Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Public Safety

Sandoval County Fire District members accept pass-the-boot donations during a recent fire department benefit hosted by Arte de Placitas. (left to right) Tom Hansen, captain; Kerry Flores, member Sandoval County Fire District; Sandra Macias, Fire Fighter I, EMT; Humberto Macias, District Chief; Linda McClain, coowner Arte de Placitas; Lee Couch, Lieutenant EMS, Intermediate EMT; Gene McClain, coowner Arte de Placitas; John Wolf, Placitas Captain, First Responder.
Photo credit: —José F. Martinez

Rock Zone rocks and dancers dance at Arte de Placitas benefit.
Photo credit: —Barb Belknap

Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade benefit a success

On September 13, Arte de Placitas sponsored a benefit for the Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade. Many Placitas artists donated art, with all proceeds going to the cause. The artists included Catherine       Alleva, Marcy Boucher, Bunny Bowen, Mary Carter, Lisa Chernoff, Jon and Nancy Couch, Joan Fenicle, Gregory Gibbons, Doreen Goodlin, Karl and Mary Hofmann, John Howard, Emily Jewell, David Johnson, Jade Leyva, Jose Martinez, Gene McClain, Wayne Mikosz, Andrea Nichols, Dana Patterson Roth, Linda Poe, Gary Priester, and Riha Rothberg.

Music was provided by “Claystone” and “Rock Zone.” Claystone members include Kent Gurley and Doug Davidson. Rock Zone is made up of Dave Harper, Chris Daul, John Scott, and Porter Dees.

It was a good time for all and $3,028.05 dollars were raised.

Linda McClain, co-owner of Arte Placitas, we sponsored the benefit says to the Brigade, “Thank you for being present, and bringing the truck to highlight Saturday’s event. We are grateful also for all those who helped make the event a success: those who donated art, those who purchased art, those who made donations to the boot, and the bands.”

A driver heading downgrade on Camino de las Huertas edges closer to an open drain that has some motorists concerned about dropping over the edge. Photo credit: —Bill Diven

Culvert puts drivers at risk, resident worries

—Bill Diven

A well-hidden road hazard in Placitas is getting some attention from Sandoval County. Only visible at the last moment is the entrance to a culvert on Camino de las Huertas at Pine-D Ranch Road descending what some locals call Hell Hill. The location about a mile from State Route 165 is at the beginning of a rock cut where downhill drivers can’t see uphill traffic.

“There’s no wiggle room,” said Michelle Riley, who brought her concerns to the Signpost.

Both lanes are 12-feet wide as measured by the Signpost, but the pavement shrinks by four inches at the culvert. The issue became noticeable after the Sandoval County Public Works Department earlier this year laid cold-mix asphalt on the shoulders to improve drainage and minimize erosion undercutting the asphalt.

The paved shoulder appears to extend to the rock cut but immediately before, it actually drops two feet to the culvert.

Riley, who lives a mile farther up Camino del Las Huertas and drives the road frequently, said her initial concern was winter on this notorious hill. “When it snows you can’t see the side of the road where the shoulder is,” she said. “Before they paved it, it seemed like in an emergency you might get traction on gravel. There’s nothing protecting you from sliding into it and popping a tire or breaking an axle.”

Public Works Director Tommy Mora Jr. dispatched a staff member to inspect the culvert and said some work could be done to improve the situation. “We looked at this and are planning on placing cobble stone around the culvert area to level off that area so there is not such a drastic drop,” Mora said in an email to the Signpost. At last report the work was scheduled for late September.

Mora also said the shoulder work didn’t create the issue since the pavement width was already constricted by the placement of the culvert.

Sandia Ranger District ramps up for fall burning projects

Fire managers on the Sandia Ranger District are currently reviewing prescribed burning plans for the fall and winter seasons. The Sandia Ranger District will continue with their fuel reduction program, implementing the David Canyon project, weather permitting. The majority of the areas proposed for prescribed burning have been mechanically thinned and opened to the public for fuel wood during the last few years.

Both the build-up of fuels and people moving into forested areas greatly increase the potential for dangerous wildland fire during the fire season. Prescribed burning allows fire managers to reduce the risk for catastrophic wildland fire by reducing fuels within these areas (wildland urban interface) as well as restore forest and watershed health and wildlife habitat. Utilizing fire during a time when humidity and ground/vegetation moistures are higher, temperatures are lower will enable the introduction of fire into a managed cooler environment.

Prescribed burning next to the wildland urban interface has been part of the Sandia Ranger District over twenty years. The process of burning next to homes is very methodical. The parameters for implementing a prescribed burn are based upon specific assessments, agency guidelines, and safety protocols. During a prescribed burn, managers continuously monitor weather conditions, including wind, temperature, and relative humidity. Fuel conditions, including fuel moisture and the quantity of fuels are also measured.

Smoke will be visible and expected to have variable affects to neighboring communities. Every effort is made to minimize smoke impacts, but some impacts can be expected. All prescribed fires are coordinated with the City of Albuquerque Air Quality Division. Smoke from prescribed fires is considerably less, and of a shorter duration, than smoke from wildfires. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems are urged to stay indoors, with windows and doors closed, when smoke is present. We are working in cooperation with Bernalillo County Fire Departments, New Mexico State Forestry, Santa Fe County Fire Department, and the Albuquerque Fire Department. Should you have any questions or concerns contact the Sandia Ranger District at 281-3304.

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