The New Mexico Rail
is once again offering special Saturday service
for Christmas shoppers this holiday season. Beginning November
24th through January 5th, shoppers can hop on a Rail Runner
train and explore all of the unique shops downtown or connect
to an ABQRide bus for free to get to Old Town, Nob Hill, or
“We want to take the madness out of the
holidays for people,” says Lawrence Rael, Executive
Director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments. “Providing
Rail Runner service for shoppers lets them avoid holiday traffic
and parking headaches, while also allowing them to experience
the convenience of public transportation.”
In conjunction with the seasonal Saturday service,
Rail Runner riders will also get a special discount card when
they board the train that lets them enjoy a ten-percent discount
at more than one hundred stores from Albuquerque to Belen.
“Partnering with businesses in the community
is an added benefit for Rail Runner riders,” says Secretary
Rhonda Faught, NM Department of Transportation. “Now,
people can avoid holiday traffic headaches and get a bonus
in doing so,” adds Secretary Faught.
The Saturday Rail Runner schedule offers several
trains that run throughout the course of the day, leaving
Belen from the south as early as 10:34 in the morning, with
the last train arriving in downtown Albuquerque after midnight.
On Saturday, December 15th, people will also
get a chance to have their child’s photo taken for free
with Santa aboard the Rail Runner. A Rail Runner train will
be parked at the downtown Albuquerque station at 1st and Central,
right across from the Century Rio downtown movie theaters.
For a complete look at the Rail Runner Saturday
schedules and ABQRide bus connections to various shopping
destinations, go to www.nmrailrunner.com or call 245-RAIL.
—DON LEONARD, SANDOVAL COUNTY
For many of us, the holidays really are the
“most wonderful time of the year.” For employees
in law enforcement, and especially the County Detention Center,
the period between now and year’s end may be the most
County residents and taxpayers are the beneficiaries
of the exceptional jobs being performed by the Detention Center’s
Director Jerry Paszkiewicz has an exemplary
career in law enforcement spanning more than thirty years,
including eighteen years as head of Sandoval County’s
nationally-recognized Detention Center. Jerry and his team
have shaped the Center into a model of security and efficiency.
Training of the Center’s employees has honed the staff
for vigilant—and yet humane—treatment of inmates,
some of whom are being held for the most horrendous of crimes.
The successes of the Sandoval County Detention
Center have been well-documented time and again. Among the
many accolades in Jerry’s scrapbook is a week-long,
page-one series of in-depth stories by the Albuquerque Journal
about the problems of jails statewide. That series concluded
with the headline, “Sandoval County Found a Fix.”
Center employees know the holiday statistics
far too well. While many of us are enjoying the holidays with
family and friends, Detention Center employees will be extra-watchful
for increased numbers of assaults and suicide attempts brought
about by spikes in depression, anxiety, and loneliness among
For their diligence, professionalism, and sense
of duty, we owe Jerry, his management team, and all of our
Detention Center employees our deepest appreciation. They
know and perform their very difficult jobs exceptionally well.
That’s why, for me at least, I was especially
dismayed by two separate so-called investigative news reports
by KRQE TV’s Larry Barker that recently aired on back-to-back
We’ve all seen the camera-in-the face,
jump-from-the-bushes interviews and sharp retorts that are
Mr. Barker’s trademark attempts to boost stories that
may or may not be factual. Until now, however, I had not experienced
his deliberate omission of facts when they failed to justify
his preconceived notions.
A story in early November looked at a minor,
non-injury traffic accident in Rio Rancho involving a twenty-eight-year
veteran detention officer who was driving a Center vehicle.
While our attorneys urged us not to comment on specifics of
the accident, we did provide Mr. Barker with extensive information
regarding the incident. We cited specific portions of State
law that delineate the authorizing of emergency vehicles.
We even gave details on the training of Detention Center officers
and the Center’s operating procedures, other than those
portions that would have compromised Center security. Yet,
his TV show portrayed the action as being somehow illegal,
unjustified, and almost a “whim” by the officer,
and that Sandoval County refused to discuss the matter.
Mr. Barker’s second story involved the
termination of a Center probationary employee after just four
months. While we are prohibited from releasing specific details
from personnel files, Mr. Barker failed to consider any of
the information we were allowed to provide. He would not stray
from his misconceived idea that the employee was fired solely
for acting as a “good Samaritan” during an incident
in Albuquerque. That premise, as Mr. Barker was quite aware,
is simply not the case.
For both stories, County staff repeatedly gave
Mr. Barker complete assistance and all information possible.
I and other County employees offered to go on-camera with
Mr. Barker, recognizing there were specific aspects of the
accident and our personnel files that we were barred from
Had he been willing to forego his preconceived
storylines and give an unbiased review of the facts, he, too,
would be joining the Commission in wishing the very best for
the holiday season to our Detention Center employees—especially
those who will be working in very difficult conditions while
the rest of us are enjoying time with family and friends.
Questions or comments for Commissioner Leonard
can be mailed to him c/o Sandoval County Administrative Offices,
PO Box 40, Bernalillo, NM 87004.
El Rinconcito español
• Ojalá pudiésemos meter
el espíritu de Navidad en jarros y abrir un jarro cada
mes del año.
If only we could put the spirit of Christmas
in jars, and open a jar each month of the year.
• El recuerdo, como una vela, brilla
más en Navidad.
Memory, like a candle, shines more at Christmas.
• La Navidad no es un momento ni una
estación, sino un estado de la mente. Valorar la paz
y la generosidad y tener merced es comprender el verdadero
significado de Navidad.
