Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Around Town

Sandoval County Deputy Victor Gutierrez has his red lights flashing as he slows traffic through the school zone in front of Placitas Elementary School. The school-zone warning light for westbound traffic has not worked since the beginning of the school year although the light for eastbound traffic continues to flash on schedule.
Photo credit: —Bill Diven

Fix for Placitas school-zone confusion underway

—Bill Diven

School-zone lights malfunctioning in Placitas since the beginning of the school year should be working properly again some time this month.

Until then, one flashing beacon slows eastbound traffic in front of Placitas Elementary School, while the beacon for westbound traffic sits dark. As time allowed, the school resource officer, Sandoval County Deputy Victor Gutierrez, would park by the crosswalk with his red lights on beeping his siren at westbound drivers zipping past the darkened signal.

By late November, a contract electrician working for the New Mexico Department of Transportation was burying cable in anticipation of installing new control boxes.

“It’s between our maintenance department and the DOT,” Placitas Principal James Telles said. “We’re sort of bystanders.”

The school alerted parents to the problem, so he and his staff didn’t take too many phones calls, he added. Only one child walks to school each day, and that’s under a policy requiring a parent to make the walk, too, since the crosswalk is on State Road 165, Telles said.

The school district initially sent its own electrician out, and when he couldn’t fix the light, the district contacted NMDOT, Facilities Director Martin Montaño told the Signpost. Little more was heard until the contract electrician called to ask who was paying the electric bill for the lights, he said.

Montaño then talked to the NMDOT project manager who said there appeared to be a short circuit in the electric line connecting the two beacons and running diagonally under the highway.

“So instead of tearing apart the street, they decided to set up two independent beacons,” Montaño said. “They’ll have separate power to each and separate control boxes that can be synced electronically.”

Montaño said he’s been told the work is waiting for an electrical inspection and should be done by mid-December. The Signpost was unable to contact the NMDOT traffic engineer handling the project.

Meanwhile, the district is dealing with a somewhat similar issue in Bernalillo after a hit-and-run driver took out the northbound beacon protecting the Bernalillo High School crosswalk on Camino del Pueblo, also known as State Road 313. Montaño said, that when he asked NMDOT about repairs, the department produced a 1996 document where it agreed to provide the beacons if the town of Bernalillo would maintain them.

So now, the district is contacting the town about that. And with the construction of the new Bernalillo High School with its entrance on the south off Spartan Alley and Bell Lane, the district is looking at how to accommodate the change in traffic and pedestrian patterns with road beacons.

Farther up NM 313 in Algodones, NMDOT met with the elementary principal and the school resource officer to talk about traffic issues at the school, which fronts on the highway and lacks flashing light for the school zone.

“We are in the process of addressing most of the issues,” Bernadette Bell, the NMDOT District 3 public relations officer, said in an email to the Signpost. “We will enhance the pavement markings with thermoplastic when the temperature is appropriate.”

Montaño said the district is looking into installing solar-powered school-zone beacons there, as it did at the Santo Domingo Elementary School on State Road 22.

Las Posadas de Placitas returns Christmas Eve

Ray N. Arriola started las Posadas de Placitas many years ago and continued it until his passing in September, 2013. To honor Ray’s memory and passion, his family continues to carry on the Posadas every Christmas Eve.

Las Posadas will start at the village of Placitas at 5:00 p.m. on December 24. Everyone is invited. Anyone interested in participating by dancing with the Comachitos, children ages six to 12 years are welcome. Practice will take place on December 13 and 20 for the dancers and musicians at the Placitas Community Center at 6:00 p.m. For information, or to make a donation to aid in making the Posadas possible, contact Alicia Arriola at 903-3997 or Marylou Arriola at 480-6855.

Light Among the Ruins

Annual Holiday Festival of Lights in Jemez Springs returns Saturday, December 12,  from 5:00 to 8.30 p.m. at Jemez Historic Site. This free annual family event is noted for the thousand-plus farolitos outlining the historic ruins of “Gisewa” Pueblo and San José de los Jemez Mission Church, for the traditional Jemez song and dance performed between two bonfires (luminarias), and for the art and delicious Pueblo food available for purchase during this event.

There are free wagon rides from Jemez Springs Park and from the site. For more information, call 575-829-3530, email, or visit

Top of Page

Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page  Up Front  Animal News   Around Town  Sandoval Arts   Business Classifieds  Calendar   Community Bits  Community Center  Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  Gauntlet Health  Community Links  Night Sky  My Wife and Times  Public Safety  Real  People  Stereogram  Time Off  Youth