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
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 www.nmrailrunner.com. The wine festival also
has a Web site at www.newmexicowinfestival.com.
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, www.sospanyol.com.
Emotional groundbreaking for Vietnam Veterans Memorial
at county courthouse
—JACK THOMAS, CHAIRMAN, SANDOVAL COUNTY COMMISSION
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
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
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?
—JEFF RADFORD, CORRALES COMMENT
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
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 www.mrcog-nm.gov.
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
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
“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,
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
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
—STEVE LUCERO, AGENT, SANDOVAL COUNTY 4-H
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.