The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


A few stumps and recently turned earth remain after Sandoval County cleared the grounds of El Zócalo in Bernalillo.  The former Our Lady of Sorrows High School in the background and three other buildings on the property will be renovated for public uses.

Cleaning up El Zócalo

Bill Diven

When Maria Rinaldi glanced at a historic property on Bernalillo’s main street, something didn’t look right.

“When I drove by El Zócalo and saw sky where I never saw sky before, I said, “What the heck?” Rinaldi told the Signpost. “So I drove in, and there was not a stick left.”

What was left, she said, were a few stumps and bare earth bladed clean where an orchard, shade trees, and blacksmith forge once stood. As the town community-development director, she wondered if the remaining buildings, including a former school and convent, were safe.

And she also wondered if Sandoval County was living up to the agreements it made with the State Historic Preservation Office to obtain that agency’s support for a $1.4 million federal grant used to buy the property.

County spokesman Gayland Bryant labeled as “ludicrous” any charges that the county has violated those agreements or deviated from its master plan for the property. The $3 million renovation will restore El Zócalo to its once pristine condition, he added.

“We removed dead and dying trees,” he said. “The orchard was unusable and full of non fruit trees, brush, and dead trees.

“It will be replanted.”

Dating to the late 1800s, the three-acre site housed the Sisters of Loretto convent, extensive orchards, and Our Lady of Sorrows High School. The convent and two-story school remain, as do two large adobe outbuildings—all within the town’s Abenicio Salazar Historic District.

The county plans to upgrade mechanical systems and handicap access and use the buildings for tourism and economic-development offices, an existing Montessori school, community space, and private businesses.

Terry Lamm, who sold the property to the county last year, said he contracted with Plants of the Southwest to establish the orchard in the late 1980s. The project included drip and spray irrigation, he added.

“The orchard included some real classic stock from northern New Mexico orchards,” Lamm said. “They were absolutely alive and healthy and on a permitted well.”

Lamm said he was assured the property would be protected under state guidelines.

“I thought particularly since the property was going to a government entity, it would be under restrictions,” Lamm continued. “There’s some very identifiable civic barbarians in Bernalillo.”

Pressed by the Signpost, Lamm declined to identify the civic barbarians by name.

Rinaldi does credit the county for plans to restore the site, especially the former school, to public uses. “They obviously cared enough about the property to purchase it, and it’s a fabulous reuse of that building,” she said.

State historic preservation officer Katherine Slick said she plans to set up a meeting with the county and its architect to go over grant requirements and to strengthen communication between the two agencies. The county master plan did mention removing dead trees, so part of the dispute may be over what was dead, she added.

“It’s not malfeasance or nefarious activity on their part,” she said. “We need to have better communication with the county, and I would encourage the county to have better communication with the town.”


Indigenous language, storyteller dolls at historical society

The Sandoval County Historical Society presents “Indigenous Language Institute,” by Inee Yang Slaughter, executive director, and “Storyteller Dolls,” by Mary Lucero from Jemez Pueblo.

The lectures will be at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon, September 12, at the DeLavy House, west of the river at Bernalillo off Highway 550, west of Coronado Monument and the gas station on Edmond Lane.

For further information, call 867-2755.


Circus Chimera coming to Albuquerque, Rio Rancho

Circus Chimera under the “World’s Tallest Big Top” is coming to Albuquerque at the Coors and Central Shopping Center Grounds on Friday, September 24, through Sunday, September 26, and to Rio Rancho at Jackie Road and Stephanie Road on Thursday, September 30, through Sunday, October 3.

Circus Chimera, the circus of the future, presents family entertainment without animal cruelty. Expect to see jugglers tossing pins and fluorescent juggling balls melding into a blur under black lights, colorful clown antics, the Globe of Death with two men racing around a small steel cage in motorcycles, and many more illusionary arts and live performances.

Tickets are available at 1-888-663-7464; prices run between $10 and $16, with a $4 discount for purchasing your reserved-seat tickets in advance.


