The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


c. Rudi Klimpert

Peanut Butter & Jelly Therapeutic Preschool asking for help in Bernalillo

Family sponsors and volunteers needed to assist PB&J Family Services at their facility in Bernalillo this holiday season.

PB&J Family Services is a child-abuse prevention and treatment program that has been working with families in central New Mexico since 1972. Its mission is to help at-risk children grow and develop to their full potential in nurturing families within a supportive community. More than one hundred Sandoval County families with preschoolers are served each year at the Bernalillo location.

The greatest need this year is for sponsors who are willing to “adopt" a family by providing them a complete Christmas—a food box or food certificate, presents, and new clothing, or gift certificates for these items.

TPB&J is seeking twenty additional volunteers to help sort and wrap presents for the children, decorate, and assist with Christmas events.

PB&J is also asking the community to donate unwrapped Christmas presents for their low-income client families. Books, art and craft supplies, dolls, crayons, toys, warm clothing, and gift or food certificates are among the items that would bring holiday cheer to a family in need. PB&J asks that all gifts be brand-new, since that makes children with low self-esteem feel special and loved.

Call Teresa Otero, at 867-2356, for information about the Christmas-sponsor or -gift programs. She can provide a complete list of the types of gifts that are needed.

Gifts can be dropped off between December 1 and December 16 at the Peanut Butter & Jelly Therapeutic Preschool, 255A Camino del Pueblo, in Bernalillo, on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., or at the Las Placitas Presbyterian Church office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
People willing to donate some time to PB&J in Bernalillo before Christmas should call volunteer coordinator Bill Dunmire, at (505) 867-3474.

Christmas at Coronado

Hundreds of luminarias will light your way on the trail through the Kuaua Pueblo ruins.on December 2 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Coronado State Monument, in Bernalillo. There will be caroling, traditional dances, an elves’ workshop, and a visit from Santa. Admission is free, and refreshments will be served by the Friends of Coronado. The monument is at 485 Kuaua Road, I-25, Exit 242, one mile west on Highway 550.

Tree permits available for Cibola Forest

Tree-cutting permits are available over the counter at Cibola National Forest offices now through December 24. The cost is $10 per permit and each household is limited to one permit and up to four additional permits for family or friends. Be sure to have names and addresses available. Timber-management officer Tom Marks says “With the recent fire disasters, it is important to note that cutting Christmas trees helps thin overcrowded timber stands on National Forests.”

The following types of trees may be cut on the Cibola National Forest: piñon, juniper, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, blue spruce, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and Southwestern white pine (timber pine). In the Gallinas Mountains of the Mountainair Ranger District only piñon and juniper trees may be cut.

Permits may be purchased at the Cibola National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 2113 Osuna Road NE, Suite A, Albuquerque. (505) 346-3900, open Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

There is no Christmas-tree cutting on the Sandia Ranger District. Individuals interested in tree cutting on the Santa Fe (Jemez, Pecos, Cuba, and Las Vegas Ranger Districts) should contact Santa Fe National Forest, (505) 438-7840 for specific information. Permits will be available at all Santa Fe district offices.

Food drive benefits hungry New Mexicans

Aardvark Audiobooks is holding its fifth annual holiday food drive to benefit Roadrunner Food Bank. Nonperishable and canned food will be collected at both Aardvark locations: 3301 Menaul NE and 8510 Montgomery NE. The drive will run through December 31: Mondays through Fridays, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 4:00 p.m. Roadrunner Food Bank has been feeding hungry New Mexicans for twenty-five years. For further information, call 505-881-8273.

With community help, Bugg Lights will shine again at Traditions!

With the Rio Grande Civitan Club leading the way, Albuquerque community organizations have been preparing the traditional Bugg House Lights for the annual Christmas Under the Stars at Traditions! Festival Marketplace. Throughout the fall, members of the Rio Grande Civitans have been refurbishing the animated displays, sewing clothes for the penguins in the John “Penguin” Souza band, and renovating many of the traditional Bugg Light characters. Both the traditional animated displays and the newer Bugg Garden will be on exhibit from November 12 to January 1.

