By Steve Komadina
A New Year And New Direction?
Well, here we are 2022! Always a chance for new beginnings as we turn the calendar at the end of another year.
This is a column that talks about horses and the Corrales connection. It was started as an initiative of Corrales Horse and Mule People (CHAMP) to help horse and non-horse owners to think about living in a horse-oriented community.
The name of the column and initial essays were written by Nancy Nelson who was an active member of the board of CHAMP and an avid horse owner and rider. When Nancy ran out of ideas and topics, she asked me to continue writing the column. Many years later, I am still at it.
I have struggled all those years with the name Nancy gave the column. I often asked myself if the casual reader of the Corrales Comment had any idea of what it meant if they did not read Spanish.
“Corrales Para Los Caballos” “Corrales For The Horses.”
As I look to the New Year, it might be a good time for a change. What would you call a column with a horse connection in Corrales? Here are some possibilities:
“Horsing Around in Corrales “ or “Horsing Around in Our Village” or “The Real Poop about Horses in Corrales” or “Corrales Saddles Up” or “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Stable” or “Why We Saddle Up” or “Becoming a Millionaire with Horses by Starting with 2 Million.” At least you would know it had a horse connection!
What will the New Year bring for our Corrales horse heritage? Our population as a world and its interests is continually evolving. Our climate changes. Our free time has evolved.
Will we have more time at home with the shift to virtual offices and more time to spend in the stable without a commute? Will horses return as a necessity for going to the post office and store, with ban on fossil fuels and an unreliable renewable electric grid? Will hitching posts and diapers for buggy and wagon horses keep the poop off main street? Who knows?
This I know. Change is inevitable and often out of our control. Stay tuned and see what we will call ourself the next time this column is printed. Maybe a different language every month!
By Johnny Martinez
Elephant in the Room
I am not a writer, but after speaking with members of old Corrales families, I was prompted to write this piece. I would like to solicit similar stories and sentiments from those who perhaps are reluctant to write about “stuff”, especially our older Corraleños. I will provide my contact information at the end of this article.
I was raised here in Corrales. My family has been here for generations. We are Corraleños. I left in 1982 and was privileged to serve 34 years in the military during my time away.
I had a wonderful career, saw the world, worked on things I cannot speak about, had the opportunity to fly an F-16, spent time on Air Force One, worked on a congressional campaign and even saved a life. However, life has a way of returning one to his roots. I returned to Corrales in 2016 to be closer to my elderly parents who are very much vested Corraleños.
Unfortunately, much of present-day Corrales is not as I remember it. More than anything, I have noticed the type of person in Corrales is what is most contrasting from what I grew up knowing. I want to share a couple of stories to provide a contrast of community and culture. My aim is not to create a divide, but rather to expose the “elephant in the room” so to speak. Please keep in mind that the idea of writing this comes after speaking to members of over 10 Corrales families who have voiced the very opinions I will be voicing in this piece. I am not conveying anything others are not expressing.
When I was a young boy, our neighbor’s cows broke down our fence to graze on the property where I now reside. Back then it was just natural grasses on a rolling hill filled with chamisa (rubber rabbitbrush). My father and that neighbor spatted over repair of that fence for a short bit.
Then one day the other gentleman came over with a six pack of beer and apologized to my father; it was probably Old Milwaukee back then, or maybe even Hamms. In any case, they shook hands and the whole ordeal was considered over. Years later, my father was instrumental in rallying neighbors and contacting our police when this same neighbor’s house was being broken into late at night. The thieving duo was caught on West Ella Road by the Corrales police.
I believe the arresting police officer was Benjie. Everyone knew Benjie. Speaking of West Ella, I remember when Corrales flooded in the 1970s. If you own a house on the south side of West Ella that existed during the aforementioned flood, I have been in your house. The community all rallied together, and we helped those families salvage whatever we could from those flooded houses for one another. I do not know what it was, but I just knew we would be helping because as a boy, I had heard the story of how in 1957, my grandfather’s house burned to the ground.
Harvey Jones, who owned a construction company on the property where the community center, soccer field and Post Office now sit, donated material for my grandfather to rebuild that house which is on Corrales Road just across from the Village Office. You see, Mr. Jones was a Corraleño.
Everyone lived and existed humbly, even those who were affluent, all because they were Corraleños. We looked after one another because that is what Corraleños do.
Today, we have come to find there is a new breed of people who have moved in. They come from elsewhere, build a new house and complain about their neighbors. I see fences going up everywhere because passersby do not like what they see or hear. Then, I read articles in the Comment from those complaining about the “canyon effect” the walls and fences create. Heck, as a kid the only fences we needed were to keep in livestock. And if we could see Mr. Doe’s truck or heavy equipment was broken down in the yard, it was because he may not have been able to afford the fix. Neighbors would trade tractor work and provide rides; not complain about the disabled vehicle. We felt for the fellow Corraleño.
Now, it is apparent that people are forced to build solid fences or walls to keep people from looking in and to avoid continuing complaints from the new neighbors or village officials. Recently, I talked to members of five families that are well established on a certain stretch of a popular road here. Their homes have all been here since before I was born. Their newer neighbor has complained about every one of them.
Why did you move in there?
I read how newcomers have stated they love to embrace our local culture and heritage, but then I cannot help but think: hypocrite! You say you love the “rich Hispanic culture” yet, you cannot stand to see his humble house across from yours because it lowers your property value.
This very house or yard you may be complaining about is most likely older than you. Its cocina has hosted neighbors of all walks, and the matriarch, Doña Josefina once bragged about how her sobrino, Larry, who works at Yonemotos on Fourth Street, joined the Army and will be leaving soon.
“Let’s invite everyone and give him a wonderful send-off!” is what was expressed. Perhaps, a matanza… but oooh, don’t even mention that long standing cultural celebration taking place across from your new estate.
Keen to keep the focus on complaints, I will say that while I may not be 100 percent correct in my perception of things, a likely scenario is: a person who has recently moved here to Corrales complains to a Village employee who does not live here. That employee cites ordinances voted on by people who are new here, and a citation, warrant or whatever you want to call it, follows that conversation and is delivered by the dear, underpaid police officer who can’t afford to live here, to the homeowner, whose family has been here for generations and is doing his best to pay his increasing property taxes to maintain that home and pass it along to future generations. All the riff is external… expat if you would. What unfortunately remains: quarreling neighbors.
Recently, a man I know approached a neighbor who cannot stand to look at him. In a neighborly effort, he said “I know we have our differences, but we need to make this right; we’re neighbors and it’s Christmas time.” The neighbor’s reply was simply: “I’m fine with the way it is.” Boy, somehow that does not read well in a children’s book. You know the one we read to our kids and grandkids about being good citizens? I cannot help but think “Wow, how ugly is that?” I suppose this embittered neighbor is not, and will never be, a true Corraleño.
I also was recently conversing with a long time Corrales farmer. The summation of the conversation is Corraleños do not get involved in our local politics, but in their defense, they are busy being Corraleños; they live simply and place much trust in man’s good nature and honesty.
But you see, trust and honesty are now out the window. In a council meeting a while back, the topic of restricting marijuana growth in our village was discussed. The outcome entailed some restrictions regarding marijuana growth in the village. Many reasons for doing so were shared. I even spoke, as I have many years ministering to youth and even working alongside some of the Tucson Police Department Gang Unit members with troubled youth.
I have personal experience dealing with the consequences of marijuana use by our youth. Trust me, it will find its way to your adolescent children. Perhaps my voice was discounted and not given weight for lack of being an attorney or not possessing my PhD. In any case, I have learned many do not feel our council cares about the voice of Corraleños as much as they may be interested in, or possibly connected to the supposed money in this industry. The council mysteriously changed their disposition. Since that initial meeting, I believe Steve Gutierrez wrote about this incident in a Comment article and cited the possible dishonesty of the mayor and council.
I challenge readers to watch KRQE’s Dean Staley’s report on the negative consequences legalized marijuana has brought to Colorado. He interviews law enforcement officials, educators and district attorneys regarding the problems legalized marijuana has brought to their communities. A present saying is “listen to the science or statistics.” Well, smart council members of Corrales: Please do so. I say that respectfully.
New Mexico is already at the bottom of education metrics. The last thing we need is to introduce something to our community that is hurting our youth’s education or ability to learn and comprehend as a whole. It is already an issue. As you read this piece, I challenge you to consider your income and where you are from. If you possess higher education levels or are fortunate to earn a significant and above average income, more than likely you’re an expat, meaning, not from here. My point is, we should not effectuate something that has the potential to negatively affect the local education metrics even more than they are.
Corrales property is not “cheap,” and our crime rate is low. There is a reason pot growers want to be in our community. Perhaps the pot growers think the associated crime might be mitigated by centering themselves in a safer community. The projected grow houses are suspiciously near all the older and smaller homes in Corrales. I find it interesting that none of the million-dollar homes in Corrales are likely to have a marijuana grow house adjacent to their property.
Regardless of your belief in the right or wrong of its consumption, I cannot see the benefit of introducing this industry to our farming village… a village that was never divided on whether corn was a good crop to grow. Corraleños back in the day would never have introduced something that caused a disturbance to the community. New Mexico is a vast territory with a sparse population. Do you mean to tell me there is not another place you can grow your weed? Cheaper and with no resistance from the local community? You would not do that in the name of community harmony? Council member, you don’t consider that?
I remember Ann Dunlap singing a song about Corrales: “It’s between Bernalillo and Paradise Hills on a crooked old road by the river… where guitar players croon in the local saloon and the locals play heck with their livers…blah blah blah…one thousand people and two thousand dogs, and three thousand registered horses…” blah blah blah…. (If anyone knows the entirety of that song, I would love for you to share it with me as I have forgotten most of it). I mentioned the song to emphasize that in years prior, we celebrated Corrales because we loved and appreciated each other. So much so that we could even sing about it. What a wonderful place we had! Now, people outside of Corrales think people living in Corrales are full of themselves. I know this because I hear it all the time at work. Sometimes, I cannot even argue their sentiments.
There is a reason Mary Davis wrote about Corrales families. She tapped into something beautiful and historic. I challenge you to buy a copy of her books from our local gift shops or markets…
Read about the families and how they built and shaped Corrales and its neighborly culture.
I am proud to say my family is mentioned in at least one of her books. My grandfather and great uncles worked on paving the road through Corrales in 1946. My father, the nicest man you will ever meet, served on the Planning and Zoning Commission here 1980-86, and a further 18 years with the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission. I even recall that once, Governor Bruce King called our house and sought my dad’s perspective and input on an issue.
When we had that flood in the 70s, I remember my dad firing up a bulldozer left on a neighbor’s property and shoring up the ditch on Loma Larga, ultimately saving many of the homes east of Loma Larga between La Entrada and West Ella. And then there of course is Margie from Alameda who, whenever I see her, tells me of how my father saved her life from drowning in the Rio Grande. I could go on… I mention my dad not only because I am enormously proud of him but because a neighbor told me that code enforcement personnel were complaining about his stuff on his property. Shame on you! What have you contributed to the village outside of your paycheck?
My family name is not the only name having contributed in the building of Corrales. Just look at the roads: Montaño Road, Chavez Lane, Rupert’s Lane, Armijo Lane, and so on. Did you ever ponder those names?
I encourage you to take a drive through beautiful Corrales and take notice of the road names. The names are of the families who owned strips of land and built roads, farmed, and volunteered in the shaping of Corrales. Take the time to learn this and appreciate their legacy. When you see their humble homes consider they never felt the need to have a large home. “Para que? The kids will be grown soon and then it’s just me and the vieja.”
You may not know this, but many of these families own substantial ranches elsewhere in New Mexico. They just choose to live humbly here, in Corrales.
Having worked in technical fields my whole career, I understand change and how it is embraced.
However, not all change is good…. Just ask an aging and sickly person. Even though they may know a lot more now than back then, they will surely admit that sometimes, things were better “back in the day.”
I understand many of you reading this may not appreciate this article. That is perfectly okay. I do not appreciate many of the things I see and hear around town, but I served to defend my right to speech and feel I deserve to voice it. I guess you could say, I have some skin in the game… I am a Corraleño!
What I would love is to hear stories from Corraleños. You can write me at Corralesstories@gmail.com. Watch your language and type elephant in the subject line. I’ve spoken with Jeff Radford from the Comment who has graciously said he would accept written communication to me through his drop box for those who do not use email.
My wife Alicia and I have lived in Corrales for over 26 years and have raised our children here. I am a licensed real estate broker who has been continuously active in my profession here locally for over 35 years.
We have no objection to the personal use and cultivation of marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal purposes on and in one’s residence.
We are strongly opposed however, to commercial cultivation in residential areas that are zoned A-1 and A-2 and any other zone designations that apply to residential property use in the village.
Aside from problems associated with increased traffic, noise, and odors that affect many in proximity to such operations —the attractive nuisance of commercial cultivation will attract potential crime and the resulting spillover of non-village people who have no investment or concern for the security of our rural lifestyle that so many have worked hard to preserve.
The property at 3577 Loma Larga and 119 Veronica Court are just two addresses on applications for commercial cultivation permits that are in close proximity to our home, among dozens more that have submitted applications throughout every other residential part of Corrales.
Upon greenlighting this commercial exploitation of our precious natural resources (water), and our security and comfort, Fire Department Chief Anthony Martinez might want to consider installing a much larger water piping system along Loma Larga, as there is the strong potential for residential-use domestic wells to run dry, and hence, a critical need for city water to flow out of our taps once the commercial growers suck the aquifer empty.
As a real estate professional who has assisted individuals and families with the purchase and sale of their homes in the village for many years, approving the commercial marijuana grow industry will have a significant negative impact on “everyone’s” property value, an undesirable but inevitable effect of our elected leaders ignoring their constituents' welfare in favor of giving preference and support to an industry that will impact our home values, personal safety, and the health and enjoyment we deserve and have come to expect as property owners and stakeholders in Corrales.
We urge our mayor and the councillors to heed the needs and the pleas of the Village residents that they serve, and not enable nor permit commercial cultivation of marijuana in our residential neighborhoods.
Steve and Alicia Murthal
I feel compelled to respond to the statements reported by the Corrales Comment in Mike Hamman’s “Exit Interview” as the MRGCD director in the December 18, 2021 issue, as well as his out-of-order pro-commercial cannabis comments during the December 14 Village Council meeting. He used his time under the Village Administrator’s agenda to spend several minutes discussing the errors and misconceptions of those who signed petitions favoring a ban on commercial cannabis operations in zones A-1 and A-2. The public was restricted to two minutes each under a subsequent agenda item reserved for cannabis legislations discussion, but Hamman was allowed to freewheel for several minutes before Councillor Stuart Murray raised a point of order. Even then, the mayor allowed Hamman to continue to “wrap up” his presentation with additional time.
Hamman has used his position and influence as MRGCD director to expound on and misrepresent facts about the Village’s exposure to harmful effects of commercial cannabis operations in residential areas, and he either intentionally misrepresents, or is ignorant about, the science, economics, neighborhood effects and implementation of commercial cannabis grow facilities. Further, he may have used his position and influence to obtain commercial permits for water rights to support a cannabis grow operation on land that he owns in Corrales.
I believe this sort of misinformation is common for the pro-commercial cannabis supporters in Corrales. There has been significant misrepresentation of facts as well as personal misrepresentation from those claiming to be disinterested parties.
For example, Hamman claims that commercial cannabis uses “less water than tomatoes, corn and other crops in California”. What he doesn’t explain, however, is that those studies are for outdoor growth, and not the intensive, high density, high tunnel, greenhouse indoor cultivation of cannabis plants proposed to be allowed in Corrales. It is very well documented that a water usage rate of two to six gallons of water per plant per day is typical for cannabis growers. For 100 adult plants using the median amount, that annual consumption can be as high as 146,000 gallons of water annually, not including water usage for evaporative cooling as well.
Hamman further says that those seeking protection for A1 and A2 who are “fear mongering” might convince the Village Council to take action which would limit opportunities for local farmers to make a “decent living.” This is simply nonsense.
We are not asking to limit any existing abilities of a farmer to make a living. No changes affecting traditional farmers at all. We just don’t want to be subjected to noxious odors and toxic BVOC emissions that are a by-product, along with grow lights, excessive noise, increased traffic, damage to an already diminishing water table, and lowered property values of commercial cannabis cultivation. Realtors now require that persons wanting to transact houses near the two medical cannabis facilities must state the presence of such facilities in the real estate transaction disclosure documents.
The real issue is that commercial cannabis is huge money for a select few Corraleños who are willing to risk the quality of life of the rest of us to make a large profit for themselves in a business fraught with significant threat to others. But the business is extremely lucrative. A master gardener can cultivate 4 to 6 lbs. of product from a cannabis plant. The current spot price for cannabis is $1300 per pound. 100 plants producing 5 lbs. each yields a wholesale price of $650,000.
Quite the “decent living” don’t you think? As long as you don’t worry about the long term effects on neighbors.
Lastly, Hamman in both his farewell write-up in the Comment, as well as during an out-of-order monologue during the December 14 Village Council meeting, represented himself as not “having a dog in this fight” and that he is simply “pro-farmer.” But that simply is not the fact. He does have a dog in the fight.
What Hamman failed to mention is that he and Sally Olguin applied for a water use diversion to create a commercial well during 2021. Sally Olguin has likewise applied for a commercial cannabis license under “Monte Vista Farm and Market Inc.” along with Antonio Olguin for 100 plants, and that both Hamman and Olguin have co-resided at a residence on Mountain View Lane, which is immediately adjacent to the site for the high tunnel cannabis greenhouse they propose. The properties upon which they live, and upon which the proposed commercial cannabis operation will reside belong jointly to Olguin andHamman.
How can this possibly be considered as not “having a dog in this fight”? How does someone so quickly know about and obtain commercial water rights? Well, perhaps it helps to be the director of MRGCD and have all the right connections. How does someone stand in front of the governing body and claim that he is an uninterested party, criticize those of us concerned about livability and quality of life, say similar things to a Corrales Comment interviewer, and yet claim that he is completely Corrales cannabis neutral?
Public officials have been investigated and excoriated for less, and perhaps the Sandoval County Ethics Commission or the newly created N.M. Ethics Commission would have an interest in Hamman’s conduct. An ethics investigation might be in order at both the county and state level.
We may be hurting the climate with our climate plan.
It is clear that humans have caused the recent spike in atmospheric CO2, and while some are still arguing about how fast that will affect us, recent weather events and trends are not encouraging.
Synergistic effects like wildfires, release of frozen CO2 from permafrost, and continued loss of forests suggest getting a real plan in place sooner rather than later. Doing what we can to decrease CO2 emissions is extremely important and Patti Flanagan’s letter (December 18, 2021) highlights simple steps we can take to help.
Substantial emissions are associated with creating the steel, concrete, wiring, transport and earth-moving required unless that manufacturing energy is provided by a zero- or low-carbon means. Building zero carbon energy sources also produces carbon by using existing fuels to produce the silicon cells, wind generators, cement, rebar and metals required.
A large, fast, spending program for infrastructure over a short period can cause the manufacturing-carbon cost of fixing prior neglect to produce near-term increases in CO2. A possible near-term way to decrease this impact is with nuclear power. While avoiding this source may be a good long-term target, ignoring it as a possible transitional way to limit damage to the planet is a disservice.
Legislators seem to be shooting wildly at individual items known to help and ignoring the cost to the environment of producing them or their aggregate results. An all-electric passenger car fleet in the United States assumed by Build Back Better and, using statistics from bts.gov, eia.gov, and epa.gov, would consume roughly 1.5 times the total renewable power produced in 2020 just for vehicular travel.
We would need a huge growth in low-carbon electrical generation just to have power to connect to the charging stations that BBB installs… or a choice between blackouts and stranded motorists, and this ignores the CO2 produced manufacturing and installing that infrastructure. A poor result for a large inflation-fueling expenditure and a big hit in manufacturing carbon emissions.
