An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

Community Calendar

Signpost on the Web!

As of April 1 the community-based Signpost Web site will have been launched. This valuable site will offer a selection of Signpost feature articles, a community calendar, links to other community organizations, a Signpost e-mail link, advertising information, a feature to request back issues and articles, and, coming soon, a classified-ad section. The Signpost staff is thrilled to be able to offer you on line some of the wealth of information we publish monthly on paper. Use the e-mail form on the Contact Us page to send your suggestions and comments which will help us make our Web site as handy and useful as possible.

The new Northside Signpost Web site was beautifully designed by graphic and Web designer Gary W. Priester of Placitas, who will update the site monthly. Gary also recently designed the fitting new logo for the Placitas Chamber of Commerce.

Rebuilding together in Dome Valley

—Ty Belknap

Ed Goldstein, self-described as “old curmudgeon” in many letters to the Signpost over the years, moved to Placitas’s Dome Valley in 1980. Every winter thereafter, he had been lugging firewood up the hill to heat his minimally insulated geodesic dome built for a hippie commune in the sixties. He was getting by okay until a chimney fire in January forced him out of his home and into the Super 8 in Bernalillo.

Ed’s friends at the Placitas Senior Center and Las Placitas Presbyterian Church took note of his plight and contacted the Red Cross and Rebuilding Together Sandoval County for help. They went to the right place.

RTSC is part of a nationwide organization called Christmas in April. The name was changed for our local chapter because volunteers work on projects throughout most of the year due to the needs of the communities of southern Sandoval County. It was also felt that some of the connotations of Christmas caused confusion. RTSC rehabilitates the homes of elderly, disabled, and low-income residents, concentrating on health and safety features like safety bars, wheelchair ramps, and smoke detectors. The long-term goal is to help twenty-four families a year.

The program uses unskilled community volunteers as well as licensed plumbers, electricians, heating experts, etc. to complete the work. RTSC is funded by donations from private individuals, organizations, and the United Way. Home Depot is a major corporate sponsor.

Bright and early on March 16 about fifteen volunteers organized by local contractor Bernie Sullivan assembled over coffee and doughnuts in Ed Goldstein’s driveway. Most were retired residents of Placitas. Not all were skilled in the construction industry, but everyone came to work, had fun, and got the job done. Preliminary work to replace the burned support structure and repair the plumbing had already been completed.

Bernie described generally what need to be done, and the volunteers carried paint, roof coating, cleaning equipment, and insulation up to the house. They took whatever tool felt comfortable and went to work casually but efficiently. Commissioner Bill Sapien was there to staple rolls of insulation under the floor. He was too busy to make a statement for the press. This correspondent was surprised to find himself on top of the dome, rolling fibered aluminum on the recycled car panels placed there so long ago. The spirit of the commune lived again that day!

For once, Ed was at a loss for words. The unlikely resident of a former hippie house could only say “Wow!”

Rick Herrera of Eclipse Plumbing worked for half price and provided materials at cost. TaGrMo donated tools and materials, lunch was compliments of the Range Café, and Waste Management provided a dumpster and portable toilet. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church made a generous donation, and a couple of Ed’s children sent money for a furnace, stove, and water heater.

Bernie Sullivan said, “This project involved people and organizations literally from coast to coast, including the Red Cross, family, friends, and numerous community volunteers contributing to repair Ed’s home and allow him to return there to live.”

RTSC considers applications for assistance referred by individuals, government offices, senior centers, and churches. For more information about volunteering, making contributions, or seeking assistance, contact Bernie Sullivan at 771-8204 or Philip Gasteyer at 897-0089.


Candidates make bids official for June 4 primary

Absentee voting in person: April 25–June 1, 2002 Absentee voting by mail: April 25 –June 3, 2002

After the March filing date for candidates running in the June primaries, most Sandoval County races had multiple contenders.

