Sandoval Signpost
An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988
  The Gauntlet
c. Rudi Klimpert

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letters, opinions, editorials

ESCA organizes

—Orin Safier

In May of this year, citizens from Placitas and Algodones held a very successful meet-and-greet at the Anasazi Winery to thank our legislators for their work in getting approved legislation, severing us from East Sandoval County Arroyo and Flood Control Authority (ESCAFCA). We also announced plans to create a new organization, Eastern Sandoval Citizen’s Association, Inc. (ESCA). At that time it was announced that if approximately 150 pledges of $50 were received, ESCA would be formed. ESCA has received sufficient pledges to begin organizing and is nearing its incorporation as a 501(c)4 non-profit organization.

The purpose of ESCA is to serve as a citizens advocacy organization for residents in Sandoval County who live east of Highway I-25. This includes all of Placitas, the part of Algodones east of I-25, and the parts of the East Mountains that are in Sandoval County. ESCA will serve as a watchdog group on legislative action and well as other activities in our state and county governments. ESCA will also serve to advocate for policies that benefit the East Sandoval community.

The need for ESCA is shown by how the ESCAFCA flood control authority was originally legislated in 2008 without our input, indeed with almost none of us knowing about it. This led to a bond issue being passed that will saddle us with property taxes for some years to come. Now, due to the diligent work of a number of local citizens, we have legislation that removes Placitas and the east part of Algodones from ESCAFCA. If a vigilant ESCA had existed years ago, this legislation might have been avoided entirely.

There have been other issues over the years that would have benefited greatly from having this organization in place: the efforts on the Cashwell zoning application, and on the Placitas Area Plan were spearheaded by local citizens from various parts of Placitas, who were loosely organized. Another Cashwell zoning application, this time for Special Use zoning for Cluster Housing Development, will be heard at the July 28 County Planning and Zoning Meeting. This application is targeted at the property to the immediate north and east of the firehouse on Hwy. 165, bordered by Overlook Drive on the east, and continuing up and over the ridgetop. The application includes 65 high-density homes with 17 houses, tightly clustered on the ridgetop. These houses would be right in our viewscape, and would be the first of many for Placitas if the application gets county approval. This is the sort of issue that ESCA is designed to address in an organized and effective manner. Predictably, there will be other similar issues in the coming years.

Soon ESCA will have a general meeting to form subcommittees to meet and establish coverage of local and state government meetings that might affect us. ESCA will also take nominations for its board of directors, to be composed of seven. Three directors will be at large, and voted on by all voting members.  The other four will come from four individual districts of approximately equal population, within the ESCA area, and will be voted on by members of each particular district. The first general meeting is planned to meet in September, and the first election for directors, will be in October.

ESCA will have both voting and non-voting members. Voting annual membership dues are $50 per person, and are open to all persons, 18 years or older, who own or rent property in the ESCA area. Multiple persons from a single household can be members, and each will get an individual vote. Non-voting members can attend general meetings and will receive some general information on ESCA activities, but cannot hold director positions or vote for directors or any other issue. 

Membership dues are being collected now. They should be made out to “ESCA” and mailed to ESCA, 1 Ridge Court, Placitas, NM 87043. Please include the name or names of the members, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Up-to-date information about ESCA can be found at the web site:

Placitas parade

Parade onlookers get a big dose of  water from fire truck

re: The Annual Placitas 4th of July Parade—”What’s become of our wonderful parade?”

After attending the parade yesterday, I have to ask a few questions of the attendees…what is this, a parade or a water fight?