Are electric cars the proper solution? Battery minerals are already running in short supply. Wouldn’t high-speed rail be better for long range travel? Have we looked at systems that have succeeded like Florida’s rail and people movers in Miami? Remember it took more than half a century to mess this up.
Shouldn’t we be working to minimize total additional carbon pollution including the manufacturing carbon cost of infrastructures? On the other hand, doing nothing is the wrong answer. These are not Hollywood popularity contests. These are existential questions. Politicians apparently won’t address them unless they become voting issues, and the media is in La-la-land.
Everyone says we “should listen to the science” regarding climate change, yet no one has asked the scientists “what is the minimum carbon footprint out of this mess?!”
We need a coherent plan along with low-emission piecemeal actions, not a shoot-from-the-hip, pollution-generating enterprise aimed at the long term while ignoring short term impacts to the atmosphere.
By Meredith Hughes
We did it! Made it out of 2021 —thank you, vaxxes, Facetime and Zoom— and into 2022, even though 99 year old phenom Betty White did not, alas. Some of us plan to wander through The Mary Tyler Moore Show to see Ms White, in a show we never watched, because, we were living abroad… sound posh?
Do visit the websites of your favorite museums/galleries/organizations to check opening times/new regulations. Published the first issue of the month, What’s On? invites suggestions one week before the publication date. firstname.lastname@example.org
• Beginners Floral Design Classes, January 11 – February 22, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. A seven week course Tuesdays, taught by National Flower Show judge and instructor, Shirley Tetreault. $75 for new students, $60 for repeat students. Albuquerque Garden Center, 10120 Lomas.
• The United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032, kicks off with a free, online festival, January 14-23. The sponsor of the festival is the Endangered Languages Project, https://www.endangeredlanguages.com/about/, based at the University of Hawaii. The keynote speaker is Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams, whose “endangered language” is Ucwalmícwts. You can also dip your tongue and brain into Guernesiais, Limbu, Basaa, Secwepemctsín, Yougambeh, Hawaiian, and many more. For info regarding speakers: https://sites.google.com/endangeredlanguages.com/elp-festival/home?authuser=0 To sign up: https://tinyurl. com/2p9fsdwf
• Jewel Cases, starting January 15, celebrates “Albuquerque's incredible wilderness-urban interface and chronicles one man’s daily explorations and the gems found on the way. As a composite, this piece is about looking up, looking down, looking long, and looking in. It is about vitality, about pausing, about quiet, about joy, about curiosity and learning. And ultimately, it is about sharing and creating connectedness.” The artist is George Julian Dworin. Plus, Thoughts on the Rio Grande in Photographs and Haiku, beginning January 22. Works by Clarke Condé. “This series explores the great river and its surroundings as it passes through an ever-expanding city of Albuquerque, where the needs of its people compete with the needs of the plants and animals that rely on its waters for life itself.” Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors. The Center is now open to the public Tuesday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
• Midori, January 15, 6 p.m. performs Korngold’s Much Ado About Nothing Overture; the Brahms Violin Concerto, and Symphony No. 2. Well known to Corrales music lovers, violinist Midori appears at Popejoy Hall, 203 Cornell. Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/ 2p83 raxx. Strict COVID protocols will be in place.
• Candelaria Nature Preserve, guided public information tour, January 28, 10 a.m. to noon. This 167 acre section of Open Space in the North Valley was being weeded by goats in November 2021. You can inspect their work via this tour. Sign up: Colleen Langan-McRoberts, email@example.com , 505-768-4200. End of Arbor Road, Albuquerque.
Did You Know?
The Herb Society of America has picked Violet species, Viola spp, as the herb of the month, or, as herb of the year, depending on what area of its website you land on. The International Herbal Society, in fact, named the viola “Herb of the Year.” The genus Viola includes between 500 and 600 species in the violaceae or violet family, including violets, pansies, heartsease or Johnny jump-ups, other species, and many hybrids within the family. • Viola hybridize freely, which can make identification challenging. • While the flowers across the species vary in color, they generally have four unlike petals arranged in pairs and a fifth lower lobed petal with a spur, on top of an individual stem. • Pansy is generally the common name reserved for the hybrid Viola × wittrockiana, whose complex origin includes at least three species. • Violet, Viola odorata, has been used in the perfume industry as a fragrance source. • The fragrance of violets is said to be “flirty” since it seems to come and go. The presence of ionone causes humans to not be able to detect the fragrance for moments at a time. • Violet, Viola odorata and heartsease, Viola tricolor are two species with a history in herbal medicine for respiratory issues and many other issues including liver disorders and bad tempers according to Hippocrates. • The flowers of violets, heartsease, and pansies can be candied and added fresh to salads, desserts and other dishes. The leaves are also edible and can be added to fresh greens or soups. V. odorata has a sweeter flavor and is the most popular to be added to sweets and teas. The mild pea flavor of V. tricolor pairs well with either sweet or savory foods. • Viola flowers flavor violet liqueurs such as Crème Yvette, Crème de Violette, Parfait Amour, and The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur. The Aviation, Blue Moon, and Violet Fizz are classic cocktails made with violet liqueur.
The HSofA was established in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1933, but moved into a historic building in Kirtland, Ohio in 1988, after establishing the National Herb Garden in Washington, DC, at the National Arboretum in 1980. See https:/ /www.herbsociety.org/
• Corrales Tree Preservation Advisory Committee, January 10, 4:00 p.m.
• Village Council meetings, January 11, 25, 6:30 p.m.
• Corrales Historical Society Speakers series, January 16, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. “Los Arabes of New Mexico: Compadres from a Distant Land”, presented by Monika Ghattas, a history professor, based on her book about Lebanese immigrants in New Mexico. Budaghers, established as an early trading post, was founded by Joseph Budagher, an immigrant from Lebanon. At Old Church.
• Casa San Ysidro is closed in December and January.
• Corrales Arts Center. Creativity in Photography, January 22, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with Dennis Chamberlain. Corrales Community Center, 4324 Corrales Road. Register at corralesartscenter.org
• De-Spooking Clinic, January 15, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For horses and their people. Near the Rec Center, Corrales.
• Music in Corrales, Hot Club of Cowtown, where country meets jazz. January 22, 7:30 p.m. “Due to public health considerations, we have limited ticket sales to a smaller-than-normal capacity for the Old San Ysidro Church; this concert has reached that limit. If at some point we can safely increase the seating, we will re-open ticket sales, so please check back periodically for availability.” Lance Ozier 505-899-8830
• Corrales Library Book Club, January 31, 2:30 p.m. Contact Sandra Baldonado for Zoom event details. firstname.lastname@example.org
• Corrales Growers’ Market. Sunday, February 6, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Village in the Village. Focussed primarily on helping villagers, more than social events, until Omicron is booted out. Call 274-6206 or email email@example.com.
A retiree to Corrales since 2015, Ron Bloch died unexpectedly on December 28. He was 77. The Missouri native joined the Peace Corps in its early days after graduating from St. Louis University in 1966. While serving in that capacity in Venezuela, he was drafted into the Army during the war in Vietnam. Stationed to South Korea, he had responsibilities for nuclear weapons. After leaving the military, he went into human resources, primarily in the Boston area. In his retirement, one of his main projects was coaching returning Peace Corps volunteers. He was proud to have helped more than 4,000 of them.
Bloch was active in Corrales’ Village in the Village and the Corrales Arts Center. He turned his backyard into a nature preserve where he regularly fed birds and rabbits; he enjoyed watching coyotes and bobcats as they passed by.
He is survived by wife Kathleen Brown, daughter Catherine Bloch and son Christopher Bloch. A celebration of his life will be announced at a later date. The family suggests memorial donations to New Mexico PBS or to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA.org).
Outdoorsman and adventurer Bill Clark of Corrales died December 26 after a 41-year career with Los Alamos National Laboratories and 21 years fighting off cancer.
Family members noted that “The last few years of Bill’s life were filled with fewer adventures. He battled lung disease due to complications from radiation treatment with inspiring grace and positivity, and a determination not to let illness keep him from doing the things he loved.”
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, in his twenties Clark discovered the Southwest on a long bike adventure.
He is survived by wife Danette Clark, mother Beth Clark, brother Budd Clark, daughters Tiffany Hinsley, Tricia Franchville and Laura Kuskil, as well as seven grandchildren.
A celebration of his life will be held this summer. Contributions of fun memories and photos are encouraged via facebook.com/groups/bill clark.
Two villagers, Janet Ruth and Dave Krueper, have issued as 2022 Trash Pick Up Challenge to make Corrales more litter-free by January 2023.
“We would like to issue a 2022 Trash Pick Up Challenge to Corraleños,” they told Corrales Comment December 31. “Today, New Year’s Eve morning, on our morning walk, we brought along two trash bags, and filled both of them on the loop we take which takes us about 45 minutes, or maybe 2.5 miles.
“If everyone did this on their walks through the village once a month in 2022, we would have a very clean village!”
Ruth, an ornithologist, was featured in a Corrales Comment article a year ago about her book Feathered Dreams. She was also instrumental in having the Corrales Bosque Preserve named an “Important Bird Area” by the Audubon Society. She and Krueper recently collaborated on the Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Village of Corrales and the Corrales Bosque Preserve, published by the New Mexico Ornithological Society.
Commercial-scale growers of marijuana have been operating legally in Corrales for years, and at least nine new sites for cannabis businesses are proposed on land east and west of Loma Larga.
Until now, the only legal cannabis grow sites have been those licensed and regulated to produce it for medicinal uses. But that will no longer be the case: the new N.M. Cannabis Regulation Act sets up a process by which “micro-producers” can harvest up to 100 plants to sell for recreational use.
Given the state law, Village officials are being advised they can’t ban such marijuana crops even if they wanted to. So for several months, the controversy in Corrales has been to what extent municipal regulations, or land use zoning, might be imposed to restrict cannabis growing where it would be offensive in residential neighborhoods.
That’s what happened at the Village Council’s special session January 4. On a 5-1 vote, councillors approved an ordinance that “the commercial production, manufacture, sales and distribution of cannabis and cannabis products are prohibited in the A-1 and A-2 zones.”
Perhaps the biggest hang-ups are Corrales’ long-standing land use zone categories that lump agricultural areas and residential areas together. In virtually all parts of Corrales, anywhere you can build and occupy a home, you or your neighbor can grow a crop to sell commercially.
At a special session of the Village Council January 4, councillors had to decide whether to pass an ordinance that allows marijuana cultivation in neighborhoods as long as facilities or activities that might reasonably be considered offensive to nearby residents, such as odors, are at least 300 feet away.
That January 4 special council meeting was held the day after Corrales Comment’s deadline for this issue, so results could not be included here.
Most of the issues involved in the council’s action January 4 can be understood by carefully reading commentaries and letters published in this issue, as well as an article in the December 18 issue explaining measures adopted by the Village of Los Ranchos on the east side of the river.
As of the end of 2021, the N.M. Cannabis Control Division lists the following nine Corrales properties with pending applications to produce cannabis.
• 984 Camino de Lucia, as a “cannabis producer microbusiness;”
• 3577 Loma Larga, as a “cannabis producer,” near the intersection with Sagebrush Drive;
• another permit pending at 3577 Loma Larga as a “cannabis producer;”
• another at 3577 as a “cannabis producer microbusiness;”
• 4484 Corrales Road, near the intersection with East Ella Drive, listed as a “cannabis producer microbusiness;”
• 119 Veronica Court, off Rayo del Sol, also listed as a “cannabis producer microbusiness;”
• 184 Mountain View Lane, off Corrales Road at the north end of the village, where the past executive director of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, Mike Hamman and family live and farm, listed as a “cannabis producer microbusiness;”
• 1084 West La Entrada, just east of Loma Larga, listed as a pending “cannabis producer microbusiness;” and
• 266 Target Road, just west of Corrales Elementary School, also listed as a pending “producer microbusiness.”
Of the proposed marijuana production locations above, most attention has been directed to the one for 184 Mountain View on property held or managed by Hamman and his stepson, Antonio Olguin.
That’s in part because Hamman said in a Corrales Comment interview last month, and told the mayor and Village Council at their December 18 meeting, that he “had no dog in this fight” over pending Corrales ordinance regulations for cannabis.
After it came out that Hamman’s plans would, in fact, be affected by amendments to Corrales’ cannabis regulations, he submitted the following statement to clarify plans to grow marijuana on the small farm at the end of Mountain View.
“In the interview in the Comment's last edition I made a statement related to legal cannabis production that 'I don't have a dog in that fight' and I wish to clarify that regarding the difference between my professional role as I retire from MRGCD and my personal situation on our organic farming operation in the north end in zone A-2. The MRGCD has received a number of inquiries regarding use of District water for cannabis production and the response is that this use is consistent with the District’s Water Distribution Policy and that since it will be a legal crop starting in April 2022, District water can be used just as it is for any other agricultural purpose but if any special accommodation for alternative delivery methods other than flood irrigation is required, the operator must first obtain an approved license from the District. So no dog in the fight on that front.
“Regarding my personal situation, my wife and I lease a portion of our land to the organic grower who is our son and he has been struggling to make a decent living selling organic produce through farmers' markets and other outlets for over four years now. An irrigation well used to drip irrigate a 3,000 square foot high tunnel green house began failing two years ago and in getting a well replacement permit, the State Engineer informed me that it must have a commercial water right for what was being grown and sold at that time so a significant investment was required to purchase and transfer the water right and re-drill the well at a greater depth. In addition, the entire farm/property’s energy use is being offset with solar panels which was also a significant investment.
“Upon passage of the N.M. Cannabis Regulation Act, my son looked into the specific provisions for the microproducer to grow up to 100 plants that appears to work well in the established green house that uses only sunlight for seasonal production and may provide for a young, struggling farmer to supplement the organic vegetable operations as well as help pay for the operating costs as he builds his business.
“My farm duties are taking care of the chickens, the fruit orchard and irrigating the larger field with District water when it’s available, and I personally would not be involved in, or profit from, any of the cannabis production or sales.
“The only reason my name is involved is that the application requires identification of the property owner. The application process is rigorous and no decision has been made as to whether or not this will proceed given the uncertainties of licensing and other factors.
“With that said, we are committed to organic food production and offsetting our carbon footprint with solar power and recycling green matter to improve the soils that, over time, become a netcarbon sink instead of emitter. It’s a small operation but a worthy endeavor that preserves two acres of farmland, provides organically produced food and a potentially sustainable income from sales of agricultural products.
“I apologize for the mis-leading statement but not for my son’s right to pursue this legal option on private property under the requirements of the act and any the Village ordinance may further require.”
Each of the nine cannabis producer applications listed above are identified as either in draft form or “pending applicant action,” as indicated for Hamman’s request.
Why those applications to grow cannabis in Corrales remain pending is not clear. Villagers have been told that the State’s Cannabis Control Division cannot approve such applications until each has gained approval from the municipality involved. But Village Administrator Ron Curry said December 30 his understanding is that the Village cannot act on any municipal permit until the state acts.
In November 2021, the Village Council imposed a three-month moratorium on processing applications to grow cannabis here. Resolution 2139 was passed which included a moratorium to pause the processing of all applications for new cannabis-growing permits for 90 days.
Village Attorney Randy Autio said, “The idea of the moratorium would be to craft the best law we could with all the data we can gather and the examples that we’ve already been identifying from other states.”
Many villagers spoke at a November meeting, all expressing their fear and dislike of commercial cannabis farming in residential Corrales areas. Some mentioned odor, others mentioned crime, some talked about night time light pollution, and others loss of property value. Their voices seemed to call out in unison with the same basic plea: “do what you can, councillors, to protect us from this frightening development.”
Autio’s response to these pleas was to mention that villagers have the right to grow cannabis as much as they have the right to live in a place that is protected from the negative aspects of cannabis growing.
He also reminded the council, “We are not an independent state, like an Indian reservation might be, within the United States that can pass its own laws. We are a creature of state law.”
He went on to say, “It may not be a good law, that’s not for me to determine, but it is the law of the land at the present time.”
Councillor Mel Knight suggested making the resolution 120 days, four months instead of three, giving the council much needed time to draft an ordinance.
Mayor Jo Anne Roake quickly spoke up, saying the village had consulted with an unnamed state attorney working for the municipal league. The mayor said of this person, “his concept is that 90 days is 60 days too long.” She then referred to attorney Autio to “explain the risk of waiting longer” to the councillors.
Councillor Kevin Lucero objected to the state’s cannabis legislation, saying, “the State said it itself, they’re driving the car as they are building it. We are trying to meet some crazy deadlines, trying to put some legislation in place that […] fulfills the will of our constituents and protects this village.” He said he was in favor of extending the period to 120 days.
Councillor Zachary Burkett agreed, explaining “there is zero point in doing a moratorium if we’re going to do it in such a short period that we can’t improve something during that moratorium.” Councillor Burkett also noted that the areas in discussion are only those zoned A1 and A2, not Corrales’ commercial district. He argued that permits for the commercial areas would still be considered and might be granted during the moratorium, thus further protecting the village from the risk of lawsuit.
In most elections, incumbents are considered to have a distinct advantage. But that offers little predictive value for Corrales’ upcoming election for mayor and three of the six members of the Village Council, because only one incumbent is seeking re-election.
So decision-making for Village government should look very different —but also likely very familiar— after Election Day March 1.
That’s because the three mayoral candidates include former Mayor Gary Kanin and former Councillor Jim Fahey. And in Council District 4, one of the candidates to fill Tyson Parker’s seat is none other than a former councillor representing that district, John Alsobrook.
Also seeking the District 4 seat is Courtenay Eichhorst, son of former Councillor Bob Eichhorst.
Amid a flurry of rumors that she would not seek re-election, Mayor Jo Anne Roake said January 3 she had not decided whether to try for a new term. In the end, she decided not to run.
The only incumbent to sign up for four more years was District 3 Councillor Mel Knight, who faces challenger Jonathan Dilts.
Kevin Lucero opted not to seek re-election for the Council District 1 seat, but three villagers stepped up: Rick Miera, Cora Frantz and James Ward.
Terms are not expiring for the council seats held by Bill Woldman, Stuart Murray and Zach Burkett, nor by Municipal Judge Michelle Frechette.
Any write-in candidates for the positions which become open in March must file with the Village Clerk on January 11. Early voting begins February 1.
Among major issues with which the new governing body likely will grapple are changes to the Village’s land use ordinances, possible revisions to the Corrales Comprehensive Plan, residential density, especially regarding senior living facilities and regulation of water usage.
The new year launches with optimism and flush bank accounts, at least for public institutions and maybe yours.
The State treasury is brimming, apparently with lots more revenue to come in 2022, and Village government is all smiles with $4 million tucked away. “The Village is in excellent financial health,” Mayor Jo Anne Roake crowed as the new year dawned. “The Village does a great deal with the annual $6 million budget… and we’ve got about $4 million invested with the Local Government Investment Pool.”
Your own personal finances may not be so rosy, and inflation may erode yours along with those of the Village and the State. The 2022 session of the N.M. Legislature begins January 18; it will be dedicated almost exclusively to —money.
Pandemicwise, Corraleños continue to be well served by relentless efforts of Commander Tanya Lattin and the Corrales Fire Department; prospects are improving that the less lethal omicron strain of COVID-19 will dominate the virus world during 2022.
At the start of the year, 664 people in Corrales and other neighborhoods in the 87048 zip code area such as Skyview Acres, had been diagnosed with the disease. The number of Corrals-specific COVID-19 deaths has not been disclosed but are known to be at least seven.
The year 2022 will bring other changes, even in how collective decisions are made. Municipal elections in early March will name a mayor and three members of the Village Council. Those villagers willing to serve in one of those positions had to file notice of their candidacy on January 4.
Who voters choose on March 1 could well be determined by candidates’ position on growing marijuana in Corrales for the recreational use market which is sure to boom this year. Retailing of cannabis to the general public will begin by April 1.
The medical cannabis store at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road is expected to sell to recreational users once licensing and other protocols are in place. At least one other existing store farther south on Corrales Road likely will begin selling marijuana this year.
