Cynthia Dimas and Ted Jorge Montoya polish the
marble before the dedication ceremony begins.
Ricky Sisneros plays "Taps" to honor
those killed in action.
Sandoval County Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated
Ceremonies were held in Bernailllo on Veterans Day, November 11,
to dedicate Sandoval County's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, commemorating
residents who were killed in the war and honoring those who served
and returned home. Seven hundred and fifty to a thousand people
“The memorial has been built to remember the county's residents
who were killed in action and missing in action, and to recognize
the sacrifices of those who risked their lives in Vietnam and returned,”
said Larry Hurtado, a Peña Blanca resident who spearheaded
a public-private effort to build the memorial. Hurtado, a Vietnam
veteran, originally conceived the memorial as a way to honor a Bernalillo
classmate who was killed in Vietnam.
The memorial consists of a twenty-foot-long curved wall, stepping
up from six feet at the south end to eight feet high at the north,
and was built by volunteers, headed by Fred and Cindy Dimas of Rio
Rancho. The wall will be lighted and includes poles for national,
state, and MIA flags. A bronze sculpture is in the planning stages
and will be installed by Memorial Day, Hurtado said.
The wall includes a series of granite plaques engraved with the
names of men and women who entered the armed services from Sandoval
County and served in Vietnam. Special plaques will include the names
of county residents who were killed or missing in action in the
“A key event of Saturday's dedication will be when Vietnam
veterans are given ribbons to place next to their names on the plaques,”
said Sandoval County commissioner William Sapien. “Relatives
of the county veterans who were killed or missing in action will
be asked to place ribbons next to the names of our veterans who
Sapien, who retired with the rank of major after serving twenty-eight
years in the Army National Guard, said the memorial and dedication
ceremonies would serve as a belated homecoming for the county's
“Vietnam was an uncommon war where valor was a common occurrence,”
Sapien said. “The memorial will stand to honor the county's
Vietnam veterans. It will serve to welcome home our veterans who
never had a homecoming after serving our country in the Vietnam
War,” he added.
Funds for the memorial's construction include $35,000 allocated
by the Sandoval County Commission and about $6,500 from donations
and fund-raising events.
County lists legislative priorities for 2007
On November 2, the Sandoval County Commission passed a resolution
seeking assistance from the New Mexico State Legislature in its
The resolution gives county lobbyist Gayland Bryant the following
list of legislative priorities regarding state and regional legislative
• Support passage of GRIP II (Governor Richardson’s
Investment Partnership), which provides critical funding for public
projects statewide. Included in the legislation is $2.8 million
to match county funding to plan, design, construct and equip a
transit center and transit system. The project will help meet
transportation needs of commuters in Sandoval County and the metropolitan
region, including existing users of publicly funded services,
such as seniors, people with disabilities, Native Americans, Medicaid
recipients, and low-income job seekers. The high-capacity fixed-route
transit system will support state and regional efforts to provide
transportation alternatives and greatly relieve traffic congestion
throughout Sandoval County, especially along the NM 528 and US
550 corridors. Fixed routes would serve Cuba, the Jemez corridor,
and Cochiti. Bryant told the Signpost that future routes could
• Support the New Mexico Association of Counties in gaining
legislation to reimburse Sandoval and other counties for the costs
of housing state felony offenders in county facilities. Sandoval
County averages seventy-one felony inmates daily who are being
held for the state, or 18 percent of the detention center's 386-bed
capacity. Bryant said that these inmates are awaiting transport
to state custody or are felony parole violators. The fiscal impact
to Sandoval County for housing state inmates is approximately
$1.3 million annually.
• Support for the State Agency on Aging's legislative funding
request, which includes $345,435 for Sandoval County's Senior
Program. The county's request includes $231,000 for specialized
vehicles, $66,245 for meal equipment, $15,400 for other equipment
at county centers, and $32,790 for code-required improvements
and renovations at centers in Bernalillo, Jemez, and Peña
• Obtain increased funding for local DWI programs from the
state DWI fund to offset increased costs for DWI prevention, treatment,
probation supervision, and other alcohol-related services.
• Secure legislation to expand the boundaries of the Southern
Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority to include the
greater town of Bernalillo and Placitas areas. SSCAFCA has demonstrated
consistent expertise in flood-control planning and execution.
