Sandoval Signpost

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Placitas Library opening

Placitas Community Library groundbreaking set for March 8th

—Anne Frost, Co-Director, Placitas Community Library

The Placitas Community Library (PCL) and Sandoval County are excited to announce the groundbreaking for our new library facility. Please join us on March 8 at 2:00 p.m. at the Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade Main Station for a reception. We will then walk together to the building site just down the hill for the actual groundbreaking. Please bring a shovel to join in the festivities and make sure to wear your sturdy walking shoes!

It has taken many years and the efforts of countless individuals to bring us to this point. I’d like to recognize a few of those folks. Sue Strasia is our visionary and founder, who started things by putting a classified ad in the 2002 Signpost. Larry Robinson and Snow Watson joined Sue and several others to write our bylaws and incorporation papers. Pepi Strahl saw the need and donated her building for our library’s first year. Judy Gajkowski, Suanne Bryden, and I shepherded the physical library along, aided by many dedicated volunteers and the community’s incredible donations of books and equipment. Nancy Guist appeared by magic to chair the Children’s Programming Committee, developing an extremely active and creative children’s program with little money and no facilities.

Sue Strasia went to our representatives and received major support and funding for this building from State Senator Kent Cravens, State Representative Kathy McCoy, and Representative Heather Wilson. Our Sandoval County Commissioner Bill Sapien fought hard to secure funding to purchase land for our building. Over the years, we have been generously supported by the Friends of the PCL, chaired by Pam Buethe. Along the way, professional librarians Judy Labovitz (board chair from 2005 to 2008), Rebecca Watson-Boone (co-director from 2007 until the present), and Nancy Kellum-Rose (board member from 2008 to the present) have greatly increased our professionalism and service capabilities.

Gail DellaPelle took on the herculean task of chairing our Building Committee and acting as our Sandoval County Liaison. Without her steady hand to navigate through this complex project, we could easily have floundered along the way. Gail, our Treasurer Susan Fullas, and new Chair Wendy Aman are keeping all our ducks in a row and keeping this incredible grassroots, all-volunteer project moving forward. Supervising the project on behalf of the county are Juan Vigil, County Manager; Phil Rios, Director of Public Works; and Fred Marquez, Assistant Project Manager. The architectural firm that created the design is SMPC of Albuquerque; Allison Abraham is the lead architect.

What’s new at the Library:

The PCL Board has elected two new members. Long time Placiteño and author Bill Dunmire brings his years of experience in the book, plant, and business worlds; and Pat McCarty brings valuable expertise in rural volunteer libraries and their boards. We are delighted to have their energies on this hardworking board.  

Calling all Placiteño poets! The Library is planning a celebration of National Poetry month in April. Local poets Larry Goddell and Doris Fields will be among the readers. If you are interested in participating, please call 867-3355 and leave a message for Anne.

The PCL Book Group II is open to new members. They meet on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the Library. For more information, please call 867-3355 and leave a message for Sandy.

Upcoming Library Happenings:

Groundbreaking ceremony: March 8 at 2:00 p.m. at the main fire station
Preschool story time: March 5 and 19 at 10:30 a.m.
Bilingual story time: March 10 at 3:00 p.m.
Children’s Book Club: March 17 at 3:00 p.m

The PCL Book Group I meets the first Monday of each month at 4:00 p.m. This group is now closed to new members. Books to be discussed are as follows:  

March 2: Stealing Athena by Karen Essex  
April 6: My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

PCL Book Group II: Tuesday, March 17 at 7:00 p.m. This group is just forming. Please bring your ideas for titles to read in 2009.

Library Hours:

The Library is open Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and when the flag is flying.

Visit us at 1 Tierra Madre or call 867-3355. You may also visit us online at

Placitas Merc

Help the economy by keeping close to home

—Margaret M. Nava, Signpost

We’ve all seen the effects of the nationwide economic crisis: foreclosure signs, empty stores, and workers leaving the factory or office on their last day of work. Even though these signs aren’t too apparent in Placitas, many local businesses are feeling the pinch.

Rachael Russell at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa said, “People have been cutting back. They still get haircuts—just not as often. And fewer people are getting massages and facials—they’re cutting back on luxuries.” According to Jon McCallister at The Merc, “We’re usually slow in January and February, but sales have been down a little from last year.” The same is true at A&E Foods and Café. “Business is down,” said John Franklin, “but I think it will pick up before summer.”