A periscope view of how the marijuana-growing business is likely to play out here may be offered later this month by recommendations for changes to Corrales’ land use ordinances. That advice to the mayor and council members will be submitted by a committee made up of citizens from each council district working with land use specialists from the Mid-Region Council of Governments tasked with suggesting revisions to Corrales’ Code of Ordinances Chapter 18.
Among other issues, those recommendations are expected to cover an analysis of Corrales’ bed-rock dictum of allowing just one home per acre (or one home per two acres on land at the south end of the village formerly within Bernalillo County). It’s the perennial “casitas” controversy.
Those recommendations likely will include proposed regulations on walls and fences along Corrales Road. Village Administrator Ron Curry said he expects the Village Council may make decisions on land use policies by mid-summer.
He does not expect a ground-up revision of the Corrales Comprehensive Plan during 2022 —unless villagers demand it as the community wrestles with the turbulent cannabis cultivation issue. Re-writing a comprehensive plan, he said, “can be a very painful experience, with neighbors pitted against neighbors. It’s just my opinion, but I think we were headed toward a ‘comprehensive plan light’ but that may change now with the cannabis issue and the fact that we don’t have any residential zoning per se.”
Village officials will move ahead with renovation of municipal offices, following conversion of the old “Corrales Valley Fire Station” into the relocated Planning and Zoning Office and Animal Control operations. Changes have already been made to the reception area of the Village Office; plans are afoot to re-do the restrooms and create a sole-purpose staff break room.
Curry thinks those may be done by the end of summer 2022, roughly when a thorough make-over of the Village Office parking areas is expected. Preliminary groundwork for the latter, done by Public Works crews, may begin by mid-2022.
Construction of a bike path along the south side of upper Meadowlark Lane, and a horse trail along the north side, from Loma Larga to the Rio Rancho border is expected before mid-year. Curry thinks that can be completed by May 1.
He’s also looking forward to plans for the Village to take over ownership and management of the Corrales Interior Drain, east of Corrales Road. A committee appointed by the mayor is scheduled give its recommendations later this year. to facilitate that, Curry said he intends to call a meeting of that committee and other groups, such as the Equestrian Advisory Commission, the Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission, the Tree Committee, the Bosque Advisory Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission in the weeks ahead. “We’re going to find some money for them to get started on the planning for that.”
A long, long, long-planned project, extension of sewer service to the Priestly-Coroval neighborhood east of the post office is not funded past a design and engineering phase. “I don’t have a time line for that,” Curry added.
Another protracted project, construction of a new gym for the Corrales Recreation Center, could come to fruition later this year. Curry said last month that “there’s a very good chance” the new gym could be under way during 2022. The total gym project is expected to cost around $3 million, and about $2 million is already available, he explained. “But we’re exploring ways we can have the whole project done at one time. Giving a start date for the gym would depend on when we can get the rest of the money.”
On Corrales’ eastern fringe, major earth-moving work is already mostly complete for the wetlands to be established where stormwater coming through the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel discharges to the Rio Grande. In the months ahead the multi-agency project will oversee planting of trees and other vegetation. Year one of that effort, led by The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, should be complete by the end of the year.
A pilot project for re-forestation in the Bosque Preserve was implemented by volunteers and the Corrales Fire Department last month. Donated cottonwood trees, three-leaf sumacs and golden currants were planted in a large area that burned in 2012. The Fire Department will continue filling water tanks positioned on the levee nearby from which plantings can be irrigated as they establish. If successful, the project will be replicated in other parts of the preserve.
On the opposite side of Corrales, talks are continuing about prospects for bringing in water from the City of Rio Rancho for the proposed, nearly forgotten, area designated for commercial development adjacent to the Rio Rancho Industrial Park. Infrastructure for such delivery of water to the Neighborhood Commercial and Office District (NCOD) is not likely to come this year.
But plans are continuing for a Corrales Fire Department water tank at the top of Angel Road to which a series of fire hydrants might be connected in future years. Curry hinted that the Village has been in discussions with the N.M. Department of Transportation regarding the future of Angel Road, but he declined to explain further.
Asked to look ahead for 2022, the Village Administrator said a theme will be putting available funding to work on long-planned projects and facilities. “The money that we have coming to us, via the feds for COVID relief and via capital outlays from the State, we’re going to put that money to use, on the ground.
“It has gone slower than I would have liked, just due to delays at the state and federal levels. But people expect us to use the federal money, the capital outlay money and now the bond money.”
Those uses include the trails along upper Meadowlark, improvements to the municipal parking lot and possibly extending the sewer lines east and west of Corrales Road. “Most people like having their own wells, and the way to protect those wells is to have a good sewer system.”
Curry said the proposal to purchase the Gonzales parcel frontage, next to Wells Fargo Bank, will come before the Village Council for a decision during 2022. But he expects one of the biggest snags to be the seller’s asking price and the appraisal. “People tend to have a higher value for their property than what the appraisals come in at. And we have to go by the appraisal and how it’s zoned.”
He said the Village does have money to buy the Gonzales parcel if the council decides to move ahead with the acquisition.
‘Tis the season.
Our responses to it were formed when we were very young. It was the happiest of times, of family gatherings, all the colored lights and candles, tinsel, and of presents - a time of accumulation.
Now, for many of us, it’s, well, it’s now; a time more of decluttering than accumulating more stuff. For many of us it’s a time for thinning things out, for giving away, simplifying.
Childhood was our time for receiving. As we grew up, we came more and more to appreciate that this is most importantly the season for giving, for finding the right something to do or share or give to make your friends and loved ones smile, to give them happiness. And for reaching out and helping others including people we may not even know personally.
With time and experience in living, we learn that giving is actually the greatest joy – at any time but especially in this season that is special to so many peoples of different faiths and cultures.
And when one thinks of community, it is the sharing and giving that radiates, that gives everything meaning.
In essence, that is the meaning and the heart of Village in the Village; it’s a community of people brought together in, and because of, the spirit of giving, of helping, of lending a hand – and of spending time in the company of friends who feel the same way.
ViV’s purpose is to enable our neighbors to continue to live independently as long as they are capable of doing so. Providing services like rides to appointments, basic technical help, assistance with small household odd jobs, companionship visits, and a variety of social activities so they can stay active in the community. It’s a cause we all embrace and celebrate.
But the joy of it all comes from the giving.
So at this special season, we want to give our thanks and gratitude to all who make up ViV, those who sponsor our activities, and to everyone who gives of your time and resources to support one another and others.
May you have a joyous Holiday Season and the very happiest of New Years.
- From the Board of Directors and Executive Director of Village in the Village, Corrales
Directed by Ridley Scott.
Plugs: Gucci. Nearest: Cottonwood
House of Gucci tells the true story of the iconic Italian fashion family. The film follows the rise and fall of Guccis (and soon-to-be-Guccis) from 1978 to the 1990s. You can track the era by the hairstyles and cars, as well as Christmas gifts (such as Simon and Teddy Ruxpin). Along the way there’s plenty of melodrama.
Full disclosure: I am no one’s idea of a fashion follower, and I know even less about high-end fashion such as Gucci. Though the film is based on a book of the same title, and by extension a true story, I had no idea what to expect. I vaguely remembered that there was some assassination, or attempted murder involved in the story, but I wasn’t sure who the victim was, so I went into House of Gucci with a clean slate.
Lady Gaga plays Patrizia Reggiani, a middle-class, possible gold digger who marries into the Gucci family via nerdy lawyer Maurizio (Adam Driver), much to the evident dismay of his father, Rudolfo. The dramatic dichotomy is set early on: the indecisive, studious Maurizio and the impulsive, passionate, manipulative go-getter Patrizia. The meet between them is too long and too cloying by half (I suspect to pad out Lady Gaga’s screen time). Gaga’s giggly character, though annoying and one-note at first, eventually wins over both Maurizio and the audience.
The film is filled with excellent performances, perhaps most prominent among them Lady Gaga. She effectively conveys a range of emotions, ranging from vulnerability to guile. Driver is good as her husband, though often so passive it’s not clear he has much to do in the role. Jeremy Irons has a small but savory part as Rodolfo, brother of Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino). Pacino can do this role in his sleep but, to his credit, decided to show up and not phone it in. Maurizio’s cousin, Paolo, played with commitment by Jared Leto, is a talentless oaf with delusions of grandeur largely inspired by his own last name. Yes, Leto’s performance is over the top, but it fits the film. The film is slightly unhinged, but then again the family is unhinged, and the story is unhinged. These are, for the most part, awful people and their fortunes and foibles are writ large.
The Guccis, not surprisingly, embraced the ethos of Leona Helmsley, Donald Trump, and others that only stupid people pay taxes. This is par for the golf course, but sometimes the law catches up with even the rich — just ask Wesley Snipes and Martha Stewart— and sure enough soon the Guccis are swimming in debt and ducking police raids. As if that’s not enough, Patrizia’s marriage is soon on the rocks, and she means to keep it together.
The film follows Patrizia as she unravels into scheming, obsession, and revenge, seeking weaknesses in the family dynamic to exploit for her own purposes. About halfway through the film an important subplot emerges as Patrizia seeks out guidance from a soothsayer. The fortuneteller, played by Salma Hayek, soon become an accomplice to murder (“We’ve run out of spells, it’s time for something stronger,” one says).
For all the genuine drama and melodrama, the film seems curiously unfocused. The cast are interesting —and Irons and Leto, especially, are a delight to watch. But House of Gucci is perhaps excessive in its excesses.
It’s about a back-stabbing power struggle in the Gucci family. It’s about a scorned woman who seeks revenge. It’s about the cutthroat world of high fashion in the 1980s. It’s about two and a half hours long, and it either needed more or less Lady Gaga, depending on which way the story wanted to go.
It would have been a stronger film (with a tighter plot) had the filmmakers figured out which story they most wanted to tell and stuck with it.
I would like to comment on the recent articles about Global Warming. I agree we must do something, and I feel strongly we can start right here in our own backyard. Let’s start by getting back to the roots of Corrales by supporting the rural, agricultural village that we are supposed to be. If we return to being a farming, horseback riding, livestock-safe, pedestrian and bicycle friendly village we will be taking a small step toward the greater good of reducing global warming.
Just think of it: we can ride our horses, ride bicycles, and walk to the nearest restaurant, art show, art gallery or store and help save our planet at the same time.
This is what brought us to this a small rural community in the first place. Let’s “get rural” and save our world!
As a scientist, I look for cause-and-effect relationships. Which made me wonder what might explain the unusually high number of COVID cases in Corrales.
A terrible mistake was made when Intel was allowed to build its large chip- manufacturing plants adjacent to pre-existing residential neighborhoods.
There is strong evidence that people who live near Intel have higher rates of many illnesses. Might decades-long exposure to Intel toxins in the air they breathe also weaken their immune systems, which would leave them less able to fight off COVID and other viruses?
That is at least possible, and may even be probable. But there is no question that breathing Intel’s airborne toxins is a continuing threat to public health.
By Joan Morrison
What/Who is the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission?
The Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission advises the Village Council and administration on issues related to the Corrales Bosque Preserve. Composed of seven members appointed by the mayor, the commission meets on the evening of the second Thursday each month, and meetings are open to the public. The commission is tasked with monitoring activities within the preserve and protecting its health.
In 1978 the Corrales Bosque Preserve was declared a protected area, and it was formally established in 1990 by the Village of Corrales Ordinance Section 11-1, which states “.… there is hereby established a Corrales Bosque Preserve, to be protected in order to preserve its natural character for the use and enjoyment of the residents of the Village in such manner as will leave it unimpaired for future use and enjoyment in its natural and protected condition.”
The preserve is a narrow strip of land containing a natural cottonwood forest and associated riparian habitats bounded by the Corrales Siphon on the north, the Alameda Boulevard bridge on the south, the western low water line of the Rio Grande on the east, and on the west by, 1) the western right of way line for the Sandoval Lateral Canal wherever the canal runs parallel to the Corrales Riverside Drain, and 2) the western right of way line for the Corrales Riverside Drain wherever the Sandoval Lateral Canal does not run parallel to the Corrales Riverside Drain (Corrales Village Code, Section 11-3).
The Corrales Riverside Drain (known as the Clear Ditch) runs the entire length of the preserve, whereas the Sandoval Lateral Canal enters the preserve just south of the Romero Road entrance at its north end and departs close to Bernaval Road and Coroval Road at its south end.
Paths in the preserve available for users include access roads along the Sandoval Lateral and the Clear Ditch and along the top of the levee as well as numerous unmaintained trails throughout the bosque.
In 2013, the Corrales Bosque Preserve was designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society because it provides essential habitat year-round for many species of birds.
Riparian habitat is particularly important for avian communities in the arid Southwest. The Corrales Bosque Preserve is an excellent example of relatively undisturbed riparian habitat when compared with other nearby riparian habitats along the Rio Grande.
Along with its value to many species of birds that nest or winter there, including several threatened or endangered species, the preserve is an important stop-over habitat for many migrants that pass through on their ways south and north, and it provides habitat for wintering Bald Eagles.
Each member of the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission (CBAC) has a designated section of the preserve that he or she visits regularly, walking or riding the access roads and trails looking for dangers such as trees fallen across trails, watching for fires, visiting with users, and reporting hazardous conditions and violations. This past year, the commission successfully installed dog waste stations at many entrances to the preserve, and members keep them filled with bags.
The commission is also responsible for maintaining the entrance signs and providing the public with user information. Members and other volunteers also participate in removal of invasive species, restoration projects and trash removal in the preserve. Because many Corraleños use the bosque in a variety of ways, the CBAC also coordinates with the Village’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission and the Equestrian Advisory Commission.
In early 2021, the commission developed management guidelines intended to provide direction to the Village of Corrales Governing Body, Village of Corrales staff, and the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission. These guidelines, with objectives of protecting plant and animal life, reducing pollution, conducting fire risk mitigation, promoting educational uses, and facilitating coordination with the Corrales Fire Department and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, were accepted by the Village Council in March 2021.
Recently, commission members provided data and input to the discussion regarding the proposed clearing project in the bosque.
Do you love our preserve and are you committed to its protection? Are you interested in becoming a member of the CBAC or helping with activities? If so, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at https://www.corrales-nm.org/parksrec/page/corrales-bosque-preserve
As Corrales’ Mike Hamman prepares to step down as executive director of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District next month, he gave a wide-ranging interview to Corrales Comment about the future of farming here, cannabis cultivation, climate change, prospects for a municipal water system and a N.M. water plan. More than a year ago, the Conservancy District’s chief engineer had planned to retire in 2022 and concentrate on his two-acre family farm here. But that changed when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham asked him to serve as her senior water adviser.
In that capacity, he will direct a 50-year water plan for New Mexico.
“The governor has asked me to develop a whole-of-government approach that will include State departments, the legislature, stakeholder interests and water resource professionals from around the state,” Hamman explained.
The goal is “to develop projects and policies that will advance water resiliency strategies in every region in the face of shortages resulting from persistent drought and rising temperatures.
“This effort will help to prioritize infrastructure needs and make policy and funding recommendations to the governor and legislature for the 2023 60-day session.”
In his long career managing water with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the City of Santa Fe and Native American agencies before joining the Conservancy District January 20, 2015, Hamman focused on collaborations; he expects that to be crucial in his new role starting next month.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address New Mexico’s growing water resource challenges.”
The Conservancy District’s chief executive feels strongly that Village government should not try to ban marijuana cultivation here.
He said a flyer distributed by opponents of legal production of cannabis in Corrales “shamefully uses fear mongering to try and sway Corraleños into denying our small farmers the right to participate in a legal activity that may keep them in business.”
Hamman pointed to research by a non-profit organization that debunks cannabis opponents’ claim that marijuana uses an extraordinary amount of water. “It further states that cannabis uses less water than tomatoes, corn and other crops in California.”
“People are pointing to the SWOP operation on the north end as to what may happen in their backyards, but that is impossible with the proposed zoning regulations the Village is proposing.
“It makes sense to zone out large commercial greenhouses, as no one wants them next door, but the micro-producer regulations will fit within the community as with all other agricultural activities that the Village is committed to support in other ordinances.
“It would be a shame if these fear tactics convince the Village Council to further limit opportunities to make a decent living as a small farmer that may have no choice but to sell out to development. Is that what we want in Corrales?”
He said he is neither pro- nor anti- cannabis. “I don’t have a dog in this fight,” he said. “I’m just pro-farmer.”
When Hamman took over as director of MRGCD, the district supplied water to approximately 10,000 separate irrigators, and since then, between 200 and 300 acres are no longer cultivated, he reported. A bigger change has been restoration of the district’s financial reserves to carry out necessary, but long neglected, infrastructure upgrades, repairs and maintenance.
He was asked what has been the biggest difference, operationally, in how MRGCD functioned when he took over compared to today.
Hamman said the board of directors as far back as 2008 cut its rates that farmers had to pay to irrigate, which over time, depleted the district’s reserves to pay for needed repairs and maintenance. He said the previous executive director, Subhas Shah, “was quite proud of the surplus, but we had what I consider to be a highly under-served system. It had a lot of deferred maintenance, a lot of outdated equipment. Why they were holding on to that big reserve fund, I don’t know. It was just the nature of the management at that time. But I came in at a time when the district had a lot of good, experienced board members who led the charge to cut the bleeding.
“We were bleeding three or four million dollars a year just in the operating budget out of that surplus, so we were in the red, and depleting the surplus that was supposed to be for infrastructure. The new thinking came in just before I was hired.
“The new board told me to operate the office professionally, get our staff operating in the black and let’s take a look at our long-term capital needs.
“Those were the parameters that I was supposed to take on, in addition to improving relations with the six Middle Rio Grande Pueblos and all our local governments… because quite frankly, those relationships were pretty bad. I mean, people dealt with the district because they had to, but they sure didn’t like to.
“That was one of the things that I worked really hard on. I brought my political capital with the Pueblos with me, as well as with the federal and state agencies. Those were things I had worked on for my entire career, and the board was buying that when they hired me.”
Between stints with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, he worked on water issues for the Jicarilla Apache government for more than eight years, and later a salmon habitat recovery program for tribes in the Pacific Northwest’s Klamath Basin.
He was the City of Santa Fe’s first director of water operations at a time when the City acquired the utility from Public Service Company of New Mexico. After five years there, he was recruited by the Jicarilla Apache to serve as its first water administrator.
“Then in 2008, the area manager position came open with the Bureau of Reclamation in Albuquerque. My wife and I looked at that and decided it was a good time to come back home.”
He took early retirement from that position to take the MRGCD job. “I told the board when I came on that I would give them four-plus years, and that I had retirement plans of my own after working in public service for 40-plus years.”
Those plans included farming here in Corrales as well as developing some property he owns in Alaska. “Great plans, but those will be put on hold for a little while longer. Our illustrious governor is a very persuasive lady. She told me we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform New Mexico’s water situation, from both an infrastructure and a policy perspective.”
He said the governor had high expectations that the State’s 50-Year Water Plan would be completed by now, but that has nor been the case, partially due to the pandemic and inadequate funding. “I think the plan is coming along pretty well, but we’re going to need more time to do it right.”
A crucial factor in moving ahead with a water plan and its implementation is that adequate funding may finally be available, “such as the federal infrastructure funding that is coming into the State, and there’s still quite a bit of under-utilized capital appropriation from the legislature for water projects that is not yet put to beneficial use.”
Hamman said he has been told that $600 million in previous state appropriations for water projects remains unspent. “There are a lot of reasons why that’s the case, and that’s why we need a really good analysis for how we can capitalize on that.”
Already widely recognized are the “serious shortcomings for rural water systems and regional water insecurity problems that are going to take the best minds and commitment to action to get this jump-started in the right direction,” Hamman explained, “rather than continue to chase our tails about things like, ‘well, who’s going to be the State Engineer?’ and ‘what are the qualifications going to be for that position?’ Instead, we have an opportunity to re-evaluate the whole system.”
He hopes to formulate a vision for New Mexico’s water future with the help of experts and groups around the state coupled with a time line “so that when August-September rolls around, we’re in a position to advise the legislature, the governor’s office and all the regions of the state that ‘we’ve heard you; we know what needs to be done, and here’s the plan. So now it’s up to you guys to do what you need to do for appropriations and other legislation.’”
