Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

 
Up Front

ESCAFCA in the spotlight

— Orin Safier

On January 3 Doris Faust and JoAnn English were sworn in as the new ESCAFCA directors. The board elected Sal Reyes, Algodones, to continue as chairman. The other two directors are Wayne Sandoval, Placitas, and Jack Torres, Mayor of Bernalillo.

Most of the news regarding ESCAFCA appears to be taking place outside the board meetings, which are mainly concerned with administrative matters. While work by the contracted engineers proceeds on study and planning of projects, ESCAFCA itself does not have the funds or personnel to perform those projects itself. As Reyes stated, ESCAFCA can only be a catalyst to get projects started and to bring other parties on board, but cannot bring the projects to fruition by itself. At the January 3 Special Meeting, when Faust and English were sworn in as the new directors, Torres, Mayor of Bernalillo, said that in order to fund these projects they would have to “beg, borrow and steal” during a general discussion of ESCAFCA's mission and its work ahead. As of yet, Sandoval County, which would be a major participant in most of these projects, has made no firm commitment, financial or otherwise.

There is action on a number of fronts in Santa Fe regarding ESCAFCA. State Senator John Sapien introduced legislation, Senate Bill 121, to change ESCAFCA director elections from at-large to districted. There would be 5 districts, of approximately equal population. The legislation would allow incumbent directors who are districted out due to the legislation to serve their full 6 year term. Drawing up the district boundaries would have to wait until the Census figures are made official later this year. Typically, there is a good deal of dispute regarding the drawing of district boundaries.

State Representative Jim Smith has drafted legislation to allow any or all of the three main areas — Bernalillo, Algodones and Placitas — to opt out of further participation in ESCAFCA. If this legislation passes then there would be a special election in 2011 for all voters in those three areas. If a majority of voters in an area chooses to opt out of ESCAFCA, then that area’s property owners would still be subject to taxation on the remainder of the $3 million bond debt already incurred (most of which has now been paid off), and possibly also on an additional $3 million in bond debt, since the ESCAFCA bond issue that passed in 2008 allowed for $6 million in bonds. But that would be the end of that area’s involvement with ESCAFCA.

At the January 18 ESCAFCA board meeting Director English read into the record a letter from State Senator Kent Cravens to the ESCAFCA board of directors.

Sen. Cravens supported the original ESCAFCA legislation, but is now highly critical of the board’s actions as regards the crucial bond election of 2008. He writes: “Dear Directors: It has become apparent that the board of directors significantly misled the voters of the Eastern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (ESCAFCA) in regards to representations made concerning the November 2008 referendum that authorized the issuance by the ESCAFCA of $6 million in bonds to fund the building of watershed management and aquifer discharge facilities.” This refers to the fact that ESCAFCA repeatedly advertised that the cost to a property owner of funding ESCAFCA would be approximately $65 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, but instead property owners in the last two years have been taxed $115 per $100,000 for ESCAFCA. Not coincidentally, when the legislation enabling ESCAFCA was introduced in 2007, legislators were also told that the tax would be no more than $65 per $100,000.

Sen. Cravens further writes: “The ESCAFCA has now sold $3 million of the $6 million in bonds authorized by the 2008 bond referendum. In view of the board’s misrepresentation of the potential tax burden that would result from the 2008 bond referendum, I urge you not to sell any of the remaining authorized bonds until such time as the tax burden resulting from such additional sales would be in line with the tax burden advertised by the board in 2008.” Though $3 million was obtained by ESCAFCA in 2009, significantly less than $1 million of that has been spent thus far. And the status of none of the ESCAFCA projects would presently warrant obtaining the second $3 million.

A number of citizens have contributed a great deal of their time and efforts to uncovering the details of how ESCAFCA has conducted its business, and they have brought this information to the attention of legislators, state officials and reporters (see Gauntlet).

As a result of complaints filed with the Secretary of State by advocates for Placitas County, the Secretary of State’s office has notified ESCAFCA of these complaints, and has required ESCAFCA to submit written responses within 20 days.

More information on these ESCAFCA issues can be found on the web site: http://esonevoice.com. Citizens concerned with the ESCAFCA issues can most effectively write letters to their legislators, and also attend the legislative committee meetings where the proposed legislations will be discussed.


Crest of Montezuma

Crest of Montezuma legislation

On January 26 U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich will be introducing legislation to transfer the Crest of Montezuma from the Bureau of Land Management into the Cibola National Forest.  As part of the National Forest that land would not be subject to uses such as mining.  The Crest, a scenic and historic landmark in the east part of Placitas, is also an important area as regards the migration and sustainability of wildlife and plant species, which this transfer would help protect.  Various Placitas organizations and individuals have worked for a number of years to make this transfer happen.

Representative Heinrich would appreciate letters from constituents in the Placitas area expressing thoughts on this legislation. They can be mailed or emailed to:

Matt Zidovsky, Constituent Liaison
U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1)
505 Marquette Ave NW, Suite 1605
Albuquerque, NM 87102
EMAIL: Matthew.Zidovsky@mail.house.gov


City of Vision Civitan Club President Stew Reinhold(l) with past presidents Bob Hurd, Tony Cook and Dan Brown as well as President Elect Kara Scott (center)

Civitan President Farrah Hurd and her three-year-old son, Jason.

