Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

  Real People

Lasering—an art form

—Bob Ginn, Placitas

My wife and I started LaserCraft Studios six years ago and our primary product at that time was memorials on black marble and granite. We have done hundreds of personal memorials for families who have had a loved one pass; many of these have been for military families.

The joy we find in providing this product is unlike anything we have ever experienced. Carla and I never imagined providing this service would create so many lasting friendships. We‘ve found ourselves getting personally involved helping families create a forever memory in stone. The rewards for us are the tears, the joys, and the everlasting friendships created.

The majority of our stone memorials contain photos along with an inscription, but many contain multiple photos from baby pictures to the last picture the family may have had of a loved one. The input for the design of the memorial many times comes directly from the family, which is what we hope for. There are many smiles as families begin to locate the right photo and the right words. Carla and I feel very blessed to be part of the whole process with so many families. We just wanted to share with you a little bit about the human side of our business and the opportunity we have been given. Now, let’s talk about the art of laser engraving.

Remember the James Bond movie Goldfinger? James was strapped to the table with a laser beam threatening to cut his body in half! The lasers today for commercial engraving are not quite that powerful, nor are the laser beams with a bright red color like in the movie. The beam is actually a very bright white. Laser engraving by definition is the process of permanently reproducing a digital image, photograph, artwork, or text onto a material of choice. The laser engraving equipment marks the material in a manner that is similar to a computer printer but in this case, the marking medium incorporates a very hot focused laser beam, which disintegrates the area at which the laser beam strikes. The end result of this depends on the material, and the internal power settings used by the operator of the laser.

The laser power settings for wood are not used for marble, leather, metal, glass, or acrylic, as each material is unique. Take black marble as an example: the hardness of black marble can differ greatly depending on where the marble came from. High-quality engravings are the result of using the hardest marble available. How does hardness affect quality? The photo to be engraved is first converted to grayscale, and then converted to what is called a one-bit black and white image, which is then dithered to create the shades of gray on the final product. It is the shades of gray that are important, and primarily those which need to be completely white when engraved. The softer the stone, the less white the whites become. Basically, the engraved image on the stone will be less bright and seem dull-looking when using soft stone. Does harder marble cost more? You bet it does. There are many stone engravers who play the price war, and they do so by sacrificing quality.

Granite, marble, glass, leather, acrylic, and wood have been the most popular choices for us over the past few years. Each of these materials produces a high-definition result. Laser engraving is unsurpassed in the ability to showcase the elegance of detail. This technology produces a very high-definition result that other etching processes can’t even approximate. The exact detail that a laser can achieve is based not only on the material choices, but the experience of the engraver.

You can use photos, clip art, text, or all of the above; it’s up to you when working with the design. Imagination is the only limitation during the design process, so let your creative juices flow!

Stone engravings are not limited to memorials. We have personally created stone engravings for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, personal milestones, and many other occasions. We like to say, “Photos are memories. Photos are priceless, but photos on stone are forever.”

If you have any questions about laser engraving, please call us at (505) 771-2916, visit our website at, or email us at

EHHA announces holiday lights contest

Enchanted Hills Neighborhood Association (EHHA) will sponsor its annual “Holiday Lights” decorating contest for home holiday displays in the subdivision.

The deadline to nominate your home or a favorite display in the neighborhood is Friday, December 18. Judging will be on Saturday, December 19, after 6:00 pm. All Enchanted Hills residents are encouraged to turn on their light displays. Any Enchanted Hills home and any holiday observance (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other December holiday) are eligible for the awards.

Email nominations to Be sure to include the address of your favorite home display. Prizes will be awarded to the top three winners, and will be presented at EHHA’s general membership meeting on Thursday, January 14, 2010.


Three RGYC singers, from left to right: Hannah Weeks, Kelli Kasper, and Mikayla Edmondson

Community-based youth choir presents a madrigal gathering

—Lynn Rounds of Placitas, Parent Volunteer for the RGYC

No matter how busy kids are these days, they still find time to share their love of singing, acting, and dancing with others. Currently, the Rio Grande Youth Chorale (RGYC) is rehearsing for its first annual Madrigal Dinner, “A Yuletide Feast of Carols.” The event will feature a catered, five-course Renaissance-style dinner, complete with a Boar’s Head processional, and interspersed with costumed singers, holiday songs, skits, and spontaneous hilarity.

After dinner, the Jester enters and, after a short repartee with the Royal Court, is interrupted by a troupe of wandering actors. The clever involvement of the audience creates the comedic ending and makes this sketch an absolute delight. Tickets are $25 each and are available until December 2 online at The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on December 5 at Rio Rancho Middle School.

