Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

  Around Town

Casa Rosa

Ice cream social and food drive to benefit Casa Rosa

—Charlotte Lough, Chair, Casa Rosa Food Bank

On August 15, La Puerta Realty sponsored an ice cream social combined with a food drive to benefit Casa Rosa Food Bank in Placitas. It was a wonderful event with numerous flavors of ice cream and all the makings for sundaes. Guest generously donated nonperishable food and personal grooming items for Casa Rosa. A number of people who could not attend the social dropped off bags of donations. Thank you to all the residents of Placitas for the food donations and to La Puerta for all the organization and publicizing of this event. The donations will replenish the coffers of Casa Rosa.

It was a time for visiting with old friends and meeting new ones. Awareness of Casa Rosa Food Bank, an outreach of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, was heightened and the needs in the village and the hills of Placitas were brought to the attention of many people through this event.

At the event, there were a number of fundraising items for sale. These included Designs by Lucinda adobe house style pins, individually handcrafted, so each one is an original. The idea of adobe houses was submitted and accepted by Lucinda’s website from a Placitas resident. The pins are still available for sale for $20 and $22 (with a pin and bail). Get a head start on your holiday shopping by contacting Charlotte Lough, or Ellen Baker, The items will be on sale this fall and at the Holiday Sale the weekend before Thanksgiving.

The next Mobile Food Pantry sponsored by Casa Rosa is scheduled for September 30 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. A Roadrunner truck will bring 2,500 pounds of food for $100, to be distributed in the Fellowship Hall of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. All Sandoval residents who qualify are welcome to participate in this event. Each household will be asked to fill out The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) form. There will be approximately fifty pounds of food available for each family. The Casa Rosa board has decided to hold a Mobile Food Pantry every other month in addition to the regular Saturday morning food bank, which is for Placitas residents only. If you are interested in sponsoring this Mobile Food Pantry or one in the future, please contact Charlotte Lough at the email above or the church office at 867-5718.

  Bernalillo Barn

An old horse barn is being renovated and will soon become the New Mexico Wine Museum.

Stone Jail

The old stone jail was built in 1896.

Walking historic Bernalillo

—Margaret M. Nava, Signpost

Bernalillo is a town steeped in history. Situated along the banks of the Rio Grande, it was occupied by Tiquex Indians as early as AD 1300. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado headquartered his army of three hundred Spanish soldiers and eight hundred Indian allies there in 1540 while looking for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. In 1581, explorers and missionaries began using El Camino Real (The Royal Road) to travel between the Spanish stronghold of Mexico City and the new colony of Santa Fe. And in 1598, Spanish colonists, many with families, accompanied the Oñate expedition and established a string of estancias along the banks of the river. One of those families included Juan Griego, his wife Pascuala Bernal and their three sons and four daughters. As was customary in Spanish society, some of the children took their mother’s surname: others chose their father’s. As the Griego-Bernal children married and had children of their own, the community grew and adopted the name Bernalillo, meaning Little Bernal.

Following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Diego José de Vargas was appointed governor of New Mexico and assigned the arduous duty of restoring the territory to Spanish dominion. By the middle of 1694, more than five hundred displaced colonists had returned to the region, some to Bernalillo. A year later, de Vargas was replaced in the governorship by Pedro Rodriquez Cubero, who charged his predecessor with misusing royal funds, provoking the Pueblo uprising, and playing favorites among the colonists. Cubero placed de Vargas under house arrest until 1700, at which time the king of Spain conferred on him the title Marqués de la Nava de Barcinas and awarded him an annuity of four thousand pesos, to be collected as tribute from the Indians of New Mexico.

In 1703, de Vargas reassumed governorship of New Mexico and launched a disciplinary expedition against raiding Apaches. Unfortunately, illness struck the expedition and on April 1, 1704, de Vargas fell desperately ill. He was taken to the home of Fernando Durán de Cháves in Bernalillo where he died on April 8. His will read: “If His Divine Majesty shall be pleased to take me away from the present life, I desire … that a Mass be said while (my) corpse is present in this town of Bernalillo.”

Considered the historical center of the state of New Mexico, Bernalillo grew from an agricultural community to a prosperous commercial trade center among the Pueblo and Mexican settlers. During the Civil War, cannons were conveyed up Camino Real to La Bajada Mesa in an effort to defend the Union’s western territory. In the early 20s, the Santa Fe North Western Railroad transported timber from the rugged Jemez Mountains to a railhead in Bernalillo and adventurous tourists drove Route 66 right through the heart of town.

