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Sandoval County commissioners voted in May to name Economic Development and Tourism Director Dianne Maes to succeed County Manager Phil Rios when he retired at the end of the month.
Photo credit: —Bill Diven

Sandoval County finds next manager among current directors

~Signpost Staff

Dianne Maes added Acting County Manager to her job title last month as the unanimous pick to replace Phil Rios as the executive leading the Sandoval County staff.

Rios, to retire on May 30, and county commissioners are scheduled to meet that day to recognize Rios work and to approve the contract removing "Acting" from Maes' job title. Rios spent 26 years in public service, starting as the village administrator in Corrales, moving to Sandoval County in 1999 as the community services director, public works director, and for the last six years as county manager.

Maes has 26 years in local government with a background in community and rural development and economic engagement and was the county's director of economic development and tourism.

That experience will come in handy as commission Chairman Don Chapman dropped teasers about a commission work session planned for May 26 with staff directors and county elected officials welcome to attend. "The purpose of the meeting is to discuss this board's strategic plan that we want to execute with the new leadership of County Manager Maes," Chapman said. "I personally am very excited about the opportunity that's before us… There will be changes, not anything really huge. If you been kind of been paying attention you might figure out what those changes are going to be, but I'm not going to tip my hand."

The commission has been stressing job creation with actions like helping to set up the Sandoval Economic Alliance. Chapman's other hint was that the county plan would involve engaging partners to help meet specific goals.


Sandoval Economic Alliance hosts free business educational workshop

Sandoval Economic Alliance will host an educational workshop to help businesses learn about workforce, incentives and tax credits, financing, and real estate. The event will be held at El Zócalo, 264 S. Camino Del Pueblo in Bernalillo, on June 5, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The sessions will feature a workshop, followed by an open house with subject matter experts available from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, USDA, Realty One of New Mexico, the Small Business Development Center, the New Mexico Economic Development Department, and the New Mexico Finance Authority. To sign up, visit sandovaleconomicalliance.org/workshops or call 891-4305.


Katrina Lucero styles Nicole Sanchez's hair at Beauty Revival, the salon Lucero opened in Bernalillo last August.

Artist Phil Archuleta has been applying his skills and ink to customers for a year at Solo Ink in Bernalillo.
Photos credit: —Bill Diven 

New business owners betting on Bernalillo’s main street

~Bill Diven

Tucked away in a newly refurbished Bernalillo office plaza, business owners—four of them taking their first leap into commercial space—are putting their faith in themselves and the local economy.

Their reasons for taking the risk now vary. For Katrina Lucero and Sugey Castillo, it moved their work out of their homes. Paula Arellano is applying skills from a career that ended when she was laid off, and Phil Archuleta was inspired by a For Rent sign.

"I've always done centerpieces and piñatas for people, and they encouraged me to do it more public," said Castillo, owner of Dulceria Genesis, which also stocks custom party supplies and sweets imported from Mexico. "Helen made it easier."

Helen would be Helen Abousleman, a veteran business owner in Bernalillo who manages the family property.

"It was vacant for a long time, so we gave it a facelift and thought it would be good for small business," she said. "I just want these guys to succeed because they were so brave to take this first step."

Arellano set up Paula's One Stop Copy Shop after 27 years in the printing industry. Her tax refund allowed her to open in March providing copying, printing and faxing services, and promotional items.

"It's all about follow up, follow through," she said. "You have to be proactive. My ultimate fear is that I'll disappoint a customer."

Archuleta, a lifelong artist, found his new calling crafting tattoos. He opened Solo Ink a year ago after seven years learning the craft under professionals in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

"I started out as a folk artist doing carvings," Archuleta, a Santa Fe native and grandson of a famed folk artist, said. But with that income unsteady and then a family to support, he spent 19 years working at the Bernalillo wallboard plant occasionally drawing cartoons of coworkers.

"It wasn't my goal to have my own place," he said. But then he saw the For Rent sign at 872 South Camino del Pueblo.

"When Phil called about the sign saying for rent and said he did tattoos, I was a little bit horrified," Abousleman said. But she knew Archuleta as a customer of the family's TaGrMo hardware store, and he assured her he didn't fit the old stereotype she had in mind.

"I like the Japanese-style, koi, dragons, flowers," he said. His customers are mostly younger, many the kids of his classmates at Bernalillo High School.

"It's still a close-knit community. It really is," Archuleta said. "This is home sweet home."

Lucero also knew Abousleman from working at the hardware store and had a specific goal in mind when she graduated from the Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy in Albuquerque.

"I always knew I was going to open my own salon, but gave myself five years of field work," she said. But after seven years, dissatisfied with the commissions and not being able to apply her training her way, she set up shop at home.

"It got busy," Lucero added. "I knew I had something good going."

She moved into the office plaza in August taking the space occupied by a previous stylist.

The block south of Bernalillo Town Hall is something of a hair hub with Lucero's Beauty Revival on the east side, J & Co. Salon and Lilo's Barber Shop almost next door, and El Pueblo Beauty Shop across the street. Juliette Romero, who worked for years at La Bonne Vie Salon in Placitas and again at the Placitas Salon before it closed in Homestead Village Shopping Center, is one of the forces behind J & Co.

For the stylists, there seems to be business enough to go around in a profession reliant on customer loyalty.

"I have customers who followed me from my first job, and they are very faithful," said Maria Torres, a 23-year Bernalillo resident who opened El Pueblo Beauty Salon six years ago after stints managing chain salons. She draws one regular group from the west side of the Rio Grande and finds Bernalillo in general to be supportive.

"It is a little town that is growing a lot," Torres said. "People still try to help small businesses."

And that's what Mike Kloeppel, the town's director of community planning and development, likes to hear. "There's a lot of opportunity for small enterprises in this town," he told the Signpost.

Kloeppel, on the job barely two months after retiring to his hometown from New Mexico Tech, has been focused on establishing two major economic-development programs. Both allow infrastructure improvements as incentives for businesses to locate or expand in Bernalillo.

But only the Local Economic Development Plan, approved at the town council's May 22 meeting, is available to small businesses.

Still on Kloeppel's to-do list is trying to get Bernalillo back into the New Mexico Main Street Program. Main Street works to boost downtowns through historic preservation, economic development and creative spaces like arts districts.

Also on Kloeppel's list is working with the owners of vacant properties to bring business back to them.

The other four businesses in the plaza offer varied services. Rosario Dunning owns Morada Latina, an expansion of the business she began in Santa Fe 12 years ago to help Spanish-speaking people with everything from bookkeeping to translations services and help with documents.

"We realized a lot of Spanish-speaking people had a hard time with the language gap," Dunning said. "We're really excited to be part of the community."

Casandra Carrasco of Roar Nutrition describes her business as more than a place to get a healthy smoothie or just a workout. She offers classes suitable for adults and kids and other support in achieving nutrition and health goals.

Another office is home to SKP Cleaning Solutions, and in mid-May, El Pueblo Health Services began offering counseling and behavioral-health services from its space. The For Rent sign is still out for the one remaining vacancy

 
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