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Bob Gajkowski

Bob Gajkowski explains the purpose of the Placitas History Project to the attentive audience.

Placitas History Project chronicles the past

The Placitas History Project (PHP) is up and running! PHP’s first meeting at the Placitas Community Library on July 8, attracted 25 history enthusiasts ranging from a Placitas-born descendant of the original San Antonio de las Huertas Land Grant families to some who had moved here as recently as 2-5 months ago. A wide range of backgrounds was represented from an archivist at UNM and professional researches to curious residents and history buffs, all interested in learning more about our community’s history and development.

A wide-ranging discussion covered areas of interest including the San Antonio de las Huertas Land Grant, the “first Woodstock,” the economic life and development of the community, motion pictures/TV shows filmed in the area, Placitas during the 60’s and 70’s, politics, popular culture and more. Each area of interest was discussed in an effort to select those for initial investigation. Investigative guidelines and methods such as timelines, mapping, photography and recording of oral histories were reviewed with the intent to bring balance to the project.

The first topics chosen to be investigated were “Placitas during the 60’s and 70’s” and “popular culture.” At the next PHP meeting the methods and tools to be used in gathering and recording information will be discussed and refined. Once these basic guidelines are established, investigating groups will be able to look into a variety of aspects of our community’s history in a balanced and interesting way.

Bob Gajkowski, organizer of PHP, emphasized that the purpose of the group is two-fold. First, to collect, record and authenticate the many aspects of the story of Placitas before the primary sources are no longer available because of death, development or neglect. Second, and most importantly, to provide present and future residents and historians with a resource to learn about and appreciate the unique and varied stories of Placitas and it’s people. Although this project seems to be very academic in nature, Gajkowski stressed that it’s really about discovering and recording the unusual, humorous, tragic, momentous and everyday events that affected the lives and history of our community.

The next meeting of the Placitas History Project will be held on Thursday, August 26, at 6:30 p.m. in the Collin Room at the Placitas Community Library. Everyone interested in learning about the history of Placitas is encouraged to attend and anyone who might have memorabilia, stories or photos is welcome to bring them to share.

For questions or more information, call Bob Gajkowski at 771-0253.

More on the Sandia Mountains

Authors Bob Julyan, Michael Coltrin, and Mike Smith will be speaking on Saturday morning, August 21, at 10:00 a.m., at the Esther Bone Memorial Library about the Sandia Mountains.

Bob Julyan has written several books on hiking in New Mexico as well as The Place Names of New Mexico, Field Guide to the Sandia Mountains, and The Mountains of New Mexico. Mike Coltrin has written Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide and has a website ( with information about the Sandia Mountains and its hiking trails along with trail difficulty ratings. Mike Smith is the author of Towns of the Sandia Mountains, filled with photographs and historical information about the area.

The authors will be available to sell and sign their books after their talk and give the audience an opportunity to ask questions. The Esther Bone Library is located at 950 Pinetree Road SE in Rio Rancho. For more information, call 891-5012, and select option 3.

How does your garden grow?

—Charlotte Lough, Chair, Casa Rosa Food Bank

As summer comes into full bloom and home gardeners are beginning to harvest produce from their gardens, Casa Rosa consumers would be most appreciative of any excess produce that you cannot use. If you are willing to share some of the “fruits of your labor” from your home garden, you may bring it to Casa Rosa, the pink house just east of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, on Friday morning between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., while volunteers are accepting and shelving the Roadrunner delivery, or on Saturday morning between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m., before distribution of food begins.

In the Jubilee Garden, across the highway from Las Placitas Church and to the west of the basketball court, CR volunteers weed, stake, and help water the one-third acre available there. Those working in the garden have planted corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant to mention a few. Dan Gips, the overseer of the garden this year, floods the garden regularly from the acequia to provide water to the plants. Other volunteers weed, stake, and help maintain the garden. When the garden produces vegetables, the clients who have worked in the garden will be able to harvest. If you are interested in helping in the garden, you can contact Dan Gips at or to find out details of when volunteers will be working.

The August Casa Rosa Mobile Food Pantry (MFP), held in the Fellowship Hall of Las Placitas Presbyterian church, will be Thursday, August 12, with distribution from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. This is a change from the prior pantries that have been on Wednesday in the morning. In September, the pantry will return to the regular time of the second Wednesday morning of each month.

An event coming up on Saturday, August 28, will be Casa Rosa’s second anniversary celebration. There will be a cookout, music, and special recognition of donors and dedicated volunteers. Casa Rosa clients, volunteers, community members, church members—Catholic and protestant, contributing businesses, and friends are all invited to come join in the festivities.

