Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vallejos’ Possessions Seized

By John Larson

Joseph Vallejos, owner and operator of JM Abstract and Title Co., was arraigned in Socorro Magistrate Court Friday, Nov. 19, on two class two felony counts of fraud.
Judge Jim Naranjo released Vallejos on his own recognizance.
Socorro police Sgt. Richard Lopez said Vallejos was taken into custody at about 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, at his home on School of Mines Rd., assisted by agents with the state’s Insurance Fraud Division of the Public Regulation Commission.
“We went to serve the search warrant at his residence and knocked, and knocked,” Lopez said. “Just as we started to breach the door, Mr. Vallejos opened it. He did not resist and is cooperating 100 percent.”
Assisting in the seizure and arrest were Officers Bobby Aragon, Victor Chavez and Stanley Montano, and Detective Brandi Perkins.
Police seized file cabinets, legal boxes, microfilm and computers from the offices of JM Abstract on Manzanares St. Thursday, as well as documents from his residence.
Initially thought to have fled to Mexico, Vallejos was “holed up in his house,” police Capt. Mike Winders said. “He’s been there for four weeks. He never left town.”
“Our officers did excellent work helping out,” Lopez said. “They go out of their way. The night shift came in and others on the day shift. We have a great team of badges. The teamwork we have impresses me every day.”
Vallejos has been the subject of an investigation by city police and the PRC since early August of this year. The Socorro Police Department is leading the joint investigation.
“The Insurance Fraud Division is conducting an investigation of their own, and the State Police are also gathering evidence,” Lopez said. “At some point all the evidence will be turned over to the state. Right now we’re focusing on the local cases.”
Lopez said he continues to receive 20 to 25 complaints every day. ”It’s all I can do to keep up with the paperwork,” he said. “There may be up to 230 victims.”
The criminal complaint cites two home sellers who wrote mortgage payoff checks to Vallejos, the owner of JM Abstract, who was entrusted to pay off the mortgages. But instead of sending the payoff money to the mortgage companies, Vallejos kept the money – about $159,000 - according to the complaint.
Lopez said those who think they may be a victim should check their property’s legal status with the county clerk or county assessor.
As of press time Tuesday, Vallejos’ preliminary hearing in Magistrate Court has not been scheduled.

New Librarian Chosen for Magdalena Library

By John Larson

MAGDALENA – Yvonne Magener has been hired to replace Lucy Pino as Magdalena’s librarian. The choice was made village’s board meeting on Monday, Nov. 22, after the recommendation was made by Trustee Carmen Torres.
Three candidates were interviewed on Nov. 9 by a special committee consisting of Torres, Mayor Sandy Julian, Clara Lucero and Susan Schuhardt.
Torres said that she felt all three candidates – Magener, Don Wiltshire and Del Redhair – were qualified.
“We went through the applications and had discussions with each one,” said Torres. “We had different categories and scored each one on a five point scale. We figured that was the best way to do it. All had unbelievably good answers.”
“It’s too bad I can’t have all three of them,” she added.
Magener is the current librarian at Alamo. She is scheduled to begin her new position here on Dec. 13.
“I’m thrilled to bits,” she said. “I love our little library, and am proud to be chosen. I want to keep the library strong and will gladly take the advice from the library board and all the volunteers.”
She said she will try to start developing plans to offer more activities and functions for senior citizens.
“We have such a beautiful space for a wide variety of activities,” she said. “I would love to see more seniors coming in. I also want to keep our services for school children going, and possibly add to them.”
Magener also thanked Don Wiltshire for his help as temporary librarian.
Julian said the library should be run by the librarian and the volunteers, whom she has confidence in.
Magener, a visual artist by trade, is no stranger to the village, having lived in Magdalena for the past 14 years.
In other village business:
•    The board voted to change the village board meetings from the second and fourth Mondays to the first and third Mondays. The change will go into effect in January, with the first meeting of the year on Monday, Jan. 3. The meeting time will remain at 6 p.m.
•    Clerk Rita Broaddus announced that she and Deputy Clerk Carleen Gomez would be heading up the Secret Santa project again this year. “All gifts have to be in by Dec. 2 and Santa will be delivering them on Christmas Eve,” she said. The tree will be up by Dec. 1.
•    Mayor Sandy Julian reported that the village will be receiving two vehicles free of charge from the Eddy County sheriff’s department in two to three weeks.
•    The board voted not to replace the engine in one of the Marshal’s office vehicles, a 1998 Ford Expedition. “It would more expensive to fix it than it is worth,” Trustee Barbara Baca said. “I move to junk it.”

EDITORIAL: Puerto Seguro A Relief For Socorrans

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez
Mountain Mail Editor

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I plan to spend most of the day the same way I’ve done the previous four – visiting with my brother and sister-in-law and my two young nephews. More than likely we’ll eat a large meal, watch one of the football games which will be televised, and discuss local politics, the pros and cons of shopping on Black Friday, where to go for the Christmas holiday, and dinosaurs.
It sounds just about idyllic, I know. And I actually consider myself very lucky to have been the recipient of such an invitation. Plus, I genuinely enjoy learning about dinosaurs.
Of course, there are a lot of people out there who won’t be as fortunate this holiday season. And that train of thought makes me wonder what the clients of Puerto Seguro will be doing.
Puerto Seguro, located at 519 North California Street in Socorro, is a day shelter open between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., that serves between 20 and 40 low income and handicapped people on any given Monday, Wednesday and Friday (it’s closed on the other four days of the week).
The facility is restricted from allowing overnight guests and the kitchen and dining areas aren’t large enough to host a Thanksgiving feast. Puerto Seguro did, however, on Saturday host a luncheon off-site at the DAV Hall. Due to a prior commitment out of town, I wasn’t able to attend. Those who did attend say that about 200 showed up. 
But this isn’t just about one day out of the year. The spirit of giving at Puerto Seguro is active just about all year round.
I happened to tour the Puerto Seguro facilities on Friday, Nov. 19. My contact there was Joe Griffin, the kitchen manager, who I spoke with on the phone earlier that day. Somehow he knew who I was almost immediately upon my arrival.
Griffin, originally from Philadelphia, where his first taste into the food industry came while working at his father’s hoagie shop at age 16, and has been with Puerto Seguro for about year and a resident of Socorro County for the past 12 years, had just finished preparing the food for the DAV Hall luncheon, and was in the middle of a much deserved break.
We took a seat on a bench outside the facility. He lit a cigarette and told me about the basic day-to-day operations of Puerto Seguro, which at the time I knew very little about. When he was finished, I was taken aback, my faith in humanity renewed.
Puerto Seguro, established in 2000, has a staff that includes anywhere between six and 10 volunteers. All food in the kitchen comes from donations from supermarkets like Smith’s and John Brooks, and local farms such as the Handley Dairy in Veguita.
“We try to serve what I call ‘super food,’” said Griffin, adding that he wouldn’t feel comfortable serving food that was unhealthy, like some other day shelters.
The volunteers are also trained at Puerto Seguro in such a way that they will eventually have the experience to obtain paying jobs elsewhere in the future.
For the next few minutes we talked about whatever. I learned that Griffin comes from a long line of public servants, mostly cops and firefighters, and that he used to work weatherization trainer for the state, helping mostly low income and handicapped persons modify their
utilities so that they consume as little resources as possible, saving them money.
Break time concluded, and the cigarette was tossed.
“Ready to see the kitchen?” he asked.
Moments later we were inside Puerto Seguro. It was exactly how he described it.
The facilities at Puerto Seguro also include a dayroom, equipped with a sofa, a television and periodicals, men’s and women’s bathrooms, laundry facilities, and a storage room with clothing items and basic staples. After a while I was introduced to Duane Baker, the director of Puerto Seguro.
Baker, who’s been with Puerto Seguro for the past four years, is a busy gentleman, a former dispatcher for the Socorro Police Department, and one of those people you’re glad are part of your community. His position at Puerto Seguro only requires him to put in 20 hours of work each week, though Griffin is quick to point out that Baker puts in at least 50 hours without complaint, because he‘s always willing to help, always on call.
Baker generously found the time to talk about Puerto Seguro, though we had to keep moving from one end of the facility to another. He had errands to run, and there was little time to stand around.
Baker expressed regret that Puerto Seguro did not allow for overnight guests, though he did point out that his budget does allow for some now and then to be given a hotel room, in most cases these have been women with young children who are escaping from some
sort of dire situation.
And then there are the heartbreaking stories.
“In the winter it’s especially bad,” said Baker. “One of the hardest things to hear is that some homeless person has been found frozen to death, which has happened before.” After a while, he added, “We do the best we can to keep them out of the elements, and if we can’t we try to direct every client to the right people so that they might have a place to stay for the night.”
After a while Baker excused himself, saying that he had to help with something in another area in the facility.
I returned to the kitchen, where Griffin was preparing a lunch and setting it on a tray. He was making sandwiches and serving bowls of green chile stew for three clients who had come into the facility asking for something to eat.
I looked at my watch and pointed out that it was twenty minutes after two. Griffin seemed confused at why I would mention this. I told him that Puerto Seguro closes at 2 p.m.
Griffin smiled and shook his head, then said, “If we’re still here and there’s someone who’s just come wanting something to eat, there’s no way we are going to turn them away.”