Expansion of the authority's boundaries is the most cost-effective
approach to solving flood-control issues and preventing damage
to private and public property in the watershed east of Bernalillo,
including the Placitas area.
• Support the soccer community's funding request to complete
improvements at the highly successful New Mexico Soccer Tournament
Complex, a regional economic enterprise that attracts world-class
competitions. Additional funding of $2.55 million is needed to
complete the complex's master-planned facilities, including construction
of bleachers and concessions, sewer lines, lighting, parking-lot
paving and drainage, maintenance facility, media facilities, and
needed equipment. Construction of the complex is a joint undertaking
by the state, the counties of Sandoval and Bernalillo, the cities
of Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, and Albuquerque, and the pueblo of
Santa Ana. The complex is operated by New Mexico Youth Soccer,
representing soccer organizations statewide.
The resolution supports the following Sandoval County capital
• Funding of $3 million is requested to design and construct
the Northwest Loop Road as a major transportation and economic-development
corridor connecting I-40 and I-25 via US 550 around Albuquerque
and Rio Rancho. Sandoval County will provide a match of $2 million
in county funds and in-kind services. The road opens access to
large tracts of affordable land near population centers—a
major requirement for successful economic development and job
creation. It offers development opportunities similar to those
of loop roads in other metropolitan areas, most notably the 101
Loop in the Phoenix area. Funding will protect acquired rights-of-way
and construct drainage improvements and a gravel roadway along
twenty-seven miles of the project in Sandoval County. Future phases
would include paving the roadway, with funding expected to be
obtained from private sources. Bryant said that support is growing
to extend the corridor all the way to Los Lunas.
• $1.5 million is requested to match Sandoval County funds
and in-kind services to construct and equip the $3 million Phase
II of the Waste Conversion/Composting Facility. Phase II will
allow Sandoval County to accept sewer sludge from municipalities
and pueblos and process the waste in a economical and environmentally
The plant—the first of its kind in New Mexico—uses
proven technology and a closed-vessel system to process green
waste, construction waste, and manure into fertilizer and soil-enhancement
products. The system is neighborhood friendly and uses vacuum
dryers and mist processors to contain all odors and dust. Phase
II will allow Sandoval County to accept and process sewer sludge
and wastewater from municipalities and pueblos. The waste will
be processed along with green and construction waste into compost,
fertilizer, and soil-enhancement products for applications on
parks, recreational fields, and other areas.
• Funding is requested to complete renovations and improvements
of the historic multipurpose El Zócalo Business Development
Complex. Additional funds will match $1.475 million in federal
funds (Economic Development Administration), $1.8 million in county
funds, $500,000 in county in-kind services, and $1.775 million
approved for the project by the 2006 Legislature. The El Zócalo
Complex will create new economic-based jobs by increasing successful
development of new businesses, thus enhancing the overall economy
and standards of living for the county's culturally diverse communities
and citizens. The facility represents a multiuse, multipurpose
development in partnership with the Town of Bernalillo, Small
Business Development Corp., and UNM/Los Alamos. Bryant said that
with additional funding, the restoration of the complex, including
landscaping and outdoor public gathering places, could be completed
by next fall.
• $550,000 is requested to design, construct, and equip
a scale plaza at the county's regional landfill to accurately
and efficiently weigh and monitor landfill disposal loads and
vehicle counts. The facility and associated roadwork will bring
the county's landfill into compliance with federal regulations
requiring production and submission of routine volume and traffic
reports and will allow the county to more efficiently charge haulers
for landfill use based on accurate tonnage weights.
• Additional legislative funding of $300,000 is requested
to design and construct a 16,425-square-foot, three-sided covered
building so residents can safely and conveniently dispose of residential
trash at the Sandoval County Landfill. The $625,000 facility is
a critical part of the landfill's $3 million expansion and will
help alleviate illegal trash dumping. It will satisfy state environment
requirements and meet Americans with Disabilities Act and safety
standards for both employees and landfill users.
• $102,890 is requested to plan, design, and remodel the
county-owned building used by the magistrate court in Bernalillo
to provide additional space and enhanced security for the court.
