The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Bernalillo Matachines procession in the 1960s

Bernalillo Matachines procession in the 1960s. Malinche: Eva Sanchez; lead singer: Charles Aguilar (left); carrying the saint: Ocaris Sandoval and Suzie Candelaria.

Bernalillo celebrates the annual Feast of San Lorenzo on August 9, 10, and 11

See “Around Town” for details.

Two pipelines for Placitas?

—Bill Diven

Placitas residents now have not one but two petroleum pipeline projects to consider.

First came a proposal announced last year to increase capacity in an existing pipeline carrying natural-gas liquids from Wyoming to Hobbs. Environmental documents analyzing the project had just been released for public comment, when early in July the governor's office revealed a long-dormant line running near Placitas village might be revived to carry crude oil.

“That sleeping giant is awake again,” said Bert Miller, president of Citizens for Safe Pipelines. “I'm not surprised. Shell is not going to let that asset sit on its books without doing something.”

Giant Industries confirmed it is in negotiations to buy the Shell Pipeline Company line and could close the deal as early as this month. Giant would reverse the flow of the pipeline originally built in the 1950s to carry crude oil from the San Juan Basin around Farmington to refineries in southeast New Mexico.

“Crude in the San Juan Basin has declined strongly in the last ten years,” Giant executive vice president Leland Gould told the Signpost. “We need a crude source for our refineries in Bloomfield and Gallup. Both are running at 55-60 percent of capacity.”

The governor's office got involved because closing the Bloomfield refinery, beyond driving up area gasoline prices, would cost hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue, Gould said.

The citizens pipeline group fought the last plan to reopen the line and convert it to carry volatile refined fuels from Texas to Utah. They pointed to several fatal explosions where aging welds, weak monitoring, and poor leak detection contributed to the severity.

The crude line enters Placitas in a pipeline corridor running north of Bernalillo, but turns southeast from the corridor to a pumping station on Camino de las Huertas. From there if follows Camino de las Huertas past homes, the Placitas Community Center, vacant land planned for public uses, and the Placitas Elementary School before passing the village and crossing Las Huertas Creek and the Crest of Montezuma.

“That area has grown up a lot since the original line went in,” Gould said. “We'll be using the line as originally intended, for crude oil, not finished product.

“It seems to be in very good shape, but we'll be putting in some safety systems closer together so if there is a leak, we'll know sooner.”

The second project proposed by Mid-America Pipeline would add new sections of pipe parallel to an existing line to boost its capacity to carry natural-gas liquids. That line runs east in the pipeline corridor along Las Huertas Creek and Diamond Tail Road before bending around the Sandia Mountains.

The local segment would begin at a pumping station near San Ysidro and run twenty-two miles before rejoining the existing line within the Placitas Open Space. The federal Bureau of Land Management, lead agency on the study because much of the pipeline is on public land, took comments on the 381-page environmental analysis through July 22.

Miller said he and others were urging the BLM to go beyond the EA and require a more detailed environmental impact statement. The EA reads like a formality for a project that is likely to be approved, he said.

“Fundamentally, it appears to be a document they just threw together with a bunch of stuff not related to reality here,” he said. “They're trying to fill whatever the number of pages is so they can say, 'We did an EA.'”

The BLM district office in Farmington and the Bureau of Indian Affairs now must decide whether the EA shows the project has no significant environmental impact. With that ruling, construction could begin as early as October, with the twelve segments completed from Wyoming to Hobbs by December 2006.

The agencies also could deny the project, order an EIS, or approve the project with additional conditions.

Gould said he already had received calls from the Placitas area inquiring about the project. He can be reached at (505) 249-1306.


Santa Ana receives Forest Service grant for riparian restoration

The Forest Service has awarded three Community Forest Restoration Act grants to local groups working on public lands in and adjacent to Cibola National Forest to carry out diverse projects to improve forest health, reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires, increase the value of small-diameter trees, and foster collaborative partnerships among groups concerned about forest issues.

The Pueblo of Santa Ana will receive $359,996 to restore native riparian cottonwood forests along the tribe’s reach of the Rio Grande. The grant will further the ongoing efforts of Santa Ana to implement an ecosystem-based restoration program designed to reverse the negative impacts of flood-control and channelization projects. Treatment will be funded for 632 acres in the Santa Ana bosque, support two summer youth interns recruited from the Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute, and involve tribal elders and community focus groups.