Patrick Jason Rodriguez is the editor of the Mountain Mail. He can be
reached at


Child Abuse Probe Results in Drug Bust

By John Larson

A Socorro man has been arrested and charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors involving narcotics and controlled medication, following a report of suspected child abuse.
Anthony Carmona, 23, was arraigned in Magistrate Court on Nov. 15 for possession of methamphetamine, possession of medication without a prescription, possession of drug paraphernalia, and tampering with evidence.
The incident occurred at a residence on Honeysuckle Lane on Nov. 9, according to Socorro police detective Richard Lopez. Along with Lopez, called to the scene were Sgt. Rocky Fernandez and Officer Bobby Aragon, of the Socorro Police Department.
Lopez said that he was contacted by Children, Youth and Families Department, which informed him of the alleged child abuse.
According to the criminal complaint, Carmona and three other adults were around the property of the residence when officers arrived. “We were trying to establish whether child abuse had occurred, and were given permission to search the residence,” Lopez said.
Lopez wrote in the criminal complaint that he saw Anthony Carmona walk into the residence. Lopez walked in behind Carmona and saw him standing in front of a chest of drawers, and remove items from one of the chest of drawers and stick it into his pocket, Lopez wrote.
Lopez said he noticed the objects were plastic baggies and a ball of foil. He removed the plastic baggie and foil from Anthony’s pocket, and in doing so felt pill bottles in the pocket, Lopez said.
In one of the pill bottles was a green package with a substance which tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the complaint. Also in the bottles were several different types of pills, including 10 mg tablets of Watson and 50 mg tablets of Trazodone, the complaint stated, both of which are listed as Schedule II narcotics.
Carmona was later taken into police custody and transported to the Socorro County Detention Center.
During an interview with neighbors at the Honeysuckle Lane residence, Fernandez had learned that a woman in Lemitar was in possession of narcotics.
Fernandez located the woman, Justine Belmontez, in Lemitar. She was found to be in possession of three grams of cocaine, known as an “eightball” in drug vernacular, according to the complaint.
Belmontez was arraigned in Magistrate Court on Nov. 10 on one count of possession of cocaine and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Her preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 2. Carmona’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for today (Nov. 24).
The child abuse report is still pending further investigation.

Socorro Police Arrest man for Possession of Meth

By John Larson

An Illinois man staying at a motel in Socorro was arrested on Friday, Nov. 19, for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia (a light bulb).
Socorro police Det. Rocky Fernandez said the bust at a room in the Economy Inn on California St. was the result of evidence collected in controlled buys. Sgt. Richard Lopez, along with officers Joe Reichenbach, Matt Lyons, Denis Padilla, Stanley Montano and Louis Chavez, assisted at the scene.
“At about 5:30 Friday afternoon, as we were about to execute the search warrant on the room, we approached a male subject standing on the balcony next to the room,” Fernandez said.
When officers started yelling, “police department, search warrant!” the suspect attempted to move away from the door as officers entered the room, Fernandez said.
“He was placed on the ground and handcuffed,” Fernandez said. “We then proceeded into the room.”
According to the criminal complaint, John W. Clark, 30, of Havana, Ill., was in the room and was read his Miranda rights.
During the search, officers found a clear plastic baggie in his possession in which contained a white crystalline substance believed to be methamphetamine.
“I have to give credit to officer Joe Reichenbach,” Fernandez said. “He located a light bulb behind a door that had been fashioned into a pipe used for the inhalation of methamphetamine. It had white residue still in it.”
Fernandez said Reichenbach also located a plastic baggie which had five small bindles inside a larger baggie.
The total amount of meth confiscated at the scene was a little more than one gram, Fernandez said.
“The subject who had been detained at the beginning of the search had a small baggie of marijuana on him, and he was issued a non-traffic citation and released,” Fernandez said.
A check of calls made on Clark’s cell phone by Sgt. Richard Lopez showed several text messages pertaining to drug trafficking.
“It wasn’t a huge bust, but every arrest is important,” Fernandez said. “We’re just not letting up on illegal narcotics activity in Socorro.”
Clark was booked into the Socorro County Detention Center. As of Mountain Mail press time on Tuesday, Clark was still incarcerated.

SEC Trustee Introduces Voting by Mail

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez
Mountain Mail Editor

If one trustee has his way, the Socorro Electric Cooperative will someday use mail-in ballots to elect new board members.
The idea was brought forth by trustee Charlie Wagner at the Board of Trustees’ regular public meeting on Monday, Nov. 22.
In his proposal, Wagner presented materials used by other electric cooperatives from across the country, including samples of mail-in ballots produced by two separate companies – Survey and Ballot Sytems (SBS), based out of Eden Prairie, Minn., and Automated Election Services, based out of Rio Rancho.
Wagner claimed that it isn’t always feasible for cooperatives member owners who live in rural areas to travel to larger population centers to vote.
Currently one-third of electric cooperatives across the country have implemented a voting by mail system, according to Wagner.
Although a majority of the board members agreed with Wagner’s argument that it isn’t always possible for cooperative  member owners to travel to larger population centers to vote, some had problems with the wording of the term “voting by mail’.
“Mail is a vague term,” said Trustee Donald Wolberg. “What does that mean? Email? The U.S. Postal Service? FedEx?”
Other board members said that they are concerned about possible voting fraud, and the monetary cost of conducting voting by mail.
Wagner agreed with Wolberg that the term “voting by mail” should be better defined, saying that there are ways to avoid such problems. He failed, however, to provide an answer to the question of voter fraud and the monetary costs of voting by mail addressed by his fellow board members.
Even if Wagner’s idea does come to fruition, there would be  major hurdles still left to be dealt with.  
A current New Mexico state law outlaws cooperatives from holding elections through mail.
Rep. Don L. Tripp (R-Socorro), who presented to the board at the Monday regular meeting, might have a solution. He said that he would introduce a bill to the House during the 2011 legislative session that would change state law so that voting would be allowed through mail.
In other Socorro Electric Cooperative news, member owner Richard Esptein presented a case for the removal of cooperative president Paul Bustamante. Esptein claimed to have the required signatures – ten percent of the cooperative’s member owners – to have Bustamante removed from his seat representing District 2.
Cooperative Attorney Dennis Francish argued that the signatures would need to be verified and that even in the event of Bustamante’s removal from the board, the seat would remain vacant until the next election and member owners in District 2 would not have board representation. 

OBITUARY: Robert S. Merkel

Robert S. Merkel, 80, passed away Thursday, November 18, 2010 in Socorro, NM.
Robert was born on September 1, 1930 to James and Sylvia (Hodgson) Merkel in New York City, NY.
He is survived by his adoring wife Deborah J. (Dahl) Safford of Socorro, NM; also surviving are his devoted children, David Kopaska-Merkel and wife Sheila of Tuscaloosa, AL; Valerie Bodell and husband Hugh of Johnson City, TN; Jennifer Alaine and husband Thomas Sedano of Denton, TX; and step-daughters, Pamela Safford and husband Daniel Covell of Concord, MA; Suzanne Safford and husband William Charamut of Heidelberg, Germany; grandchildren, Morgan Kopaska-Merkel of Turku, Finland, Lillian Kopaska-Merkel of Tuscaloosa, AL, and Perrin Alaine-Sedano of Denton, TX; and his brother-in-law, Martin Ganzglass and wife Evelyn of Washington DC.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents.
He was a resident of Socorro for the past six years, coming from Miami, FL.
He was an active volunteer and member of the Friends of the Bosque Del Apache, Amigos de la Sevilleta, Save Our Bosque Task Force, Native Plant Society (Albuquerque Chapter), Albuquerque Gem & Mineral Society, and the Socorro Branch of Unitarian Universalist Church.
Robert was very active in organizing and leading nature hikes involving native plants and local geology.
Memorial Service was held on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at the Socorro Branch of Unitarian Universalist Church located in the Epiphany Episcopal Church, 908 Leroy Pl. Socorro, NM 87801.
In Lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be sent to the Friends of the Bosque Del Apache Nat’l Wildlife Refuge, 1001 Hwy 1, San Antonio, NM 87832 or Amigos de la Sevilleta, P.O. Box 1248 Socorro, NM 87801. Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services 309 Garfield, Socorro,  87801
(575) 835-1530.