To honor its unique cultural past, Bernalillo holds several annual celebrations including Pueblo Feast Days, parades, music festivals, La Fiestas de San Lorenzo, and the New Mexico Wine Festival. But, while these events are a good way to experience this small town, perhaps the better way is to put on a pair of sturdy shoes and walk down its main street, Camino del Pueblo.

Park your car and begin your walk at the Sandoval County Visitors Center at 264 Camino del Pueblo. Built in 1874, this building was donated by Jose Leandro Perea to the Diocese of Santa Fe and served as a convent for the Sisters of Loretto. The adjacent building, now known as the Abenicio Salazar or El Zócalo Building (meaning the meeting place,) was a girl’s school. Dating back to the 1850s, the nearby Abenicio Salazar Historic District features adobe homes built by Abenicio Salazar, an extraordinary mason who built many other homes and businesses in town.

Heading south, the L.B. Putney Flourmill ruins are adjacent to the downtown Rail Runner station east of Camino del Pueblo at Calle Duranes.

Built in the 1920s, the mill operated until it burned in the 60s. The Bernalillo Youth Conservation Corps is currently working on restoring the site.

A little further south and across the street, Camino Real Antiques at 1100 Camino del Pueblo is housed in the old 1940s Azteca Ballroom and Casa Blanca Bar where rowdy dances and shootouts were a nightly occurrence.

Now more than a hundred years old, Silva’s Saloon at 955 Camino del Pueblo is said to have the oldest liquor license in the New Mexico. It has been the site of many Western movies. An extensive collection of memorabilia and old photographs line the walls.

At various times throughout its history, The Range at 925 Camino del Pueblo was a warehouse, bus stop, mercantile building, drug store, and soda fountain. This funky restaurant still boasts its original tin ceiling, two gift shops, and some of the best food in the area. In the same building, Rose’s Pottery House and Museum is a local institution with a vintage trading post feel. Stop in and check out the Native American crafts.

The old stone jail directly behind the behind Sandoval County Courthouse at 711 Camino del Pueblo was built in 1896 and was used until the new courthouse was built. These days, it is used for storage.

Just south of the Family Dollar store, the Perea/Baca House, now Casa de C de Baca Antiques, was the last stagecoach stop before Santa Fe on El Camino Real and later served as an emergency school by the Sisters of Loretto.

Originally known as Nuestra Senora de los Dolores, the Santuario de San Lorenzo at 301 Camino del Pueblo was built by local residents in 1857 and features four-foot thick adobe walls, twelve-inch vigas, and an earthen floor. It served as Bernalillo’s parish church for more than a hundred years. At one time, the Christian Brothers operated a vineyard and winery up the road. Known as the LaSalle ranch and La France Winery, it was managed by Louis Gros, a French winemaker, who produced over ten thousand gallons of wine a year, mostly for use as sacramental wine for churches in the area. Directly across the street from the Visitors Center, an old horse barn owned by the Sena family is being renovated and will soon become the New Mexico Wine Museum.

When you’re ready for some rest, hop back in your car and drive one half mile north of Highway 550 to La Hacienda Grande Bed and Breakfast. Housed in the 250-year-old Griego hacienda, this B&B is believed to be the oldest inn in the United States. Its tall cottonwood trees and country atmosphere make it the perfect place to lay your head before setting off on another full day of touring. Don’t forget to ask the innkeepers about the lost treasures.

There are too many historic and interesting buildings in Bernalillo to list them all, but the next time you’re in the area, stop in at the Sandoval County Visitors Center and ask about them. If they can’t give you directions, they will know who can. You can also call them at (505) 867-8687 or visit

Enjoy your walk.

Summer Reading children

Some of the children who participated in the Summer Reading Challenge.

Brenda Hollingsworth-Marley

Brenda Hollingsworth-Marley, our performer for the Summer Reading Celebration at the Placitas Library, telling stories with her puppets.

Placitas Community Library children enjoy 1,900 books over the summer

—Nancy Guist, Children’s Services Coordinator

The 2009 Summer Reading Program at the Placitas Community Library came to a close on August 6 with a celebration honoring all our young readers. All children who participated in the Summer Reading Challenge by either reading books on their own or by having books read to them over the summer received a bag of prizes which included kazoos, visors, stickers, and more. Each child also was able to choose a book for his or her own. There was much to celebrate with over 1,900 books having been read by or to the children.

As part of the celebration, the library had a very special performer sponsored by the New Mexico Humanities Council. Brenda Hollingsworth-Marley presented “Storytelling For All Seasons.” She had young and old alike entranced with her stories, singing, drumming, and puppetry. The enthusiasm and joy exhibited by Ms. Marley was felt by all! The children had fun participating in the stories and music, with everyone joining a group dance at the end.

