Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Gave us Plenty of News to Report

By John Larson

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

Workshop Intended to Curb Narcotics Activity

By John Larson

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

Co-op to Hold Info Meetings in January

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez

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

Educational Retirement Board Revises Eligibility Recommendations

By John Larson

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

Accident On California Street

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

Transition to Morning sky Nearly Done

January Skies
By Jon Spargo
New MexicoTech Astronomy Club

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

Socorro Police, Chief Honored for DWI Reduction

By John Larson

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

OBITUARY: David E. Griego

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

OBITUARY: Anastacio S. Sedillo

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

OPINION: The Government is Just Plain Embarrassing

Magdalena Potluck
By Margaret Wiltshire

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

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

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

Know a way to get problems solved? Write me at

SGH Honored for Provided Care

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez

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

Socorro County Sheriff's Blotter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech Professor Runs Toward First-Place Finish

By Dave Wheelock
For the Mountain Mail

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

Former NFL Star has Ties to Socorro and Reserve

By Gary Jaramillo

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

Catron Historical Society Throws Old-Fashioned Christmas Party

By Lisa Blessing
For the Mountain Mail

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

Community Center to Host Quemado Food Pantry

Quemado News
by Debbie Leschner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvia and Friend Confront New Year’s Resolutions Head On

By Anne Sullivan

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

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

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

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

My dear dear Myscie

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

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

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