“The Rio Grande Civitan Club undertook the adoption of the Bugg displays because they bring such joy to young and old,” said Carol Kline, Rio Grande Civitan Club leader. “The Bugg Lights are a unique community tradition and we are happy to be part of their continued legacy.” The Rio Grande chapter's decision inspired members from other clubs, including the Bernalillo High School Booster Club and the Route 66 Car Club. Their combined work has made possible this local holiday tradition grow into a statewide tradition.

This year's Christmas Under the Stars boasts over half a million lights and a Santa's Village, with hot cocoa, biscochitos, posole, and, of course, Santa. Noon Day Ministries hosts Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the elves. Children young and old may have their picture taken with Santa free of charge.

Donations to Noon Day Ministries, a provider of basic services for the homeless, are welcome.

Traditions! is off I-25 at Budaghers Exit 257, halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. For more information, call Stephanie Coleman, development director, (505) 867-8600.

Holiday gifts for New Mexico National Guard in Iraq

Last year, Placitans sent more than two hundred holiday packages to New Mexico National Guard troops stationed in Iraq. Once again, over two hundred young men and women from our guard will be spending the holidays in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo. You can help make their Christmas a little brighter by sending a gift from home. Retired General George Franzen, of Placitas, contacted National Guard Headquarters in Albuquerque for the names of units and their commanders.

Mailers and instructions are available in Placitas at the Merc and First State Bank, in Homestead Village, and at the Mini Mart and post office, in the village of Placitas. The mailers and instructions are addressed to the unit commanders, who will distribute the gifts to the troops in their unit. To arrive by Christmas, mailers must be sent by priority mail by December 10.

Suggested items include phone cards, compact discs, DVDs, handheld games, batteries, books, playing cards, stationery, pens, pencils, beef jerky, power bars, candy, gum, nuts, dried fruit, powdered drink mixes, lip balm, and baby wipes. No alcoholic beverages will be accepted.

Organizer Alan Friedman said, “I thought this gesture is beyond politics. Young people are in great danger, and they are just doing their duty. Some of them would no doubt rather be home for Christmas.”

For more information, call Alan Friedman, at 771-8819.

Give a gift ... back!

Not sure you like the sweater you found under the tree? Still have a third toaster in the box you haven't opened from last year? Hate waiting in return lines after the holidays?

The New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women and New Mexico Insurance Sources have a solution for you.

Every year many women and their families struggle through the holiday seasons; some do not qualify for traditional low-income programs and are working at minimum-wage jobs that do not provide enough for a festive holiday season.

This year we are asking community members to “Give a Gift ... Back!” This program allows individuals and families to donate unneeded and unwanted gifts to families that are struggling through the holiday season.

Unwrapped gifts will be collected at New Mexico Insurance Sources, 9308 Menaul Boulevard NE, in Albuquerque, from Monday, November 28, through Friday, January 20. All gifts received will be donated to families or needy charities.

For more information, please contact Dona Swenson, at New Mexico Insurance Sources, 237-0031.

Albuquerque Messiah sing-in to benefit food banks

The fourth annual Messiah Sing-In will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6, at the First Presbyterian Church at 215 Locust NE, Albuquerque (southwest corner of I-25 and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive).

You can rent or purchase a score or bring your own.

The sing-in will be conducted by Reverend Allen Webner, Minister of Music at Asbury United Methodist Church, and will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra and pipe organ. Ample parking and a staffed nursery will be available.

A freewill offering will benefit six Albuquerque food banks: Albuquerque Rescue Mission, Barrett House, Noon Day Ministries, Rio Grande Food Bank, the Salvation Army, and the Storehouse.

