Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Around Town

An arial view of Placitas Village with some landmark captioned. Placitas History Project will survey the greater Placitas area to locate and record historically significant sites such as these.

The view from above

During a recent visit to your favorite bookstore, you may have seen one of the many Over… books that are popular now—Over Chicago, Over London, Over San Francisco. These coffee-table volumes present vivid, often breathtaking, aerial photographs of these cities, along with text concerning each locale’s history, culture, and traditions. Their primary subjects are often the historic structures and places for which these areas are known.

The Placitas History Project’s (PHP’s) third area of investigation, following closely on the ongoing exploration of “Placitas in the 1960s and 1970s” and the “Popular Culture of Placitas,” will be an aerial historical survey of the greater Placitas area. From aerial photos of our community and its surroundings, PHP will attempt to identify buildings, open areas, landmarks (both natural and man-made), and terrain features.

Once identified, inquiries will be made at the locations to gather information to determine the historic significance of the site. Through available records and especially through interviews of current occupants and neighbors, a full picture will be compiled to show the site’s historic importance to the community. Additionally, a photographic record from current photos and collected old photos will be compiled. Once completed, the information from the survey will become a portion of the archives to be housed at the Placitas Community Library.

In the September issue of the Signpost, a photo of the painting Wintertime in Placitas by Novella Harrison King was published with a request from PHP for help identifying both the artist and the location of the scene. Unfortunately, the contact information was accidentally cut from the article. If you can provide information about the painting or if you would like to contact the Placitas History Project, please call Bob Gajkowski at (505) 771-0253.

The next meeting of the Placitas History Project will be held on Thursday, October 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Placitas Community Library.

Democratic Women pulling together in Rio Rancho

—Doris A. Fields

The Democratic Women of Sandoval County (DWSC) are hosting the annual statewide conference for Democratic Women of New Mexico. The conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 8 and 9, 2010. On Friday evening, New Mexico Senator John Sapien will host a welcoming reception in his home in Corrales. On Saturday, the full-day conference will be held on the beautiful new UNM-West campus in Rio Rancho. With the theme, “Tackling the Hard Job of Creating Jobs,” the conference promises not only to be exciting and interesting, but also exceptionally informative. For anyone who is interested in understanding the issues and seeing improved employment opportunities in New Mexico, this conference is for you. The lineup of invited speakers is quite impressive, coming from New Mexico, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. The speakers include—but are not limited to—Fred Mondragón, New Mexico Economic Development Cabinet Secretary; Alice Travis Germond, Secretary, Democratic National Committee; Elisa Montoya, White House Liaison and Senior Advisor to the Office of the Director of the U.S. Peace Corps; Liz Montoya, Chief of Staff, U.S. Office of Personnel Management; Laura Peña, Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and Stephanie Valencia, Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement, the White House. All of the speakers, both statewide and national, have the capability to rock the house, so come to the conference and be moved. The registration fee is $50. For information and registration, contact Stephanie Hanosh, Conference Chair, at (505) 867-8820 or

Coronado State Monument

The Coronado State Monument:
Your neighborhood cultural treasure

—James Conder, President, Friends of Coronado State Monument

Did you know that right here in Bernalillo, nestled between Jackalope and Santa Ana Star Casino, sits one of the most unique cultural sites in the world? The Coronado State Monument is the only place you can view original pre-Columbian Kuaua Pueblo kiva murals created some 500 years ago and enter the historic Painted Kiva with its unique 1930s fresco reproductions.

During the grand reopening of the Painted Kiva in June, guest speakers Dr. Connie Silver, an internationally known art preservationist, and Dr. Shelby Tisdale, director of the New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, both remarked that the Coronado Monument is a potential World Heritage Site. And it sits right here in our backyard, on a low bluff overlooking the Rio Grande.

