Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Joshua Peine

Above: Joshua Peine, founder of Clear Light the Cedar Company, stands by his Harley-Davidson

Left: Cartoon caricature of Joshua Peine, drawn by Signpost illustrator Rudi Klimpert

Clear Light begins move toward uncertain future

—Bill Diven

A venerable Placitas business is on the market, although its owner is not expecting it to sell anytime soon.

Ideally, a new owner would want both the property and the business of Clear Light the Cedar Company, Penny Peine told the Signpost. Otherwise, it could be the end of the line for the operation founded more than forty years ago by her late brother Joshua Peine.

“It’s a very niche company,” Peine said. “It’s not going to sell quickly.”

So, for now at least, Clear Light goes about its business of preparing and selling products made from cedar needles on the two-acre property Joshua Peine developed at the junction of State Route 165 and Camino de las Huertas. There, three full-time and two part-time employees follow Peine’s process for drying cedar needles for his original product, aromatic and protective sachets, and the expanded line of lotions, soaps, candles, and other items.

The story of Peine’s actor-brother landing in Placitas in the early 1970s is one of those roundabout tales of an unsettled soul discovering New Mexico by happenstance and settling in. This, after he seemed destined for stardom, at least according to the Hollywood agent who lured the Chicago native from New York to the West Coast to be a Warner Brothers contract player in the latter 1950s. By the late Sixties, however, the hit-and-miss work, a crumbling marriage, and general disenchantment with Hollywood led to a Harley-Davidson and New Mexico. He would later tell of traveling back and forth to Canada trading Indian jewelry and moose hides and spending months with the Hopis in Arizona and the Navajo in New Mexico where he learned the healing, cleansing, and ceremonial properties of green cedar.

From there, he began assembling sachets, small bags of processed cedar needles when most other people doing similar work used cedar wood chips. At first he gave them to friends, but soon it became a business with a small shop in Santa Fe, yielding to bigger things in Placitas.

“Josh invented a process for picking, drying, and processing cedar needles,” Penny Peine said. “The foundations of the business were sachets and incense, still our two biggest-selling products.”

Working first from his home in Placitas, he parceled out the production work around the village in some cases employing entire families, Peine added. He set up shop on the current property in 1985 with the barn and main office, showroom and gallery while landscaping the site and later building his home there.

Peine said she didn’t know how her brother chose Placitas, settling here in about 1973. The name Clear Light came from a passage in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, referring to the clear light the conscious recognize in the first post-death state.

Over the years, the customer base became international with the products making appearances in the catalogs of retailers like Orvis and L.L. Bean.

While Penny Peine was not officially involved with the business, she was close to her brother, consulted on the business side, and visited Placitas. “He was the real creator, a real adventurer,” she said. “I was totally the opposite. We really played off against each other pretty well.”

On his passing, friends remembered him as equal parts free spirit and stubborn, a man who could be kind and gentle and still test your patience.

Since Peine’s death at age 69 in 2006, his sister has run the business from her home in the Midwest spending a few weeks every few months in Placitas.

“It was hard to lose Josh,” Peine continued. “He just loved the company; it was his life… I guess I just couldn’t say goodbye to the company, and I had a great deal of help from his staff. They said, ‘We can do this without you moving out here.’ The girls really respected his dynamic and the way he wanted it to be. They changed nothing.”
But after eight years, she is ready to return to her former life, so change is in the breeze blowing over the life Josh Peine built and left behind.

“I am amazed and continue to be amazed,” Peine told Albuquerque Tribune reporter Bart Ripp in a story dating to the 1980s and posted on the Clear Light website. “If you are willing to be evoked, there is nothing like the joy of cedar. Bugs hate it. People love it. It absorbs humidity. It smells great, and, you know, it stays green forever.”

Treasurer expands tax services

—Judith Walker

Sandoval County Treasurer Laura M. Montoya announced the expansion of constituent services and outreach for the upcoming November tax season. She is implementing a new pilot program that will consist of two Tax Researchers visiting county Senior Centers to answer any tax questions and accept and receipt tax payments.