However, not all is gloom and doom. At Clear Light-The Cedar Company, Penny Peine says, “Retail sales have held up better than wholesale. I’ve introduced a number of new products and our loyal customers have responded positively.” Debbie Stueber of Mom’s Day Out Child Care says, “We’re hanging in there. We just raised our fees a little but we’re still affordable.”

At the community Library, business is picking up. Co-director Rebecca Watson-Boone said, “Over the past few months, more people have been checking out more audio books and videos and using the computers to search for jobs. And with the groundbreaking for the new library coming up on March 8th, we’ll probably start seeing even more traffic.”

In an effort to cut corners, many people have started clipping coupons, eating at fast-food restaurants, and shopping at “big box” retailers. Now, while such strategies may initially save money, in the long run, they actually hurt the economy.

Studies have shown that locally-owned independent businesses return about eighty percent of each dollar spent back to the community in the form of city taxes, employee wages, the purchase of materials and supplies from other local businesses, and contributions to schools and local non-profit organizations. Chains and franchises contribute as little as twenty percent.

It seems obvious that we do business where we perceive we receive the best value for our time and money. Perceptions, however, are not always accurate when we are lacking some of the essential information for fully informed decisions. We see and hear the omnipresent ads of corporate chains every day, but are collectively under-informed about the many important values independent businesses provide us individually and as a community.

Did you know, for instance, that for every two jobs national retailers bring to a community, three jobs are lost as a result of local businesses closing down? Or that millions of dollars of tax revenue subsidies handed to chains by financially starved local governments drain even more tax revenue from the community and state? How about the fact that independent businesses provide meaningful service with a personal touch? It matters to them that you are satisfied and will come back again.

Even in a village as small as Placitas, there are plenty of places to grab an espresso, pick up groceries, get your hair cut, drop the kids off at day care, sit down to a good meal, buy unique gifts, have your taxes prepared, sip a glass of wine, or listen to good music. These businesses add character to the place we call home. They offer personalized attention, create neighborhood jobs, enhance our community spirit, and keep local dollars working here at home.

We can make a difference. Each time we choose to spend our dollars at local, independent businesses, we are voting for the continued strength and vitality of our community. Our buying power increases (or decreases) in direct proportion to the level of local business activity. By shopping locally, each dollar we spend will go through many hands, generating economic benefits for the entire community at every step along the way.

In his February 9th press conference, President Obama said, “This is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill recession… it is an unprecedented crisis. We need to pull together to solve this problem…”

We can create our own stimulus program by pulling together and shopping locally. What have we got to lose?

"Planet Bisti" by Darrell McCombs

Planet Bisti" by Darrell McCombs

"Mourning Becomes Her" by Toni Beatty (below)

Still Light: Five local photographers to show work at Loma Colorado Main Library

The Loma Colorado Main Library of Rio Rancho will host an exhibit of work by Still Light, a photo critique group that has been working together since 2004. The exhibit will be shown in the library’s auditorium from March 2 through March 28. A reception to meet the artists will be held on March 7 at 3:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

The five photographers who make up Still Light meet monthly to present images for review and comment by the group. Each photographer brings his or her unique perspective, technique, and aesthetic viewpoint to the process.

 Gail DellaPelle is by training a painter who became fascinated with the powerful and stark compositional opportunities offered by black and white photography, stating that “the lack of color lays bare the structural bones of an image.”

Isabelle Vergne, a native of France, was first inspired by her uncle, a professional photographer who loved photographing people and nature. As a teenager, she was drawn to the scenery of the American Southwest, in particular Monument Valley and the Lake Powell area, but never imagined she would visit these places in person one day. After she received her Ph.D. in biochemistry in France, Vergne worked in South Africa, then Michigan. But when she arrived in New Mexico a few years ago, she became seriously hooked on photography, and focuses on the natural world.

Retired attorney Lawrence Robinson organized the group in 2004. He is a traditional photographer who uses film to capture his images. Robinson has expanded his work to making large format black and white images with an old-fashioned wooden 4 x 5 view camera. He develops his film and makes enlarged prints in his home darkroom using traditional chemicals, materials, and processes.

Toni Beatty works with both medium format film and digital SLR. Her early work concentrated mostly on environmental portraiture and nude studies. In the last four years, she has focused primarily on landscapes and architectural abstracts, as well as funerary art photographed in the United States, Europe, and Latin American. “Photography allows me to connect to the world in a highly focused, meditative manner. My goal is that my images reflect the joy I feel in the present moment, be that in a natural setting or in contact with other living beings,” Beatty states.