OBITUARY: Michael L. Gonzales

Michael L. Gonzales, 45, passed away Friday, November 19, 2010 in Albuquerque, NM.
Michael was born on December 23, 1964 in Socorro, NM to Juan Gonzales and Antonia (Castillo) Nordquist. =
He is survived by his loving father, Juan Gonzales of Socorro; his loving mother, Antonia Nordquist and husband, Van of Las Cruces, NM; his devoted brother, Johnny Gonzales and wife, Mary Jane of San Diego, Ca; his devoted sister, Jennifer Gonzales also of San Diego, Ca.; and numerous uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Michael was a lifelong resident of Socorro.
Visitation was held at San Miguel Catholic Church on Sunday, November 21, 2010 from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm. A Rosary was recited on Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 7:00 pm at San Miguel Catholic Church and a Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on Monday, November 22, 2010 also at San Miguel Catholic Church with Father Andy Pavlak as Celebrant. Burial took place in the San Miguel Catholic Cemetery.
In Lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, 87801 (575) 835-1530.

OBITUARY: Samuel M. Rincon

Samuel M. Rincon, 46, passed away Wednesday, November 17, 2010 in Socorro, NM. Samuel was born on June 29, 1964 to Ray and Theresa (Martinez) Rincon in Socorro, NM. He is survived by his wife Hurlena (Crocker) Rincon of Socorro; also surviving are his devoted children, Gavino R. Rincon, of White River, AZ; Samralena I. Torres and husband Ernesto, of Magdalena, NM; Savannah L. Rincon, of Socorro; Reylena L. Rincon, of Socorro; grandchildren, Helenesa A. Apachito, Nehemiah V. Rincon, Obadiah T. Torres, Delvino S. Rincon, and Nevaeh E. Rincon; his sister, Annie Rincon of Socorro; and his niece Christy Hinton, of Socorro, NM.
He was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents, one uncle and one aunt.
Samuel was a lifelong resident of Socorro and a member of the Socorro Revival Center Church.
A Wake was held Monday, Nov. 22, 2010 and a Funeral Service will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. with Pastor Annie Rincon Celebrant at the Socorro Revival Center Church in Socorro, NM.  Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services 309 Garfield, Socorro, 87801 (575) 835-1530

OPINION: Turkey Daze

Just Thinking Out Loud
By Gary Jaramillo

I don’t look forward to Thanksgiving as much as I did before.
I didn’t use to hurt after eating. When I was younger, my brothers and I would go outside right after eating, and gather a bunch of neighborhood friends and start a street football game before the Dallas Cowboy and Detroit Lions game and really work up a sweat – and then go eat again during the game. But it didn’t hurt!
It hurts now, man!
I don’t eat more than I did then. It’s not like I gorge myself like I did when I was a kid. Pile of Turkey, pile of ham, pile of mashed potatoes and gravy, pile of yams, pile of dressing, pile of cranberries, piles and piles and piles and I could always go outside and play when I was done. Now after I eat maybe a third of what I used to, it’s like there’s a big football game going on in my gut. What happened? My daughter says I just have to face the fact that I’m old now. That hurts!
I wanna run again. I wanna scamper full out toward the mailbox and make a quick cut to the neighbor’s station wagon yelling, “I’m open – I’m open,” and catch the ball right before I slam my body into the wooden fence and yell, “TOUCHDOWN” – then run inside and watch the game.
I really do wanna do that now, right after I have a nap – or two.  My nephew pushes me and says, “Hey, Unk, the game’s on?” I roll over on the floor with a couch pillow tucked under my Gobbler chin and say, “Wake me up at half time.”
It’s that stuff in the Turkey. That drug! That’s what it is! That Tryptophan junk! That secret stuff that saps your strength and makes your muscles ache and your stomach gurgle and your eyelids heavy. That’s what it is! Trypthoh – ahhh, who am I kidding?  It’s just me…five-feet eight-inches, 220lbs and hovering between age 50 and reeeally old – it is not a good combination when you add a load of everything plus four sodas and three pounds of pumpkin pie. And each and every Thanksgiving I announce to everyone right before dinner is served, “I’m not doing what I did last year – whew!”  Everyone nods their head – uh huh – and the next thing I know I’m waking from a Turktatopie coma on the floor in front of the tube all by myself.
The only thing left in the living room is the six o’clock news blaring on the TV and the sounds coming from my pumpkinee cool whipped lips – trying to get up off the floor.  Oooh – uhhh – hmmph – arghh.
But this Thanksgiving – I really have to try harder. This Thanksgiving I have diabetes. I don’t have a choice anymore – really!  ‘PSYCH!’  Hey, kid – pass the croissants and sour cream – MAN, I LOVE THANKSGIVING!  ENJOY EVERYONE!   

OPINION: A Bathtub Full of Marbles

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

“First, fill your bathtub with marbles.” That’s how Frank Titus, the Grandfather of New Mexico Hydrology, invited us to think about the life-giving aquifer to our west.  This was at our last “Water” meeting of the year at the Magdalena Public Library. What an excellent way to get a grasp on the serious impact that the San Augustin Ranch’s “water grab” could have on all of us.
Make sure that the stopper is closed, then fill the tub with water. There you have a good model of the San Augustin Basin, the water table below the ground level and the ratio of water to soil; about 15 to 25 percent.
Now drain the tub, take the marbles out and give them back to your kids. Next, fill your tub with sand; yes, Magdalena “sand” will do. Add water and, Viola!, an even more perfect representation of the aquifer. Again, the water filling the spaces between the sand is about 15  to 25 percent of the volume of your tub.
To complete our model, leave the stopper slightly loose so that some water slowly leaks out of the tub.  This represents the water that leaks out of the San Augustin Basin, mostly into Alamosa Creek and perhaps the Gila River. Turn the spigot on so that the water table remains constant. The recharge of rainwater and snow melt is represented by the water trickling out of your spigot.
In “real” life, in the big basin to our west, this volume of water has been calculated to be about 100 thousand acre/feet of water per year. This is rain and snow melt that hasn’t been evaporated or used by the sparse vegetation out on the Plains. This is almost exactly equal to the flow out of the basin and the water used by the ranchers and villages. This is shown to be true because of the almost static water table, at an elevation of 6800 feet, 40 to 60 feet below ground level near Horse Springs and about 400 feet below ground level near Datil. Some of the wells have been monitored for the past 30 years and have maintained a constant water level.  Nature and human-kind in perfect balance.
Now picture, if you will, Bruno’s 37 wells pumping like crazy and sending 54 thousand acre/feet of water per year “over the hill” and into the Rio Grande. This represents more than half of the recharge rate for the entire San Augustin Plains. What do you think will happen to the water table? What do you think will happen to our wells and water supply? You are correct! Can the situation be made any clearer? I think not!
That is why the New Mexico Environmental Law Center Attorney Bruce Frederick’s motion to dismiss this application is so important to us. It would, in effect, put the entire hearing on hold while the legality of the application was considered. It could save us years of time and legal expenses: the cost of getting the bathtub, the marbles and the water to the hearing floor and the years of being cross examined by John Draper’s team of Geologostitutes and Hydroligistitutes who will be representing Bruno’s plans so well.
As it stands right now, the entire matter could have been resolved by the State Engineer, an appointee by the Governor, by a simple thumbs up or down on the application, were it not for the protestants who have thrown a fairly large wrench into Bruno’s plans. The 20 legal teams and the 129 individuals must stick together and pool their resources if we are to win this case. It was funny and strangely sad to watch 20 lawyers tripping over one another at the preliminary hearing a couple of weeks ago. This has got to be a nightmare for the Litigation Unit. It was also a nightmare for us when John Draper was asked who he was representing: “I’m not going to disclose that information at this time.”
What can the rest of us do? Learn all you can about the impact this will have on our community and our future generations in New Mexico. Write your representatives. Fundraise. I can see “Cast Your Bread Upon Our Waters” bake sales in our future. Discuss the issue with your friends and neighbors. I still find community members who have no idea that this threat is hanging over our heads.
Here are some things to keep your eye on: When Susana Martinez takes over the Governor’s office in January, will she appoint a new State Engineer? Will the new State Engineer be more or less amenable to Bruno’s plans? Will the term “beneficial use” be expanded to include Bruno’s deep pockets and the fear that New Mexico has of not meeting its Water Compact agreement with Texas?
Warning! This column is protected by the new Norton Anti-Editing software package.

