Suburbia is suffering
—JONATHAN THOMPSON, HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
Although doomsayers think suburbia will be slaughtered by
rising oil prices, or drought, suburbs continue to gobble
up the Western landscape.
Don’t be fooled, though: Suburbia is suffering. But
don’t blame water or oil for the cul de sac’s
decline. Blame creative financing.
So-called exotic loans, offering low payments for the first
few years, helped fuel a housing feeding frenzy during the
last half-decade. Big builders responded by extending their
cookie-cutter developments farther out into the deserts. Now,
the loans are all resetting to higher payments and interest
rates, and folks are realizing that they couldn’t afford
their homes in the first place.
A wave of unpaid mortgages has ensued, hitting the West the
hardest: Nevada and Colorado lead the nation in foreclosures,
with six other Western states in the top twenty-five. The
effects have rippled through the housing market, sending once-flush
real estate agents to find other jobs; twenty-one percent
of real estate licenses in Nevada are now “inactive.”
And the number of empty houses on the market has climbed to
an all-time high—up forty percent in the West in just
A strange twist has emerged in California, where drug dealers
took out easy mortgages to buy upscale suburban homes, which
they then converted into sophisticated marijuana plantations.
Since last summer in Northern California, cops have busted
fifty such marijuana McMansions.
But even as some suburbs decay, others rise from the sagebrush.
In one Western county that’s home to just forty-five
hundred people, a developer wants to put up to sixteen thousand
new homes on eighty-six hundred acres.
Many of the new development’s twenty thousand or more
residents would work in a nearby city. And where is this happening?
Near Reno—in Nevada, the state with the highest foreclosure
rate in the nation.
This article originally appeared in High
Country News (www.hcn.org),
which covers the West’s communities and natural-resource
issues from Paonia, Colorado.
Last year’s Feast Day Procession wound
through the historic Village of Placitas
Annual Feast Day procession in Placitas Village
In a celebration reminiscent of those in Chimayo and Albuquerque,
the annual Placitas Village Feast Day Procession will take
place on Saturday, June 16. This yearly festival has its roots
in the Village’s long history. Traditionally, this farming
community set aside a day each year to honor its patron saint,
Anthony of Padua, and to ask for his intercession to insure
a good harvest. Dating back to the Village’s beginning—and
following even earlier Hispanic traditions—the people
of Placitas celebrate the bounty of their land.
This year, the Feast Day Procession will wind through the
historic Village from the San Antonio Mission on Paseo de
San Antonio, along El Calle Jon and Camino de la Ciruela.
Led by the santo of St. Anthony with a Knights of Columbus
honor guard, the procession will be joined by the santos and
mayordomos from San José Mission—Algodones, from
the Sanctuario de San Lorenzo—Bernalillo, and from Our
Lady of Sorrows Parish—Bernalillo. San Antonio Mission
mayordomo Arsenio Duran who, with his wife Valentian, is celebrating
over thirty-three years as the Mission’s mayordomo,
will lead the procession in song. He will be accompanied by
guitarist Orlinda Torres and trumpeter Bruce Canle.
Following the procession, refreshments will be served at
the Mission’s Social Center (an historic note: the Center
is the original Placitas Elementary School).
A short service will be conducted by Fathers Virgil Farfaro
and John McKenna from Bernalillo starting at 6:30 p.m., followed
by the procession. The public is welcome.
Lawrence Rael, Executive Director of the
Mid-Region Council of Governments congratulates Yvette Williams
on being the 400,000th Rail Runner passenger.
Bernalillo looks toward future
When Governor Bill Richardson dedicated the Sandoval County/US
550 Rail Runner Station in Bernalillo last July, he proudly
announced that “the future of transportation in New
Mexico has arrived.” Now, the residents of Bernalillo
have the opportunity to help shape what that future will look
like in the areas surrounding the Sandoval County Station
and the newly opened Downtown Bernalillo Station.
On May 24, a dedication ceremony marked the official opening
of the Downtown Rail Runner Station located on 820 Rail Road
Track Road between Calle Don Francisco and Calle Duranes.