Hamman conceded planning and good intentions have produced initiatives in the past, yet not much happens. “Let’s look at it this way. Many people in many of the basins around the state have tried so many times in the past to make progress on these things, but we’ve never had the stars to align the way things seem to be working now.”
He said he has been hearing from citizens, civic groups and specialists who want to help get this done. “I’ve been getting lots of offers of help. Everybody wants things to change. I don’t think I’ve experienced that before, where people and non-governmental organizations are saying ‘just let us know what you want us to do.’ I’m hearing that from just about every sector.”
Hamman said he thinks that is because people are so frustrated with inaction over decades,”and because the federal government is lined up to help us as they never have before, and we have all the oil and gas revenues coming in that are way above what we had expected. If we can’t make hay now, shame on us, right?”
Given those expected revenues, Hamman was asked whether that might brighten prospects that Corrales could finally get a municipal water system. Three decades ago, Village officials explored what it would cost to implement a water system, and the stunning answer was upward of $60 million, before inflation.
“Like all things, there has got to be the political will for it, and now people don’t feel there is a need for it,” Hamman replied. “The fact that we could connect to a regional utility is a possibility. Maybe Rio Rancho on the north end and Albuquerque on the south end. And the City of Albuquerque is already handling some of Corrales’ wastewater, so maybe some pieces of that are starting to fill in.”
He said existing federal-state funding could probably pay for wastewater projects here. “I know there are a lot of shallow wells that people are still counting on for household drinking water. I think at a minimum they should look at putting their wells down into a deeper aquifer, maybe 200-300 feet.”
Hamman doesn’t think it is impossible that Corrales might be able to start a municipal water system. “No, it isn’t out of our reach. For the same reason that you could probably afford a sewer system, you could afford a water system, but that depends on the political will and ability to raise taxes.
“Once you have a utility up and running, then people pay for the operation and maintenance, but it would take some combination of grants and loans that are available to Corrales.
“If the Village Council was serious about it, the first thing they would do is hire a competent firm to analyze the costs and rate structure. The N.M. Environment Department would require that in a preliminary engineering report, and I bet, even right now, Corrales could get a grant to do that preliminary work.”
He agreed that Corraleños may not be ready to give up their own private wells just yet. “But if they’re starting to have contamination problems, they will be.”
Water availability could be an equally important motive for starting a municipal water system. As climate change reduces snow pack melt in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, the aquifers under Corrales will drop over time, leading to the expense of drilling deeper wells. “It is true that the decrease in precipitation and the decline in irrigation agriculture in Corrales is ultimately going to lead to declining water tables… there’s just no doubt about that.”
Another impact from the ongoing drought is decreased water in the Riverside Drain, also known as the Clear Ditch. “I was recently contacted about the drying of the “Clear Ditch,’ which is happening for a number of reasons, drought being one of them.”
A major contributing factor is ever more domestic wells drawing down the water table. “Every individual well pumping is creating its own cone of depression, and that keeps the return flows that used to go to that drain, and then, there’s less and less irrigation going on.”
On top of those factors, the riverbed is degrading as the Rio Grande flows past Corrales so that it is now lower than the Riverside Drain, he explained. On the bright side, he said release of water from upstream dams in the weeks ahead will raise water levels which may well raise it in the drain as well. “We’ve had this release from El Vado Dam to Elephant Butte so that the water in the river did up come up a couple of feet” which could mean a little more water in the Riverside Drain.
The soon-to-be senior water advisor for the governor offered a general outline for the kinds of questions to be addressed in the 50-Year Water Plan. “Obviously the big ones are the infrastructure needs related to water and resiliency from the water supply perspective; that’s really the cornerstone of a good water plan.
“You’re recognizing the differentials between supply and demand, and what components of that supply are vulnerable and need to be shored up. Or do we need to completely prepare to provide soft landings for certain segments of our water user community so that it’s not a complete loss of income or complete inability to do agricultural production that we’ve become accustomed to. We’ve had a fairly resilient system up until the last decade or so when we’ve started to see the serious signs of climate change impacts.
“Rising temperatures create the need for more water to grow the same amount of the same crop.
“When temperatures go up, aridity goes up. There’s more evapotranspiration to grow that same crop. That’s happening with the bosque and with every bit of vegetation that relies on water to survive. And bare ground also will evaporate more moisture. So not as much snowpack will accrue and it will run off quicker.
“Our infrastructure is designed for a specific type of run-off pattern, and now we may have to re-visit that, because run-off patterns are changing. And we have a different moisture pattern in which we may see more intense monsoonal events which will be damaging to that infrastructure. But that could be a source of water that can be captured and used in some form or fashion.
“Those are the sorts of things that you identify in a really solid water plan.”
An earlier water plan produced in 2018 identified about a quarter of a billion dollars in unmet infrastructure needs, Hamman recalled, and some of those needs are currently being addressed.
“What we need is a really comprehensive program for regional and rural drinking water systems. If there isn’t capacity from a rate base because of lack of population, or just lack of capacity within the organization that would take responsibility, then the systems have to be supported.
“So that is the matrix of the sort of things that we need to put into the total picture of what needs to be done,” he summed up. “And Corrales could fit right into that. You could do it in segments; you could make agreements with Rio Rancho to bring their water in, even though people here will complain about it because their water doesn’t taste as good as our own well water.
“But it’s very doable, and these regional systems are the best way to go since it has a better rate base and everybody can ride on everybody else’s shoulders.”
Like the MRGCD director before him, Hamman is open to the idea that the Corrales Interior Drain, a ditch east of Corrales Road that runs from the east end of Valverde Road to south of East Meadowlark Lane, could become municipal property owned by the Village of Corrales. The ditch has largely ceased to deliver return flows from agricultural fields to the Rio Grande; in fact much of it is dry all year.
A committee appointed by Mayor Jo Anne Roake is developing a proposal to transform the ditch and adjacent ditch roadways into public open space. But that will happen only if and when the Village takes full ownership of the property, thus relieving the Conservancy District of liability.
“We’re always hearing about traffic problems on the ditch banks. But that is more of a Village problem, not a Conservancy District problem.
“We’re not in the park business and not in the road business, and we don’t want to be.”
If the Village sees the drain as a desirable asset, it should come to an agreement with the district to transfer ownership, Hamman suggested. He noted that the primary framework for Corrales recreational trails has long been MRGCD property. “But are we as a community going to allow the MRGCD to provide all of its open space into the future?”
He ended the interview by assuring villagers that he will continue to be a Corraleño for many years to come. “I’ll be leaving the district in really good hands. We have an excellent staff and a public service ethic that didn’t necessarily exist in the past.
Still no start-up date or timetable has been announced for construction of paths along upper Meadowlark Lane between Loma Larga and Rio Rancho. Earlier this year, Village Administrator Ron Curry predicted it might be complete by the end of 2021. But as of December 1, Corrales Public Works Director Mike Chavez reported “We are at 80 percent completion with the design,” which is being carried out by Village Engineer Steve Grollman.
In his briefing for the mayor and Village Council last July, Grollman said he had the design three-quarters finished. During that July 8 report, Grollman proposed constructing a ten-foot wide asphalt path between the subdivisions’ walls on the south side of the road and the existing eastbound driving lane. That path, for pedestrians and cyclists, would be designated for bikes headed uphill, or westward, only. Cyclists headed eastward, downhill, would be expected to use the regular driving lane along with cars and trucks.
As proposed in July, a six-inch high curb would divide the bike path from the adjacent driving lane. At each of the five roads leading into subdivisions along the south side of upper Meadowlark, Grollman said crosswalks would be painted on the trail pavement. Listening to the discussion, Curry was optimistic. “I would like to think it could be done by the end of the year,” he ventured.
In his December 1 email to Corrales Comment, Public Works Director Chavez suggested a cause for the delay. “We just closed out the final funding for the Meadowlark drainage, so we can now finish the drainage. Our engineer requests that we finish the drainage to Loma Larga before we start the trail project.
“I am working on scheduling the contractor for the Loma Larga drainage as we speak.”
A solution to stormwater run-off from the 60-foot wide road right-of-way has stymied the upper Meadowlark project for a full decade.
In 2011, Corrales got a $214,000 grant from the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) “to plan, design and construct the West Meadowlark Lane Trail.” But Village officials returned the money after stiff opposition from homeowners along the road over fears the project would bring stormwater flooding onto their property.
An opposition petition was presented to the Village Council at its April 12, 2011 meeting. The project was stopped even though it had been planned for at least three years. At an August, 2009 council meeting, a resolution was approved to design and build bike lanes and a five-foot wide compacted earth trail along upper West Meadowlark. At the time, the mayor was confident he would get the bike paths built during 2011. (See Corrales Comment series on trails, starting with Vol. XXVIII, No.18, November 7, 2009 “First Steps to Implement Village-wide Trails Plan”)
But the project for bicycle riders, pedestrians and horse riders wasn’t done in 2011, and now apparently won’t be done in 2021, even though a state grant for $243,500 was formally accepted by the Village Council at its September 28, 2021 meeting to “plan, design and construct the West Meadowlark Lane Trail.”
Planning has, in fact, been under way for more than a decade. The proposal to construct bicycle lanes or paths that would link bike lanes along Loma Larga to those in Rio Rancho has been endlessly scrutinized since 2009, and was to have been implemented at roughly the same time the roadway was realigned nearly three years ago.
On-the-ground work relocating utility lines inside the public right-of-way was completed by the end of February 2018, which included substantial earthmoving. Awarding of a contract to actually rebuild the road was to have been accomplished by then.
But another hang-up arose: getting the N.M. Department of Transportation’s concurrence with design changes to the westerly end of the proposed bike trail.
NMDOT had withheld approval for the earlier design by Corrales engineer Brad Sumrall that depended on a waiver from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The original engineering plan was rejected because the slope was too severe (both east-west and north-south) for persons in a wheelchair.
A proposed work-around also failed to materialize.
The steep slope at the top of Corrales’ part on Meadowlark Lane was recognized as a potential problem from the earliest days of planning for the trails project. That was one reason why, in the early days of community input, the equestrian path was proposed for the north side of the road (since hooves could manage the slope without difficulty.)
But as the years wore on, alignment for the horse path was switched from the north side to the south, primarily based on evolving public input. That put the multi-use trail along the north side of the road, which led to the ADA issue.
Village officials decided to move ahead with reconstructing the roadway while leaving the trails component for a later phase. As the road was being finished, Village Administrator Curry said the trails needed a start-from-scratch re-thinking, and promised a thorough public involvement effort.
But in July 2021, at the first public meeting to launch a re-start, only three members of the public attended since almost no notice was given. At that session, Grollman explained his preliminary design for a bike path and horse trail.
That was followed by another public meeting via Zoom on September 22. Again the meeting was not announced in time to be published in Corrales Comment before it was held. Meetings are also usually announced at the Village of Corrales website, http://www.corrales-nm.org.
The second time, Mayor Jo Anne Roake mentioned the Zoom meeting in her September 2021 “Mayor’s Message,” noting that “Door hanger notifications will also be hung on the doors of homes off Meadowlark, especially in the cul-de-sacs. Please spread the word.” People who live along upper Meadowlark are not the only villagers interested in potential trails for bikes, horses and those on human feet. Corraleños living throughout the village have decades-long involvement in what’s at stake in pending decisions.
(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXX, No.10, July 9, 2011 “Corrales Gives Back $160,000 for Upper Meadowlark Trail” and Vol.XXX No.16 October 8, 2011 “Upper Meadowlark Task Force Meets Mondays.” and Vol.XXXX No.1 February 20, 2021 “Corrales Returns $167,417 Meant for Meadowlark Trails.”)
The project has been amply aired in numerous public meetings for more than ten years. In 2013, a planning firm was called in to conduct a charrette to elicit optimal public input.
As stated in Corrales’ advertised “request for proposals” to build the roadway and trails, the firm winning the contract would “provide complete project design plans for the construction of pedestrian, equestrian, bicycle trails and road improvements including drainage along the upper section of West Meadowlark Road and design for traffic control options at the intersection of Loma Larga.”
In early December, the roof was being replaced on the old, one-room schoolhouse at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road. The earthen structure is being restored by John Perea who also owns the adjacent Perea’s Restaurant and Tijuana Bar. Both historic buildings are to be managed in accordance with a common site development plan. Restoration of the old schoolhouse where Corrales kids were taught from the 1870s until 1925 is to be complete before next summer.
Perea acquired the building after the 2008 death of his uncle, Bobby Perea, who lived there. For years the earthen structure at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road was all but swallowed up by dense Tree of Heaven sprouts. Adobe walls were sagging and parts of the interior were rotting away. In October, Perea said he hoped tohave a new roof and new floor before spring. “We would be very fortunate to have the electrical done and have a certificate of occupancy by next spring,” he said.
“We might even be able to have a Las Posada event in there this Christmas, even if we don’t have electrical service done by then.
“The first thing was to stabilize the building so that it didn’t fall down,” Perea said as restoration work resumed after starting about three years ago. “We’ve done a lot of cosmetic stuff and taken down all the interior walls, and taken off all the plaster that was about to fall.
“The idea is to make the restoration as much like the original as possible.”
That goes for the windows as well, although the original single-pane glass is being replaced with insulated glass. The project is being coordinated with an architect and other specialists through New Mexico MainStreet, and adobe restoration contractor Rick Catanach.
He intends to use rough-cut lumber and mud plaster as much as possible to keep the old schoolhouse’s appearance like that of a structure built in the 1870s. “We will hide the electrical service because we’ll need that for modern-day uses, and we will furnish it with period pieces. We want to bring in an old potbellied stove. The idea is for it to be like a living museum.”
Inside will be a large room —the old classroom— flanked by two small rooms on the south side. One will be a meeting space and the other an office. Corrales oldtimers used to tell of bringing chunks of coal inside the schoolhouse to burn in the stove that warmed the classroom. A future site development plan may show a common patio area between the old school and the restaurant.
Perea said the shed, or barn, at the rear of the property will be converted into restrooms and perhaps a bodega and coffee shop. “Back in the 1870s that was where the outhouse used to be, so maybe we should put up an old-fashioned outhouse door to the restrooms.”
The November 28 tribute to the man largely credited for saving the Old Church, historian Alan Minge, included little-known facts about how that was accomplished. Among Minge’s written recollections was the Corrales Historical Society’s approval for the church to be set on fire, or to be filmed as if burning, for a television production. Not long after, the Old Church did catch fire, for real, although that was thought to be caused by lightning, he recalled.
Minge was not only the driving force for saving the Old Church, he also was the primary founder of the Corrales Historical Society and Casa San Ysidro Museum across the road. He was celebrated as a visionary at the Historical Society’s event November 28 when a plaque honoring his achievements was unveiled.
Minge died at his Waterville, Kansas home May 6 of this year, having moved to his native Kansas in 1998. He was 97.
For 30 years, Minge served as chief historian for Kirtland Air Force Base, chronicling the research activities of the Air Force Special Weapons Center and the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. He was also a contract historian for several Pueblo governments documenting their land and water rights claims.
Minge was co-founder and first director of the N.M. State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe. He wrote the draft legislation creating the State’s 1959 Public Records Act that established the Records Center and Archives. He was honored with the State’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 1969.
At the tribute last month, some of his correspondence and notes about the long struggle to save the Old Church were read by the society’s Alice Glover. A second part of the event were remembrances by his long-time neighbor, Michelle Frechette.
In a July 2010 letter to the society’s then-President Glover, Minge laid out what it took to protect the structure that has become Corrales’ primary icon. “For fear a developer or worse would take over the Old San Ysidro Church property, Shirley [his wife] and I made offers to purchase it. We did not receive an answer directly until our mayor, [Barbara Tenorio Christianson, first mayor of Corrales] approached me to form an Historical Society of Corrales.
“The Village government was suggesting the society as manager of the property after the parish agreed at last to sell the Old Church to the Village.”
In the early 1970s, the Old Church had been de-sanctified by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe which owned the property. So after the new San Ysidro Catholic Church was built where it is now, the Old Church was leased to the Corrales Adobe Theater.
Minge’s narrative for Glover continued. “Once formed, the society’s immediate challenge was to come to terms with the Adobe Theater group renting the premises for theater productions during the summer.”
The society membership was prepared to pay the Village of Corrales to replace income it would lose from the theater’s rental.
As other correspondence read by Glover at the tribute demonstrates, Minge’s interest in preserving the structure began long before the Historical Society was established. The society’s archive include a January 6, 1954 letter from Minge to a priest in Bernalillo explaining his motive. “Nearly two years ago, my father and I visited you in Bernalillo with an offer to purchase the Old San Ysidro Church in Sandoval [then the name of Corrales]. At that time, you asked a number of questions regarding an equitable price and also regarding my motives.
“I felt the interview was very satisfactory for you and me, and I was sure you understood my interests were twofold: that our land bordered on those church lands and, secondly, that my wife and I have been most interested in Spanish culture and preservation of what little remains in Corrales. As our home across from the church stands in mute testimony, I am sure the parish can have no doubts as to our respect, care and interest for these things.”
In that January 1964 letter, Minge wrote that he had heard rumors that the Old Church might be sold soon to some other party. “I beg of you to consider my standing application that I be given the opportunity to purchase this property under whatever terms may be decided in the future.”
In a January 1967 letter, Minge explained how he would use the old church if he was allowed to buy it. “I should then wish to see it used by the community of Corrales as a meetings, lecture and concert hall. My utmost concern for owning it, and the concern of many who have approached me, is to prevent its being destroyed, becoming a commercial venture, or being used as a storehouse for junk.
“We have watched with growing alarm the rapid deterioration of the church building over the past few years.”
In that letter, he pointed out that his own property [now Casa San Ysidro Museum] is adjacent to the cemetery, and that he would be willing to give up some of his land for future use for the campo santo if an expansion of the cemetery was desired in the future.
But those overtures for a Minge purchase were rejected. It was only when Corrales’ first mayor suggested the Historical Society be formed as a more appropriate new owner that a way forward opened.
In his recounting of those formative developments in the July 2010 letter to Clover, the historian explained that Village government finally agreed to terminate lease of the Old Church to the Adobe Theater in 1978.
“It was about this time the Corrales Historical Society received several thousands of dollars (I am not sure of the exact amount) from a production company initiating a television series called Nakai in which a Pueblo Indian sheriff succeeds in protecting a small village and its church from developers,” Minge wrote.
He said the TV producers paid the Historical Society about $2,000 to use the Old Church for some of those scenes. “Some members were hesitant to have the company working in the plaza, particularly setting fire to Old Church. Negotiators assured us that the fire would be harmless, that creating the illusion of burning the building would cause no damage whatsoever.
“Because the series was being made on a ‘shoestring,’ the company offered $3,000 and no more. That sum, along with the story being filmed of an Indian sheriff saving the village and its church from developers, seemed heaven-sent, and the society agreed to allow the company to proceed.” He wrote that “shortly after filming Nakai, the upper attic area over the southern transept caught fire. Most of us believed lightning to be cause, but the area required replacing some timbers and considerable cleaning.”
His history of the long-running effort to save the Old Church included the effort in the 1980s to build an annex for public restrooms, a kitchen and storage for chairs and other equipment.
Thanks to The Nature Conservancy, a serious, but avoidable, mistake in managing the Corrales Bosque Preserve may be reversed by summer.
Continuity of habitat for wildlife using the riverside forest will be restored over the next decade as a result of the wetlands project underway at the mouth of the Montoyas Arroyo.
The wide, barren stretch of land between the east end of the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel and the Rio Grande is to be filled in with vegetation that will be irrigated with stormwater coming down the expansive Montoyas Arroyo watershed as well as treated effluent from one of Rio Rancho’s primary sewage treatment plants.
Fragmentation of the riverine habitat that stretches from the Alameda Bridge to Rio Rancho’s “North Beach” at the north end of the village has been a serious deterrent to Corrales’ bosque preservation goals.