If you have any comments, problems, solutions, upcoming events or a plumber who can clear my bathtub drain of sand and marbles, contact me, Don Wiltshire, at

Socorro Falls at Albuquerque Academy

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez
Mountain Mail Editor

ALBUQUERQUE – Socorro defensive coordinator Chuck Zimmerly had warned his players that something like this might happen.
“They’ll run it, and run it, and run it, and then, just when you think they’ll pass it, they’ll run it again.”
And that was pretty much what Albuquerque Academy did on Saturday afternoon.
It started with a quarterback keeper. Then a sweep to the left. And then a run up the middle. Followed by another quarterback keeper.
You get the idea.
When it was all said and done, the Chargers reached the end zone nine times en route to a 63-21 home triumph over Socorro in a Class 3A state playoff quarterfinal football game at Richard Harper Memorial Field.
Despite the 42-point margin of victory, one player stood out: Brandon Branch. The Academy quarterback baffled the Socorro defense for three quarters (he was given a rest in the final period), rushing for 323 yards on 14 carries and five touchdowns.
“He’s one of the best players in New Mexico, probably one of the best athletes in the state,” said Zimmerly, regarding Branch. “He was the difference in the game. There was just too much of him.”
The win keeps the third-seeded Chargers’ season perfect at 10-0, the only undefeated team in Class 3A, and will host Raton in the semifinals. The Warriors, seeded sixth, finish their season at 7-5, two games short of a return trip the state championship.
“We weren’t going to win this game without containing their offense from the beginning,” Academy coach Kevin said. “Fortunately that’s what we did, because they really could have hurt us.”
The game started OK for Socorro. Following an opening scoring drive by Academy, the Warriors did likewise on their first possession, a 78-yard drive that was capped by a 43-yard touchdown run by James Thornton, breaking four tackle tries along the way, with 5:24 remaining in the first quarter.
But the Chargers came right back and scored on their next possession, thanks to a 36-yard run by Branch, who broke off five tackle attempts by the Socorro defense, to make it 14-7.
It looked promising for Socorro on its next possession. The Warriors brought the ball to the Academy 20-yard line. However, after a couple of rushing attempts for no gain and an incomplete pass, Ray Vaiza missed a 32-yard field goal attempt that was just wide right.
Academy took advantage on its next possession, driving the ball 80 yards, capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Nash Phillips, to make it 21-7.
The Chargers would then score on each of their next two possessions – a 42-yard by Branch, followed by a 47-yard touchdown pass from Louie Volk to Phillips on a punt fake – to take a 35-7 lead into halftime.
Still, there had been reason for optimism on the visitors’ side.
Socorro had come from behind before this season, such was the case when they beat Albuquerque Hope Christian, 33-22, in the first-round of the playoffs on Nov. 12.
But there would be no second-half magic this Saturday.
“They pulled us out of game plan early,” Socorro coach Damien Ocampo said. “We came here focused, relaxed, ready to play.” Then, after a pause, he added in a somber tone, “We missed a lot of tackles.”
The loss might not be as costly for Warriors. Ocampo said that he liked what he saw from the players who would be stepping into leadership roles next season and the level of maturity that the outgoing seniors played with this season.
“In spite of what took place today, I’m proud of all of you,” the sixth-year coach told his players directly after the game. “You guys have nothing to be ashamed of.”
After Academy scored on its first possession of the second half, Thornton returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards to the Chargers’ 14-yard line. On the only play of the drive, quarterback Zachary Esquivel kept the ball and ran it in for a touchdown with 8:04 seconds in the third quarter, to make it 42-14.
Thornton, a senior, finished with 58 yards rushing on 12 carries and two ouchdowns. Esquivel, also a senior, completed 14 of 27 passes for 132 yards, and ran the ball 15 times for a team-high 92 yards.
The Warriors’ final touchdown came with 7:53 remaining in the fourth quarter, driving the ball 65 yards on nine plays, capped by an Esquivel four-yard keeper, which made it 56-21.
Jared Marquez, a senior, had nine catches for a game-high 91 yards receiving for Socorro.
“We had some good schemes,” Ocampo said of his team’s game plan coming into Saturday‘s contest. “It’s a tough loss, but, you know, it is what it is. We’ll try again next year.”

Picture: Socorro tailback James Thornton is stopped after a short yardage gain.

Photo by Patrick Jason Rodriguez

‘Steerleaders’ Hosts Cheer Tourney

By John Larson

MAGDALENA – The Magdalena High School cheerleading team – the Steerleaders, as they are dubbed – placed third in the school’s first cheerleading tournament on Saturday, Nov. 20, in the school’s main gymnasium.
Belen High took top honors, followed by Tularosa, which is in Otero County, in second place. Floyd, which is in Roosevelt County, placed fourth.
Magdalena is coached by Jennifer Armstrong.
Magdalena assistant coach Chris Smith said Saturday that it was the Steers’ first time competing against a Class 4A school (Belen).
“Since cheering was accepted as a sport in the competitive spirit category by the New Mexico Activities Assn. in March, this is the first time for our high school hosting a competition,” said Smith.
The team regularly practices for two-and-a-half hours, four days a week. Team members are responsible for buying their own uniform, which costs about $350 each.
“We add weekend practices when we get close to a competition,” she said. “There are elements that must be included for the regional tournaments and for the state tournament.”
The state competition will be at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho on March 24 and 25.
Smith said routines for competition are the result of a three-way effort.
“One is choreography, one is music, and the rest is filled in by the team,” she said.
Magdalena High School principal Regina Lane said she hopes the cheerleading program at her school will continue to grow.
“I’ve always thought of it as a sport,” Lane said, regarding cheerleading. “It’s our hope to host these tournaments annually. It’s one more avenue for students to show school spirit.”

Tech’s Undefeated Squad

By Dave Wheelock
For The Mountain Mail

At 20 years of age, New Mexico Tech junior environmental engineering student Megan Rosebrough has a longer perspective on the Minerettes Soccer Club’s unbeaten autumn season than just about anyone, including the coaches.
Rosebrough started playing for Tech in the fall of 2008 but missed most of that season to keep her grades up, a familiar story among the school’s student athletes regardless of sport. She’s been back on the beam since the spring season of 2009, and recalls the shortage of players the Minerettes went through.
“Irish-born (NMT Library director) Owen Ellard was the coach then, but we only had about seven players here at Tech and only saw the rest of the team on game days.”
That’s because the team travels to Albuquerque or Bernalillo for Sunday matches in the Albuquerque Women’s Soccer League.
In those not-so-distant days the Minerettes had to rely on non-student auxiliary members to form a full match side. But this fall Tech’s ladies wrote a very different story: the Minerettes scored their best season ever with seven wins, no losses, and two draws.
The team struggled during Megan’s early seasons, but increasingly more Tech coeds gravitated to the team, swelling the ranks to 19 on-campus members. Former Socorro High soccer great Brad Winton came on as head coach of both the women’s and men’s programs, and faculty member Navid Mojtabai added women’s coaching duties to his busy schedule. Attendance at evening practices swelled, allowing more coordination within the team.
The team now consists of players with experience ranging from fresh beginners to former high school varsity and a few club team players.
“When Brad couldn’t be at practice or games” (due to duties with the men’s Miners team) “Navid was there. The variety in their coaching styles appealed to the girls,” says team president Carla Dozal, Sportswoman of the Year at Tech last season, and on track to receive her degree in mechanical engineering in December.
Dozal sported an unscored-upon record as goalie through five matches, until a deep muscle bruise sidelined her. “Jacqui Wise stepped in as goalkeeper and played outstandingly for the remainder of the season,” says Winton.
And she wasn’t the only one. The Minerettes outscored their opponents by the combined score of 37 goals and allowed only three. Following the team’s last match, a 1-1 draw on Nov. 14, the coach supplied a general rundown of some key players’ contributions:
“Natalie Kane and Stephanie Nance played fantastic in the defense for us. Megan Rosebrough was a player that we could always count on to get the team going and control the midfield. Amy Reed not only led our team in goals with 15 but led the entire AWSL. Naomi Sasso (eight goals) and Claire Honeyfield (five goals) were also a big part of our attack.”
Coach Mojtabai stressed the important contributions made by players new to the team, including Natasha Stopa, Isabella Ortiz, Katrina Sweetl, Mercedes Donio, Andrea McHugh, and Beth Hanines.
Winton praises the team’s balance.
“The ladies are a solid team from top to bottom,” he says. “Most games our potent attack overwhelmed the defense but when it came crunch time our defense always came up big. Allowing only three goals during an entire season is unheard of.”
Local soccer buffs relished two rare opportunities to see the Minerettes in action at home this fall, a victory over United World College on Sept. 18 and the first AWSL-sanctioned match ever played in Socorro on Oct. 24.
George Avila, father of incoming freshman player Jessica Avila, was instrumental in arranging the special scheduling concession from the Albuquerque league.
Other sport clubs at New Mexico Tech will be interested to know how the Minerettes do it. According to Coach Winton, “The difference between this team and any other team I have coached is their willingness to learn and try new styles. We had an extremely versatile team this year. We could switch formations mid game and the ladies wouldn’t skip a beat.”
Adds Rosebrough: “The rookies worked hard in practice and that meant we really didn’t have any weak positions.”
Yet Carla Dozal’s summation of her last season as a Minerette might offer the most valuable clue for book-weary Techies. The fall season, road trips and all, “was really fun,” she says.
Following a well-deserved hiatus, the Minerettes will be at it again next spring. Team training will begin in February and the season begins in March.
If the Minerettes keep up their pace in the spring they just might find themselves with a proud new challenge for the fall of 2011: promotion to the AWSL premier division.
The Minerette website, featuring high-quality match photography by Teresa and George Avila, can be accessed at