In the past, with the exception of the last four to five years, parade watchers arrived, sat up their chairs under some shade, and awaited one of the more wonderful and peaceful events to happen in the Placitas area. Children on bicycles, kazoo bands, garden clubs, vintage cars proudly driven past by their owners, riders on horseback, small children and their parents on handmade floats, church groups on truck and tractor drawn trailers that had been carefully prepared to showcase their group. It was a delight. Now I notice many people showing up with coolers, and buckets full of water for their super soaker water guns. Fire extinguishers have been converted to propel water further and in greater quantity. I notice also, no riders on horseback, a mere three children on bicycles, three members of the Jardineros de Placitas, and only a couple of decorated trailers. I also notice all involved in the parade are soaked to the skin, whether they want to be or not. Perhaps that is why the parade is dwindling—imagine spending lots of time decorating a trailer or making a float only to have it destroyed within minutes of the parades beginning. Bystanders along the road, grandparents with grandchildren, families with perfect spots, picked out early in the morning for the best view, all soaked by the PVFD trucks, who I actually blame for inciting all the water spraying activity a few years back. They fired the first shot and some parade watchers now anxiously look forward to showing up with gallons of the wet stuff so they can wreak havoc on the parade participants.

It is very sad that, like many events in America, the tiny Placitas 4th of July parade has converted into a mindless free-for-all that very few are still willing to endure. It is truly sad to see the families gathering only to teach their young children that in the spirit of July 4th, you should take your water gun to the local parade and soak anyone in range. I have an idea, perhaps the folks who want to have a water gun fight can mosey on down to the fire department an hour before the parade and have a free-for-all with the PVFD and get it out of their systems so that the rest of us might be able to sit peacefully enjoying a parade reminiscent of years past….although not so long ago. I for one would enjoy that immensely. 

It’s a travesty that such a wonderful event has deteriorated into such mayhem. I admire and respect the PVFD and what they do for the community, but it would be nice if they appealed to the attendees of the parade to let the children on bicycles, the llama wagon, the mounted riders, and the floats to be allowed to participate without the fear of being drenched for their efforts. It would be nice to see the fire trucks with their sirens and horns blaring without the fear of being soaked by the truck with the hidden sprayers on the side. 

Let’s please regain our sanity and make July 4th, 2012, a truly beautiful occasion, a tribute to our lovely community on our nation’s birthday. Bring on the vintage cars, the happy kids on their shiny bicycles, the floats created by hand, the large group of riders atop their trusty steeds painted red, white, and blue, the marching Jardineros de Placitas tossing candy to the attendees, and even the sirens and horns of the PVFD, sans water cannons. Think about it…. 

Marty Davis, Placitas

Placitas Artists Series float

Placitas Artists Series Kazoo Philharmonic in the 2011 Placitas Fourth of July parade

re: the annual fourth of July water fight

Recently, the Placitas Fourth of July Parade seems to have taken an insidious turn for the worse. The water fight makes it dreadfully unpleasant now. Many parade participants, including us, have been a party to this, but it’s time for it to stop. The Placitas Artists Series would like to see a return to a less adversarial event.

After some years of accelerating water fights, one asks, what is the purpose of having a parade where the major focus seems to be a water fight between those who dare venture into the parade, and those along the parade route? Is the ultimate goal to determine how vicious and comprehensive the water trajectory can be? Is there to be a prize for those with the most all-encompassing water delivery? Is there a limit to the methods of dispersing this precious element? Water pistols have been replaced by water guns, hoses, cannons and, most recently, water balloons have been tossed at, and landed hard on, the parade participants. 

There are several things very distressing about this potentially happy celebration:

  • Water balloons are dangerous and painful.
  • The parade is no longer fun to be in or attend.
  • It wastes water when our state is awash in fires.
  • It divides the community.
  • It turns the celebration into a fight. Water balloons feel like a mean gesture.
  • You can have nothing on the float that is fragile.
  • For the PAS, the kazoos won’t work if they get wet.
  • It is not pleasant to be soaking wet just because we went out to bring some pleasure to others in a spirit of community.
  • It discourages other entities in the village from entering into the parade.

Would you want to be the first person who hits someone in the face with a water balloon, breaks their glasses and damages their eyes?

In summary: water fights seem to have become the main reason for the parade, and this divides the parade into warring factions rather than drawing the community together in a shared celebration.