The late Corrales biologist Jim Findley, who initiated the Corrales Bosque Preserve in 1980 and was asked by the Village to develop a management plan for it in 2008, warned repeatedly about recurring approved forest clearing projects that fragmented habitat. The largest of those by far was clearing for the outfall of the Jones Channel, but others such as fire breaks had an even greater cumulative effect over a wider area.
Findley, retired University of New Mexico biologist and 65-year resident of Corrales, explained every chance he got that the well-documented richness of the Village preserve’s wildlife assets was due largely to the fact that the woodlands on Corrales’ eastern edge were generally unbroken.
Maintaining the continuity and density of that habitat had been considered essential to the riverside forest’s value as a preserve until the Village’s fuelbreak proposals began getting approved in 2010.
No Corrales-specific assessment of the results of such fuelbreaks on wildlife were conducted before or after the first project was carried out more than two years ago just north of the Boy Scout Bridge.
Channels have been excavated in the Corrales Bosque Preserve between the outfall of the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel and the Rio Grande to distribute stormwater to the proposed ten-acre wetlands.
Major earthwork has been underway since early November to use not only stormwater from the vast Montoyas Arroyo watershed but also treated effluent from a Rio Rancho sewage plant on the edge of the arroyo near Highway 528.
The project is a collaboration among the Village of Corrales, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA), the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the City of Rio Rancho and The Nature Conservancy.
(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.2 March 6, 2021 “Stormwater, Treated Sewage Would Be Used for Bosque.”)
The Jones Channel has functioned as a storm drain carrying rain from Rio Rancho and Corrales into the floodplain of the river since the early 1990s. Deposited sediments over those years will be re-contoured and new earthen channels will be opened. Removal of accumulated sediment will allow bosque vegetation to connect to groundwater resources helping to sustain cottonwood trees and other plants throughout the year.
Stormwater from the Montoyas Arroyo and the Lomitas Negras Arroyo watersheds will be slowed and diverted through the proposed wetlands before emptying into the river. But an even more consistent and reliable supply of irrigation water will come from Rio Rancho’s sewage treatment plant.
That effluent would provide a perennial four to five million gallons a day.
The sewage treatment plant has operated with a discharge permit to send effluent to the river through a pipeline that runs along the flood control channel.
A grader, two front-end loaders and dump trucks worked the riverbank area between the Jones channel and the river in mid-November to create two paths for stormwater to follow on its way to the river. During major storm events when large quantities of water are pouring through the arroyo, the water would be directed more or less immediately to the river, while during lesser storms, the water would go to a more meandering, distributive channel.
Once the earthwork is completed, trees and other vegetation will be planted, probably in early spring.
Destruction of bosque habitat in 2008-10 from clearing of vegetation along the Corrales Riverside Drain (“Clear Ditch”) and east of the levee triggered intense interest in setting safeguards against future loss.
Over the summer of 2008, three different efforts were under way to bring wildlife needs into consideration when projects such as fire hazard reduction and Riverside Drain maintenance were proposed.
Two of the plans were submitted to the council September 9, 2008. One was a draft by Findley. The other which incorporated the Findley plan was developed by Anita Walsh, a strong opponent of the clear-cutting done along the Riverside Drain that spring.
A third, even more detailed, plan was produced by the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission (CBAC).
The Findley draft for a management plan was mostly in outline at that time, and was based on a vegetation classification map similar to one produced in 1984 by two biologists, V.O. Hink and R.D. Ohmart.
Findley recommended an attempt be made to “assign acceptable use categories for each vegetation type. Some types might be ‘hands off under all circumstances.’ Some might be ‘limited alteration allowable for specific purposes’ (such as wetland creation). Some might be ‘limited clearing allowable if demonstrably critical for public safety.’”
The Village’s Corrales Bosque Preserve Ordinance No. 234 states that the designated bosque is “to be protected in order to preserve its natural character for the use and enjoyment of the residents of the village in such manner as will leave it unimpaired for future use and enjoyment in its natural and protected condition.”
Villagers were dismayed at the habitat loss that occurred in the bosque and along its western perimter this past spring. (See I Vol. XXVII, No. 2, March 8, 2008 “Clear Ditch Tree Cutting Stirs Villagers’ Protest.”)
In the aftermath of the public outcry that spring over the excessive clearing that had taken place, then-Village Councillor Sayre Gerhart suggested that a wildlife habitat plan be developed for the preserve. Findley agreed to work on such a plan.
The Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) board of directors got a presentation on the Bosque Advisory Commission’s Habitat Management Plan February 13, 2012.
Bosque commissioners had sought such an opportunity for months. (See Corrales Comment’s nine-part series of articles starting Vol.XXVIII, No.7, May 23, 2009, “Bosque Preserve Habitat Plan Now Available”)
Management responsibility for the Corrales bosque had been contentious for decades. On more than one occasion, the MRGCD attorney had fired off brusque legal challenges to Village proposals affecting district property which includes irrigation and drainage ditches and basically all of the riverside forest.
Village government has never claimed ownership of the bosque which it dedicated as a nature preserve in 1986. But over the decades, MRGCD officials have concurred with Village proposals that the land be protected from abuses, that the municipality provide police and fire protection to the territory and that recreational and environmental values be enhanced.
The 2010 Habitat Management Plan, largely developed by Bosque Advisory Commission’s then-chairman, David Worledge, established what the community’s goals were for the preserve; it outlined fire protection measures and habitat improvements, and recommended restrictions on activities that would compromise those objectives.
Since its earliest years as an incorporated municipality, Corrales has maintained a desire to manage and insure protection of the woodlands along its eastern fringe. Corrales Ordinance 61, dated November 18, 1975, noted that the Village’s annexation of the bosque had approval from the MRGCD and from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
That ordinance refers to the Conservancy District’s resolution on March 11, 1975 that concured with the Village’s annexation.
But MRGCD has repeatedly asserted that Village officials have no authority to pass ordinances that apply to district property without its expressed consent. That potential conflict intensified when the Village Council passed Ordinance 234 on October 23, 1990, “preserving and protecting the Corrales Bosque Preserve; prohibiting and making unlawful certain activities in the Corrales Bosque Preserve;…”
For the most part the “Corrales Bosque Preserve Ordinance” simply outlawed activities that the Conservancy District wanted to discourage anyway, such as littering, dumping, setting of fires and unauthorized excavations, and allowed the Corrales police department to enforce those laws.
In most, if not all, cases any Village-imposed restrictions were accompanied by legal terminology that said those rules in no way constrained the MRGCD and its crews from conducting their activities.
The 1990 ordinance said, for example, that “Law enforcement officers, fire department and emergency rescue unit personnel, authorized agents and employes of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, and other authorized officers, agents and employees of the federal, state and local governments, acting within the scope of their duties, shall be exempt from the provisions of Section 6-13-2” spelling out prohibited activities.
An appraisal for the front three acres of the Gonzales tract next to Wells Fargo Bank has not been released by Village officials despite citizens’ keen interest in having it purchased for public use.
A report had been expected in October or November for the vacant three acres owned by descendants of Corrales’ founder, Juan Gonzales Bas, for possible use as a “village center” linking the Village Office complex east of Corrales Road, La Entrada Park and the library, and the 5.5-acre heritage farm extending west to the Corrales Acequia ditch bank.
Corrales Comment requested a copy of the appraisal report from Village Administrator Ron Curry November 22 but he replied Decembver 6 that it is “still under executive session protocols,” meaning for now, the appraisal is for the eyes of the mayor and council only.
Back on September 28, Curry was asked by a member of the Village Council for an update on the appraisal; he replied guardedly that those discussions had taken place in a closed session, but added he expected to be able to report to councillors within 60 to 90 days from August 6.
More than four years ago, a sustained effort began to seek acquisition of the Gonzales property for a variety of public purposes, although elected officials remained mostly lukewarm to the idea.
Finally, in May 2021, an ad hoc Heritage Park Planning Committee mounted a new push that apparently persuaded the Village Council to seek an appraisal on the parcel that has been zoned for commercial use since the 1980s.
The ad hoc committee’s May 13, 2021 proposal to the mayor and council laid out its rationale why the Village should at least move ahead with obtaining an appraisal on what it called “The Gonzales Three-Acre Property: the real estate investment for the future.”
Below are excerpts of the proposal which had drawn support from numerous civic groups and Village-appointed committees. The document was written primarily by former Village Councillor Fred Hashimoto and John Thompson, chairman of the Corrales Landmark Tree Preservation Advisory Committee, which originally advocated “establishing an arboretum of trees which would feature: open space, recreation, education (trees appropriate to Corrales; school gardens, etc.), shade, possible heritage plantings (like grapevines…; hence, a “Heritage Park.”)
The May 2021 proposal continued: “Architects and land-use planners became involved and a new paradigm evolved: Corrales owning the Gonzales three acres property as a centrally-located, potentially multi-use- — all ages and abilities— open space. Mention has been made of a Heritage Park and a Village Center, but those are only some possibilities for a central Village open space.”
In an email to Corrales Comment October 2, Hashimoto said he had been in contact with Gonzales family members who remain especially interested in selling the three acres to the Villlage of Corrales, as they had been to selling the 5.5-acre tract farther west which has been saved as farmland in perpetuity as the “Juan Gonzales Bas Heritage Farm.”
Hashimoto said the descendants would welcome working with the Village on this. “I believe that other interest in the property has been received by the family, but they still prefer that the Village ends up owning the land.
“Several years ago, when some of us met with Hector Gonzales, he clearly stated that. Although the family (many of Hector’s remaining siblings are elderly and live in another state) would like to sell the land, they have not placed it on the open market, hoping that something can be worked out with the Village.
“For the last three to four years, this has been a consideration.”
(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVI No.9 July 8, 2017 “C-Zoned for Decades, New Ideas for Gonzales Frontage.”)
Hector Gonzales died in March 2019.
The May 13 proposal made the point that the three-acre frontage next to the bank “can serve as a natural leading gateway to the Gonzales Bas 5.5-acre farmland, which, to this time, has been obscure to many Corraleños.
“The Village will own both sides of Corrales Road and have a municipal presence there visible and identifiable to people in the many thousands of cars which pass by daily.
“This private three-acre space has been used (courtesy of the Gonzales family) by Village residents during parades, festivals and rallies. Having this as a public space will ensure unencumbered Village use. The space-enhanced area could be conceived as a Village Center, which has been historically and geographically core to many municipalities, local and worldwide.”
The document quoted Corrales architect Pat McClernon explaining “With the Village owning both sides of Corrales road, this would leverage the past investments and build upon community success for all proposed activities benefiting village residents as well as our guests from outside the village.”
Another Corrales architect-planner, Ed Boles who has specialized in hist oric preservation, put it this way back in 2018: “Forward-looking acquisition of pivotal land in the center of the Village may yield both tangible and intangible benefits. In economic revitalization circles it is well known that strategic public investment, including recreational and cultural projects, can help stimulate private sector development.”
The committee’s proposal argues “This Gonzales-owned three acres is the most historic farmland in the village. It has been single-family owned since 1712. Back in those times, Juan Gonzales Bas raised sheep in corrals. Many believe that that’s how the village became named ‘Corrales.’
“If the Village desires, some of the land can be leased out to commercial business(es). Owning the property gives the Village more control over how it’s used. More than a dozen years ago, a developer proposed building a large office complex there which would have blocked the viewshed to the west. This blocking did not please P&Z chairperson Terry Brown, but given their ordinance guidelines, P&Z could not stop it. The developer developed a health problem and the complex did not materialize. However, if the Village owns the land and decides to have commercial there, it has more control over site and development plans than P&Z could have….”
“Over the last several years, the three acres, in one form or another, have been discussed at dozens of our meetings. Participants have included those from the Corrales Landmark Tree Preservation Advisory Committee, architects and members of volunteer groups such as Corrales Arts Partners, Sandoval Master Gardeners, Native Plant Society of New Mexico, Corrales Tree Stewards, Parks and Recreation.
“Once the Village owns the three acres, these organizations, in addition to Corrales Main Street and the 4-H Club, could help with planning, implementation and maintenance for the open space,” the proposal said.
“Volunteerism in the Village is a positive movement. People working together to make the village better is powerful, and benefits Corrales in more ways than just the material projects produced. The many who have worked for the three-acre concept are such volunteers.
“They have zero personal vested interests in the Village purchasing and developing the three acres except that it brightens the village’s future.
“To purchase and own the 3A is something the Village should do. It’s just some empty land now, but it can be much more. (Unfortunately, it could be much worse, and that’s just another reason why the Village should own it.)
“Currently, the Corrales Historical Society is celebrating ‘300 Years of Corrales Heritage and 50 Years of Village Incorporation.’ The three acres goes back those 300+ years. Wouldn’t it be fitting for the Village to purchase this very unique piece of Corrales heritage in the 50th year of its incorporation to solidify its standing and for the betterment of its future?”
When he proposed the purchase agreement for what is now the heritage farm at the May 13, 2008 Village Council meeting, then-Mayor Phil Gasteyer called it “the historic centerpiece for the Village of Corrales.”
But the purchase did not include the front three acres of the tract, just north of Wells Fargo Bank. That frontage was sold to developer Jack Westman who hoped to build an office complex there.
However, he was key to arranging the deal by which the Village acquired the family’s 5.5 acres to the west, adjacent to the acequia, which otherwise would have become a housing development.
“I have to give Jack Westman a lot of credit,” said Hector Gonzales. “He had a lot to do with working this agreement out. He’s the one who took the lead on it.
“He talked to the people in the Village [Office] who have the answers to what we wanted to do,” Gonzales explained. “You know, I have tried for years to get the Village to buy it, but it always seemed like they wanted to go in the opposite direction.”
He said he thought the Village should have purchased the entire tract, including the frontage slated for offices, “but I understand the Village doesn’t have a lot of money to do something like that.”
The resolution approved by the Village Council May 13, 2008 authorized the mayor to enter into a purchase agreement for the westerly 5.5 acres of the front parcel (not including the three acres zoned commercial).
The resolution also called for purchase of water rights sufficient to keep the land in cultivation. Selling price for the property was $1,256,445, and water rights cost $231,000 for a total of $1,487,445.
Funds to pay for the acquisition came from the Village’s general obligation municipal bonds approved by voters for farmland preservation in August 2004 and from grants such as those provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Land Preservation Program.
Hector Gonzales said his ancestors once owned all of what is now Corrales and Rio Rancho, holding lands as far south as the Calabacillas Arroyo and as far east as what is now Edith Boulevard, since that’s where the Rio Grande then ran. To the west, the Gonzales property went all the way to the Rio Puerco.
“My family would like to see that heritage recognized” in what happens on its remaining farmland in Corrales, he said.
Corrales’ building inspector, Joe Benney, resigned in mid-November, another departure in the position with significant turn-over in recent years.
No reason was disclosed publicly, although Corrales Comment has requested a copy of a letter or resignation if that exists. Village Administrator Ron Curry, who met with Benney regarding that departure, said in an email that Benney resigned “to take another job that pays more.”
Controversy regarding actions taken by the building inspector in recent years has centered on approvals for “casitas” which some villagers consider blatant violations of the Village’s long-standing restriction on residential density.
Manuel Pacheco had been Corrales’ building inspector for about five years, but when he left in 2018, he was replaced by Lee Brammeier who had more than 14 years of building code enforcement with the City of Rio Rancho, City of Albuquerque and other governments.
When Brammeier left, he was replaced by Benney earlier this year.
The building inspector position falls within the Planning and Zoning Department.
Early next year, the Corrales Bosque Gallery will host a month-long homage and memorial sale in honor of Mel Miller, an important figure in the Corrales arts scene, who died in 2020.
Miller, along with his wife, Arlene, was a founding member of the 28-year-old Corrales Bosque Gallery. A life-long painter and illustrator, Miller designed the logo still in use by the gallery.
After serving as a medic in WWII, Miller graduated from the Art Institute in Chicago. He worked as an illustrator, art director and painter for many years in Chicago before moving to New Mexico in the early 1990s for retirement.
He sold postcards at the gallery for $2, and gallery envelopes were often enhanced by one of his cartoons. Miller and his wife remained as active members of the gallery until each passed on. Arlene Miller died in 2005 and he followed her some 15 years later, leaving behind a large body of work that will be featured in the memorial sale.
A gallery representative calls the upcoming event “A rare opportunity to see much of Mel’s work in one space and available for sale.” With participation from Miller’s family, the event will run the entire month of January 2022. Eighty percent of the proceeds from the sales will be given to the family, and the rest to the gallery.
Corrales Bosque Gallery is located at 4685 Corrales Road, in the Mercado de Mayo. Masks are required to enter the gallery which is open daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Since before Village government’s incorporation as a municipality, community life was sustained by volunteer committees and associations, such as the Corrales Historical Society and the Corrales Volunteer Fire Department.
Some of those early civic groups have survived as nongovernmental organizations to this day while others have become official Village boards and commissions, with membership appointed by the mayor and Village Council.
Peruse the following list to see whether your own interests coincide with one or more of those boards. The Village Clerk in the Village Offices across from Wells Fargo Bank will always accept applications to be considered as vacancies arise.
The boards and commissions are: Planning and Zoning, Parks and Recreation, Bosqe Advisory Commission, Equestrian Advisory Commission, Senior Advisory Board, Library Board, Farmland Preservation and Agricultural Commission, the Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission, Tree Preservation Advisory Committee, Lodger’s Tax Board, Capital Improvements Advisory Committee, the Interior Drain Advisory Committee, Casa San Ysidro Advisory Board and the Water Issues Advisory Board.
At least two other groups have strong liaison with Village government: the Corrales Historical Society and Corrales MainStreet, Inc. Membership to those organizations is not by appointment by the mayor.
According to the Village of Corrales website December 1, current members of the boards are listed as follows, although some are probably incomplete or out of date.
By Meredith Hughes
“Now bring us some figgy pudding!” We small mob of kiddie carolers back in the day are standing in front of your door, wishing you a Merry Christmas, but making demands which become increasingly pushy. “Now bring us some figgy pudding, Now bring some out here….”
And, further, ominously, “We won’t go until we get some….”
(I do not recall getting any, period.)
What exactly was so compelling about figgy pudding? Likely it was a plum or even raisin pudding, or certainly a dried fruit pudding, rather than fig, and the song referenced above, though vaguely attributed to traditions in the West Country of England, was not pinned down and promoted until 1935 when the Bristol-based composer, conductor and organist Arthur Warrell published it as “A Merry Christmas.”
According to Kimberly Killebrew, of The Daring Gourmet, an early figgy pudding “was more of a wet, sticky, thick porridge consisting of boiled figs, water, wine, ground almonds, raisins and honey.”
Later cooks added ground meat and grains to the mix, and later still such evolved into a steamed pudding made with raisins. And brandy. Setting the completed fig-free pudding on fire was part of the fun, too, apparently.
Although… since some food historians claim figgy pudding comprised 13 ingredients, as in Christ and the 12 Apostles, and was served with a sprig of holly up top, i.e. the “crown of thorns,” this might have been construed as a tad over the top, and yet, Christmas in Christian terms denotes the birth of Jesus, rather than his demise, right? Puzzling.
Mind you, many religious traditions have made the fig their own, the most famous of which possibly is the tree in Bihar, India under which Gautama Buddha found wisdom. It’s known as the “bohdi, or enlightenment, tree.” Ficus religiosa. A cutting from this tree was carried to Sri Lanka and planted there in 288 BCE. It survives today, making it supposedly the oldest flowering plant in the world planted by humans.
And the fig tree is one of the earliest plants period, cultivated even before wheat, and possibly even the one that enticed the mythical Eve. Though the apple is often cited as that tempting offering, it cannot compare, surely, to the soft, oozing, often red inside, fig, in seductive terms. (Apples likely originated in Kazakhstan, not really the Middle East nor the Near East, both saidto be the original home of the fig.)