The project will provide 1,248 square feet of additional space
for use by the magistrate court, which currently occupies 9,140
square feet of the building. The court added a new judgeship in
2005, and with an increasing annual caseload exceeding seventy-five
hundred—the highest caseload per judge in New Mexico—projections
indicate the need for a third judge within three to five years.
• $350,509 is requested to design, purchase, and install
emergency-power systems to back up electrical service for critical
communications and health systems essential for public safety
when normal power fails.
• An appropriation of $91,000 is requested to design and
build an emergency supply station to serve all of Sandoval County.
• Funding is requested to design and rebuild Camino de las
Huertas where it crosses Las Huertas Creek, in the Placitas area.
Camino de Las Huertas is a major collector road and school-bus
route that serves as the only direct road for a large number of
residents in the rapidly growing area. The road crossing at Las
Huertas Creek currently experiences washouts that make the road
impassable during heavy rainfall in the Sandia Mountain watershed.
High water flow in the creek during summer 2006 caused the road
at the Las Huertas Creek to wash out on four separate occasions,
resulting in the road's complete closure, until county crews could
make repairs. Bryant said that the crossing would be reinforced
with concrete headwalls, aprons, and wingwalls, and would include
riprap structures upstream and downstream.
• $300,000 is requested to supplement county funds and in-kind
services to pave, resurface, and restore drainage along County
Road 11 in the Cuba area.
• $150,000 is requested for design, engineering, drainage,
and construction of Lincoln Avenue, in Rio Rancho.
• Legislative funding of $136,131 is requested to purchase
and install needed furniture and equipment for the Placitas Community
Library and Multi-Use Center being constructed on county-owned
property adjacent to NM 165. The new library and multiuse center
is scheduled to open in late 2007. The full-service library is
operated by the nonprofit Placitas Community Library Board and
will serve residents of the Placitas area plus surrounding communities.
The library is the result of a grassroots effort that began serving
the community in 2004 in a rented building pending construction
of the permanent facility.
• The county is requesting $176,225 to design and construct
a skateboard facility, basketball court, playground equipment,
shade structure, and drinking fountain at the Sierra Norte II
Park, in Rio Rancho.
• Sandoval County is requesting $250,000 to supplement funds
allocated by the 2006 Legislature to design and construct curbing
and concrete sidewalks along a twenty-seven-hundred-foot corridor
in western Rio Rancho.
FAA promises funds for county airport study
Sandoval County spokesman Gayland Bryant announced in November
that the Federal Aviation Administration has promised $100,000 to
fund a study of site selection and feasibility for a general-aviation
airport in Sandoval County. He said that in addition to the airport
in the proposed Rio West planned community, there are four or five
other sites under consideration. Most are adjacent to the proposed
northwest corridor. Bryant said that an airport is needed in the
county’s quest for economic expansion. “Airports are
major criteria that business and industry look for when considering
a move to a new area,” he explained.
Public Regulation Commission approves geographic
split of area codes 505 and 575
The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce has commended the
Public Regulation Commission for its three-to-two approval of a
plan that will allow Zone B, comprised of a central and northwest
portion of New Mexico, to keep the 505 area code, while a new 575
area code is assigned to the rest of the state.
In July the chamber approved a position stating its recommendations
for a geographic area-code split and testified before the PRC during
a series of meetings held by the commission to get feedback from
The geographic split approved by the commission was reflective of
the sentiment suggested by the chamber in its formal position and
through the organization’s testimony before the commission.
“We are pleased with the PRC’s decision,” said
Terri L. Cole, chamber president and CEO. We have advocated that
the five-county region, including Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance,
Valencia, and Santa Fe counties, retain the 505 area code, simply
because it makes the most economic sense for the greatest number
of residents and businesses.”
According to year 2000 population estimates provided by the University
of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research,
approximately 47 percent of the state’s population resides
in this comparatively small area.
In its July position paper, the chamber noted that “New
Mexicans have long been accustomed to having only one area code
for the State. Our considerable growth rate presents certain challenges,
and the area code exhaustion is among the difficulties that correlate
with our progress. The choice confronting the Commission is obviously
very consequential, and we emphasize the commercial implications
are enormous and will be enduring. Given such, we recommend the
retention of the 505 area code in the five-county region as an efficient
course that minimizes statewide economic disruption and, we believe,
provides the most convenience for the greatest number of our citizens.”
