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Around Town

Placitas Library to open April 27

—Anne Frost, Co-Director, Placitas Community Library

Good news! Sandoval County continues to be on track with the final construction details. Our plan is to open for patrons on Tuesday, April 27, and have our Grand Opening Celebration on May 22, so be sure to save this date. The current library facility will close as of April 1. During April, you will see lots of activity at the new building as we move in and set up. The library will not be open during this process. We will keep you updated with information on the sign near the highway and on our website www.placitaslibrary.com. Please remember that no book returns or donations can be accepted in April. Regardless of what may be stamped in your book, nothing is “due” until after the PCL reopens in the new facility, whatever that date is, ultimately. If you wish to return something to the library during April, please use the book return bin at the old library, only.

More good news! The Native Plant Society of New Mexico awarded the Placitas Community Library a $700 grant toward the landscaping to be planted at the new building to reclaim the much-bulldozed area. Bill Dunmire and the Landscaping Committee have several more grant proposals outstanding which we hope will cover the expenses for our beautiful, educational, native garden. High Country Gardens has generously offered the plantings for our “color blast” garden directly in front of the Library. Plants of the Southwest will be donating all the native grass and wildflower seed for the areas to be reseeded.

Many thanks go out to both of these businesses. Please remember their support of Placitas as you shop for your garden this spring.

Still more good news! Our Friends of the Library fundraising drive this year was the most successful ever. The PCL Board and all library patrons and volunteers are most grateful to each and every contributor—every penny makes a difference. We are especially grateful for your generosity in these difficult financial times. Remember to check our website, www.placitaslibrary.com, for updates and information. We can now accept contributions through our website on PayPal.

See you at the new Placitas Community Library on April 27 or later, and at the Grand Opening May 22.

Dates to Remember:

April 1: Placitas Community Library is closed at 1 Tierra Madre
April 27: PCL reopens at our new facility on Highway 165; proposed date
May 15: We will once again welcome your donated materials at the new facility
May 15: Wall-to-wall book and furniture sale at 1 Tierra Madre
May 22: Grand Opening Celebration!


Wild Cherry Farm

“One of beauties of the wild cherry is that it spreads naturally, creating a dense thicket and supplying a continuous source of new plants.”

Wild Cherry Farm: metamorphosis of a vision

—Jim Fish

A sustainable agricultural endeavor in the historic village of Placitas? It was our vision when some friends and I founded Anasazi Fields, Inc. and started construction of the winery in the early 1990s. It was with this vision in the late 1990s that we purchased from Jim and Kathy King the orchard they called Windy Farm. It is with this vision that we go forth with the transformation of Windy Farm into Wild Cherry Farm, an intentional orchard community.

One of our primary goals at Anasazi Fields is to help preserve the Placitas Community Ditch and the rural nature of the historic village of Placitas by continuing the beneficial use of the water to grow fruits, berries, and grapes for wine making, an old tradition in the village. By producing a value-added commodity from the fruits, berries, and grapes that have been grown in the area for centuries, we can assure that large segments of the village remain under agricultural production. We can also support the local economy by purchasing fruit from our neighbors and by hiring locals to pick our own fruit.

In the late 1990s, it came to my attention that Windy Farm, the farm from which we had been getting wild cherries for a couple of years, was being donated to the Boys’ Ranch by Jim and Kathy King. The rumor was that the Boys’ Ranch was going to sell it to a developer. I called Jim King and he told me that, yes, he was donating it to the Boys’ Ranch, but did not know their plans. Jim King gave me a contact to whom I sent a letter proposing an arrangement in which the winery would manage the farm for the Boys’ Ranch as an educational facility in return for the fruit.

The contact at The Boys’ Ranch did not respond to me, but sent a letter to Jim King stating that they had no interest in my proposal. The plan was to develop the land intensively and to sell the water rights to maximize the value of his contribution.

Jim King then called me to say that he and Kathy really hated to see the farm destroyed and that if the winery were indeed interested in keeping it as a working farm, they would be willing to sell it to us and do something else for the Boys’ Ranch. They offered to give us a year to come up with financing.

The package I was able to put together involved selling the house and the land around the house and an additional two-and-a-half acres of the property to neighbors. The rest, I financed by taking on new investors in the winery and taking out a loan.

Since then, I have financially drained myself and the winery making the land payments while at the same time trying to grow the winery into a sustainable business.

