Sandoval Signpost


An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988
  Public Safety

Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade

Current and past members of the Placitas Fire Brigade:
(Front row) Arlene Campbell, Frances Sosa, Anne Grey Frost, Johanna, Dave Johnson, Wayne Jones, (dogs: “Doc” and Medic”), and Winnie Maggiore
(Middle row) Joanne Thompson, Jean Eichberger, Rosanne Elkin, Tom Eakin, Mary Shiever, Adrienne Campbell
(Back row) Ellery Worthen, Carl Wayne, Skip Baron, Piers Ramsay, Ralph Davis, A/C Steve Snider, Chief Humberto Macias

Original Members, PVFB

Ellery Worthen, Carl Wayne, Winnie Maggiore, Piers Ramsay, and Skip Baron at the Placitas History Project December 3 event at the Placitas Community Library. All five had been pictured in the Brigade’s original fire truck photo seen in the November, 2011, Signpost.
—Photos by Tony Hull

Placitas History Project—Fire Brigade Reunion

—Bob Gajkowski

Have you ever been to a fire fighters’ reunion? If you have, you know the camaraderie and feeling of family that permeates the group.

On Saturday, December 3, our community had the opportunity to join a reunion of members of the original Placitas Fire Brigade. As was mentioned in a recent Signpost article, our current Placitas fire fighters, even though now officially part of the Sandoval County Fire Department, are still the “Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade,” the name they took when the group was formed in 1973. As they will proudly tell you, “We were a bucket brigade when we started and damn proud of it.”

On that Saturday afternoon, about sixty past and current members of the Brigade and interested members of the community gathered at the Placitas Community Library for a program sponsored by the Placitas History Project. Winnie Maggiore, one of the first female members of the Brigade, presented photos and a history of the Brigade, which began in 1972, following a fire that took the life of a man in the Village. It was formally recognized in 1973.

State Fire Marshall John Standefer and Sandoval County Fire Chief John Tibbetts each took the opportunity to congratulate the Brigade on its continuing leadership and service to the community. Fire Marshall Standefer recalled that back in 1973 he was an instructor at the State Fire Academy when he was surprised by a group of long-haired individuals in a multi-colored van who arrived at the Academy for a training session. Despite some incidents of singed beards and long hair that didn’t fit under the protective masks and helmets, it didn’t take long for Standefer and the other instructors to change their minds about these “hippies.” The Placitas group demonstrated enthusiasm and ability, which gained them the respect of the instructors and the other members of the training class. Fire Marshall Standefer complimented the Brigade and the Placitas History Project on their efforts to preserve the history of the Brigade.

Since that start in 1973, the Brigade has responded to innumerable fire calls, acquired a number of fire trucks—some with very unique quirks—and built its first station in Perdiz Canyon from adobe and scavenged materials from Kirtland Air Force Base (there are now three Placitas firehouses). Brigade members through the years have continued advanced training, including EMT certification. They have traditionally lead the annual Fourth of July Parade through the Village of Placitas and have been recognized throughout the State as a model volunteer fire department that continues to provide a valuable service to the community.

In December, a generous resident asked that his PVFB raffle-ticket prize of a pedal-car fire truck be awarded to a deserving local youth. PVFB Chief Humberto Macias stands with firetruck recipient Cisco and his proud grandmother.

On scene with PVFB

—Captain Tom, Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade

For the last few years, Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade (PVFB) has been raffling off pedal-car fire trucks at the Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Craft Sale. This year, Pat C. was the winner of the smaller fire truck. She has several nieces, nephews, and grandkids and said that they will be enjoying it this Christmas.

The larger fire truck was won by a gentleman named Ron. Ron said he bought the raffle tickets as a donation and asked PVFB to find a deserving child in the community that might like it. Several members came up with the same name—Francisco “Cisco.”

Cisco is a student at Placitas Elementary School and helps out at the Casa Rosa Food Bank by sweeping the floor and doing odd jobs there. For the last three years, Cisco has been saving his money and buying raffle tickets for a fire truck at the holiday sale but has never won one. In a surprise ceremony on December 16 at Casa Rosa, Chief Humberto Macias presented the fire truck to Cisco. Afterwards, Cisco asked his grandmother to take it home. He would ride it after school, but said his younger brother could ride it until he got home.

Thanks to Pat, Ron, and Cisco and everyone who donates to PVFB.

PVFB Fact: Last month we had 36 calls—11 fire calls plus one mutual aid fire call. We also had 25 medical calls and three mutual aid calls.

PVFB Reminder: Did you get your red house numbers in your Christmas stocking? Have you put them up yet?

