Will Ouellette on Piedra Liza Dam, in front of
housing for standpipe to channel water under the dam.
Recently completed concrete spillway around Piedra
Piedra Liza Dam rehabilitation successful—and early
—WILL OUELETTE, CORONADO SOIL AND WATER DISTRICT
As many residents may have noticed, the rehabilitation of the Piedra
Liza Dam has been completed. The rehabilitation project was very
successful—it was completed both early and under budget!
The Piedra Liza Dam was built to protect both rural and urban areas
after a devastating flood in 1949 destroyed a hundred-year old convent
in Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque. Since the dam was constructed,
Sandoval County has increased almost seven-fold in population. The
Placitas area upstream from the dam has also experienced dramatic
growth over the years. It is currently estimated that more than
seventeen hundred people live within the floodplain downstream from
the dam and would have been adversely affected by removal or failure
of the dam. The dam also protects motorists on I-25, which carries
in excess of forty-three thousand vehicles per day.
Over the years, the dam has been well-maintained by local sponsors,
including the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District, the
Town of Bernalillo, and Sandoval County. But analysis based upon
current design standards showed a number of outdated components
that needed to be improved and rehabilitated.
Construction of the rehabilitation project for the Piedra Liza
Dam took place in the spring and summer of 2007. The project corrected
all of the deficiencies of the existing structure and helps assure
the dam will continue to provide flood protection for downstream
users for another hundred years.
The next maintenance issue will be brush removal and gopher control,
which will also be handled by the same local sponsors. These sponsors
will continue to jointly operate and maintain the dam throughout
its life. The Piedra Liza project is an excellent example of how
an existing structure can be brought up to modern-day standards
through partnerships with local, state, and federal governments
in order to protect New Mexicans and their natural resources from
storms and floods.
For further information about the Piedra Liza Dam, contact Will
Ouellette, chairman of the Coronado Soil and Water Conservation
District (CSWCD) at (505) 867-2440.
[Note from the Editor: Will Ouelette told the Signpost that all
residential development above the dam must be above the high-water
mark potentially created by the dam. The proposed retail development
below the dam is not approved by the CSWCD or the Office of the
US 550 shuttle service to be part of new circulator
The Town of Bernalillo is helping to fund a new Sandoval Easy Express
(SEE) Route—Route 1—which will connect town residents
with health and retail services west of the Rio Grande, as well
as provide much-needed transit service to the Bernalillo and Sandoval
County Rail Runner stations.
The SEE Route 1 will provide some of the same service that the
soon-to-be eliminated US 550 Shuttle Service offered, plus park-and-ride
service from the Sandoval County Judicial Complex to the Sandoval
County Rail Runner station. This restructured route will provide
service in Bernalillo along Don Thomas, Camino del Pueblo, and US
550. Transit service is also provided to the Commerce Center, the
Health Commons, Presbyterian Medical Offices, and other locations
along NM 528.
The new SEE Route 1 Service will go into effect October 29. The
SEE service is funded by Sandoval County and the NMDOT, and operated
by All Aboard America under contract to the MRTD. For additional
service and schedule information, call All Aboard America at 1-877-660-1110.
In an effort to gather input from residents of the Town of Bernalillo,
Rio Metro planners have scheduled a public input meeting. Rio Metro
is the regional transit service planning effort that is presently
underway in Sandoval County. The purpose of this meeting is to obtain
public input regarding the types of transit services that people
would like to have provided and gather ideas on how these services
would be funded.
The meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 5 from 6:30 to 7:30
p.m., at Bernalillo Town Hall Council Chambers at 829 Camino Del
Those interested in commenting on regional transit service or transit
services in Sandoval County are encouraged to attend these meetings.
If you require assistance at this meeting, call Rio Metro Staff
at (505) 247-1750 at least three days before the meeting.
For more information, contact Augusta Meyers at 239-8612 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bernalillo street improvements underway
Mayor Patricia A. Chávez is pleased to report on the $7
million investment to complete Bernalillo street resurfacing and
plans for improvements currently in progress. Enhancements are made
possible by funding the town has budgeted specifically for street
redevelopment, and is supplemented by the New Mexico Department
of Transportation Cooperative, GRIP I/ II, and Municipal Arterial
In the past couple of months, the following streets have been resurfaced
or redeveloped: Sandia, Calle del Norte, Calle Don Andres, Calle
Don Francisco, Calle Don Vicente, Calle San Felipe, Calle Industrial,
Calle Montoya, Camino Don Jacobo, Calle del Presidente, and Edmonds
Over the next several months, you will see activity on Camino del
Pueblo as part of the Streetscape investment; additionally, Camino
Don Tomas, South Hill Road, and the NM 313 street access into the
Mid-Town Rail Runner station are planned for enhancements.