No experience is required, just the desire to sing the wonderful Messiah, Part I and a few selections from Part II. Bring your friends and come to sing Handel's Messiah with us. Those who just want to listen are also encouraged to attend. A reception will follow.

Help wrap gifts for Blessings Day

Blessings Day is here once again. The Optimists de Sandoval, along with the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department will be providing food, clothing, and toys to twenty or thirty families again this year.

You can help.

Join the Optimists at the Placitas Community Center on December 17 from 9:00 a.m. to noon and help wrap the new clothing and toys for the families. Then on December 19, from 9:00 a.m. until noon, at the San Antonio Mission, in Placitas, help us pack the boxes to be picked up by the sheriff’s department. For further information, call 867-3077.

Create less waste this holiday season

Along with good holiday cheer comes a lot of extra waste: Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s compared to any other time of the year. The extra waste amounts to about one million extra tons per week.

The gift packaging, food waste, and decorations from parties really start to add up. If each of us tried a few waste-reduction efforts, we would see a significant positive impact during the holidays and subsequent weeks.

Here are a number of ways to make this holiday season greener:

• Consider giving no-waste gifts, such as music or sports lessons, memberships to a gym, symphony, or museum, favors like babysitting, or tickets to a sporting event or concert. Many products made from recycled content make great gifts; be sure to buy durable, reusable products that will last a long time.
• When packaging gifts, consider reduced or no-waste wrapping options. Put a large, reusable bow on the gift; place the gift in a reusable bag, such as a backpack or purse; package small, themed gifts in a larger item—such as plates or table service inside place mats or a tablecloth or kitchen utensils in an apron or decorative dishtowel.
• Make your own wrapping paper by using pages from the newspaper or magazines, decorating paper shopping bags, or cutting pieces from maps or posters. Recycled-content wrapping paper is also available. Save bags and bows to use on future gifts.
• If you are attending a party or dinner and are bringing a dish for the meal or an edible gift for the host, be sure to package it in a reusable container. If the item is a gift, place it on a decorative holiday plate or in a washable kitchen container, or wrap it in a holiday towel.
• Send holiday greetings via e-mail—it’s a great way to share photos and keep in touch more frequently. If you send cards in the mail, make them with last year’s cards or wrapping paper.
• When entertaining, use washable utensils, plates, glasses, napkins, and table coverings. Decorate with plants (that your guests may take home and plant in their yards as a commemoration of the holiday celebration) or candles. Be sure to have containers available where your guests can dispose of recyclable cans and bottles. If you have leftover food, send it home with your guests in reusable containers or donate it to a local homeless shelter.
• If you receive new items that will replace current possessions, donate the old ones to a local charity.

Christmas in Bernalillo features states oldest nighttime parade

The annual Christmas-tree lighting at Bernalillo Town Hall will be held December 2 with the state's oldest nighttime parade to wind through town the following evening. Both events begin at 6:00 p.m.

The twenty-first annual Christmas parade, on December 3, starts at Industrial Park Road and moves north on Camino del Pueblo, then west on Calle del Norte and south on Calle Don Tomas to Rotary Park for a bonfire and refreshments.

The parade, themed “A Vintage Christmas,” features lighted floats from the town and region. Participants this year include an Albuquerque Tricentennial float and the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, the National Basketball Association Development League team that played its first home game November 25.

Poetry and music at Placitas winter-solstice celebration

A number of nationally known poets, as well as local talent (some of whom are nationally known, too), will be reading their works at Las Placitas Earth Care’s eighth annual candlelight poetry reading. The reading, which will be held at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church at 7:00 pm, Wednesday, December 21, celebrates the winter solstice, the longest night of the year.

The theme for the 2005 event, “To Know the Dark,” is from a poem by Wendell Berry, which has been put to music by composer John Pitney and will be performed by Joanna de Keyser, cello, and Judith Hendry, alto and flute, as a prelude to the proceedings. The poems themselves will provide insights and variations on Berry's idea....

