Kiss the guacamole good bye. Researchers in Mexico warn that the avocado is becoming an endangered species due to climate change. It has been identified as an endangered fruit due to the climate-driven spread of fruit flies, Anastrepha ludens.
A New York Times article March 13 noted that an exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History about unexpected results of climate change include a threat to avocado trees. The museum’s SciCafe will “feature Mexican research on how the climate-driven spread of fruit flies affects an endangered fruit: the avocado.” The article goes on to say that “Already, rising temperatures are disrupting the avocado supply chain, causing price increases across the United States that have also been exacerbated by trade uncertainty.”
Scientists are trying to head off the avocado calamity by altering avocado DNA. “As climate change intensifies, however, the challenges facing the avocado industry are becoming increasingly urgent,” the Times article cautions. “Over the next few years, heat waves will become more common, scientists and industry experts predict, potentially leading to even more severe shortages. A recent study by scientists in California estimated that climate change could reduce the state’s avocado production, which last year totaled 300 million pounds, by 40 percent over the next three decades.”
Last year, the United States imported nearly two billion pounds of avocados from Mexico.
By Meredith Hughes
Insta has a nifty ring to it, right? The best part of horrible “instant” coffee, for example. Insta-gram, that place where online photos demand your attention, especially from the family you hold dear, albeit from a distance.
So Instacart caught your eye, especially after having decided not to venture inside grocery stores awash in virus droplets for a while, given this period of plague. And with zero interest in lining up in the old fogie shopping line, pre dawn.
Instacart was started in San Francisco in 2012 by Apoorva Mehta, a guy who grew up in Canada, trained as an electrical engineer, worked two years as a supply chain engineer for Amazon, needed a bigger challenge, quit, started assorted online businesses, failed at them all, until… he liked to cook, had no car, and wanted food from assorted places.
You, like Mehta, want groceries, and you want them delivered to your door, instantly. Because you are busy bingeing old episodes of Rumpole of The Bailey, or playing “grab the mousie" ad nauseam with your cat, or trying to teach your grandniece in Maine basic world geography via Zoom. ( Don’t get me started on the baffling intricacies of Zoom…) Or whatever.
So you seize hopefully/haplessly on the insta part of the remote grocery cart thing, and download the cute carrot-emblazoned app onto your phone. You excitedly discover that the human Instacart shopper doing your bidding will trot around not only Smith’s, Albertson’s and Sprouts, but also Costco, Natural Grocers, Sam’s Club, Target, and CVS. Even Petco. Your choice.
And while in many other states of these United ones, Instacart is allowed to deliver alcohol from the grocery store of your choice, that is not possible in New Mexico, whose booze laws are such they might well have been written by the Puritans.
But. Beware. Choose one store and stick with it, especially on your maiden voyage. ( Thank the gods you are not on a bloody cruise.) Put in your zip code, and create an account. For free delivery, you can sign up for Express, at $9.99 a month or $99 a year. If you choose more than one store at a time, you may find yourself mis-juggling carts, putting cucumbers into the CVS cart, and having to wrestle them back out. With Express, however, your shopper actually can dart from one outlet to the next, and bring a combined order to you.
If you are a tech fan you likely will admire the rollout of goodies, which is remarkably well done, and visually appealing. Easy to use.
You begin by choosing free-range eggs, you add it via the plus sign, you decide no, no kale, you subtract, you choose replacement items just in case, or tell the shopper “no”, there is no replacement for organic ginger snaps, and Instacart pops in to inform you your delivery will not exactly be instant, more like, uh, four days from now…
The enticing bit is that you now have four days in which to add or subtract items. Naturally, you add. Talenti ice cream is on sale, and your old favorite flavor when you were a child sitting in a booth with your family at Howard Johnson’s, mocha chip, is available! Talenti calls it Coffee Chocolate Chip, but so what. Plus 2, by gum.
Eventually, you must stop fiddling with the list, because a few days have passed and your carrot phone app is telling you that Paulette has begun shopping. You can “chat” with Paulette, though you hesitate to impede her progress, but you urge her subliminally to check the sell-by dates of those eggs, and to take note of the shaggy edges of the chard, and pick another, but hey, back off.
Now Paulette is choosing a replacement for the pepper jack cheese, you are putty in her hands, but she comes through with dill havarti for the win, more or less. And so on. You can watch your list of 31 items sink slowly down, as Paulette does her thing. At one point, there is a notable pause between item 15, and 14, and you assume Paulette has heeded nature’s call, as one must. Or perhaps is clueless as to what broccoli rabe is. So be it.
Then once again Paulette is on the move, and you watch the shrinking of the list down to zero.
Now you picture Paulette masked and gloved, pushing the actual shopping cart to her car, and disgorging the contents, all in paper bags, into the backseat. Where her hound Roscoe normally lounges. OMG.
The phone app picks up Paulette as she drives smoothly out of the parking lot and heads for your home, and while it’s a bit vague as to where Paulette is, your address is firmly and accurately in place. You watch the map and wait.
And you do give in to the “chat” possibility, thanking Paulette profusely for doing your shopping, and asking if she would please place the shopping bags in a battered-looking red wagon parked in front of your door. The wagon once belonged to your son, now 36.
You ponder wistfully the fact that were said son nearby, there would be no need for Paulette. You wonder how best to wash the virus bits off four containers of ice cream without melting the contents.
A masked Paulette has arrived, hurriedly lugging bags. You enthusiastically wave out the window at her, delighted by this Insta shopping success, while at the same time convinced that the tip you added to the order could not possibly have been enough.
By Meredith Hughes
It appears that hungry yet independent seniors, deprived by the horrific virus dubbed “ novel” of hanging out at their usual eateries, are lining up in their cars to partake of the meals programs Sandoval County makes possible.
A longtime staffer for the County’s Senior Services said “we are busier than ever before,” as the numbers continue to climb. “Cooking and serving cafeteria style is much easier than having to package or box everything up,” she said. “Our expenses definitely are up, and certain foods, including milk, are harder to source.”
Most of the food served up to seniors comes from Cisco and Shamrock, with some shelter-in-place seniors helped out by foodboxes from Roadrunner Food Bank, the New Mexico-wide organization comprised of multiple food partners.
The Corrales Senior Center continues to distribute meals prepared at the Meadowlark Senior Center in Rio Rancho, and the Sandoval County staffer said she was astounded when the number of meals requested in Corrales jumped from about 60-70 to 150 per day.