The Sandoval County Historical Society hosted
theSmithsonian traveling exhibition, “Key Ingredients,”at
its DeLavy House Museum last month. It continues
through November 9.
|Elizabeth Medina of Zia Pueblo demonstrated
traditional feast-day cooking on the opening day of the “Key
Ingredients” exhibit at the Sandoval County Historical
Sandoval County Historical
Society exhibit honors food and culture
To the native peoples of the Southwest we owe such daily sustenance
as green and red chile stew, posole, barbecue, and popcorn. They
were also the conduit for Mexican staples such as tacos, tamales,
and especially chile—and thus the source of much of what we
call New Mexican cooking.
But the Pueblo contribution to American food history goes beyond
figuring out how to grow staple crops like corn, beans, and squash
on lands with almost no rain. Their cosmology embraced everything
from the unforgiving desert to the mercilessly cloudless skies—every
creature, plant, and land formation—in a science that survived
the test of famine, drought, and centuries, nourishing the cultures
and peoples that followed. So it was only fitting that our local
food story in the Sandoval County Historical Society’s exhibit
“Key Ingredients: America by Food” begin in the pueblos.
The six-week exhibit, which ends here November 9, is sponsored
by the Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with 165 communities
nationwide from 2003 through 2010. In New Mexico, six rural locales
are hosting the exhibit, starting with Acoma last summer, Bernalillo,
Questa, and Chama, and finally Artesia and Portales in the new year.
The idea is to bring museums closer to rural communities, said
Martha Liebert, director of the Sandoval County Historical Society.
The Smithsonian provides the basic exhibit, to which the museums
contribute local materials, speakers, events, and funding—in
this case, from the New Mexico Humanities Council and Bernalillo
County, plus dozens of local businesses that kicked in everything
from food to advertising.
The exhibit’s opening-day crowd of nearly one hundred people
filled the main room of the DeLavy House Museum, an adobe home donated
to the Historical Society and now overshadowed by the Santa Ana
Casino—a fitting context to the pueblos’ history of
painter and potter Marcellus Medina of Zia Pueblo opened the exhibit
with an allegorical presentation on the origin of the Three Sisters—corn,
beans, and squash—which are sacred to native tribes of the
Americas as the source of life. Zia cosmology comes in fours, Medina
said, so the sunflower precedes the Three Sisters symbolically as
the nucleus of life, whose seeds generate the colorful human races.
Medina emphasized that Indian culture is ongoing, living, and reconciled
in those who, like him, believe in “one god, and two mothers”—the
Indian Mother, source of all natural phenomena, and the Virgin Mother
introduced by the Spanish.
Joe Sando, an elder from Jemez Pueblo, also pointed toward the
unity of tradition amid food introductions by the Spanish, Mexicans,
and Americans. The tortilla was Spanish, Sando noted; horno (oven)
bread originated with the Moors, and dried meat (jerky) and chiles
from Mexico. “We were one people until 1913,” he said.
All these foods have become part of pueblo tradition.
Whatever its origin, Native Americans consider food sacred, the
speakers emphasized. To Indians, food is the most important thing,
Medina said, so it is always symbolically returned to the fire or
earth in prayer and recognition that the flesh of plants and animals
is our flesh, and must be replenished.
This philosophy, which is being revisited today in food-based movements
toward the sustainable use of resources, provides a natural beginning
and end point to the cycle of New Mexico food history. The “Key
Ingredients” exhibit presented panel discussions and presentations
each weekend on topics ranging from local agriculture, acequias,
Hispanic food traditions and festivals, to local products, immigrant
contributions, and the science of human nutrition.
Southwest pumpkin cookies disappear
While Elizabeth Medina, like many Zia cooks, declines to publish
her recipes for commercial purposes, researcher and native chef
Lois Ellen Frank of Santa Fe has been able to bring dishes from
many New Mexico tribes to a Western audience. These cookies from
her collection Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations (Ten Speed
Press, 2002) come from the women of Tesuque pueblo, north of Santa
Fe. She notes that they are not too sweet and disappear instantly.
TESUQUE PUMPKIN COOKIES
2 cups sugar
2 cups vegetable shortening
2 cups cooked pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a large cookie sheet. In a
large bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening. Add the pumpkin,
eggs, and vanilla and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine
the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. Slowly add the
dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, small amounts at a time,
until completely mixed together. Stir in the raisins and walnuts.
