Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

  The Gauntlet

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letters, opinions, editorials

Signpost cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

re: Sandoval County property taxes

Recently a gentleman wrote in to one of the local papers. The headline of his letter read, “Voters Misled with Recent Hospital Levy.” All I can say is, “Where were you and the thousands of other Sandoval County voters when some of us warned of the consequences of a ‘yes’ vote on the county’s hospital millage levy?”

I’m sure you and thousands of Sandoval County property owners got the shock of your lives when you opened your 2009 tax bills. Were you misled? Sure you were. Just being upset is not the solution. Taking action is the answer. How do you do that? Read and study every proposal politicians place on the ballot. After you have done your homework, vote.

Want more to upset you about this hospital tax levy? The Texas firm the University of New Mexico has contracted with to operate their Rio Rancho hospital is a for-profit company. Would you approve a tax increase on your property to, let’s say, support the operations of a Wal-Mart in your neighborhood? Want more to upset you? The length of this tax levy can run anywhere from four to eight years, depending on the whims of Sandoval County commissioners.

So what can we the taxpayers do? There are several things:

Start a petition drive to recall your Sandoval County commissioner. That would send a very strong message that we the people are upset.

Investigate if the hospital tax levy can be recalled through a vote of the people.

Demand that that the county suspend the hospital tax levy after four years.

Clearly our news media have to play a role in this process. They need to present all sides in a fair and informative manner and not just present the “party line” of those political factions pushing the passage of some tax increase.

—Harry Gordon, Rio Rancho


re: it’s a dog’s world

In a ‘dog eat dog‘ world, we often ‘ignore thy neighbor‘ rather than ‘love thy neighbor.‘ But I was recently reminded of how a neighborhood comes together for each other in a time of need. In our little corner of the world (and of Placitas) in a community called Placitas West, we don’t know our neighbors from a homeowner’s association, but we know each other from the cars we drive (and how we drive), from the water we share, and from the dogs we walk. Yes, our dogs are our identity here. We may not know each other’s names, but we share the road and the trail while walking our dogs, sharing a friendly wave and a smile along with a bark, a sniff, and a wag.

Our beloved dog, Storm, died in a freak accident when he pulled away during a walk in the neighborhood to chase a neighbor‘s truck, only to be hit by it. In this sad moment for us and our neighbor we were surrounded and comforted by our “dog” neighbors, and became closer because of it.

Those of you in the neighborhood may not know his name, but you knew him from the silly red backpack he wore on our walks and you’ve seen him sit every time you’ve passed by on the road. But I’m not writing so much to honor our dog’s memory as to celebrate this little community of neighbors. I now know some of their names and am grateful to share our special corner of the world with them.

Thank you to everyone for your kindness, your hugs, and your help. We’ll share a wave (and a wag) again soon.

—Robin Yaeger and family, Placitas

re: Feher’s letter “no passing zones on Highway 165”

I agree with Feher that the eradication of passing lanes on Highway 165 came as a surprise—and an unpleasant one at that—since it puts all drivers at the mercy of slow-moving trucks and cars driving well below the posted speed limits.

However, I take exception to Feher alluding to the Sandoval County Deputy Sheriffs who patrol 165 as “sharks on a feeding frenzy.” Without the constant presence of the Deputy Sheriffs, human nature being what it is, the average speed along 165 would continue to increase well above the posted limits. In addition, the very visible presence of the Deputy Sheriffs along 165 and on the side roads of Placitas is a very effective passive deterrent to crime within our community.

My observation and personal experience is that the Sandoval County Deputy Sheriffs are very reasonable in deciding when to stop drivers exceeding the speed limit. The caveat for all drivers must be that if you are significantly exceeding posted speed limits, you are fair game for any law enforcement officer.

In the last year even with passing lanes available, I have observed impatient drivers on 165 zoom across double or single yellow lines to pass traffic that was driving at the posted speed limit of fifty mph. What it comes down to is personal responsibility or lack of same.

—Bill Kroenke, Placitas

re: Highway 165 no-passing lanes

I read with great amusement the whining that the re-paved Highway 165 now has no passing lanes. True, you could get caught behind a slow-poke, but the truth is that it really wouldn’t change your life much.

If you happen to be really “unlucky” and have to drive the entire six miles between the Interstate and the Village (for a lot of people, it would be much less than six miles), the time you lose would be pretty insignificant. The difference between driving the six miles at the speed limit (forty-five mph for two miles and fifty mph for four miles) and getting caught behind a slow-poke doing forty mph is only about a minute and a half.

Unfortunately, those who whine the loudest are probably those drivers who have no intention of driving at the speed limit, anyway. They would probably go fifty-five or sixty or sixty-five or more without the slowpoke. Seems to me that the bigger and more expensive the SUV, the more arrogant, entitled, impatient, and annoyed the driver is likely to be.

The complaint about the Sheriff’s “feeding frenzy” tickled me, too. Every time I see a speeder pulled over, I cheer. I have even complimented one of the Sheriff’s people for keeping our neighborhood safe from speeders. I am not a slow-poke; I try not to go over the limit by more than a couple of mph, but I often get tailgated by drivers who can’t tolerate obeying the law.

Chill out, you whiners.

—David Wilson, Placitas


Be grateful for what you have

—Michael Aun

I have been blessed to be on the platform over the years with some pretty terrific speakers whose real life stories are simply amazing. One such guy was baseball’s Jim Abbott, born without a right hand. He was one of the most successful major league pitchers even though he was missing a hand.