The library’s regular schedule of children’s school year programs will begin in September. Preschool Story Time will be held on the second and fourth Thursday of every month at 10:30 a.m. Join us beginning September 10 at 10:30 a.m.

The Kid’s Book Club will begin meeting once again as well. It is open to all third, fourth, and fifth graders. Each month, the children will be reading a preselected book and will have an opportunity to talk about it with their peers. The first meeting will be Tuesday, September 15 at 3:00 p.m. on the front porch of the library.

The Bilingual Story Hour will resume in January 2010.

The 22nd Annual New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo

—Town of Bernalillo

The New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo wraps up the summer with the premier wine festival of the southwest. Just north of Albuquerque, the historic town of Bernalillo is host to the biggest wine festival in the state. Most of all the New Mexico wineries will be there, giving their customers a rare opportunity to taste and purchase New Mexico wines at their best. Lots of great music, arts and crafts, and those summer foods we all love make a perfect backdrop for wine, wine, wine.

Live entertainment and 24 or more New Mexico wineries will be present. There will be free wine tasting and wine available for purchase by the glass, bottle, or case. Street and fee parking is available around the festival. Lush green grass makes for a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Over 20,000 are expected to attend the biggest and oldest wine festival in New Mexico, now in its 22nd year.

  • Adult Admission $10 (Includes commemorative wine glass)
  • Youth Admission (13-20 years) $5
  • Anyone under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a legal age guardian.

Wine Sales and Tasting ends at 6 p.m. You can now purchase tickets from our secure online storefront, and print them at your convenience: Have peace of mind knowing that your outing will be hassle-free. Just bring your ticket(s) to the gate, present your ID, and then make way to the ultimate wine tasting experience in New Mexico.

Willy Sucre

Violist Willy Sucre is a member of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the driving force behind the “Willy Sucre & Friends” concerts.

Willy Sucre and Friends in Placitas to entertain your ear

On Sunday, September 20, The Placitas Artists Series will present Willy Sucre and Friends. Violist Willy Sucre will be joined by violinists Krzysztof Zimowski and Justin Pollak and cellist James Holland.

Violist Willy Sucre is a member of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the driving force behind the “Willy Sucre & Friends” concerts. Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Sucre studied at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in La Paz; Colby College Chamber Music Institute in Waterville, Maine; Mannes School of Music in New York; and Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland. He has been conductor and music director of the Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra; assistant conductor and assistant principal viola of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra; principal viola and guest conductor of the National Symphony of Bolivia, the Chamber Orchestra of La Paz, and the Albuquerque Chamber Orchestra. He has performed as viola soloist with the Albuquerque Chamber Orchestra and in Cochabamba and La Paz, Bolivia. As a chamber musician, Sucre was the founder of the Cuarteto Boliviano, guest violist with various chamber music ensembles, and for ten years the violist of the Helios String Quartet.

Violinist Krzysztof Zimowski moved to New Mexico in the fall of 1986 to help form the Helios String Quartet, the ensemble-in-residence of PAS from 1987 until 1997. Zimowski is concertmaster of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and has been concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque. Born in Wroclaw, Poland, Zimowski began his musical studies at the age of six. After having been concertmaster of the State Opera Orchestra in his native city of Wroclaw, Zimowski joined the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra in 1981. In 1985, he was appointed concertmaster of the orchestra and toured Europe, South America, and the U.S.

Justin Pollak is a native of Santa Fe who first studied violin with Catherine Nichols. As a student at the University of New Mexico, he studied with Leonard Felberg and Bernard Zinck, as well as Kimberly Fredenburg on viola. Pollak performs occasionally with the Church of Beethoven and is currently a member of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra.

James Holland hails from Florida and made his home in southeastern U.S. for many years. In 1996, he successfully auditioned to become Principal Cellist of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and cellist of the Charleston Symphony String Quartet, a position he held until 2007. He recently relocated to the west side of Albuquerque with his wife Megan Holland and is the Santa Fe Symphony’s new assistant principal cellist.

The program should include: String Quartet in D Major, op. 64, No. 5 “The Lark” By Franz Joseph Haydn; Crisantemi Chrysanthemums, Elegy for String Quartet by Giacomo Puccini; and String Quartet in E Flat Major, op. 51 by Antonín Dvorák.

The concert is generously sponsored by The Placitas Artists Series Board of Directors. Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for September exhibiting visual artists Lynda Burch, Patricia Gould, Leslie Jakobovits, and Ray Shaw.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on September 20 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 2:00. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas; Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho; or online at Prices are $18 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students.

