The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Jonathan Thompson

Jonathan Thompson

Suburbia is suffering

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 year.

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 (, 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

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.

400,000th Rail Runner passenger

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 For more information, please call Maria Rinaldi or Kelly Moe at 867-3311.

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

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, Placitas—Spanish instruction
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: 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 event.

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 collection.

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

County Line—Seniors make connections

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 lives.

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 offices.

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 annually.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Leonard can be mailed to him at Sandoval County Administrative Offices, P. O. Box 40, Bernalillo, NM 87004.





Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page  Up Front  Animal News   Around Town Business  Classifieds Calendar Community Bits  Community Center   Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  The Gauntlet  Community Links  Night Skies  My Wife and Times  Public Safety Sandoval Arts  Schoolbag  Time Off Uncle Duffy