Despite restrictions on businesses here during the past eight months, Corrales’ gross receipts tax revenues are holding steady compared to last year. Declines in holiday shopping are expected to ravage the bottom lines for retailers here as elsewhere this month and last, but so far sales tax revenues have stayed relatively strong, according to Village Administrator Ron Curry. “Gross receipts tax revenues for us are running about the same as last year. In fact, it’s up about two percent, so we’re really happy about it.”
Gross receipts tax revenues for Corrales for the month of September were “within a couple of thousand dollars, one way or the other, of last year’s numbers,” he reported. Curry was asked why he thought this year’s gross receipts taxes are about the same as last year, given the recent months of business closures and restrictions. He didn’t know, because local governments do not have access to information from the N.M. Department of Taxation and Revenue regarding taxes paid by specific businesses. “That information is not available to us.
“However, as I’ve gone around the village talking to people, some of our businesses, like Frontier Mart, have told me business was good for them during the COVID.
“Apparently, some of our businesses have not suffered, because month over month, the numbers have been pretty stable.” Throughout New Mexico, a severe clamp-down on business activity has been ordered by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. All except businesses designated as essential were ordered to close this summer while some were told to curtail the number of patrons who could be served at any one time. When the daily infection rate declined, presumably due to those restrictions, the governor relaxed the measures. But then, late last month, infection rates skyrocketed in New Mexico, so the governor imposed the tightest restrictions yet.
In Corrales, where coronavirus cases were relatively small, infections climbed sharply at the end of November. Corrales had 63 cases as of November 10, then 72 cases November 14. That number had risen to 111 cases as of November 28. It is no great mystery that local businesses, whether selling breakfast, lunch and dinner, or arts and crafts, are being hard hit during this pandemic. To keep going, they pivoted to pick up or delivery, or online sales. And now colder weather, along with a surge in COVID-19 have added to the mix. In Corrales, the usually bustling Mercado de Maya, home to Elaine Bolz’ Claywork, both her studio and shop, is quiet indeed.
A fixture there for 32 years, Bolz says “Right now it’s just the Bosque Gallery and me!” Ambiente, the emporium at the southern end, mostly has been closed since well before the recent lockdown. Barb Clark and Susana Erling’s Corrales Fine Arts in the mercado tried opening for limited hours on weekends, then Clark recently attempted a two-day shop online/pick up curbside sale of her work which ran less smoothly than she had hoped… to put it mildly. But, crucially, she had shifted, exploring new ways to do business. A vendor unwilling to change likely will not survive. “Everything is absolutely new,” as a bookstore owner in Detroit recently put it in a PBS interview. Another seller added “We all have become better business people.”
An in-demand talent like Clark need not worry. Her work is featured on a 2021 calendar produced by New Mexico Magazine, along with that of Jim Jennings. Order it at https://tinyurl.com/ y6nc4lg6.
Bolz agreed the pandemic has pushed her finally to acknowledge she needs better marketing, even a presence on Instagram. “I never wanted to do social media, but now I have to. I will have to be much more professional online.” Her business has been largely based on commissions, and drop-in customers. She laughed when describing her 10 by 12 foot display space, room for two visitors at the most, which she could open, now that the latest tough reset per Michelle Governor Lujan Grisham is over.
Grateful for self-employment money, as well as an expected disbursal of local CARES funding —“The Village is confident the entire $255,000 will be disbursed to local businesses by the December deadline,” according to Mayor Roake— Bolz says her rent is “not that high.” And “this is the season in which we all must make sales,” so to the world of social media she will go. See it at http://claywork.com/index.php. For more information, call 898 8822.
She is part of the 38th annual Weyrich Gallery Invitational Theme show, “The Great Turning,” which just opened and runs to January 22, 2021, but what “open” means is unclear. The gallery is at 2935 Louisiana Blvd. Contact Valerie Tibbetts at 450-6516 or 883-7410. The aforementioned Corrales Bosque Gallery put up an online shop fairly recently. See corralesbosquegallery.com/ store, featuring work by Dennis Chamberlain, Indea Sanchez, Andy Goldschmidt, Dianna Shomaker and Juan Wijngaard. The gallery hopes to feature “Little Critters” made of polymer, paint, and wood, each about 9-10-inches tall and 2-inch wide, at the gallery sometime in December during a “Little Treasures Show,” if allowed to open. If not, they will be available for sale on the website.
As for breweries and eateries, they have tiptoed from normal, to limited indoor seating, to only outdoor seating, adding curbside pickup as well as delivery options, to then only doing such. Corrales Bistro Brewery recently was offering to fill up growlers with mixed drinks, selling as many gift certificates as possible, handing out free lunches to any kid who wanted one, and operating its own food truck. It debuted at the Barelas neighborhood La Esquinita Food Hall/Farm Stand/Food Truck Park at 507 4th on November 14. View its maneuvers via Facebook.
