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Sandoval County Historical Society President Martha Liebert with one of many vintage photos on display in the Society’s museum in Bernalillo. Photo credit: —Courtesy of Sandoval County

Leppelman and Liebert—Sandoval County heroes

—Sidney Hill, Sandoval County

Though she was born and raised in North Dakota, Martha Liebert knows more Sandoval County history than most people who have spent their entire lives here.

Since 1990, Liebert has been president of the Sandoval County Historical Society, where she leads a group of volunteers who chronicle the lives of people who have inhabited this area over many centuries—from the earliest days of the Native American pueblos through the present day. Before taking on her current role with the Historical Society, Liebert spent 24 years as the Town of Bernalillo’s Librarian, where she also indulged a passion for history that was instilled by her father, a former North Dakota State Historian.

For her devotion to documenting the story of Sandoval County District 1 Commissioner Orlando Lucero, a history buff himself, she has been designated a Sandoval County Hero. Liebert is one of two citizens to be so honored at the County Commission meeting on August 8, 2013.

The other is Carl Leppelman, associate superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for Rio Rancho Public Schools, who was selected by District 4 Commissioner Glenn Walters.

Leppelman has filled various leadership positions within school district over the past 24 years. His current post includes coordinating teacher and staff training, managing grant funds and overseeing the departments of Special Education, Federal and Bilingual Programs, Fine Arts, Research, Assessment and Data Analysis, as well as the supervising all school principals.

“[Leppelman’s] selfless dedication to ensuring that students attending public school in Rio Rancho are provided the best possible education are noteworthy,” Walters said. “He constantly contributes countless hours beyond the normal work day and has a constant focus on continuous improvement. His efforts to discover what really works in education have been a key factor in the high performance of Rio Rancho Public Schools.”

Commissioner Lucero also noted the countless hours Liebert devotes to the historical society when naming her a Sandoval County Hero. The commissioner recalled working with Liebert to write the society’s first grant application, which funded a project to create a photographic history of the county’s elderly population.

The first photos for that project were secured from state archives, Liebert recalled in a recent interview. The society then turned to local families for photos of their descendants, and inadvertently tapped into a treasure trove.

Today, most of items in the society’s collection are donated by family members. “Most of our collection consists of photos that have never been published anywhere,” Liebert said. “That makes them true Sandoval County treasures.”

The society’s collection is on display at its museum/headquarters, located in the DeLavy House, just north of Highway 550 in Bernalillo.

The DeLavy House itself is part of Sandoval County History. It was bequeathed to the historical Society in 1990 by Edmund DeLavy, an artist who built the home on a 2.5-acre parcel that was one of two hundred homesteads awarded to veterans returning from World War II.

DeLavy’s former art studio inside the home is used by historical society volunteers to prepare museum displays. In 2000, the society added a meeting room to the back of the home that, among other things, houses monthly presentations that include lectures and performances related to Sandoval County history.

Liebert said the society has roughly three hundred dues-paying members, many of whom have moved from Sandoval County to other parts of the country but want to keep up with things at home. That sense of wanting to stay connected with family is one of the many things that makes the North Dakota-born Liebert call Sandoval County “the absolute best place to live.”
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