Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Two running for seat on conservation board

~Bill Diven

Election season returns this month with the May 2 vote to fill a board vacancy for the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation.

The contest for the four-year term pits two former educators familiar with watershed issues against each other, although only one name will appear on the ballot. That will be Orlando Lucero of Bernalillo, while Richard Reif of Placitas, who filed as a declared write-in after the candidacy deadline, will be listed only as "Write In."

The Position 4 spot on the board of supervisors opened after Gary Miles of Placitas chose not to seek re-election. Lynn Montgomery of Placitas, who chairs the board, also is up for re-election, although with no opposition his name need not be on the ballot, said Supervisor Patricia Bolton, who's managing the election.

Lucero, a former Sandoval County Commissioner, retired from a career as a teacher, administrator, and executive in Bernalillo, other New Mexico districts, and in the Los Angeles area. He also irrigates property and is running separately for the Sandoval County seat on Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District June 6 board challenging incumbent state Rep. Derrick Lente of Sandia Pueblo.

He told the Signpost that he's been a regular volunteer for community causes, projects, and boards and has the time and energy to handle both jobs if elected.

"My concern is to make sure Placitas always has plenty of water and that whatever water is running off, it's retained there and it sinks into the ground so people can pump it up and live happily ever after," Lucero said. Excessive runoff washes away soil and contributes to flooding problems in the valley, he added.

Lucero said he's had decades of contact, occasionally by rake, with the Piedra Lisa Dam that Coronado manages to protect northern Bernalillo from flooding. The dam built in 1955 was upgraded in 2007 in a joint effort involving the district, the town of Bernalillo, and Sandoval County.

"I want to do what needs to be done," he said. "A lot of the projects that get funded, we hire crews to do it. But if something needs to be done, I'll get out there with a shovel and a rake and build some retention ponds.”

Reif, a 14-year Placitas resident, spent more than ten years in Albuquerque Public Schools, teaching physics and running a planetarium, before moving on to a career in science education, research, and administration at universities in Utah, North Carolina, and New York. He also led a series of eco-tours through Australia—which shares "many of the same problems with invasive species and lack of water, drought conditions, and a desire to preserve water resources" as the Coronado district, said Reif.

He said peopled approached him about running for the vacant seat, and he decided, "One can sit back and not do anything or be part of the solution."

In 2013, the Coronado board stepped into a controversy over horse herds roaming free in Placitas when it tried to order the state Livestock Board to round up the one hundred or so animals present at the time. The board said the horses had polluted springs and increased storm runoff and erosion by trampling the watershed.

Reif, who helped care for a horse herd that wintered near his home, said the district has to protect the watershed. "I'm pro-horse and don't simply want to get rid of them," he continued. “Those horses were rounded up, and we, that is my wife and I and our neighbors and friends, adopted them… We have them corralled, and then we formed a nonprofit called Straight to the Horses Mouth to raise money to feed and care for the horses."

The Coronado district is part of a Dust Bowl-era federal program dedicated to preserving watersheds and topsoil and reducing erosion. It covers the southeast corner of Sandoval County east of the Rio Grande below Bernalillo and expands west of the river to north of Cochiti Lake.

Current projects include removing water-hungry invasive plants from the Rio Grande Bosque in Algodones and part of Sandia Pueblo and restoring the Placitas Open Space to limit erosion and bring back native plants.

The one polling place—the gymnasium building at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Bernalillo—will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on May 2. Absentee ballots already distributed have to be received by mail, or in-person, by 7:00 p.m. that day.

Additional information on the Coronado district, its work, and the candidates is available on the district website at

County treasurer schedules public-outreach meetings

~Signpost Staff

Taxpayers with questions about property taxes, making payments, and related online services can meet this month with Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya. The six meetings, all set for 11:00 a.m. to noon, will be held May 1 at the Jemez Community Center, May 2 at the Peña Blanca Recreation Center, May 4 at the Bernalillo Senior Center, May 5 at the Placitas Community Center, May 8 at the Corrales Senior Center, and May 9 at the Cuba Senior Center. This is the third year of such meetings.

Property tax payments by cash, check, or money order will be accepted. Also offered will be assistance in signing up for electronic tax bills and making online payments through the county website (click on Pay Taxes Now).

Montoya also has extended office hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. through May 12.

First-half property taxes were due on December 10, 2016, with the remainder due on May 10. Property assessments from the County Assessor were mailed recently, and the next round of tax bills will be mailed in November.

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