Posts in Category: 2020 – Nov 21

2020 NOV. 21 ISSUE: NEW BOOK BY MARTHA EGAN ON ANTIQUE ARTFORM

A beautifully illustrated 175-page art book compiled and written by Corrales’ Martha Egan is being distributed by the University of New Mexico Press. Relicarios: the forgotten jewels of Latin America is a product of Egan’s 40 years of research since her Peace Corps days in Venezuela. The hardcover book is available at her store in the Casa Perea Artspace, 4829 Corrales Road.

“In the mid-1970s while I was perusing the jewelry case of a Lima antique shop, I spied several pretty framed miniatures of saints painted in a Cusco style. ‘They’re relicarios,’ the owner told me. ‘Two-sided, eighteenth century, silver frames.’

“As a fledgling buyer of Latin American antiques for my Santa Fe store,  Pachamama, I believed her and bought them. She was right about them each having two sides, but her other claims were false. In time, with a more experienced and jaundiced eye, I could spot similar twentieth century reproductions in their pot-metal frames from across a room.”

The book can also be ordered through www.papalotepress.com. It was published by Fresco Books in Albuquerque and printed in Italy. Her research took her throughout Latin America, Spain and Portugal as well as around the United States.

In the book’s preface, Egan notes, “Even as a recovering Catholic, I felt compelled to research this art form, embarking on what became a four-decades-long project of collecting, studying and interviewing authorities about these little jewels.”

2020 NOV. 21 ISSUE: JOHN ALSOBROOK’S RESEARCH LAB FEATURED BY NY TIMES FOR INNOVATIVE WAY TO TEST FOR COVID-19 EXPOSURE

The medical research laboratory where Corrales’ John Alsobrook works gained national attention November 12 when the New York Times reported on its COVID-19 investigations. Headlined “New Type of Test on T-Cell Response May Better Discern Immunity to Virus,” the article explained how researchers at Adaptive Biotechnologies in Seattle used ongoing work on Lyme disease to re-focus on COVID-19.

The article did not mention former Village Councillor Alsobrook by name, but quoted the firm’s chief medical officer as saying “What we’re developing is essentially a way to look at that cellular part of immunity,” rather than whether COVID-19 antibodies are found in a person tested.

If the Adaptive Biotechnologies coronavirus test is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it would be the first commercially available product to detect a body’s response to current or past exposure to COVID-19. According to the Times article, “Antibodies have dominated the conversation on immunity since the start of the pandemic, but scientists believe that T-cells may be just as important in preventing re-infection.”

Corrales Comment reported on Alsobrook’s work in its June 5, 2020 issue. He is director of an Adaptive Biotechnologies laboratory in Seattle, where he thinks the industry’s rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis will set the stage for how future pandemics are addressed. In a telephone interview with Corrales Comment May 30, Alsobrook said he has been very impressed with how rapidly the scientific community produced results to protect the public here and around the world against invasion by the novel coronavirus.

Anyone in the medical research community “who could switch gears to focus on COVID did, and has continued to do so. “This really speaks to why we have to maintain research budgets for the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation,” he said. “All of this basic research is there as a body of knowledge, and you never know what is going to happen that will make you go back to that knowledge.”

The Adaptive Biotechnologies lab at which he works continues to focus primarily on the human body’s response to cancer cells, particularly leukemia. The basic idea is to learn from the body’s adaptive immune system how to detect and battle invaders. But given the current pandemic, Alsobrook explained, the firm also is collaborating with Microsoft “to decode the immune system’s response to COVID-19” and develop the more sensitive T-cell diagnostic method.
A second strategy is collaborating with Amgen, a pharmaceutical company, to use Adaptive Technologies’ capabilities to “develop potential antibody therapies for COVID-19.”

His firm has committed to make its findings freely available to all researchers around the world through its “ImmuneCODE” project. Alsobrook explained that the term “adaptive” refers to a specialized type of white blood cell in the body which “learns” and adapt to new situations.

“Our immune systems rely on two kinds of cells: B-cells, which make antibodies to attack foreign organisms like the new coronavirus while it's in our bloodstream, and T-cells, which attack when the viruses have invaded and are inside our body’s cells.

