The 2004-’05 Spartan boys basketball team in “The Pit” after winning their second consecutive Class 3-A State Championship.
BHS Spartans repeat as basketball state champions
—David Lepre, Jr.
The 2004-05 Spartans’ boys’ basketball team didn’t just win the Class 3A.State title—they rewrote school history.
With the 53-43 win over Portales in the state title game last Saturday, coach Terry Darnell became the first coach in the rich history of Bernalillo basketball to win consecutive state titles.
A winning record for the Spartans—minus last season’s two leading scorers in A.J. Sanchez and Kenny Chavez (both All-State in 2003-04)—would have been, in all honesty, achievement enough. Having lost six of their first 13 games before winter break, even that looked to be in jeopardy.
In the end, Bernalillo’s fans found themselves back in University Arena in March, and again—as improbable as it may have seemed in December—the Spartans won both games played there and hoisted the blue trophy above their collective heads.
The Spartans started to take the form of a serious contender in mid January. A one-sided, 36-point win over New Mexico Military Institute on January 15 gave Bernalillo a tremendous confidence boost just before the start of District 3-3A play. The Spartans improved their record to 11-7 with the win, and snatched up a 54-32 home win over Socorro 10 days later to open district play. The Next game, a 77-73 overtime win at Cobre, proved to be the turning point for Bernalillo.
“I didn’t start to think about (making another run at the state title) until after that game,” said Darnell in his post-game media conference after the championship game. “We really had to fight to get that win. After that game I really started to believe this team could make a run.”
The Cobre win was the fifth of an eight-game winning streak that included a 63-43 home win over Grants. The streak ended in Grants on February 15, as the Spartans suffered their worst loss of the season, 70-33. The sting of the loss was enhanced by a widely publicized incident in the stands that resulted in Bernalillo fans arrested and removed from the gym—as well as the game’s officials ending the game in the third quarter.
Rather than let the melee ruin what had turned into a promising season, the Spartans responded with two blowout wins, 84-58 over Cobre and 75-52 over Hot Springs, to close the regular season. A rematch versus the Tigers in the district semifinal—hosted by Bernalillo in Belen as a result of the Grants’ fiasco—proved to be a mere stepping stone, resulting in a 75-52 win and a birth in the state tournament.
The ensuing title game against Grants—hosted in a neutral site (Grants Public School District’s Laguna HS) resulted in a 62-59 loss. It would be the Spartans’ last loss of the season.
Bernalillo drew a No. 5 seed entering the state tournament, resulting in the first of three rematches for the Spartans in at state. St. Michaels – 70-60 winners over Bernalillo on December 14, never could recover from a 16-point first half deficit. The Spartans advanced to the semifinals—and yet another date with Grants—with a 60-56 win over the Horsemen at Rio Rancho High School.
In “The Pit,” Bernalillo jumped out to a 13-4 lead and never relinquished it. The Spartans ended top-seeded Grants’ season with a 49-43 win.
Portales, the No. 2 seed, awaited Bernalillo in the title game. Although the Spartans gave their fans a scare in the fourth quarter when their 15-point lead evaporated down to just two with just over three minutes to play, Bernalillo danced its way off the floor with the title in hand.
Grants transfer Manuel Ross led the Spartans with 12.2 point per game, just ahead of Pierre Williams with 12.1ppg. Keith Benally, one of two returning starters (along with Marty Sanchez) chipped in with 10.5 ppg., and also led the state with 13.5 rebounds per game. Williams finished third in state with 9.2 rpg. Eric Tafoya finished third in assists with 5.1 per game with Ross finishing 10th at 3.5 and Benally 15th at 2.4 apg.
NMDOT to review jam at NM 165 and I-25
The bane of many Placitas commuters—the jam of cars and eighteen-wheel gravel trucks at the stoplight approaching Interstate 25—is about to get state scrutiny.
No promises are being made, however, about possible solutions based on traffic counts scheduled to occur late last month. In the meantime, westbound motorists on NM 165 will continue to jockey for position with gravel haulers trying to cross I-25 to turn left on the southbound on-ramp.
“A lot of people have brought that to our attention, so we felt it was important to look at it,” said Tony Abbo, district traffic engineer for New Mexico Department of Transportation District 3.
“We'll have somebody go out there and count every car and truck.
“We'll see what the percentage of truck traffic is, analyze the results, and make a recommendation to the district.”
Recommendations could include doing nothing, restricting trucks during peak traffic, or rerouting trucks from the quarries on the I-25 frontage road north to the Algodones interchange.
