Corralitos 4-H had “so many plans for this year and so many new members, it is really a bummer we have not been able to meet or do any of our community service projects,” reported 4-H leader Lacey Bendzus. New Mexico State University 4-H “cancelled all face-to-face 4-H activities until August 8, so we have not been able to do anything together, even with social distancing, at all,” she added. The Sandoval County Fair, a key event for Corralitos 4-H members, scheduled to run in Cuba from July 29 through August 2, has been cancelled. So organizers are creating a Virtual Livestock Show and Virtual Junior Livestock Sale. The sale will be open to everyone.
Full details are available at: https://sandovalextension.nmsu.edu/documents /2020-virtual-show-guidelines.pdf
Entries can be filed from July 1, with everything in by July 20. Winners in assorted categories will be announced July 29, 30, 31 and August 1. Bendzus said “We are really hoping we can have a successful sale so that the kids that did decide to purchase animals will have a chance of making back some of their money.” Used to seeing the 4-H kids on a weekly basis during the summer months, Bendzus commented that “it has been hard. I miss my 4-H family so much. Still, the kids that did still purchase their animals are working hard with them during this downtime. Their commitment to the 4-H is amazing.”
A long-proposed trail connection between the City of Rio Rancho’s paved Thompson Fence Line trail along the edge of the escarpment and the end of Sagebrush Drive in Corrales was presented at the June 16 Village Council meeting. The plan was explained in a Powerpoint presentation by the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission. The council meeting was held via internet, as such meetings were over the past two months.
The commission has held discussions with Rio Rancho officials, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority and Corrales Public Works several times over the last five years. Public Works has estimated the trail link could cost around $74,000 including engineering and installation.
“The time is now,” the commission’s presentation urged. “A Parks and Recreation survey indicated residents want opportunities to exercise outside as individuals and as families. Trail connectivity is an important tenet of the Trails Master Plan. A loop trail is a great way to enjoy our village.”
The south end of Rio Rancho’s trail terminates at Corrales’ Meadowlark Lane, although just south of that is Intel’s recently improved Skyview Trail which extends on southward to the Skyview Acres Subdivision.
“Together, they provide a three-mile path along the border between Corrales and Rio Rancho that offers sweeping views of the village and the Sandias,” the commission’s report stated. “Attempts to connect the north end to the village via Sagebrush have been ongoing for 30 years.”
It noted that “ad hoc” paths at the end of Sagebrush Drive to reach the Thompson Fence Line Trail have existed for years across private property. Now an opportunity to build the long-proposed trail connection can be achieved using Village-owned land adjacent to the cul de sac at the end of Sagebrush. “The Village owns the land on which the potential trail connection would be constructed,” the Powerpoint says. “Nearby lots are for sale. We have an agreement among current neighbors that the connection is a good idea. Benefits are significant: health, quality of life, potential economic boos for local businesses.”
The commission’s introduction notes that “the idea of a loop trail around Corrales was first imagined in the 1980s. Rio Rancho completed the Thompson Fence Line Trail, and Intel built their trail in the 1990s.
“A few years ago, a lot in that area that would serve as a t rail connection was deeded to the Village from the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority. Mike Chavez, Village Public Works director, viewed the possible connection, indicating it was doable and providing cost estimates. This link is on the Master Trails Plan.”
The commission seeks a commitment from the mayor and Village Council to proceed with the trail connection when funding becomes available.
What may be Corrales’ most iconic historic commercial building, El Portal, now has a plaque proclaiming it. A blue plaque was attached to the facade by the Corrales Historical Society in early June. Research indicates it was built as a two-room trading post around 1860. Over the years, the building has been used as a general store, dance hall, Sunday afternoon poker venue, art gallery, community theater and coffee house. The U-shaped structure at 4686 Corrales Road, adjacent to the elementary school property, is known locally as “El Portal.” It’s historical name is the Lopez Building, after Octaviano Lopez who bought it from Jennie Weiner in 1910.