District Wide Declamation Winners - Humorous Prose Category

Winners in the district declamation contest in the humorous prose category were (from left): Brandon Dennis, 2nd place, San Antonio; Autumn Bjorklund, 1st place, Parkview; and Weston Tomlinson, 3rd place, Parkview.

Photo by John Larson

Squash, The Hard Case Vegetable For Cooking

by Nancy Newberry

Squash fits into the busy holiday season. Here we offer recipes to make your holiday cooking easier. The first is for a Winter Squash Soup Base that you can freeze and then prepare three ways.
Winter Squash Soup Base
This recipe multiplies easily and freezes well.
1 (3 pound) winter squash (butternut, kabocha, or blue pumpkin, or any orange-fleshed squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, or as needed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Split the squash and scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp. Place squash cut side down in a baking dish. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the baking dish.
Bake in the preheated oven until a knife inserted in the squash meets no resistance, about 1 hour. Let the squash cool until you can handle it, and scoop out the pulp. You should have about 2 ½ cups pulp.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook and stir until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, and cook and stir just until fragrant, about one minute. Pour in the broth, and add the squash pulp. The soup base will be fairly cool at this point.
Using a blender, food processor, or an immersion blender, blend to a smooth consistency, adding stock if needed. Season with salt and pepper. The soup base can be frozen at this point, or  you can continue with the option below.
Savory Squash Soup
The combination of earthy sage and winter squash and a fried sage leaf garnish is from Deborah Madison, described in her book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
Yield: 6 servings
7 cups soup base
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
12-18 whole fresh sage leaves
Heat the soup base and chopped sage in a saucepan to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil until hot, about 3 minutes. Add the sage leaves a few at a time, and fry until crisp, about 1 minute. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve each bowl of soup garnished with 2-3 sage leaves.

Can Sylvia Find A Reality Show That Really Fits?

by Anne Sullivan

“It’s snowing,” Sylvia observed with a grimace as she came into the house for breakfast.
“So it is,” I said without a trace of joy and wonder.
“It’s cold, too,” Sylvia said as she waddled over to her bowl of Iams.
“It is indeed,” I agreed, listening to the furnace churning away happily as it consumed a gargantuan Thanksgiving dinner of propane.
“What happened to summer?” Sylvia asked between crunches of kibble.
“It left, but after such a lovely fall we really can’t complain.”
“I can,” she said.
“What are your plans for your book?” I asked her to forestall any further griping while I started washing three days’ accumulation of dishes.
“A final rewrite,” she answered licking her bowl. “And then I’ll send it out to publishers. Max says it’s ready.”
“I’m delighted to hear that. Now, maybe I can meet your mysterious friend, Max.”
“He’s more than a friend,” she said, having thoroughly finished her kibble. “He’s my mentor.”
“Whatever he is, I’d like to meet him. He always manages to come when I’m not around.”
“You should stay home more. Can I have a biscuit, please?”
“May I.”
Sylvia fixed me with a glassy glare. “May I…whatever…”
“Will you tell Max to stay until I get back from the Post Office today? Ask him if he’d like to have tea.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Why can’t you?”
“Max doesn’t eat or drink.”
“How economical. Well, then, just tell him I’d like to meet him.”
“Max doesn’t meet people.”
“He met you, didn’t he?”
“Yes. He came because he knew I needed help writing my book. He used to be an editor, you see.”
“Used to be? What is he now?”
“Dead? What do you mean dead?”
“Dead as a doornail. Dead. I knew you wouldn’t understand. He’s no longer of this world. He told me that the last time he was here but I had suspected he was different. He kept fading in and out. Sometimes I could see him and sometimes not. But it didn’t really matter. I don’t know how he happened to find me but I certainly needed help and he gave it to me.”
Although stunned and trying not to show it, I managed to say, “He certainly did help you. Did he ever tell you his whole name?”
“The last time I saw him – just the other day – I asked him and he said it used to be Perkins. Maxwell Perkins.”
“Of course, Maxwell Perkins, I should have known. He was a very famous editor. He worked for Scribner’s in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties.”
“He said goodbye to me the other day,” Sylvia said, nuzzling up to me. “He told me I needed to rewrite one more time and then send the book away to get published. Now I’m on my own.”
“So you are.” I reached out a wet hand to pet her. “And the best of good luck to you.”
“Thank you. Do you think I’d have some luck getting a biscuit from you?”
“Certainly,” I said, handing her a large Mighty Bone.

Quemado News: Toys for Tots, Giving Tree, Food Fair, and Pool Tournament

By Debbie Leschner
For the Mountain Mail

Toys for Tots Christmas Drive is being sponsored by the Western New Mexico Veterans Group of Quemado, and the group is led by Tony and Joan Shannon of Pie Town. This is the fourth consecutive year for the toy and food drive. Last year, more than 50 local families were helped by the drive.
This is a way for the community to help provide the children and families in our immediate area with the items they need for the holiday season. Donations of food for food baskets, unwrapped toys and warm clothing such as coats, scarfs, mittens and other items will be accepted.
A decorated Giving Tree will be located in the Country Store. The tree has tags hanging on it which will provide you with information to help select an item, like the age range of a child. In Quemado, donations may be dropped off at the County Store, Quemado Lake Fire Dept. or the Veteran's Hall located at the corner of Baca and Church Streets during the rummage sale days. For Pie Town donations, please call the Shannons at 575-772-2528.
Quemado Food Pantry will be on Friday, Dec. 3, at the Community Center, sponsored by the Datil Community Presbyterian Church. Two programs run simultaneously: the federally funded Commodities and a Food Fair. There are no eligibility requirements for the Food Fair, and you will receive about 50 pounds of food per household. You must arrive and sign up before 3:30 p.m.. You will then be called in order, so prepare to wait – but it is well worth it. Bring you own containers. Ice chests are recommended for frozen and refrigerated foods. There will be a food distribution the first Friday of every month at 3:30 p.m in Quemado, and in Datil at 11 a.m., Horse Mountain at 12:30 p.m., and Pie Town at 2 p.m.. You may attend any of these locations, but only one location per month. For more information, call Anne Schwebke at 575-772-5602. For local contact, call 773-4627 and leave a message. Someone will get back to you as soon as they can.
Quemado Senior Center Pool tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 30, and Quilting and Bingo on Thursday, Dec. 2. There will be a van going to Gallup on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Please call ahead and let Diana know if you would like to go. Lunch for Monday – French dip; Tuesday – pot roast. Menu for the remainder of the week was not available at printing time. All seniors are welcome. Please call the center at 773-4820 before 9 a.m. to make your lunch reservations.
Quemado Schools: The elementary grades cookie and gift exchange will be on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Basketball games for the week: Boys Varsity team will be at the Cliff Tournament from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4, The Girls Varsity and Junior Varsity teams will play an away game against Ramah on Thursday, Dec. 2, and another away game on Friday, Dec 3., at Pinehill at 4 p.m.