Christmas is not a moment nor a season, rather
a state of mind. To value peace and generosity and to have
mercy is to understand the true meaning of Christmas.
www.sospanyol.com, Placitas—Spanish instruction
that focuses on oral communication skills.
hosts annual Christmas festivities
Mayor Patricia Chavez invites the public to
the Annual Christmas tree lighting at 6:00 p.m. on Friday
November 30 in front of Town Hall. Local school choirs will
perform during the candlelight event, and biscochitos and
hot cider will be served.
Also, the Town of Bernalillo boasts the oldest
continuous nighttime parade in New Mexico. Join a celebration
of the season with a “Mariachi Christmas Parade on Saturday,
December 1 at 6:00 p.m. The parade will travel along Camino
del Pueblo south from Calle Escuela to Avenida Bernalillo,
where it will turn north onto Calle San Lorenzo and end at
Rotary Park. There the Town will host a bonfire with biscochitos
and cider for all.
Ribbons will be awarded to the best entries
in the categories of youth, commercial, non-commercial, and
vehicle. cash prizes will be awarded by the Greater Sandoval
County Chamber of Commerce for first, second, and third place
“Best of Theme” winners.
Float applications are available at www.townofbernalillo.org
or at town hall. the entry fee is a $25 donation to the Children’s
Rio Rancho Beautiful honored
Keep Rio Rancho Beautiful (KRRB), a division
of the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Community Services
Department, was recently honored with the Distinguished Service
Citation Affiliate Award. This award will be presented at
the 54th Keep America Beautiful National Conference in December.
KRRB is being recognized for their efforts to
engage and encourage their local government, businesses, and
private citizens to work together to improve Rio Rancho’s
beauty and environment. KRRB coordinates such community events
as the Trek for Trash, telephone book recycling, comprehensive
household hazardous waste collections, the Great American
Cleanup, tree-cycling, America Recycles Day, and an Earth
Day Festival. In addition, coordinator Jennifer Scacco and
programming specialist Barry Conant conduct an annual litter
index, address illegal dump sites, conduct education programs
for students and residents, and much more.
KRRB has been an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful
since 1989 and works in conjunction with the state’s
New Mexico Clean and Beautiful program. To learn more about
KRRB, please visit the city’s website at www.ci.rio-rancho.nm.us.
County Historical Society thanks the community
The Smithsonian Exhibit “Key Ingredients:
America by Food” has been well-received in Bernalillo,
with a record attendance of over sixteen hundred folks visiting
the show since its inception, with very favorable comments.
Dozens of volunteers have staffed the show during the six-week
period. Several clubs have visited and schools have sent classes
to see the exhibit.
City, county, and tribal officials presided
at the official opening ceremony, which included a ribbon-cutting,
an invocation, talks, and demonstrations by Native Americans
on their traditional foods. The keynote speech was given by
the state archaeologist on prehistoric agriculture.
Weekend panels included one on agriculture by
experts in the field, discussions on traditional methods and
current threats to seed banks by genetic engineering, as well
as water as a diminishing resource, and the projection for
long-term food production under current conditions.
A discussion on acequias gave the history, importance,
and threats to the present system in New Mexico. Another panel
was made up of specialists from the Sandoval County Extension
Service—including the county agricultural agent, the
4-H leader, a master gardener program representative, and
a home extension agent. Yet another outstanding panel was
comprised of local women food producers. These folks had served
agriculture all their lives, and demonstrated the hardships
of this way of life. They span the period of the disappearing
family farm and the growth of the agribusiness world, where
the natural way of life is giving way to the artificial and
chemically-controlled. These folks had very little good to
say about the federal controls, interventions into their livelihood,
or the changes wrought in food production.
The final Sunday featured an international fashion
show where people modeled clothes of their ethnic heritage.
The exhibit was a significant event in Bernalillo
and the Society thanks all those who helped to make it such
a great success.
Around the West
— BETSY MARSTON
A “virtual fence” along the Arizona
border with Mexico is so virtual that it doesn’t function.
At a cost (so far) of $15 million, Boeing Co. erected nine
ninety-eight-foot towers across twenty-eight miles close to
the border four months ago, but the company reports that a
“software glitch” has prevented the system’s
radar, sensors, and cameras from doing their job to halt illegal
immigration and drug trafficking. In an explanation that sounded
remarkably like the old saw, “The operation was a success,
but the patient died,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff explained that “individual components worked
well, but the system integration was not satisfactory.”
The high-tech fence is the first stage of an ambitious plan
to blanket both the Mexican and Canadian borders with some
eighteen hundred such towers, reports the Associated Press.
UTAH AND OREGON
The West used to pride itself on a live-and-let-live
attitude. No more. In Orem, Utah, on February 11, a judge
will begin hearing the case against Betty Perry, age seventy,
who refused to water her lawn and then resisted arrest when
a policeman came to cite her for having brown grass. The jury
trial is expected to last three days, reports the Salt Lake
Tribune. In its “Thumbs Down” column, the paper
said that a “seventy-year-old grandmother will thus
become an example of what happens to scofflaws in law-abiding,
lawn-worshipping Utah County.” But central Oregon may
go Utah one better. Susan Taylor, who lives in the upscale
town of Bend, faces a potential lawsuit for daring to hang
out her clothes to dry. The developer of her ‘80s-era
subdivision, Brooks Resources Corp., says that “anything
like trash, garbage, yard clippings—and laundry—(must)
be screened from view.” The developer suggested hiding
the laundry, but when Taylor tried to shield her clothesline
with a dyed sheet, reports the Wall Street Journal and NewWest.Net,
she was told more acceptable screens were required—“such
as planting trees.”
Betsy Marston edits the syndicate
Writers on the Range for High
Country News (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and also writes Heard Around the
West about the region’s odd happenings.