It’s a quick hop from the evocative fig to the fig leaf, which became the covering du jour for male genitalia during the Renaissance. (Children, avert your eyes.) Evidently the Greeks had been okay with guy displays, but covered their female equivalents. Come Christianity, however, it was “oops, we all are damned.” In some cases actual branches were used to cover painted privates, but by the era of Queen Victoria, plaster fig leaves were a booming business. The Queen’s copy of Michelangelo’s “David” was suitably fig-leafed.
Leaping ahead to 2003, Lloyd Kreitzer, known to many Corrales residents as “The Fig Man,” bought his first fig cutting in Albuquerque. He claimed, in a story by High Country News in 2014, that a month later he had 120 fig trees. And also that as a four-year-old, he loved climbing his uncle’s fig tree in Los Angeles.
Kreitzer joined the Peace Corps straight from college, and there dove into tropical agriculture, experiencing practices that enabled him to embrace the fig with some knowledge.
By now Kreitzer reckons he has tasted over 300 fig varieties, and has explored much of New Mexico in search of heritage fig and other fruit trees, including 150 year-old peach orchards in Mogollón.
According to Kreitzer, “ripe figs were for the rich in Europe, dried figs were for the poor.” The fig likely reached Mexico after a lengthy and arduous journey from Spain most likely via the Azores. Saplings would have been packed in boxes and as space allowed, gained spot on ships bound for Mexico, a two and a half month voyage.
These ships were chronically crowded with families and export goods, with shortages of water, yet somehow the fig trees were kept alive until they reached eastern Mexico ports. Thereafter they were transported on ox-drawn carts to Mexico City, a two and half week journey. The ox cart people were mainly concerned with the well being of their ox, first, then their carts, and then the cargo, so it appears that “respect for fig trees helped some arrive safely in Mexico City by 1535.” And from there later reached New Mexico.
Numerous immigrant groups over many generations brought figs with them to New Mexico. Kreitzer relates that in Silver City, in the Chihuahua Hills neighborhood, crypto-Jews planted figs in their front yards to signal that there were Jews living there.
Wherever a walled compound had two connecting walls, a micro-climate was created, and such has been a perfect spot for a fig, especially facing south, at least before the hard-hitting summers of climate change.
Los Poblanos: Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Los Ranchos has had decent success with its fig trees, one of which is said to be over 100 years old.
The Alvarado Hotel, built in Albuquerque in 1901, was the crown jewel of Harvey House hotels serving the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. It was home to numerous fig trees, and the garden manager invited local ranch kids to pick and eat the fruit.
Before The Alvarado was demolished in 1970, cuttings were made of the trees, and “The Fig Man” obtained cuttings of the cuttings. (Figs apparently grow easily from seeds, and from cuttings.) That meant Corrales’ Sandy Gold was able to buy one for her greenhouse about 10 years ago.
“He charged me way too much for it, in a one-gallon pot,” said Gold recently, “About $60.” Repotted into a much larger pot, the fig eventually exploded into the ground, its roots reaching hither and thither, and the tree continues to produce luscious fruit.
Exploding roots in Gold’s greenhouse, built by the Texas Greenhouse Company in about 2003, are not unusual. “Roots seek out other roots,” asserts Gold, whose affinity for encouraging plant life is well known locally.
So Gold’s fig from “The Fig Man” lived, but one in Jane Butel’s possession did not. “Lloyd's tree that was given to me died, though I have a friend with a huge fig tree.”
Southwest cooking guru and author Butel had no figgy pudding recipe but said “I love figs. One of my favorites is fig jam, made with some lemon juice, a bit of rind and fresh lavender. Actually, I make it several ways and it is heavenly on freshly baked cheddar-green chile biscuits.”
So, no figgy pudding from Butel. Maybe no one especially likes it?
My late mom’s fave cookie, the Fig Newton, which the rest of us deeply disliked, was first produced in 1891, and was named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts. The product thrived until joined by other “fruit-filled” biscuits in the 1980s, and was renamed in 2012. Henceforth it and they are known as Newtons.
Still don’t give a fig? Apparently that disparaging comment derives from the Spanish “fico,” or fig, which gave its name to a traditional gesture of contempt made by placing the thumb between the first and second fingers. The gesture was said to be common in Shakespeare's time and was known as “The Fig of Spain.” But why?
The fig — beloved, rude, feared, disliked—what a food!
Herewith, Jane Butel’s fig jam recipe:
Fig/Candied Ginger/Lemon Jam
I have always loved to make jam or preserves. With figs being so sweet, I have varied my basic favorite jam to the following proportions. You do not need to use pectin if you combine some unripe fruit pieces with the riper fruit. This is great for windfalls where you have to cut the bruised portions off.
Fundamentally you use ¾ cup sugar to each 1 cup of chopped fresh fruit. So you can make any sized quantity. If fruit is very sweet, you can cut back a bit on the sugar and add lemon juice —usually about 1 teaspoon lemon juice per cup of fruit or to taste.
Yield: 10, 8 ounce jars of jam
10 cups quartered fresh figs
¼ cup candied ginger, finely minced
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (need at least 2 Tablespoons juice)
6 cups sugar
See http://www.janebutelcooking.com All recipes are reprinted with permission from Jane Butel’s publishers.
“The fig is the edible fruit of Ficus carica, a species of small tree in the flowering plant family Moraceae. Native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, it has been cultivated since ancient times and is now widely grown throughout the world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant. Ficus carica is the type species of the genus Ficus, containing over 800 tropical and subtropical plant species.
A fig plant is a small deciduous tree or large shrub growing up to 7–10 metres (23–33 ft) tall, with smooth white bark. Its large leaves have three to five deep lobes. Its fruit (botanically an infructescence, a type of multiple fruit) is tear-shaped, 3–5 centimetres (1.2–2.0 in) long, with a green skin that may ripen toward purple or brown, and sweet soft reddish flesh containing numerous crunchy seeds. The milky sap of the green parts is an irritant to human skin. In the Northern Hemisphere, fresh figs are in season from late summer to early autumn. They tolerate moderate seasonal frost and can be grown even in hot-summer continental climates.”
And from Wikipedia:
Also see The Fig Man http://www.landofenfigment.com/
“There is a special job about being with figs because they are so ancient and so patient. They will be the last plant to leaf or fig in the spring. So do not be surprised if a month or two or five passes and then suddenly they leaf out.” Lloyd Kreitzer, The Fig Man
Have any ideas to address speeding in your neighborhood? Traffic congestion along Corrales Road? Trails and bike paths? Marijuana farms? Are you willing to work on those issues and others with the mayor and Village Council? If so, consider running for office in municipal elections coming up in early March. Deadline for declaring your candidacy is Tuesday, January 4. Positions will be open for mayor and Village Council Districts 1, 3 and 4.
You can pick up a candidate packet at the Village Office to learn what’s involved. If you can’t get to the Village Office January 4, you can run as a write-in candidate if you file the paperwork on January 11. Village Clerk Melanie Romero will accept a declaration of candidacy between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on those days, January 4 and January 11. Three seats on the six-member Village Council are available, now held by Kevin Lucero representing Council District 1 in northwestern Corrales; Mel Knight in District 3 in the central part of the village west of Corrales Road; and Tyson Parker representing District 4 for neighborhoods north and south of upper Meadowlark Lane.
See the council district map published in the December 4 issue of the Comment, or at the Village of Corrales website, http://www.corrales -nm.org.
Terms are not expiring for the other three members of the Village Council: Bill Woldman in District 2; Zach Burkett in District 5; and Stu Murray in District 6. Their terms end in March 2024, as does that for Municipal Judge Michelle Frechette.
None of the incumbents has publicly stated whether he or she intends to seek re-election.
Although relatively new to the council, Parker’s term ends in March because he is filling out the term for former-Councillor Dave Dornburg, who resigned. Incidently, Dornburg had filled the term of John Alsobrook who also resigned, in 2016.
The municipal election will be held March 1. Early voting will start with the Village Clerk in the Village Office February 1, when requested absentee ballots will also go out.
Whoever is elected in March, major decisions likely will be needed for the following questions:
Three Sandoval County commissioners made a decision last week to dramatically alter the voting power of many Sandoval County residents, especially those who live in Corrales. The meeting held on December 9 was a follow-up to one held on November 18, when the commissioners presented potential redistricting maps to the public. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.20 December 4, 2021 “Gerrymandering: Is Corrales Voting Strength at Risk?”)
Former Republican Senator Rod Adair, whose business was contracted by Commissioner David Heil and Wayne Johnson, the County Manager, presented four maps he had drawn, and a private citizen, Isaac Chavez, presented one. Public support for what came to be known as “the Chavez Plan” was overwhelming at the meeting and in the comments on the county website.
Chairman Commissioner Heil found minor flaws in Chavez’s plan that according to him, made it obsolete. Many Sandoval County residents, as well as Commissioner Katherine Bruch, saw flaws in Adair’s plans as well. After this meeting, Chavez teamed up with Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald to visit with tribal leaders in the county, trying to quickly determine what should happen to make “the Chavez Plan,” now called “the Eichwald Plan,” better serve their needs.
Both Adair and Chavez made alterations to their plans, and brought these to the December meeting.
After almost three hours of public comment largely begging the commissioners to either delay making a decision or to move forward with the adoption of “the Eichwald Plan,” the three Republican commissioners who sit on the Sandoval County Commission decided to ignore the input of so many of their constituents and approve a map that may well be deemed illegal in the coming months or years.
To the surprise of many attending the meeting, Commissioner Jay Block not only rejected “the Eichwald Plan,” but also the altered Adair plan. And instead made a motion to approve one of the plans from the November 18 meeting. Quickly, Commissioner Heil seconded this motion. A vote ensued in which the commissioners voted along party lines.The new Sandoval County district map, uproots Corrales from its current district and places it with Bernalillo and Placitas.
It was revealed at the meeting that Adair’s hiring is particularly contentious and may open the door for litigious action to be taken against the commission. His contract, though over $10,000, is under the $60,000 limit that requires the approval of the full commission. Also, before his hiring, Adair stated that he would get input from local and tribal leaders before drawing his maps. At least one leader, Corrales’ own Mayor Jo Anne Roake, was not consulted.
Former Sandoval County Commissioner Donnie Leonard was involved in the last two Sandoval County redistricting efforts.
Leonard weighed in on the contentious decision made at the meeting, saying, “It’s my understanding that Native Americans are for sure going to sue.”
He went on to say, “In the past we tried to give all groups in the county fair representation. This time, that did not happen.”
Commissioners David Heil, Michael Meek and especially Commissioner Block, whose district includes Corrales, may be remembered for exposing Sandoval County government to expensive litigation, as well as for disregarding input from the county’s tribal leaders.
While perhaps ensuring a Republican majority on the Sandoval County Commission well into the future, the body is supposed to represent an overwhelmingly majority-Democratic population, so some of the commissioners may have put their own political futures in jeopardy.
As Block summarized, in perhaps his most candid moment of the evening, “You should never trust the government.”
On December 14, at their final meeting of the year, the Corrales Village Council scheduled crucial votes for a special session January 4 on possible new regulations on growing marijuana commercially. As a framework for their discussion, it is helpful to look to Corrales’ southern neighbors who are facing similar challenges, and are a few steps ahead. The Village of Los Ranchos has passed an ordinance that seems to reflect the views of villagers while also attempting to adhere to the rulings set forth in the 178-page House Bill 2, the New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act (NMCRA).
Like Corrales, Los Ranchos originally adopted an ordinance outlawing the growing of cannabis within their village. Ordinance No. 273, which prohibited “the cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of cannabis and cannabis-derived products in the Village,” was adopted in March of 2021. After New Mexico passed its Cannabis Regulation Act, the governing body of Los Ranchos, called the board of trustees, began collecting and hearing data from residents, as well as legal and cannabis experts in August of this year.
According to Tiffany Justice, planning and zoning director in Los Ranchos, “The discussion was how can we abide by the CRA and still provide protection for Los Ranchos residents, since most of our zoning is agricultural/residential.” State Senate District 10 (Los Ranchos) Senator Katy Duhigg, who helped write the NMCRA, was present at the Board of Trustees meeting on October 6, along with Los Ranchos Attorney Nann Winter. Corrales Attorney Randy Autio was on the agenda for this meeting, but was not in attendance.
At this meeting, after Attorney Winter made a thorough presentation explaining the NMCRA, Director of Planning and Zoning Justice gave the trustees three options reflecting varying levels of regulation, from total prohibition of cannabis to total, if regulated, allowance. The board preferred the middle option, and after another month of tweaking, Ordinance 282 was finalized, then adopted on November 10, which repealed Ordinance 273.
This ordinance states that in all agricultural/residential areas of Los Ranchos, “The cultivation, intentional growth, manufacture, and distribution of cannabis and cannabis products, except for homegrown or homemade cannabis, are prohibited.” It is only in the Los Ranchos commercial/retail zone that cannabis may be cultivated, manufactured or sold, with many qualifications and limits. The Village Center Zone is exempt from this allowance and cannabis is prohibited there as well as in the agricultural/commercial zone.
Corrales councillors who fear lawsuits from the State could be emboldened by Los Ranchos’ actions, and perhaps take courage. As Los Ranchos resident Mel Eaves said at one of the board meetings, “If the Village has to protect villagers against the State… then the Village ought to do that.”
Glasgow, Scotland November 2021
High anxiety accompanied planning for a trip to Scotland for the United Nations climate conference, but not for fear of catching COVID-19 at what had all the makings of a coronavirus super-spreader event.
Rather, it was doubt that my COVID test results would be reported back from the lab in time to be allowed on the trans-Atlantic flight.
Testing protocol demanded that I do the nasal swab for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no earlier than 72 hours before the flight, so there was a narrow window to get a negative result back. What if I tested positive for the coronavirus, or the report was a false positive? Or inconclusive? Or if the test report came in a half-hour after take-off?
With very little in the world seeming to function these days —from internet service and macro-economics to my trusty ballpoint pen and my troubled office supply store— I had little faith that my COVID test result would come back in time.
Twenty-four hours passed with no report. Forty-eight, and still no result. Would I be making the trip or not? It had been planned for at least six months, but a modicum of inefficiency at the last moment could crash everything.
Growing desperate, I put my packing aside to head out in search of the quicker but less persuasive antigen test even though it probably would not be accepted by the airline when I checked in. A Walgreens pharmacist in Rio Rancho said what I was looking for was the BinaxNow kit… but they were sold out and did not expect more for some time.
With little hope, I tried the CVS Pharmacy across the street. Success! So the night before my flight, I rushed home to take the self-test, and while I was opening the package, my cell phone buzzed. Results for the original PCR were in and negative. I resumed packing, remembering to include those results.
Enormous relief… not that I was COVID-free but that the results had flown in through that narrow window.
Finally onboard and in the air, headed from Dallas to London, I was surprised to find I had a row of seats all to myself, so I had mininal concerns about breathing coronavirus from fellow passengers.
Further COVID protocols in the United Kingdom required that I take another test before heading to Glasgow’s Scottish Event Centre where the UN meeting, COP-26, was getting under way. A welcome packet distributed by the UN secretariat to accredited news media included a Brisish version of the BinaxNow test… which had to be self-administered and reported via internet every day before admission to the conference center’s “Blue Zone” reserved for national government delegations, news media and invited or approved guests such as Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Al Gore.
What if I had caught COVID on the plane, or in an airport, or in one of the long lines just trying to show a test result, or waiting to go through tight security? If positive, I was supposed to quarantine for 10 days, basically the remainder of COP-26.
On the second day in Glasgow, I was required to self-administer another PCR test and find a way to get it to a lab where it would be analyzed. Again, a narrow window to get the test to a lab and get results back in time to be admitted to the Blue Zone. But again, it worked, just barely.
So every morning for the next 10 days, I swabbed my nostrils, dipped the results in a chemical and waited for results to show before emailing the proof that I was coronavirus free. At the first of several security gates outside the conference center, I had to call up that day’s antigen test results on my cell phone to show a guard.
And so it went day after day, before mingling with tens of thousands of people from all over the world, including those from countries where public health safeguards were rudimentary and even grossly inadequate.
Face masks were required everywhere, except when participants were eating, of course. Long lines prevailed at the mostly cafeteria-style eateries inside the conference center. People sat nearly cheek-to-jowl, to have meals in vast dining areas where no one enforced social distancing, and members of national delegations typically clustered maskless to compare notes or devise negotiating strategies.
To my knowledge, no one attending COP-26 came down with COVID, but I’m not sure that would have been widely publicized if it had happened.
As I prepared to leave Glasgow and return to Corrales, one last COVID-related anxiety lay ahead. I had to take another PCR test no earlier than 72 hours before the flight home.
But nothing had been arranged by the UN secretariat to accommodate that required testing, and no guidance was provided at the conference’s information desks. Finally I was told a pre-departure test could be given at an office just outside the event center’s main entrance. That turned out not to be true: a security guard there notified me the site was for people who suspected they might have come down with COVID. I left quickly.
A Google search eventually led to an unlikely storefront in the center of Glasgow where massages and other bodywork were carried out. Still, a reassuring attendant said I had come to the right place. After a short wait, he led me and two other people downstairs to a more clinical setting.
After payment of a steep fee and submitting to an inside-the-cheek swab, I was assured that test results would be emailed to me in time to catch the flight home. Again, just in the nick of time, a negative result did come in.
After a grueling journey home followed by persistent jet lag, I continued to test negative for COVID-19 over the next two weeks.
By Steve Komadina
Where To Next?
As November draws to a close and the holidays will whisk December aside in a flurry, we ask what is next for our little horse world of Corrales. As many of us age we are amazed at the speed with which each day and week and month slides by.
Wasn’t it just yesterday we were worrying about Y2K?
Just as every day seems the same in Corrales, it has many subtle and not so subtle changes taking place continually. I often wonder what the village will be like when my great-grandchildren live here as parents. That granddaughter who rode her pony at the farm in the 90s is now the mother of two children! The circle of life continues with the gold in the cotton woods and the return of the sandhill cranes and geese each year. The river rises and falls with the whim of El Niño and raptors look for their lunch along the bosque.
An intriguing question is whether the land is stronger than the people in Corrales?
How long would it take nature to retake the village were we to disappear? When would all evidence of our existence be gone?
Most are aware that there was a bustling civilization in our village prior to the “discovery” by Coronado. Pot sherds can still be found as reminders when fields are turned, or a new foundation dug. What would be left in 100, 200, 500, 1,000 years if we all were wiped out by biological warfare agents?
I see patients daily recovering from COVID. Last week, a doctor I had employed to join me February 1, died of COVID after a mild disease of a few days. Mark was healthy, vaccinated, young, and with no co-morbidities. What is this crazy virus?
I am given to much reflection as to the nature of our “civilization.”
I have traveled the world and visited many ancient sites and have wondered who they were and what caused them to disappear. Tiahuanaco in Bolivia, primitive cave art in Torres del Paine in the Chilean Patagonia, Egypt, Turkey, the Temples of India and Nepal, Central American ruins, Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, the home of australopithecine, and even our own Chaco Canyon.
Are we on the brink of another mass kill off of the human race? Will Corrales have a future beyond the memory of my offspring?
Lots of weighty questions for the end of the year.
I do know that man is the most dangerous of the animals and to be feared the most. The evils of government are testified in history. Time for each of us to reflect on how we can do our small part to make the world and Corrales a wonderful place to live and even die.
Here is my prayer for each to have a joyous December and then resolve to not let the governments of the world destroy us in 2022.
By Meredith Hughes
Anticipating rummaging through the bins of free pine branches removed from Christmas trees at Lowes! (The mantle is empty.) And, Ace Hardware began playing Christmas carols before Thanksgiving, but now, okay, anything goes.
Do visit the websites of your favorite museums, galleries and organizations to check opening times and any new regulations. Published the first issue of the month, What’s On? invites suggestions one week before the publication date. email@example.com
Did You Know?
COVID protocols have deeply affected Music in Corrales, which announced it has “significantly limited ticket sales to allow audience members to distance themselves from each other. Ticket sales for all indoor concerts are currently suspended.” This new plan begins with the December 11 performance by Crys Matthews, blues singer/songwriter, at 7:30 p.m., and runs through the last concert of the season with NOVA Guitar Duo, scheduled for April 23.
