District launches mental health court
Following an eight-month planning period, the Thirteenth Judicial
District Court in Sandoval County began accepting clients for
its newly-created Mental Health Court Program on July 1, 2008.
The program, headed by District Court Judge John F. Davis, aims
to provide much-needed services to individuals who suffer from
mental illness and, as a result, find themselves in and out of
the criminal justice system on a frequent basis. The intended
impact of the Mental Health Program is to stop the “revolving
door” effect that has developed for these individuals by
addressing the underlying cause of their contact with the system,
and linking them with appropriate services in the community, rather
than leaving them behind bars. In addition to providing access
to traditional treatment services, such as medication and counseling
services, the program will assist participants in accessing other
social services in the community.
State Representative Jane Powdrell-Culbert (R-Sandoval County)
provided the first round of funding in the amount of $80,000,
which was secured by during the 2007 legislative session in order
to plan and implement the program. An additional $90,000 was secured
by Representative Powdrell-Culbert during the 2008 legislative
session. In addition to funds appropriated by the New Mexico legislature,
the planning committee applied for and was awarded $80,000 by
ValueOptions of New Mexico. The planning committee has also applied
for federal funding through the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The District hopes to secure the funding necessary to make the
program available throughout the district, which includes Cibola
and Valencia Counties.
On August 6, 2008, Judge Davis held the program’s first
hearing for the program’s first participants. The Mental
Health Court team meets each Wednesday morning to review each
participant’s progress in the program, as well as any issues
they may have encountered concerning their treatment plans, employment,
housing, and transportation. At the weekly Mental Health Court
hearing, these issues are addressed with each participant and
continued progress is heavily encouraged.
Along with Judge Davis, members of the Mental Health Court Team
include representatives from two treatment agencies in the community,
the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, defense counsel,
and the Mental Health Court Coordinator.
The Mental Health Court Team is presently seeking individuals
who are interested in becoming a member of the advisory committee
to provide guidance and support to the program.
For more information regarding the advisory committee or the
Mental Health Court Program, please contact Gregory T. Ireland,
Court Executive Officer, (505) 865-4291, ext. 2104, or by email
Death to cheeseburgers? Maybe not
—ARI LEVAUX, HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
If you’re concerned about the effect your food
choices have on the environment, you might want to reconsider
cheeseburgers. A recent study shows that beef and milk products
are the world’s most polluting foods, thanks to the greenhouse
gases released by cows.
Meanwhile, in what has to be awkward news for locavores, the
study, reported by the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology,
also found that eating locally offers few benefits in terms of
preventing greenhouse gases.
Crunching numbers from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Agriculture,
and Transportation, a Carnegie Mellon University research team
calculated that shipping food from where it was produced to where
it’s finally consumed creates only four percent of food-related
greenhouse gas emissions. Producing the food accounts for eighty-three
So if you’re serious about combating climate change with
your eating habits, you need to make your decisions where they
count. Locally purchased veggies, for example, have a larger impact
on reducing greenhouse emissions than the local purchase of any
other type of food, according to the study.
The production of cattle, on the other hand, creates so much
greenhouse gas that the delivery from meat packer to consumer
makes barely a dent in the cow’s greenhouse gas hoof print.
Much carbon gets burned in the raising and shipping of cattle
feed and in moving cows around during production. And even the
grass-fed cow next door produces methane—one of the worst
greenhouse gases—as a metabolic byproduct.
The researchers calculated that if one were to eat one hundred
percent locally, a feat that’s probably rare, it would save
roughly the equivalent of one cheeseburger per week’s worth
of greenhouse gas emissions.
While the statistical averages suggest that greenhouse gas emissions
from food transport are relatively small compared to the emissions
caused by production, those numbers don’t reveal that today’s
average production and consumption practices are much more polluting
than they need to be. Meanwhile, the people who are developing,
using, and supporting less destructive farming practices weren’t
statistically significant enough to be included in this study,
acknowledged lead researcher Chris Weber.
“The subset that gardens or buys food at farmers’
markets is too small,” he says.
If locavores and their ilk are too few to be statistically significant,
it suggests that all the conscious eating that some people are
trying to do won’t do a lick of global good as long as everybody
else is popping cheeseburgers like Prozac. Nonetheless, I prefer
drinking the Kool-Aid of local, sustainable farming. Nobody has
proven it makes no difference, and I think that aiming for a carbon-neutral
diet has plenty of perks.
Reducing your intake of “average” cheeseburgers can’t
hurt your survival odds. Meanwhile, the above-average vegetables
and grass-fed beef that are being produced with care by your local
farmer offers, in my experience, above-average flavor. And getting
your food from the source can offer a super-sized serving of fun.
At the farmers’ market last week, for example, a rancher
named Ernie told me about a blind steer he couldn’t herd
into his coral for slaughter, so the inspector and the butcher
had to go into the pasture to inspect and kill it. “It’s
the best way,” Ernie said. “I wish we could do it
that way every time.” Only under special circumstances,
like with blind animals, is a field inspection permitted. “It’s
peaceful, there’s no adrenaline; the meat’s a lot
I bought a rib-eye steak off of Ernie’s blind steer. Then
Ernie got going about how yellow his butter is these days, thanks,
he believes, to the dandelion-rich diet of his dairy cows. At
that point, I noticed Ernie’s feta, which reminded me that
I have a patch of spinach that needs to be harvested.
Ernie’s blind cow, thinly sliced and fried with yellow
onions, Philly-style, was spectacular. Ernie’s yellow butter
was so good I ate it plain, like cheese. And my spinach/feta salad
with red onions was perfect.
The world has too many cows. But maybe, for special occasions,
it’s okay to have a few of our tasty bovine friends around—especially
if you’re a fan of organic agriculture, which uses manure
as fertilizer. As my farmer friend Steve once pointed out: “Somebody
has to make that s—-.”
If we reduce the quantity but increase the quality of the beef
and milk products we eat, then we’ll eat better and perhaps
live longer, while having more fun. And if there are enough of
us, we’ll probably leave a better planet behind us.
Caring adults needed to make a difference in child’s life
New Mexico Voices for Children is expanding the popular Wise
Men/Wise Women (WMWW) mentorship program into public schools in
Rio Rancho and Bernalillo, and needs caring adults to match with
kids aged six to fourteen. Mentors can put in as little as thirty
to sixty minutes a week (depending on length of class period)
for a period of one year. All meetings take place at the school
and during school hours (9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.). Mentors must
attend a one-hour training session, after which they are paired
with a child who has been identified by school counselors as needing
more adult support in their lives.
“The activities can be anything from playing checkers to
drawing or reading together,” said project director Robyn
Kelley. “It’s not a tutoring program in the traditional
sense, but most of the kids see improved academic success as a
result of the improved self-esteem they get out of having a relationship
with a caring adult.”
While the program is geared toward building children’s
self-esteem and helping them recognize their unique potentials,
set future goals, and becoming responsible citizens, mentors report
satisfaction with their involvement as well. “You have the
opportunity to make a real difference in a child’s life.
What can make you feel better than that?” said Kelley.
New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization
advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of
New Mexico’s children, families, and communities. For more
information, call (505) 244-9505 or visit www.nmvoices.org.