“Everyone is entitled to use the road; it's a public road,” Abbo said. “We want to see what the effects of the traffic are on the system itself.”
Sandoval County Commission chairman Bill Sapien told the Signpost he has met informally with Lafarge Inc., operators of two Placitas quarries, about limiting truck traffic during peak commuter hours. The county administration, NMDOT, and Lafarge officials are planning to meet in the near future, he said.
NMDOT would be the lead agency on any changes since NM 165 is a state highway, he added.
“Part of the discussion with the county was to see what the traffic flows really are,” said Ken Ford, aggregate operations manager for Lafarge Southwest. “We want to find out when the heaviest traffic actually is, and then we'll get back together.”
On the west side of I-25, where NM 165 has become US 550, commuters from Rio Rancho will no longer face a yield sign as they turn right to enter I-25 on the same on-ramp used by traffic from NM 165. Abbo said motorists have complained the yield sign only serves to back up US 550 traffic.
“There are two lanes going into the ramp and an adequate merge area halfway down the ramp,” Abbo said. “We have that situation at other interchanges.
“We will monitor the safety aspect and can put the sign back.”
Sandoval County and NMDOT also have been hearing complaints of deterioration in the recent repaving of nearly four miles of NM 165 from near I-25 to the S-curve. That project is not officially complete, since the finishing layer of specialty asphalt was not applied before the weather turned too cold to do the work, according to Phil Gallegos, NMDOT District 3 public information officer.
“Now it's a temperature and a funding issue,” Gallegos said. “We're now waiting and may go as far as July 1, when the new fiscal year begins, to finish the project off.
“We can patch whatever we need to until then.”
DOT crews currently are installing new signs and moving others as part of the project.
Groundbreaking for Bernalillo’s largest development set for April 8
Intrepid Development will celebrate commencement of work at a groundbreaking ceremony for its new master planned residential project, Santiago Community, on Friday, April 8, at 10:00 a.m. This largest development in Bernalillo’s history will encompass 780 homes on 168 acres of the former Price’s Valley Gold Dairies property east of NM 528 and south of NM 550. Four of the acres, an area identified as part of the Santiago Pueblo and a campsite for Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his men, will be donated to The Archaeological Conservancy to be set aside as open space.
Three home builders, Centex Homes, Stillbrooke Homes, and Builders Investment Company, will construct the single-family homes in three discrete but integrated villages.
Scheduled to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony are Bernalillo Mayor Charles Aguilar, Jim Rogers of Intrepid Development, Jim Walker of The Archaeological Conservancy, and Dudley Price, former owner of the Price Valley Gold Dairies property.
The impact of Santiago Community on Bernalillo will be profound. Maria Rinaldi, Bernalillo’s community development director, commented that “in 2004, we issued a hundred housing permits, and we’re on track for two hundred in 2005, so the almost eight hundred homes in this development will have the potential for increasing not only the number of households but retail sales, and it will a give a boost to the labor force that will allow for other economic development.”
Centex Homes will construct Alegria, an active adult (fifty-five and over) gated community with plans for 375 single-story homes, a clubhouse with pool and fitness center, and walking trails that connect to the bosque. Intrepid Development is installing the backbone infrastructure for the site, including laying out lots, sewer and water lines, electrical access, and drainage. The second builder, Stillbrooke Homes, is planning 154 single-family units in three elevations: Southwestern, Spanish, and Cottage, ranging from fifteen hundred two three thousand square feet. Builders Investment Company, itself a local land developer that buys and develops lots and resells them to other builders, will develop approximately 250 homes on the remaining third of the development with Wallen Builders and Tiffany Homes, among others, for starter to mid-level homes on forty-five-, fifty-, and sixty-foot lots.
Donating the four acres of open space was an important part of the development of the property, says Jim Walker of The Archaeological Conservancy. The Santiago Pueblo was occupied from 1300s to 1600s, with some scholars arguing that it was occupied past the notorious Pueblo Revolt (1680) and into the early 1700s, as indicated by trash found in some of the pueblo’s rooms. The majority of the site was heavily impacted by a gravel-pit operation prior to its use as a dairy. Various excavation efforts since the 1930s by the Museum of New Mexico, the School of American Research, and the University of New Mexico have shed some light on Santiago’s history.