County line—Easing traffic congestion
—JACK THOMAS, CHAIRMAN, SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSION
For most drivers these days, turning onto US 550 and looking ahead
at the long line of cars crawling through Bernalillo sparks anxiety,
stress, and other unpleasant feelings.
US 550 through Bernalillo becomes little more than a parking lot
during both morning and afternoon rush hours and can be sluggishly
slow at all other times throughout the day. As our county continues
to grow, traffic congestion will likewise increase—but, hopefully,
not for too much longer.
Sandoval County is seeking a fix for US 550 motorists on several
To devise workable solutions, the county has brainstormed options
with the City of Rio Rancho, Town of Bernalillo, the Mid-Region
Council of Governments, and State Transportation.
There are no fast “right-now” fixes to quickly ease
traffic congestion along the vital corridor.
One option the county has proposed is to remove medians along
US 550 from the intersection at NM 528 east to the Interstate 25
interchange. The highway would be restriped to create six ten-foot-wide
lanes, with three lanes for use by motorists traveling both east
That undertaking could be completed relatively easily and would
immediately increase the road's vehicle movement capacity by 50
percent. It's a solution that would ease vehicle congestion for
about five years and allow for projected growth in the booming area.
In addition, one lane in each direction of US 550 through Bernalillo
could be restricted to use by high-occupancy vehicles. Restricting
an east- and westbound lane to use only by commuter vans, buses,
and private vehicles carrying multiple passengers would also promote
the appeal of mass transportation alternatives and further cut commuter
The county's transit system, Railrunner Express, and area park-and-rides
already are being used to help discourage some motorists from driving
the US 550 corridor. Widening that appeal to more commuters will
further reduce traffic and ease rush-hour snarls.
The six-lane scenario also offers a longer-term option. As traffic
continues to increase, signals could be installed to create a reversible
lane that would be used during morning and afternoon rush hours.
Under that option, four of the six lanes would be used to carry
eastbound traffic during morning rush hours, reversing to four lanes
going west during the afternoon commute.
The reversible lane option, we estimate, could help relieve traffic
along US 550 for as long as fifteen years.
Longer-term solutions being studied include additional river crossings
both north and south of Bernalillo, and the proposed Northwest Loop
that would bypass the metropolitan area and become a major transportation
and economic-development corridor.
In that regard, Sandoval County has approached the Pueblo of Santa
Ana regarding possible access across pueblo land. If those discussions
are successful, the Northwest Loop would connect with I-25 north
The new road would provide tremendous economic-development opportunities
for the pueblo and ease heavy traffic congestion on US 550, NM 528,
and throughout the entire metropolitan region, including the Big
I in Albuquerque, for decades to come.
Questions or comments for Commissioner Thomas may be mailed to
him in care of Sandoval County Administrative Offices, P.O. Box
40, Bernalillo, NM 87004.
Broadband project holds promise for the future
Commissioner Jack Thomas was so impressed by what he heard during
the ninety-minute presentation by Sandoval Broadband that he gushed,
"With this program, it's jobs, it's health care, it's everything
we need to be one of the greatest states in the union overnight."
Since Sandoval County set aside $2 million for a county-wide broadband
initiative to provide wireless high-speed Internet two years ago,
a lot of residents still don’t understand the concept—and
no individual or organization is currently using the system.
Dewayne Hendricks, Sandoval Broadband Project CEO, said the connection
to the Lambda Rail could be set up within a month. Hendricks told
the Signpost that the Lambda Rail is a high-capacity nationwide
research and educational fiber-optic network. The state pays $1
million per year for access; it “touches down” at UNM,
and access will soon be available to Sandoval Broadband.
Hendricks said that the county serves as the network service provider.
It is up to Internet service providers in the public sector to install
the proper equipment, such as a wireless tower, prior to making
the wireless service available to residents. After the system is
up and running, Sandoval Broadband will be sold to the private sector.
