The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


New Rail Runner train free until October 13
The new Rail Runner train offers upper and lower deck seating and a free ride until October 13.

Free Rail Runner and shuttle will ease traffic to Bernalillo Wine Festival

California's Napa Valley has its wine train, and during the Labor Day weekend so will Bernalillo.

The nineteenth annual Bernalillo Wine Festival will be held Saturday, September 2, through Monday, September 4, with the New Mexico Rail Runner Express operating three round-trips each day from Albuquerque to the Sandoval County-U.S. 550 station in Bernalillo. A free shuttle will connect the station with the festival on Camino del Pueblo, although patrons also can choose to make the short walk.

The festival features nineteen New Mexico wineries and draws nearly thirty thousand people over the three days. Traffic is always heavy, and parking can be challenging.

“Rail Runner will not only serve daily commuters, but it will be utilized for special events to bolster local economic growth and increase tourism,” state Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught said in a news release. “This is a win-win situation that will greatly improve quality of life for residents along the Middle Rio Grande Corridor.”

Trains are scheduled to depart downtown Albuquerque at 11:25 a.m. and 2:25 and 6:55 p.m. and leave Bernalillo at 12:05, 3:05, and 7:35 p.m. Trains each way will also stop at the Los Ranchos-Journal Center station.

The trip takes about twenty-five minutes each way. Open containers of alcohol will not be permitted on the trains.
Rail Runner launched its commuter service on July 14, and on August 14 had topped one hundred thousand riders. The official one-hundred-thousandth passenger was UNM Hospital medical assistant Grace Quintero, a regular commuter whose employer operates a shuttle connection to the Albuquerque station at First and Central SW.

Travel remains free until October13 and then will be $2 a ride until the end of the year, when a structured fare system will take effect. Those fares, based on travel within a zone, have yet to be announced.

Discounts will include daily, ten-day, monthly, and annual passes and reduced fares for passengers three to seventeen years of age, over sixty-five, and mobility impaired. Children under three will ride free.

Construction continues on the southern leg of Rail Runner service from Belen which includes stops at Los Lunas, Isleta Pueblo, and Rio Bravo Boulevard. An official startup date has not been announced, although officials have said it is expected to being this fall.

Planning also continues for the Santa Fe extension, which is not expected to begin operations until at least 2008.

Additional information on Rail Runner plans and schedules is available at The wine festival also has a Web site at

El Rinconcito español

• Nunca llueve a gusto de todos.
It never rains to the pleasure of everyone.

• Una buena acción es la mejor oración.
A good deed is the best prayer.

• La esperanza es el pan del pobre.
Hope is the bread of the poor.

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

County line

Emotional groundbreaking for Vietnam Veterans Memorial at county courthouse

Everyone enjoys groundbreaking ceremonies that begin construction of new community projects. Few of the events, however, are as heartfelt and emotional as the one to build a memorial at the county courthouse in Bernalillo.

The county's Vietnam Veterans Memorial is being developed and, hopefully, will be completed in time for unveiling on Veteran's Day—November 11. As designed, it will become a lasting testament to honor and recognize county veterans who died in the Vietnam War and pay tribute to those who fought and returned home.

Many Americans who lived through the Vietnam era personally experienced the war's tragedies through the loss of friends and loved ones. All of us, however, can remember the often harsh treatment that our veterans received when they returned to the United States during the turbulent l960s and early 1970s.

In that regard, as I mentioned to the crowd of people who gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony, the memorial will stand not only as testament to those county residents who died in Vietnam but also as living proof that all of our Vietnam veterans are truly welcome home.

The groundbreaking event itself reflected the very nature of the Vietnam War—a conflict fought by mostly low- and middle-class American men and women.

While most of the hundreds of groundbreakings that I have been privileged to attend over the years have been dominated by politicians and community leaders wearing dark suits or more dressy office attire, the start of construction of the county Vietnam Veterans Memorial was mostly attended by about two hundred average, working-class people who had been personally touched by the Vietnam War.

Like most of those in attendance for that Saturday groundbreaking in Bernalillo, I, too, experienced the loss of friends in the jungles of Southeast Asia more than forty years ago, including a full-of-life close friend named Tim Mathieson.
As do many of the people who attended the county's event, I also make it a point to visit the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial whenever I'm in Washington. There, I always search for Tim's name among the thousands of Americans who perished in the war.