“This is a terrific way for families to begin the yuletide season and hear some beautiful children’s voices,” says Susan Passell, Ed.D., who is the group’s founder and conductor and resides in Bernalillo. RGYC is a community-based group that involves children who want to sing and have fun while learning music theory, sight reading, and vocal techniques. Presently they have members from Algodones, Bernalillo, Placitas, Rio Rancho, Santa Ana Pueblo, Corrales, and Albuquerque.

Leadership roles also present opportunities for the older students. Jenn Doherty, a junior at Rio Rancho High School, is making her directorial debut with the play “A Yuletide Feast of Carols.” Both Jenn and Hannah Weeks, who is home-schooled, serve as role models for the younger singers. “We help them learn their songs, emphasize the techniques they are learning, and coach them on making their characters come to life in the play,” say Jenn.

The choir is committed to becoming one of the foremost major youth choral organizations in the Southwest U.S., thus creating a tradition of excellence in choral music for its singers and the general public. Thanks to a grant from Sandoval County, RGYC will perform its traditional holiday concert wearing new professional choir attire.

RGYC has grown in popularity and is now comprised of two singing groups. The Kokopelli Singers, for grades one through four, is conducted by Debbie Fleming. The Youth Singers, comprised of boys and girls from grades five through twelve, is directed by Sue Passell. Other Executive Board members include Laurie Schuller of Placitas and Marilyn Doherty of Rio Rancho.

Performing is a very important part of the RGYC program. They perform at least three yearly concerts free of charge to the public. Recently they joined the Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra, the UNM Concert Choir, and the Bosque School Choir for “An Evening of Choir, Orchestra, and Opera.” In 2005, “Good Morning America“ featured the RGYC performing on their Christmas Day show. Last fall, they performed a live concert on KUNM’s “The Children’s Hour.”

Their mission is to enrich the lives of young choral artists from all cultural, economic, racial, and religious backgrounds by providing the highest level of artistic excellence in choral performance by New Mexico children and youth. The program, now in its sixth year, strives to foster the personal and social growth of its members and to promote their sense of self-esteem, discipline, accomplishment, and pride.

For upcoming concerts, purchasing tickets, and more of their concert history, visit Auditions for new students begin in early January and newcomers are always welcome.

Mystery unsolved — and that’s a good thing

— Jeff Osgood, Writers on the Range

For almost a year, the world thought the final chapter had been written about the life — and death — of a young artist and poet who mysteriously disappeared in the Southwest’s canyon country 75 years ago.

His name was Everett Ruess, and at age 20, he was already fed up with modern life, preferring to wander alone in the desert. The discovery of what seemed to be some of his remains made for a dramatic tale: a long-kept secret that described the murder of a white man for the burros he traveled with, and an ensuing scavenger hunt that resulted in the discovery of a desert grave outside Bluff, Utah. Some high-tech lab work was done, and voila! A mystery that began in 1934 had apparently been solved at last.

Well, not so fast. Science has since come around to refute the findings. The Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Md., tested a femur from the gravesite as along with samples taken from Ruess’ living relatives.  And the military lab, widely considered to be at the apex of DNA research, conclusively ruled out the bone as belonging to Everett Ruess. Instead, the researchers declared that there was a high probability that it comes from a Navajo. 

The various parties involved reacted differently to the news. Professor Kenneth Krauter at the University of Colorado humbly took responsibility for making the original, mistaken identification. Those with a firm hold on the romantic image of Ruess as a “vagabond for beauty” — as he called himself — celebrated the idea that their resourceful hero did not come to such a grim end after all.  Meanwhile, the Ruess family, mere weeks away from cremating the remains and sending the ashes adrift on the currents of the Pacific Ocean, continues to live without closure, and the Navajo Nation awaits the return of the still-unidentified remains for reburial.

I’d sooner ride a bike sideways on a cattle guard than get mixed up in the emotions swirling through these camps.   But I find myself happy that Ruess’ final demise and resting place remain unknown and unfound. On a recent trip to the Southwest, I felt as if the purported discovery of his bones had leached some power out of the place. The so-called discovery had put a cold, scientific end to one of the Four Corners area’s most provocative mysteries, further eroding one of the last enigmas of the West.

As the world becomes ever more quantified and classified, our remote lands are becoming endangered. Humans have reached just about every nook and crevice of our planet Earth, from highest peak to deepest ocean trench.  In virtual form we soar the stars, sending probes to the edges of our solar system. Voyager 1, originally launched in 1977, will most likely leave our solar system within the coming years. In July 2009, NASA and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced the creation of the most complete digital topographical map of the Earth. Pieced together from over 1 million satellite images, the map is said to account for over 99 percent of the planet’s terrain. In the glow of a computer screen, an armchair explorer can zip anywhere on the globe, see the ocean floor, rove across Mars, and even time-travel to view swaths of the globe as they looked yesteryear.

But I want blank spots and the curiosity they arouse. We need places that humble, awe and intrigue us. Humanity needs boundaries — places that are so far out there that if we cross them, we will get lost — even vanish. The remote spots on the map and their periphery are the landscapes that define who we really are.

There’s nothing like the surprise discovery of a narrow canyon or the mouth of a cave to awaken wonder and make a person pause. Do I dare explore it? What’s in there? Whatever choice is made, the chooser learns something about fear, common sense, courage.

So here’s hoping Everett Ruess’ final resting place stays hidden. Here’s to the remaining 1 percent of the undiscovered country hiding under slickrock overhangs, concealed by curving cliff walls or shadowed by dense forest.  Here’s to never telling anyone just where Edward Abbey is buried and never figuring out what those creepy Marfa Lights down in Texas are all about. The idea of a world that’s 100 percent known is just plain boring.

Jeff Osgood is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News ( He writes in Longmont, Colorado.


Service members build history with Bataan Memorial Park

—Sergeant Ryan Twist

The Bataan Memorial Park officially opened October 30 in a dedication ceremony at Contingency Operating Location Marez, Mosul, Iraq.

“The Bataan Memorial Park is being named for the soldiers of the 515th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard, who fought in the Philippines in World War II,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Nava, the 515th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion commander. “My unit, the 515th CSSB, carries on the name and legacy of these men.”

Staff Sergeant Miguel Padilla, the maintenance noncommissioned officer with the 515th CSSB out of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, said the soldiers here represent past soldiers of the 515th, leaving their families and jobs, just like those of past wars.

Padilla, a Rio Rancho native, said the 515th’s previous soldiers came together as one unit, combining their skills and backgrounds to accomplish their mission. Now they work together, not just on the mission, but on creating a recreation space for themselves and those to come.

Sergeant 1st Class Tino C. Aguillera, a fuel operations assistant with the 515th, said the simple act of putting a park together here brought them peace.

“I wanted a place for the soldiers of this battalion to congregate and maintain their sense of community while here in Iraq,” said Nava, a Belen, New Mexico native. “The previously insignificant patch of dirt and gravel under a couple of eucalyptus trees in Mosul, Iraq, will become that place.”

Aguillera, a Tucumcari, New Mexico native, said the future of the park includes a game room with card and board game tables, a barbecue area with a table and deck, a volleyball court, two horseshoe pits, and a miniature putt-putt golf course.

Padilla said the soldiers’ jobs in combat environments are stressful, creating a need for recreation. This area will provide soldiers with a way to escape from the daily grind of work, he said.

Nava proposed the recreation area and soldiers began work September 21. Aguillera said the soldiers work hard, picking up new skills and using them to further the project. He said Padilla gave them a foundation of wood-working skills. Aguillera said he relies on Padilla for direction because Padilla brought civilian construction experience with him. Padilla said he is a superintendent of a construction company in New Mexico, which made him a perfect candidate for the job. However, his work here differs greatly from his work at home, he said.

“[At home], I have guys working for me and I’m not doing the work myself,” said Padilla. Getting his hands dirty makes the job fun and easy, he said.

Pfc. Mark A. Credle, a truck driver with the 733rd Transportation Company out of Reading, Pennsylvania, and a Bayboro, North Carolina native, said the units’ good NCOs handle the carpentry work well. “I do carpentry work at home, but nothing professional,” said Credle. “Right now, I’m just learning a little more. The more practice you have, the better you get.”

Padilla said the soldiers enjoy the work and spending time with each other. They joke and hang out together, forgetting work outside the wire, he said. Credle said teamwork has been vital to the soldiers on this particular mission. He himself has learned how to present his opinions and ask for help, he said.

“I’m just trying to do anything I can to help out,” said Credle.

Flamenco dance and guitar music at Loma Colorado Main Library

On December 2 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Corrales Flamenco Dance Troupe will perform traditional flamenco dances, choreographed by Karen Dz. Lucero Cox, including sevillanas, tango, and romanza. Patricio Cox will accompany the dancers and play several solo flamenco guitar selections, arranged by Juan Martin.

Karen Dz. Lucero Cox teaches flamenco dance at Corrales Dance Studio. Her choreography is inspired by the flamenco and Spanish dance styles of Alicia Morena and Rosa Duran. Members of the troupe are students and teachers from the Studio, directed by Veronica Losack.

Patricio Cox is an accomplished flamenco guitarist. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from the University of New Mexico and his Master’s degree from St. Norbert’s College. He has more than twenty years of professional music experience, which includes being an accompanist and/or choir member in the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Chicago Symphony Chorus, San Francisco Symphony Chorus and San Francisco Opera Chorus. He currently teaches World Religions and guitar at St. Pius High School in Albuquerque and is the music director and cantor for several Catholic churches in the Bernalillo area.

Loma Colorado Main Library Auditorium is located at 755 Loma Colorado Drive NE in Rio Rancho. This concert is free and no ticket or registration is required. For information, call 891-5013, ext. 3033.






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