“Demand clearly has doubled.” Back in March, hot meals still were offered up daily. Now, heading into late April, the now drive thru arrangement gives out hot meals on Mondays and Wednesdays, with frozen meals for the other days tacked on. Centers suggest a $2 donation per meal, but no one is turned away for not paying. The Corrales center hands out meals from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Among those occasionally taking advantage of those drive-up, take home meals is Corrales Comment Editor Jeff Radford. “Carol Merrill and my son, Ben, do a great job of keeping me supplied with groceries and cooked meals, but occasionally the pantry and fridge are a little bare when I start thinking about lunch,” Radford said.
“It’s convenient to stop by the Senior Center on my way to the Post Office around noon. The portions are a bit meager, especially for someone trying to put on some weight… without ingesting too much carbs, which are not good for someone with diabetes.
“You won’t get fat on these meals, but you won’t starve either. Even so, I’d rather have a beef burrito with green chile at Perea’s,” Radford acknowledged.
The drive-up also provides an opportunity to see friends also waiting for their trays. “We don’t really talk to one another there, but we can at least wave.”
The center’s staff does not impose any means-testing, but date of birth is recorded to determine age eligibility. You can access the senior menu for April using the internet at http://www.sandovalcountynm.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/seniorcentermenu.pdf
“I really notice that these days we are getting calls from people who never needed us before. Now they do,” the staffer commented. In theory, you can call Senior Services Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 867-7535. In reality, any call to that number at any time of day or night will be forwarded to an individual’s cell phone, so that “anyone in the community can be helped.” Most county employees are working remotely, or under in-person restrictions.
The County employee said she was weary, after overseeing 645 meals served up in one and a half hours. “The drive-thru lines at Meadowlark were astonishing,” she said, “Cars and trucks jammed up in the parking lot, and leading to it.”
Demand for meals means the 400-450 plates prepared in Rio Rancho have jumped into the 700s, of which 150 currently are slated for Corrales.
Food shortages have not yet greatly impacted senior programs, but dollar shortages have. Donations are welcomed.
Food banks across the country are the logical recipients of the overflow of vegetables, milk and canned goods, that big ag/food no longer can deliver to its markets, nor reroute back to grocery stores. And these banks typically are designated as essential non-profits. Thanks to the ramifications of COVID-19, the food industry has lost its two primary customers, schools/universities and a range of businesses, including cruise lines, airlines and many, many more.
We likely all have seen images of piles of freshly-picked zucchini rotting in the Florida sun, and milk being poured into the dirt at dairy farms, while at the same time knowing of the multitudes of food-insecure people across this country.
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Academy Drive in Corrales has been operating its food pantry for those in need since 2008. It is open the third Wednesday of the month, at 3:30 p.m., back in 2017 the effort involved from eight to 12 volunteers, according to then pantry head Al Montes de Oca.
Roadrunner Foodbank was providing most all the food handed out then. Roadrunner and its 500 partners across New Mexico report they are operating normally, but have made some adjustments. As noted on its website, “A Coronavirus Planning Task Force, led by Roadrunner’s senior team leaders, has been meeting regularly and is actively supporting our hunger relief agency and partner distribution agencies across New Mexico as they prepare to continue their operations and distribute food to the people and communities they serve, as is done with other disaster response activities.
“Roadrunner Food Bank is also actively consulting with the Coronavirus Contingency Planning Task Force led by the Feeding America Disaster Services team and leaders from member food banks across the nation, and with the State of New Mexico Department of Health, State of New Mexico Health and Human Services Department, NM VOAD, the USDA and CDC.” Roadrunner invites actual donations of food. You can learn more at http://www.rrfb.org/give/give-food.
While food banks such as the Adventist Church in Corrales eagerly welcome vegetables, meat and canned goods, some are impeded in that many of the volunteers on whom they count to handle the sorting and distribution of food, are either ill and at home, or determined to stay well by staying home. One long-time volunteer for Storehouse West on Veranda Drive in Rio Rancho deeply regrets he is more or less forced to self isolate, both for his sake and for the well-being of his fellow volunteers, and food recipients.
Storehouse is now operating via a drive-thru service, Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 1:30, and Wednesday, noon to 4:30. p.m. Assistant to the Director Ann Conrad says they do indeed need more volunteers, especially people able to provide muscle. And while they are awash in little needed baby food, deliveries from Roadrunner of late have been uneven, given COVID-19 issues, and Storehouse West is low on dried beans, ramen, toilet paper and bars of soap.
Conrad heads to Sam’s Club regularly but can only buy one case of toilet paper and a few bars of soap each visit, yet the need is urgent. She reports she frequently buys about 60 gallons of milk at Smith’s, along with eggs.
Remarkably, Latitudes gas station, on Rio Rancho Boulevard, has come through for Conrad and Storehouse West. Through them, Conrad is able to buy pasta, tuna, crackers and powdered milk, for example, at wholesale prices, from their distributor. She emails them a list, pays, and returns a week later with a truck to pick up supplies.
St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho on Barbara Loop, a non-profit operated by the Felician sisters, was established in 1992. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, it is currently open Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon, only for distribution of food. Virginia Garcia, administrative assistant to St. Felix’s powerhouse president and CEO, Sister Mary Angela Parkins, says the pantry is receiving about five to 15 new guests a day now, as compared to the norm of two per day. They are counting families now, rather than individuals, and Garcia reckons traffic is up 50 to 80 percent, reflecting 130-180 families per day.
Garcia too noted that many of their regular volunteers are among those who currently need to stay at home to be safe, and the pantry also reports it needs dried pinto beans, that they are “hard to find anywhere.”
A major St. Felix fundraising effort, a golf tournament scheduled for May 15, has been cancelled, though its 27th annual Thanksgiving gathering is still in place. St.Felix asks that people “Please consider donating monetarily to the pantry. We are in desperate need of procuring food for our guests.”
Donors can do so online at http://www.stfelixpantry.org/donate.
“Congress passed the bipartisan CARES Act to deliver critical relief to our nation in this moment of crisis,” Congressman Ben Ray Lujan said. “It is clear, however, that we need to get more resources to our small businesses, our hospitals and frontline health care workers, and our local, state, and tribal governments.
“We also need to provide additional SNAP funding to ensure that no family in New Mexico goes hungry during this crisis.
“The Trump administration has struggled to implement the CARES Act, especially the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program. Too many community lenders, mom-and-pop small businesses and underserved communities are being left behind,” the congressman said.
“Small businesses need more funding from the SBA loan and grant programs, and these programs need reforms and greater transparency to ensure that New Mexican small businesses get the support they need and deserve.
“The pandemic has dealt a serious blow to our public health and economy. While we would all like to get back to normal, there must be a substantial increase in the production in rapid testing and personal protective equipment. That is why we need more resources now.”