Tricultural Literary Symposium in Jemez

Loida Maritza Perez, Paula Gunn Allen, and Judith Van Gieson will be the featured speakers at Finding Our Voices, the fourth annual Tricultural Literary Symposium, to be held on Saturday, September 25, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Jemez Valley High School in Jemez Springs. Sponsored by the Friends of the Jemez Springs Library, this symposium serves to promote literacy and an awareness of the tricultural heritage of the Jemez Valley. The symposium will be followed by a book signing, and copies of the speakers’ works will be on sale before and following the event.

Finding Our Voices focuses on how each author finds the material that inspires her to write.

Loida Maritza Perez’s first novel, Geographies of Home, presents the immigrant experience in New York through the eyes of a severely troubled Dominican family. A reviewer in Hispanic Magazine writes that “it already establishes her as a major literary talent among the Latina heavyweights who have preceded her. It’s an astonishing debut that makes the reader want an urgent extra dose of such powerful prose. Paula Gunn Allen’s Studies in American Indian Literature: Critical Essays and Course Designs is considered a landmark text in Native American literary criticism. Her latest work is Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat.

Judith Van Gieson has published a number of mysteries that take place in New Mexico. Her recent series has as its sleuth Claire Reynier, archivist, book collector, and librarian at the University of New Mexico. The Los Angeles Times said: “Van Gieson’s prose is clean and refreshingly straightforward, and she has succeeded in making her protagonist … and the New Mexico locales memorable.”

Authors who have previously appeared at the yearly symposium include Tony Hillerman, N. Scott Momaday, Rudolfo Anaya, Michael McGarrity, John Nichols, Denise Chavez, and Simon Ortiz. Kathleen Wiegner, moderator of the first Tricultural Literary Symposium, will act as moderator at this year’s event. Wiegner is a published poet and editor of the Jemez Thunder. Recordings of the first two symposia are available on CD as part of the Storytellers of the Southwest series, produced by Paul Ingles.


Road crews have begun resurfacing and repairs on Highway 165 leading up to Placitas. Expect delays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.


Highway 165 gets a new look in Placitas

Bill Diven

The repaving of nearly four miles of NM 165 now underway includes more than just a fresh layer of asphalt, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Ragged shoulders are being paved, and deceleration turning lanes are being added, lengthened, and widened, said Phil Gallegos, public information officer for DOT District 3. While designated bicycle lanes are not included, widening the turnouts will help to accommodate both bikes on the mainline and turning vehicles, he said.

Turnouts also will be added on the south side near mile marker three to access U. S. Forest Service parking lots, Gallegos said.

The $550,000 project starts near I-25 and extends east into the S curves between mile markers three and four. The work began during the week of August 23 and was scheduled to last about three weeks.

The project employs a repaving machine that heats and scrapes off the top layer of existing pavement, mixes it with new asphalt, and puts it back down. Traffic in the work area is reduced to one lane controlled by flaggers, which will create delays between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Also, in response to a query from the Signpost, Gallegos said a maintenance foreman will inspect a damaged guardrail and a destroyed speed-limit sign. The guardrail near the Placitas Fire Brigade main station and the 50 mph sign near Homestead Lane were hit in separate vehicle accidents earlier this summer.


El Rinconcito español


Dicen que es malo llegar a viejo, pero es peor no llegar a serlo.
(They say that it’s bad to get old ... but it’s worse not to.) 

Más vale perder un minuto en la vida, que la vida en un minuto.
(It’s better to lose a minute in life than to lose life in a minute.)

Cuando el gato está ausente, los ratones se divierten.
When the cat’s away, the mice will play.)

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


Maize Maze at Los Poblanos Fields Open Space

Albuquerque's Rio Grande Community Farms presents its seventh annual Maize Maze on weekends from Saturday, September 4, through Saturday, October 30, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., including Labor Day.

This year’s coyote-themed maze will also be open for Moonlight Maze Walks from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on September 28 and October 28-29. Admission on weekends is $6 for adults and $3 for children ages five through twelve. Children under five are admitted free. No reservations are required. Group discounts are available on weekdays only for groups of twelve or more. Group admission is $3 per participant and requires reservations by telephone.