“As mentioned briefly in the New York Times article, the preliminary results from a study performed by a team in Italy show Adaptive’s new T-cell test identified 97 percent of past confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections, which outperforms a currently FDA-authorized antibody test that only detected 77 percent,” Alsobrook explained in a November 15 email.

“This T-cell detection method can be an advantage because it appears that antibodies can wane over time, while virus-specific T-cells persist for six months and longer. Also, some people who become infected by this coronavirus may not develop antibodies at all if their body knocks down the infection rapidly with their T-cells.

“Importantly, this new test also detected prior infections in asymptomatic patients. The results were part of a study that tracked nearly the entire population of a single town in Italy.

“We expect the test to be launched later this year after Thanksgiving. The test requires a tube of blood, not the little drop shown in the picture that accompanied the Times article.”

He added a request. “My personal ask for everyone is to “Wear Your Masks!” Any one of us could be an unidentified asymptomatic person, spreading the virus until it reaches someone who is more vulnerable.” He thinks society should expect other pandemics in the future. “I’m certainly not an ‘end times’ or doomsday person, but I think we will see more of this kind of thing. I think it’s bound to happen, mainly because… it’s a small world. There is more and more physical mixing due to travel more than anything else.”

Alsobrook hopes science’s response to the pandemic will set a standard for future collaborations. “It is precedent-setting and really sets the stage for how we react when something like this happens in the future.

“So many places came out rapidly with diagnostic tests. although unfortunately there were some bad actors. Certainly big drug companies always have their bottom line in mind, so they rarely do things for free. But a vaccine is not a big money maker. Yet so many have turned their resources to that, saying they’re ready to turn out a billion doses —that’s pretty amazing.

“And so many in the research community have turned and collaborated, because usually there’s a spirit of friendly competition among academic scientists. It has become more of a collaborative spirit.

“I think that will prepare us for something like this in the future. We will look back on this time and say ‘Yeah, this is the right way to respond.’” The scientific and technical capabilities with ongoing improvements should allow this kind of rapid-response, he said. “All it takes is for us to decide that this is the thing we want to take care of. It takes some leadership to point us in that direction, but then it’s amazing what we can do.

“Look at what we’ve accomplished in a really short period of time… so what can we really get done.” After five years as a bio-medical research scientist at the Yale Medical School, John Alsobrook jumped into the burgeoning gene-focused bio-tech industry in 2000, getting more involved in the management of medical research projects. In 2005, he was hired as “director of discovery” for the Albuquerque-based Exagen Diagnostics firm. He moved his family into a home on Corrales’ Coronado Road in spring 2006.

Alsobrook was something of a science prodigy; he graduated from high school at 15, while taking university courses in symbolic logic, psychology and meteorology. In college, he was funded with a National Science Foundation fellowship to “design molecules to detoxify heavy metals.” He finished his degree in bio-chemistry in 1981 still not sure what field of science he wanted to pursue.

So he enrolled for another bachelor’s degree in physics at Cal State-Los Angeles. In 1985 he headed to Yale University for a doctorate bestowed in 1995. His dissertation was on genetic links to obsessive-compulsive disorders. While working for the Albuquerque medical research firm, he ran for a seat on the Village Council in 2008, serving two terms.

Funding medical research in a private corporation is risky, he pointed out. “There are probably 100 different companies that are working on a vaccine, or a diagnostic or a therapeutic. We’ll see which ideas come to the fore and which can be sustained and have the impact we’re looking for.’ That research activity was sparked largely by a ruling from the federal Food and Drug Administration which relaxed standards for rigorous testing before use on humans. “Now they’re saying you can start using them as long as you say you did the right stuff, and you show it to us later. So look at what happened, just last week,” he pointed out in May. “The FDA pulled 27 different tests off the market that were being used for COVID because the tests didn’t perform well, or the companies didn’t follow up with the data.”

Alsobrook said he has been somewhat amazed by response from the general public to the pandemic. “It’s amazing that people will find any reason to spark controversy… masks or not masks, you name it. “But people can have a lot of confidence in the science that’s being done. I’m seeing what lots of other scientists and companies are doing. But the wild card in any infectious disease outbreak is the social side. Someone is saying that requiring them to wear a mask abridges their freedom; it’s fine to think what you want to think about that independently. ‘I don’t want to wear a mask. Should I really? What is really the truth about a mask?’ “So then we get into these weird areas about what is truth and social media and fake news. But what I would say is that generally with scientists in this day and age, there’s no hidden agenda.