In addition to the Senior Center mobile outreach services, the Treasurer has provided convenient methods of payment and locations during the November tax season. Taxpayers may take advantage of any of the methods below:

  1. Utilize the drop box at the two Rio Rancho New Mexico Bank and Trust banks located at 528, near Enchanted Hills and 528 and Southern
  2. Payment drive-up drop box at the North side parking lot of the Sandoval County Administration Building. Drop box payments must be made by check and include a property account number to which you would like the payment applied to.
  3. Pay online at and click on “pay taxes now”
  4. Over the phone by calling 1-866-873-0944. (English and Spanish)
  5. By Lockbox: PO Box 27139, Albuquerque, NM 87125-7139
  6. Mail to our office: PO Box 40; Bernalillo, NM 87004
  7. Pay at our office with our friendly and professional staff located at the Sandoval County Administrative Building on the first floor.

The Treasurer’s office will extend office hours Monday through Friday, November 10 through December 10, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. We will revert back to regular hours of operation from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning on December 11.

Unpaid delinquent property taxes shall accrue at the rate of one percent a month.

New Mexico needs new ideas for job growth

—Fred Nathan, Executive Director, Think New Mexico

Prompted by a large decline in federal spending, New Mexicans are now engaged in a healthy and useful dialogue about how best to diversify our economy.

Think New Mexico would like to offer two ideas that we believe could propel private sector job growth in our state that gubernatorial and legislative candidates from both parties should be able to embrace.

Both ideas were advanced in Think New Mexico’s 2013 policy report, Addressing the Jobs Crisis. The first would establish a post-performance incentive that would reward companies only after they create high-paying jobs or make major capital investments. It is designed to encourage existing business to expand in New Mexico and new businesses to relocate to the state.

Six years ago, Utah, which now ranks second in the nation for job growth, became the first state to move to an economic development strategy based on post-performance incentives. Utah’s post-performance incentive has led to the creation of 25,546 high-paying jobs from blue-chip companies like Boeing, eBay, and Proctor and Gamble. That is in addition to $5.16 billion dollars in new capital investment and $1.62 billion dollars in new state revenues since the incentive was established in 2008. (Several weeks ago Idaho became the second state to enact this sort of post-performance incentive).

Think New Mexico has drafted a bipartisan post-performance incentive bill (SB 10), modeled after Utah, but tailored to New Mexico. The bill was introduced in the last session by Senate President Mary Kay Papen and Senator Sue Beffort, and it offered businesses a rebate of thirty percent of the new tax revenue produced when they relocate to or expand operations in New Mexico. The incentive would be available only after new jobs and new tax revenues have been created.

SB 10 passed two Senate committees unanimously before dying on the Senate floor without a hearing. SB 10 would have been an effective tool to attract companies like Tesla.

The second proposal is designed to expand New Mexico’s entrepreneurial talent pool, which is what will ultimately drive job growth over the long term. Entrepreneurs come disproportionately from two groups: those who work in the STEM fields (science technology, engineering and math) and immigrants, who are generally accustomed to taking risk and sometimes have to create their own businesses to find work.

Combining these two groups would create a powerful engine of entrepreneurship. That is what exists in Silicon Valley, where an enormous number of companies have been started by foreign-born entrepreneurs in the STEM fields. Think of Russian-born Sergey Brin at Google and Hungarian-born Andy Grove at Intel, for example.

To generate more start-ups and jobs, New Mexico needs to attract more international STEM students to our public universities. We currently have very few of those students, in part because of the relatively high cost of out-of-state tuition. (Our in-state tuition remains a big bargain).

In 1999, faced with a declining state population, North Dakota started offering in-state tuition to international (and out-of-state) students. After graduating, many of these students stayed in North Dakota and started companies, particularly in the information technology, computer science, medical and defense industries, according to a 2011 Wall Street Journal article. Considering the many amenities and excellent quality of life New Mexico has to offer, we are in an even better position than North Dakota to attract and retain international students.

Think New Mexico developed SB 8, sponsored by Senate President Papen and Senator Gay Kernan, in the last session, to allow New Mexico’s public universities to offer in-state tuition to international STEM students and to enhance their STEM programs for local students. SB 8, like SB 10, passed two committees unanimously before dying on the Senate floor without a hearing.

As a small state, like North Dakota and Utah, New Mexico needs an innovative economic development strategy. Both SB 8 and SB 10 should be part of that strategy, and we plan to bring back these bills back in the 2015 session. You can learn more by visiting Think New Mexico’s website at:

Think New Mexico is an independent, results-oriented think tank serving New Mexican. They are best known for their successful work to make full-day kindergarten accessible to every child in New Mexico and to repeal the food tax.

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