There are many stories to be told at Coronado State Monument. Visitors can learn about early Pueblo people and the village of Kuaua, established in the early 1300s. They can view 470-year-old artifacts of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s 1540 entrada—the arrival of at least 400 Spanish conquistadors and 1000 native Mexican allies in search of the fabled “Seven Cities of Gold.” They can tour the Pueblo Revival Style museum, built in 1940 and designed by the famous architect John Gaw Meem. Or they can just take a leisurely walk down to the picnic tables and have lunch on the banks of the Rio Grande with a spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains rising to the east.

Partnering with the monument rangers are the Friends of Coronado State Monument, a group of about 200 who work to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage that the Kuaua murals represent. The Friends provide docent support, run the Sunfather’s gift store, which offers unique items made by local artists, and sponsor an annual series of workshops, field trips, and monument events such as the Fiesta of Cultures on Saturday, October 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. A celebration of local Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo traditions, it tells the stories of the past and present with a fiesta flair. There will be music and dancing, and it is free of charge! You won’t want to miss it.

During the months to come, read the Sandoval Signpost for stories from Coronado State Monument. We have a lot to share with the community: Who were the Kuaua Pueblo people? Where did they go? Why did Coronado come here? What is the archaeological importance of the Kuaua murals, and could they really achieve World Heritage Site status? We will also talk about how you can get involved in the support and preservation of the site and much, much more.

In the meantime, come and visit. Regular admission is $3 per adult; children under 17 are free. On Sunday, all New Mexico residents are free, and New Mexico seniors (age 60+) are free on Wednesday. The monument is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday through Monday—closed Tuesdays. It is located off Highway 550 in Bernalillo, just west of the Rio Grande.

If you have questions, please contact the monument at (505) 867-5351, the Friends of Coronado State Monument at, or log on to, and click on “Support” to locate the link to the Friends’ Web site.

UNM receives $143M loan guarantee to build new Sandoval Regional Medical Center

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján recently announced that the University of New Mexico (UNM) has received a $143.4 million federal loan guarantee to construct and equip a state-of-the-art, 68-bed teaching hospital in Rio Rancho.

UNM will receive a $143,425,000 Section 242 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan guarantee through the Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund the new Sandoval Regional Medical Center, which will be comprised of a 200,000-square-foot, 68-bed hospital and a 40,000-square-foot connected medical office building on 18 acres of land currently owned by the university.

The regents of UNM have authorized an approximate $49 million contribution to the project. During construction, the project is expected to generate $386.4 million for the local economy and support 1,877 jobs. Once the building is complete, the hospital is expected to support 1,521 full-time employees and contribute $253.6 million to the local economy each year.

“Sandoval County continues to grow. This new hospital will bring more quality health care to the region,” Bingaman said.

“This loan guarantee is wonderful news for the Rio Rancho area,” Udall said. “This new hospital will mean another quality choice for medical care for New Mexicans, thousands of new jobs for the area, and a big boost for the local economy.”

“I am pleased to see the construction of the UNM – Sandoval Regional Medical Center coming to fruition,” Luján said. “The new facility will not only provide health care to the rapidly growing city of Rio Rancho, but will also help address the shortage of health care professionals in neighboring underserved areas. Further, this project will provide hundreds of new, high-paying jobs for New Mexicans during the construction phase and upon its completion.”

The new facility, with six operating rooms and a 13-bay, level III/IV emergency department/trauma center, will serve as a community teaching hospital with a high surgical case load. It will provide inpatient and outpatient services, including cardiology, gastroenterology, general medicine, general surgery, orthopedics, oncology, pulmonary, and behavioral health. Space will also be provided for clinical teaching. The hospital’s footprint is designed to eventually accommodate a 300-bed facility.

Part of the two-year celebration included blue grass and old-time music performed by the seven members of the Placitas Mountain Band: Pat Aruffo, Bill Balassi, Doug Chapman, Peter Esherick, Joe Ferrara, Erica Gerety, and Gary Libman.