“It’s true that scientists, like everybody else, want to keep their jobs. But for scientists, it’s because they love what they do. To spend as much time as they do in training and learning how to do these things, they do it because it’s what they love to do. There’s a certain amount of faith and integrity that goes with that.

“So for me, it’s interesting how people decide what they want to question.”

2020 NOV. 21 ISSUE: VETERANS’ DAY CEREMONY AT LA ENTRADA PARK


A solemn and deliberately sparsely-attended event on Veterans’ Day was held at the memorial in La Entrada Park outside the Corrales Library. Attended by about 15 people, the pandemic-influenced event was highlighted by the ringing of a bell and a brief speech by retired Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Orell.

In his remarks, he said “The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the 11th month 1918 was when the armistice was signed ending the First World War. “For years after, this day was celebrated by the ringing of bells in all churches and the blowing of whistles in all factories. Americans throughout the country would bow their heads, observing a moment of awesome silence, wherever they were, in tribute to all that died in that war.

“Today’s observance of that special day still reflects our respect for the end of the war and many more in which our nation has engaged over the past 102 years. Its name has been changed to Veterans Day, and it has been expanded to include all veterans, the living and the dead.” He ended his comments reciting a poem by Marine Corps chaplain Dennis Edward O’Brien.

“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
And it is the soldier who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

2020 NOV. 21 ISSUE: WHAT ARE YOU HAVING FOR THANKSGIVING?

By Meredith Hughes
As New Mexico enters deep lockdown, many of us are not quite feeling that big old joyful, grateful “we gather together” Thanksgiving buzz, though we indeed are pleased to be alive and well. Absolutely not seeing our son in DC, nor other family in Bucks County, Brooklyn, New Hampshire or Maine, nor friends in New York or California, not even locals right here.

But we recall a rollicking good Thanksgiving dinner here pre-pandemic, with a Spanish-theme. Paella, grilled sardines, assorted greenery, cheeses, Spanish wine and flan for dessert. This year, contemplating eating tuna right from the can while watching “The Crown,” I decided to ask villagers, totally randomly chosen, their Thanksgiving favorites.

Here you go:
Chris Allen: “One of my favorites is the freshly baked rolls that are Alex’s specialty. The recipe calls for butter at several stages in the making, and they are delicious. He has made them for every Thanksgiving for years except when he had to be in Mexico to film Narcos Mexico for Netflix. My husband and I tried to take over the task, but they just weren't the same.”

Deborah Blank: “Pumpkin pie for breakfast the day after. Too full to enjoy on the actual day. Bummed; had to cancel trip East due to situation.  I miss my son and grandkids!”

Tony Messec: “I don't prepare a single dish for Thanksgiving dinner. I partake of all: some type of salad, turkey, white and dark meat, which I do carve, stuffing —my late mother’s recipe made with Pepperidge Farm stuffing and Jimmy Dean sausage, sweet potato casserole, varies as to whether or not it has marshmallow topping, green bean casserole, varies as to whether or not it has bacon, cranberry sauces, sweet pickles, olives and more. It's an obscene/fabulous —choose your word— feast. Oh yeah, and pies. Pecan, pumpkin, and some sort of berry fruit. Maybe apple, too. And, I'm here to swear to you that my wife and our families can some kind of cook!

“My job is to select the wines. I restrict the selection to American wines, which eliminates Beaujolais, which is a shame, because it's perfect with turkey. Usually have an American sparkler to start, followed by Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and a few others, red and white, but usually not including Zinfandel, another shame, because it’s too high in alcohol, and ending with a dessert wine. There will be appreciably fewer served this year because there will only be four adults rather than the usual 18 or so. Now that I’ve made myself really hungry and thirsty, I wish for you and yours a lovely, peaceful, Thanksgiving dinner and holiday.”

Debbie Clemente: “For me the best part is the stuffing. We make cornbread stuffing with sausage, mushrooms and truffles, topped with homemade gravy. We just made several quarts of turkey stock, in the freezer ready to go. I also love to make cranberry sauce… watching those beautiful red berries burst and bubble in the pot is always a treat. Oh yeah, we like turkey, too, and Thanksgiving is the only time of year we make it. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!”