Most of those who attended the groundbreaking in Bernalillo were astonished that so many county residents had come for the event. Even the project's founder and organizer, Larry Hurtado, of Peña Blanca, hadn't expected a crowd half the size.

Larry conceived the memorial as a way to honor a close friend and other county residents who were killed in Vietnam. His decades-long ambition began becoming a long-overdue reality when the county commission gave unanimous approval to donate land and allocated $35,000 for the memorial's construction. Larry has since been working to raise private donations for the memorial and compile a listing of county residents who died in the Vietnam War.

Once completed, the county's memorial will become a destination much like the national memorial in Washington. It will serve as a location people will want to visit so they can pause and reflect on the tragedies our nation suffered in Vietnam.
Its recognition of the county's residents who died and the ones who lived during the Vietnam War is long, long overdue.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Thomas can be mailed to him at Sandoval County Administrative Offices, P.O. Box 40, Bernalillo, New Mexico 87004.

Meadowlark Bridge Over Rio Grande?

The idea of extending Meadowlark Lane eastward across the Rio Grande to tie into Tramway Boulevard and on to Interstate 25 was proposed recently through the Mid Region Council of Governments (MRCOG).

The new river crossing proposal, the result of an April brain-storming session sponsored by MRCOG, is shown on a map produced for the agency’s 2030 Transportation Master Plan. It can be seen at the website at

The bridge would link Rio Rancho and Corrales to the North Valley and to I-25 as a way to improve regional transportation. An estimated $4 billion is anticipated to construct improvements called for in the 2030 plan.

The plan is to be completed this fall.

The Meadowlark bridge idea is not a new one. It was depicted on sales brochures for AMREP’s first subdivisions in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a way to induce homebuyers in the then-fledgling Rio Rancho.

In those days, Meadowlark was just a dirt road coming down the escarpment from “Rio Rancho Estates.” No houses existed along the road’s upper stretch, west of the Corrales Main Canal, and Corrales had not yet incorporated as a municipality.

AMREP’s corporate officials were hauled into court on criminal charges related to land fraud not long after that, and their Meadowlark bridge over the Rio Grande dissipated before it was seriously considered.

But the concept of a Meadowlark river crossing never got a silver stake driven through it.

In its latest resurrection, the idea was proposed by members of a Transportation Program Task Group April 18 asked to brainstorm for transportation projects for MRCOG’s 2030 Master Transportation Plan.

The idea was duly noted and made its way onto the MRCOG map as a preliminary tool for the planning process.
But MRCOG planner Eric Webster told Corrales Comment July 28 that the Meadowlark bridge over the Rio Grande has been dropped.

“It was never more than a product of a brain-storming session at which we didn’t give the task force any constraints such as financial or political feasibility,” he explained.

“That was a while ago. And then last night [July 27] at the Metropolitan Transportation Board meeting, there did not seem to be any interest in the Meadowlark crossing.”

Webster described the Metropolitan Transportation Board as “the ultimate policy board” for such proposals. He noted that the Village of Corrales is represented on the board by Village Councillor Laurie Rivera.

Following the April 2006 session, MRCOG planners took all of the suggestions for the 2030 plan and ran computer models on what the results might be.

“It was not surprising that we found that any new river crossing would reach capacity very fast and would become congested very fast.” That was found to be true for the Meadowlark crossing, Webster said.

And beyond that, planners recognized that the Meadowlark crossing was not likely to be supported by the Village of Corrales through which it would pass on the west side of the river, nor Sandia Pueblo through whose territory it was pass on the east side.

The result, Webster said, was that the Meadowlark bridge idea “died for lack of a sponsoring agency ... that’s what it comes down to.”

He was asked whether the City of Rio Rancho might have stepped forward as a sponsor.

Webster laughed slightly and replied, “We can’t have one community, like Rio Rancho, stepping forward and saying they want the bridge to go through another community, like Corrales.”

If Corrales had sponsored the idea, it might have been carried forward. Even so, it would likely have been thwarted by Sandia Pueblo. “Even if Corrales decided it wanted to have that bridge, it needs to have some place to go on the other side of the river.”

