? Not even a weenie, a slice of bologna or a piece of cheese, maybe a few crackers? My God, could that be real in such giving and caring villages and towns such as Socorro, Magdalena, Datil, Reserve, Aragon, Luna, Horse Springs, Pie Town, Quemado and all of the other great places that lie in these valleys and prairies that we love so much?
As horrifying as that may sound my friends – that is exactly what is happening. Children are going hungry right in front of our eyes and we don’t even know it. The parents who have to live with the deep sorrow that their children aren’t getting one decent meal a day know it, but are helpless to make it stop. Parents go without food themselves most days so their children can have a little extra on their already bare plates.
The sad fact is that New Mexico is a leader in child poverty and hunger, and that is nothing to be proud of no matter who you are. The elderly also have a tough time seeing three full meals a day also. Fast food restaurants throw the food away that sits for more than five minutes under the heat lamp because of ignorant and paranoid bills passed by men and women who probably don’t know what it’s like to tell their children or even starving grandparents that – there’s no more mi jito or mija or mi abuelitos. It’s a damn shame and we all just sit on our complacent behinds and shake our heads like so many sheep shooing away the flies.
We’ve resigned ourselves to the part of being followers, never asking questions of those in power. One could stand and yell “WHY THE HELL CAN’T THE RESTAURANTSGIVE FOOD THAT THEY ARE GOING TO THROW AWAY – TO A FAMILY WHO HASN’T EATEN TODAY?” – but you won’t get an answer from Santa Fe or Washington. More kids and elderly will die of hunger before they die from getting a disease from a one hour old hamburger that’s been kept in a clean environment in a restaurant. It’s sad that in a country as great as ours, people are starving.
How does a country, state and city live with itself knowing that our babies and elderly are quite literally slowing starving too death in our classrooms and in their homes - all but forgotten unless it’s election time, and then still, they only get lip service. How about a pack of bologna, some bread, a little jar of Mayo and some chips instead of political BS Mr. Politician? How about bringing a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk to a family which is struggling to feed themselves when school is out for summer and the children have no cafeteria to count on for their daily meal?
I’m trying not to rant, but sometimes things have to be said. I know how hard it is to care about others when your world is in trouble as well. Our lives are a perpetual circle of good times and bad, but we should hop off the ride from time to time to be able to see the others stuggling behind you and walking in the same circle.
Have a look at the momma I saw the other day at the Wal Mart holding back the tears and trying to dig up enough from the bottom of her bag for milk and bread and a tiny jar of peanut butter for her two kids while they cried for a candy bar.
She couldn’t buy it for them and it was killing her. I didn’t know what to do and the gal who was checking her out was feeling horrible as well. I reached down and grabbed the kind of candy bars the little ones wanted and handed them to the kids. The mother looked up at me just as the checkout lady said, you don’t have enough.
I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be in that position in front of a line of other people waiting to check out behind her. I reached forward and quickly handed the lady a $20 bill and then began talking to the little kids loudly to take the focus off their mother while she finished paying. She was a wreck. She couldn’t have been more than 19 years old and I’m sure at that moment she most probably wanted to disappear into the floor below her.
She quickly called out for her babies and turned away, and as I smiled her way - the mother turned back and mouthed the words “thank you”. Everyone in line was feeling terrible and not a word was heard out of anyone.
That’s how it is now in Socorro, New Mexico – and unfortunately that’s how it is in America right now. But, each and every one of us can help others if we just decide to actually look for those in trouble – instead of turning away from someone who desperately needs a stranger to care – even for a moment. Be on the look out for your neighbor everyone – like back in the day when we watched each others kids in the neighborhood and never locked the doors and windows at night. And remember when any kid from the block could just walk right into their neighbors home and open the ice box and grab a hot dog, tortilla or fruit or anything at all because our parents knew that we were all in this together and knew that we would only get by with each others help and love?
Most families didn’t have enough for their kids, but always found a way for the neighborhood kids too! I remember the little old ladies who lived alone, bringing cookies or bread to the younger mothers in the neighborhood to help feed the kids. Women walking across the street with extra beans or potatoes for the woman who had 7, 8 or 9 kids in their family. No one was embarrassed back then, it was just done all of the time and everyone knew it. Everyone had a part in feeding kids and the elderly.
If you feel like your neighbors are having a hard time with food, gather up the leftovers and walk next door and offer the help. It’s not wrong to be involved with another’s strife in this journey we call life. It’s heroic, and it should be expected of all of us. If you have extra, don’t throw it away. Wrap it up or place it in a Tupperware bowl and take it next door. You know, you carry your love and compassion to their house with that food, and that can only be learned and passed on by our children if they see us caring enough to go visit our neighbor during the most difficult of times.
We can bring back those old days when pride always took a back seat to friendship and love for one another. Children don’t care if you are embarrassed about helping them, they only know they can fall asleep faster after a long day with a stomach full of food, and a heart full of contentment. The look in their little eyes will always say thank you. We can do this my friends.
Let’s bring back the days that made us so great. Give. Help. Care. There is not a better feeling on this earth than giving something to someone who is desperately in need. Search for those neighbors who need a little hand and don’t worry about what someone is going to say or do. The only thing that matters is what you say or do. So my friends, do it!
Don’t wait another day to get involved and ask questions of those in office who control and make the silly laws that literally keep food out of our children’s mouths. Stand up and fight for Bread! May sound goofy to you, but you’ll never know how important a fight for bread can be, until you haven’t had any for a couple of weeks or months. Be a hero! Help another to simply – eat.
Friday, Scott’s Napa Auto Store on California Street will be accepting non-perishable cans and dry foods for the Socorro Storehouse all day long. Make it a point to take 10 minutes out of your life and drop some food off for families and children who desperately need you to care. All kinds of food are needed and accepted, so be as generous as you possibly can.
And next time you’re in line at the Grocery Store and you see someone struggling and in need, push your way to the front of the line and ask “How can I help you my friend?” The message lives in all of us, we just have to be strong and proudly start carrying it around again and passing it on. It’s worked in the hardest of times in neighborhoods across America before – it can again. Be that person that puts another above self and then smile and do what has to be done. Not one more person that you know should ever go without food. We’ll see you at Scott’s Auto on Friday. Please bring what you can, and be generous.