Jo Anne Roake: “I’d love to say Mama Stamberg’s cranberry relish, but actually I love cranberry straight out of the can, ridges intact. Favorite side is fresh green beans with almond slivers.”

Aaron Gjullin: “Stuffing for me, please.”

Tanya Lattin:  “So I am having trouble deciding, lasagna from my Italian heritage and/or fresh mashed potatoes topped with green chile mixed with garlic.”

Kitty Tynan: “Mine is so boring, and/or weird. My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the cranberry/ orange relish. You just grind up fresh cranberries and whole oranges, throw in a little sugar, and you’re done. But I love it!  I love the smell of turkey roasting, too.”

Eleanor Bravo: “We're not very fancy when it comes to Thanksgiving.  I always make and serve mashed sweet potatoes and cranberries with orange rind.”
Stephanie Duran: “My favorite is mashed sweet potatoes and pears. Bosc pears, the brown ones, are best. Bake sweets and pears separately, then mash with butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, a bit of sugar, a spot of vanilla, a tad of orange rind. Bake about 20 minutes.”

Rex Funk: “I favor the condemned man’s last meal. Alaska King Crab!”
Alex Price: “The turkey drumstick. Meh, to all the side dishes and family drama fanfare. Paleo all the way!”

Sandy Gold: “You’re talking to a grinch, Meredith! Let’s start with the fact that I’m a vegan and then go to the fact that I just started Ayurvedic medicine last month and have to follow a very limited diet, trying to get my doshas balanced and my gut in order.

“That’s for now.

“I never cared for T’giving as a holiday, had a crazy family that I really didn’t want to be with, and managed to avoid it in 1978, right after being treated for melanoma. I did a four-day course with Silva Mind Control in New York City, both for the value of the course, but also it gave me an excuse not to have to be with family.

“By the way, my kitties would love tuna straight out of the can.”

2020 NOV. 21 ISSUE: CORRALES SEWER CLOG CLEARED; SCHOOL’S HOOK-UP MAY BE SOLUTION

The sewer line along Corrales Road experienced a major blockage in early November when Los Lunas-based Southwest Sewer Service was called in to remediate. The blockage was cleared within a few hours, although the Corrales Public Works Department continued to flush the line for several more hours. Public Works Director Mike Chavez said he could not definitively identify the cause of the problem. “We noticed we had an issue when the pressure on the line increased. We isolated the area in question and applied vacuum on one end and pressure on the other until the blockage loosened up and we could remove it.

“We did have to rotate between the vacuum and pressure a couple of times. We did have to isolate the area so the main was put out of service in the area we were working on.

“We pumped out the tanks at the businesses and residences in said area as to not introduce liquids as we were working. At this point I would not speculate on the exact cause of the blockage, being an enclosed system under pressure, we couldn’t see what the blockage was.” Chavez said the cost of repair would not be known until calculations were made for pumping, staff time and contracted service. Under normal operation, the Village’s six-inch diameter wastewater line is pressurized by a pump at each septic tank connected to the system. If that effluent cannot discharge to the sewer, or encounters unusual difficulty in doing so, the pressure builds, setting off alarms. South of Meadowlark Lane, the wastewater line is eight-inches in diameter.

Hook ups by owners of residential and commercial properties have been slow, at one point leading the funding source, the N.M. Environment Department, to threaten legal acton against the Village. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIII No.1, February 22, 2014 “Corrales Avoids Default on NMED Loan for Sewer Project.”) After decades of confusion, political turmoil and technical and bureaucratic delays, the Corrales sewer system went into operation in February 2014.

With no fanfare or ribbon-cutting, the controversial liquids-only, pressurized sewer system began sending waste water toward Albuquerque’s sewers around 2:15 p.m. that day, pumping from the Corrales Recreation Center’s septic tanks and those at the Village Office. Finally, after more than six years, the biggest hold-out to connecting to the municipal wastewater line, Albuquerque Public Schools, is set to do so in the weeks ahead. APS Director of Operations John Dufay told Corrales Comment November 16 that crews began work on the connection in late summer. He could not say exactlly when the tie-in might come.