Corrales Historical Society records trace the building’s owners and uses over the years. “With the exception of Kris Dale’s completion of a partial second-story addition during the late 1970s, the Lopez Building has not changed significantly since 1927.”
“Earl Works ran a grocery store here after World War II where locals would often convene for a Sunday afternoon of poker. The Adobe Theater used the north hall for a while. In the 1960s, David Dale bought the building and called it the ‘House of Maya.’” Dale also bought the building on the other side of Corrales Road which today is still known as “Mercado de Maya.”
“As he and his wife raised their family here, they leased parts of the building for an art galley and coffee house in the early 1970s.” Architect designer Gay Wilmerding bought the building in 1983 and undertook a major restoration that included installing interior beams and posts to relieve weight on the original adobe or terrón walls. El Portal is now owned by Mike and Adriana Foris who bought it from Wilmerding in 2004.
“Gay won an award for historic preservation/restoration of the building,” Mike Foris recalled. “Recently we converted the entire building to a heat pump system such that each suite has refrigerated air conditioning as well as an upgraded heating system. Previously it had evaporative cooling and radiant heat panels. This has significantly reduced the building's electrical demand, a savings which we have passed on to our tenants.
“We installed a mini-split system which allows each tenant to control the temperature of their suite and which had a minimal impact to the esthetics of the building, which was a major consideration when we did the upgrade. “The building is fully occupied and almost all of our tenants have been with us for a number of years.”
The call of the cool waters of the Rio Grande recently has brought to its shores people launching swimming pool floats… flotation devices utterly unsuitable for river rafting. Some haven’t worn life vests, something required by state law. The result? Urgent calls to Corrales Fire Department and Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue, who aided people who had become stranded or injured while attempting to float down the river. The combined efforts of Corrales and Rio Rancho personnel rescued two people May 7, one of whom had a minor injury, and five people on June 2.
Corrales Commander Tanya Latin reported that although the water flow in the river has yet to reach peak run-off flows, the Rio Grande still poses a significant danger to boaters, rafters and swimmers. That’s especially true for people not using kayaks, canoes, actual rafts or shallow-bottom boats, for example, since those crafts are created for use in moving water, usually equipped with paddles or oars for steering around obstacles.
If you cannot steer, you are more likely “to be hung up on trees or caught in hidden debris under the water,” Lattin said. Fire-rescue personnel from both Corrales and Rio Rancho have witnessed many people using the river not only with inappropriate flotation devices, but also without wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs) or life jackets.
Rafters and others are risking injury or death by not wearing those. When rescuers reach the river, they are often faced with adults and frightened children hanging on to branches of downed trees, or stuck on a sandbar, unable to cross the moving water. Firefighters often must deploy boats and kayaks to shuttle them to safety on shore. In extreme situations, rescue personnel may have to swim to victims, which puts these first responders in danger.
“People underestimate the power of water,” said Paul Bearce, fire chief for Rio Rancho. “Even moderate flow rates can knock down an adult and hold them under the water,” he added.
Recreational swimming in the river is firmly discouraged. You can be caught and dragged under the water by the current, and torn up by debris hidden below. Both departments have responded to injured boaters this year, and recovered drowned bodies in years past.
As Corrales Fire Chief Anthony Martinez put it, “While my crews have had to assist seven people to safety so far this season, all of whom were using pool floats, you can still end up needing to be rescued.”
Even if wearing a life vest and paddling a kayak, stay alert, note the flow of the river and also observe the river-mile markers along the Rio Grande’s west bank, from the Highway 550 bridge, south through Albuquerque. Knowing your location on the river if you need to call for assistance greatly helps responders locate you.
A career in veterinary medicine and/or research awaits a young Corraleña who reigned as New Mexico’s “Miss Rodeo Teen 2017.” Clara Maxam’s interests led to a summer project with Los Alamos National Laboratories studying the effects of the lab’s work on wildlife in the area. That was during her first year at New Mexico State University, from which she recently graduated with concentrations in animal sciences, chemistry and horse management.
In subsequent NMSU years, she was a paid research assistant, which led to a Howard Hughes Medical Institute scholarship for gifted students in biomedical sciences. Maxam is now enrolled in Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, Washington.