Our two new fund-raising items will be available at the celebration. The first is seed pots, hand-painted in Mexico, each different, with a variety of motifs painted on them. They will be available in various packages, some with seed packets, some alone, and some in pairs. They make wonderful gifts for anyone or can be displayed in your home. The second fund-raiser is a CD, created by Ben Franklin, a keyboard artist from western Massachusetts. He was inspired by the beauty of the High Desert and the wild horses while visiting his sister Cory in Placitas. He also became friends with David Cramer, photographer of the wild horses and nature of the Southwest, and made arrangements to use one of David’s photographs of “White Lightning” on the cover of his CD. Cory says, “As you listen, can you feel the spirit of the mustangs, can you see the majesty of a purple-orange-red sunset, can you smell the desert after a summer storm; do you know contentment?”

Come to the celebration, join in the fun, see the new fund-raiser items, and see how far Casa Rosa has come in the past year. The volunteers and clients at Casa Rosa thank all those who continue to support Casa Rosa and its mission to “...provide food, services, and other life needs to empower the people of Placitas.” At Casa Rosa we value people as they are, the fellowship of participants who support our mission, the beliefs of others with no pressure to participate in Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, and suggestions for meeting the needs of Placitas Community and the surrounding area.

If you would like to donate fresh produce, help shelve the goods delivered from Roadrunner on Friday mornings, assist with the distribution on Saturday mornings, re-bag pet food for the clients, work in the Jubilee garden on designated days, help sort and organize donated clothing, help paint inside Casa Rosa, or any other opportunity for service, you may contact Charlotte Lough at or call the church office at 867-5718 for further information. There are jobs to fit any and all levels of ability and energy. It is also fun getting acquainted with other volunteers and consumers at Casa Rosa. Come and join in this incredible outreach to our community.

Placitas Library: parties, slideshows, book signings and more

—Anne Frost, Co-Director

The Placitas Community Library is hummingalong in our new building. Welcome to the many Placiteños who have recently discovered the Library. Over three hundred new patrons have joined since we opened in May. Everyone is enjoying the new space and finding lots of interesting things to read and watch. If you have not yet had a chance to stop in, check it out! We think you will be delighted.

Our first and wildly successful Adult Summer Reading Program (over one hundred folks signed-up), “Catch the Reading Wave,” will end on Saturday, August 14. That’s the last day for members to record any and all books you’ve read since May 22. We’ll celebrate the end of our first adult summer reading program at the “Catch the Reading Wave” party on Friday, August 20, starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Library. Everyone who registered for the program is welcome. There’ll be food, time to share ideas on books read this summer, and lots of prizes. Come and meet the other avid readers who “caught the wave.” For more information, call Judy G at 771-0253. See you on the 20th!

August 14 will also bring Anne Hillerman (daughter of Tony Hillerman) and photographer Don Strel to the Library at 2:00 p.m. for a slideshow and book signing. Please join us for a delightful journey through the Southwest that so enlivens Tony Hillerman’s many mystery novels. [See Hillerman, Strel present three books in Placitas.]

Don’t miss out on Placitas’s Biggest Social Event of the year, ”Books on the Bosque”: September 26 at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort. All proceeds go to benefit the Friends of the Placitas Community Library for Operational Expenses. This is a dinner with live/silent auction with auctioneer Rocky Durham, Culinary Director of the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Thanks to the amazing talent and generosity of so many Placitas artists, this is a very high-quality sale with many exquisite and valuable items. To spice up the evening, live auction items include a trip to Mexico, cooking classes, Hopi pottery, hot-air balloon rides, and more. Tickets are $80. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 771-8941.

The Placitas Library is excited to announce that our Collin Room is now ready for art exhibits. In August, we will display a number of the Architectural drawings by Placitas elementary School students of their ideas for the new library building. They are fanciful and most imaginative; come take a look. Our September exhibit will be photos and other items of Placitas History in conjunction with the September 11 “Placitas History Storytelling with Ora Correa and Joan Fenicle.” Beginning in October, the space is available. Priority will be given to local artists and to Library programs. If you are interested in exhibiting at the Placitas Community Library during the fall of 2010 and 2011, please request an application at the Library or online at

It does take a Village to keep this little Library moving. If you would like to become involved with the Library, we are always looking for new volunteers. We are especially interested in folks who might want to join the Library Board of Directors or Advisory Council. The Board is an active one and has need of a wide variety of skills and interests. Please leave your contact information at the Library (867-3355) and the PCL Board Chair will give you a call.