LETTER: Streets In Rio Grande Estates

To the editor,
On Sunday evening, July 4th, the call came in from a Socorro County Deputy looking for a resident on Beatrice near Escobar in Rio Grande Estates. Could I help?
A month ago at the June 8th meeting of the Board of County Commission under New Business, Item 8i, the vacation of roads in Rio Grande Estates was introduced. The County Manager together with the County Attorney announced to all in attendance that "these roads do not exist". Many residents, taxpayers in northern Socorro County have been requesting street signs so that emergency vehicles can determine Adam from Eve. Delilah Walsh as County Manager is tired of handling these complaints and her easiest way out is to state to the world: "these roads do not exist". I am thankful to Commissioner Monette for offering me the opportunity to address the Board. Simply put, "if you vacate them, you will be inviting a lawsuit".
I wouldn't be surprised if someone else files suit first. When the County requested my assistance six years ago in determining the legal descriptions of the parcels with the illegal tire dumps, it was the existence of these roads, as shown on plats, and the existence of the original surveyed metal pipes at the ends of these roads that allowed me to file my report, a report that sat on the back burner of the County for six years before they decided to act.
I have but one vote for a County Commissioner and he didn't show up at the June 8th meeting. I don't have a vote on the hiring of a County Manager. It is past due time, however, that Delilah Walsh got to work, and placed the road signs in Rio Grande Estates. One of these days when the signs are still not present, an emergency will happen and someone will die due to the failure of a timely response to an address the respondents can't find. Is the County Manager, and the Board, ready for the suit that will follow?

Tom Kimball

The Mountain Mail Opinion Page is meant to be a forum for a diverse range of opinions. The letters that appear in the Mountain Mail do not necessarily 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 confirmation. Please limit the letters to 500 words and all letters will be edited for libel, grammar, and spelling. Letters can be sent to Box 62, Socorro, NM, 87801, or emailed to or faxed to 575-838-2808.