District Wide Declamation Winners - Serious Category

Winners in the district wide declamation competition Thursday held at Sarracino. Back row, prose category (from left): Tristan Marson, 3rd place, CVCS; Andrew Sauls, 2nd place, San Antonio; and Rose Carilli, 2nd place, Parkview.
Front row, poetry category (from left): Rebecca Barber, 3rd place, CVCS; Jack Lee, 1st place, CVCS; and Miceta Gallegos, 2nd place, San Antonio.

Photo by John Larson

Folk Musician to Perform Locally

By John Larson

Local folk singer Mac Johnson will be appearing at Bear Mountain Coffee House and Gallery in Magdalena between 6 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, in a performance to benefit The Grizz Project.
Johnson, who plays both a six-string and 12-string guitar, said he became interested in music at about the age of five.
Of course, music is in his genes. His grandfather and great-grandfather played at the Grand Ole Opry.
His great grandfather was Mazy Todd. Todd played fiddle with Uncle Dave Macon, and was a fiddler on many other records. Mazy Todd recorded 28 tracks in 1927 with Uncle Dave Macon and Sam and Kirk McGee.
“I would sit on the floor and listen to my grandfather play,” said Johnson.
That was all the inspiration he needed. It wouldn’t be long after that before he was performing in public.
“My first time singing in front of people was for the Cub Scouts when I was seven,” said Johnson. “It was a song about space travel to the tune of ‘I’ve Been Working On The Railroad.’”
Five years later Johnson acquired his first guitar for $20 in Houston, Miss.
Through the ensuing years, Johnson improved his skills at the guitar and began performing songs made popular by his favorite folk singers.
“I learned a lot of John Denver songs,” said Johnson. “Jimmie Rodgers, Don Williams – I like cowboy songs, even some Ann Murray and Peter, Paul and Mary. But I would have to say my greatest influence has been John Denver.”
He hasn’t kept a heavy schedule over the years, “mostly just playing for tips and friends,” he said, but he did perform at the National Sweet Potato Festival in Jackson, Miss., a few years ago.
Johnson also sang at the Socorro County Farm Bureau meeting last month.
Johnson prefers to perform acoustic sets as a single, as opposed to having a band.
“I prefer performing solo,” said Johnson. “It gives you an opportunity to express yourself honestly. I like the intimacy with the crowd. Folk music, in general, works best that way. I get a special feeling relating with audiences in small venues like Bear Mountain.”
Besides his upcoming performance in Magdalena, Johnson recently recorded four songs for a demo CD.
Johnson recently concluded a session at George Murrillo’s studio in Hop Canyon. There are two covers and two songs on it that he wrote, “Mississippi Highway” and “The Stick Horse,” which he says are the ones everybody seems to enjoy.
“George is amazing,” said Johnson. “He not only produced the tracks, he did backup on the keyboard. Hopefully we can get together to do a whole CD’s worth next year.”
The demo CD will be for sale at the Dec. 4 show.
“I want to do more of a holiday show this time,” said Johnson. “Some familiar songs and some things they haven’t heard in a long time.”
The Grizz Project is non-profit organization based in Magdalena dedicated to helping people find solutions to problems of unwanted, abused or neglected animals through a spay/neuter program.
Tickets for the dinner and concert are $10, while tickets for concert are $3. Advance tickets for dinner and show are available at Bear Mountain Coffee House, located on Highway 60 in Magdalena, and at the Mountain Mail, 413 California St. in Socorro.

New Mexican Traditional Western Music Coming to Macey Center

Mountain Mail Reports

New Mexico Arts Folk Arts Program will present Masters of New Mexican Traditional Western Music at Macey Center at New Mexico Tech on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m.
The event will feature three of New Mexico’s finest purveyors of the genre – Sid Hausman, The Sabinal Sisters, and the Buckarettes.
Tesuque-based tune wrangler Hausman is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist whose music evokes the iconic past of the American west. His songs bridge the past and present with compelling lyrical vignettes sung from the heart by a man who has lived the hard life on the range and who has learned to convey the beauty and pathos that is the life of the modern cowboy. Hausman has recorded many albums over his long career and is a featured performer at many cowboy gatherings and western music festivals.
The Sabinal Sisters, made up of Beth Crowder and Joyce Yoxall, reside in their namesake town in northern Socorro County. Crowder is well-known for selling her Sparrow Haw Farm honey, candles and produce at Farmer’s Market, as well as teaching music at Cottonwood Valley Charter School. Yoxall is an occupational therapist at Bodywise. They perform a variety of music but plan to entertain with songs from their vast repertoire of western and cowboy music for this concert. Their unique interpretations offer fresh perspectives on old favorites.
The Buckarettes are three New Mexico rodeo queens who have team-roped up and are currently barrel racing across the west, winning all kinds of buckles and the hearts of all who have been encircled by their musical lariats. The Buckies, consisting of Debra Jean Parker, Katie Gill and Susan Clark, bring their own crowd-pleasing brand of flawless western harmonies, humor, and mayhem with them wherever they go. Their 2009 CD “Cowgirl Serenade” went No. 1 on Western Music and Swing Magazine’s chart and it also won Best Country CD at the New Mexico Mic Awards. 
Tickets to the concert are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65 and older, and $5 for children 17 and under, with a $2 discount if purchased by 5 p.m. the day before the concert. Tickets are available at the door, locally in Socorro at the Tech cashier’s office in the Fidel Center, Brownbilt Western Wear, or Burrito Tyme.
Out of town, please call 575-835-5688 or email

Picture: The Sabinal Sisters
Courtesy photo


Sheriff’s Deputy Involved in High Speed Pursuit

By John Larson

SOCORRO – A Las Cruces man was arrested following a pursuit by Socorro Sheriff’s Deputy Casey Spurgin on back roads in the San Acacia and Escondida area early morning on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Jimmie Daniel Perez, 29, of Las Cruces, was arraigned Monday in magistrate court on five felony counts and four misdemeanors, including child abuse, aggravated assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon, aggravated fleeing, resisting arrest, and DWI.
Perez was also charged with aggravated battery on a peace officer with a deadly weapon, after attempting to injure Spurgin with an automobile, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, Spurgin received a radio call at 12:30 a.m. from Deputy Zack Holcomb requesting assistance for a possible DWI.
Holcomb informed Spurgin that he stopped Perez for speeding on Interstate 25, and noticed an odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from the car, and that there was a minor unbuckled in the backseat. Spurgin radioed Holcomb that he was 30 miles west on Highway 380 and that he should contact Socorro Police for backup.After turning his driver’s license and registration over to Holcomb, Perez “floored it,” heading north on Interstate 25, said Spurgin. Due to the presence of a minor, later confirmed to be a six-year-old boy, in the car Holcomb was advised to break off the pursuit, which reached speeds of about 90 miles per hour.
Spurgin then began a search, and shortly afterward located the Nissan Altima which Perez had been driving on the San Acacia exit overpass.
    “While I was following the vehicle, I noticed that (it) was unable to maintain lane and was also braking frequently and needlessly,” Spurgin said.  “At this time the vehicle came to a complete stop at a three way intersection…and turned off all its lights.”
The officer activated his emergency lights and then pulled up beside the Perez car “so that the nose of my unit was angled towards the driver’s side door.”
Spurgin then ran to the front of Perez’s car with his weapon at the “low ready,” and ordered Perez to show both his hands out the window, the complaint said.
“He complied but then pulled both hands in and put the vehicle in gear,” Spurgin said. “I heard the motor rev and the back wheels start to spin, and noticed that the vehicle was coming straight at me.”
Spurgin said he stepped back just time to avoid being run over, however he sustained a gash in the middle of his right shin.
Spurgin was able to catch up with the fleeing Perez, pursuing the Nissan at speeds of about 45 miles per hour on ditch bank roads north of Escondida.
“I closed the distance between myself and the vehicle, and at a hard right turn was able to pin the vehicle with my unit against a guardrail,” Spurgin said.
Perez continued to spin his tires until his vehicle broke loose, Spurgin said.
He then radioed Socorro police to set up a roadblock in the Escondida Lake area.
“While traveling southbound, I realized that at the speed he was traveling he would not make an upcoming hairpin turn,” said Spurgin. “I then slowed down and turned off my emergency lights giving the vehicle distance, hoping the driver would slow down and make the turn.”
As he came up to the turn, Spurgin said he noticed skid marks and knew Perez had not made the turn and had rolled into the large ditch. After contacting dispatch of the accident and calling for an ambulance, Spurgin said he ran to the upturned car in the ditch and heard the child and the driver screaming for help.
Spurgin then jumped onto the car and was able to break the passenger’s side window.
“I pulled the boy from the backseat through the passenger’s side window, and then carried the wet and severely shaking child up the embankment and placed him in the back seat of my patrol car,” Spurgin said. “And turned up the heater.”
Returning to the vehicle, he asked the driver if he was OK, “and he said yes,” he said.
Spurgin said the driver refused to exit from the vehicle after multiple requests, and attempted to conceal himself.
When an ambulance arrived, Spurgin returned to his patrol unit and told the EMS personnel that Perez was still in the car. Socorro police officer Luis Chavez and Holcomb checked the upturned vehicle and reported that they could see no one in the car.
“I then entered the ditch water and noticed two footprints on a sandbar heading north,” Spurgin said. About 60 feet away he noticed two feet on an embankment behind a bush and ordered Perez to come out of the shrubbery.
“He did not comply after being ordered two more times.”
“When I moved towards the individual, he came at me with his hands clinched into fists,” Spurgin said. “I deployed my pepper spray with a one to two second burst and he stopped, but when I attempted to grab him by the arm he came at me again.”
With assistance from Chavez, Holcomb restrained and handcuffed Perez. Afterward they went to check on the minor.
“The boy was wet and shaking but was very talkative,” Spurgin said. “When I asked him if there were any weapons in the car, he said, ‘not this time’.”
Perez was transported to Socorro General Hospital for medical clearance, and then later booked into Socorro County Detention Center.

