The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

Community Bits

Kite festival coming to Traditions!

Ouida Anderson

Bring your family, your friends, and your lawn chairs and enjoy this free event on June 4 and 5, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at Traditions! Festival Marketplace, where the winds are perfect. When the winds are blowing, watch internationally recognized kite fliers playing on the winds as they demonstrate multiline team flying, kite ballet, and air acrobatics, using kites from huge to tiny. When the winds are calm, watch radio-controlled aircraft operators creating aerobatic routines, using aircrafts of all types and sizes.

Free workshops for adults and kite building for kids will be ongoing, with a special area set aside just for kids to fly their new creations.

The New Mexico Multi-Cultural Foundations is pleased to present its third Great Southwest Kite Festival and its expansion into radio-controlled aircraft demonstrations. The annual festival attracts the top kite fliers from across America and Great Britain. Joining in this year are Team Too Much Fun (California), Sam Huston (Seattle), John Barressi (Portland), and Mike Shaw (Denver). Music—live and recorded—accompanies the kite routines, with the whimsical fun of the Hill Stompers, wandering musicians who keep things lively in the crowd.

A place is provided for amateurs to try their hand with their own kites, and special offerings for the youngest kite fliers range from face painting to workshops. All ages will enjoy the crafts by local artists. Food is served at three locations at the site, and kites and remote aircrafts can be purchased on both days.

For radio-controlled aircraft enthusiasts, Out West Hobbies will demonstrate the aerobatic gymnastics of the aircraft and will be available to discuss the mechanics and fun of flying your own “remotes.”

This year's free kite exhibit at Legends Museum features rare German kites loaned by Scott Skinner, of the Drachen Foundation. (Drachen is German for “dragon” or “kite.”) Scott will be giving guided tours on both Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, please call (505) 867-8600. Traditions! is on 1-25, halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, at Budaghers, Exit 257.


Madrid: anarchy and community

Wally Gordon

Anyone who has spent much time in rural villages, whether in New Hampshire or Wyoming, knows New Mexico small towns aren’t much like those elsewhere.

What is different is the extremity of their self-centeredness, even anarchy. By and large, people stay in these places not in spite of their disorganization but because of it. Most New Mexicans seem delighted that their hometowns aren’t part of the social and commercial nexus that ties together the rest of the United States.

Anyone in the tri-county area who wants to know what makes a rural New Mexico village tick need go no further than the nearest hamlet. He’d find that it is full of fine and exceptionally interesting people, if he could only get to know them, but people who don’t want to have much to do with him or even with each other, and certainly not with any government, organization, or group called “community.”

These thoughts were triggered by an intriguing book scheduled for June publication, “Anarchy and Community in the New American West: Madrid, New Mexico 1970–2000,” by Kathryn Hovey (UNM Press, 280 pages, $34.95).

Hovey spent the better part of three years in and around Madrid, an experience that she turned into first a doctoral dissertation and then this popularized sociological study.

She found Madrid to be a very different kind of place, where drugs, anarchy, hedonism, individualism, and self-centeredness checkmate impulses toward community cooperation.

Whether the issue is trying to protect a child from abuse, limit open drug use in front of main street businesses or acquire open space to protect the settlement from overdevelopment, Hovey finds that most residents, seemingly irrationally, refuse to have anything to do with each other.

Her story of the town’s history helps explain its residents’ behavior. A once-successful coal mine owned by the Rockefeller family, it was taken over by local businessman Oscar Huber, who ran it, for the most part benevolently, as a wholly owned company town. In 1975 his son Joe Huber subdivided the town and sold off the old mining shacks to anyone able to come up with a $10 down payment. Commercial properties on the main drag, N.M. 14, cost more, but not a lot more.

She divides its residents into “original settlers” who moved in right after lots were sold off, and “recent arrivees” who came to town over the past 20 years.

When land was subdivided, the population, at least in relative terms, exploded. One early settler complained, “There were 45 dogs and 19 people. And then there were 45 dogs and 45 people. Then there were 75 people and 45 dogs.

