The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

Community Bits

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 Blvd.

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 Classrooms’

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 they need.”

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 21, 2006).

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 utilities.

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 in mid-April.

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.

 

 

 

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