Her career has included an internship at a wildlife sanctuary in Ecuador, as well as a presenter-delegate spot at the Women in Economics Forum in New Delhi, India. As president of NMSU’s pre-vet club, she facilitated members’ visits to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. Maxam graduated from Sandia Preparatory School in 2016. She is the daughter of Garth and Barb Maxam of Applewood Road.
For months now, mass distributed emails have warned Washington evil-doers are trying to close down the Corrales Post Office. The message urging rapid political action is that the U.S. Postal Service will run out of money to continue operations this summer unless Congress approved more funding.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sent one of those email blasts May 30 promoting a national petition drive to save the Postal Service. “I want to make sure you had a chance to sign this petition to save the U.S. Postal Service from dire financial trouble,” she began.
“For so many people in New Mexico, USPS is the life line that connects them to the world, especially for rural communities across the state. If we don’t act now, we could lose rural routes that aren’t profitable for private companies —meanwhile prices could increase for everyone. That’s why I’m asking another 200 people to add their signatures to this petition calling for emergency federal funding for the USPS before midnight.”
The governor warned “without an influx in federal funding, it could run out of money by the end of September.” As expected, officials at the Corrales Post Office are not saying anything publicly about any pending shut-down, except that uncertainty lies ahead.
In early May, USPS directors reported that its losses more than doubled in the fiscal quarter ending March 31 to more than $4.5 billion. In light of that, Congress authorized the U.S. Treasury Department to lend USPS up to $10 billion as part of its coronavirus relief package.
President Donald Trump has threatened to block that loan unless the service hiked rates for corporate shippers like Amazon, FedEx and United Parcel Service.
Governor Lujan Grisham’s email acknowledged that “lots of families across our state have been relying on the USPS to get the supplies they need during these extraordinarily difficult times. The work that USPS does is truly essential. Just last year, the USPS delivered $1.2 billion in prescription drugs. About one in five Americans pay their bills by mail,” she wrote. “Postal service workers trek rural routes, where profits are low but need is high, that private delivery companies sip. Without financial help, the USPS could cut service for rural communities and costs for everyone could increase.”
The Corrales Post Office opened January 13, 1885 to distribute mail brought by a stagecoach running from Albuquerque to Cuba. In 1940, the post office here served the community of about 300 residents. By 1990, the number of postal patrons had grown to 5,453.
According to an article in the May 11, New York Times, “Now the fight over the future of the Postal Service has spilled onto the campaign trail, freighted by deeply held disagreements about labor rights, the role of government versus private enterprise in providing basic services, and voting access.”
To some observers, the impasse is linked to a perceived strategy to privatize the delivery of mail and packages. It has been suggested that the Postal Service be required to lease out its facilities to carriers such as UPS and FedEx, an extension of collaboration underway in recent years.
Despite recurring vicissitudes, hassles and frustrations, the Corrales Post Office and its employees generally enjoy villagers’ support and fondness. That was shown by a public letter this month by Judy and Larry Salas to a retiring postal carrier: “Marlene, we wanted to let you know how lucky we’ve been to have you as our mail carrier all these years. You have always gone that extra mile (pun intended) to make sure we received our mail and packages in a timely fashion. We hope you enjoy your retirement. We will miss your kind service to us and the Corrales community.”
An op-ed article in the May 16 New York Times by Professor Ted Widmer titled “The Post Service Is Not ‘a Joke’” recounts the organization’s founding. “The Postal Service was never supposed to be a money-making enterprise, or a political football. The founders understood the reliable delivery of information was basic to democracy.
“In 1775, even before the country came into existence, the Continental Congress asked Benjamin Franklin to organize a postal system for the 13 colonies at war with a distant empire. George Washington deepened that commitment when he became president. In 1792, he and James Madison pushed an act through Congress establishing a national system of post offices and post roads. The legislation specifically set a low rate for newspapers, so Americans could learn about the issues of the day.”
