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re: 12-year-old on bike with inoperable
brakes struck by pickup
On June 30, at approximately 20:25 hours, the Sandoval
County Sheriff’s Office responded to State Road 290, Village
of Ponderosa, New Mexico, where a twelve-year old boy riding a bicycle
had entered the roadway without looking in both directions for oncoming
traffic and been struck by a 1986 Ford pickup pulling a camping
The twelve-year old was airlifted to University Medical
Hospital, where he was examined and treated for possible broken
bones and abrasions. The brake mechanism on the boy’s bicycle
Parents, please ensure the braking mechanisms on
your children’s bicycles are operating properly and the tires
are adequately aired, and discuss with them the bicycle-safety rules.
—JOHN PAUL TRUJILLO, SHERIFF, SANDOVAL COUNTY
re: Old Glory etiquette
It pleases me to see the number of my neighbors who have chosen
to fly the stars and stripes on a 24/7 basis. It's a great country
and a great flag. And even though many of my Republican friends
feel a certain proprietorship towards the flag, it really is everybody's
Recently there was a heated debate in the United States Senate
concerning flag burning. This made me wonder. If burning the flag
is not cool, how about flying the flag at night? Article 174 of
the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, states, "It is
the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset
on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open ... the flag
may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated
during the hours of darkness." So those of you who are not
illuminating your flags after sunset are not showing Old Glory the
Article 176, section G, states "The flag should never have
placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark,
insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any
nature." Tut, tut, President Bush, for autographing a flag
with a Sharpie on one of your recent trips abroad! (http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagbush.htm)
Also in Article 176, section K, we learn: "The flag, when
it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for
display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."
Kind of a catch-22, eh? This might explain why several of my neighbors
have decided to err on the side of doing nothing about their tattered
While U.S. laws do not make flag burning a penalty, the state of
New Mexico does. "The State of New Mexico makes it a petty
misdemeanor for anyone to insult the U.S. or the New Mexico state
flags by word or act." So you better watch what you say about
the flag because you just never know who might be listening. For
more information on showing respect for the stars and stripes visit
—GARY W. PRIESTER, Placitas
re: library rededication
I almost wept when I read that the Bernalillo Public Library has
been rededicated as the Martha Liebert Library. Some of you may
remember that I served as librarian in Bernalillo for five years,
during which time I endured the dramatic ups and mostly downs of
political upheaval in Bernalillo. I opposed the merging of the library
with the Roosevelt School Library but was told at the time that
I had no say in that decision.
The final straw for me was when the then mayor Aguilar and council
held a private meeting and decided to change the name of the library
from the Martha Liebert Library to the Bernalillo Public Library.
This snub of a great woman and her contribution to the community
was more than I could in good conscience tolerate. I resigned.
Now Martha's legacy has been restored and my objection to the
poor decision to merge the library with the school has been vindicated.
It sounds like Bernalillo has a great new mayor and a great future.
Congratulations to all the citizens who hung in there and worked
for change! Con muchos cariños. Su amiga siempre.
—LAURIE MACRAE, San Diego, California
re: statement from the Pueblo of Santa Ana, Office of
the Governor, regarding horses
Governor Leonard Armijo issued this statement to the Signpost
on June 28, 2006, on behalf of the Pueblo of Santa Ana to clarify
the pueblo’s actions and intentions in regard to the roundup
of several horses that have been running at large on Santa Ana land.
The feral horses are most likely on the Pueblo’s land because
there is an available water source at one of the local gravel mines
and because encroaching housing developments along the Pueblo’s
east boundary are preventing free-range [grazing] by the feral horses.
The trespass animals create a public safety concern by drawing attention
from individuals who attempt to feed and water the feral horses
along the fence line of the I-25 frontage road and potentially pose
a hazard to motorists traveling along Interstate 25. In addition,
the feral horses have generated negative publicity for the Pueblo:
multiple misinformed and unsubstantiated claims have been made by
non-Pueblo individuals that the Pueblo was neglecting their horses.
In late May, the media aired a story on alleged malnourished horses
on the Pueblo that were being rescued from starvation by concerned
citizens who illegally provide the trespass feral horses with hay,
a smattering of apples, and water. The media story insinuated that
the Pueblo of Santa Ana was neglecting their livestock by not providing
them with adequate forage and water.
As a result of safety concerns and pressure from misinformed individuals
and the media, the Pueblo has taken legal recourse to round up the
trespass feral horses and have them turned over to the New Mexico
Livestock Board, which will auction the horses off as provided by
state law. The Pueblo is further attempting to work with organizations
willing to provide or find homes for the feral horses or to enable
them to participate in the auctioning of the horses turned over
to the New Mexico Livestock Board. The Pueblo does not have any
reason to believe that the feral horses will be “slaughtered”
and is doing everything it can to see that the horses are taken
care of properly.
re: a bleedin’ rain forest
To old friends back East: Oh ye rain, ye damned rain.
This is another report on the abject misery associated with life
in New Mexico territory. Incomprehensible as it may be, for two
consecutive afternoons we've received approximately thirty minutes
(that's nearly a half hour!) of heavy rain. I fear that adjusting
to such brutal natural phenomena resides beyond my capacity at this
stage of my life.
On each occasion, I was caught outdoors in a highly unprepared
state, focusing on my splendid biography of Dolley Madison (A
Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation,
by Catherine Allgor. Yes, there's an "e" in "Dolley.")