Casa Rosa: Two years later

—Sherrill Cloud, Board Member

On August 30, 2008, Casa Rosa Food Bank opened its doors, and on that day, eight families were served. As word spread about Casa Rosa’s goal of helping to provide food, services, and other life needs to empower the people of Placitas, the number of families being served increased. By January of 2009, Casa Rosa was serving 47 families. In August 2010, Casa Rosa celebrated two years of serving the community, with 106 Placitas households currently registered—representing 159 adults and 66 children. And, through the Casa Rosa-sponsored monthly Mobile Food Pantries that serve all of Sandoval County, an additional 55 non-Placitas households—representing an additional 100 adults and 45 children—are also currently being served by Casa Rosa.

On August 28, 2010, following the regular Saturday morning distribution of food, the second annual celebration was held in the Casa Rosa courtyard under the big shade trees. A large grill, provided and manned by Gary Baldonado, churned out burgers and hot dogs, while many people brought side dishes and desserts and filled up several serving tables. Around 70 people—clients, volunteers, and friends of Casa Rosa—attended the celebration, and they were treated to the lively sounds of blue grass and old-time music performed by the seven members of the Placitas Mountain Band: Pat Aruffo, Bill Balassi, Doug Chapman, Peter Esherick, Joe Ferrara, Erica Gerety, and Gary Libman. Green Chile awards were presented to three people who have rendered outstanding service to Casa Rosa over the past year—the recipients being Doris Baldonado, James Gonzales, and Matt Gurule.

That Casa Rosa has been able to continue its operations over the last two years—despite the ongoing economic problems—can be credited solely to the support of the community. Casa Rosa is able to purchase the food it distributes thanks to the monetary donations of individuals and businesses. Every dollar received by Casa Rosa enables it to purchase $9 worth of food through the Roadrunner Food Bank (which serves over 600 New Mexico organizations that directly supply food to those in need). The resulting multiplier effect enables a $10 contribution to Casa Rosa to purchase $90 worth of food, a $50 contribution to purchase $450, a $100 contribution to purchase $900, and so forth.

The Casa Rosa board of directors keeps a close eye on the financial status of the food bank to ensure that appropriate steps are taken as needed to ensure that the ongoing operation can be sustained. Casa Rosa, like all other nonprofit organizations during this period of economic difficulties, must tighten its belt when necessary. And during these lean financial times, Casa Rosa, on behalf of its clients, wishes to express its immense appreciation to the community for the ongoing support that has been demonstrated in so many ways over the last two years.

Many, many thanks to all the friends of Casa Rosa!

Novel fever takes Placitas and the world by storm

—Kathy Kitts

At midnight on November 1, armed only with their wits, the vague outline of a story, and a ridiculous deadline, more than 200,000 people around the world will set out to become novelists. Would you like to be one of them?

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the world’s largest writing challenge. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by November 30.

More than 500 regional volunteers in more than 90 countries will hold write-ins, hosting writers in coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries. Here in Placitas, the local Municipal Liaison (ML) and fellow Placiteño, Kathy Kitts will be hosting a kickoff party and several write-ins at the Placitas Community Library. Write-ins offer a supportive environment and surprisingly effective peer pressure, turning the usually solitary act of writing into a community experience. New and published authors are welcome!

As the municipal liaisons like to remind us, on November 1 the Stephen Kings of the world are on the same page as the first timers. We all start with a word count of zero!

There are no judges, no prizes, and no one will read these works unless the authors hand them a copy. So, what’s the point? “The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creativity,” says NaNoWriMo founder and Executive Director (and eleven-time NaNoWriMo winner) Chris Baty. “When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it’s a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month.”

Although the event emphasizes creativity and adventure over creating a literary masterpiece, nearly 60 NaNoWriMo novels have since been published, including Water for Elephants, a New York Times #1 Bestseller by Sara Gruen.

“Writing a novel in a month inspires incredible confidence in seasoned and first-time novelists alike,” says NaNoWriMo Program Director Lindsey Grant. “Completing a draft of the novel they’ve been contemplating for ages gives participants a tremendous sense of accomplishment.”

