The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Bernalillo growing via property annexation, conversion

Bill Diven

Two projects on opposite sides of Bernalillo propose to put old properties to new uses.

One project facing its first public hearing involves the annexation of 6.5 acres on the I-25 frontage road north of NM 165 in the northeast corner of the town. The other, in the southwest corner bordering Rio Rancho, would give final approval to the conversion of about 168 acres of the former Price Dairy to a residential development with 757 homesites.

The Bernalillo Town Council was to consider both projects when it met on October 25.

The annexation, if approved, would include initial zoning for manufacturing uses, the same zoning the land now carries in the county. Plans call for razing an existing building housing an auto body shop and dating to the 1970s and replacing it with a six-thousand-square-foot office complex for an asphalt company, said Trevor Reed of property owner Bailey Olson Reed.

The property would include storage for the company's equipment, Reed said. His firm also is in discussions to locate a nursery on the property, he added.

Any development proposals would be considered by the Bernalillo Planning and Zoning Commission before being sent to the town council for final action.

The Orchards, as the former dairy property now is known, already has been to the planning and zoning commission, which recommended the town council approve the project master plan. Assuming council approval, construction could begin in early January, said Jim Rogers, a partner in Intrepid Development.

“We're doing a Southwestern community,” Rogers said. “Builders will have guidelines for architecture, landscaping, and entry landscaping.

“We're not doing Dallas on the Rio Grande.”

Under the master plan, Centex Homes would develop about half the acreage as an “active adult” gated community and clubhouse for residents over fifty-five. Stillbrooke Homes will develop twenty-eight acres for single-family homes, and Rogers said Intrepid is negotiating with Raylee Homes and Vantage Homes to develop the remaining forty-eight acres.

About twenty-four acres would be set aside as open space with access to the Rio Grande bosque, the Rio Rancho Open Space, and the trail network extending to Albuquerque's South Valley. The developers also have been working with the New Mexico Archaeological Conservancy since the property includes a campsite from Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's exploration of New Mexico in 1540-41.

“We've done an archaeological survey and will be donating three acres to the archaeological conservancy,” Rogers said.


In Brief

Bill Diven

McCole's buys liquor license

McCole's Pub in Placitas now has a liquor license it can call its own.

After operating under a leased license, the pub owners have purchased a license formerly held by Cochiti Pueblo and used by a convenience store in the town of Cochiti. The Sandoval County Commission on October 7 approved the simultaneous transfer of license ownership from Cochiti to an Albuquerque liquor-license broker and then to C. B. Development of Placitas, a local partnership doing business as McCole's Pub & Grill in the Homestead Village.



Construction has begun on the first phase of a composting facility at the Sandoval County landfill.

Expected to begin operation in November, the facility off Idalia Road in Rio Rancho initially will handle green waste and construction materials in an enclosed system controlling dust and odors. Piñon trees killed by bark beetles are expected to be included as forest-thinning projects proceed.

The second phase will compost biosolids, including sludge from area wastewater plants. By recycling instead of burying composted materials, the county will extend the life of the landfill, with the first phase reducing the landfill waste stream by about 10 percent.

The $1.6 million project is being funded by the state, the federal Bureau of Land Management, and landfill revenue bonds issued by the county.


Land purchased for Bernalillo’s rail-transit station.

Land purchased for Bernalillo’s rail-transit station.

Rio Rancho opposes transport district, will cooperate with Bernalillo plans

Bill Diven

When the first commuter trains leave Bernalillo next year, everyone may be on board except Rio Rancho.

In late September, Rio Rancho city councilors voted unanimously against joining a regional transportation district (RTD) being organized by the Mid-Region Council of Governments. Which is not to say that the City of Vision, as Rio Rancho bills itself, opposes the railroad or mass transit in general.

“What we don't want to do is submit the people of Rio Rancho to being subservient to the needs of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, and that would be the net result of that kind of system,” Rio Rancho mayor Jim Owen said in an interview. “Regionalism at the expense of one group or another isn't regionalism.”