Drop tablespoons of the dough roughly two inches apart on the cookie
sheet. Bake for twelve to fifteen minutes, until golden brown. Makes
about seven dozen cookies.
Sandoval County treasurer mails 116,912 tax bills
Sandoval County Treasurer Lorraine Dominguez said her office would
mail 116,912 tax bills on November 1 to owners of property throughout
The tax bills reflect property taxes for 2007. Payment for the
first half or full year must be postmarked by December 10 to avoid
delinquency charges or interest. The second half payment becomes
due on April 10, 2008, and must be submitted by May 10, 2008 to
avoid delinquent charges. The bills are being mailed to property
owners’ addresses worldwide.
“The property tax bills that go in the mail in November are
the only notice taxpayers will receive for the entire year. No additional
bills or notices will be sent,” Dominguez said. “The
bills include coupons for submitting payment for both the first
and second one-half installments, as well as a third coupon for
taxpayers to use when paying the full year’s taxes in one
“While taxes for many property owners are paid by their mortgage
company, taxpayers should contact their escrow agent to confirm
receipt of the tax information from the Treasurer’s Office,”
she said. “Even if the bill is being paid by a mortgage company,
the owner of the property should keep a copy of the bill for their
Property tax payments can be submitted to Sandoval County in a
variety of ways, including in person at the Sandoval County Courthouse
in Bernalillo or by mail using the return envelope included with
the bill. Other options include payments by electronic fund transfers,
Visa or MasterCard by phone at 1-866-269-1950, or online though
a link available on the Treasurer’s section of the County
“Taxpayers should realize, however, that credit card transactions
will incur a fee of 2.5 percent of the payment amount and electronic
fund transfers from savings or checking accounts will include a
fee of $3 per transaction,” Dominguez said. “These fees
are charged by the financial institution and Sandoval County does
not receive any proceeds from the convenience fees.”
More information on tax bills, payment options, and related topics
is available online at the County Treasurer’s section of the
County website (www.sandovalcounty.com) or by calling the Treasurer’s
Office at (505) 867-7581. Questions regarding property valuations,
exemptions or changes of ownership or addresses should be directed
to the County Assessor’s Office at (505) 867-7562.
Town of Bernalillo tax dollars at work
U.S. Senator Pete Domenici and representatives from the offices
of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, Congresswoman Heather Wilson, and
Congressman Tom Udall joined other federal, state, county, and local
dignitaries in a groundbreaking ceremony on August 28, 2007. The
event marked the official start of the Town wastewater system replacement
and an arsenic treatment project that will bring two Bernalillo
water wells into compliance with Environment Protection Agency (EPA)
standards by February 2008.
The estimated cost for the combined community projects is $16 million.
The Wastewater Treatment Plant reconstruction has been funded through
a combination of EPA; State, Tribal Assistant Grant; NM State Legislative;
and Sandoval County sources totaling over $3.5 million dollars.
The funding balance to complete the project was achieved through
an aggressive financial portfolio restructuring under the direction
of Mayor Patricia A. Chávez and the guidance of Finance Director
Santiago Chavez and Town Financial Advisor, Rob Burpo of First American.
As a result, in September 2006, the Town was able to secure $8,775,000
in Joint Utility Bonds. The bonds will be paid off in 2028 at a
4.184% coupon rate in a twenty-year amortization schedule.
The arsenic project fund requirement of $4 million was secured
through a cooperative agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers,
whereby the Corps will reimburse the Town of Bernalillo for seventy-five
percent of the cost at the completion of the arsenic treatment project.
The Town has financed all project costs with the New Mexico Finance
Authority to bridge the construction funding gap until grant dollars
Mayor Patricia A. Chávez and the Town Council are committed
to the citizens of Bernalillo and are pleased to offer new state-of-the-art
wastewater and arsenic treatment facilities within the next fifteen
The wastewater treatment plant will treat 1.9 million gallons of
water daily and the two arsenic treatment facilities at Well #3
and Well #4 will lower arsenic levels to five parts per billion.
These levels are well below the current EPA requirements of ten
parts per billion.
Our community investment and progress is made possible by the leadership
of Town policymakers; in-house personnel from multiple departments;
and financial, engineer, and construction partners including First
Financial, RBC, Wilson & Company, NCS, ARS, H&T, RMCI, Bradbury
Stamm, and Cleary Builders.