Fulfilling the needs of others

—Margaret M. Nava

Based in Birmingham, Alabama, Civitan International is an organization of service clubs spread across 32 nations on four continents. The worldwide mission of Civitan’s 40,000 volunteer members is to build good citizenship by reaching out in service and fulfilling needs not met by other organizations or individuals.

At an international level, Civitan is devoted to improving the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities. This focus began in the 1950s when Civitan funded some of the first special education training for schoolteachers. That commitment continues today through local and international efforts such as summer camps, vocational programs, Special Olympic World Games and cutting-edge research into autism, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy conducted at the Civitan International Research Center on the campus of the University of Alabama.

On a local level, individual Civitan clubs undertake various service projects and fundraisers that benefit their local communities. Examples of club projects include maintaining a section of highway through the Adopt-a-Highway Program, promoting the creation of hospitals, supporting local reading programs, sponsoring children in financial need, purchasing playground equipment for developmentally disabled children and holding events for developmentally disabled individuals. Some of the most successful fundraisers include the Candy Box Project and the Claxton Fruitcake sales that fund various community service projects and the International Fellows Program that helps fund academic scholarships. Because clubs operate independently of the international organization, they are free to participate in whatever service they deem appropriate.

At the City of Vision Civitan Club in Rio Rancho, members participate in projects aimed at fulfilling their three goals of service to humanity, knowledge of their community, and fellowship with each other. In the past, those projects have included working with Paralyzed Veterans of America, Storehouse West Food Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters, People Helping People Network, Project SHARE, and New Mexico’s Camp Rising Sun for autistic children. And, while working on projects is rewarding, there is always time for fun such as taking scenic train rides, rafting the Taos River, attending baseball and hockey games or just kicking back at Halloween, holiday, and Bunco parties.

Each club is issued a banner when it is organized, and patches are added to the banner to recognize significant awards, achievements, and milestones. Chartered in September 2007, the City of Vision club was the first Civitan club ever to be awarded both the New Club of the Year and the Dr. Courtney Shropshire Outstanding Club of the Year award for the same period.

Following in its parent club’s footsteps, the Women of Vision Civitan Club was chartered in August of 2010 to give stay-at-home moms, as well as grand moms, an opportunity to give back to their community by focusing on women and children’s issues. Although less than six months old, members of this kid-friendly club enlisted the aid of their children over the holidays to make and deliver blankets to senior citizens at Sandia Springs Senior Living Community and to wrap and deliver small gifts to homebound veterans during their Twelve Days of Christmas project. Club president, Farrah Hurd, said, “For 2011, we’re planning to have the kids make some sort of craft every month for seniors to let them know that people are thinking about them, and we’d really like to help out at the schools such as helping with the backpack program at Colinas del Norte or whatever else the women and the children of the community need.”

Now in their second year, the Sandoval County Civitan Club members worked with Rebuilding Together Sandoval County to repair and rehabilitate the homes of low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities in Sandoval County, as well as helping out at St. Anthony’s Kitchen in Bernalillo and the Casa Rosa Food Bank in Placitas. They also introduced PB&J Family Services to the Flying Star Café in Bernalillo, resulting in a fundraising dinner at the restaurant and the donation of money made through Bernalillo sales of Flying Star’s organic peanut butter and jam sandwich. Lise Brooks, club president, said, “We’re also involved in the Armed Forces Wounded Warrior Project that advocates for wounded service men and women and their families. We help supply and pack toiletries, new socks, underwear, pajamas, robes, and slippers for our military men and women who’ve been wounded on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq. When many of our soldiers are wounded on the battlefield, they are taken to battlefield triage for stabilization and then to military hospitals in the war theater before being transported stateside… many don’t have the opportunity to take personal items with them and are left with very little, except hospital-issued gowns. Hopefully, what we do gives a little bit of comfort and dignity to those who’ve so courageously fought to help keep America free and shows our appreciation for their efforts.”

There are 17 Civitan clubs in the greater Albuquerque area. Through service projects, fundraisers, and educational programs, Civitans positively affect their communities. Members take great joy in serving and are committed to making a difference. Local clubs feed the homeless, register voters, help people with disabilities, donate school supplies, visit the elderly, and honor community heroes. Wherever there is a need, Civitan is there to help.

The City of Vision Civitan Club meets every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Inn at Rio Rancho. For more information, call President Stew Reinhold at (505) 892-1451, or log on to www.civitan.net/cityofvision. The Women of Vision Civitan Club meets for brunch every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Inn at Rio Rancho. Contact President Farrah Hurd at (505) 459-9708 for details. The Sandoval County Civitan Club meets on the second and fourth Wednesday in the meeting room of the Placitas Community Library on Highway 165. For information, call President Lise Brooks at (505) 514-9482. And, for information about Civitan International, log on to www.civitan.com.

 

     

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