Dufay said a variety of factors indicated the time had come to finally connect the school to the Village’s sewer line. “Due to COVID-19, we decided now is a good time to start doing it. Everything just fell into place to do it at this time.” He said the school’s innovative constructed wetlands at the east end of the property —which he designed and directed years ago— has continued to function well. The project will continue to be used, but as an outdoor classroom rather than the schools’s primary wastewater treatment method. The school’s “black water” will be routed to a large septic tank, sand filtration unit and pumping station before it goes to the sewer line along Corrales Road.

Dufay said some amount of “grey water” will still be delivered to the constructed wetlands for educational purposes. When school is fully in session, he expects about 15,000 to 18,000 gallons of wastewater per day will be sent to the municipal sewer. Back in 2014, a letter from the N.M. Environment Department (NMED) about the acceptability of the Village Council’s sewer ordinance arrived just before the council’s February 11 meeting.

Signed by then-NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn, the letter conceded that not all property owners adjacent to the sewer line in the commercial district needed to connect to it immediately. The argument had been advanced by Councillor John Alsobrook the previous year was accepted; that NMED should be satisfied if nearly all the wastewater volume from the business district was sent to the sewer, which he said would be accomplished if municipal facilities, the Catholic church and the elementary school connected.

Flynn’s letter noted, “You and [Village Attorney John] Appel previously conveyed that you anticipate several commercial and government facilties to connect to the system as soon as allowed. Further, these facilities constitute the majority of the anticipated flow rate for the system. “In an effort to assure a functional and healthy system and avoid costly litigation, the Department will re-evaluate the success of [Corrales] Ordinance 13-007 and withhold judgment of potential default of the terms of the loan agreement for two years.

“The department will recognize substantial compliance with the loan agreement’s mandatory connection ordinance requirement under the following circumstances: 50 percent of the anticipated flow rate for the entire Corrales Road High Density Area [the commercial district, Wagner Lane to Meadowlark] is connected by December 31, 2014; 70 percent of the anticipated flow rate for the entire Corrales Road High Density Area is connected by June 30, 2015; and 80 percent of the anticipated flow rate for the entire Corrales Road High Density area is connected by January 31, 2016.”

The NMED secretary asked for reports telling which properties in the commercial district would be hooked up to the sewer as of April 1 that year, as well as on January 15, 2015, July 15, 2015 and February 15, 2016. He also wanted to know how many “fixture units” were to be hooked up at each address by those dates. “This information will allow us both to determine when the milestones outlined above have been met.”

Flynn closed his letter by noting, “I hope the approach outlined above provides a beneficial path forward and meets our mutual goal of a fully functional and fiscally sustainable wastewater collection system.” But Corrales was nowhere near achieving the results that NMED demanded.

NMED’s Environmental Health Division director, Tom Blaine, and Construction Programs Bureau chief, Jim Chiasson, had argued the Village of Corrales was fundamentally in default of its loan and grant agreement that funded completion of the system the previous year. The agreement stated that use of the system must be mandatory.

But council members twice rejected such an ordinance that required property owners to connect to the sewer line immediately, citing financial hardship for long-time, modest income residents. As the impasse seemed to be leading to an NMED lawsuit against the Village, then-Mayor Gasteyer had several meetings with ranking NMED officials and their attorney, and finally a meeting in the governor’s office. The conflict essentially evaporated once a new mayor, Scott Kominiak, was sworn in.

The blockage last month may well re-open another debate: possible use of grinder pumps to process wastes from homes and businesses before they are sent to the sewer line. Back in 2013, an assessment was made that the sewer pipe in the ground from Corrales’ commercial district to an Albuquerque sewer station could function with grinder pumps as well as liquids-only septic tank effluent pumps —as long as Village officials were willing to flush the line weekly with water from the fire station.

Village Engineer Steve Grollman, then with The Larkin Group, gave the mayor and Village Council that general evaluation at a work-study session March 19, 2013.  His assessment matched that of original determinations by the Souder, Miller and Associates engineering firm which designed and supervised installation of the six-inch diameter sewer main, with the added operational advantage of pumping clean-out water into the line where it starts north of San Ysidro Catholic Church.

“This analysis indicates that it is most likely that there will be minimal difficulties in maintaining the system, subsequent to the ultimate flow of approximately 200,000 gallons per day envisioned in the design documents provided to us,” Grollman wrote in his preliminary report discussed at the 2013 work-study session.