On the first occasion, before I could effectively react, droplets
landed on my book and hair and spotted my shirt. In addition, the
bottoms of my indoor-use-only L.L. Bean slippers became quite damp
before I could reach cover. What an unfathomable drag.
The second event resulted in spots on the cuffs of my rather smart
looking Lands End 100% cotton tropic-weight trousers (beige) as
well as my very best Lawrence, Kansas, Free State Brewery T-shirt
(white) complete with logo (largely orange and blue with some green.)
Although I don't wish to exaggerate the matter, I fear I am beginning
to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
My spouse is, as we speak, consulting real-estate options in Erie,
Pennsylvania. There may be little choice in the matter, i.e., we
didn't intend to retire to a bleedin' rain forest.
I hope you don't find the above overly upsetting and worrisome.
However, I suspect you have little or no idea what it's like to
suffer as we do. And to make a horrid situation worse, thunder now
sounds in the distance. I give thanks that I'm the owner of an extremely
economical large plastic ice-cold bottle of extraordinarily clear,
pleasantly gurgly vodka within easy grasp. I assume you wish me
to keep you posted on this most difficult and tiresome of weather
situations, and I'll faithfully do so.
—HERB (SAD in Placitas)
Heard around the West
What makes Mormon crickets run? More than just the lust for protein
and salt. The insects hustle because they're afraid they'll be gobbled
up by the cannibalistic cousins trotting behind them, reports the
Reno Gazette-Journal. Researchers from the United States, England
and Australia who studied cricket migration in southern Idaho found
that the insects act as though they're on a forced march. "You
can imagine that if you are at the back of one million marching
crickets, there is little food left and the cricket in front of
you starts to look mighty tasty," said biologist Patrick Lorch
of Kent State University. A wounded cricket is a likely target,
and once set upon, it gets chewed up fast. "If you imagine
eating your own body weight in an hour, that's pretty impressive,"
Lorch said. Now that it's spring, crickets have begun hatching across
the West, including huge areas of Utah and Idaho. Last year, Nevada
was hit hard: Swarms of Mormon crickets there devoured vegetation
on some 12 million acres.
Forty volunteers from the booming Tucson area recently showed up
at dawn for their 141st mission. Though the day would be hot, their
arms and legs were covered, and they wore welders' gloves and came
equipped with both shovels and tweezers. Their mission: Digging
up baby saguaros and other cactuses before bulldozers rumbled in
to blaze the desert flat. Arizona is second only to Nevada in population
growth, reports The New York Times, and championship golf courses
and "active adult master-planned" communities are fast
wiping away the Sonoran Desert. In the six years since it was founded,
the Cactus Rescue Crew has saved for transplanting over 27,000 cactuses
and other native plants. Since it "takes 60 or 80 years for
a saguaro to grow an arm," said volunteer Carl Pergam, a radiologist,
"I've saved a life, in essence." The group has spurred
similar efforts in Phoenix and Lake Havasu City, and also helped
to promote xeriscape design, which features drought-tolerant native
plants. Landscape architecture professor Margaret Livingstone said
that the volunteers play an important role in Tucson: "Much
like Frederick Law Olmsted formed an emerald necklace of parks,"
she said, "the rescuers are creating an arid cactus necklace
around the city."
A wealthy homeowner in Lake Tahoe, California, got ticked off at
tall pines blocking the view from his $2.4 million house, so he
poisoned the trees and then pretended they'd died a natural death.
But government officials spotted the murder when they found the
holes at the base of the trees where he'd applied the herbicide
Roundup. The homeowner apologized profusely, reports the Tahoe Daily
Tribune, calling what he did "selfish, impulsive and completely
without justification." Initially, however, he balked at paying
a fine any larger than $34,000. But officials, wanting to make the
crime a warning to others, insisted on $50,000, and, according to
the Las Vegas Sun, the business executive has agreed to pay up.
Some hunters have no sense of humor. A western Colorado man was
shot in the head recently after another hunter some 23 yards behind
took him for a turkey, reports the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
Barry Nofsinger was using a lure that imitates the sound of gobbling
birds when a pellet banged into the back of his head. Nofsinger,
who didn't know his assailant, wasn't seriously injured. Later,
he tried without success to make a joke of it: "I asked him—'Are
you related to Dick Cheney?' He didn't like that."
Five states can boast more licensed gun dealers than gas stations,
and all are in the West—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming and
Alaska, reports The Associated Press. Overall, however, the number
of gun dealers across the nation is in sharp decline, thanks to
more costly insurance and tightened federal restrictions. Idaho,
for example, has 682 federally licensed gun dealers today; in 1994,
there were 2,300. The nonprofit Violence Policy Center, in Washington,
D.C., says that the dealers shut down were "kitchen table"
types who operated out of their homes or offices. But people still
seem to be buying lots of weapons. Said gun dealer Ed Santos in
Post Falls, Idaho, "We're seeing very good sales. They're either
holding their own or rising."
A Scrabble tournament in Hankinson, N.D., had an ulterior purpose:
preventing the Dakota Sioux language from going the way of the dodo.
Kids from reservation schools in North Dakota, South Dakota and
Manitoba competed by putting down words in their native language,
now spoken fluently by just a few elders. One survey predicted that
the last speaker would die in 2025, reports AP. "With these
efforts, we'll try to prolong that," said a teacher. One team
of middle-schoolers began by choosing the letters for sa, pronounced
"shah," the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota word for red; the
next team built on it to form sapa, which means "dirty."
Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range,
a service of High Country News in
Paonia, Colorado (email@example.com).
Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared
in the column, Heard around the West.