©2005 Rudi Klimpert

First hantavirus case in NM this year

Michelle Melendez, New Mexico Department of Health

A forty-six-year-old man from Los Alamos County has been diagnosed with New Mexico’s first confirmed case of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. He has been released from the hospital and is recovering. It is the first time the county has had a hantavirus case.

The case was confirmed by testing done at the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center, and the New Mexico Department of Health is conducting an environmental investigation of potential exposure sites to determine where the man may have been exposed to the virus.

“We want everyone to be aware that hantavirus is present in our state and that precautions need to be taken to avoid rodents and their droppings,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian at the New Mexico Department of Health. “In the past we have seen more cases of hantavirus during the summer months, when rodent activity increases and humans are more likely to come in contact with rodents.”

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva. People can contract the disease when they breathe in the virus. The deer mouse is the main reservoir for hantavirus in New Mexico. The NM Department of Health urges health-care workers and the general public to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of hantavirus.

Early symptoms of hantavirus are fever and muscle aches, possibly with chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cough. These symptoms develop within one to six weeks after rodent exposure. Although there is no specific treatment for hantavirus, chances for recovery are better if medical attention is sought early.

The best preventive measure people can take is to avoid contact with mice and other rodents. Other important steps are:

  • Air out closed-up buildings before entering.
  • Seal up homes and cabins so mice can’t enter.
  • Trap mice until they are all gone.
  • Clean up nests and droppings using a disinfectant.
  • Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home.
  • Get rid of trash and junk piles.
  • Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where mice can get to them.

In 2004, New Mexico had four cases of hantavirus, in McKinley, Sandoval, Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties. There was one case of hantavirus in Rio Arriba County in 2003.

Since hantavirus was discovered in the Four Corners area in 1993, there have been sixty-five cases and twenty-seven deaths in New Mexico. Nationally, 387 cases have been reported in thirty states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 36 percent of all reported cases have resulted in death.

For more information about hantavirus, call (800) 879-3421 or check out the NM Department of Health’s Web site,


William “Bill” Sapien

William “Bill” Sapien

County Line

William Sapien
Sandoval County Commission

People enter community service for reasons as varied as the individuals themselves.

The most effective public servants, however, are those who realize that community involvement offers the opportunity to help others and make our communities better places to live. In turn, the reward of public service is the satisfaction gained by knowing you've made a helpful difference in their lives.

Whether it be holding public office or political involvement, community activism, charity work, or volunteering for community organizations, serving friends and neighbors provides the opportunity to produce a legacy of helping those in need.

Phil Rosenberg, author of Don't Walk By Something Wrong!, describes helping others at work or in our communities as being a “servant leader,” where much of our energy is spent in helping others to develop their full potential. He uses the acronym KSA to describe that service to others helps enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of those around us.

Rosenberg recently wrote in County News, a publication by the National Association of Counties, that it is impossible to separate personal life and work life. He notes it also is impossible to have a rewarding life without providing service to others, both through community involvement and on the job where we spend so much of our lives.

The average American today will live about 27,900 days or 670,000 hours, of which 2,080 hours each year are spent ever year at work. Rosenberg further breaks down the average American's life span to include such tasks as seven years in the bathroom, two years on the telephone, and six months waiting at traffic lights and stop signs. And, the average American also spends four hours a day watching television.

One secret to a happy, successful life is to find ways to use our precious time on Earth to contribute to the happiness and betterment of ourselves, our families, and our communities. The challenge we all face, as Rosenberg notes, “is to minimize the time we waste on activities, or in the case of television watching, lack of activities, which substitute a vegetative state for a state of accomplishment.”

In contrast to the “couch potato,” sedimentary or vegetative lifestyles that may be prevalent elsewhere, Sandoval County is very fortunate to have thousands of residents who know it is impossible to have a rewarding life without also providing service to others. We also have many dedicated and caring organizations in the county that perform vital roles in helping the residents in time of need.

The legacies each of us can provide is to share our KSAs—knowledge, skills and abilities—to make a difference in the lives of others.