If there is to be a new river crossing, Webster suggested, it’s most likely to be a new, bigger bridge over the Rio Grande along the Highway 550 alignment into Bernalillo.

Corrales’ acting-Planning and Zoning Administrator, Nicole Sanchez-Howell, said she had not been aware of the proposed Meadowlark crossing until July 14. She is the alternate representative for the Village of Corrales on the Metropolitan Transportation Board.

Sanchez-Howell said she spoke up at the MRCOG meeting to say the Meadowlark crossing would probably be strongly opposed by the Village of Corrales. “I mentioned the nature preserve that such a bridge would go through, and the fact that the residents and the Village Council are trying to reduce traffic on Meadowlark.

“They said they knew that, but the task group was just trying to get some ideas down.”

Reprinted from the August 5, 2006, Corrales Comment, the local newspaper serving the people of Corrales.

Sandoval County Fair sets records

The 2006 Sandoval County Fair and Rodeo attracted high attendance and drew bids totaling $37,300 for 4-H Club members who auctioned their livestock projects during this year's festival.

“It's extremely gratifying to see the event grow and become even more successful every year,” said Don Leonard, vice chairman of the Sandoval County Commission and a member of the fair's 4-H Junior Livestock Buyers Committee. “This year's fair and rodeo attracted participants, visitors, and livestock buyers from throughout the region who helped make the four-day fair a tremendous success.”

The Sandoval County Fair and Rodeo is held annually during the first weekend of August at the County Fairgrounds near Cuba. This year, fifty-two buyers purchased seventy animals.

“Fairgoers this year were treated to vast improvements at the County Fairgrounds,” Leonard said. “There are new stadium bleachers for the rodeo, lights for the arena, and extensive repairs and painting of the facilities. A popular attraction this year was a petting barn for everyone to enjoy.”

Leonard said that buyers at the livestock auction “are always very generous and this year placed high bid amounts toward the animals and poultry raised by the youth.”

Everyone who participated in the horse, small animal, poultry, and livestock events and indoor exhibitions deserved recognition. Not everyone received a blue ribbon, of course, but everyone who participated is certainly worthy of one. The tremendous contributions and efforts by 4-H leaders, parents, judges, and volunteers helped make this year's fair a success.
The fair's Grand Champion Steer, raised by Jacob Johnson, of Cuba, topped all sale amounts, with a $3,200 bid by Don Chalmers Ford, of Rio Rancho.

Julian Garza, of McDonald's Restaurants in Sandoval County, was high-bidder for the Grand Champion Swine, raised by Ashley Montoya, of Jemez Springs. Don Leonard, of Leonard Tire Company, in Albuquerque, won bids for the Grand Champion Lamb, raised by Cassidy Martin, of La Cueva.

Leonard Tire also bought the Grand Champion Goat, raised by Garret Stash, of Canyon; and New Mexico Real Estate was top-bidder for the Grand Champion Rabbit, raised by Ty Brooks, of Los Alamos. New Mexico Real Estate also won the bid for Grand Champion Poultry, raised by Sage Mijares, of La Cueva.

Kevin Montoya, fourteen, of La Cueva, won the fair's Senior Showmanship Award for scoring highest overall points for properly showing a lamb, pig, and poultry.

Kelly Horton, eighteen, of Placitas, was crowned 2006 Fair Queen in ceremonies at the rodeo, succeeding Amanda La Prelle, also of Placitas. Courtney Tyler, fourteen, of La Cueva, was crowned Fair Princess, and Kirsten Taylor, ten, of La Cueva, was named Sweetheart.

County residents had hundreds of exhibits on display for judging, and arts and crafts produced by local residents also were available for purchase. In the fair's Gold Rush Pony Express Race, the Whitehorse Racing Team, of Kayneta, Arizona, won top honors, receiving a trailer, grain, and a $200 cash prize.
Sandoval County and Intel Corporation sponsored the fair.






Ad Rates  Back Issues   Contact Us  Front Page   Up Front  Animal News   Around Town    Classifieds   Calendar  Community Bits  Community Center  Eco-Beat   Featured Artist  Fire and Rescue The Gauntlet  Law Enforcement  Community Links  Night Skies  My Wife and Times  Sandoval Arts   Schoolbag  Time Off