Two suicides in two days in December at SCDC

—Ty Belknap

Two Sandoval County Detention Center prisoners committed suicide within two days of each other in December. Kenneth Traiger, a 22-year-old held on a bank robbery charge, hung himself from a torn sheet in the shower area of the jail on December 6. He never regained consciousness and died at University of New Mexico Hospital on December 11. Stephen Vincent, age 52, hung himself with his shoelaces from a vent above his cell’s toilet—just eight hours after being booked in on a warrant related to a sex-related incident that occurred nearly twenty years ago.

According to a statement given to the Albuquerque Journal by Vincent’s older sister, Vincent’s family was considering a wrongful death suit because SCDC personnel allowed Vincent to keep his shoes and shoelaces.

Vincent reportedly told the SCDC psychiatrist at booking that he was depressed and anxious, yet he was not placed on suicide watch. Prisoners booked into SCDC routinely undergo medical and psychological evaluations. For obvious reasons, many prisoners are depressed and anxious.

SCDC Director Al Casamento said in a statement to the Signpost that SCDC allows its inmates to wear their own tennis shoes if they are not on suicide watch. The decision whether to place an inmate on suicide watch is based not entirely on suicidal ideation.

Casamento wrote, “My staff is trained to consider both verbal and non-verbal cues in determining whether an inmate is a threat to himself or other inmates. In these two cases, there were no such cues. SCDC inmates can be incarcerated for up to 364 days by State Statute, and the ability for an inmate to have recreation is a right that is protected while being incarcerated. It is difficult (and potentially dangerous) to exercise (walk, jog, play basketball, etc.) while in slippers. If the staff detects cues to indicate an inmate may be suicidal, they will be given slippers in place of shoes with laces.”

Sandoval County Spokesman Sidney Hill called the suicides isolated incidents saying, “It just so happened that we had this unfortunate coincidence with two people deciding to do this in the same week.”

Hill said that, contrary to the Journal headlines, SCDC did not characterize their review of the incidents an “internal investigation.” He said that the SC Sheriff’s Office determined that both deaths were the result of suicide and that no crime was committed. Casamento will use those findings as part of a review he is conducting to determine if any policies should be changed in order to lessen the possibility of similar incidents occurring in the future.

Mexican Wolf

Mexican Wolf #F511 in a prerelease pen. —Photo courtesy of the Arizona Game & Fish Department

Opposing views on lobo recovery

Signpost staff

A recent press release from the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association (NMCGA) calls for the end of the Mexican gray wolf recovery program. It states:

Crystal Diamond, who lives on the family ranch near Beaverhead, spent 24 hours indoors with her two daughters, ages two and three, with a collared Mexican Grey Wolf on her front porch and in her yard, before the wolf was controlled by Wildlife Services personnel.

“There is no excuse for putting a young woman and her two small children in such a dangerous situation,” said Rex Wilson, NMCGA president. “Our citizens should be able to rely on their government for protection, not be held captive in their homes by a government-sponsored predator. As a father and taxpayer, I am outraged.”

The NMCGA has long opposed the wolf reintroduction program for many reasons, not the least of which is the burden placed on residents of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The New Mexico Game Commission has withdrawn New Mexico’s participation in any facet of the program. Arizona’s Game Commission opposes any new wolf releases. “The economy of southwestern New Mexico has been decimated, ranching, hunting and outfitting businesses are struggling to survive, people can no longer feel safe in their own homes, and for what?” Wilson asked. “There is still not a viable population of the Mexican Grey Wolf, or a timetable for establishing one. We need to put an end to this huge waste of time, money and effort now.”

Tim Steller of the Arizona Daily Star reported on December 17:

The killing is just the latest blow to the 13-year-old program to reintroduce Mexican gray wolves in Eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. Last year, a Fish and Wildlife Service report said the project was "at risk of failure." The report said shooting had been the top cause of death in the wolf population. At that point, 31 wolves had been shot to death.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity attributed the wolf's death to officials' failure to increase the wolf population in the reintroduction area. He said the same wolf mated with a dog from elsewhere earlier this year, and gave birth to five hybrid pups, four of which were captured and killed.

In the statement, Robinson said: "This very sad episode is a result of the Fish and Wildlife Service's refusal to release enough wolves into the wild to allow this single female to find a mate of her own kind."

On December 2, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted to oppose any new Mexican gray wolf releases, a decision which came despite a request by the regional director of the Fish and Wildlife Service who said that new releases are necessary to raise the population and increase the genetic diversity of the approximately fifty wolves in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.
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