The hippies, among whom Madrid had been gaining a wondrous word-of-mouth reputation, took over the town in the 1970s, bringing with them all their famous strengths and weaknesses: unconventional lifestyles contaminated by addictions, tolerance balanced by anomie.

An early settler recalled, “Most of the people here were hippies, well hippies and outlaws. The outlaws and the drug dealers were kind of hippies. The rednecks in some ways are hippies. This is such a mix.”

Thirty years later, the same uneasy tensions still dominate life in the village, with the addition of the wild card of large-scale tourism focused on galleries and craft shops.

Despite increasing signs of development and prosperity, however, Madrid still has no hotel, supermaket, gas station, or stoplight. “There are three things missing in this community which make it a unique situation,” one resident commented. “There is no church, there’s no police, and there’s no peer pressure.”

In fact, Madrid may be unique even in New Mexico in not having a stop sign. No one in Madrid, it seems, wants to be put in the position of having to tell someone else what to do.

Madrid remains a little gem of a town, hemmed in by its narrow canyon, constricted history and poverty of resources. Its residents struggle with poor soil, inadequate water, isolation, and pollution. They manage to do more with less than just about any other Americans—outside New Mexico.

But were it not for Madrid’s problems, the whole world might beat a path to the door of what one resident called “the biggest unfenced insane asylum in New Mexico,” and that would be the death of the town that Hovey, I, and many others continue to cherish.

Originally printed in The Independent, May 4, 2005, Vol. 7, No. 18. To view the newspaper, go to


County Line

Careful planning allows a 48% increase in county expenses without raising taxes

William Sapien
Sandoval County Commission

Preparing for tomorrow by planning for and managing the exceptional growth in our county today is one of the biggest opportunities facing all us who are fortunate to live in Sandoval County. Developing a prudent budget that wisely uses taxpayer resources to meet those needs is another.

Proper planning identifies future needs, revenue sources, and associated costs. Then, during the budget process, the commission and staff strive to allocate dollars at sufficient levels to meet those needs. The same basic process applies to a household, a business, or a government entity that serves a large and diverse population.

Put more simply, once you know the financial needs, you can allocate resources to get the biggest bang for the buck. Of course, prudent fiscal control must be a constant, ongoing process every day of the year and not just during the budget process.

Sandoval County's budget process is relatively headache-free compared to some public agencies or the growing list of businesses from airlines to shoe shops that are having hard times just trying to making ends meet. Here, prudent, innovative steps in the past are paying huge dividends for county residents today. 

Residents of some areas—both across the nation and in New Mexico—are facing a triple whammy of rising taxes, unemployment, and declining service levels, as their local governments must further cut already bare-bones budgets, lay off employees, and slash programs.

By contrast, Sandoval County is continuing to improve services for residents, and the county commission has not increased property taxes in recent memory. To retain and reward employees for their exceptional service and to continue attracting qualified applicants in the future, we have improved employee pension and salary plans.

The commission just recently approved a $68.6 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1—without increasing taxes. That 48-percent increase in county expenses is being paid with by such innovative measures as the Intel bond agreement, which provides a secure revenue stream well into the future, and through expanded partnerships with the legislature, other local governments, and private enterprise.

And, the bulk of that increased budget is directly targeted to improve services and quality of life for county residents.

Funding for community programs is being increased by more than 213 percent, or $17 million, to establish a county transportation system, enhance health and senior programs, and beef-up DWI prevention. Additionally, more than $1 million is being added to public safety functions so that the sheriff, fire, emergency medical services, and detention center, too, can better respond to needs of residents. To cope with both increased traffic and continue modernizing the county landfill, the new budget includes an additional 23 percent for public works.

Only 2 percent of the budget increase, meanwhile, is being allocated to run the necessary functions of government: tax assessing and collections, elections, recording and filing, computers and maintenance.

Our preparation for the future is readily seen in the wisdom of past actions. For the years ahead, we must continue planning with the very best crystal ball and then strive for long-term solutions that provide the wisest, most prudent use of resources.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Sapien can be mailed to him in care of Sandoval County Administrative Offices, P.O. Box 40, Bernalillo, 87004.






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