ExNovo Brewing Company is selling carry-out brews, canning a range of products on site, as well as offering Milagro wines and Candlestick Coffee beans, and hosting food trucks. Milagro Winery itself pivoted cleverly a few months back. Partnering with organic growers Silverleaf Farms on an order online, drive-thru and pickup shop, the two entities have been successfully offering customers wine, cheese, fresh veggies, even soil, to be retrieved each Thursday afternoon. See http://www.milagrofarmstand.com/
Also showing innovative pandemic planning has been the much larger Corrales Growers’ Market, inventing unique ways to connect vendors and customers, navigating masks, no pre-orders, drive-thru, and then walk-through. And, to support its Market Shop Booth, selling largely baskets and T-shirts, it set up a shop at https://cgm-store. square.site/s/shop.
C3’s Bistro at 4940 Corrales Road which only opened in July offering a large menu of Cajun dishes, with enthusiastic eater reviews, launched a Go Fund Me project on November 23, for both C3’s and its other restaurant, P’tit Louis Bistro. As of November 29 the undertaking had raised $1,075 of its $134,441 goal. C3’s explained it this way: “Two friends started out with a dream to bring great food and service to each guest that graced our doors. Little did we know that a world-wide pandemic was lurking in the shadows waiting to rock that dream.
“Much like you, we have done our best to ebb and flow with the changing restrictions and mandates handed down by our leaders. While they may mean well, it has not stopped our expenses from piling up, while at the same time stifling our ability to serve our guests. We have persevered and been creative, adding to and changing our menus in ways that will meet the needs of the current climate. At the end of the day, our hard work and creativity have still fallen short.
“We have supplemented the revenues of our restaurants with our personal income since the beginning of this crisis to hold onto as much staff as fiscally possible and our operations running. We knew that was an unsustainable model, but believed it was a better option than closing our doors for good. Now what was unsustainable has become increasingly unbearable, as we both have families at home who are counting on our provision.
“So, we have turned to you, our community. We want to be around to serve you for years to come and we need your help. The money raised will go to business expenses incurred as a result of the New Mexico health order restrictions, which will also allow for the revenues generated from our limited operations to go towards keeping our staff employed and guests served.
“We desire to be up front and transparent with you all, and any donor who leaves their information will receive notice when a debt has been paid to ensure you of the efficacy and sincerity of your money. Any amount raised above what we have asked will be used as working capital, to help cushion us against further pandemic-driven restrictions.
“We are extremely grateful for any and all support that is provided. Thank you for taking the time to hear our story and your consideration. Be well and many thanks. They added that “No salaries to ownership, nor personal reimbursements, will be taken from these reimbursements.”
C3’s website, http://www.c3sbistro.com is its menu. The GoFundMe page is reached via Facebook. Long time Corrales “pie”purveyor Village Pizza is busy doing take-out, but still asks locals to “support your favorites today. We need the encouragement!” It’s obvious. If you like Corrales businesses —and we could not visit with them all— support them with your money. If you would also like to support other New Mexico businesses, take a look at http://www.buynmlocal.com and purchase gift cards. This site features over 800 businesses from across the state.
Having endured the tough two-week lockdown, here comes a complicated “tiered county-by-county COVID-19 risk system, enabling local communities to shed burdensome restrictions as soon as public health data show the virus is retreating within their borders.”
This went into effect December 2. Governor Lujan Grisham put it like this: “The county-by-county framework enables counties, and the businesses and nonprofits within their borders, to operate with fewer restrictions when they slow the spread of the virus and drive down test positivity rates.” If you’d like to explore the tiered system, the red to green framework, see http://www.governor.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/red-to-green-framework-for-safe-reopening.pdf.
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 email@example.com.
“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.
There's definitely a change in the way we are talking about coronavirus. Yes, it is here in New Mexico, but we are not going to panic. We are going to do what we can to protect ourselves and each other. Our goal is to stop or slow the spread of the virus to ensure New Mexico will have adequate medical resources to take care of those of us who will need help. What each of us chooses to do protects not only us, but those around us, especially our more vulnerable neighbors. Please wash your hands, wipe down surfaces and avoid crowds. Most of us are going to be just fine, even if we get ill, but these safeguards are crucial to those who are most at risk. But what about government? One of its main functions is to safeguard the health and welfare of its citizens. Therefore, following state directives to limit exposure, the Village is canceling public meetings and programs within our buildings. The Library will be closed until further notice. The Village Administration Office will be open but needs to limit in-person visits; instead, would you please call us and see if we can address your issue over the phone or by email? These measures are meant to avoid gatherings where safe social distance cannot be maintained. Of course, emergency services will continue normally. Check the website for additional local information and updates, along with links to the New Mexico Department of Health and Center for Disease Control. The Village of Corrales will continue to plan, prepare and adapt to new information. Its citizens will continue to make smart decisions based on personal risk factors and their care for others. Let's work together to be the healthiest community we can be.
- Jo Anne Roake Mayor of Corrales