Several possible solutions are:

  1. Ban all but water pistols, and agree to not spray water at anyone who is not “armed”
  2. Ban water altogether
  3. Get the community more involved in entry into the parade: e.g., other businesses and groups; children with decorated bicycles, pets and such (the parade used to include them); marching bands and musical combos; clowns; horses, llamas, donkeys, and more

If something is not rectified for the coming year, I doubt that I will participate, and neither will many who have been hit by water balloons and found them painful.

—Dianna Shomaker, president,Placitas Artists Series Board of Directors, Placitas Artists Series, Kazoo Philharmonic

re: shaman vs. Christian

There is a life-size effigy of a shaman at the entrance to our tiny strip mall, Homestead Village, here in Placitas. The shaman was placed there by the art gallery owner. The effigy is so well executed that it is making certain local Christians nervous. So far, we are in round 2 or 3 of letters-to-the-editor here in the Signpost.

Dear Christian: The shaman effigy is no threat to Christianity and Christians. Where is the stalwart Christian in you? Where is the Christian soldier who knows, in the face of all perceived slights and threats, that Christ’s way is the Way. The artist’s rendering of the shaman does not have the power to hurt you. The sculpture is not going to turn Placitas into a nest of devil-worshippers.

—Greg Leichner, Placitas

re: letter to friends back east

Dear Friends Back East,

You’ve asked whether I have yet become a true New Mexican, after abandoning you straphangers in the big, muggy Apple several years ago, or whether I remain, in your words, “…a pitiable, retired fop, out of water”.

That’s a tough one. I prefer to think of myself as a mildly stuffy prig whose steadily diminishing elitist personhood is being gradually replaced by sturdiness, stalwartness, as well as by basal cell carcinoma on and around his nose and upper cheeks.

There are other clues to my adaptable self-including ownership of several western style shirts with contrasting yoke designs and snap closures on pockets and cuffs. I would doubtlessly remind you of our heroes of old—Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown, Roy Rogers and, I suppose, Dale Evans in her later years. I’ve also bought two pairs of fine cowboy boots, but have not graduated to string ties, and never will without force being applied.

Additionally, I’ve attended several rodeos at which I observed any number of young, slender cowboy fellows attempting to ride enormous bovine mammals as large as subway cars, and who vigorously object to any and all passenger loadings. These rides generally last about half as long as it takes to acquire a slice of stale cheesecake from the 43rd and 3rd Avenue automat and seem to be devoid of purpose. I don’t get it, but at least I attend such events.

Yes, Mighty Patrick the Cat and Retired Serial Killer is doing fine—aging gracefully, shedding profusely, asking for little. And vocals by Nana Mouskouri still cause him to purr like a steam locomotive. Thank you for asking. Come see him—he’d remember each of you fondly.

Patrick remains adventuresome. Two weeks ago, he slipped through the fence and decided to search the snakeweed in front of the house for lizard playmates. As I exited the front door to retrieve him, I saw him suddenly crouch low and stealthily approach the rabbit feeding area under a pinon tree, where tawny-colored movements could be seen.

As we both approached that low-hanging tree, a young cougar suddenly burst out and fled down the fence line, Patrick chasing him and me loudly issuing orders for retreat.  As his considerably larger cousin disappeared, Patrick halted and slowly ambled towards me, occasionally looking over his shoulder as if to holler “...and don’t come back!”

Clearly, he thought he was solely responsible for driving the cougar away, as he stopped and looked up at me, his big yellow eyes saying, “See that, boss?  I still got my stuff.”

Patrick has adapted more fully than his alleged master. Sometimes, as I watch him leisurely watching the New Mexico sun fall behind distant mountains, he reminds me of an old feline gunslinger, knowing he’s approaching the end of his 9th life, fully and peacefully accepting his lot, and appreciative of all that life has provided. It’s his primitive altruism, gratitude and unbridled affection for humankind that makes me wish the wee lad could vote.

Thanks for your letters.  May the fire department open a hydrant near you.

Your Friend, Herb

—Herb Hohn, Placitas





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