This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The facility is completely accessible, and free childcare is provided for families with children under six. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (exit 242). For more information, call 867-8080.


Just for kicks

When passing by the Placitas Elementary School on Tuesdays and Thursdays, folks driving home after 4:30 p.m. are sure to see a flurry of kids in their white Gi’s (Traditional white uniform of karate) moving quickly toward the gymnasium (dojo) where Sensei Stephan Polus is awaiting them. Once inside, students ranging in age from 6 to adult are tying on their obis (the colored belt which denotes their progress) and warming-up by practicing their Kihon (Basics) series of kicks, strikes and blocks.

Sensei Polus is a 4th degree Black Belt with over 20 years experience in the school of Shotokan Karate. In these 20 years he has traveled the world to test his skills with top competitors. Sensei Polus is also a 4 time world champion, US team captain, assistant coach for Team USA Karate and is a well respected international referee.

With a clap of his hands, Sensei Polus brings the class to order and begins an hour long session by bowing the students into class (an opening ceremony that dates back to Okinawa where Karate began.)  In following this tradition, karate begins with respect and ends with respect. Training in Shotokan karate is divided into three parts.  Kata, Kihon, and Kumite. Kata is often described by a set sequence of blocks, strikes and kicks organized into a pre-arranged fight against an imaginary opponent. Kihon is characterized by deep long stances, powerful strikes, and blocks. Kumite or sparring is the practical application of kata with real opponents.  

For the uninitiated, Karate is a journey in the development of the mind, spirit, and the body. The soul of Karate is the mental discipline that comes from many years of training to bring out the best in one’s self, regardless of age, or skill level. The primary goal of Westside Shotokan is to offer martial arts training from beginning to advanced with a positive family atmosphere.

“The most rewarding aspect of Westside Shotokan Karate is watching the kids learn and grow,” says Sensei Polus. “The work that takes place in the dojo is hard but truly fascinating. The look of accomplishment on the face of a young girl or boy is most rewarding after they have mastered a new technique, Kata, or score the winning point in a kumite match.” 

While an accomplished martial artist, Sensei Polus is also a talented instructor. Noted for his humor in the dojo, he manages to bring together a combination of hard work through instruction laced with laughter (not too much however, as over exuberance could well cost the culprit many push-ups.)

For additional information contact Sensei Stephan Polus at 205-8933.

4-H youth are big winners at Sandoval County Fair

—Steve M. Lucero

The 33rd Annual Sandoval County Fair was held July 30 through August 2 at the Fairgrounds in Cuba, New Mexico. An estimated 3,100 folks from throughout the county and state attended.

The Junior Livestock Auction was sponsored by the Sandoval County 4-H Amigos, a non-profit livestock buyers club that represents individuals, businesses, organizations, and charities that contribute to a pool to recognize and award 4-H Youth. Contributions are accepted throughout the year and the pool bids on behalf of the 4-H youth.

The Junior Livestock shows and sale are always a big attraction. This year’s sale was a financial success despite the poor economy. The youth that exhibited at the show and sale were rewarded by the community, local businesses, producers, and friends for their hard work and effort that went into raising their animals. The Junior Livestock Sale drew over $46,000.

The Grand Champion Steer was exhibited by Lee Johnson of Cuba and purchased by Don Chalmers Ford of Rio Rancho and Team Synergy Rocky Mountain. For the past nine years, Mr. Chalmers has purchased the Grand Champion Steer at the Sandoval County Fair. The Reserve Champion Market Steer was shown by Ashley Montoya of Jemez Springs and purchased by Loretto Veterinary Clinic, San Ysidro, and Leonard Tire and Automotive Repair. The owner of Leonard Tire is Sandoval County commissioner Donnie Leonard, who has been a major 4-H supporter.

The Grand Champion Market Swine and Grand Champion Market Lamb were exhibited by Cassidy Martin of La Cueva. The Grand Champion Swine was purchased by Don Chalmers Ford and New Mexico Bank & Trust. The Reserve Champion Swine was shown by Lisa Lucero of Cañon and purchased by Poor Boys Hot Oil Service, another major supporter of 4-H from Cuba.

The 4-H Youth exhibited a record number of entries in indoor exhibits, which included leathercraft, ceramics, photography, baking, canning, horticulture, and others. Senior High Point winner was Anne Meyer-Miner of Placitas. Junior high point winner was Rachel Wilkins, and Novice High Point winner was Shayline Stacy of Jemez Springs. Many other 4-H Youth brought in first-place ribbons and all qualify to enter at the New Mexico State Fair.






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