Photos by John Larson

Arrest Warrant Issued in Title Company Fraud Case

By John Larson

SOCORRO – An arrest warrant was issued on Monday, Nov. 8, for Joseph A. Vallejos, the owner and operator of J.M. Abstract and Title Company.
According to the criminal complaint, Vallejos, 49, has been charged with defrauding two of his clients out of $159,501.
The criminal complaint states that Vallejos defrauded Ed Berger of Berger 6, LLC in the amount of $108,249, and defrauded Sarah and Brad Hammack in the amount of $51,252.
The Socorro County District Attorney’s office issued the warrant on Nov. 8.
The complaint states that Berger handed over a check to Vallejos in the amount of $108,249.27 on Sept. 2. He was informed by Vallejos that the first mortgage of $104,000 had been paid off. Berger later learned that Vallejos had not sent the check to the mortgage company until October, incurring a penalty charge that raised the fist mortgage payment to $105,000.
The complaint said that the when the mortgage company processed the check it bounced. Since then, Berger has received three statements from the mortgage company, and is three payments behind.
The criminal complaint said that Sarah and Brad Hammack had sold their house on Faulkner Street to Radora L. Gray.
Sarah Hammack said J.M. Abstract had been the title company used and that the couple had received the money from the profit of the sale of the home, believing the payoff to the mortgage company was complete. The payoff was $51,252.12.
Sarah Hammack recently contacted the Bank of Albuquerque, which informed her that the payoff was not made and that she and her husband were currently two payments behind on the property.
Socorro police detective Richard Lopez, who is investigating the case, said he has several inquiries from other home sellers who also say they have been defrauded by Vallejos.
In the meantime, an investigation by the Public Regulation Commission’s Division of Insurance continues.
As reported in the Oct. 28 issue of the Mountain Mail, officials with the Division of Insurance officially notified Vallejos in August that he was operating in violation of the New Mexico Insurance Code. That apparently did little to deter Vallejos from continuing to violate the code.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lopez.
Authorities have been unable to locate Mr. Vallejos. There is evidence to suggest that right now he is in Mexico, said Lopez.

Fire Does Damage to Unoccupied House

By John Larson

MAGDALENA – An unoccupied frame house near the intersection of Highways 60 and 169 was destroyed by fire on Wednesday, Nov. 10.
Marshal Larry Cearley said the fire was contained but it was a total loss.
“The fire is under investigation by the fire marshal's office and was caused by a faulty propane furnace,” he said. “The home was not occupied and was for rent.”
The property is owned by Bill Terrel of Albuquerque, said Cearley.
Interim Fire Chief Donna Dawson said that she was alerted to the fire at about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday when a passerby spotted smoke coming from the dwelling.   
“I went over and checked and saw that there was a fire, so Chad Perkins, David Harris, and I took a tanker over,” she said. “When we pulled up we knew it had already reached the roof, so the first thing we did was vent the house and open the door, then we knocked down what fire we could inside.”
Dawson said the Hop Canyon Fire Department also responded to the scene.
“They arrived as we were trying to vent the roof,” she said. “We put a small hole in the roof so smoke and flames can go up instead of coming back down into the main part of the house.
“Altogether there were three engines – two from Hop Canyon and one from Magdalena – at the scene,” she added.
Responding to the scene from the HCFD were Bill Delguidice, Jim Bookland, Ned Fahey, Michael Mideke, and Glenn Bigelow.
Firefighters from Magdalena stayed on the scene until 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Dawson.

Photo courtesy of Marshal Larry Cearley

Socorroan Awarded Chartwell’s Employee of the Month

By Gary Jaramillo

Longtime Socorro resident Susan Robinson is living proof that hard work and treating people with dignity and respect does pay off in the end.
Robinson was recently awarded the Chartwell’s Employee of the Month Trophy.  Chartwell’s is the service company that provides food in the dining hall at New Mexico Tech, as well as catering on campus and in the Socorro area.
She received the honor, besting 7,000 other candidates in the west region of the company. She has worked for Chartwell’s for the past 10 years, including her current stint as the Kitchen Manager for the past two. She has been an employee for almost 30 years at New Mexico Tech in other capacities. 
Chartwell’s manager Curtis Ortiz said he’s been very impressed with Susan’s work ethic and overall ability to multitask and make the other Chartwell’s employees feel at ease in the work environment.
“She’s my right hand gal,” said Ortiz.
Another really important part of her job, according to Ortiz, is helping the executive chef make everything click in the kitchen and out in the serving area. Robinson has also stepped in and carried the chef duties for six months in the past while Chartwell’s was interviewing for a new chef, said Ortiz. Robinson stepped into that position. “There is nothing she can’t do,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz said that Susan has now mastered the financial aspects of Chartwell’s bottom line, adding another dimension of her value to the company. Ortiz also said that communication between him and Robinson has been the key to keeping operations running smoothly and their dedication to making the students meals the very best they can be. 
Robinson’s motto is “We don’t feed something to Tech Students that we wouldn’t feed to our own kids.” The Chartwell’s employees have a special relationship with the student body at Tech, and make every effort to make changes that are requested by students as soon as possible. That sort of quick turnaround might explain why New Mexico Tech’s Chartwell’s service is one of the top 10 companywide kitchens in the United States.
As outgoing and nice as Robinson is, she has made it very clear to her employees that she is the boss and is able to pull that off without a hitch. Her employees admire her strengths and enjoy having a supervisor that also really cares about them individually on a personal level.
Chef Karl McDermott, who has cooked for celebrities Jerry Seinfeld and Donald Trump, said that Susan is his right hand, as well. “She’s a go-getter – and in one word, she’s awesome,” he said. He said he really enjoys working with Susan, who, he added, makes the kitchen a pleasant environment to work in.

Photo by Gary Jaramillo

Veterans Day, 2010

 A Veteran’s Day ceremony on the Plaza drew a large crowd last Thursday, Nov. 11, at Isidro Baca Memorial Park. Speakers at the event included the local DAV Commander Paul Drake, who delivered the keynote address. A free lunch of brats and burgers was served at the DAV following the ceremony.

Photos by John Larson

OBITUARY: Ezequiel Acosta Sr.

