League of Women Voters meeting
to focus on open government and PATRIOT Act
Everyone is invited to attend the League of Women Voters (LWV)
Westside Unit meeting on Wednesday, March 21 at noon, at the Rio
Rancho Public Library, 755 Loma Colorado Drive, south of Northern
Speakers are librarian Toni Beatty and lawyer George Bach. Ms.
Beatty received her BA and MLS degrees from UCLA. She has served
the Rio Rancho library system for 21 years. She will talk about
the library’s experiences with the USA PATRIOT Act.
George Bach, a graduate of the UNM School of Law, serves as Staff
Attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico and has worked for labor lawyer
Lee Peifer, litigating civil rights, union-side labor law, and employee-side
employment law. He will speak on various topics including open meetings,
government secrecy, and how to get the governmental information
you are after.
This March meeting is part of the National LWV "Sunshine Week:
Your Right to Know" movement launched in March 2005. Sunshine
Week's intent is to raise awareness of the importance of open government
to the public. For further information, call the LWV office at 884-8441
on weekday mornings.
Landmark bill introduced to fund ‘Outdoor
A landmark bill that could transform learning for New Mexico school
kids has been introduced in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
House Bill 1232, sponsored by State Representative Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque)
imposes a one percent excise tax on the purchase of televisions,
video games, and video game equipment in New Mexico, to create the
“Healthy Kids Outdoor Fund,” which would be used to
fund outdoor education programs.
“Outdoor learning helps children develop healthy bodies
and minds,” said Chasey. “Its academic and social benefits
are enormous. By imposing a small excise tax on the products that
keep kids indoors, we can be sure that our kids get the programs
The New Mexico Outdoor Classroom initiative is an effort to increase
outdoor education across New Mexico, utilizing state parks and other
local, state and federal public lands, ranches, nature centers,
and other locations.
“Teachers understand the importance of bridging the gap
between learning through books and learning through nature, but
lack the resources to do this,” said Albuquerque Teachers
Federation President, Ellen Bernstein. “This approach is an
innovative way for children to learn by doing.”
While the use of televisions and video games is not the only reason
New Mexico school children are losing connections to nature and
are prevented from having positive outdoor learning experiences,
there is a strong connection between the issues.
The average American youngster now spends more time watching television
(1,023 hours per year) than in school (nine hundred hours per year).
Studies show that watching over ten hours of television a week negatively
affects kids’ academic achievement.
In addition, studies show a link between “screen time”
(watching television or playing video games) and childhood obesity,
both nationally and locally.
HB 1232 would establish a dedicated revenue source to support
outdoor educational and interpretation programs.
It is estimated that the “Healthy Kids Outdoor Fund”
would receive approximately $800,000 annually. HB 1232 is believed
to be the first time that this particular mechanism has ever been
proposed in the United States to fund outdoor learning programs.
The “No Child Left Inside” initiative is a nationwide
effort to reconnect children with the outdoors. Efforts nationwide
have been rejuvenated and inspired by the publication of Richard
Louv’s book, Curing Nature Deficit Disorder. According to
USA Today, “A back-to-nature movement to reconnect children
with the outdoors is burgeoning nationwide” (USA Today, November
For more information on HB 1232, contact New Mexico State Parks
at 888-NMPARKS (888-667-2757) or www.nmparks.com.
Call before you dig
Whether you are a private home owner installing a mailbox, a professional
contractor digging up a city street, or a farmer or rancher in a
remote area, you are required by law to notify New Mexico One Call
by calling 811 two working days prior to digging.
Careless digging poses a threat to underground facilities and
to people. It is estimated that nationally there are about four
hundred thousand incidents every year in which underground facilities
are damaged during excavation, with many of these resulting in injuries
and fatalities. Forty percent of the damages occur when people did
not call the one-call center.
One-call systems help excavators to identify the location of buried
underground facilities, such as underground utility lines, by operating
as a liaison between the excavator and the owners of nearby underground
In the U. S., one-call centers handle over fifteen million calls
annually. The one-call center concept, along with other damage-prevention
initiatives, has significantly increased excavation safety. Calling
811 is free. It’s easy to remember. And it’s the law.
On March 10, 2005, The Federal Communications Commission established
811 as the national call-before-you-dig phone number. New Mexico
will be one of the few states to fully implement the number ahead
of the April 13 deadline for all states.
New Mexico One Call is a nonprofit corporation funded by its member
companies. Membership comes from all areas of the excavation community,
including underground-facility owners, excavators, and contractors.
For more information, call New Mexico One Call, at (505) 254-7315.
Senior peer counselors sought for County
—DEBBIE TRUJILLO, SANDOVAL SENIOR CONNECTION
Peer counselors for seniors make a big difference. Our clients tell
us so. If your heart calls you to help other seniors, join in a
transformative process yourself, and make new friends, then Sandoval
Senior Connection may be the program for you. Our service area is
Sandoval County, and we look for seniors ages fifty-five and older
to visit with others their same age. We begin another thirty-six-hour
training session this spring, beginning March 13. Training sessions
are held at different sites in Sandoval County on Tuesdays, ending
Volunteer peer counselors are usually assigned one client to visit
on a weekly basis. We assist with issues of stress, depression,
loneliness, health problems and lifestyle changes, to name a few.
We have significant impact upon a person’s life. The power
of active listening is not to be underestimated.
With certificate in hand, time to spare, and care for our seniors
in your heart, you can join our quality and fun team. If visits
to seniors aren’t your cup of tea, volunteers may also be
utilized in speaking at senior centers, organizing storytelling
groups, or helping with administrative tasks. We ask for a commitment
of two or three hours per week after graduation.
An informational luncheon for prospective volunteers will be held
in early March. Please call Cindy Anderson or Debbie Trujillo at
243-2551 for more information.
Still time to buy cookies
Are you still craving Thin Mints, Samoas, or Tagalongs? Did you
miss out on purchasing your favorite cookies from a Girl Scout?
Don’t worry! Girl Scouts will continue to sell cookies during
their booth sales through March 18.
In addition, the Scouts are proud to announce that all varieties
of Girl Scout cookies now contain “zero grams of trans fat
per serving,” in compliance with FDA regulations. They are
also offering a sugar-free cookie this year.
Girl Scouts of Chaparral Council, Inc. serves more than 4,600
girls and 1,800 adults in nine counties in New Mexico and five counties
in southwestern Colorado. They welcome all girls (ages five to seventeen)
and adults to participate in this premier leadership development
program for girls. Girl Scouts is a nonprofit organization and welcomes
contributions for programs, financial aid, or other organizational
needs. To volunteer, join, contribute, or just find locations to
buy cookies, you may call locally (505) 343-1040, toll-free (800)
658-6768, or visit online at www.chaparralgirlscouts.org.