Archive for Torrance County

Everyone Knows It’s Windy

by John Weckerle

In a September 4, 2015 article, The Independent’s Leota Harriman reports on a Moriarty City Council meeting at which the Estancia Valley Economic Development Association (EVEDA) provided a semi-annual report on economic development activities.

The article is replete with opportunities for our admittedly nerdy penchant for looking things up and analyzing them – so many so that they simply cannot be covered in a single article, so we suppose we’ll have to call this one the second of a series, with the first being Saturday’s article.  At a minimum, we envision examining the following issues:

  • The Iberdola El Cabo project and wind energy impacts on county economies (today’s article)
  • The concept of amenities as a means of “attracting millenials” and, as a result, technology/manufacturing businesses
  • The Local Economic Development Act, including what it says (and perhaps more importantly what it doesn’t say), and the status of the Certified Communities Initiative and other State economic development programs.

And that’s probably just a start; economic development is a complex subject.

For today, we focus on the first item in the list above.  This comes in two parts; statements on the El Cabo wind energy project contained within the article, and some interesting studies involving economic impacts on county and state economies as a result of impacts.

El Cabo, or Not El Cabo

From The Independent article, reporting on a presentation by Myra Pancrazio, Executive Director of EVEDA discussing the potential for Torrance County obtaining a hospital using Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT):

Those PILT funds will expand greatly with the Iberdrola wind farm project, which is still “alive and kicking very hard,” she said. Iberdrola recently entered a 25-year contract agreement with Tri-State Generation and Transmission for purchase of wind-generated electricity.

According to that press release, the wind farm is expected to be completed in 2017, when it will produce 76 megawatts of energy, all of which will be purchased by Tri-State.

The idea that the Iberdrola project was moving forward (acknowledging that having a power purchase agreement [PPA]) is no guarantee that a project will be completed) was certainly new information; as reported in an August 28, 2014 Albuquerque Journal article, construction on the project had stopped and there has been little heard about it since.   This would be great news for at least some part of the local human population – although potentially less so for local birds and bats – hoping for the economic benefits arising from wind projects.  We enthusiastically scoured the web, including the sites of both Iberdrola and Tri-State, both of which post their press releases, and were disappointed to find no indication of a press release announcing a PPA for the Iberdroga El Cabo project in Southern Torrance County.  The text in The Independent’s article appears to refer to a press release involving Iberdrola’s  Twin Buttes project in southeastern Colorado (previously reported by the Mountain View Telegraph).

While the press release is at least a little good news for the good folks of Bent County, Colorado and renewable energy advocates within Tri-State’s region of influence (and perhaps the aforementioned Torrance County birds and bats), we fail to understand how this development would affect PILT funds, or any other aspect of economic development, in the Estancia Valley.  And we also have to wonder how news that Iberdrola is focusing successfully on a project elsewhere, while the local project is halted, is cause for optimism here.

Of course, if we’re wrong about this, we’d invite anyone with information to that effect to click the comment icon (the little word bubble at the top right of the article) and let us know.  We’ll be glad to acknowledge the error.

Hang Your Hat on the Wind

At the outset of this discussion, we refer our readers to two sources: Economic Development Impact of 1,000 MW of Wind Energy in Texas published by the National Renewable Energy Technology Laboratory (NREL), and this summary of Ex post analysis of economic impacts from wind power development in U.S. counties. As the latter article states: “…total county personal income increased by $11,150 over the 2000 to 2008 period…  And, for every megawatt of wind energy installed in a county, one half of a job was created.”  Of particular interest are Tables 3 and 4 of the NREL report, which show that the “local” share of the project tends to represent a relatively small percentage of the total project cost.  According to the State Land Office, of the 80,000 acres envisioned for the project, 39,000 would be State land.  In terms of acreage essentially half is owned by the state- so it is unclear just how much revenue would be collected by local landowners in terms of leases for tower locations, and how that would relate to local economic benefits in terms of increased economic activity and tax revenue for Torrance County.  Unfortunately, as the NREL article notes, the inputs into the JEDI model, which projects economic impacts of wind projects, are often proprietary, so we can’t easily apply it here.  While we agree that the project would be of benefit to economic development at the county and state level (assuming that it restarts), we caution that the benefits of wind energy projects may not be what is sometimes envisioned.

We’d like to let our readers know that we will probably be taking a few days off to attend to other things, but should be back next week.

A Titanic Sinking: Google Drones Fly Away

by John Weckerle

In April 2014, your editor and a number of other people received an e-mail message containing very good news: Titan Aerospace, a solar-powered drone startup operating at the Moriarty Municipal Airport – had been purchased by Google, and the project was to stay in Moriarty. As reported in the Mountain View Telegraph less than sixteen months later, Google abruptly announced its decision to abandon Moriarty and move the operation to California, reportedly so that it could better facilitate coordination with its other aviation-related operations.  Google leaves behind a $15 million, 60,000 square-foot facility at the airport, and will be repaying a $1 million dollar grant for water and sewer upgrades.