AG Office: No OMA Violations In Reserve

By John Severance

The Village of Reserve did not commit any violations of the Open Meetings Act, according to a ruling from the State Attorney General’s Office that was dated on June 29.
Robert Caylor of Reserve had sent a letter to the AG office, alleging the Village had violated the OMA on two agenda items during a Feb. 16 meeting.
One of the complaints involved going into executive session.
Agenda Item III (A) was listed as “New Business – Review Grant Coordinator Contract). The minutes state that Mayor Connie Wehrheim “motioned to move this item in closed session,” but there was a counter motion. The minutes said that Council member (Richard) Torres motioned to table this item and the motion passed. Therefore, assistant attorney general Zach Shandler wrote that the Board did not go into executive session on this item and this part of the complaint is moot.
Agenda Item XI was listed as “Closed Session Pursuant to the Open Meetings Act, NMSA 1978, Chapter 10, Article 15, Section 1 (H)(@) limited personnel issues, discussion of hiring, promotion, demotion, dismissal, assignment or resignation Mayor and council to consider ending probationary period and retention for one employee.
The Agenda stated that there was a narrative description of the proposed type of personnel action for the executive session.
The minutes stated, “Mayor Wehrheim called for a motion to close as stated above. Council member (Keith) Riddle stated the council was merely trying to evaluate an individual’s performance so that his employment could be continued not on a probationary period.
Caylor said he believed that the individual employees’ name must be listed and Riddle motioned to go into closed session and the motion passed. When the Board returned to open session, Wehrheim attested that “only the subject stated” in the motion was dicussed in executive session.”
The AG office concluded that the motion to go into executive session contained the required specifity for the legal authority and for the subject to be discussed and thus the board complied with the OMA and the Board provided a proper assertation for the record when it returned to open session.”
Caylor fired off a letter to the Attorney General’s office, voicing his displeasure with the findings.
In the letter to assistant attorney general Zach Shandler, Caylor concluded his letter by saying, “It is no wonder the State of New Mexico is the most corrupt State in the United States of America when its own Attorney General condones the illegal activities of the Municipalities and encourages them to go ahead with whatever they choose to do. Let’s get rid of the OMA, voting laws, nepotism laws and say “do as you wish, we will cover our eyes” and continue to do nothing for the people of the State of New Mexico from the Attorney General’s Office.”
Before the AG response on this complaint, Caylor had sent another letter, alleging other violations of the OMA by the Village Board.
Caylor also is contesting the March election in which he lost by one vote to sit on the Village of Reserve trustee board. He filed suit against Riddle.
A hearing is scheduled for July 21 at 11 a.m. at the Catron County Courthouse, but Caylor said his attorney will be out of the state on that date and he needs to reschedule.

Sylvia’s Autobiography Marches Onward, Upward

By Anne Sullivan

Every day, between barking, eating and napping, Sylvia took pen in paw and wrote and wrote and wrote. By Saturday she’d filled one entire spiral college-ruled notebook and I was forced to give her another. With trepidation I noted the pages piling up and wondered how she could find so much to write about in 12 short years (certainly years that seemed very short to me) during which she’d never left Swingle Canyon except for a few protesting visits to the vet.
It crossed my mind that, at this rate, she just might possibly finish writing 200 typed pages and, according to our deal, I would have to send the typed manuscript to publishers and make every possible effort to get it published.
I consoled myself with the thought that typing would take Sylvia a long time. Paws are not made for hitting computer keys, especially not Sylvia’s gargantuan paws. She had long complained about the task whenever I refused to help her.
“How are you coming, Sylvia?” I asked with false cheer.
“Good, good,” she raised her head from the paper to answer. “This book is bestseller material, I just know it. I’ve got so much to say, I’ll probably have to write a sequel.”
“Oh,” I said, “That’s nice. When do you think you’ll be finished?”
“Probably next week.”
“Then you’ll have to type it. That will take you a good while, I’m sure.”
“It would if I was going to type it myself.”
“Oh,” I said, taken aback. “Who are you going to get to type it? I can’t possibly do it. I’m far too busy.”
“Don’t worry about it, boss. Gordo will do anything for money. And those tiny claws ought to get the job done in no time.”
“Does Gordo know how to type?”
“He can learn,” Sylvia said with confidence.
“And how are you going to pay him? I didn’t know you had any money.”
“The good lord will provide. Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Sylvia chanted and later added, “As a matter of fact, I think I’ll teach Gordo now and he can type what I’ve already written. Then I can tweak it on the computer.”
“Good idea,” I said, biting the bullet. “Gordo’s on the porch now. Why don’t you chase him in and start the lessons.”
Sylvia put down her manuscript with a sigh and barked at Gordo while I held the door open for the historic moment when Gordo would enter my house for the very first time. Unlike RingWorm, he had neither curiosity nor inclination to do more than cry pathetically at the door. Since I am allergic to cats I did little to encourage him. I must say, once inside, Gordo looked none too happy about the situation but cheered up rapidly when I poured him a dish of Party Mix.
I could tell by the grumbling grinding noise and rattle that Sylvia had turned The Computer on. In another 15 minutes it would be ready for business.
When the noise turned to the loud hum of a truck going by, Sylvia herded Gordo into The Computer Room. From the kitchen I caught a glimpse of Gordo standing on the chair, Sylvia hovering over him. Now and then Sylvia would bark sternly and slap Gordo’s paws. On his part, Gordo made almost constant whining noises. I knew how he felt.
The lesson continued for over two hours before Gordo was allowed out for a drink of water and a run. Sylvia resumed her writing without letup. I had to shoo her out of the house to get some fresh air.
”I can’t stay outside long,” she said. “I’ve got to keep going. There’s a book in me and it’s got to come out.”