The governor’s office took responsibillity for a slow roll-out of state programs.
“We will take responsibility for state systems being behind the ball in responding to this pandemic,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “We are fixing these systems and getting assistance out to New Mexicans as expeditiously as we can. As we navigate this public health crisis, we are mindful every day of the incredible strain on our workers and businesses. We will be proactive and responsive.”
The N.M. Department of Workforce Solutions reports that 55,140 workers were receiving unemployment benefits with $24.2 million paid out during the week ending April 17. The agency has 234 employees, in addition to workers from eight other state agencies. providing telephone assistance.
“At this time the Department of Workforce Solutions is constantly focused on how we can get financial resources to New Mexicans more quickly,” Ricky Serna, deputy secretary for Workforce Solutions said. “This effort includes partnerships with other state agencies who have come together to answer more calls, extend hours of operations, and process more claims. Each day we hear the sense of urgency directly from thousands of claimants and we will do everything possible to ensure we connect them with their benefits.”
He pointed out that the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, an additional benefit of $600 per week per person, is in effect until July 31, 2020. The benefit will automatically be added to the regular unemployment amount; individuals do not need to apply separately or give any additional information.
For business owners, two state programs have been authorized through the Economic Development Department: the COVID-19 Loan Guarantee Program and the no-interest LEDA loan program, which targets economic base manufacturing businesses.
Lenders participating in the COVID-19 Loan Guarantee Program have approved $1.7 million in loan money so far to 35 businesses with 326 employees in Bernalillo, Colfax, Curry, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Union, and Valencia counties.
Loan proceeds are flexible and can be used for (but are not limited to) working capital, inventory, and payroll. Borrowers must work with their lender to file an application, but can apply online. For more information contact EDDFinance@state.nm.us.
The Economic Development Department has also created a website to link customers to their favorite local businesses during this time of economic hardship. The “Buy for Tomorrow Today” site includes over 500 businesses throughout the state and encourages shoppers to purchase items for delivery or pick up today, or to buy vouchers for goods or services to be used when the business reopens.
“We know these programs are an important piece of the puzzle for business owners,” Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “They are providing some stability and bridge funding until federal assistance arrives.”
The State has also launched the NM Recovery Fund, a $100-million lending program for medium-sized companies with money from the Severance Tax Permanent Fund. The program was approved by the State Investment Council and is managed by Sun Mountain Capital. For more information and an application go to sunmountaincapital.com.
Secretary Keyes emphasized that the bulk of money available to New Mexico is from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), which authorizes $349 billion for the U.S. Small Business Administration in grants and loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Preliminary information released by the SBA on April 13 showed that 5,365 New Mexico business had received PPP loan approval, with total lending in the state at $1.1 billion. The PPP has currently reached its loan capacity and is pending further Congressional action.
The State is also urging business owners to apply for the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program under which a small business can borrow up to $2 million with an immediate grant advance up to $10,000.
The fish are being fed, the plants looked after, and the dropbox checked daily at the Corrales Library, even if villagers cannot enter to snatch up Hilary Mantel’s final book about poor dear Thomas Cromwell, or snag a DVD of an old Fred and Ginger flick.
Technical Services boss, Brynn Cole, wants to assure us that one library staffer stops by each day. Still, “we all are working remotely but have weekly staff meetings via Zoom, which allows us to brainstorm and plan as best we can for this uncertain future.”
Otherwise, Cole is answering your emails about tech issues, and can help you navigate Overdrive, the portal for accessing e-books and audio books to download onto your phone or tablet. She will also chat with you via email, if you want to connect with another human.
Said Cole, “I have been getting emails from people, some have been for tech help and some have been just people reaching out to connect.”
With her colleagues at the library, Cole started a YouTube channel in order to provide a new platform to get programs and resources out to the public. “We are still working out some of the kinks with it, so hopefully we will have a lot more to offer there soon.” Youth Services person Melisa Chandler has been reading to kids on You Tube, and also showing off some recently acquired baby chicks, which may or may not become part of the Children’s Garden project at the library. The channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1VPdpbdxUhBhRCx0LWYLNQ
Cole hopes that people will send her “short videos of themselves to post, sharing something they've been doing or learning during this period of isolation that they think others in the community would be interested in.”
She expects that “we can get this project up and running to allow people to share and interact safely. People are creating and exploring amazing things despite these trying times.” She is keen for everyone “to stay engaged with the community.”
“At the Shelter in Place Library page, we are trying to put up useful resources that people can use remotely, dealing with schooling, unemployment resources, things to do, including filling out census forms, and COVID19 updates. I add things to the page as I find them or people send them to me, so it's an ongoing project.”
In fact, if you don’t yet have a library card, as long as your Corrales address is verifiable, you can sign up for a virtual one. The library’s Saturday Stitch Club now has a social media presence, CCL Saturday Stitch on Facebook.
Cole is pleased that the library is getting a T-Mobile mobile hotspot set up this week, to provide internet access to people that usually rely on the library for that, and for anyone else who might need it. “We will be setting up in parking lots and public spaces so that people can use the internet in places where they can also maintain social distancing and other safety norms.” With the ongoing economic hardships resulting from the pandemic, Cole expects the number of potential users will rise.
“We are also working on getting some other programs up and running,” she added, and there was a hint from the mayor during the Village Council teleconference that this might include card holders ordering library books online, and picking them up in the parking lot.
Primarily, Cole suggested, “we all are working to find solutions to provide library materials and resources to the public during the lock-down and even into the future, when libraries likely are going to be more important than ever before.”
Many diligent and generous readers responded to an appeal published in Corrales Comment’s April 11 issue seeking financial support amid the extraordinary economic collapse accompanying the global pandemic. Heartfelt thanks to all who did so.
Advertising revenues have begun to dip, as expected, since many, if not most, businesses have been stricken by coronavirus closures. In the work week ending April 17, Corrales Comment received more checks or credit card payments from loyal readers than from our advertisers!
Those gestures of support and good will were often accompanied by sympathetic comments, a few of which are published below.
“I couldn’t live without the Corrales Comment. I hope this helps a bit.”
“I am so grateful for your work at the Corrales Comment. I am a better citizen of Corrales because of the information you provide. I believe the Comment is part of the adhesive of our community, as we are made aware of our government’ actions, volunteer opportunities in the community, fun events happening, and so much more. Thank you for your dedication and expertise.”
“Thanks for keeping Corrales alive! Please accept this small donation in this time of crisis.”
“Thanks for our newspaper!”