When our attempt to recoup some of our investment by securing a grant for a conservation easement on the farm failed, I contemplated throwing in the towel. Over more than a few sleepless nights, I seriously considered the option: stop making wine, sell off our inventory, sell the farm, sell my little mud shack, and leave Placitas.

Out of this darkness came the concept of Wild Cherry Farm. Our current vision is an orchard community of five (at most) small, green-built houses surrounded by a sustainable agricultural showpiece.

Wild Cherry Farm is divided into five lots. No-build zones incorporated into the plat require that the houses be built in a cluster near the north central portion of the property. Approximately half of the area outside of the construction envelope has already been planted with wild cherries, blackberries, plums, and apricots. The purchase agreements for the lots at Wild Cherry Farm contain a section providing for the leaseback of the agricultural portion of the lots to Anasazi Fields. Our plans are to continue the planting of these areas.

Our focus at Wild Cherry Farm, as the name suggests, is wild cherries. We have been making an exceptional wine from the berries of this native, drought-tolerant, pest-resistant tree for twenty years. Once Wild Cherry Farm is fully planted and the trees have matured, we expect production to be approximately ten times the current level. One small area that we planted five years ago is already producing more cherries than the original grove.

One of beauties of the wild cherry is that it spreads naturally, creating a dense thicket and supplying a continuous source of new plants. All of the trees that we have planted have come from the original grove. In addition, we have allowed the original grove to more than double in size.

We are also planning to plant grapes along the fence surrounding the property as well as along selected segments between lots. We are currently growing two grapes: Syrah and Black Malvasia. Since 2001, we have produced a big red wine from a blend of these two grapes. We call the wine Synaesthesia (see below).

As part of our continuing commitment to preserving the agricultural nature of the historic village of Placitas, Anasazi Fields is retaining one of the lots at Wild Cherry Farm. Our goal is to maintain that lot as an integral component in our production of wild cherries and Synaesthesia grapes.

While even one house at Wild Cherry Farm was not part of our original vision, it is quite probable that had we not purchased Windy Farm, there would already be ten or twelve houses there and the wild cherry trees would be long gone.

In the transfer of the lots at Wild Cherry Farm to the new owners, Anasazi Fields is permanently tying the irrigation water rights to the land such that they cannot be severed later as a commodity. These water rights are to be held, in perpetuity and communally, by the Association of Owners of Wild Cherry Farm for the expressed purpose of maintaining an agricultural oasis in the heart of the historic village of Placitas.

We invite you to stop by the winery for more information on our vision or to make an appointment to tour Wild Cherry Farm by visiting www.anasaziwinery.com or calling 867-3062.


Tonia  HarrisTonia Harris

Spotlight Honoring a fallen hero

Tonia Harris, wife of fallen Sgt. Joseph A. Harris, stands in front of the newly dedicated substation in her late husband’s honor. Sgt. Harris was the first Sandoval County deputy killed in the line of duty.


Flea Market buzz

It’s that time of year again. The Placitas Flea Market will start its season on May 8 and will continue through October 9, 2010—always the second Saturday of the month from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you have something to sell, or just love browsing and buying, this is the place to be. Everyone is welcome to participate; however, sale of hot food or sandwiches is not permitted.

The fees collected from the Flea Market support the Art in the School program at Placitas Elementary School. Art in the School is a private nonprofit organization that trains parent volunteers to provide art education in the classroom. Art history, art criticism, aesthetics, and art studio are part of each interdisciplinary lesson. The program addresses a variety of learning styles to make sure every child benefits. It teaches students that art is an integral part of the human experience. PES has been a participant in this program for more than twenty years.

This year, the school was able to purchase the curriculum and supplies for “A World of Art: Distant Shores”—an art education program that sent the children on a visual journey from an ancient palace in the Middle East to an African safari and then to the shores of Panama. These are just a few of the destinations the children have experienced this year with our art program.

The Merc is located in Homestead Village, one mile east of I-25 on Highway 165. A parent volunteer will collect vendor booth fees during the day of the event. Vendors of all kinds are encouraged to participate. Scheduled dates for the Placitas Flea Market are May 8, June 12, July 10, August 14, September 11, and October 9. Participants can bring items for resale, arts and crafts, and other treasures to set up in the field on the west side of the Merc parking lot. Spaces are a first-come, first-serve basis and setup starts at 6:00 a.m.

For further information, call Gregg at 867-8930 or Ellen at 771-0592.


BPS bond election information

—Town of Bernalillo

Bernalillo Public Schools is holding a special Bond Election on April 13, 2010. All registered voters residing within the boundaries of the Bernalillo Municipal School District are allowed to vote. You do not need to be a property owner or have students attending Bernalillo Public Schools to vote.

The $17,500,000 in General Obligation Bonds and School Capital Improvements Taxes being voted on will not increase property taxes. Reduced principal and interest payments on previously issued bonds permit new bonds to be sold without any increase in the tax rate. An affirmative vote will allow the Board of Education to authorize the bonds to be issued for the purposes of erecting, remodeling, making additions to, and furnishing school buildings, as well as purchasing or improving school grounds and purchasing computer software and hardware. As result of the voter approval in the last Bond Election, Bernalillo Public Schools was able to build two new facilities: La Escuelita Early Childhood Center and Bernalillo Elementary School.

Superintendent Vigil-Lowder said, “The funding is crucial for the maintenance and improvement of school facilities. In order to ensure that students have the best chance for reaching their full potential, it is important to ensure that their learning environment is well maintained. The District has been fortunate in the past that voters have recognized that modern technology and upgrading facilities helps improve student achievement.”

Superintendent Vigil-Lowder continued, “The bond funding has allowed us to create learning environments of which we are extremely proud. We urge voters to vote on April 13. Among other important project needs, the funding from the bonds will allow us to renovate existing schools and build other schools in the District including Bernalillo High School, Carroll Elementary, and Santo Domingo School.”

For more information, contact Superintendent of Bernalillo Public Schools, Barbara Vigil-Lowder at 505-867-2317 or email her at: blowder@bps.k12.nm.us. To see the polling locations as well as a list of project needs, visit www.bernalillo-schools.org.


Census jobs available

The 2010 U. S. Census important for Bernalillo

—Town of Bernalillo

This is the year that the U.S. Census strives to take an accurate count of everyone that lives in our community. It is a vitally important event for Bernalillo, since we rely on federal and state funding for many of our infrastructure and service projects. Finding the funds to replace our aging infrastructure and to improve services in our town has been one of the Town’s priorities.

Federal and State funding levels for the next 10 years are set by a complete count of our population. A complete count of community members helps provide the baseline for key civil rights laws, such as the Voting Rights Acts and fair representation at all levels of government. It represents more than $14,000.00 per individual over the next decade. Obtaining a complete count, also ensures that Bernalillo gets its fair share of the billions of dollar available for neighborhood improvements, public health, educational programs, good programs, transportation and other benefits. You are encouraged to be counted as the official U.S. Census Bureau community canvassing begins. The Census also determine funding for our local senior and health services organizations, schools and other community based organizations. If residents are not counted, the funding Bernalillo needs becomes more difficult to obtain.

Over the next few weeks, the U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting census workers in Bernalillo. These are temporary, part-time jobs which pay $12.25 per hour with mileage reimbursement at 55 cents per mile. Flexible work schedules may be possible and it includes four days of paid training. Applications and a test should take no longer than ninety minutes. The ability to speak a second language is a valuable skill.

Recruitment began in February and the Census Bureau is projecting a seven-month census cycle, but it could be longer. Job applicants should call 1-866-861-2010 to apply. Interviews and testing will be done at 10:00 a.m. every Wednesday at the conference room of First Community Bank.


Esther Bone Library presents April programs

Jim Jones, Corrales musician and writer, will present his Western Songs, Western Stories concert at the Esther Bone Memorial Library on Tuesday, April 13, at 6:30 p.m. Jim writes and sings contemporary songs about the great American West, past, present and future. The show will include storytelling and Jim’s unique finger-picking acoustic guitar playing and his wonderful song stylings. Free tickets are now available to attend the Jim Jones show.

On April 20, at 6:30 p.m., Santa Fe author Rob Wilder will speak at the library. Wilder is the author of two critically acclaimed books of essays, Tales from the Teacher’s Lounge and Daddy Needs a Drink. Both books have been optioned for television and film. He has had essays published in Newsweek, Salon, Parenting, and Working Mother. This program is a free library event and does not require tickets or prior registration.

The Esther Bone Memorial Library is located at 950 Pinetree Rd. SE in Rio Rancho. For more information or directions, call 891-5012 and press 3.