Seven people have filed for the county assessor’s post. On the Democratic side are Rudy E. Casaus, Lewis M. Gonzales, Harry James Holbrook, Arthur H. Montoya, and Donald Rivera. Republicans Henry P. Pacelli and Tom Garcia, Jr., are also running.

  • County Sherrif

Six candidates filed for the position of county sheriff. In the Democratic primary are Richard A. Sisneros, John Paul Trujillo, and Karl R. Wiese, the current undersheriff. Vying for the GOP nomination are Robert L. Allen, Leonard Armijo, and Bert W. DeLara.

  • Commission District 1

For Commission District 1, incumbent William Sapien will be challenged in the Democratic primary by Gary Miles. In the Republican race for the seat, Charles Mellon and Pete David Salazar face off.

  • Commission District 3

In Commission District 3, Republicans Donald B. Lemm and David L. Bency are opposed in the primary. No Democrat filed in this race.

  • Probate Judge

Running for probate judge are Mary Kwapich, a Republican, and Stevan Schoen, a Democrat.

  • Magistrate District 1

Filing for Magistrate District 1 were Democrats William Dahl, Kenneth Fladager, Eliot P. Gould, Mary Humphrey, and Crystal Hyer.

  • Magistrate District 2

Running in the District 2 magistrate race are Fred Kenneth Eichwald, a Democrat, and Dwight E. Thompson, a Republican.

  • State House of Representatives

Filing for the state House of Representatives were the following:

  • District 44—

Democrat: Mara Minwegen

Republican: Michael Cline, Jane Powdrell-Culbert

  • District 60—

Democrat: Thomas E. Swisstack

Republican: Marsha C. Atkin (incumbent)

  • District 29—

Democrat: JoAnn B. Anders

Republican: Thomas A. Anderson, Richard Lee Faulkner, William W. Fuller (incumbent)

  • District 43—

Republican: Jeannette Wallace (incumbent)

  • District 65—

Democrat: James Roger Madalena (incumbent)

  • District 14—

Democrat: Susan Pauline Anaya, Diane Beserra, Miguel P. Garcia (incumbent)

Republican: Clara A. Pena, Jerry J. Sanchez

  • District 15—

Democrat: Steven P. Archibeque, Thomas C. Montoya, Bill B. O’neil

Republican: Teresa A. Zanetti

  • District 16—

Democrat: Ray Ruiz (incumbent)

  • District 17—

Democrat: Edward C. Sandoval (incumbent)

Republican: Glenn Garcia

  • District 22—

Democrat: Robert S. McGuire, Margaret Palumbo

Republican: Randy D. Dabbs, Ron Godbey (incumbent)

For further voting information, please call 867-7511, 867-7574, or 1-800-898-2124.


Wal-Mart update

The restrictive covenants of River’s Edge subdivision in Rio Rancho will apparently not allow the construction of a 190,000-square-foot Super Wal-Mart at the corner of NM 528 and Corrales Road. Home-owner association members, despite sharing citywide concern over the potential loss of gross-receipts revenue needed for city services and infrastructure, decided not to amend the covenants barring retail stores larger than sixty-five thousand square feet.

Former mayor John Jennings expressed his concern over the fact that Rio Rancho residents do a lot of their shopping at large retail stores outside the city limits. He lamented the “sucking sound from the south” of lost tax revenues. When rumors surfaced last year of another Super Wal-Mart north of town, Jennings worried publicly about the effects of hearing that sound in stereo.

One of the ironies of Rio Rancho is that housing development is encouraged in order to attract large retailers who will generate gross receipts to fund the city. Until the retailers arrive, city funds are being stretched to the limit. The sad joke around city hall is, “The more we build, the behinder we get.” Rapid growth also puts a strain on the environment, water supply, and traffic corridors.

The Enchanted Hills Homeowners Association is reportedly considering some sort of resolution welcoming Wal-Mart to the southwest corner of NM 528 and US 550, another location within the city limits.