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To go in the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

By now a staple in Placitas's cultural life, the annual winter-solstice poetry reading attracts writers from a wide area. This year they include Zachary Michael Jack, who is traveling here from Illinois, as well as poets from Santa Fe, Galisteo, Chimayó, Albuquerque, Boulder, Colorado, and Placitas itself. In all, eleven authors will appear, reading by the light of a single candle in the nave of the church, with a space of silence following each poem so that listeners can reflect on the meaning. Besides Zachary Jack's work are offerings by Tani Arness, Karen Bowen, James Burbank, Jim Fish, Kat Heatherington, Michelle Holland, Mark Kraushaar, Charles Little, John Tritica, and Anne Valley-Fox.

The winter-solstice candlelight reading, one of four “earth vespers” held at the turn of the seasons, is organized by Las Placitas Earth Care Committee.

As a memento of the occasion, the committee is publishing a chapbook, with a cover design by local artist Bunny Bowen, containing all the poems read, with notes about the authors. The chapbook is free to those attending, as is the reading itself. All are welcome, and the parking is ample.

For further information about this event, and about the work of the Earth Care Committee, please call Leland Bowen, chair, at (505) 867-2731 or

Los Comanchitos
Comanchitos dance at last year’s Las Posadas in Placitas

Las Posadas, a local tradition

Every year during the nine days before Christmas, members of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Bermalillo participate in Las Posadas. Different families volunteer to open their homes for a ritual retelling of the story of the birth of Christ.

Angie and Margarito Sedillo have hosted one of the Posadas in Placitas for several years. Angie explains, “Las Posadas (Spanish for “the inns”) retells the story of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter on their cold and difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. When they arrive they are turned away at every place they look for lodging. Eventually they find shelter in a manger, which is where Mary gave birth to Jesus. A traditional song is sung in Spanish by church members standing outside with Mary, Joseph, the wise men, a shepherd, an angel, and a donkey. Inside the house, the host, playing the part of the innkeeper, sings a song that says that there is no room in the inn. Finally the innkeeper takes everybody in and together they sing joyful songs and offer prayers of the Novena. When the evening’s Posadas are finished, food is served for everyone to enjoy.”

Angie said that last year at least four hundred people attended the Posadas at her house, including a film crew from Spain that was documenting the event as part of a series about New Mexican traditions. Members of the Comanche tribe came all the way from Oklahoma to drum, while their children, the Comanchitos, performed a traditional dance as a gift to the baby Jesus.

The Posadas will again take place at 6:00 p.m. on December 17 at the Sedillo’s house on Calle San Miguel, off Calle Tecolote, about one mile north of the village of Placitas. There will be a bonfire in front of the house. Angie welcomes the whole community and says that the celebration is for anyone interested in knowing about the tradition.

Andrew Mora, Our Lady of Sorrows choir director, coordinates other Posadas in Bernalillo. The celebration is the same every night, but the open house varies. Local children will dress up and dance the part of the Comanchitos. Andrew says that the dance is done to remember children who were kidnapped by Indians from the earliest days of the Spanish settlement of New Mexico. “There is not much written history of these traditions.” he told the Signpost, “I hope to do some research in the near future to find out more about it. The Posadas is an old-fashioned way to observe the true meaning of Christmas and to share readings from the Gospels.”

The Posadas on the nine nights leading up to Christmas should not be confused with the annual Christmas Eve Posadas observed in the village of Placitas. The reenactment is essentially the same, but a procession follows Mary, Joseph, and the donkey through the village, which is lit up by bonfires and luminarias. They start at the Las Placitas Presbyterian Church and go from house to house, where they ask for shelter and are turned away in an exchange of song. The final stop is the elementary school gym, where the procession is given shelter, Santa greets the children, and refreshments are served.