Donations are accepted via credit card by calling the Comment office, 897-3700, or by mail to Corrales Comment, PO Box 806, Corrales NM 87948.
You may need to hire some help…
… to cast your ballot in the June 2 primary elections.
A plethora of candidates want your vote to fill local, state and federal offices. For starters, 12 names are shown running for president of the United States on Democrats’ ballot, including those who have withdrawn already. Libertarians will have 12 presidential candidates to choose from, including Daniel Behrman of Las Vegas, New Mexico, whose email address is email@example.com.
A total of eight Corraleños will be on the party primary ballots. Running for a variety of positions are Jane Powdrell-Culbert, Bob Perls, Daymon Ely, Ben Rodefer, Brenda McKenna, Kevin Lucero, Tania Dennis and Audrey Mendonca-Trujillo. Perhaps the most populous ballot category for New Mexicans will be choices for New Mexico’s Third Congressional District to replace Congressman Ben Ray Lujan who is running for retiring Senator Tom Udall’s seat.
Registered Republicans will be asked to choose from six candidates running in the Third Congressional District: Harry Montoya of Santa Fe; Karen Evette Bodonie of Navajo; Alexis Johnson of Santa Fe; Anise Golden-Morper of Angel Fire; Audra Brown of Portales; and a write-in, Angel Morales of Rio Rancho.
In the same race, Democrats’ choices are: Teresa Leger Fernandez of Santa Fe; Laura Montoya of Rio Rancho, Marco Serna of Santa Fe, Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde; Valerie Plame of Santa Fe, John Blair of Santa Fe; and John Tisdale of Taos.
In the First Congressional District, Democrat incumbent Deb Haaland has no challenger in the primary. On the Republican side, candidates for that seat are Michelle Garcia Holmes of Bernalillo, Jaren Vander Dussen of Albuquerque and Brett Kokinadis of Santa Fe. For the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Udall, the following Republican candidates have entered the race: Elisa Martinez of Albuquerque; Mark Ronchetti of Albuquerque; Gavin Clarkson of Las Cruces; Richard Montoya Sr. of Rio Rancho; Mick Rich of Albuquerque; and Louie Sanchez of Albuquerque.
Libertarian Party candidate Bob Walsh of Santa Fe is also seeking that seat.
The sole Democrat on the primary ballot for the U.S. Senate seat is Ben Ray Lujan.
Fields are also crowded for seats in the N.M. Legislature.
In N.M. Senate District 9, four candidates are from Corrales; one Republican and three Democrats. Corrales Democrats running to replace State Senator John Sapien of Corrales are: Brenda McKenna; Ben Rodefer and Kevin Lucero. A fourth who had filed for that race, Placitas Democrat Jodilynn Ortiz, has withdrawn.
Republicans seeking the State Senate District 9 seat are: Bridget Condon of Rio Rancho, John Clark of Placitas; and Tania Dennis of Corrales.
Running for the N.M. House District 44 seat are Republican incumbent Jane Powdrell-Culbert of Corrales; Rio Rancho Libertarian Jeremy Myers; and Rio Rancho Democrat Gary Tripp.
Another Corrales incumbent seeking re-election is Daymon Ely, the Democrat who now holds the N.M. House District 23 seat. He has a Corrales challenger in the June 2 primary: Audrey Mendonca-Trujillo.
The sole Republican running for the House District 23 seat is Ellis McMath of Albuquerque.
Yet another Corraleño will be on the ballot: Democrat Bob Perls is running for Sandoval County Clerk. He is competing against Anne Brady-Romero of Algodones and Pete Salazar of Bernalillo in the Democratic primary. The sole Republican seeking election as Sandoval County Clerk is Lawrence Griego of Rio Rancho.
For the position of Sandoval County Treasurer, three Rio Rancho Republicans want the job: Jennifer Taylor, Benay Ward and Carlos Sanchez. For Democrats, Ronnie Sisneros of Bernalillo is the sole candidate for Treasurer. For Sandoval County Commission District 2, incumbent Republican Jay Block of Rio Rancho has no challenger. The Democrat seeking that position, Leah Michelle Ahkee-Baczkiewicz of Rio Rancho also has no opponent.
The Corrales Growers’ Market kicks off its regular season April 26, from 9 a.m. to noon, with about 14 masked vendors, and a small crew of volunteers, also masked. Much as the market did successfully April 11, its volunteers Lisa, Jeanine, Mimo, Ryan, Tim and Dan, will assist vendors, and direct traffic, as the market once again uses a drive-thru setup.
The guidelines below established by the Corrales Growers’ Market for the April 11 experiment also apply to the upcoming market April 26. “This will be a drive-thru market only. All customers must remain in their vehicles. The market will setup in the rear Rec Center parking lot,” an organizer said. Customers will be directed to enter using the Post Office entrance, and leave using Jones Road.
Volunteers will be on site to direct traffic, get purchased products to your vehicle, and help with payments. Follow their directions. And if possible, order products before you come to the market. Anyone showing visible signs of illness associated with coronavirus will be asked to leave. You may also contact growers to arrange for direct purchases. Find information for growers here: corralesgrowersmarket.com/vendors. Any questions? Please call 898-6336 or 414-6706.
Farmers’ markets large and small are adapting to the social distancing requirements of their communities. One of the biggest markets in the Southeast, the St. Petersburg, Florida, Saturday Morning Market, involves over 150 vendors of vegetables, crafts and prepared meals, and it, too, has managed to turn a socially popular, community hang-out event, into an order-ahead drive-thru project. All participants are encouraged to wear masks and wash their hands.
Most Corrales businesses have continued right along despite the governor’s closure order. That’s because by far, most Corrales businesses are home occupations. People are working from home because that’s what they’ve always done. More than 800 businesses here are home-based operations, usually with internet clients.The products or services they offer cover a wide range, from fashion and jewelry to antique ceramics repair and illustrations.
Although it may be assumed that most of Village government’s gross receipts tax revenues come from restaurants and retail shops along Corrales Road, those hundreds of home-based businesses are collecting GRT for their sales as well… at least, they are supposed to. The Village Office could not provide a current list of active home occupation permits, nor a tally of Corrales’ take from their GRT payments. Monthly reports of such collections transferred from businesses to the Department of Finance and Administration in Santa Fe do not segregate monies coming from home-base operations from those from brick-and-mortar retail outlets.
But running a business from home doesn’t necessarily mean such operations are immune from the current pandemic disruptions. Some of Corrales’ home occs provide services to other businesses in Albuquerque, around New Mexico and beyond. If their clients’ businesses or organizations are hurting, so are suppliers, whether they are working from home or not.