President Lance Osier posted that “If at some point we can safely increase the seating, we will re-open ticket sales, so please check back periodically for availability.”
“Proof of full vaccination against Covid, or proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours prior to the concert will be required for admission. And masks must be worn at all times while within the Old Church.
“If you have purchased tickets to any Music in Corrales concert scheduled for the Old Church and cannot comply with these requirements, please notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will refund the cost of your tickets.”
The Village seeks to improve the viewing experience on Corrales Road by implementing a fence/wall restriction. Proponents cite to Los Ranchos as a model. But, setting a height restriction was only a part of Los Ranchos’ solution to traffic and beautification.
First they took over control of Rio Rancho Boulevard from the State and reduced the speed limit to 25 miles per hour for its entire length. Then they had strict enforcement. This got rid of the folks who used that road for rush hour. Even though the lower speed limit did not significantly increase the time to get to work, it acted as a psychological barrier to many drivers (plus all the tickets people got).
Next they put in three stop sign intersections.This effectively broke up the long chains of cars preventing residents from getting onto or crossing over Rio Grande.These stops created gaps in the traffic allowing for safe egress, and again it discouraged those who simply wanted a quick route to work.
Then they had their height restriction on fences to encourage the scenic pleasure of driving in that village.
Today, Corrales Road is clogged with cars, after cars after cars during the rush hours in particular. They are not from here. Our village populaion hardly grew since the 2010 census. They are from Rio Rancho seeking a better way to and from work.They are not stopping to shop. There is such a crush it is hard for anyone to enter, slow down or park to view or visit our businesses.
So I suggest taking over the road. Setting the speed limit at 25 mph for the entire length. Insure a traffic enforcement every day at least for one or the other rush hours including some blitzes with multiple police cars. At least for a year. (That will also allow the Village police to stop, ticket and redirect over-five-ton trucks which constantly travel through the village, often as a shortcut to the Sandoval County land fill).
Next put in three-way stop signs at Camino Todos Los Santos and Corrales Road. This will allow people to have an exit from and onto Loma Larga at Corrales Road, which is now hazardous, difficult and discouraging. This will allow Loma Larga as intended to be the handy bypass around the village center.
Next put in another three-way stop at Target Road next to the elementary school. This will not only make it safer but also slow traffic and create gaps allowing people to stop and shop. Next put in another three-way stop at the corner of Jones Road and Corrales Road allowing safer turning into and from our recreation center.
Do not put a four-way stop at West Meadowlark and Corrales Road.
During rush hour, commuters speed as much as 70 mph on this straight road to and from Rio Rancho. They do not stop to shop. It is just a speeders delight on their way to and from work. These speeders are a serious danger for man and beast. Already this year an endangered great horned owl was killed by a speeder on lower West Meadowlark. These were recently introduced and now their few examples is one less. Rather, since the police cannot both enforce Corrales Road and Meadowlark all the time, put in a speed camera with ticketing like Rio Rancho does.
Many folks would be happy to allow it on their property off to the side of the road. Without enforcement on West Meadowlark, the improvements on Corrales Road will just create a new mess and danger on West Meadowlark. Remember, Meadowlark is designated a bike route with no room for a bike lane. Kids use it to and from school. Addressing all the problems at once will be the smart solution to an ever increasing problem.
A recent letter to the editor prompted me to write. Rather than respond directly and thus add fuel to an untenable situation, I suggest that any resident interested in the development and improvement of the village take a good look at the opportunities available to participate in the decision-making processes.
The Village is celebrating its 50th birthday. Over that time many good people have served the community, some elected to represent the interests of the community in developing the rules and laws in the master plan, municipal code, and ordinances. Others have volunteered to participate in various boards and commissions to assist in the smooth running of the village, such as the Library Board, the Bosque Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission, and, keep in mind, these folks are not paid for their service.
Still others have created non-profit groups to protect and promote this little village, again, with no thought of being compensated for their service.
Finally, there is a small support staff who, while paid for their service, are nevertheless dedicated to the village, and doing the best they can to facilitate the smooth running of day-to-day operations and emergency services. I am certainly not the only person who has given their time, talents and treasures to this village, but I am proud to have served in a variety of capacities over the years.
Since the recent letter was specific to the Planning and Zoning Commission, it is important to note these folks are volunteers; they rely on the rules and laws of the Village as well as the interpretations of the various attorneys who have served the Village. Sometimes they interpret things incorrectly albeit with the best of intentions.
These volunteers do the best they can with the information available to them at the time. When I served on the P&Z Commission, I was surprised to learn that the Village rarely grants waivers, but in reality, a waiver granted for a particular proposal is a sure way to document why a change was made contrary to an ordinance.
A new commissioner may propose an alternative during the open meeting without the full understanding of the process, which is why the more senior members may need to point out the rules, or the attorney or administrator will provide information to explain why an alternative isn’t an option. Commission terms are staggered for this reason. Then there is the issue of changing the rules. The council is responsible for making the rules, not the staff or the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Over the years, the Village has struggled with funding itself, yet there has been huge resistance to retail business in the village. New business ventures have popped up that require a review, such as the very popular Airbnb industry. Here is an example of having to create rules and ordinances, which initially created an opportunity to generate gross receipts on a small enterprise of renting an already existing bedroom in your own empty nest home.
Several residents were able to successfully apply for and receive a business license for this, but now the rules have changed, stalling potential income to the village. With an Airbnb, the density doesn’t change as those rooms already exist, so if it’s good enough for some, why is it not now available to others?
Unless you attend the council meetings or read the published documents on the website, you don’t know what goes into these decisions. Look at the variety of topics that never seem to get to a resolution, such as the consideration of casitas in the village, or retirement living for seniors who have spent their lives in service to the community and now can’t care for their large property but want to stay in the village?
I guess what I am saying is this: if you don’t like what you perceive is happening with the direction of the Village, contact your council person, have frank discussions on how to facilitate change. Attend council meetings and get to know all the council members and the mayor. Volunteer for one of the boards or commissions.
Or better yet, if you want to effect change, run for mayor or for one of the open council positions. These are the people who develop and uphold the rules and laws that govern the community. Districts 1, 3 and 4 are open for the upcoming election as is the mayor’s seat.
To Corrales Village Council:
We, the undersigned, are leadership members of a grassroots political organization (Sandoval County Indivisible) that started in Corrales and now represents all of Sandoval County. All of the undersigned live in Corrales. Although none of us have strong personal opinions about cannabis cultivation in Corrales, nor do we have any financial interest in cannabis, we did all support the passing of the existing state law legalizing recreational cannabis production and consumption in New Mexico.
We are writing to you because we are currently concerned that a vocal minority of Corrales residents, for a variety of reasons, is trying to push the Village Council to do something that it does not have the legal authority to do, and that in doing so the council may be putting the Village and its citizens in jeopardy to pay monetary damages in the future.
Our understanding is that some people in the village are lobbying to have very extensive regulations of cannabis cultivation, and they essentially want the Village government to ban commercial cannabis cultivation in the village. Some people are clearly very worked up about this, and a petition is being passed around.
We have personally talked to a number of village residents and attorneys about this, including our State Representative, Daymon Ely, and we are convinced that, though the Village can write a legal ordinance regulating the cultivation of cannabis around the topics of time, place, and manner of the work of cultivation, the Village cannot ban commercial cannabis, and under state law it must be treated like any other agricultural product (alfalfa, green chile, squash, etc.).
Some of our fellow citizens do not seem to like that answer and want the Village to defy state law, but that is a fool’s game. We have been told by people we trust that if Corrales pursues this regulatory effort, the Village will likely get sued, will likely lose, and will likely be on the hook for not insubstantial monetary damages.
As usual, when the political outrage machine gets worked up, truth and facts often go out the window. If one thinks that cannabis is an “evil” product, then any justification to ban it is legitimate, even if the stated justification is hyperbole or an outright lie. Some examples: cannabis cultivation is an “ultra” consumer of water. Somehow we don’t ever hear that accusation thrown around to pecan farmers who use almost one gallon of water to produce one pecan. On the contrary, between five and 50 doses of marijuana can be cultivated using one gallon of water.
Then there is the issue of the smell, and cannabis certainly has a “skunky” odor at times during processing (and which, by the way, can and should be regulated and controlled). That said, we don’t talk about banning horses in Corrales, but we sure hear a lot of our neighbors and friends complaining about the smell of manure and the flies that come with having horses living next to you. We also don’t talk about ridding our Village of actual skunks which are quite prevalent and certainly pungent.
For the reasons above, we, the undersigned do not support the petition drive to ban or strictly regulate cannabis cultivation in the Village.
Bert Coxe in Council District 4
Gary Sims in Council District 1
Terry Eisenbart in Council District 3
Nandini Kuehn in Council District 6
By Bert Coxe
Sneaky Shenanigans in Sandoval County
One of my core beliefs is that bad things happen when nobody is looking.
Right now bad things are about to happen in Sandoval County, the fourth largest county in New Mexico. While the rest of us are worried about COVID, Thanksgiving, Build Back Better, and redistricting at the state and national level, the Sandoval County Commission is trying to work quietly and without fanfare to gerrymander the county’s commission districts for a permanent Republican majority.
Sandoval County is generally assumed by politicos to be “purple.” In the 2020 presidential election, 55 percent went for Joe Biden, but more often votes are closer to a 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats. The current County Commission is divided between three Republican and two Democratic commissioners.
Districts 1 and 5 tend Democratic. Districts 3 and 4 are usually solidly Republican. District 2 has been a swing district in the past, although in the past two election cycles it has been won by the Trump enthusiast and current Republican candidate for governor, Jay Block. Until last week, I had never given a thought to redistricting county commission districts. I am pretty sure that 99+ percent of Americans are in the same boat.
Then someone pointed out to me what was going on in the commission. The Sandoval Commission had hired a “demographic consulting company” run/owned by former GOP State Senator Rod Adair, to come up with potential plans to redistrict the county. The core strategy behind Adair’s plans is to “pack” all Democratic voters into two districts and Republican voters into the other three. He does this by ignoring many of the rules that govern redistricting: keeping districts geographically compact, minimizing the number of split political subdivisions, preserving the cores of previous districts and protecting and taking into account the concerns of like-minded communities within whole districts without splitting them between districts.
His main strategy is to tear the Village of Corrales, whole or in part, out of the very compact District 2 and attach it to Placitas, across the Rio Grande, 20 miles away. His other strategy is to “pack” the widely-dispersed Native American population (seven Indian pueblos and all or portions of six tribal entities/lands) into one giant district over 3,000 square miles in area.
Adair claims he did this to protect the voting power of “Indians” (his words.) Somehow he forgot to ask any of the Native American communities what they actually wanted and whether this proposal was acceptable to the majority of them. (Judging by the Native turnout at last night’s meeting, it is not.) Finally, he massacres the small town of Bernalillo and divides it into as many as three different commission districts.
Apparently the commission, especially Chairman David Heil, thought it could sneak this through without anybody looking. The plans were set to be presented at the Sandoval County Commission meeting on November 18, but when Chairman Heil found out that local Democratic, Native American, other grassroots groups, and individual concerned citizens were planning on attending the meeting, he sent out a hyperbolic plea to local Republicans to fight back, tarring Commissioner Kathy Bruch in the process.
Per the email sent out to Sandoval Republicans, “The Bruch plan is being presented as the fair plan however only a far left Democrat could be so delusional that they can think the plan is fair to anyone but themselves.” By the way, there is no “Bruch plan”. There was another plan, presented by a local citizen, Isaac Chavez, that followed all of the redistricting principles and that Commissioner Bruch had nothing to do with.
In last night’s meeting, Chairman Heil spent 15 minutes cross-examining Chavez like Johnny Cochran defending O.J. Simpson. Although no voting has yet happened, it is apparent that the Republican commissioners (David Heil, Jay Block and Michael Meek) are resolved to ram through these egregious gerrymanders. Commissioner Block’s statement at the end of the meeting’s public comment period was “elections have consequences,” which I interpreted to mean, “we really don’t give a hoot what all of you whiners have to say… we are doing it our way.”
By Steve Gutierrez
Cannabis ventures in Corrales
Once again, Corrales finds itself in the middle of furious activity related to the cannabis industry. Why is Corrales such a target for growers? Primarily, because we are mostly zoned A-1 and A-2 (as opposed to most communities being R-1), which are not protected by the NM Cannabis Regulation Act. In recent weeks, about a dozen applicants have approached the village to provide them with approval to grow in Corrales, which until recently was protected against this activity by Ordinance 18-002. I was previously involved with an attempt for a cannabis operation to setup next to my home and with the help of others and the Village Council a carefully worded ordinance 18-002 was presented and approved in 2018 which disallowed the growth of cannabis in our residential areas (A-1, A-2, H-1). However, with the large influx of applicants for recreational growth of cannabis, and the threat that ordinance 18-002 violated the Cannabis Regulation Act, the administration and council, likely out of fear of being sued, hastily passed an amendment to the existing ordinance eliminating the protections against the growth of Cannabis in our residential areas.
In a recent publication of the Corrales Comment, the administration was spinning their actions to better protect the village. I found this disingenuous as further action is only necessary because they recently eliminated the protections offered by Ordinance 18-002. I presented to the administration and council the following information at a recent council meeting.
I have a close associate who has been heavily involved with the Cannabis Regulation Act and had them review ordinance 18-002 for compliance. Today, I want to share with you the results of their opinion and the provisions from the Regulation Act that highlight that the old 18-002 ordinance was in fact in compliance with the act. The following is their opinion, and I quote “The Village of Corrales has the authority to prohibit the production of cannabis in certain zones so long as there are other zoning categories in which the production of cannabis is allowed, which is what the Village did when it adopted Ordinance 18-002. Sec. 12 of the Act states that a local jurisdiction may “adopt time, place and manner rules that do not conflict with the Cannabis Regulation Act or the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act, including rules that reasonably limit density of licenses and operating time consistent with neighborhood uses.” The ordinance prevents the production of cannabis (and the sale of the cannabis produced on site) in certain areas of the Village; however, it expressly states that it does not “impose any new regulations or requirements relating to facilities in zones other than the A-1, A-2, and H zones of the Village, leaving any regulation related to cannabis and cannabis-derived products in those areas for future consideration.” I believe prohibiting the production in certain zoning categories is allowed by the act, so long as there are other zones where production is allowed. The act does state that a “local jurisdiction cannot completely prohibit the operation of a licensee.”
So, as specified in the ct, a local jurisdiction has many methods available to them to adopt rules governing the production of cannabis. They can restrict allowable locations, limit the density of licenses and/or operating times consistent with neighborhood uses. This gives local authorities a wide range of ways to be in compliance with the act.
I would request that the mayor and council approve the action to further amend Ordinance 18-002.
Time is becoming critical as the state law for recreational growth becomes active on January 2022. If the administration and council does not take further action before that date, there is no recourse to stop the issuance of permits to recreational growers of cannabis. We have attempted without success to get this topic before the council meeting to at least place a moratorium in place until this gets further resolved. Realistically, there is only one council meeting left available to us to get some protections in place for all residents of the village.
If we do nothing, with the current amendments in place, let me give you an example of how this could be exploited. The village has spent a significant amount of expense and effort in acquiring farmland to preserve the lifestyle of Corrales. However, everyone one of those preserved properties could now be used for the intensive activity of cannabis growth. So, instead of having preserved lands from housing developments, we now will have greenhouses larger than any home that could have ever been built, operating night and day. So instead of driving through Corrales viewing large open protected areas, we instead will have row upon row of greenhouses while driving down our streets all of them easily visible day and night with their hot air balloon-like glow associated with their 24-hour lighting requirements.
Lastly, when the previous discussion came up on cannabis growth in the village, the state limited permits to 450 plants per license and the report I presented was based upon that level of production. Today, that number has increased nearly 10-fold to 4,000 plants. The operations potentially arriving here are ten times more intensive and, in my view, should be viewed more as industrial farming activities and governed as such. There is huge money involved for growers and sellers of cannabis, and as such there is tremendous pressure being placed on communities like ours to force their way into our lives. I would strongly recommend that we take our time to carefully understand the requirements of the act, the impact it will have on the village and the people that live here. Know that we are not alone. Many communities throughout the state are equally being bombarded by strongly worded ultimatums by the cannabis industry. It would be in our best interest to take the time to understand how other communities are facing this pressure before hastily trying to accommodate this industry.
With some 12 applicants already in line for permits, this is no longer a possibility but a reality. If something is not done in the short term to protect our village from the amendments made to ordinance 18-002, we could soon find ourselves with large commercial-like activities taking place next to a significant number of homes within the village. Please contact the mayor and your Village Council representative to get this topic on the next council meeting for discussion and move forward on reinstating the protections enabled by ordinance 18-002.
By Fred Hashimoto
Let’s Approve the QOL Amendment
In 1975, I got a job in Albuquerque and moved to Corrales. Why? Quality of life. This includes: open and natural space, clear and clean air, stars at night, peace and quiet, I won’t bother neighbors and vice versa, water easily accessible and safety.
Since then, the population of the village has more than tripled with the large proportion of that increase being people who have moved here. Because relocating to Corrales is rather more expensive than to neighboring areas and very few have to live here, people (like me and probably you) who have moved here, have deliberately chosen to live here. Why? Quality of life (or QOL).
Six months ago, the State passed the Cannabis Regulation Act that threatens QOL in Corrales. The legislation legalizes recreational cannabis, which is a personal matter for people, but it, unfortunately and perhaps unwittingly, has adversely impacted Corrales by opening up residential neighborhoods here to invasion by commercial recreational cannabis producers.
Several years ago, commercial medical cannabis greenhouses suddenly appeared next to the Corrales del Norte subdivision. Currently, those greenhouses grow medical marijuana but, in several months, they might also be producing recreational cannabis too —really big profits there.
This has significantly affected the QOL of neighbors of that growing facility. A few of their comments are:
“We have experienced and lived with the nuisance of a pot facility, i.e. the odor that is so strong that there were many evenings this past summer when we could not spend time on our portal or sleep with our windows open —one of the beautiful elements of living in Corrales— the traffic on Camino de Corrales del Norte has increased dramatically since the pot farm was constructed a couple of years ago, i.e. employees, customers, partners, etc. There will be property value issues, crime will increase, roadside trash is already an issue. We were here first and no one has considered the effects of the pot facility on us.”
“We have again had to suffer the smell from Komadina’s pot facility located 350 yards from my house. It’s just not right. Apparently, there was a favorable Komadina wind the night of Starry Nights. If not for the wind those of you attending might have gotten to experience it.”
“The bad smell has been a killer for us every night for the past month as we are just one house away from the pot location. It was nauseating for us at night and we had to close the doors and windows. It is a shame that we cannot enjoy the wonderful cool nights of the fall because of the smelly odor.”
“We have been forced to endure obnoxious and offensive odors produced from the cannabis operations, a tremendous increase in traffic on our once quiet streets, a lack of police enforcement of residential speed limits in our neighborhood, accumulation of trash on our streets and properties, crime and other undesirable consequences of the cannabis operation.”
“We have been overlooked and abandoned by our council for long enough. It is time for you to pay attention to the residents that are paying the price for one family to prosper greatly. We invested in this neighborhood, and now our investment is suffering, and we can add violent crime to that long list!”
“Two of our neighbors have sold their homes because of the pot facility and/or the newly enacted and very permissive ordinance (21-06). What do you think all of this has done to our property values? Realtors, now, not only have disclosed the existence of the facility but also the crime. Probably nothing a potential buyer would want to hear. We have been seriously damaged financially and mentally. This is what our village government is supposed to protect us from.”
Commercial cannabis growing facilities are probably not going to pop up in every neighborhood, but for some, it will happen, and then what can you do? Grin and bear your loss of QOL and decrease in property values? That stinks, and more.
Large vacant lots aren’t required to house commercial cannabis growing structures. A moderate-sized, intensive commercial greenhouse of 6,000 square feet covers less than 1/6th of an acre, which fits easily in many backyards.