Helping Casa Rosa help the community

— Vivian DeLara, Casa Rosa Board Treasurer

Facilitated by Sandoval County Civitan, Flying Star Café in Bernalillo has offered to hold a fundraising evening to benefit Casa Rosa Food Bank in Placitas. On April 19, Flying Star Café in Bernalillo will donate 10% of the proceeds earned between 5 and 9 pm to Casa Rosa. Please help to pass the word about the upcoming fundraising evening and be sure to show up and enjoy a meal with friends while benefiting the food bank. That same night, Casa Rosa, as a continuation of its own fundraising efforts, will be selling its “back by popular demand” Lucinda Pins from the “Women” series and the “Adobe House” series at the entrance to Flying Star.

The last event benefiting Casa Rosa was a Flea Market, conceived by Lynn Koch, and sponsored by La Puerta Realty on Saturday, February 27. La Puerta Realty presented the proceeds totaling $1,000 from the Flea Market to Casa Rosa. It was a huge effort on everybody’s part and a concerted community effort. A heartfelt “thank you” goes out to all who donated items for the flea market, to the volunteers who helped sort and price the items, and to all of the La Puerta Realty Associates for manning the flea market and sponsoring the event.

Casa Rosa Food Bank has truly become a community effort since it came into existence in August 2008. Both businesses and individuals in the community have recognized that there are those who have been knocked down by their circumstances and need a helping hand extended to give them positive support in their struggles. In response, Placiteños have proved that they are willing to offer that helping hand to those who have fallen on tough times. As the economic recession continues, the problem of hunger grows all across America. At Casa Rosa Food Bank each week we have between one and three new families signing up for food assistance. There are now over 130 families signed up for The Emergency Food Assistance Program at Casa Rosa. This includes 205 adults and 113 children for a total of 318 people. Thirty-five percent of our clients are children. Some of the consumers are retired, some are on disability; and others are waiting for jobs to return, new opportunities to become available, or for their economic status to improve. As the recession continues, things are not coming around as quickly as hoped and bread-winners are not always able to feed their families and meet other life needs, so they decide to come and partake of what is offered at the food bank. We are indeed fortunate to continue receiving the support of members and friends of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church as well as individuals and surrounding businesses. There are also those clients who have taken a helping hand from Casa Rosa and have come back to volunteer to pay back to the cause.

Casa Rosa Mobile Food Pantry distributed 2,500 pounds of food to 80 families within Sandoval County on Wednesday, March 10. The day was muddy and snowy but everyone was in good spirits and fellowship was good. The next Casa Rosa Mobile Food Pantry (MFP) is scheduled for April 14, with distribution 10 am to noon in the Fellowship Hall of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church where a Roadrunner truck will deliver another 2,500 pounds of food. To sponsor one of these Mobile Food Pantries contact Charlotte Lough at clough7@comcast.net or the church Administrator at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, 867-5718. The cost is an amazingly reasonable price of $100, which allows the food bank to purchase the equivalent of $900 worth of food. MFPs are scheduled for the remainder of the year on the second Wednesday of each month. Watch the Community Calendar for specific dates.  All eligible Sandoval County residents are welcome.

On Saturday, April 17, Casa Rosa is scheduled to have it’s second Feedback event with consumers. Prior to this session the volunteer staff will elicit written feedback from the clients and use this as a basis for an open discussion. On that Saturday, distribution will be from 9:00 am -11:00 am, and the feedback session will be held at Casa Rosa from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm with snacks and a light lunch.

Casa Rosa’s first Annual Meeting is scheduled for April 27, at 7:00 pm and is an open meeting held in the upper room of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. Anyone who is interested in learning more about Casa Rosa or has constructive input for the board is welcome to attend. The board and it’s officers will be present.

It is shaping up to be a busy time as we move into spring with numerous events planned. The volunteer staff continues to work on improvement of the facility. Bill Stephenson recently replaced the much needed shingles on our roof.  We also have a new intercom at Casa Rosa which facilitates the flow for shopping. There is also a new waiting area in the space next to the garage where clients may wait, have a drink of coffee and read through books that were donated. The volunteers and consumers are appreciative of all the donations that have been made whether monetary, food, or precious hours of time. Thank you to everyone for assisting Casa Rosa in becoming a true community effort.

 

     

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