Public access for all events at Los Poblanos Fields Open Space is from Montaño Road, 1.1 miles west of Fourth Street. Turn north on Tierra Viva, and park in the gravel lot to your left. Follow the signs to the maze. Call 505-345-4580 or go to for more information.


Bill Dunmire talks about New Mexico’s agricultural heritage, new book

How Old World plants and foods made their way from Spain to Mexico and up El Camino Real with Oñate to Okey Pueblo, then to Santa Fe and across the colonial frontier is the subject of an illustrated talk on “Apples, Coriander and Watermelons: Spanish Plantways to New Mexico” by longtime Placitas resident William W. Dunmire.

The talk will be presented on October 23 at the Placitas Community Center, 41 Camino de las Huertas, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. It will focus on the positive contributions the Spanish colonizers—from Columbus to Cortés to Oñate—made to New Mexico’s agricultural heritage. Dunmire will provide insights on some of the earliest gardens in Placitas. “Most of us are aware of how foods from America such as corn, squash, and chile traveled around the world after the arrival of the Spaniards, but the integration of Old World plants into Puebloan and other native cultures and, eventually, into our own is an account that has been     missing from the literature,” said Dunmire.

Dunmire’s interest in plants and their uses developed during his twenty-eight -year career with the National Park Service. His recent book, Gardens of New Spain: How Mediterranean Plants and Foods Changed America, has just been released by the University of Texas Press and will be available for purchase and signing at the free program.

The talk is sponsored by the Las Placitas Association.


Plan ahead for Native American, Spanish arts and crafts at Coronado festival

On October 2 local artisans will be selling handmade Southwestern arts and crafts—tinwork, colchas, woodwork, Indian jewelry, designed aprons, pottery in marble colors, glass-bead jewelry, and lots more—at the Coronado State Monument in Bernalillo.

Visitors will be treated to demonstrations of flint knapping by Luther Rivera, blacksmithing by Gary Williams, turkey-feather blanket making by Carolyn Lavato, life as a soldier by the Sociedad de la Entrada, weaving, spinning, and drum making by Bea Duran.

Hands-on demonstrations and exhibits will include corn-husk doll making, stick figures, straw-inlay activities, and historic sites and museums from the Van of Enchantment.

A children’s atlatl-throwing contest is planned, with prizes for first place ($10), second place ($5), and third place (free gift).

Sun Fire Native Food will provide their specialties.

The Coronado festival will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults; children under sixteen are admitted free of charge.

Live entertainment is scheduled as follows:

  • 9 a.m.: Ballet en Fuego (Ballet on Fire)
  • 10 a.m.: Matachines Dancer
  • 11:15 a.m.: La Juventud (Young Dancers)
  • 12:20 p.m.: Arsenio Córdova Sangre de Cristo Group (Folk Music)
  • 1:45 p.m.: Aztecan Dancers
  • 2:55 p.m.: Sun Fire Dancers

To reach the Coronado Monument, take Exit 242 off I-25 west onto Highway 550. The monument is next door to Jackalope. For more information, call 867-5351.


Governor’s conference to enliven local tourist trade

The Tourism Association of New Mexico, in conjunction with the New Mexico Tourism Department, will present the sixteenth annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Albuquerque Convention Center October 20-22.

The mission of the New Mexico Governor’s Conference on Tourism is to strengthen the state’s tourism industry through partnerships and education. This year’s theme, Hidden Tourism Treasures of New Mexico, will highlight opportunities that may have not been considered before, emerging trends, and new tools to enhance the marketing of New Mexico as a visitor destination. This conference is designed to educate, inform, and motivate tourism professionals involved with chambers of commerce, convention-and-visitors bureaus, attractions, lodging establishments, restaurants, destinations, suppliers, land-management agencies, tribal enterprises, media, and many others. 

To learn about the keynote speakers, program details, and registration, call the TANM office at (505) 345-5553 or go to






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