My very close friend’s industrial greenhouse in Colorado has been burglarized.
In 2018, the Village Council passed Ordinance 18-002, which banned commercial cannabis production, manufacturing and distribution in A-1 and A-2 zones, which comprise 97 percent of the village.
Sadly, our current Village ordinances, driven by the State Cannabis Regulation Act, allow the invasive, intensive cannabis growing structures and facilities in A-1 and A-2 zones. This is not conducive to maintaining the well-known Corrales QOL.
On December 14, some councilors will propose the publishing and posting of an amendment (the QOL Amendment) reinstituting the ban of commercially growing, manufacturing, distributing and selling cannabis in A-1 and A-2 zones. At its last meeting, the council unanimously passed a moratorium to delay action on commercial cannabis business licenses in the village for 95 days. This has allowed the re-introduction of the QOL Amendment. Time is of the essence here.
Please support the QOL Amendment, which helps protect our quality of life and property values and the Village wherein we live. Please sign the online or hard-copy petition —circulated by a non-partisan group of concerned citizens— supporting the QOL Amendment.
QOL is why we live here. Let’s keep that.
A tribute to the late historian and preservationist Ward Alan Minge was held at the Old Church Sunday, November 28. A plaque honoring his decades-long effort to save the Historic San Ysidro Church was revealed during the Corrales Historical Society program featuring talks by his neighbor, Michelle Frechette, and long-time society official Alice Glover. For many years, he and his wife, Shirley, lived in the old Gutierrez house they bought in 1953 across from the Old Church. While they devoted years to restoring the historic home and transforming it into what is now Casa San Ysidro Museum, they also worked tirelessly to preserve the Old Church.
They transferred ownership of the home and antique collection to the City of Albuquerque in 1997 for use as a branch of the Albuquerque Museum, and they collaborated with other villagers beginning in 1974 to buy the church from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. The Old Church is now owned by the Village of Corrales and managed by the Corrales Historical Society, for which Minge was a co-founder. He died at his Waterville, Kansas home May 6 of this year, having moved to his native Kansas in 1998. He was 97. Shirley Jolly Minge died in 2004.
For 30 years, Minge served as chief historian for Kirtland Air Force Base, chronicling the research activities of the Air Force Special Weapons Center and the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. He was also a contract historian for several Pueblo governments documenting their land and water rights claims.
Minge was co-founder and first director of the N.M. State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe. He wrote the draft legislation creating the State’s 1959 Public Records Act that established the Records Center and Archives. He was honored with the State’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 1969.
By Scott Manning
How will increasing temperatures and a warming climate affect future water supplies in Corrales and other parts of New Mexico? Officials at the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD), the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) are taking steps to conserve water and to conduct studies about the impact of climate change on the future water supply.
The director of the Interstate Stream Commission, Rolf Schmidt-Petersen, explained this summer that New Mexico is going through a second year of water shortage caused by severe drought. In 2020, poor snowpack and reduced runoff water created severe drought conditions. That was compounded by a poor monsoon season this year. These water shortages have created problems for New Mexico with its water-sharing agreements with neighboring states.
One such agreement, the Rio Grande Compact, was signed by New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado in 1938 and details the water sharing promises between the three states. The agreement operates through water delivery debits and credits, in which states are held responsible for delivering the correct amount of water “payments” to other states.
Colorado is expected to deliver water to New Mexico, and New Mexico is expected to discharge water to Elephant Butte and deliver water to southern New Mexico and Texas. Currently, New Mexico is in compliance with its delivery requirements up to an “accrued debit” of 200,000 acre-feet of water.
The 2020 drought was severe enough to warrant the release of stored Rio Grande Compact Debit Water from the El Vado Reservoir to supplement Rio Grande flows. New Mexico is required to retain water in storage to the extent of its accrued debit in deliveries to Elephant Butte Reservoir, and may not store any Rio Grande water when Elephant Butte storage is low. Schmidt-Petersen explained that the water shortages in summer 2020 developed rapidly and that, without releasing the debit water, the Rio Grande would have dried up through Albuquerque.
Water officials hoped that the depleted water stores and severe drought situation last summer would be resolved this year with modifications in MRGCD operations, a strong fall rainy period, and better snowpack in 2021.
Although the MRGCD made the intended modifications to its operations, the rest of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 continued to be dry, leading to further water supply concerns this summer. To make matters worse, the San Juan-Chama Rivers’ water supply has decreased in recent years.
New Mexico began 2020 with a water debit of 40,000 acre-feet, meaning the state was meeting its water sharing obligations, but that 40,000 acre-feet of Rio Grande water would need to be stored upstream before any water could be stored for later release to the middle valley.
But the severe drought last summer and subsequent debit water release yielded an increased water debit for 2021 of 96,000 acre-feet.
No snowmelt runoff was stored in New Mexico during the 2020-2021 winter because Elephant Butte remained low, New Mexico had a 96,000 acre-foot accrued debit, and the 2021 snowmelt runoff was poor.
So New Mexico began summer 2021 in a drought with little water storage. Schmidt-Peterson says that New Mexico has not experienced this kind of water scarcity since the early 1980s which makes the recent drought unprecedented in modern times.
Despite the recent droughts, there has been little discussion of revising the water sharing provisions in the Rio Grande Compact.
In general, water shortages lead to litigation over the terms of preexisting interstate compacts, not the adoption of new water agreements. Schmidt-Petersen suggests that such litigation is the more common negotiation strategy because renegotiation is difficult: the current Rio Grande Compact was adopted into state law by New Mexico, Colorado and Texas before also becoming federal law.
This long legislative process makes it unlikely that water agreements can be completely reworked and replaced in times of water shortages because different parties will disagree about the terms of the renegotiation.
The Rio Grande Compact has come under litigation in three cases during its history. First in the 1950s, Texas pursued legal action against New Mexico over the operations of El Vado Reservoir. Then in 1966, New Mexico and Texas took legal action against Colorado because that state had not adhered to its water-sharing agreements.
The third case began in 2014 when Texas filed a lawsuit against New Mexico, claiming that New Mexico had misused the water released from Elephant Butte that was supposed to be delivered to Texas.
The ISC plans to continue to navigate the Rio Grande Compact for the foreseeable future.
Instead of revising the Rio Grande Compact, agencies like the ISC, MRGCD and ABCWUA try to implement strategies to protect farmers from droughts, reduce water usage among New Mexico residents and within the river system, improve water deliveries to Elephant Butte, and protect endangered species and the environment that depend on available river water.
Last fall, the MRGCD and ISC notified farmers of the ongoing drought crisis, and advised that farmers in the Middle Rio Grande District refrain from farming. These early notifications provided farmers with time to plan their 2021 growing season accordingly.
According to MRGCD Chief Engineer Mike Hamman, a Corrales resident, the agency has implemented an annual fallowing program in which farmers can choose to fallow their land for a payment instead of planting during drought years; through this program 1,000 acres of farmland have been left fallow.
More generally, it was announced earlier this fall that the MRGCD has been awarded $2.9 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund improvement to water infrastructure throughout the district to improve water efficiency. The money will be spent on improvements to the district’s primary canals and laterals as well as for farms, including conservation easements.
Other efforts to confront climate change are also underway. The MRGCD has helped fund the Upper Rio Grande Basin Study that aims to address the impacts of climate change on water resources.
Carlos Bustos, the program manager of water conservation at the ABCWUA, said the authority is doing its part to mitigate the risks of water shortages in the Albuquerque area.
Given the ongoing drought, Albuquerque residents are no longer using surface water to meet the water needs. Instead, the City of Albuquerque is drawing on water in the aquifer.
Bustos explained that water usage per capita in the region is below the water target set by ABCWUA, meaning that Albuquerque residents are using the groundwater resources responsibly.
As a result, ABCWUA has not observed reductions to the aquifer greater than their models predicted.
Even so, water conservation efforts can be further improved. According to Bustos, the ABCWUA has adopted strategies to further reduce water consumption in Bernalillo County. The ABCWUA focuses its efforts on community outreach and education about water usage in the community.
First, the Authority does frequent outreach to the top 5-10 percent of residential water users in the city and encourages these residents to cut back their usage.
Second, the authority provides free consultations and 40-50 audits each week to help residents become more water efficient. Third, the authority provides an online educational training course that informs residents about ways to cut back on their water usage. The course includes lessons on how residents can repair and re-landscape their yards to be more efficient. The class has had more than 600 participants by this summer, and the ABCWUA records that the residents who have attended the class have cut down their water usage.
When these outreach efforts fail to reduce water usage by some residents, the ABCWUA may issue warnings and fines. Bustos explained that the authority tries to avoid these punitive actions and restrictive measures by promoting outreach and education as much as possible.
The authority has also previously entered water-sharing agreements with the MRGCD before in which stored water is released in the Albuquerque region to extend the irrigation season for farmers. Bustos says that more of these agreements may be implemented in the future to supplement the region’s water vulnerabilities.
In the short term, Bustos is hopeful that the rest of the year won’t see further restrictions. But water officials fear that New Mexico will experience ongoing water concerns in the long term due to climate change.
To better understand the challenges posed by climate change to water resources in New Mexico, the ISC is conducting a 50-year plan that assesses the impacts of climate change, determines the resiliency of New Mexico communities to these changes, and proposes adoption strategies, where needed.
There are four phases of the 50-Year Water Plan.
Phase 1 began in January 2021 and ended by March 1. This phase involved assessing the process with the New Mexico Water Dialogue, coordinating experts with the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR), and building approaches to the plan.
Phase 2 of the plan, the “Leap Ahead Analysis,” began on March 1 and ended June 30. The purpose of the analysis was for experts led by the NMBGMR to compile scientific information about the impact of climate change on New Mexico communities and water supplies over the next 50 years.
The planning effort is now in Phase 3, the outreach and assessment phase, where the ISC intends to host meetings with citizens of New Mexico to explain the findings of the “Leap Ahead Analysis” and to interview citizens to determine the degree of resilience New Mexico communities have to the challenges posed by climate change.
The ISC’s other partners in the effort, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, and the N.M. Indian Affairs Department, will play a role. This phase will continue through January 2022.
During Phase 4 of the plan, scheduled for spring 2022, the ISC and collaborating authorities will produce, review and finalize a 50-Year Water Plan that will contain guidelines for preparing for climate change, adopting efficient water usage strategies, and improving water resiliency throughout the state.
The water shortages in New Mexico are driven by both a multi-decade climate cycle and a warming climate. In the coming half-century, the NMBGMR reported the average temperature in New Mexico is expected to increase by five to seven degrees Fahrenheit, while average precipitation is expected to stay relatively constant.
The warmer climate will accelerate processes such as evaporation and transpiration that remove water from the ecosystem and environment. Therefore, a hotter climate, even with constant levels of precipitation, will further strain New Mexico’s water supplies.
But the hotter climate will impact the environment in further ways as well. A warmer climate will strain vegetation and allow fires to proliferate, thereby harming plant cover in New Mexico biomes. This biome damage makes the environment less resilient to erosion and flooding, meaning that storms will cause greater environmental damage.
That damage could disrupt normal drainage systems and damage water infrastructure, further straining water resources. Water quality will decrease as well with the increase of water temperature and potential growth of bacteria in water supplies.
The analysis demonstrates the need for the state to continue to assess its vulnerabilities to climate change. The ongoing drought in the state causes short term water shortages that strain farmers and New Mexico residents alike.
Water concerns are unlikely to go away as New Mexico becomes hotter and drier in the coming decades.
By Scott Manning
I attended the United Nations COP-26 with my editor, Jeff Radford. He has attended many United Nations conferences during his time as a journalist, and prior to COP-26 the last conference he coveered was the 2015 COP-21 in Paris. In contrast, this was my first United Nations event, and by attending I joined many young people getting involved in the climate crisis.
Climate change is a significant consideration for us. After all, my generation will be dealing with the consequences of climate change and working to develop solutions to the crisis throughout our lives. Yet my generation also shares similarities with older generations: young people have different degrees of engagement with the climate issue, and there are disagreements about what exactly should be done about it.
And although young people like Sweden’s Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate from Kenya are leading youth movements for climate justice around the world, not all young people are hopeful about the future. I know some of my peers are cynical about our prospects over the next few decades. So young people do not currently form a fully united front against climate change, but many young people are participating in the solution-building process.
I saw two main kinds of youth activism in Glasgow. First, young people attended the COP26 conference in large numbers. Jeff and I observed over the course of several days at the conference that the average age for an attendee was probably mid-thirties to early forties. This average age was driven down by significant youth participation. Young people attended the conference as observers, journalists and activists working at informational booths. Other young people were accompanied by their older counterparts —perhaps part of a mentoring relationship so that they could experience and participate in the United Nations process.
Second, young people marched and attended rallies throughout Glasgow and across the world. In this setting they marched to demand greater and more immediate action than what COP-26 was appearing to provide. The marches in Glasgow saw tens of thousands of people march for climate justice, demonstrating the tremendous commitment young people have to the climate cause.
Many young people are upset about the state of the climate, and they should be upset. This planet is our home, and we should be more mindful about how we live in our home. Some young people may be upset that the United Nations appears to approach such a serious challenge with, in the words of Greta Thunberg, a bunch of “blah, blah blah.”
From this perspective, the United Nations COP26 conference did not pursue the climate change with the action such a challenge requires. Instead, some young people see the UN conference as a political exercise in which politicians and business leaders come together to promise change without delivering on that promise.
A friend of mine at college pointed out that the UN does not have a robust mechanism to create enforceable, binding agreements that hold countries accountable. Instead, the UN operates through consensus building and pledges, and these pledges may be broken. For example, at COP-26 activists complained that developed countries had failed to uphold their agreement to provide billions in climate financing to developing countries to address climate change threats. This kind of broken promise undermines the capacity for the United Nations conferences to generate significant change.
Instead of attending the COP sessions, other young people engage in protests. Protests and marches are effective means of generating engagement with young people because these forums appear to speak in their understanding of enacting change through collaboration and people power. Yet here activists must still work to generate long-term political coalitions. This kind of engagement can be difficult for young people to pursue due to a lack of knowledge on how to get involved as well as a lack of available time.
In Glasgow, I, too, found the United Nations conference to have frustrating moments: speakers at the presidency presentations would give overly broad promises about reducing carbon emissions by 2035 without providing details; at some negotiation sessions representatives appeared to offer small edits and revisions instead of settling the major disagreements; and the conference was full of people calling on the creation of climate solutions, leaving one to wonder what solutions already exist and what steps we could take to implement these preexisting solutions today.
Yet despite these shortcomings, I think COP26 had important developments. In particular, the broad commitments made to end deforestation and to drastically reduce methane emissions were positive developments. And by the end of the conference, the United States and China agreed to work together on climate efforts.
So upon reflection, COP-26 was messy. But I think that this reflects the reality of the climate situation and the participation of young people in the climate crisis: such a large concern like climate change offers no easy solutions or conclusions, and young people will participate in the climate conversation with a wide diversity of perspectives and approaches.
Young people may care about climate change, but that care does not immediately precipitate clarity. I expect that we will continue to contend with the full consequences of climate change for some time to come. And eventually, solutions, decisions and plans of action will emerge.
As I left COP-26, I was filled with both hope and frustration. Frustration that the conference had not been more fruitful, but hope that actions would be taken. As Obama concluded in his remarks to young people in Glasgow, now the hard work begins.
The daughter of a founding member of the artist cooperative Corrales Bosque Gallery, Joan Findley-Perls, has recently joined the venture. She is a daughter of Tommie and Jim Findley. Her graphite drawings will be on display and for sale at the gallery for its “Small Treasures” exhibit.
The co-op began when 21 local artists committed to renting a store-front space in Mercado de Maya. Among the original organizers were Tommie Findley, Pat Smith, Pauline Eaton, Paula Hendriks, Jan Mikkelsen, Ron Moffatt, Vicki Nowark, Diana Stetson, Mariana Roumell-Gasteyer and Sheryl Brainerd.
Findley-Perls is the wife of former state legislator Bob Perls. Her artistic talent came to light publicly when she helped organize a family art exhibit at the Old Church which featured her mother’s work. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXV, No. 14, September 10, 2016 “Tommie Findley’s Fool-the-Eye Ceramics Delight.”)
The mystery continues as to what was inside the time capsule outside the Village Office, sealed away 25 years ago to mark the Village of Corrales’ 25th anniversary as an incorporated municipality. It’s now 50 years on, so the safe was to be opened to the amazement of onlookers and wellwishers, perhaps to be re-sealed with present-day items and mementos that would amaze folks in another 25 years, or 2046.
But it took the Fire Department’s mental-bending “jaws of life” to break into the safe after many tries to open it using the prominently posted and clearly legible combination for the lock. With perhaps 20 people looking on, Village officials tried twisting the combination dial as instructed: “right to zero, left to 20, right to 50, left to 96. Grasp handle and pull very hard.”
No matter who tried, nor how hard they pulled, the handle would not budge.
One of the onlookers made the suggestion that others surely thought: call in the Fire Department known for its success in prying open crumpled car doors to extricate injured accident victims.
A team arrived promptly and first tried to insert a wedge between the door and the safe frame. Hammering and wedging failed, so finally the jaws of life was put to work. Even then, opening the time capsule was not easy.
Finally the mangled door lay open and the contents exposed: basically a soggy mess. If the time capsule was meant to be air-tight, is certainly was not water-tight.
Virtually everything inside the safe was soaked, so that any attempt to lift any paper would have torn several. So Mayor Jo Anne Roake quickly decided the best course of action was to let it all dry out. She described the contents as “two very water-logged albums, a rusted beverage can and a VHS tape. It did not look good.”
The mayor said the items would be entrusted to archivist Ann Van Camp and Corrales Historical Society Archive Committee member Kitty Tynan who offered assurance that eventually some of the enclosed print material will be readable.
“This preservation project is ongoing and will be documented and made part of a Corrales Historical Society file memorializing the great effort put into assembling the time capsule 25 years ago,” Roake said in consolation.
Actually most of the time capsule contents have been known for 25 years since Corrales Comment reported on the project at the time. On July 4, 1997, villagers gathered to place the time capsule which was to be opened September 22, 2021. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIV No.9 June 20, 2015 “Creepy, Crumbling Concrete Case Contains July 1997 Time Capsule.”)
Reported to be inside the safe were at least the following:
It is likely that most, if not all, of those items can be assembled again if the soaked items cannot be restored.
Thinking about running for office with village government? Want to be mayor? Councillor? December is the time of year when villagers —for a variety of reasons— beginning seriously considering a run for elective office. If you’re one of those, you’ll have to make up your mind soon. Tuesday, January 4 is candidate filing day for the municipal elections to be held in early March.
You can pick up a candidate packet at the Village Office to learn what’s involved. But if you can’t make up your mind —not actually a qualification for an elected official— or can’t get to the Village Office that day, you can run as a write-in candidate if you file the paperwork on January 11. New Village Clerk Melanie Romero will accept a declaration of candidacy between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on those days, January 4 and January 11.
Three seats on the six-member Village Council are available, now held by Kevin Lucero representing Council District 1 in northwestern Corrales; Mel Knight in District 3 in the central part of the village west of Corrales Road; and Tyson Parker representing District 4 for neighborhoods north and south of upper Meadowlark Lane. See the council district map published in this edition of the Comment, or at the Village of Corrales website, http://www.corrales -nm.org.
Terms are not expiring for the other three members of the Village Council: Bill Woldman in District 2; Zach Burkett in District 5; and Stu Murray in District 6. Their terms end in March 2024, as does that for Municipal Judge Michelle Frechette.
None of the incumbents has publicly stated whether he or she intends to seek re-election.
Although relatively new to the council, Parker’s term ends in March because he is filling out the term for former-Councillor Dave Dornburg, who resigned. Incidently, Dornburg had filled the term of John Alsobrook who also resigned, in 2016.
The municipal election will be held March 1. Early voting will start with the Village Clerk in the Village Office February 1, when requested absentee ballots will also go out.
Whoever is elected in March, major decisions likely will be needed for the following questions: