Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Around Town

Rosita Romero and her kids (from left) Augustine, Angelica and Kaitlyn enjoy books from one of Bernalillo's Little Libraries while waiting for Dad to finish his laps at Athena Park.

Reading is big, but libraries can be tiny

—Bill Diven

Where once people could only go to the library, the Bernalillo library is now coming to the people with little libraries—some called bibliotecitas—in neighborhoods and even in a railroad locomotive.

So far, three metal boxes holding books have been placed in Athena and Fred Saiz parks and near the intersection of Gutierrez and Los Arboles roads. Another is intended for the west side, possibly in               Santiago Park.

The town also opened a reading room in the former well house at the wine festival grounds, and it plans to add shelving and books to the cab of the sawmill locomotive on display at Rotary Park.

Kathy Banks, director of the Martha Liebert Public Library, said they do weekly checks to straighten up the shelves, rotate books, and see if the boxes are being used. It’s contributing to the upsurge in patrons visiting the library itself, she said.

“We get new people in here on a daily basis,” Banks told the Signpost. “User numbers skyrocketed in the last few years. The outreach is really paying off… We’re really trying to open it up to everyone in the community,” Banks added.

Even Placitas recently joined up in the tiny library project, although in a small and unofficial way last fall after a regular customer approached Jon McCallister, manager of The Merc in Homestead Village Shopping Plaza. Now a handcrafted wooden box labeled, The Little Free Library at The Merc sits out front among the newspaper racks.

“He built it and then brought it in,” McCallister said. “I do know that it started out real light, and it’s got a ton of books in there now. People are donating. I don’t know how many are reading.”

The box is the handiwork of Michael Milone, a research psychologist and former teacher, who lives nearby. “I’ve known about the Little Free Library project from the beginning,” he said. “I had a little time on my hands and had some leftover materials, so I thought this would be the perfect thing to do with it.”

The Merc seemed the best location since it’s the commercial center of Placitas, he added.

Milone is part of what has become an international Little Free Library movement. In the U.S. that generally involves kids and adults building small structures often from recycled material—picture a glass-fronted old-time schoolhouse—and placing them on posts in front of their homes for anyone to take or leave books.

And it’s spawned a national organization, which lists thousands of the tiny homemade libraries around the country, including Milone’s and ten others established by neighborhoods and individuals in New Mexico.

But lest you think free reading is always free, in some cities, the public has been forced to rally around the little libraries when officials tried to claim zoning violations or make the unofficial librarians pay for permits.

Anasazi Fields Winery announces plans for an Earth Day celebration

—Jim Fish and Vickie Peck

When you see pictures of jaguars and military macaws, you may think you are reading about creatures from the Amazon. Not so! These exotic creatures live just south of the border in Sonora, Mexico, in the Northern Jaguar Reserve, an area that encompasses 78 square miles of prime jaguar habitat. In fact, the list of creatures that inhabit the reserve include all of the ‘big four’ cats—including mountain lions, bobcats, and ocelots, along with military macaws and many other neotropical birds and mammals.

New Mexico, too, has excellent jaguar habitat, but these powerful cats have all but disappeared in the USA due to poaching and habitat destruction. However, in 1996 a large male jaguar was encountered in southern New Mexico. If that gives you a buzz, you might want to swing by Anasazi Fields Winery in the historic village of Placitas on Sunday, April 26. Diana Hadley, President of the binational Northern Jaguar Project, will be telling true tales and showing photos of these graceful, powerful cats in the Northern Jaguar Reserve, a safe-haven sanctuary in the most remarkable, rugged wilderness left in northern Mexico. She will inspire you with creative approaches for working constructively with local ranchers, schools, and communities. An enlarged photo of the big male jaguar that visited New Mexico will be offered as a raffle item.

Also on Sunday, Roger Alink, founder of Wildlife West Nature Park, will be showing off his Harris Hawk and giving a presentation on the park’s involvement with the recovery program for the Mexican Lobo.

Between the presentations, local poets Larry Goodell and Jim Fish will read poems inspired by our beautiful landscape and the wild creatures that roam that landscape.

On Saturday, April 25, from noon and continuing into the evening, the focus of Fruits of the Earth 2015 will be on local musicians and artists. Winery partner Stagefright Slim will perform original blues starting mid-afternoon. At 5:00 p.m., Red Light Ramblers will take the stage. Many of the artists who will be participating in the Placitas Studio Tour on May 9 and 10, 2015, will have examples of their work on display at the winery for the month of April as a preview to the Studio Tour. An artists’ reception will take place as part of Fruits of the Earth 2015 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday evening.