For example, Heidi Ames’ HiHo Design firm lost work because an annual conference in Denver was cancelled. “I did lose some projects for a Washington DE non-profit because they had to cancel their large annual conference in Denver this month,” she reported. That was the COVID-19 domino effect in action. “My other non-profit work is on par with past years. However, another annual equestrian event in Santa Fe that generally produces work for me this time of year was also cancelled,” she explained, adding that “Government work assigned through a local small business is flowing normally. So yes, it has affected my business, but thankfully not dramatically or detrimentally.”
One of Corrales’ best known internet-based businesses, The Cinchy Cowgirl, told Corrales Comment that while its online retailing continues robustly, she is worried that some of her suppliers are experiencing slow-downs due to the pandemic. “The Cinchy Cowgirl is going great over all,” owner Sam Tarter replied. “I wouldn’t say it’s ‘business as normal’ with COVID-19 because we are dealing with worldwide closures with our manufacturers among other things like having to lay off employees, working from home now, etc.’”We are struggling to get inventory to some degree as many of our vendors and manufacturers are closed or operating very slowly. But we have made necessary adjustments to bring in what we need.
“I’ve turned a lot of our focus on supporting other small businesses, and we have been offering many new products that are being made or designed by small businesses nationwide.” Tarter sold from a storefront in Corrales’ commercial corridor for several years before moving to online only. “A major of the business has been online throughout the course of its existence, so we’re just continuing what we’ve been doing, but with more resources and time now since closing the store.
“Our local shoppers have expressed they missed coming to our store though, so as soon as COVID-19 is over, we will be exploring ‘warehouse weekends’ with select dates for our locals to come shop again,” Tarter suggested. Offerings include fashion clothing, jewelry, wigs, items for horses and dogs and many other products. The Cinchy Cowgirl accepts payment through a wide range of options: Apple Pay, Google Pay, Diners Club, Venmo and ShopPay, in addition to the more common credit cards and PayPal.
A different service is offered by Corrales ceramic artist Andy Goldschmidt. He said his work repairing ceramic art is continuing strong, although it’s “a little slower. Most of the work comes in through the mail or by private carriers.” Goldschmidt wanted it known that the kinds of ceramics on which he works are more delicate or rare pieces… “please, no teapots and things like that,” he pleaded. “It’s mainly antiques and ethnographic ceramics that I work on. “Broken, chipped, cracked, any kind of damage, I can make them like the way they were before they were broken.”
His Ceramicare business has operated in Corrales for 30 years. “I have rarely been out of work, maybe a couple of weeks over the past 10 years or so. I’m in demand still even though I’ve been doing this for 40 years.” Goldschmidt attracts clients from around the United States, mostly people seeking repairs on Native American pottery. He is now a representative for an organization specializing in detecting forgeries. “I can detect whether something is a forgery or a real antique,” he said. He provides testing for a laboratory in England. “I take a sample from a piece and send it to the laboratory and they test to see whether it is an antique or a forgery.”
Kent Blair’s home-based business, Architecture Illustrated, does not sell at retail, but is nonetheless affected by the widespread economic down-turn. “It affects my business because I’m involved in the construction industry. “The architects and developers that I do illustrations for have projects that are on hold. I have one client who seems to have a lot of contacts who need my services, but other than that, I’ve been pretty much shut down. But I understand their situation.” Blair’s business has been home-based since it started in Corrales in 1984. Almost never does a client visit his home office, so his in-person meetings are normally done elsewhere.
As of Monday, April 20, four cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 had been recorded in Corrales. That information was available through the N.M. Department of Health’s website for the first time on Friday, April 17. Continual reporting of cases by zipcode can be found at the department’s website: http://www.cv.nmhealth.org. On that homepage, find the “Click here to view positive cases by county,” and then choose “View map by zipcode.” All of Corrales, and only Corrales, has the zipcode 87048.
As of April 20, 1,971 people in New Mexico had been confirmed with the disease, out of a total of 36,784 who had been tested at that time. Fifty-eight died. One hundred sixteen COVID-19 patients were hospitalized. It had not been disclosed how those four cases in Corrales had contracted the virus.
Tanya Lattin, the Corrales Fire Department’s emergency management coordinator said April 20 that the total coronavirus cases in Corrales still stood at four. “The State has told me that the zip code mapping ‘should’ be updated two times weekly, probably Mondays and Thursdays. I have put in a request to the State to find out more on days and times of the updates. I do know it does not look like it has been updated since the launch.”
Lattin said Corrales fire-rescue personnal have adequate personnel protective gear so far. “We have not changed anything since the four cases have been reported. The department has had strict protocols going back to March on response to all calls. “As I am sure you know, there are people who can be actively infected with COVID-19 without showing signs and symptoms, All patients, if capable, are asked by dispatch to come outside of their home. Surgical masks are given to all patients to wear, if they do not already have them.
“Responders use N-95 masks or P-100 on all calls along with eye protection and gowns if needed,” Lattin added. “Gloves are always worn on calls so this is not new. After every call, the crew will shower and wash their uniforms.
“We have a good amount of PPE as we started planning in January for COVID-19. We do look daily for available PPE from our vendors to replace what has been used. We also have requested and received some PPE from the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The Corrales EOC also secures and transfers neede supplies to other Village departments when requested.
“The fire department has a good supply of disinfectants for the station, vehicles and equipment. We have more disinfectants on order and purchased in February UVC equipment to add to the cleaning protocols in place in the fire station. The UVC has also been used at Village Hall by Chief Martinez.” She said the department staff has a health check protocol, under which each person checks for fever several times a day, and signs of any illness for all entries into the station are logged on a sheet. “Crews follow social distancing guidelines while at work as well.”
Call volume is holding steady from last year’s numbers from April 1, 2019 to April 19, 2020 as compared to the same time frame for 2020, she reported. “We are eight calls lower this year than last, but we had two structure fires, a car fire, a storage shed fire, a vegetation fire, a stove top fire and three more motor vehicle accidents than we have this year.”
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham continued to impose relatively strict demands for business and institutional closures and stay-at-home instructions to prevent further infections. She declined to lift those restrictions, while officials in other states acted to ease those for a return to business as usual. In her remarks April 17, Mayor Jo Anne Roake urged villagers to stay the course in holding down spread of the infection which is most dangerous for the elderly and people with conditions such as diabetes and heart ailments.
As villagers remain cooped up at home, concerns over mental health stresses have mounted. Among opportunities for help is the Agora Crisis Center which can be reached by calling 277-3013 or by internet at http://www.agoracares.org. A spokesman for the N.M. State Police issued the following directive about reporting businesses that remain open despite restrictions imposed by the governor. “There is some misunderstanding percolating through the public and media regarding the method to report businesses that are not in compliance with the public health orders.