Upcoming events:

  • Monday, August 2: 4:00-5:30 p.m.: PCL Book Group #1 (closed to new members)
  • Saturday, August 14: 2:00 p.m.: Anne Hillerman and Don Strel slideshow and book signing
  • Tuesday, August 17: 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.: PCL Book Group #2 (closed to new members)
    Note: Interested in leading Book Group #3? Please leave your name and number at the Library
  • Wednesday, August 18: 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.: PCL Board Meeting
  • Friday, August 20: 7:00 p.m.: Catch the Reading Wave Party

Library hours:

Tuesdays: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Placitas Community Library is located at 453 Highway 165 (867-3355 or

Jardineros de Placitas host “A Summer Serenade”

—Cathryne Richards, Historian Chair Jardineros de Placitas

"The Jardineros de Placitas sponsored "A Summer Serenade" July 21, at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. All of the performaners had ties to the Placitas community and provided exceptional talent and grace.

The organizer, Joan Lucero, along with Sue Overly and many other helpers from Jardineros came up with some lovely refreshments and were cordial hostesses to the Community Center seniors, area residents and also to a group from the Bernallilo Senior Center.

It was a lovely way to spend a summer day. Many thanks to Jardineros de Placitas and especially to Joan Lucero and Sue Overly for planning such a wonderful community event. Thanks also goes out to The Presbyterian Chuch for the performance space and Leland Bowen for managing the sound.

With some effort this might become an annual event. It is just one way that the Jardineros are involved in community outreach; “we don't just garden any more, we cultivate the community."

Greater Sandoval County Chamber of Commerce turns 4-years-old

In July, the Greater Sandoval County Chamber of Commerce (GSCCC) celebrated it’s fourth year “in the business of business,” as executive director, Nick Vuillemot, eloquently stated.

The celebratory gathering was held at The Flying Star Restaurant in Bernalillo where a large crowd gathered to partake in the festivities and networking with fellow members. Currently, the GSCCC consists of just over 200 members and Mr. Vuillemot expects the GSCCC to have 500 members by their seventh year in business. Congratulations to the GSCCC and Garcia Tire in Bernalillo for becoming the 200th member.

The GSCCC assists it’s members through “sales and management training, seminars on business oriented topics, member networking and introductions to other business people to help them run a smoother, more profitable and ethical business.”

Mr. Vuillemot is so certain that the GSCCC will be beneficial to the community and it’s members that they even offer a 90-day guarantee that member’s businesses will be positively impacted by the GSCCC. The GSCCC is currently flourishing with an ethnically diverse membership in Sandoval County, including Algodones, Bernalillo, Corrales, Jemez Springs, Pena Blanca, Placitas, Rio Rancho and San Ysidro.

As one of five New Mexico Chambers of Commerce that are members of the United States Chamber of Commerce’s Federation, they can offer members assistance on a National level. The GSCCC also has contacts at City, County and State levels to help members access top level “Decision Makers.”

The GSCCC meets on the third Thursday of every month; the dates and places can be found on its website.

For more information visit or call (505) 404-2073. The GSCCC offices are located at 848 South Camino del Pueblo, Room 5, in Bernalillo.

Resilient Placitas

Resilient Placitas to host small farmers forum

On Saturday, August 14, from 9:00 to 11 a.m., at Anasazi Fields Winery, the public is invited to attend the second meeting in a series of public discussions hosted by Resilient Placitas on topics of local self-sufficiency and community resiliency in the face of a changing and challenging outlook for our world. The June presentation on water harvesting and conservation was a great success.

This month, Resilient Placitas says it will take a look at the issues of our dependence on food transported from afar and the factory farming with petroleum and pesticides that denies dignity to those that produce; Placitas and the surrounding area have a long history of small farming and now an amazing new resurgence of local food producers.

They invite you to come hear practical presentations by some of your neighbors about their gardens, greenhouses, chickens, and other earthy topics and participate in a discussion about what works and what doesn’t. Following the food discussion will be an opportunity to get more involved on specific topics of your interest in small groups and perhaps make some new connections.

The meeting will begin with a short video on how, in the early 1990s, the island of Cuba was faced with the cut-off of most of its petroleum imports and within several years, as a necessity of survival, transformed their agriculture from primarily industrial-scale sugar exports to eighty percent organic food production for local consumption, including the amazing blossoming of urban agriculture in Havana and other cities.

Remember to bring those extra squash, cucumbers, peppers, etc., to the meeting. Certainly you will be able to trade them for something. For more information, contact Dan Gips (867-4801, or Vickie Peck (867-1588

Anasazi Fields Winery is located just west of the village of Placitas. Turn north off Hwy. 165 at approximately mile marker 6.1, onto Camino de los Pueblitos and follow the signs.






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