(To Be Continued)

Fire Update At The Cibola Forest

Mountain Mail Reports
The Cibola National Forest, Magdalena Ranger District received widespread lighting on Saturday, June 26, 2010. The Wood wildfire was detected on Sunday, June 27 and is located 13 miles northwest of Datil in the Datil Mountains. Smoke can be seen from US Highway 60 west of Datil.
The Wood wildfire is approximately 20 acres in size.
The fire is burning in primarily Ponderosa pine, piƱon juniper, grass and steep rocky terrain. This naturally ignited wildland fire is being managed for resource benefit, with the primary objective to provide for the health and safety of firefighters and the public. The resource benefit strategy allows wildfire to function ecologically within a fire dependent ecosystem.
This Wood Fire will remain active until weather patterns established over the region receive enough precipitation to extinguish the fire. The Forest Service will continue to monitor and patrol the fire.
The following Stage 1 Fire and Smoking restrictions remain in place on the Magdalena Ranger District:
• Campfires, charcoal grill and stoves 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.
• 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 materials.
For more information about current fire activity or fire restrictions please call the Magdalena Ranger District at 575-854-2281, or visit the Cibola National Forest website at:

Quemado: Book Mobile, Senior Center

Quemado News

By Debbie Leschner
For the Mountain Mail

The Rural Book Mobile will be here on Tuesday, July 13 by the Quemado post office at 3:45 p.m., Datil post office at 1 p.m, Pie Town post office at 2:30 p.m and Alamo Cherry town housing at 10:30 a.m.

Quemado Senior Center Activities for the week: Pool tournament on Tuesday July 13, quilting and bingo on Thursday with exercise on Friday. Lunch menu: Monday – bean burrito with cheese, Tuesday – spaghetti with meat sauce, Wednesday – baked fish with macaroni and cheese, Thursday – pork stir fry and Friday – chicken fried steak with gravy. All seniors are welcome. Please call the center at 773-4820 before 9 a.m. to make your lunch reservations. Congratulations on your winning float entry.

The Western New Mexico Veterans Group will hold their monthly meeting on Thursday, July 15 in the Veterans' Hall located at the corner of Baca and Church Street in Quemado. A potluck with a Mexican theme begins at 6 p.m. with a meeting to follow. All veterans and their families are welcome. For more information contact Commander Rick Sharp 733-4350. The veterans would like to thank the WindWalker and Wind Spirit Drum group from Datil for being on the float during the parade. The group has many awards and nominations to their credit.

Mary and Martha's Thrift Store is open the first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The store is located near the corner of Highway 12 and 32 in Apache Creek next to the fire station.

Rodeo Fans mark your calendar for August 7-8. That will be the date for the next rodeo at the Heritage Arena in Quemado.

Robbie Jones, County Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) for Socorro and Catron Counies today announced nominations began June 15 for local FSA county committees. The nomination period continues through Aug. 2, 2010. For more information on FSA County Committee nominations, contact the FSA office at (575)835-1710.