Rumor has it that Santa Ana Pueblo, with equal right to profit from the inevitable, is enticing Wal-Mart to build across the road on the northwest corner, in which case Rio Rancho and Bernalillo can listen together to the sucking sound of lost revenues coming from right outside their city limits. They will have the consolation of one-stop shopping convenience and low, low prices to compensate for potholes, inadequate fire and police protection, lost small business, and the untold cost of globalization.

A headline in the Corrales Comment asks, “Too late. . . or too early to oppose Wal-Mart?” Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in New Mexico. It is emerging as the world’s most profitable corporation, with 4,382 stores around the world and expected revenues of $220 billion in 2001.


Practice makes perfect

—Paul Bearce

When a major disaster happens, it takes a great deal of coordination between the many agencies who may respond to produce a smooth and safe operation. Everything from communications to coordinating the arriving vehicles, sheltering victims, and even the feeding of responders becomes a logistics nightmare.

Just as practice makes perfect in every aspect of life, during a three-day event held in Placitas last month, agencies from all over the state did just that: practice, practice, practice. It was called the Annual Field Day, and it was sponsored by the East Mountain Interagency Fire Protection Association.

Firefighters and support agencies held training sessions and a mock disaster in association with the event took place along the Forest Loop Road, just off NM Highway 165. The participants attended classes in fire-ground operations, water movement, helicopter operations, map reading, health and fitness, and public information.

As part of the event, planners had hoped to incorporate a live burn in the Bernalillo Water Shed to provide firefighters with an opportunity to work on a real fire line. The burn would also have helped reduce some of the fuels in the area. However, unfavorable weather conditions and the high fire danger caused officials to postpone the burn.

“Conditions were not favorable and the wind was unpredictable,” said Clark “Sparkie” Speakman, Sandoval County fire marshal. “The burn will be postponed to, possibly, the fall.”

Along with the field training sessions, Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties also tested their capabilities by activating their emergency operations centers. They tested their primary and secondary communications, which would be utilized in the event of a disaster. They activated personnel through phone, radio, and pager communications.

“This became a fully accredited FEMA exercise,” said Jess Lewis, deputy fire marshal for Sandoval County. “It was a good day for us because we showed a lot of interagency cooperation.”

Through a local radio station the two counties also activated, for the first time, the emergency alert system.

The heart of the event was the training, though. Firefighters and planners were given an opportunity to learn all aspects of running an efficient fire camp. Hands-on training and field classroom work were presented to the participants. Some of the firefighters even spent the night in a shelter at the Placitas Elementary School to give the event a more realistic feel for a multiple-day fire scene.

Charlie Schroeder, a firefighter and EMT with the Placitas Fire Brigade, attended about eight classes over the weekend event. “I learned a lot of valuable information which will help me in my volunteer work,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Interagency cooperation was the foundation of the event’s success. Firefighters from around Sandoval and Bernalillo County, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the U.S. Forest Service, the New Mexico State Department of Forestry, the Placitas Fire Brigade, La Madera Fire Department, the Bernalillo County Fire Department, the Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety, and the Sandoval County Emergency Services Division were all involved in the planning and implementation of the event. The local amateur radio society helped establish communications as well.

As with any disaster, agencies who provide shelter and assistance to victims and responders were called in. The Red Cross and Salvation Army set up a temporary shelter in the gym at the school. They provided an area for the firefighters to rest and get a meal.

Deborah Gullo, director of programs and services for the Mid Rio Grande Chapter of the American Red Cross, said that they helped establish the shelter along with the Salvation Army. “We provided an on-site shelter, first-aid stations, counselors, and shared in the feeding of the participants,” she said. She added that this was a logistical exercise that helped her organization work with all of the agencies involved to practice setting up and running a shelter as they would if a real disaster should occur.

“We learn about what each agency does. We learn to work through our glitches so that everything runs smoothly and efficiently,” she said.

Event officials hope that this year’s event will prepare responders to work together if they are called to a large fire or disaster.

“There was fantastic cooperation from everyone involved. They did a super job,” Speakman said.