Hendricks said that the ISP must deal with the technical challenges
of getting the line-of-sight signal from tower to user, market their
own services, and set their own timetables. He said that it is not
appropriate for Sandoval Broadband, as the NSP, to comment on how
and when these services might become available. However, several
ISPs are currently working on it, and residents will soon be hearing
“Sandoval County invested in broadband technology to correct
market imbalances and to promote economic development.” Hendricks
explained. “The Internet is the highway of the future and
the market has failed to provide service to many places.”
For more information (if you have a connection), visit www.sandovalbroadband.com
or read about the Lambda Rail at www.nlr.net.
Enterprise Pipeline loop nears completion
Placitas residents can look forward to less pipeline activity by
the beginning of next year because Enterprise Products Operating
LP's Mid-America Pipeline Western Expansion Project is finally nearing
completion. The pipeline is about to start carrying liquid petroleum
gas from Wyoming to Hobbs, New Mexico. The loop segment in Placitas
brings three lines down to two to boost pressure as the pipeline
goes over the mountain. The company is currently placing seed mats
on the affected areas and will be painting and fencing the valves
for the next two to four weeks. No word yet on the progress of the
Las Huertas Creek repair.
Crews expect to be meet their deadline on schedule and be finished
in December. According to a company representative, the construction
of the sixteen-inch line was finished on November 18 and was pressure-tested
with nitrogen on November 19. This comes as a welcome relief for
local residents who have had to endure the near-constant activity
of backhoes and bulldozers, even at night and on Saturdays. Recreational
use of the Placitas Open Space has also been impacted, especially
for horseback riders.
The pipeline will carry LPG from Wyoming to the southern part
of the state. The project consisted of placing twelve separate pipeline
looping segments, six in Wyoming and six in New Mexico. The segments
parallel MAPL's existing natural-gas pipeline. Crews were delayed
when they accidentally hit the Kinder Morgan carbon-dioxide pipeline
on November 10 and had to put a bend in the line to accommodate
it. Pump stations in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming were
modified or upgraded to deal with the increased volume. In addition
to the valve construction, there were other above-ground modifications,
including markers, fences, signs and the addition of new pig launchers
and receivers. (“Pigs” are mechanical devices that move
with the product to inspect and clean lines.)
“They seem to have done a decent job,” said Carol Parker,
longtime pipeline-safety advocate. The company had archaeologists
present during construction, stayed within their right-of-way, and
reclaimed the area by planting seed-mats. The only problems were
dust raised from the loose dirt by the heavy winds in November and
traffic on the small roads in Placitas. By the end of December,
the pipeline expects to have the valves repainted and the six-foot
chain-link fences surrounding the valves repaired.
Major waterways have been protected by placing valves nearby or
by diverting the pipelines around them. After the heavy flooding
this summer, residents are concerned the pipeline companies have
not given Las Huertas Creek proper consideration. According to the
pipeline study, Las Huertas is an intermittent drainage, when in
fact the creek runs all year in some areas and floods several times
a year in all areas.
Longtime residents who have witnessed what Las Huertas can really
do worry that active lines are not safe in a creek that can run
at more than five thousand cubic feet per second when it floods.
Pipeline representatives have as yet been unwilling to comment.
$3.3 million in federal funding granted to Laguna
Pueblo to access the World Wide Web
Even though it seems as though every part of the nation has Internet
access, there are still many rural communities that are not connected
to the World Wide Web. Here in New Mexico, Laguna Pueblo is one
of those places where access to the Internet is spotty at best.
But according to USDA Rural Development state director Ryan Gleason
those days without high-speed communication for Laguna Pueblo are
about to end. The pueblo has qualified for a $3.3 million grant
that will pay for a new broadband system through Rural Development’s
In making the announcement Gleason said, “Funding this project
will allow essential communication opportunities in an area of New
Mexico where no broadband service currently exists." He added,
“This administration’s goal is to make sure all rural
communities have an opportunity to improve public safety and provide
better educational choices through technology. And that’s
exactly what we are doing with the funding we are providing."
The community-connect program augments USDA Rural Development's
standard high-speed-telecommunications loan program. Under the terms
of this grant, over 660 tribal residences and the community centers
in the towns of Paguate, Seama, Encinal, Mesita, Paraje, and Laguna
will be connected. Each of the community centers will house ten
computers that will be made available to those living at Laguna