Nearly two years ago, Village officials signed an agreement with a rival to Century Link, Unite Private Networks (UPN), which was supposed to offer better, cheaper broadband service to Corrales businesses. So far, no businesses here have taken UPN up on the offer. In fact, it’s not clear the offer was ever actually extended.
In June 2018, a UPN representative and its attorney drew up a franchise agreement that would allow the 20 year old Kansas City firm to use the Village’s right-of-way along Corrales Road to lay fiber cable in the road shoulder to reach Corrales Elementary School.
UPN has a contract with Albuquerque Public Schools to connect its schools to the internet with high-speed broadband service. That was accomplished in Corrales, but since then, the only other client UPN has added is the ARCA La Paloma facility on East La Entrada.
Contacted by Corrales Comment June 11, the firm’s regional sales director, Josanne Cossio, explained “We have fiber to an ARCA location and Corrales Elementary. We have spoken to some business folks, but no takers thus far. We would love to change that.”
She did not reply to q uestions about the cost and reliability of such service. In presentations to the mayor and Village Council in summer 2018, UPN assured that better, more affordable broadband service would be available to all businesses in Corrales’s commercial district. UPN does not provide service to residences.
“UPN provides high bandwidth, fiber-based communications network services to schools, governments, carriers, data centers, hospitals and enterprise business customers across a 22 state service area,” the company’s web site explains. “Service offerings include dark and lit fiber, private line, metro optical ethernet, internet access, data center services and other customized solutions.”
The franchise agreement signed with the Village of Corrales included a provision that UPN would pay the Village a fee of four percent of its annual gross revenues from cust omers here, but not less than $6,000 a year. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVII No.12 August 25, 2018 “Franchise Approved For Century Link Rival.”)
The franchise agreement with the Village will continue through mid-2023. It was essentially written by an attorney for Unite Private Networks LLC (UPN). But at the council meeting, Councillor George Wright wanted it changed to require that UPN provide the Village Office with free high-speed internet access.
But some councillors balked at that idea, because imposition of that demand significantly altered the deal. Councillor Dave Dornburg objected to inserting that requirement for franchise approval at this stage; he made a motion to postpone approval of the franchise until the Village negotiated that with UPN.
His motion to postpone a vote on Ordinance 18-005 regarding the franchise failed.
Then Dornburg joined all the other councillors in voting to approve the ordinance as written, while urging the mayor to try to persuade UPN to provide free high-speed internet access for the Village Office. That approach, councillors said, would give the firm “the opportunity to demonstrate their stated intention to be of assistance to the community.”
Councillors were very receptive to a presentation by the firm’s representatives June 12, 2018 especially upon hearing that more revenue would likely flow to the Village, and with fewer hassles from Century Link.
Then-Village Administrator Suanne Derr reported that more fees might be coming. “The Village anticipates entering into future franchise agreements with at least two other companies who want to use Village right-of-way for their optic or network expansions,” she wrote in her report to the mayor and councillors.
Winter told the mayor and council in June that UPN will comply fully with terms of its franchise. Without going into details, Village officials indicated they have had ongoing disputes with Century Link.
Winter pointed out that the more business customers UPN takes away from Century Link, the more revenue will flow to the Village of Corrales. The company said it expects to soon have 500 miles of fiber network encompassing the entire metropolitan area.
As the coronavirus spreads deeper into Corrales, and around New Mexico, the Village of Corrales has cancelled its planned Fourth of July parade. Mayor Jo Anne Roake announced the cancellation June 30, after saying in her June 26 “Mayor’s Message” that a modified parade would be held.
As of July 1, twenty Corralenos had come down with COVID-19. In Sandoval County the tally was 728 resulting in 29 deaths. Statewide, 12,147 people had tested positive for the disease, and rates were rising rapidly presumably caused by relaxation of measures meant to control its spread, such as gradual re-opening of businesses. Under the governor’s orders, certain closures were reinstated.
As of July 1, experts were predicting that medical research is “about one-third of the way” toward delivery of a coronavirus vaccine. “The brightest minds in the world are in this fight, and they are moving with an incredible sense of urgency,” said researcher Michelle McMurry-Heath, president of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.