But until enough homes and businesses were hooked up to supply sufficient volume and velocity, there’s a strong probability that solids will settle in the sewer main and begin to clog the system, Grollman cautioned. Mayor Phil Gasteyer said he expected the study would show that the infrastructure in the ground could handle sewage from grinder pumps as well as waste water effluent from septic tank effluent pumps.

The liquids-only system is referred to as a “septic tank effluent pressurized,” or STEP, system. “Though construction of either pressurized system could be costly at individual properties, over time the grinder option will be significantly simpler and cheaper for those connecting, since there is no longer need for a septic tank.”

But in councillors’ discussion following Grollman’s 2013 presentation, general consensus focused on starting the system up for STEP operations on a voluntary basis for property owners along Corrales Road to get as many sewer users as quickly as possible, perhaps even providing the STEP pumps free.

Once there is adequate flow into the sewer main, then allow property owners to apply to install grinder pumps, they reasoned. The sewer system designed by Souder Miller was for liquids-only pumps, so that sewage solids remained in septic tanks which would have to be pumped out perhaps every three years. Even so, at the time the Souder Miller design was approved and implemented, engineers anticipated that a limited number of grinder pumps, primarily needed by restaurants, could also be accommodated.

Mayor Gasteyer and others concluded grinder pumps discharging waste water and ground-up solids into the sewer main would be a better option. It would be cheaper in the long run, the mayor asserted; it would eliminate septic tanks altogether along with associated maintence costs, and would eliminate the need for homeowners’ cleaning septic pump filters.

The mayor said he was convinced that homeowners were unlikely to perform the STEP filter cleaning ritual as diligently as would be required, resulting in malfunctions that could require burdensome maintenance responses. With grinders, there is no effluent filter to clean, but… the ground-up solids going out to the sewer main are likely to settle in the bottom of the pipe and eventually clog the system, especially in the first year or so before all homes and businesses are hooked up.

That’s why Village Engineer Grollman recommended flushing the sewer main out with water weekly, at least until all potential users of the system were discharging into it. And that’s why the pending connection of Corrales Elementary to the Village’s sewer line could be just what’s needed to make the system work optimally.

Even so, as Gasteyer explained on March 15, 2013, “Introduction of grinder pumps will present some different maintenance issues, because flows must be maintained at certain velocities to avoid settling out of solids, particularly in the early months of operation as initial customers are joining the system.

“This could mean additional operation and maintenance costs for the Village utility system compared with a STEP-only system,” he cautioned. “Periodic ‘flushing’ may be needed from a hydrant at the north end of the line, near Old Church Road.” Grollman’s preliminary report for the 2013 work-study session gave details of what might be required. “The entire force main system should be flushed on a weekly schedule to remove solids that have settled in the lines,” he wrote, estimating that such flushing would take 400 to 450 gallons per minute with 60 to 75 pounds per square inch pressure for 90 minutes.

That calculates to at least 36,000 gallons of water each week to make the sewer work. Using less water at higher pressure would run the risk of bursting the sewer pipe, the engineer warned. In a quick estimate, then-Village Attorney John Appel said Corrales had sufficient water rights to flush the line weekly.

It would help to add more volume to such a grinder pump system by extending sewer service to higher density residential neighborhoods that need it, such as those along Priestly and Coroval Roads, the mayor pointed out. But as Grollman noted in his report seven years ago, “Paradoxically, some of the installed ‘neighborhood laterals’ for future expansion are smaller than would be designed for grinder pump use” which could also lead to sewage blockages.

Grollman estimated homeowners opting for a grinder pump system, rather than a liquids-only STEP system, would pay about $12,000. That breaks down to $7,000 for the grinder and pump, $2,000 for electrical service to the grinder, $2,000 for buried sewer pipe out to Corrales Road, $500 for a vault and valve and another $500 for “septic tank abandonment.”

Appel noted, “The advantage of using a grinder pump from the standpoint of both the Village and the property owner,” Appel said, “is that the use of a grinder pump allows you to eliminate the septic tank entirely. You don’t need to worry about that element, and the grinder pump allows all waste water, including semi-solids to be ground up in the grinder pump and put into the system to be discharged eventually to the Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.