The festivities included student performances of Coro Infante’
de Roosevelt Elementary, Carroll Elementary Ballet Folklorico,
and the Bernalillo High School Mariachi Ensemble.
The dedication ceremony was held in conjunction with the
Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments and the New Mexico
Department of Transportation. “We want to ensure that
business and train service events become a mainstay in our
community,” said Mayor Patricia A. Chavez. “Train
service also provides alternative transportation to and from
Bernalillo, literally providing our residents access to diverse
employment, medical, educational and cultural pursuits, while
placing economic relief on their pocketbooks.”
Bernalillo businesses have been asked to participate in offering
a limited number of free Rail Runner passes to customers to
stimulate additional business and to encourage local use of
the train service. The tickets are provided free of charge
by the Town of Bernalillo.
With two stations in town, Bernalillo is doubly-positioned
to seize the opportunities of regional commuter rail and ensure
that it enhances a community known for its history, culture,
and civic pride. The stage for the future has been set by
Town leadership, who implemented a moratorium on new development
around each station earlier this year. This moratorium allows
elected officials, staff, and the broader community to pause
and consider what types of development will best utilize the
opportunities the Rail Runner brings to Bernalillo.
Through funding from the Mid-Region Council of Governments
(MRCOG), an intensive community planning process is underway
to facilitate community input and eventually produce two Station
Area Plans for the Town.
The public is encouraged to take part in this very important
planning process aimed at examining how mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly
development around each station can help enhance the existing
character of historic Bernalillo.
Workshops will take place the week of June 4 at Our Lady
of Sorrows Church Social Center.
A full workshop schedule will be publicized through local
media and on the Town website at www.townofbernalillo.org.
For more information, please call Maria Rinaldi or Kelly Moe
Rail Runner, buses offer special summer service into the evening
Beginning Memorial Day weekend and running through Labor Day
weekend, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express is offering special
Friday and Saturday service.
Summer service extends the regular Friday commuter schedule
into the evenings with the last train leaving downtown at
9:40 p.m. The Summer Saturday schedule will make Rail Runner
service available beginning at 11:25 a.m., with the last train
leaving downtown Albuquerque at 11:30 p.m.
“This is perfect timing for the Rail Runner to extend
service,” says Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez. “People
can take the train downtown and walk over to Summerfest, or
catch a Rapid Ride bus to various other places—Old Town,
Nob Hill, even the uptown malls.
In addition to extended summer Rail Runner service, ABQRide
is starting its “Rapid After Dark” bus service,
which runs on Friday and Saturday nights every twenty minutes
from 8:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.
For more information or to view the schedule, call New Mexico
Rail Runner Express at 247-1750 or visit www.nmrailrunner.com.
El Rinconcito español
• Señal cierta de que va a llover es
ver la lluvia caer.
A sure sign of rain is seeing the rain fall.
• La esperanza no es pan, pero alimenta.
Hope is not bread, but it nourishes.
• Todo se pega, menos la salud.
Everything is contagious except health.
Submitted by www.sospanyol.com,
that focuses on oral communication skills.
Free summer lunch program for youth
Santa Ana Pueblo offers its Summer Lunch Program, beginning
June 4 and running through August 10. Lunch will be served
from noon to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Free lunch
meals are open to the public and available to anyone between
the ages of one and eighteen years old. Meals will be served
at the Santa Ana Childcare Center. No application or registration
is required. In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department
of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from
discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin,
sex, age, or disability. For further information, email: email@example.com
or call 867-3715.
Jemez geology tour scheduled
The Friends of the Jemez Springs Public Library group is
sponsoring a “Geology of the Jemez” field trip
from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 9. This trip
focuses on development of the Valles Caldera, geothermal activity,
and youngest volcanism in the Jemez Mountains. Most stops
will be along Highway 4 and require minimal walking.
The trip leader is Dr. Jamie Gardner, who has more than
twenty-five years experience researching a broad variety of
aspects of the geology of the Jemez Mountains.