Jim Walker explained that “TAC first became involved in the properties in the early 1990s, first with Mr. Price and then eventually with Jeff Jesionowski and Jim Rogers. It is important to protect and preserve both the campsite and the pueblo because of their significance as a very early first contact between the conquistadors and Pueblo communities. The builders and developers are doing a great service to the community by preserving this heritage, and it’s very important to continue to view these sites as ‘living histories’ for both the Spanish and Pueblo populations that can trace histories back to these communities. The modern subdivision will benefit from these open-space areas, because preservation in place brings added value and a real sense of connection to previous inhabitants.”
Ordinance gives administrative clout to code-enforcement officer
In eight months on the job, Bernalillo code-enforcement officer Wayne Wormwood has used letters, citations, and court summonses to clear properties of weeds, litter, and junk cars.
Starting this month, he'll be able to go after whole buildings as well.
Previously Wormwood had the same power as any citizen to go to court and allege a building is uninhabitable due to violations of health and safety codes. The process, however, could be lengthy and required the filer of the complaint to prove their allegations.
That burden of proof is reversed under the Fair Housing Ordinance approved last month by the Bernalillo Town Council and taking effect later this month. Now, when Wormwood identifies code violations, he will be able to act administratively to order the building vacated, repaired, or demolished.
The ordinance also established a Housing Advisory and Appeals Committee to hear appeals from property owners cited by Wormwood.
“They still get their due process,” Wormwood, a licensed building contractor, told the Signpost. Unlike the situation under a similar nuisance-abatement ordinance in Albuquerque, Bernalillo will not seize the property itself.
Since being hired in August, Wormwood has written dozens of citations under existing ordinances to force tenants and owners to clean up their property. A handful of citations were followed by court summonses to force compliance, and one arrest resulted when a property owner failed to appear in court.
Wormwood said his response to complaints looks beyond the single property.
“Typically I'll get a complaint from a neighbor,” Wormwood said. “I don't want to engage in selective enforcement, so I'll write the whole street.”
Notices about code enforcement have been included in town water bills, and the code office keeps a list of auto recyclers willing to haul away junk cars for free.
“The last five I cited, we ended up not towing them because the owners towed them themselves,” Wormwood said. “They knew I was serious, and that's all we want. All we want is real compliance.”
Placitas favors expanded amenities, unsure about increased assessments
When fifty people turned out to ponder the results of the Placitas Survey, they met in Bernalillo.
That irony was not lost on Sandoval County Commission chairman Bill Sapien, who pointed to survey numbers supporting a community facility with meeting space in Placitas. The current Placitas Community Center, a metal building on Camino de las Huertas, is limited in its uses and not suitable for expansion, he added.
The survey, mailed to nearly twenty-nine hundred Placitas property owners in November, produced 902 responses and 350 written comments tabulated into a ninety-page draft report. The survey asked about social, cultural, educational, and recreational amenities people would use if available, with additional questions about how to pay for them.
“The result is a snapshot of community preferences in November 2004,” said Cynthia Tidwell, president of CCT & Associates of Corrales, the county contractor working on the study. “It's a measure of interest and not designed to get 'none' as a response.”
Most respondents said they would use some of the facilities, with the strongest responses supporting trails and pathways, picnic areas, tennis, badminton and basketball courts, an indoor fitness center, swimming pool, adult education center, expanded senior services, including adult day care, and criteria for buildings and landscaping emphasizing water conservation and control of light pollution. Respondents were asked about a public library, the issue that led to the survey, and favored locating it near Placitas village as part of a larger community facility.
Thoughts on how to pay for such amenities split three ways: 34 percent willing to pay increased assessments, 27 percent opposing new taxes, and 36 percent saying they needed more information to form an opinion. County manager Debbie Hays said her staff has been working with the library committee to come up with construction and operating funds.
The idea of paying higher taxes, especially with the county receiving as much as $94 million from handling the recent Intel bond issue, did not sit well with some in the audience.
“If we had our fair share of the Intel money, we could have paid for everything on this list,” said Barbara Longeway. “It's insulting to be asked to pay more.”
Sapien disputed contentions that Placitas doesn't get a fair return, saying the area pays about $2 million in taxes to the county but receives $3 million in services.
Other meeting participants complained that the Placitas senior center is a poor stepchild in the county system and that the county has failed to enforce existing ordinances and state law limiting light pollution.
Sapien said the comments from the evening would be included in the final survey report delivered to the county. That document and continued citizen involvement will be used in future planning, which could include a master plan for Placitas.
“This is not going to go back on the shelf,” he said. “We're going to do something with it.”