“The potential problem is that with those solids it can be difficult to ensure that the flow in the pressure system will be maintained. That’s presently being evaluated by the engineers at Larkin Group, so we don’t know the extent yet to which grinder pumps can be used.

“I would point out one of the potential disadvantages of the use of grinder pumps for some potential users, particularly domestic users, is that the grinder pump requires 220-volt power at the source [of the grinder pump installation] which is going to be the responsibility of the property owner.

“If your present system is not sufficient to handle that, a STEP pump which can use 115-volt power may be to the advantage of the individual property owner.”

2020 NOV. 21 ISSUE: CHRISTMAS PARADE, ST. NICK PARTY CANCELLED

No Christmas de Caballos parade this year, and no St. Nick’s old-fashioned community Christmas party. Those two holiday traditions that have brightened Corraleños’ spirits have been cancelled, as has the “giving tree” erected in the Village Office. But another is still going and needs your participation more than ever.

It’s the annual food and gift drive by the Corrales Fire Department. “As we head into the holiday season, things will be different this year to help keep everyone safe from COVID-19,” the Corrales Fire Department’s Tanya Lattin explained. “We still have a need for food and presents for Corrales families, but cannot do a normal food drive and setup a “giving tree.” We will not have groups help with food sorting, food box setup or present wrapping. What we will be able to do as a community is help support those in need.”

Lattin suggested that people who want to get gift tags this year, or to adopt a family for food, should contact her directly by calling 702-4182 or email tlattin@corrales-nm.org to learn what a child wants and needs. “Since there will be a very limited number of people to make food boxes, if you would like to help supply food for families, donations of money made to Kiwanians Club of Corrales with the memo of Fire Department or ‘Food and Present Drive’ is the best way to help.

The Fire Department will be making orders of food online to supply to families. She explained that drop off of large amounts of food items to clean and sort by one or two people will be very difficult. The address to send checks is Corrales Fire Department, 4920 Corrales Road, Corrales NM 87048. “If you would like to wrap presents, we can arrange to get you presents to be wrapped at your home. If you have any questions, please call.

“For those of you who have been helping purchase food and internet for families in Corrales since March, we thank you again.”

2020 NOV. 21 ISSUE: WOODWORKING SITE DEVELOPMENT PLAN UPHELD

A woodworking business on a recently C-zoned property along Hansen Road has been approved by the Village Council following an appeal by a nearby resident. Following a hearing November 10, councillors voted unanimously to uphold the Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval of a site development plan for Dendro Technologies, owned by Rick and his son, Jacob Thaler at 4404 Corrales Road. At its September 16 meeting the P&Z commission unanimously approved the Thalers’ proposed site development plan on the condition that buffering walls for noise control be erected on the south, east and north sides of their property.

Commissioners specified that six-foot buffer fences would have to be erected within one year on the south and east sides and within two years on the north side. The primary piece of equipment for Dendro Technologies is a band saw that is used to cut slab planks to make furniture and other purposes. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No. 13 September 19, 2020 “Rick Thaler and Son Open Woodworking Business.”)

During the commission’s September session the primary concern voiced by nearby property owners was noise from the saw —and the subjective nature of the Village’s regulations on noise. Commissioners commended the Thalers for addressing neighbors’ complaints or concerns. Brian Whalley, who lives at 4372 Corrales Road, said his property “runs almost the entire length on the south side, we have had zero complications from the business and welcome it.”

But Antonette Roybal, the person appealing, lives at 43721/2 Corrales Road. She said the noise is “very annoying and it’s constant.” She said normal voice is about 50 to 65 decibels whereas the whine from the saw has been 95 decibels or above. That assertion was challenged by P&Z commission Chairman McCandless. She did not take decibel readings, but offered to provide an audio recording of the noise.

Rick Thaler said he had provided to the P&Z administrator a decibel reading made by an application on his iPhone after he had installed noise buffers. He said it showed “about 55 decibels on the south border when the saw was fully engaged and running. The 50-decibel sample is from Corrales Road on a normal day without the saw running; that’s the ambient noise on a regular day.”

In addition to erecting sound buffers, the Thalers had attached a muffler to the saw “which changed the frequency of the noise and made it less whiney. Before we added the sound abatement, standing right next to the saw we were at about 85 decibels, and standing south of the tin shed which is closest to our nearest neighbor, the sound was at about 65 decibels, spiking to 75 decibels. And now it spikes at 55 decibels” roughly the same level as traffic from Corrales Road, he said.