Instead, Owen said, Rio Rancho is developing its own transportation policy, in advance of urban growth instead of the other way around. The city also will cooperate on bus and shuttle routes to get commuters to and from the rail stations planned for Bernalillo, he said.

Commuter trains are expected to begin service between Bernalillo and Belen by November 2005. The state has a preliminary deal to use the existing railroad tracks, ten bi-level commuter coaches have been ordered, and negotiations for locomotives are underway.

“The money already is in the bank,” Chris Blewett of MRCOG said recently, referring to the $75 million in startup and initial operating costs. Stations are planned in Belen, Los Lunas, south, downtown, and north Albuquerque, Sandia Pueblo, and Bernalillo (two) in anticipation of extending service to Santa Fe.

A preliminary study needed to seek federal funding for the Santa Fe line should be done in nine months, Blewett added.

Long-term operation, however, hinges on management by an RTD with taxing authority. MRCOG, made up of local governments in Sandoval, Bernalillo, Valencia, and Torrance counties, has been working with the state Department of Transportation to set up the rail system and the RTD.

“Mayor Owen is straightforward and told me he wanted to move cautiously,” MRCOG executive director Lawrence Rael said. “It's a new structure for all of us.

“The Denvers and the Phoenixes and the Dallases figured it out before we did.”

Sandoval County commissioner Jack Thomas of Rio Rancho said he sees the city having park-and-ride locations with shuttle connections to the Bernalillo train stations. Rio Rancho might opt into an RTD once the benefits become clear, he said.

“If you don't get in the game, the game will pass you by,” he said.

Commission chairman Damon Ely said he hopes to fund transit service tied to train schedules, using some of the $80 million the county expects to receive for handling Intel's $16 billion bond issue. Shuttle service could extend to Cuba and run up and down NM 528 in Rio Rancho whether or not the city joins the RTD.

“Mass transit is more valuable to me, frankly, than joining an RTD right now,” Ely said.

Bernalillo town administrator Lester Swindle said he has scheduled a meeting at 3:00 p.m. November 3 at town hall for local and state officials to talk about transportation. He has also invited experts involved in maglev, light trains on a dedicated guideway powered by magnetic levitation.

“This is the next great people-moving technology on the planet,” Swindle said. A five- or six-mile link between Bernalillo and Rio Rancho could expand over time to loop through the Albuquerque metro area, he said.


Five Sandoval Indian Pueblo staffers stand ready to assist

Five Sandoval Indian Pueblo staffers stand ready to assist
hungry residents of Sandoval County

Local food bank opens supermarket-style warehouse

The group Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos held an open house on October 6 to announce the opening of a supermarket-style food bank at their yellow warehouse at 850 South Hill Road in Bernalillo. Having served as a relief agency since 1982, Five Sandoval recently initiated the new food distribution system as a logical alternative to delivery by truck in boxes.

Florence Calabaza, administrator of the program, explained that participants are assigned to a case worker who determines eligibility and amount of food to be allocated based on family size and need. Participants can then take a checklist of selections to the warehouse, load their food into a shopping cart, and go to the checkout counter. The only thing different from a grocery store is the absence of a cash register.

Calabaza said that the program is available to county pueblos and to non-Native Americans in the “checkerboard areas,” including Bernalillo, Placitas, Algodones—all the unincorporated areas of Sandoval County. It is funded by a federal grant.

This is the first food bank of its kind in the state. Participants who can’t travel to the warehouse can arrange for delivery by calling 867-3710.


El Rinconcito español


A unos Dios da ovejas y a otros orejas. 
(To some God gives sheep, to others ears.)

Cuando Dios da, da a manos llenas...
(When God gives, He gives with full hands...)

Dios da mocos a quien no tiene pañuelo.
(God gives snot to those who don't have handkerchiefs.)

Submitted by—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills.


Expert presentation on Navajo weaving

Marian Rodee, an expert on Navajo weaving, will present “Spiderwoman’s Children: a Brief History of Navajo Weaving,” a talk and slide show, on Sunday, November 21, at 2:00 p.m. at the Coronado State Monument.