In discussing why he creates his photographs, Darrell McCombs notes that we all see and interpret things that go on in our world. “As a photographer, I try to take things further, to go beyond the daily grind to take the viewers to another place, or influence their current mindset or invoke emotion. When I make images, I work to identify what is making my eyes, brain, and heart get excited and capture that for others to experience,” McCombs says.

The exhibition and reception will be held in the Loma Colorado Main Library Auditorium, located at 755 Loma Colorado Drive NE in Rio Rancho. Admission is free, with no tickets or registration required. The exhibition hours, from March 2 through March 28, are the regular library hours: Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For information, call 891-5013, ext. 3030.

Placitas Recycling Center returns to summer hours in April

The Placitas Recycling Association (PRA) will be returning to its normal summer hours starting April 4, after three months on a later winter schedule. The Recycling Center, which is located on Highway 165, will be open between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays.

“We found that a lot of people were confused by the schedule change, even though many liked the later hours,” explained PRA President John Richardson. “They are easier for our volunteers, who have to brave the cold mornings during the winter.”

The PRA originally planned to change back to the 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. schedule with the onset of Daylight Savings time, but were concerned that there would not be enough time to inform residents of the change.

“We appreciate feedback from the community,” commented Richardson, “and would like to know how people feel about the different hours.” He added, “I also want to remind residents that the Recycling Center will be closed on April 11, the day before Easter.”

Communication remains one of the PRA’s most significant challenges; for example, keeping users current on restrictions and requirements regarding the materials accepted at the Center. A flier with guidelines on accepted materials is available on request at the Center.

The requirements for segregating plastics seem to generate the most confusion. The Placitas Recycling Center accepts only three types of plastic, and they are segregated in three separate trailers: No. 1 plastic containers, uncolored (translucent) No. 2 plastics such as milk bottles, and colored (opaque) No. 2 plastics. The containers should be rinsed to ensure they are completely empty of their original contents. It is also very important to note that the Center cannot recycle bottles that contained motor oil or hazardous chemicals.

The Center has been collecting plastic grocery bags on behalf of the Placitas Elementary School. “That program ends in March, and we will no longer accept plastic bags starting in April,” noted Richardson. “However, virtually all grocery stores accept plastic bags for recycling.” Another item the Center does not accept is old telephone books. They can be deposited in a dumpster at the northeast corner of the Albertson’s parking lot on Highway 528 in Rio Rancho.

The Placitas Recycling Center is located on Highway 165 one-half mile east of I-25. It is open Saturday mornings except the Saturdays before Easter, Labor Day, and Christmas, and after Thanksgiving. Volunteers are always needed and are invited to sign up at the Center during operating hours.

Casa Rosa LPPC

Casa Rosa continues to share food and hope in Placitas

On the last Saturday of August in 2008, the members and friends of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church (LPPC) gathered to dedicate the first food bank in Placitas, named Casa Rosa.

The little “pink house” was purchased by LPPC to use for community outreach and the timing was just right for a food bank. With the loss of jobs from the downturn in the economy, Casa Rosa is not only a community food bank, but also a village network for those in need.

Looking back at that last Saturday of August in 2008, it was opening day at Casa Rosa, and eight families came to receive the food donated by members of the church and community. Today, just six months later, Casa Rosa serves over 50 families a week, including over 65 children. It is open every Saturday from 10am-12 noon for all Placitas residents that are in need.

Casa Rosa recently partnered with Roadrunner Food Bank to purchase food at reduced prices. This will assist to supplement the food and personal items that are donated by Placitas residents and businesses such as The Merc, The Flying Star, La Puerta Realty and Clear Light.

The food bank has expanded to include a “job exchange board” located at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. The board’s postings are for individuals looking for work, and for those who have work that needs to be done. It is expected that services will continue to expand from this exciting beginning. Recently news came that The Shoe Box, in Albuquerque, will be donating a pair of shoes for every man, woman and child.

Food or cash donations from the community are always appreciated and can be brought to the church office weekdays from 9am-1pm or directly to Casa Rosa from 10am-12 noon on Saturday. Additional drop-off points for donations are La Puerta Realty, the Library and the Community Center.

Casa Rosa is a community project that is part of the outreach of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. It is located next to the church on Hwy. 165 in Placitas.

For additional questions, call Ellen Baker at 867-9623, Chairperson of Casa Rosa.

Placitas Library expands children’s collection

The Placitas Community Library is pleased to announce that the library has been awarded a Books For Children grant sponsored by the Libri Foundation.