“Please help us spread the word that anyone wanting to report a business should not contact any of the state hotlines. The correct method to report is to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A report should include the name and location of the business, and date and time the violation was noted. Reports can also be sent to a local law enforcement agency.” Along with other news media, community newspapers such as Corrales Comment are specifically exempt from mandatory closures since the governor designated them as essential services. While the Comment office remains closed indefinitely, operations are continuing more or less normally via telephone interviews and photo-taking.
Corrales Lake won’t be open for waterskiing or swimming later this year, but mosquito-feeding might be. The long-envisioned stormwater detention pond along Sagebrush Drive is now substantially complete. The enormous basin excavated in what has been the north half of the Village’s Salce Park is the terminus for extensive drainage improvements to cure disastrous flooding in sandhill neighborhoods below the abandoned Dam No. 1 on the escarpment between Rio Rancho and Corrales. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXVII No.16 November 9, 2019 “Long-Awaited Salce Basin Project Will Control Flooding.”)
Village Administrator Ron Curry said in a phone interview April 17 that “We are very happy with the work that was done up there,” and that the project is deemed “substantially complete” under the contract. The $2 million-plus project was engineered by Huitt-Zollars, of Rio Rancho, and constructed by Meridian Contracting.
Curry said the work went smoothly except for damage to a wall as the five-foot diameter culvert leading to the Salce pond was installed under Loma de Oro Road under tight conditions. The Village Administrator said he is confident the drainage system will be finished before monsoon season.
Much of the funding comes from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).
Although the project’s purpose has never been stated as such, it may represent the final chapter in needed stormwater drainage controls for much of Corrales’ Northwest Sector. The terrain being protected was unincorporated territory (not annexed into Corrales) when four large dams were constructed along the escarpment by Rio Rancho developer Amrep Southwest which were supposed to control major run-off into Corrales.
Problems arose almost immediately, as Rio Rancho developers contended (unconvincingly) that drainage from their projects did not exceed “historic flows.”
As Corrales subdivisions crept higher into the sandhills on this side of the boundary, Amrep’s worries over potential liability intensified. Mysteriously, ownership of one or more of those dams was transferred to Sandoval County.
A continuation of steps taken to shift the escarpment drainage problems to taxpayers and their public institutions came when in 2007 a project was launched to pipe stormwater from Dam 1 all the way to the Montoyas Arroyo. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXV No. 24, February 10, 2007 “Stormwater Projects Under Way for Corrales Escarpment.”)
In part, that long drainage pipe was a response to the severe flooding that hit Corrales as Sagebrush Subdivision was going in. As part of his development agreement with the Village of Corrales, builder Ed Paschich promised to dedicate five acres of land along Sagebrush Drive to the Village in exchange for getting slightly higher residential density.
Two and a half acres were dedicated for a park, specifically soccer fields, on the south side of Sagebrush Drive and another 2.5 acres just across the road on the north side. But within weeks of installing the irrigation pump, irrigation system and seeding the field, a huge flood of water from Dam 1 raged down the escarpment and buried the would-be soccer field in deep sediment.
Since that day, Village officials have made several half-hearted attempts to rehabilitate the land dedicated for public recreation, although in recent years those five acres have served only as a materials dump for gravel and recycled asphalt. The current Salce Basin Flood Hazard Remediation project’s main feature is a five-foot diameter pipe that begins in an arroyo near the top of Loma del Oro Road north of the Sagebrush Subdivision and ends at spillway into the huge Salce Basin pond.
The Corrales Fire Department’s Tanya Lattin has been the Village’s primary interface with Meridian Contracting, which has built the infrastructure to address chronic erosion and flooding in that terrain.
At an October 30, 2019 pre-construction conference in the Village Office conference room, Battalion Commander Lattin dramatically recalled the flood damage that occurred from the July 26, 2013 “once in a thousand years” storm that saturated parts of Rio Rancho and Corrales. “A lot of these people were horribly, horribly impacted,” she told the Meridian representatives. The entire first level of one family’s home was filled with water and silt.
Lattin said she would try to keep homeowners fully informed throughout. “Five or six homes will have a very big impact” from the construction project, she pointed out. In addition to the crucial work along Loma del Oro, the northern end of Calle de Blas has been re-designed and rebuilt so that storm water will drain into a series of roadside catchments referred to as Noah’s Ponds.
The project has 14 specific construction parts, or tasks. Another of those is a future pond at the northeast corner of the Sagebrush and Griego Court intersection. Total construction price project according to the contractor’s bid is $2,176,825. After the July 2013 storm event and the enormous damage it caused, Village officials successfully got funding from FEMA and state government, which allowed the current project to get underway.
A homeowner hard hit by storm water run-off from that downpour told the Village Council at its June 24, 2014 meeting that her home had 10 feet of storm water and silt. The flooding “completely ruined our office, library, sewing, exercise room, guest bedroom and guest bathrooms” in the home’s basement area, one-third of the structure, according to Kate Bogart, whose home is just west of Calle Blanca between Loma del Oro and Camino Rayo del Sol.
The water also reached the main floor with damage to the kitchen, bath, hallway, dining room, living room and breakfast room. “We have estimated losses over $100,000 from this one flooding event.
“During the night of July 26, my husband barely made it out of our home alive, had to abandon our home, and had to evacuate with the Corrales Fire Department —they all got stuck on Calle Blanca del Norte,” Bogart wrote. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIII No.10 July 5, 2014 “Monsoon Storms Begin; Repairs Not Finished From 2013 Flooding.”)
In early 2007, David Stoliker, then-director of the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) explained earlier attempts to address the problems within the Salce Basin watershed. He outlined two projects related to the old Dam 1 on the Rio Rancho-Corrales boundary that were supposed to control run-off to the terrain along the escarpment from Sagebrush to Angel Road. “On the Thompson fence line [boundary] there’s an old dam up there that the County received from Amrep, who told them it was a park and the County didn’t realize it was a dam,” Stoliker explained.
“In the area west of the Thompson fence line, there’s an outlet of the old Dam 1 that cuts across the escarpment to the Montoyas Arroyo,” he continued. But run-off coming in south of the dam has been running into Corrales unchecked. So, Stoliker said, “we’re going to grade that whole thing so all that water will not flow into Corrales.” Instead, it will flow down into the drainage feature installed at the old dam.