Abbott would throw the ball with his left hand, nestling his glove on his stump of a right arm and would quickly slip the glove on in time to field any ball hit his way. Once fielded, he would hurl the ball toward first base and, more often than not, he would gun down the runner.

In his rookie season in 1989 as a professional, he won more games as a rookie than any other previous player without major league experience. Abbott spent hours as a youngster bouncing a ball off a wall to practice fielding as well as throwing.

He was the starting quarterback on his high school football team, which went to the finals of the Michigan State Championships, and he showed enough promise as a pitcher to be drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays shortly after graduation.

Jim Abbott found a way to excel both on the baseball diamond and the gridiron. But what if he had to play basketball, where two hands are critical to the success of a player. Could it be done?

You only need to look to tiny Manhattan College, a Roman Catholic liberal arts college in New York City for your answer. Despite its name, Manhattan has actually been relocated to the Riverdale section of the Bronx, roughly ten miles north of midtown New York.

There is a coach at Manhattan that loves to take chances on kids that most schools would consider second tier. They might have academic challenges or disciplinary issues, but rarely would a college coach waste a precious scholarship on a student with a physical handicap. But that is exactly what Coach Barry Rohrssen did. He gave a full scholarship to Kevin Laue, a kid with one arm.

To be fair, that might be the only handicap that Kevin Laue has. A native of Northern California, Laue played a postgraduate season for Fort Union Military Academy in Virginia last year, hoping to impress college recruiters. His coach Fletcher Arrest said Laue averaged about ten points and five rebounds, competing against many Division I prospects.

What Laue lacked in limb capacity was more than made up with desire and determination. His 6’10” frame does not hurt him a bit. Most colleges would take a pass on a guy like Laue.

When Laue was born, the circulation in his left arm was cut off by the umbilical cord. It left him with one good arm and the remains of a left arm. He uses his upper left arm to help receive passes, and his large right hand allows him to easily palm the ball. Not only is his frame huge, but so is his good hand.

The old expression of ‘turn your lemons into lemonade‘ is just not adequate enough to speak to the issues that the Jim Abbotts and the Kevin Laues of the world have to face each day. To their credit, you never heard a peep out of either one of them. All they wanted was an opportunity to show what they could do with what they did have, not the things they lacked.


Managing growth and safety in the Town of Bernalillo

—Town of Bernalillo

If you were driving through Bernalillo this past Halloween day, you would have seen excited Bernalillo Elementary School children trick-or-treating on Camino Del Pueblo. Halloween is an exciting celebration for all children, but this event is another example of distinctly Bernalillo traditions.

That day, you would have also seen Bernalillo police officers controlling traffic so that children, teachers, and parents could cross the streets safely. Later, on Halloween night, police officers were on their bicycles, patrolling and in some cases, escorting groups of children and parents in the most active areas of town.

Bernalillo is not without its social problems, but its investment in public safety has allowed it to maintain and even nurture the quality of life and the family-focused traditions that go back to its roots.

The town’s investment in public safety has grown dramatically in the last few years. From 2006, the Fire Department budget grew by over six hundred percent. That investment allowed for the transition from its all volunteer fire department, to its present, permanently-staffed department of six firefighters and medical rescue personnel, plus twenty-one volunteers.

Likewise, the Bernalillo police force budget has grown by almost 180%, supporting the current force of twenty-two well-trained and equipped officers. Although traffic has grown, this investment has delivered good statistical results; especially on the U.S. Highway 550 corridor. Increased police presence has consistently kept traffic accidents low over all these years.

Beside staff and operational investment, the Town of Bernalillo continues to invest in the latest emergency response computer systems. The new Bernalillo GIS system is now feeding data to the New Mexico E911 system. This is an important step because E911 dispatch systems across the U.S. are migrating to the new NG911 (Next Generation), which will greatly improve the delivery of timely location-specific data and route/map information to emergency responders. The NG911 migration is part of the U.S. Homeland Security Network strategy. A recent FEMA/Homeland Security grant awarded to the Bernalillo Fire Department will be used to buy new firefighter equipment plus a new mobile GIS-based information system that links its vehicles to these other data systems.

On the west side of the Rio Grande, Bernalillo has received funding and broken ground for the new Westside DPS building which will house Bernalillo Fire Department personnel and equipment, as well as police services.

Traffic on U.S. Highway 550 has actually leveled off the last two years after exponential growth in prior years, according to the Mid Region Council of Governments (MRCOG). The MRCOG officially tracks traffic statistics and oversees transportation planning. In 2008, the traffic on U.S. Highway 550, in the corridor between the 528/550 intersection and the Camino Del Pueblo/550 intersection, peaked at 42,200 vehicles per day.

The recent flattening of Highway 550 traffic volume may be explained in part by the two Rail Runner Stations in Bernalillo, the Park & Ride lots off State Highway 528 and U.S. Highway 550, the Rio Metro Transit System, and the Santa Ana Pueblo Transit. But the growth in commercial businesses on north State Highway 528 and on U.S. Highway 550 could have an influence on shopper traffic. Commercial development in those areas continues to grow rapidly in spite of the poor economy.

Bernalillo works with the MRCOG and its neighbors on traffic planning, but understandably has taken an official position against a second road and bridge that would cut through this two-and-a-half-mile by two-and-a-half-mile community.

Public safety is an important factor that will help the Town of Bernalillo preserve its small-town, family-oriented traditions like the annual Halloween Main Street event, the Fiestas De San Lorenzo, and in fact Bernalillo’s overall quality of life.






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