Find an organization where you can offer time and talents to help others, as there is no shortage in the need for charity and community volunteers. Consider, too, running for public office, whether it be the local school board or city, county, state, or even national office.

Helping others may involve a tremendous commitment of time and energy, but we need to continually ask ourselves whether we are doing all that could be done in our lives.

If not, as Rosenberg suggests, then perhaps less TV watching and more involvement with other residents may provide greater satisfaction.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Sapien can be mailed to him in care of Sandoval County Administrative Offices, P.O. Box 40, Bernalillo 87004.


Bernalillo MVD open full-time again

The Bernalillo Motor Vehicle Division office is back to five-day-a-week operation after the town and the state resolved a money dispute.

The town expected a $28,000 shortfall last fiscal year before cutting back staff and hours, according to finance director Ida Fierro. Even with the cutbacks, the town subsidy for the state service reached $17,000, she told town councilors.

The Legislature, responding to complaints from the town and other local governments, boosted the local share of MVD revenue. The Bernalillo office, located in town hall, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.


Workshop to address Main Street improvements

Camino del Pueblo, the main street of Bernalillo, is in for a facelift once the town and its residents decide what to nip and tuck.

The next in a series of public displays and discussions will be held Monday, August 15, from 4 :00 to 9:00 p.m., at Bernalillo Town Hall. The meeting is billed as a design workshop to address problems identified during the first session last month.

Those problems include lighting and parking, sidewalks interrupted by poles, curb cuts, and broken slabs, lack of crosswalks, and a paucity of landscaping, to name a few.

“I just hope the town takes advantage of this opportunity,” said Will Dale who, with his wife, Barbara Rudolf, has renovated a venerable adobe home in Bernalillo. “I think the town can progress in a way that is beneficial to all the residents.”

“I like a walkable community,” Rudolf added.

Bernalillo community development director Maria Rinaldi said the town is in line for $1.2 million in state funding for streetscape improvements from Calle Bernalillo to Calle Presidente. The town has applied for additional money for second and third phases to extend the work to US 550.


Tax holiday August 5-7

The state of New Mexico has declared a three-day tax holiday for shoppers buying back-to-school clothing and supplies.

The holiday on August 5, 6, and 7 is not without its limitations, however. Participation by retailers is voluntary, most sports equipment and clothing accessories are excluded, and prices can't exceed $100 for an item of clothing, $15 for supply items, and $1,000 for computers.

A complete list of items eligible for the tax exemption during that weekend is available from the New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue at


NM 165 repave

A week of paving on NM 165 was about to begin as the Signpost reached its deadline this month.

A decision had not yet been made on when to start work on the three miles of highway from I-25 to the S-curve, according to Phil Gallegos, spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation. It was possible the work would be done during the last week of July, he said.

The project, which will take five or six days if the weather cooperates, involves applying a layer of specialty asphalt to finish the repaving job completed last summer. Paving would occur from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or Saturday and reduce traffic to one lane, controlled by flaggers and a pilot vehicle.


Veterinary technician Myria Bretta of the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program

Veterinary technician Myria Bretta of the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program gives Buddy, a once-stray Tibetan spaniel, a last check before returning him to Connie Espinosa.

Mobile spay/neuter is a big success in county

Bill Diven

The appearance of a mobile veterinary clinic indicated more than a visible attempt to reduce the overpopulation of cats and dogs in Sandoval County.

Behind the scenes, the spay-and-neuter clinic came as a cooperative effort of the county and Placitas Animal Rescue, former antagonists and recent litigants in a zoning dispute settled nearly two years ago. The effort included two new players, the Town of Bernalillo and Animal Rights Mobilization, an established Chicago organization newly branched out with the relocation of its president to Placitas.

“I think it's just been fine,” PAR cofounder Gary Miles said. “Time heals all wounds.

“I've got a picture of [county commission chairman] Bill Sapien wearing one of my hats and shaking hands.”

Relations were not so cordial in 2003 when the county tried to shut down PAR, claiming its location about three miles north of Placitas village failed to comply with zoning. Miles contended the operation was legal since it predated the county zoning ordinance.

Four years of litigation and more of acrimony ended with a court settlement allowing PAR to continue its work, although under some restrictions limiting traffic and resident animals and requiring public reporting of its rescue and other activities.