The local kickoff party will be at the Placitas Community Library on Sunday, October 24, 2010, from 1 to 3 p.m. All attendees are asked to bring a non-alcoholic drink or snack to share. For those who wish to plan out their novels, activities at the party will include making collages from recycled magazines, writing tips, and techniques on how to keep the inner critic locked up during the month of November. For those who want more information or to meet other first-time authors, there will be informational packets and more seasoned writers available for mentoring.

For more information on National Novel Writing Month, visit The greater Albuquerque area activities are listed here: For more information on local Placitas activities, please visit, call the Placitas Community Library at (505) 867-3355, or e-mail Kathy Kitts directly at

The Office of Letters and Light is a California-based, international nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity. Its programs are the largest literary events in the world. Learn more at


Example of a Placitas installation by Kevin Goodreau. Photo by K. Goodreau

Curious about home solar power

—Tony Hull

Are you considering going solar? If so, or if you’re merely curious, the Placitas Community Library (453 Highway 165) and Resilient Placitas have just the program for you. The “Home Solar Power” talk starts promptly at 1 p.m. on October 2 and will last for two hours.

Kevin Goodreau of DPW Solar will describe his 22 years of experiences in installing a variety of solar power systems locally and throughout New Mexico. He has been president of the Renewable Energy Industries Association of New Mexico, among other achievements. Kevin’s family enjoys a grid tie residential photovoltaic system—and the monthly check they receive from PNM.

Slides will show representative solutions, and you will want to be informed about options Kevin will discuss.

 • Are you curious about the trades between grid tied and remote inverters?

 • Would you like to know about tax credits and costs?

 • Can my solar collectors be hid and not change the appearance of my house?

 • What is the story on maintenance, expandability, and reliability of solar power?

Kevin will address what works best in Placitas. This is an opportunity to learn about successful installation options and an overview of economic considerations about this energy solution. At the end, Kevin will entertain a Q&A period. Bring your questions.

The “Home Solar Power” talk is presented by the Placitas Community Library in collaboration with Resilient Placitas. The program is intended to be informative and not an endorsement of any specific service.

Placitas star party

Jupiter, galaxies and a comet?

—Shannon Mann

On Saturday, October 30, Las Placitas Association (LPA) and the Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS) will cohost a free public astronomical observing event just east of the Homestead Village Shopping Center (The Merc). This annual event is held to celebrate the wonderfully dark skies of Placitas and to encourage the preservation of this precious and rare night sky resource. Look for telescopes and astronomers parked in the same location as in the past—alongside the gravel drive between the shopping center and Homesteads Road. Sunset will occur at 6:21 p.m., so plan on arriving around 6:00 p.m. to meet LPA volunteers, astronomers, and their telescopes.

A short list of celestial targets for this night could include Jupiter and its four bright moons, beautiful double stars, including Rasalgethi and Albireo, the remains of old stars shedding their outer shells known as “planetary nebula,” the great Andromeda Galaxy, and maybe even a short period comet—Comet 103P Hartley! Jupiter in particular may be a show stopper with an exciting double shadow transit of two moons—Ganymede and Europa—starting late at 10:15 p.m. Look for two dark-ink blotches slowly crossing the face of Jupiter.

When parking your vehicle, please park on the west side of the Merc, and walk the short distance over to the observing area. Bring warm clothes, too, as temperatures can really cool off by this time of year. Don’t forget your red flashlights, as white light knocks out night vision needed to see stars and deep sky objects. Red cellophane works well to redden your white lights. This event is weather dependent and will end by 11:00 p.m.






Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page  Up Front  Animal News   Around Town  Arts At Home Business Classifieds Calendar  Community Bits  Community Center   Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  The Gauntlet Health  Community Links  Night Skies  My Wife and Times  Public Safety Puzzles Real People Schoolbag Stereogram  Time Off