Rodee is the author of Old Navajo Rugs: Their Development from 1900-1940, Weaving of the Southwest, 100 Years of Navajo Weaving and Pueblo Indian Embroidery and a coauthor of Fetish Carvers of Zuni. She holds a BA in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Classical Archaeology from Columbia University. She was a research associate at the Brooklyn Museum of Primitive Art, retired as curator of Southwest Ethnology at Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, and is now a research associate for the Museum of Indian Art and Culture and School of American Research, in Santa Fe.

Admission to the presentation is $4 (free for Friends of Coronado State Monument). Call Katherine at 867-6115 for reservations, as space is limited. The Coronado State Monument is located off I-25, Exit 242, west of Bernalillo.


Big celebrations planned for Fort Craig sesquicentennial

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of Fort Craig, a BLM-administered territorial fort thirty-two miles south of Socorro. The BLM, with its many partners, will commemorate the occasion at the fort from November 5 through 7. “Fort Craig stands as a testament to our diverse New Mexico heritage,” says Linda S.C. Rundell, BLM New Mexico state director.

The three-day living history event is free to the public and will consist of commemorative and period replicas available for purchase. Mule-drawn wagons, blacksmiths, an evening fandango (dance), an Apache Crown Dance around a camp bonfire, Buffalo soldiers on horseback performing military drills, a living-history camp, the New Mexico Territorial Brass Band, Civil War reenactments, Southwest and Native American cuisine, and night lantern tours through the fort are just a few events planned.

The event ends with a Fort Craig conference where research papers will be submitted addressing a variety of subjects: pre-Civil War history, Civil War in New Mexico, the period referred to as the Indian Wars (with emphasis on Native American and Buffalo soldiers), and New Mexico volunteers.

For information and directions to the site, call the BLM Socorro Field Office at (505) 835-0412 or check


$7 million federal assistance for NM homeless

Twenty-five grants totaling $7,282,329 for programs assisting the homeless in New Mexico have been awarded to the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Supportive Housing Program helps homeless providers to acquire, build, renovate, and operate facilities that serve homeless families and offer homeless people the housing and supportive services they need to achieve independent living.

Albuquerque received the following grants under this program: St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, $115,500; Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless, $135,267; Barrett Foundation (two grants), $121,227; Catholic Charities (four grants), $1,240,393; City of Albuquerque (two grants), $1,084,781; Transitional Living Services (two grants), $381,300; Women’s Community Association, $42,097.

The Shelter Plus Care Program provides rental assistance to disabled homeless persons. Under this program Albuquerque received two grants, a total of $1,020,108, and Sandoval County $641,040.

Additional funding of $4,639,145 was released by the federal government Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help low-income residents with their heating bills through the New Mexico Human Services Department. Applications are taken for heating assistance at all thirty-four Income support offices of the Human Services Department throughout the state or at 1-800-283-4465.


Lewis and Clark expedition discussed

A celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-6) will be held at the Sandoval County Historical Society’s November 7 meeting, which is open to the public. The meeting will begin at 3:00 p.m. at the historical DeLavy House and Museum on Edmund Lane, just off Highway 550 west of the Coronado Monument. For more information, call 867-2755.


Christmas celebrations at Traditions!

Traditions! Festival Marketplace in Budaghers is holding its annual Christmas Under the Stars celebration from November 19 through January 2, with the largest free family light festival in New Mexico.

This year there will be new presentations by the Bugg family and Traditions! New light installations by prominent architects and builders will also be featured. There will be a Santa's Workshop, wagon rides, and live choirs and bands.

  • Opening Night Lighting Ceremony, November 19, 6-8 p.m.
  • Performances, Friday and Saturday nights, 7 and 8 p.m.
  • Wagon Rides, Friday and Saturday nights, 5-8 p.m.
  • Santa’s Workshop, Friday and Saturday nights, 6-9 p.m. (and Sundays after Thanksgiving)

General Viewing, nightly, 6-11 p.m. (Weekends until midnight)

TRADITIONS! Festival Marketplace is on 1-25, halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Take Budaghers Exit 257. For more information, call (505) 867-8600.






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