The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Public Safety

Safety tips from Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade


Everyone hopes that a medical emergency will never occur in their home. But emergencies do happen, and it is important that you know what to do. When an emergency occurs, call 911. Stay calm; be prepared to tell what has happened, where it happened, and your phone number. Stay on the line until the dispatcher tells you to hang up. Remember, you can make a difference when seconds count.

What you do before an emergency is just as important as what you do during an emergency. Prepare yourself by posting emergency telephone numbers for your area on each phone.

A form called “Emergency Medical Information” is available from the Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade (PVFB), and it is a concise way to list a patient’s medications, doctors, allergies, and illnesses. This form will provide a wealth of information for emergency responders, should the patient be unable to convey the information. Keep the information current and post it in a conspicuous place such as on the refrigerator door.

Make sure your house numbers are clear and visible from the street. The red tags issued by PVFB are the easiest to see on a dark night. If you need emergency services at night, turn on the outside lights to help EMS responders find your location. If you can post someone at the bottom of the driveway to guide the rescue vehicles in, please do so.

While driving, it is important to keep your ears and eyes open for rescue vehicles. When you hear the siren of a rescue vehicle, do not stop suddenly. Change lanes to move out of the way on a multi-lane road, as the emergency vehicle will try and stay in the same lane. Pull over to the right when it is safe, and allow the emergency vehicle to pass. Never follow an emergency vehicle through an intersection against red lights.

This public service announcement is brought to you by your local EMS provider, Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade, and EMS Region III.

Scorecard shows New Mexico lacks common-sense gun restrictions


Officials in New Mexico have done little to keep criminals and other dangerous people from easily obtaining guns, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The newly redesigned scorecards were released in February 2008 for all fifty states.

New Mexico earned just six points out of a total of one hundred.

The Brady Scorecards are designed so that states can score up to one hundred points across five major categories of laws: curbing firearm trafficking; strengthening Brady background checks; child safety; banning military-style assault weapons; and making it harder to carry guns in public places. The national state-by-state scores are available in complete category-by-category detail at

The Brady Campaign scorecards provide a new and redesigned analysis of whether states are enacting the laws needed to protect citizens from gun violence. The new scorecards also show states how their gun laws can be strengthened and their scores improved.

New Mexico scored zero in all categories and just six out of 10 points for its efforts to keep guns out of public places.

As the nation’s largest non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, works to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies. The Brady Campaign is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

For continuing insight and comment on the gun issue, read Paul Helmke’s blog at Visit the Brady Campaign website at

Thirteenth Judicial District gears up for new Mental Health Court program

Following a national trend, the Thirteenth Judicial District Court in Sandoval County is moving in a new direction by creating a Mental Health Court program. The program is focused on providing services to individuals who suffer from mental illness and, as a result, find themselves in and out of the criminal justice system on a frequent basis. The intended impact of the Mental Health Court program is to stop the “revolving door” effect that has developed for these individuals by recognizing the underlying cause of their contact with the system and linking them with appropriate services in the community rather than leaving them behind bars.

Individuals with severe, persistent mental illness (SPMI) are commonly arrested for misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges, often “lifestyle” offenses, and tend to remain in jail longer that the general population, due to their inability to post bond or provide a stable living arrangement and sufficient ties to the community, rendering them ineligible for traditional forms of release. The Mental Health Court program provides an alternative form of release for individuals with SPMI by identifying them soon after arrest, assessing them for eligibility, and recommending a treatment plan. Individuals identified through this jail diversion program and who choose to enroll in the program will be released by the Court conditioned upon their compliance with their treatment plan.

In addition to providing access to traditional treatment, such as medication and counseling services, the program will assist participants in accessing other support services, such as housing, transportation, benefits, and other social services in the community. Participants’ compliance with and the progress in their treatment plan will be closely monitored by program staff and overseen by the Mental Health Court judge. The Sandoval County program will join the First and Second Judicial Districts as the first Mental Health Court programs in the State of New Mexico.

State Representative Jane Powdrell-Culbert (R-Sandoval County) secured $80,000 during the 2007 legislative session for the District to begin planning and implementing the program.

A group of various stakeholders, headed by District Court Judge John F. Davis, met for the first time on Thursday, December 13, 2007 at the Sandoval County Judicial Complex to discuss program goals, policies, and procedures, and will continue to meet the second Thursday of each month to further develop the program. The Mental Health Court will begin accepting its first participants in the fall of 2008. The Thirteenth Judicial District intends to eventually secure the funding needed to implement similar courts in Cibola and Valencia Counties.

For more information regarding this important initiative, contact Gregory T. Ireland, Court Administrator, PO Box 1089, Los Lunas, NM 87021, by telephone at (505) 865-4291, ext. 2122, or by email at

Canebrake rattlesnake

A venomous Canebrake rattlesnake

Snake collector killed by snake


In February, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officers removed 179 snakes, eighty-four of them venomous, from the residence of a Deming man who died Tuesday after having been bitten by a rattlesnake he kept in his house.

A canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus atricaudatus) bit James D. Bear, thirty-seven, on his right thumb Thursday, January 24, while he was alone in his three-bedroom mobile home, where he kept and bred the snakes in various containers. He died at 11:49 a.m. the following Tuesday at El Paso’s Thomason Hospital.

Deming police called Game and Fish to Bear’s mobile home shortly after Bear was bitten to assist with the snakes and to determine whether any state or federal laws had been broken. An investigation indicated that Bear did not have the necessary permits to possess, obtain, or sell the snakes. Officers confiscated the snakes and materials relating to their transportation and sale January 30 on a warrant issued by Sixth Judicial District Court Judge Gary Jeffreys.

The confiscated snakes of various species were turned over to friends of Bear, who said they planned to take the reptiles to Texas, where they would be kept on behalf of Bear’s wife, Danielle Plantz, and their three young children.

It is illegal to import any live animals, birds, or fish into New Mexico without first obtaining a permit from the Department of Game and Fish. Other regulations apply to venomous snakes and the collection or sales of any wild animals.

“It is important that we carefully control any species that we bring into our state, for public safety and to protect our native game animals, birds, and fish against infectious or contagious diseases,” Department Chief of Law Enforcement Dan Brooks said.

The department currently is reviewing the rules concerning the importation, possession, and sales of wild animals, birds, and fish. Information about the rules and an opportunity to comment about them and offer suggestions is available on the department website, Click on “Public comments.”

For more information about wildlife importation rules and permits, call the Department of Game and Fish Law Enforcement Division at (505) 476-8066.

A good session for New Mexico


Before being elected your state Attorney General, I served in the legislature for twelve years. An important lesson I learned during that time was that getting legislation passed and enacted into law is an often complicated and lengthy process. With that lesson in mind, I am assured that my legislative agenda as Attorney General for the 2008 legislature was a successful one and the results will benefit New Mexico in a number of ways.

Many of you may remember that my number one priority for this session was to get a law passed that would make it a crime to engage in the practice of human trafficking. SB 71, sponsored by Senator Mary Jane Garcia, creates such an offense for the first time in New Mexico. With the Senator’s help and influence, we were able to move ahead with this landmark legislation that finally brings our state in step with surrounding Southwest states that have already made human slavery a crime. When the Governor affixes his expected signature, the bill will officially create a new criminal offense known as human trafficking, making it a felony to use force, fraud, or coercion to subject a person to labor, servitude, or commercial sexual activity. It also makes it a crime to benefit financially from such activity. SB 71 also provides for enhanced penalties when children are victims and establishes a task force to monitor human trafficking.

The immediate effect of this law, when enacted, will be to prevent New Mexico from potentially becoming a corridor for human trafficking. And with the continued support and collaboration of State of Chihuahua Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez and other Mexican states, we have a united front on both sides of the border to combat this crime.

In the area of domestic violence, I am happy to report the passage of certain bills in our legislative package. HB 337, sponsored by Speaker of the House Ben Lujan, clarifies that a prosecutor or law enforcement official cannot ask or require a victim of a sexual offense to take a polygraph (lie detector) test as a condition of investigating or charging such a crime. HB 227, sponsored by Representative Rhonda King, clarifies that a victim of domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault does not have to pay fees associated with the process of prosecution; amends the definition of domestic abuse to include an incident of stalking or sexual assault, whether committed by a household member or not; clarifies self-defense and mutual orders of protection; and prohibits making information available on the Internet that would reveal the identity or location of the protected party. Passage of these two important domestic violence bills helps assure that New Mexico will be qualified to receive grant money under the federal Violence Against Women Act.

In the continuing fight against DWI, HB 100, sponsored by Representative Ken Martinez, closes a loophole to create misdemeanor penalties for tampering with an ignition interlock device.

Under consumer legislation, HB 199, sponsored by Speaker of the House Ben Lujan, amends the Construction Industries Licensing Act to require contractors to carry a $10,000 bond. This can be drawn upon by the consumer through the Construction Industries Division for code violations not corrected by the licensed contractor.

Last but not least is the passage of SB 281, the Sale of Recycled Metals Act. Sponsored by Senator Phil Griego, the bill creates a new act to regulate the sale of recycled aluminum, bronze, copper, brass, or steel. When signed into law, it will require a registry and provide for penalties for violations.

As with any legislative session, a number of good and needed measures were left on the table. It is especially so during the short thirty-day session. But rather than complain about what didn’t get done, I prefer to celebrate the good things that were accomplished. For me and my staff, it just means we will have more time to re-work and fine-tune our legislative agenda for the next legislature.



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