Fees are $30 per person or $50 per couple, and all proceeds
go to the Friends of the Library. Lunch and transportation
will be provided. Space is limited to twelve people, so sign
up early to reserve your seat. For more information, call
Judith Isaacs at (505) 829-9155, (505) 829-3382, or email
Library dinner auction a success
The Placitas Community Library’s First Annual Dinner
Auction held on May 19 raised over $30,000 for the library’s
operating expenses. The two hundred-fifty people who attended
the event at the Santa Ana Star Casino enjoyed a delicious
dinner and had the opportunity to bid on beautiful paintings,
jewelry, hand-crafted items, catered dinners, vacation trips,
and gift certificates.
Community artists and businesses, both in and around Placitas,
generously donated items for the auction and many also attended
The library invites you to attend its Third Birthday Bash
on Saturday, June 2, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the library.
Pepi’s Pet Parade participants will line up at the library
at 10:45 a.m. and parade over to the Merc at 11:00 a.m. A
birthday cake will be served at 11:30 a.m. and special interactive
story times will start at 12:30 p.m.
Registration for the Summer Reading Challenge will be held
all day. This year’s theme is “Get a Clue,”
so there will be art projects and games around that theme
going on all day, along with other fun games and prizes for
kids. Raffle tickets for great adult prizes will be sold throughout
day. You do not need to be present to win.
A plant sale for both green-thumb gardeners and desert-gardening
novices will offer a variety of plants, including some rabbit-
and drought-resistant ones, along with some expert advice
for those with plant questions. The library will be open for
browsing and checking out some of the wonderful books in the
On Thursday, June 7, the library will present the first
summer story time from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. There will
be two story groups, one for two- to five-year-olds and another
for six- to nine-year-olds, but everyone will join together
for craft activities after their stories. To receive more
information, attend the Birthday Bash or check the library’s
website at www.placitaslibrary.com.
County Line—Seniors make connections
—DON LEONARD, SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN
Trying to balance dwindling federal dollars with the challenges
that rapid growth is sparking across Sandoval County would
be an impossible task without the tremendous contributions
of hundreds of senior volunteers—the young-at-heart
who are doing so many things to help make life better for
all of us.
I had the pleasure a few weeks ago of spending some time
with more than two hundred County residents, ages fifty-five
and older, who attended an appreciation ceremony recognizing
their dedication and hard work on behalf of all County residents.
The volunteers are actively involved in the Retired Senior
Volunteer Program (RSVP), Senior Companion, Foster Grandparents,
and the County’s other senior volunteer organizations.
These are the so-called “seniors” who are so
hot they sizzle as they help friends and neighbors in all
walks of life.
Last month was “Older Americans Month,” a time
when the nation was reminded of what many County residents
already know: If you want something done, just ask the people
with fresh ideas formed by lifetimes of experience.
Sandoval County’s retired volunteers are making things
happen. Thanks to their unwavering efforts, many other residents
throughout the County are living meaningful, more productive
County RSVP and Senior Companion Program volunteers are
delivering meals, and working in schools, in homes, and in
senior and youth centers across our County. They provide transportation
for other residents to medical appointments and help provide
independent living for clients referred to the programs by
hospitals, senior centers, families or State agencies. Other
County volunteers, meanwhile, are staffing our libraries,
our non-profit organizations, and helping out in some County
The phrase “couch potato” isn’t in their
vocabulary. In their “spare” time, they provide
companionship, help our elderly pay bills, administer medication,
and shop for others. The volunteers fill gaps and provide
services for our social workers, assist healthcare providers,
and serve as role models by working in schools.
While federal funding in recent years has been shifted away
from senior programs nationwide, Sandoval County has continued
to enhance and improve its senior services—thanks to
the three hundred-twenty County residents who are volunteering
their time and services.
Studies by the County’s Senior Program staff show
many of the County’s retired seniors work as much as
twenty hours each week as volunteers, offering time and labor
that is vital to the large numbers of residents who depend
on their help. We owe them our sincere gratitude and support
for their efforts to serve in our communities.
The volunteers come from all walks of life and bring a full
spectrum of experiences. The combined efforts of the County’s
Senior Program volunteers exceed 142,400 hours a year. The
dollar value of the number of hours they provide totals $733,422
Questions or comments for Commissioner Leonard
can be mailed to him at Sandoval County Administrative Offices,
P. O. Box 40, Bernalillo, NM 87004.