The Libri Foundation is a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping rural libraries acquire new, quality, hardcover children’s books. Sixty-two outstanding children’s books have now been added to the library’s children’s collection. They vary in age range appeal from preschoolers to twelve-year-olds.

Many of the books are award-winning books such as Caldecott and Newbery winners and include both fiction and non-fiction. All sixty-two books are now displayed in the children’s room. Look for the colorful signs pointing out the various display areas. Whether your child enjoys reading about seahorses in The Shyest Fish in the Sea, Hispanic folktales in Tales Our Abuelitas Told, or tarantulas in The Tarantula Scientist, there is much to guarantee delight in this fine collection of new books.

Please also join us for our March story hours. The preschool story hour will be held on the first and third Thursdays (March 5th and 19th) at 10:30 a.m., and the bilingual story hour will be on the third Tuesday (March 10th) at 3:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!

This is no time to build a coal colossus in New Mexico

—Laura Paskus, Writers on the Range

There's a lot at stake when it comes to energy development in New Mexico: the state's crystalline blue skies, job opportunities for native people, and a sustainable future for all of those living in the land of little rain.

Yet when it comes to weighing in on the proposed Desert Rock coal-fired power plant, New Mexico's most powerful Democratic lawmakers offer little leadership. Desert Rock is a joint project of Sithe Global and the Navajo Nation; plans are for building a 1,500 megawatt coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico, a region that's home to two existing coal-fired power plants and tens of thousands of oil and gas wells. In the town of Farmington and the rural areas around it, residents already suffer from air quality problems that are reminiscent of Houston or Los Angeles.

It's probably no surprise that former Republican Sen. Pete Domenici R, enthusiastically supported Desert Rock, but the positions of Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall don't jibe with the environmental reputations both men have cultivated. Bingaman and Udall received high marks from the nonprofit League of Conservation Voters, and they've made the phrase "green jobs" a part of their vocabulary. Bingaman champions climate change legislation, and most recently, he helped create fiscal incentives for companies pursuing carbon-capture technology.

But when it comes to Desert Rock, Bingaman demurs, saying he has no control over a coal plant destined for sovereign soil. Udall, meanwhile, says he supports the project as an opportunity for economic development, though he says he hopes the power plant will employ "carbon-reducing technologies."

Meanwhile, on the Navajo Reservation, a small band of protesters continues to occupy the camp they established in December 2006, to block workers from entering the site. Opposition continues to grow: The more she spreads information about Desert Rock, says Elouise Brown, president of the reservation's resistance group Dooda Desert Rock, the more people come out against it.

Desert Rock would be a major polluter, emitting 12.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year. It would also release mercury, ozone, sulfates, nitrates, carbon monoxide and both fine and large particulate matter. Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter are all associated with asthma, pulmonary disease, increased rates of heart attack and stroke; elevated levels of mercury are associated with birth defects and developmental delays.

Despite the tribal government's insistence that the plant represents an economic boon — Sithe Global has promised the tribe $50 million in annual revenues — financing the building of Desert Rock remains hazy. The Navajo Nation must pony up between 25 and 49 percent of the plant's $4 billion price tag. The Navajo Nation is also expected to foot the bill for a transmission line sending the power to markets in Arizona and California, though the tribe is reportedly considering asking the federal government for financial assistance.

There could be another hitch: If the federal government implements carbon taxes, the tribe could be stuck with the bill for spending millions of dollars to revamp Desert Rock's pollution controls. And now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's appeals board has decided to take a second look at scientific and legal issues opponents have raised over the plant.

As for Gov. Bill Richardson — no longer headed to Washington, D.C. — he could take this opportunity to rectify issues of environmental and economic justice within New Mexico. He campaigned for president on a platform of clean energy, and here at home he could employ his famed negotiating skills to work with the Navajo on a new economic direction, one based not on the antiquated fossil-fuel industry, but instead on alternative means of producing power.

The state's Democratic senators are also well placed to help the Navajo Nation change course. Sen. Tom Udall sits on the Committee on Environment and Public Works, while Bingaman chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Surely these three powerful Democrats — Richardson, Udall and Bingaman — can figure out ways to protect the region's public health while also fighting to end poverty on the Navajo reservation.

Of course, there are no easy answers, whether it's to address global climate change, create a sustainable energy future or to solve the long-term problems the Navajo Nation faces. But a good start for New Mexico lawmakers would be to stop promising change on the campaign trail while refusing to face the grim realities of Desert Rock.

Laura Paskus is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News ( She splits her time between Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Paonia, Colorado.






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