Throughout the weekend, the winery will be offering free wine tastings and winery tours. The featured release will be Las Hermanas del Sol, a lovely apricot wine produced in 2012 from fifteen trees growing in Placitas. The trees are sisters, seedlings from one mother tree, which was the daughter of the famous Tio Ventura apricot tree grown in Placitas last century. Food for the weekend will be provided by Little Smokies.

Placitas Community Library patrons follow behind Judith Roderick—designer of the library’s new labyrinth feature—for a dedication ceremony.

Placitas Community Labyrinth dedicated

—Karen Cox, Chair of the Board of Directors, Placitas Community Library

The sun was shining, the clouds just gathering, and the mood festive. This was the setting for the dedication of the Placitas Community Labyrinth on March 21.

About fifty people gathered to celebrate the creation of a labyrinth at the Placitas Community Library. It was dedicated to the “Volunteer Spirit of Placitas.” The first joint collaboration between the Jardineros de Placitas, Placitas Artists Series, and the Placitas Community Library, it recognized the vibrant dedication of all of you who volunteer for community organizations. In many cases, that means more than one organization.

Volunteers were welcomed with refreshments, provided by the Jardineros. They mingled while listening to Jay Rodman, a volunteer with the Placitas Artists Series, who played classical guitar pieces. The ceremony was started by Judith Roderick, who designed the labyrinth, as she led everyone into the labyrinth. She spoke of the oneness of the people walking the labyrinth with the community, with the state, nation and world on the first day of spring.

The library acknowledged the representation of many volunteer organizations. Commissioner James Dominquez was introduced and heartily thanked for his contributions to solving the water issue at the library in January. The ceremony finished with drumming and with throat singing by Michael Crofoot.

The rocks defining the path are a true expression of community. They were all brought and placed by people attending last year’s Birthday Bash. The benches designed for the center of the labyrinth were dedicated to one of the founders of the library, past Director and past Board President Anne Grey Frost.

A fundraiser was held on the back patio of the library for Casa Rosa. Appetizers were donated by Jardineros, beverages by Sophie’s Giving Circle, and music performed by Placitas Artists Series musicians.

Kiva construction underway

—Matthew J. Barbour, Manager, Jemez Historic Site

In the summer of 2005, the sixteenth-century kiva at Jemez Historic Site was given a roof so that it could serve as an interpretive display on traditional Jemez religion. Since its inception and construction, it has been a mainstay of the visitor experience. It provides an interesting contrast to the Catholic Church built by the Franciscan Friars in 1621 and highlights the religious significance of Jemez Historic Site to Native American peoples.

However, for the past two years, the kiva has been closed. The roof, installed over nine years ago, had begun to fail. Beams had begun to crack, splinter, and bend. Some lost their hold on the surrounding walls. It was no longer safe for visitors to stand atop the roof or climb down into the structure.

The project was initially developed by former Jemez Historic Site Manager, and former Jemez Pueblo Governor, Joshua Madalena as an experiment. The kiva roof was never designed for long-term use or planned to withstand the amount of foot traffic it currently does. No one could have predicted the amount of interest the kiva would have engendered among the visiting public.

Funds were set aside almost immediately for its repair. For fiscal year 2014, Jemez Historic Site was granted $75,000 dollars in New Mexico Capital Outlay Funds for the replacement of the roof. However, moving forward with construction has been a slow process. Jemez Historic Site is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the State Register of Cultural Properties. Therefore, cultural property laws require the new roof be designed and overseen by a New Mexico Historic Preservation Division approved architect and builder.

Cherry/See/Reames Architects of Albuquerque designed the roof in consultation the Pueblo of Jemez Natural Resources Department. Now, Crocker Ltd of Santa Fe has been tasked with fabrication. Construction began on March 9 with both tribal and archaeological monitors regularly examining the work. This is to insure there will be no damage to the surrounding portions of the site, especially those that remain unexcavated.

The goal of the project is to build a roof that will last at least twenty years, while retaining its cultural significance. There will be no visible metal components. To all who come and see it, the kiva will look much like it did five hundred years ago and will provide an effective counterpoint to San Jose de los Jemez Mission. Completion of the project is expected in late May or early June.

In the meantime, Jemez Historic Site remains open to visitors. As a thank you for bearing with us through the turbulent construction process, visitation will be free of charge

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