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  Public Safety
 

Drop-tank fishing at a past Firewise event

Firewise hosts Placitas fair, celebration

—Vicki Gottlieb

On April 5, from 10:00 to noon, at the Placitas Community Center (41 Camino de las Huertas), Firewise Placitas will be celebrating the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District’s sponsorship of last year’s wood chipper events and matching grants that helped reduce wildfire risk around five Placitas homes.

This is a wonderful opportunity to talk to property owners who have had trees and vegetation thinned and pruned to create an acre of defensible space around their homes. Attendees will learn how to be prepared for emergencies, meet government officials, learn about ‘go’ packs, erosion control, and fire-wise plants.

There will be candy and activities for children of all ages, including face painting and the Placitas Fire Department drop tank with child-sized fishing poles to catch fish ‘swimming’ in the tank. Learn how much water the tank holds, how long it takes to refill, how much space is required for fire equipment to access a property and fight a fire.

You can make a difference by helping make Placitas fire-wise. Check us out at our gatherings between 10:00 a.m. and noon on Thursday, April 3 and 17, in the Collins Meeting Room of the Placitas Community Library. Contact Vicki Gottlieb at vicki.gottlieb@gmail.com or 404-8022 for further details.


Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association: local watchdog for construction, drilling, mining activity

—Chris Daul

The new interchange at I-25, Route 165/Route 550, continues to be a problem for drivers, especially the I-25 northbound ramp to Route 165 eastbound. ES-CA representatives again met with NM DOT officials, on March 17, to discuss this issue. Also attending the meeting were State Representative Smith, Lt. Stoyell of Bernalillo, and Sandoval County Undersheriff Wiese. NM DOT engineer, Timothy Parker, said that the proposed acceleration lane was eliminated to make the intersection easier and safer for the gravel trucks to make the left turn onto the frontage road northbound. Mr. Parker stated that the NM DOT would engage a traffic engineer to review this issue, after all of the construction and striping is completed, but did not provide a timeframe for this review.

The other issues discussed included: 1) the tight turning radius travelling westbound on Route 165 and turning onto the ramp for I-25 southbound; 2) the short merge lanes in this ramp; and, 3) the lack of striping or other indicators to discern the turning lanes from the through lanes.

NM DOT did state that there will be additional striping, once all of the final paving is completed, but did not address the turning issue.

ES-CA will continue to press NM DOT and our elected officials to try to resolve these issues. Please continue to send your comments to the ES-CA Forum.

The Placitas community came out in force to oppose an ordinance that would have annexed the Fisher Sand and Gravel site to Bernalillo, and permitted Fisher to mine the site for the next 15 years. ES-CA led the charge, and a number of residents voiced their concerns to the Mayor and Council, who then decided to table the ordinance. ES-CA officials subsequently met with Mayor Torres and presented alternatives that would have Bernalillo annex the site, but limit gravel removal to eighteen months, with no on-site processing, and require Fisher to post a bond for the reclamation of the site. ES-CA thanks the Mayor and Council of Bernalillo for their action in tabling the ordinance and for working with ES-CA to try to craft a solution that is acceptable to both Bernalillo and Placitas. ES-CA will continue to monitor the issue and to work with the Mayor and Council of Bernalillo.

Another important issue has just surfaced in the county. Sandoval County is reviewing proposed changes to the zoning law that would lessen the restrictions and review of exploratory drilling in the Rural Residential Agricultural Zone, which is the prevalent zone in Placitas. ES-CA officials will be attending the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning meeting and is already discussing the issue with our elected officials. We oppose these proposed changes and will be notifying the community of any meetings at which this will be discussed.

ES-CA will be updating the community on these and other issues on a regular basis in the ES-CA Forum. Please visit es-ca.org for further information.


County extends tax for EMS response

—Bill Diven

Sandoval County commissioners have breathed new life into an emergency medical services tax, although voters may yet get a say on whether it ultimately lives or dies.

Ten-year-old conflicts among a ballot question, state statutes, and a county ordinance put the tax at risk with a March 31 deadline to take action or lose the revenue. The 0.25 percent tax on most sales and             services in the unincorporated areas of Sandoval County helps support medical-response and ambulance services in those areas.

The trouble arose because state law, at the time voters approved the tax, required a ten-year sunset provision to either let the tax expire or allow voters to decide its fate. But the ballot question said nothing about a sunset clause, and state law changed short after the March 2004 election, removing the sunset requirement.

That left county commissioners—in the view of Commissioner Don Chapman—between a rock and a hard place: either extend the tax without giving voters a say-so, or replace the lost funds with general revenue, which in effect taxes the whole county for services only rural residents use.

“I am totally uncomfortable,” the Rio Rancho Republican said. “The voters are the ones who decided to pay it in the first place, not the county commission… I am not happy the commission has put us in this position.”

Commissioner Orlando Lucero said voters had already shown their willingness to fund emergency services.

“Life is not free,” Lucero, a Democrat from Bernalillo, said. “To receive these services out in the middle of nowhere is important.”

The only member of the public to speak on the issue, Michael MacDonald of Rio Rancho, said, the question to him was taxation without representation. After hearing the discussion, he said he decided it wasn’t an issue since the actual ballot question didn’t say anything about the tax expiring in ten years.

Facing a March 31 deadline to tell the state whether or not to collect the tax for the county, and bolstered by an outside legal opinion that a new ordinance was sufficient to extend the tax, commissioners ultimately voted five-to-zero to continue it. Still, Chapman requested County Manager Phil Rios look into putting the tax on a future ballot possibly as early as November.

The tax raises about $56,000 dollars a month for EMS salaries, although that amount has slipped along with the state economy. During the last fiscal year it brought $711,000 dollars, down from $792,000 dollars the year before.


Erin’s Law signed, protects children

—Enrique Knell

On March 4, Governor Susana Martinez signed Erin’s Law—legislation aimed to prevent sexual abuse by educating students how to identify and report sexual abuse. The legislation provides for age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness training in New Mexico’s schools. New Mexico becomes the tenth state to sign the bill named after Erin Merryn, an advocate for the law, who was sexually abused while growing up.

School employees will receive additional training on how to detect and report child abuse, including sexual abuse and assault. The law requires schools to include age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault-awareness education. From kindergarten through fourth grade, students will learn about identifying safe and unsafe situations and reporting them. From fifth grade and beyond, students will also learn how to identify risk behaviors in situations that can harm them.


Story of Apache Nation, nomadic tribes, at Coronado Historic Site

On April 27, at 2:00 p.m., Alex Candellario Sedillos, retired Historic Site Ranger, will present Once We Moved Like the Wind, the story of the Apache Nation and other nomadic tribes of the Southwest.

The Southwest has been home to many diverse Pueblo cultures, but has also been home to other Native communities that lived life on the move. Because they continually changed locations, the Apache people have had very different experiences from those who settled in one area. Alex is a wonderful storyteller and will share his personal insights into the Apache life-ways.

To be held at the DeLavy House (Sandoval County Historical Society Museum), on Edmund Road and Highway 550, in Bernalillo. Turn between I-Hop and Warrior Fuel Station, and follow the gravel road. Cost is five dollars for adults; 16 and under are free. Members of the Friends of Coronado are also free. Reservations are not needed, but seating is limited, so come early.

For more information, call George Swenson, at 771-9493, or visit home.comcast.net/~friendsofcsm.

 
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