Artist Has Affinity For State, Desert

Mountain Mail reports

Socorro artist Georgette Grey, the Chamber of Commerce’s artist of the month for July, has an affinity for New Mexico and the desert.
"I guess I just like living where the sun shines more often than not. I have been fortunate in that I was able to return to the West for many visits, and even more fortunate that I finally have been able to return to live in New Mexico, land that I love," Grey says.
Originally from Oklahoma, Grey and her husband Prescott moved to Socorro eight years ago.
In the intervening years, she has lived and studied in Ohio, North Carolina, California, and New England.
Her show at the Chamber is a varied watercolor presentation of still life, landscapes and summer scenes.
Grey’s growing body of work totals several hundred pieces.
With formal training in arts as diverse as printmaking and throwing pottery, her true art school has been her life.
Working exclusively in watercolor, her love of nature and her skill with watercolor combine to create works enhanced by observation and knowledge.
“I’ve always worked only in watercolor,” Grey said. “Why? Because I’m always learning new techniques. Trying new things. There’s always something new to try.”
Despite the seeming realism, her work reflects an inner emotional view that the artist refers to as interpretive realism, a style that offers more than the mirror of a photograph or the technical mastery of a draftsman.
Before Grey became a charter member of Socorro County Arts, she was co-founder of The Artists Guild in northeast Massachusetts, was Gallery Director of the Newburyport Art Association from 1994 to 1997, and is a past board member of the Seacoast Artists Association in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Socorro is fortunate to have such a prestigious artist, and her work is also exhibited at Curious Crow Studio on 113 Abeyta Street.
Grey's work has been accepted into many prestigious exhibits including the juried annual Lassonde Show at the Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and a juried exhibit at the Whistler House Museum of Art, Lowell, Mass., sponsored by ArtsNorth magazine.
She exhibited by invitation at the Farm Life Museum, Kenly, North Carolina in 1997 and was asked to return in 1998 and each year since.
In 1996 she began exhibiting at Andover Art in The Park, Andover, Mass., and was a familiar face at Art on Bartlet Mall during New-buryport's annual Yankee Homecoming. She has also exhibited in San Clemente and Newport, California.
Many of her originals, plus prints and cards of her work are available at her website: paintings can be seen at the Socorro Chamber of Commerce through the end of July.

Picture: Georgette Grey describes her technique in her painting “Open Air Market” at the Socorro Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by John Larson

Local Children To Take Stage At Finley

Mountain Mail Reports

Audiences of all ages will get a fresh look at an old favorite this Saturday, July 10 when the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT) and more than 50 local students present “Beauty Lou and the Country Beast.’
Featured as Beauty Lou will be Susan Osborne. The Younger Daughters and Older Daughters will be played by Cameron Cases and Taylor Cases,Samantha Hurtgen and Megan Johnston, Paige Pyke and Brianna Chavez, Taylah Alvarado and Ashlea Steele, Maria Carilli, Isabella Osborne and Aubry Anaya. Imaginary Friend and Beast will be played by Katrine Harland. Dusty and Slim the helpful farmhands will be played by Luis Mendez and Brett Anaya. Faithful friend Fleabite Clyde, the dog, will be played by t/b/d. Buck will be played by MCT Tour Actor/Director Amanda Elaine Dyke.
Hoping to win enough money to save the family farm, Buck sets off for the rodeo and is joined by the rest of the Country Folk: Jonas Akudago, Carmen Apodaca, Felicia Baca, Electra Burleigh, Brandon Esquivel, Zoe Esquivel, Miriam Frisch, Caylah Huber, Emerald Huber, Alejandro Jaramillo, Ambriel Mauldin, J.O. Pekkala, Alisha Pino-Lucero, Jai Qureshi, Gabriella Rodriguez, Rebecca Rojas, Lazarus Sanchez, Carlissa Zamora and Micaela Zamora; and Barnyard Critters played by Jolena Akudago, Rose Carilli, Ismael Chavez, Christian Esquivel, Michael Fan, Miceta Gallegos, Wyatt Gillis, Aislinn Mendez, Russell Montoya, Shanice Rhodes, Maggie Sanchez, Rio Sessions, Alex Torres and Kateri Zamora. Stephanie Holguin and Chris Romero have served as Assistant Directors throughout the week and Elizabeth Smoake on piano accompaniment.
The showwill be presented at 3 and 5:30 p.m. at the Finley Gym. Tickets are $5 for adult and free for youth 17 and under, and are available at the door.
The Missoula Children’s Theatre residency in Socorro is presented locally by the Socorro Consolidated Schools, City of Socorro and the New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series with lodging provided by Dr. Eileen Comstock and Warren Marts. For more information, call Ronna Kalish or Titia Barham at 835-5688.