“I fax the county a letter on every animal rescued,” Miles said. 'In the last ten months we've rescued more than 630 after rescuing 520 in the first year since the settlement.”

Last month the county, the Town of Bernalillo, PAR, and Animal Rights Mobilization chipped in to bring SNAP, the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program, to the county for a week. Slots quickly filled up for the volunteer veterinarian performing for $20 a procedure costing three to ten times as much in private clinics.

By week's end, 122 cats and dogs, mostly from Peña Blanca, Placitas, and Bernalillo would no longer be producing litters. The public interest lies in reducing the demand on animal-control departments to round up stray animals and euthanize those that don't find homes, according to Miles.

“They get lots less animals to pick up, lots less,” Miles said. “Two cats in six years, you can end up with 420,000 kittens, and that's a lot of critters.”

The SNAP van travels most of New Mexico and part of Arizona and will return to Sandoval County once arrangements can be made. That could be as early as this or next month, Miles said.

“We definitely had a full house every day,” said Mychele Moody, a registered veterinary technician. “It's nice to see a program for middle-class people paying some money and getting their pets done.”

Kay Sievers, president of Animal Rights Mobilization, said her group's work in Chicago contributed to a major animal organization’s dropping its spay and neuter prices to $10 for cats and $25 for dogs.

“People and groups began to realize the real problem is pet overpopulation,” she said. “The only answer is spay and neuter.

“My hope is that it becomes affordable to all. New Mexico has one of worst euthanasia rates in the nation.”

For additional information, contact PAR at 867-0004 or Sievers at 681-1682.


August 4 commission meeting canceled

The Sandoval County Commission has canceled its August 4 meeting but will meet as scheduled on August 18 at 6:00 p.m.

The county had pushed back its second meeting in July to allow its staff more time to prepare the annual budget for final approval. Commission chairman William Sapien said he thought it prudent to cancel the August 4 meeting since it would occur only a week after the delayed July meeting.


Bust memorializes Corrales’s Joe Lang

Jeff Radford
Corrales Comment

A bronze bust of Democratic Party insider Joe Lang, a former Sandoval County commissioner and state senator, was dedicated at the new Sandoval County courthouse June 24, 2005.

Dignitaries and friends of the deceased community leader, a long-time Corrales resident, filled the atrium of the new building off Highway 528 at Idalia Road to see the unveiling and to hear words of praise and remembrance.

Both the governor and the lieutenant governor delivered short remarks at the ceremony filled with humor and good will.

Assisted by Governor Bill Richardson, Lang’s sons, Jake and Zach, removed the black veil that covered the bust by sculptor Sonny Rivera. Lang’s wife, mother, and brother were also present.

Lang died September 22 of a massive heart attack in his Corrales home at age 57.

He served in the State Senate in the late 1970s, and remained active in state and local politics even when not serving as an elected official. He ran for a seat on the Sandoval County Commission in 1990, and became the dominant force on that commission for the next eight years.

After he was term-limited from seeking re-election in 1998, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Corrales in 2002.

Lang was a fixture in New Mexico’s Democratic politics for the past quarter-century as a friend and ally of the state’s most prominent political figures, such as former N. M. House Speaker Raymond Sanchez and Senate leader Manny Aragon.

The ceremony at the new courthouse June 24 was organized and led by Daymon Ely, the Corrales attorney elected to take over when Lang could not run again for Sandoval County Commission.

Richardson said Lang’s “spirit and love of life were contagious to all around him.”

N. M. Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Bosson also praised Lang’s accomplishments, calling him “probably the most brilliant lawyer I’ve ever seen in a court room. But he didn’t like to play himself as that brilliant lawyer. He just liked to play himself as one of those lawyers who cared about people and wanted justice for everyone. That was Edmund ‘Joe’ Lang.”

This article was originally printed in the Corrales Comment (July 9, 2005).






Front Page   Up Front  Animal News   Around Town   Business   Community Bits   Classifieds   Calendar   Community Center   Eco-Beat   Fire and Rescue   Featured Artist   The Gauntlet   Health   Community Links   Night Skies   Man on the Street   My Wife and Times   Movie Reviews   Sandoval Arts   Schoolbag   Time Off   Ask Uncle Duffy   Back Issues   Ad Rates   Contact Us