The Nutcracker ballet returns for its annual showing

Ballet Theatre of New Mexico has created a tradition that brings beauty to the holidays with its annual performance of “The Nutcracker.” A tale of mystery and magic, “The Nutcracker” follows Clara and her Nutcracker Prince into an enchanting world where life-sized mice battle toy soldiers, snowflakes dance, and delicate sweets entertain.

The role of Clara will be performed by Briana VanSchuyver, with Bradford Rahmlow as her Nutcracker Prince. Principal roles include the Sugar Plum Fairy (Angela Hlady), her Cavalier (Louis Giannini), and the Snow Queen (Amanda Wiley).

Immediately following the December 24 matinee performance, Ballet Theatre will host its annual Nutcracker Tea, where children can sample delights from the “Kingdom of Sweets,” and join the dancers for autographs and photos.

Evening performances will be December 16, 17, 22, and 23 at 7:00 p.m. Matinee performances will be December 17 and 18 at 2:00 p.m. and December 24 at 1:00 p.m. Ticket prices range from $15.00 to $20.00, with an additional $5.00 per person charge for the December 24 performance. Tickets are on sale at the KiMo Theatre Box Office at 768-3544,, 883-7800 (Ticketmaster), and all Ticketmaster Outlets. TTY users call 1-800-659-1779. All seats are reserved.

County Line
Take time to give at this holiday season

Sandoval County is fortunate to have caring individuals and dedicated organizations that provide food, clothing, and shelter for our less-fortunate neighbors. As we gather with friends and family during the holidays, let's remember those that do so much for our residents.

We are blessed with many residents who live and exemplify the true spirit of the holiday season every day of the year. County employees, too, are eager to step up to the plate to help their fellow residents.

For our charitable organizations, the few weeks between now and year's end represent a key time in their efforts to assist needy neighbors and residents. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is traditionally when Americans open their hearts and generously give the time and money to help others in need.

Yet giving our time and donating money and goods to help residents in need is a practice we can perform daily. Our churches and religious organizations, civic groups and charitable organizations need our contributions and support throughout the year.

More county employees, too, are digging deeper into their pockets to support nonprofit agencies that assist needy residents. About 120 more employees already have volunteered to support United Way's agencies for the coming year than have done so in years past. For the coming year, almost half of the county's full-time employees have either given one-time donations or pledged payroll deductions for United Way to allocate for those in need.

Many of our charitable groups provide a broad range of services. Others, meanwhile, may focus their services on specific groups of individuals needing help.

It's easy to find an organization where you can offer time, talent, or money to help others. For ideas, contact local religious, charitable, or civic groups or look in the Yellow Pages listing for charities, community organizations, or religious organizations. You can also call United Way of Central New Mexico, 247-3671, for a directory of agencies that serve our region.

Sandoval County's Community Services Division, 867-7500, also works throughout the year with many of the groups and agencies and can provide more information. Additionally, community services director Patrick Baca and his staff strive to assist residents in need and enhance quality of life through a wide variety of programs.

The county's Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) links retirees with organizations that assist serve our communities in an almost endless list ways. The county's Senior Companions Program, meanwhile, helps older residents and maintain independence by offering nutritional meals, daily activities, recreation, transportation and homemaker programs. For information on the county's programs, contact RSVP manager Tony Arroyos, 867-3813.

As you enjoy the holidays with family and friends, take a moment to appreciate the work by county sheriff John Paul Trujillo and fire chief Jon Tibbetts and their respective staffs. Our law enforcement and EMS personnel are working hard to help make the holidays safer for all residents.

Law-enforcement officers are especially vigilant in curbing an increase in drunken drivers that unfortunately comes with the holiday season. Their holiday message is very clear: if you drink and drive, you will be arrested. If you must drink, do so responsibly and, by all means, have a drink-free designated driver.

On behalf of my fellow commissioners—Jack Thomas, Don Leonard, David Bency, and Joshua Madalena—the county's other elected officials, and county administration, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you season's greetings and the very best for the New Year.

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



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