At the appeal hearing, Rick Thaler said he had used the band saw as a hobby for about a year and never heard that anyone was bothered by it. As a business, he said the saw would be used no more than three hours a day on any given day and even then, it would be cutting wood for periods ranging from about one minute to ten minutes.

Roybal told councillors the sound has decreased since the Thalers installed noise abatement measures, but that it is still annoying. She argued the business is industrial in nature, not commercial, and therefore not allowed.

In his remarks to the council, Thaler said a significant part of the conflict is that he mistakenly referred to the business as a “saw mill” in his request for P&Z approval. He regretted that description gave rise to fears about intended use of the band saw. “We’re not a lumber mill producing commercial quantities of lumber,” he explained. “We’re reclaiming dead and down and unwanted trees.”

If granted site development plan approval, he said he would erect an eight-foot high fence between the Dendro site and the Roybal residence. Another nearby resident, Michael Roake, husband of Corrales’ mayor, said they live about 350 feet east of the Dendro operation. He said he wants to promote business in Corrales but has two concerns: compatibility with the residential character and noise. “I did hear a whine once, and it was so distinctive and unusual it prompted me to take a look. If it is a question of noise abatement, I would welcome abatement to the east.”

Mayor Jo Anne Roake recused herself for the council’s appeal hearing. Thaler said he and his son are willing to erected whatever sound abatement is required, although they wanted to know whether they will be issued a business license before spending thousands of dollars on the fencing. “We were waiting to see if we were going to get our business license before spending another thousand dollars on sound abatement,” Thaler said. “We fully intend to do the sound abatement to the east. If we get a complaint from the north, we’ll do more there.”

At the P&Z meeting in September, several villagers spoke in favor of the site development plan, including former Corrales Planning and Zoning Administrator Claudia “Taudy” Smith. “He’s going above what our ordinances require so that they can fit in with the neighbors.” She said she has known Rick Thaler for 45 years. “This is exactly who we want in our commercial district.”

2020 NOV. 21 ISSUE: FINALLY TIME NOW TO TAKE OVER CORRALES RD?

Should Village government take over Corrales Road from the state highway department? It’s a question that has re-surfaced every few years since Corrales incorporated as a municipality in 1971, and it’s back again. A public presentation will be scheduled for the near future to explain what might be involved if Village officials take up the N.M. Department of Transportation’s long-standing offer to give the road to Corrales.

That prospect was mentioned briefly at the November 10 Village Council meeting during Village Administrator Ron Curry’s report. He tied that possibility to more clarity regarding the Village’s financial situation. “It’s maybe out in the weeds, but I think it’s pretty exciting,” Curry prefaced. “We are getting to a point where we have got a lot of our accounting and finances to a point of reconciliation —where we are looking at fully engaging with our Tyler financial software— and how quickly that can get us to even consider taking over Corrales Road.”

Elected to the council in March, Zach Burkett said he was open to the prospect of Village government taking over Corrales Road, “but my biggest concern is maintenance on the road.” On the other hand, he noted that Loma Larga and other municipal roads receive funding from the state highway department.

Then-candidate Stu Murray, also elected in March, said he thought it would be a bad idea to take ownership of Corrales Road. “It will take millions of dollars just to re-pave it as it is now.”

Tyler Technologies produces the municipal accounting software package used by Village government. Curry said he expects to move ahead on talks with NMDOT on that possibility “sometime within the next 90 days, depending on what their schedule will allow, where they come in and talk about all the details and ramifications involved in us taking over Corrales Road.” Mayor Jo Anne Roake had little to add when asked November 12 for details: “The Village will be meeting with NMDOT next week, and we’ll try to set a date for a public presentation on the topic.”

For decades, Village officials have been reluctant to take over State Highway 448, Corrales Road, fearing road maintenance costs would be unbearable. On the other hand, the community would gain the ability to move ahead with long-delayed projects such as the pathway in the commercial area, speed limits and crosswalks. As in most previous municipal elections here, candidates were asked to explain their position on the Village taking over Corrales Road. In nearly every case, they expressed reservation about possible maintenance costs and liability.

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