Commissioner Sapien to speak on Mexican Revolution at historical society
On April 3 at 3:00 p.m. Bill Sapien, Sandoval County Commission chairman and member of the Sandoval County Historical Society, will speak on “Juarez and the Mexican Revolution” at the Delavy House Museum, across the river on US 550, west of Coronado Monument on Edmond Lane. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Easter Bunny lays a record 7,000 eggs in Bernalillo
On Saturday, March 26, the Town of Bernalillo and First Assembly of God Church sponsored the sixth annual Bernalillo Eggstravaganza at the Bernalillo Soccer Fields in Rotary Park. The event was attended by over three hundred children from Bernalillo and surrounding communities.
The Eggstravaganza, held annually on the Saturday before Easter, has become a tradition in Bernalillo. This year, the recreation department stuffed over seven thousand plastic eggs with candy. “This is a time-consuming process because each egg is filled by hand,” said David Michelback, assistant recreation director. “We make an event of just stuffing eggs. All the recreation staff and youth volunteers spend every afternoon for two weeks just putting candy in eggs. It’s a fun activity just preparing for the event.”
The First Assembly of God church provides donations of candy and prizes, as well more than thirty volunteers for the event. “This is a great partnership.” said Soto.
Along with a thank-you for the candy donations from First Assembly of God members, special thanks go to Maria Rinaldi, Lore Casaus, Councilor Marianne Jaramillo, and Sylvia Roybal for their donations, as well as to Lorie Michelback for stuffing eggs at her home.
The County Line—
A look at the new detention center
Sandoval County Commission
It's seldom that benefits of any massive, complex undertaking far exceed expectations in ways few imagined beforehand. It's rarer still when a seemingly routine construction project goes beyond the “bricks and mortar” to serve as a strong stimulus for both the economy and public safety while also performing a basic function of government.
That is exactly the case of the newly completed expansion of the Sandoval County Detention Center, a state-of-the-art facility that serves as a concrete, real-life example of what government can, and should, accomplish with prudent use of taxpayer money.
After years of planning and construction, the Center's new secure area is open for the business of providing safe and secure lockup of inmates, people either being held for a variety of jurisdictions or awaiting trial on charges ranging from traffic infractions to capital cases. In sharp contrast to jail projects elsewhere, the county's project was completed on time and right at the budget established by voters, who overwhelmingly approved a $7.5 million bond for the project in late 2002.
The fifty-two-thousand-square-foot expansion effectively doubles the size of the facility, adding 192 beds to the center's previous 194-bed capacity. It includes a modern kitchen capable of cooking up to fifteen hundred meals daily and provides more secure and efficient inmate intake, medical, and visitation areas.
The Center's expansion serves as a model of security for inmates, employees, and the general public. Advance technology, including touch-screen controls for doors and locks and localized controls for individual jail-cell doors, greatly improves the safety of inmates and personnel. Likewise, the Center's control rooms allow correction officers to have constant eyes-on contact with inmates. Food-tray slots allow for secure feeding of more violent inmates and, if absolutely necessary, tear-gas dispensers in ceilings can be used to quell disturbances and restore order.
The additional space, in itself, is a key aspect of enhanced safety, as it allows the center to more adequately classify and house inmates according to the severity of charges. In that way, people being held on traffic violations or awaiting trial for relatively “soft” charges can be more safely housed away from hardcore or violent offenders. Even those of us who professing hard-line, “tough on crime” attitudes can appreciate the benefits of not having a son or daughter charged on a traffic stop being held in the same area as those awaiting sentencing for violent crimes.
While the Detention Center is the one county facility that taxpayers may never wish to visit firsthand, providing a secure incarceration facility is a basic function of government. Making that facility as safe and efficient as possible is a requirement of prudent government and dedicated employees.
Questions or comments for Commissioner Sapien can be mailed to him in care of Sandoval County Administrative Offices, P.O. Box 40, Bernalillo, New Mexico 87004.
Forever Young Run in Placitas
Friends of Charlie Young will host the "Forever Young Run" in Placitas on April 2. The 10K race and two mile noncompetitive walk will be held in memory of the popular local ultramarathoner and cyclist who was killed in a biking accident last year in Colorado. Since Young liked to run without a shirt, a $2 entry fee discount will be given to runners without shirts. Mittens will be awarded to participants instead of the customary T-shirts. Entry fees are $18 for advance registration and $20 on the day of the race which will start at 8 am from Homesteads Village. For more information, call 286-8595 or 321-2171.