“That is one of the last places where storm water still flows into Corrales from Rio Rancho. What happened this past rain event [in 2006] is that we have an emergency spillway on the south side of the old dam of about five to ten acres that can still flow into Corrales.
“Well, in the big rains last summer, it cut [erosion] like you wouldn’t believe.
“When you have a steep slope like that, and the water gets up a strong velocity, it will cut right through.” Stoliker said his agency had retained two lots at the extreme west end of the Sagebrush Subdivision at the time the parcels were delineated in the mid-1980s. “On the cul de sac at the end of Sagebrush, we own two lots, and we wanted to keep those so that nobody would get hurt [if they built a home below the old Dam 1]. Well, the storm water from that 5-10 acres ended up cutting through our two lots.
“It cut right down into Salce Park. Instead of cutting through the original arroyo, it cut away from the arroyo… don’t ask me how it did it, but it was pretty heavy velocity.
“So right now, we’re issuing a task order for $37,000 of the $250,000” earmarked in the  bond election to grade the land south of the old dam to direct run-off into the drainage pipe that leads to the Montoyas Arroyo. The second, related, project was to the north of the old Dam 1. “There’s a steep escarpment in here, and the run-off came down near Tierra Encantada, so we’re going to take a look at that, too.
“In one place, the run-off broke out a couple of little ponds the Village had. We think with a little bit of new piping and putting in a little bigger drop inlets [into the existing drainage pipe that leads from the old Dam 1 to the Montoyas] we can solve that problem.”
Stoliker explained that when his agency installed the pipeline from Dam 1 to the Montoyas Arroyo in 1998, that project included inlets for flows coming from the escarpment itself. Those original inlets along the pipeline route did function, he explained, “but either the inlets were not big enough, or somehow we got a lot more sediment coming in than we expected. “I think what’s happening is that people are building up there and they’re covering their lots so it increases the run-off.
“Or it could have been simply that someone had done a lot of grading up there. Remember, this was a horrible storm event. This was what I consider to be a greater-than-one hundred year event. So they had enough run-off from these lots [in Rio Rancho], and maybe they did have ponds in there, but the ponds over-topped and it came down and broke out a couple of the structures that were in there.”
Most of those erosion problems identified more than a decade ago may finally have been addressed by the Salce Basin project now being completed.
By Meredith Hughes Sowing to the edges, with no hedges, is an agricultural approach that has decimated what one gardener has called “linear nature preserves,” which once nurtured all manner of creature, including bees. In Britain, once fabled for its healthy hedgerows, this created soil erosion, more impact from wind, and far less biodiversity. Thankfully, a return to hedgerows and their preservation is turning this around. Traditionally Americans grow hedges, not hedgerows, which tend to be comprised of one shrub, rather than the mixed plantings of a hedgerow. And yet bee expert and pollinator promoter Anita Amrutz of Albuquerque thinks it’s possible hedgerow plantings in the Southwest could well aid threatened bees, and other creatures, providing nesting, forage and shelter. And inviting predators, too, to hunker down. Amrutz summarized a recent article in The New Yorker magazine that profiled Jake Fiennes, who has taught himself to encourage “the messy,” to re-wild the land. He took 1,000 acres out of food production on one huge estate for that purpose, and the result was a major increase in farm production on the remaining land. Fiennes decries “Taliban farming,” wherein hedges are slashed low instead of pruned intelligently. And is promoting restoration of wetlands. Amrutz recently completed a short documentary on the Rio Grande watershed, which focuses on Lorenzo Candelaria, a South Valley farmer who has lived along the acequia for most of his life. He considers bees “the most essential creatures we have in our agriculture,” with water the key to their and our survival. The film is titled Harvesting Consciousness, and Amrutz prefers you view it by going to her website on this page: thinklikeabee.org/2019/ 12/09/christmas-for-the-bees. Following her eclectic talk at the New Mexico Organic Farming Conference last month, a farmer from the Belen area approached Amrutz, saying he had been considering planting cactus along his fence lines, as a beginning response to the benefits of hedgerows. Possibly, prickly pear. This mixed in with other arid country plants might well come together as a new western American hedgerow. When a hedgerow is planted perpendicular to the prevailing winds, it can reduce wind speeds by up to 75 percent at distances up to ten times the height of the hedgerow on flat land, according to Jude Hobbes, an agroecologist, permaculturist and hedgerow specialist based in Oregon. Buffering the wind is not as easy to accomplish in the high desert, but still, one can try. And hedgerows/or mixed hedges do much more. According to Amy Stross, of Tenth Acre Farm in the Midwest, if you’d like to see more beneficial insects patrolling your garden or more pollinators coming in for a visit, “a hedgerow can do more than a wildflower planting all by itself.” “That’s because mixed hedgerows consist of trees, shrubs and ground covers in addition to herbs and wildflowers, all of which flower and fruit at different times and provide a variety of options for pollen, nectar, food and shelter. More leaf litter will increase habitat for important insects, and more insects may increase the bird and bat populations. Butterflies will also be attracted to hedgerows for protection.” The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the United Kingdom reports that “hedges may support up to 80 percent of our woodland birds, 50 percent of our mammals and 30 percent of our butterflies. The ditches and banks associated with hedgerows provide habitat for frogs, toads, newts and reptiles.” The Audubon Society here in the United States is not particularly hedgerow oriented, but its focus is firm on native plantings and their benefits to birds, bees and us.