Ezequiel Acosta Sr., 89, passed away on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010, in Socorro. Ezequiel was born April 10, 1921, in Chihuahua, Mexico, to Matilde and Manuela (Molina) Acosta.
He is survived by his devoted sons, Oscar Acosta and wife, Diana; Ezequiel Acosta Jr. and wife, Carmen; Victor Acosta and wife, Maria; Matilde Acosta and wife, Patsy; Jesus Acosta; and Cipriano Acosta and wife, Herlinda; his loving daughters, Blanca Acosta and husband, Martin Perez; Bertha Molina and husband, Leonel; Manuela Castro and husband, Juan; Dora Greenwood and husband, Kenneth; Hortencia Burrola; and Alicia Garcia and husband, Salvador; his brother, Angel Acosta; his sisters, Manuela Acosta, Celia Acosta, and Soledad Chavez; 45 grandchildren; 56 great grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild. Ezequiel was a lifelong resident of New Mexico. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Josefa Acosta (Dec. 2003); and one daughter, Josephina Portillo; three grandsons, Uriel Molina, Joel Garcia, and Alberto Burrola; and one great grandson, Cesar Acosta Jr.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, Nov. 18, from 2 to 5 p.m. at  Daniels Family Funeral Services Socorro Chapel. A Rosary will be recited on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. at San Miguel Catholic Church in Socorro. A Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated on Friday, Nov. 19, at 9 a.m. at San Miguel Catholic Church with Father Andy Pavlak as Celebrant. Burial will take place in the Old San Miguel Catholic Cemetery.
Those who wish to send condolences may do so Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM,  87801, (575) 835-1530.

Trapping Rules Now In Effect; Cibola National Forest Rangers Conduct Burns In Mountains

Mountain Mail reports

The State Game Commission has officially adopted rules that went into effect on Nov. 1, and continuing for a minimum of six months, making it illegal to place, set or maintain any steel trap, conibear trap, foothold trap or snare anywhere on public land within the Gila or Apache National Forests in New Mexico, unless otherwise allowed by statute.
The prohibition will remain in place until the state game commission takes action based upon a Department study to assess the risks to Mexican Gray wolves due to trapping and a determination if some methods of trapping could be allowed that pose minimal risk of injury to the Mexican gray wolf....
The Magdalena Ranger District of Cibola National Forest is conducting prescribed burns totaling 800 to 1,000 acres in the northwestern part of the San Mateo Mountains.  Ignition began Tuesday, Nov. 16, and could continue into December, depending on weather and fuel conditions.
Prescription parameters include having the appropriate weather forecast and the required personnel and equipment on hand, including identified contingency resources.  Fire management crews will patrol for as long as necessary after ignition to ensure public safety.
The dominant fuels in the area are Ponderosa pine, mixed conifer and piƱon/juniper with light to moderate grass cover.
During this prescribed burn you could experience delays when traveling the following roads: Forest Road 220, FR 476, FR 477, FR 549, FR 719, and Bolander Canyon Road, Durfee Canyon Road, and Bear Trap Canyon road.
For more information contact the Magdalena Ranger District at 854-228. 

EDITORIAL: Happy Education Week

By Patrick Rodriguez
Editor, Mountain Mail

We’re currently in the middle of American Education Week, which has been observed annually in the United States since 1921, celebrated the week prior to Thanksgiving.
This event is important to me because I once considered a career in education. And in a way I’m glad I didn’t, and you should be too. I wasn’t even aware that there was such a thing as American Education Week until about four days ago, so I probably wouldn’t have made a decent teacher – at least not a history teacher, anyway. Whatever, I blame my teachers for this of course. I’m kidding. Well, sort of.
I did feel pretty stoked, however, after reading some information on the subject, which I will share with you all here. Or if you’d rather read a more convoluted version, you may do so online at the NEA’s website.
This weeklong event began as the brainchild of both the National Education Assn. and the American Legion, due to a growing concern that 25 percent of the country’s World War I draftees were illiterate and that nine percent were physically unfit.
The first observance of American Education Week occurred the week of Dec. 4, 1921, with the NEA and the American Legion as co-sponsors. About a year later the then-U.S. Office of Education joined as a co-sponsor, and the Parent Teachers Assn., fittingly, followed suit in 1938.
In its resolution, the NEA called for “An educational week…observed in all communities annually for the purpose of informing the public of the accomplishments and needs of the public schools, and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs.”
I think that sounds pretty good, a very progressive in way of thinking.
Craig DeYoung, the principal at Soccoro High School, thinks so too. 
“It’s important that we set aside a week for honoring those we have chosen education as a career,” said DeYoung, who held the position of executive director at a charter in Silver City before taking his current post at Socorro two years ago. “There’s just been so much negative stuff said about public education in the media, by politicians….It’s been an uphill battle combating all that, with lots of challenges.”
Obviously, DeYoung takes it personally when something negative is mentioned while discussing public education in the United States. “I just like to remind people, especially those who were educated in public schools, that they’re a product of that system,” he said. 
Socorro High School did something different for this year’s American Education Week: they made an effort to reach out beyond students, including a parent’s day as part of the school’s list of events for the celebration.
“It’s important that we get more parents involved,” said DeYoung. “It really does start at home.”
And perhaps if my schools had done likewise...Well, I’m just saying.

OPINION: Cinnamon And Honey Make Life Sweeter

Magdalena Potluck
By Margaret Wiltshire

Sugar and Spice, So Nice
S is for all things sweet and I ‘m having an alliteration day.
At least indulging in multiple s’s is simply shameful but not fattening.
The holidays are here.   This is when the sweet tooth monster unfolds within us and begins to inflate like the biggest hot air balloon.   That huge empty craving for more and more of the sweet stuff sugar plum dreams are made of.  If Halloween candy didn’t get you, Thanksgiving pie will.
If the New Year reality doesn’t shock you to your senses, you may be the victim of the sweet tooth monster till the first hot days of spring and summer. Or you just may not recover.  Eventfully you’ll find, as I have, that’s not air inside the sweet tooth balloon, that’s fat.
Experts tell us that it is the white food that really makes the sugar soar in our bodies.  Things made with white flour and white sugar are the worst.  Lard is white.  White potatoes are not bad without the toppings that are.  People watching their blood sugar levels will tell you that white bread and white rice make blood sugar levels soar.
Sugar and spice is supposed to be nice!!  Well, at least two of them are.  Honey and cinnamon and what a lovely pair they make.
Honey and cinnamon on oatmeal can start you off in a healthy way.  One half teaspoon of cinnamon a day can help manage cholesterol just like oatmeal is known to do.
Cinnamon has been used as medicine in the far east for centuries and modern research worldwide supports its benefits in many areas. 
First let me say it has an anti-clotting effect on blood.  For some this may be good and for others not so good.
Herbs and spices are medicinal and your medical expert should be informed and consulted when you start taking larger then normal doses of any of them.  Also watch for allergic reactions to any foods you eat. 

I’m curious but in no way a medical professional or even a want-to-be.  I’m for waving a magic wand.  Pow!  We are all well and happy.  I just can’t get that to work for myself.  I do suggest you take care of yourself.  I do believe the foods and spices we use can help.
Cinnamon is amazing.  We are lucky here in NM because we can get it rather inexpensively.
Besides lowering the “bad” cholesterol it has a regulatory effect on blood sugar levels for type two diabetes.  It has detoxifying qualities.  It’s reported that strong cinnamon tea may aid to stop medication resistant yeast infections.  Cinnamon is known to help with bladder infections.  The US Department of Agriculture said that cinnamon can reduce proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cells.  Smelling cinnamon may boost cognitive function and memory.
Added to food, Cinnamon inhibits bacteria’s growth and food spoilage.  It fights E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.  So put some in your smoothies.
A study at the University of Copenhagen offered some wonderful hope for those who suffer arthritis pain.  Subjects were given ½ teaspoon of cinnamon mixed with a tablespoon of honey daily.  After several weeks the majority experienced less pain and after a month some had no pain from arthritis at all.
In my readings I also found these recipes.  One part honey, two parts comfortably warm water, one teaspoon honey mixed and rubbed on painful joints and muscles.  Sounds gooey but might help.  I have applied honey to hard to get out slivers and boils.  That is gooey.  The sliver and the boil do come to the surface.  The honey relieves some pain too.
For hair loss, yes, hair loss, there’s this recipe.  Massage scalp and hair with a paste of honey and warmed olive oil with dash of cinnamon.  Leave on hair for 15 minutes, shampoo lightly, rinse out.
How about honey and cinnamon for indigestion and acid build up?  Is there no end to the wonder of it all?
Google honey and cinnamon for the sugar and spice combo of your choice.  All this and you don’t need a drug insurance card.  Be careful though, my magic wand isn’t working.

A friend made this thoughtful suggestion.  Eat local honey to build up allergy resistance to local plant pollens.  Raw honey I think would be best.  However, for some people this might be too much contact with the pollens.  Good idea, explore carefully.
Reading is sugar and spice for the mind.  Read to the young every day, or make sure that someone does.  Engage the child in positive conversation about the story.  Suggest drawings about the stories they love.   Have them make and act out plays from their stories.  We are never too young or too old for the treat of a story.
Write Margaret at