Its Native Plants Database is a remarkable resource: audubon.org/plantsforbirds. Just type in your zip code and up come detailed listings. The zip code 87048 yielded 67 “best results,” and 437 “full results.” Advocate Amrutz of Think Like a Bee took her deep dive into bee-ness a few years back and discovered that “pollinators, including some 20,000 species of wild bees, contribute to the growth of fruit, vegetables and many nuts, as well as flowering plants. Plants that depend on pollination make up 35 percent of global crop production volume with a value of as much as $577 billion a year. The agricultural system, for which pollinators play a key role, creates millions of jobs worldwide.” And fairly recently she also learned of the millions of bee deaths in California’s almond fields, because professional beekeepers bring in their hives to pollinate the trees there. A Guardian newspaper report in January 2020 stated that “a recent survey of commercial beekeepers showed that 50 billion bees —more than seven times the world’s human population— were wiped out in a few months during winter 2018-19. This is more than one-third of commercial U.S. bee colonies, the highest number since the annual survey started in the mid-2000s.” “Beekeepers attributed the high mortality rate to pesticide exposure, diseases from parasites and habitat loss. However, environmentalists and organic beekeepers maintain that the real culprit is something more systemic: America’s reliance on industrial agriculture methods, especially those used by the almond industry, which demands a large-scale mechanization of one of nature’s most delicate natural processes. “Environmental advocates argue that the huge, commercially driven proliferation of the European honeybees used on almond farms is itself undermining the ecosystem for all bees. Honeybees out-compete diverse native bee species for forage, and threaten the endangered species that are already struggling to survive climate change. Environmentalists argue a better solution is to transform the way large-scale agriculture is carried out in the United States.” Why so keen on almond milk? There is so much water involved, but, true eco-edible patriots can make their own, at home. The link is here: minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-almond-milk/ Meanwhile, much as the honey bee is appreciated and loved, maybe we need to learn more about native bees, in particular the blue orchard mason bee, Osmia lignaria, This is the dark blue bee that gathers pollen on its belly, not its legs, and is a highly efficient pollinator of native crops, according to the U.S. Forest Service. There are 140 species of the genus Osmia in North America, and Osmia lignaria is the bee for whom you might have bought that bee hotel on line… the one filled with the hollow bamboo tubes. Maybe this spring its “No Vacancy” sign will go up. To read The New Yorker piece, get the issue of February 17/24 2020, or visit the website newyorker.com/magazine/2020/02/17/can-farming-make-space-for-nature. For the Tenth Acre Farm writeup “10 Reasons to Plant a Hedgerow,” go to: tenthacrefarm.com/10-reasons-to-plant-a-hedgerow.
The United Nations climate change conference (COP26) that was set to take place in Glasgow, Scotland in November has been postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic. This decision has been taken by the COP Bureau of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with the United Kingdom and its Italian partners.
Dates for a rescheduled conference in 2021, hosted in Glasgow, will be set out in due course following further discussion with parties. “In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible,” organizers said. “Rescheduling will ensure all parties can focus on the issues to be discussed at this vital conference and allow more time for the necessary preparations to take place. We will continue to work with all involved to increase climate ambition, build resilience and lower emissions. COP26 President-Designate and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma explained, “The world is currently facing an unprecedented global challenge and countries are rightly focusing their efforts on saving lives and fighting COVID-19. That is why we have decided to reschedule COP26.”
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa added, “COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term. “Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient. “In the meantime, we continue to support and to urge nations to significantly boost climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement.” With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.
U.S. Senator Tom Udall and senators from Oregon wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt urging Interior to immediately suspend any policy proposals or actions unrelated to the COVID-19 emergency that require a public comment period until the threats of COVID-19 have subsided. Udall is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. The Oregon senators were Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. The senators sent the letter as Americans across the country are focused on the safety and well-being of their families and themselves during this global crisis, meaning public comment periods on policy actions at this time cannot fully reflect public opinion and meaningful participation.
In New Mexico, the Department of the Interior oversees approximately 27 million acres, about 34 percent of the state’s total lands. Late last month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) entered into a public comment period for the sale of federal public land in Eddy, Lea and Chaves counties while COVID-19 confirmed cases had jumped to 403 with seen confirmed deaths across the state. “As the country is addressing the public health emergency of COVID-19, the agencies within the Department of Interior should be focused on how to bolster the response to COVID-19 in communities across America, not push through policy with limited public input,” the senators wrote. “Americans should not be required to find and comment on the Department’s rule making, while they are experiencing major disruptions with childcare, employment, and safety.” “The Department is also obligated to undertake tribal consultation for many of its decisions, a process which cannot effectively take place when tribal governments are responding to the public health emergency. Under these circumstances, any policies put forward by the Department would not have the appropriate level of public input and the validity of such policy would be brought into question,” the senators continued.
Udall and the entire New Mexico delegation sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt asking for the Department of Interior to extend the public comment period for the joint Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the area around Chaco Culture National Historical Park by at least 120 days due to the limited ability of the public to participate during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
The Frontier Mart has been sold to a Corrales couple who intend to keep the store going. The new owners are Gabriel and Elizabeth Holguin; the business was already in existence as “Corrales Market” when Jean Blackmon Waszak and partners took it over in 1976.
For decades, the enterprise, also known affectionately as “the little store” was the setting for a column she wrote for Corrales Comment, “Reflections from a Country Store.” She suspended the column last year after to her husband’s serious injury. John Waszak, a former professional football player, is recovering and undergoing physical therapy.
For years after she acquired the store, it was located in the building next door, now known as “The Bunkhouse.” Jean and John Waszak bought the adjacent property and built the new store in 1997.
They put the business and property on the real estate market last year, and turned away several potential buyers who they felt were “not the right fit.”
“Gabe has a passion for the store. He’s a lot younger, has a good attitude and is a hard-worker,” she said, in an April 6 interview with the Comment.
If anything, she said, she herself is working harder than ever. “I’m working night and day and haven’t had a day off in months. Every day, there’s a new crisis.”
The ordeal they are facing now is basically the same that everyone else must deal with: coping with the coronavirus pandemic. “You asked how Corrales and the Frontier Mart have changed over the years,” Waszak reply to a Comment inquiry. “I’d have to say that in 1976 the Frontier Mart started out as a convenience store. Convenience stores were up and coming in 1976. But over the years we tried to retain the convenience and add more groceries. Now we consider ourselves a little grocery store with a full line of basic groceries and produce.
“We’ve also evolved into a source for made-in-New-Mexico food products which has been great fun.
“As for Corrales, we’ve seen our village change in so many ways. One major change has been that Corraleños have become much more business-friendly. In the old days many Corraleños thought businesses were a threat to the rural ambience of the village. But nowadays villagers seem much more appreciative of our business community. That’s a really nice change.
“John and I have not reflected too much on what we will do when we retire from the store. We’d thought we might travel a bit. But of course, now that will have to wait until the virus threat has lessened. “We plan to work on our house and build a new bedroom. We look forward to having some down time —maybe we’ll sleep-in once in a while. We’ll enjoy having evenings when we don’t do the accounting or make grocery orders.
“I think I’d like to cook and read and write —not in that order. I expect at first there’ll be a big emptiness and we’ll have to remind ourselves that this is what we wanted. But we’ll get past it. “I’m determined that we won’t bother Gabriel unless he calls us. John and I will miss the daily contact with customers and our teammates at the store, but we won’t miss the responsibility. When it’s time to clean the cotton out of the compressors on the roof, or change the light bulbs in the ceiling, I’m going to love retirement!”
Right now, she said, “we’re just trying to keep toilet paper and flour and yeast on the shelves. And we’re trying to think how it’s even possible to organize a final inventory. The projects for today include scouting out more hand sanitizer and installing sneeze guards over the check stand. I can’t let myself dream of retirement just yet. Ask me in a month or two.”