State and local officials, while expressing disappointment, have variously downplayed the negative and emphasized the positive, seeking to find a silver lining in this particular cloud.  Governor Martinez was reported to have called the move disappointing and expressed support for the community (KOAT), while U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham was somewhat more pointed in her expression of disappointment (Albuquerque Business First).  New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela emphasized that the State would recover its million-dollar infrastructure investment, and noted that the situation leaves Moriarty with assets that “will be able to benefit from water and sewage lines built with the state grant. Barela said the structural improvements ‘can help attract future projects to the state.'” (Santa Fe New Mexican). Moriarty Mayor Ted Hart, quoted in several of the previously referenced articles, characterizes the economic impacts as minimal (and in a direct and immediate way, at least, he may be right) and cited some apparent, though vague, commitment by Google to work with the City to find a use for the facility.

Reactions, at least in the form of responses to news stories, have been varied.  Some cite problems with in-state higher education, others point to workforce issues, others mentioned inexperience in aviation and excessive optimism on Google’s part, and still others blame Governor Susanna Martinez (while our positions often do not align with Ms. Martinez’s, we acknowledge that blaming her directly for this one is similar to blaming her for a meteorite strike or the weather.  More likely suspects would include the Easter bunny, Godzilla, or extraterrestrials. Or maybe the East Mountain Tea Party.).

It’s clear that much of the general reaction was surprise.  Our reaction was two fold: surprise (we were surprised by all the surprise, because we were surprised by Google’s initial decision to operate here in the first place) and something more typical…

A drive to look at some data.  We admit it; we’re nerds. Acknowledging that Google’s decision election to move was clearly business-based, we wondered what local factors might have influenced the decision and started to pull some economic data together.  As we worked through the data, we recognized that one of our regional economies is clearly in distress.

That’s right; we said one of them.  There are, at the very least, two.

»» A Titanic Sinking: Google Drones Fly Away

Torrance County Extends Fireworks Ban

by John Weckerle

At its most recent meeting, the Torrance County Commission enacted a thirty day extension of the of ban on fireworks and open burning originally passed on May 24.  Open burning, ceremonial burning, recreational burning, and the use of fireworks (other than those that are part of a public display approved by local fire departments) are subject to restrictions.  For more information, see the resolution, the associated ordinance, and the State fire restrictions for eastern, southwest, and south central New Mexico.  Readers who observe people using fireworks and decide not to shoot the miscreants* (505) 384-2705 or (505) 384-2706.

*Editor’s note: We’re kidding; please don’t shoot anybody.

Economic Development Association Gets New Web Site

Editor’s note/disclosure: The web sites referenced in this announcement were developed by your editor’s company, WeckTech, but the community web sites have since been discontinued.  While WeckTech was an investor-level member of the Estancia Basin Economic Development Association at the time this article was published, the firm has since terminated its membership in EVEDA.  

by John Weckerle

The Estancia Valley Economic Development Association (EVEDA) web site has been given a facelift, including a full redesign and short photo slideshows for each of the valley’s  communities.  Virtual tours have been given a new look and feel, as well.  Community web sites developed by WeckTech – Moriarty, New Mexico and the Surrounding Area and Edgewood, New Mexico and the Surrounding Area – have been updated to include the revised links to the EVEDA virtual tours.

Local Phone Service Interrupted

by John Weckerle

KOBTV reports that internet and phone service have been restored to our area after having been interrupted due to the accidental cutting of a Qwest fiber optic cable in Tijeras.  Another crew cut a line south of Soccorro that interrupted service  to much of the southern part of the State.  KOBTV and other sources suggested that cell phones be used to make emergency contact.

That would have been fine, we suppose, except for those of us whose cell phone service was also affected.  As it turns out, we had a medical emergency here at New Mexico Central headquarters shortly after the outage began, and found that our Sprint cell service was also inoperative.  Unable to make ANY connections to contact doctors or emergency response people for advice, we made our own run to the ER in Albuquerque and took care of the problem ourselves (everything will be fine).

We would like to know more about this situation: the identity of the contractors, what led to the accidental cutting of the cables, whether any negligence was involved, what corrective actions and/or sanctions are being implemented, and what Qwest may be able to do provide some level of backup service in the event that cables are accidentally cut in the future.

Winter Storm Dumps Major Snow Load (So Far)

Sedillo Hill camera at 8:33 a.m.

by John Weckerle

Snow is falling heavily here at New Mexico Central headquarters, and has been since sometime during the night.  Depending on where we dig, we can see anything from eight inches to a foot.  Areas shoveled less than half an hour ago are under two to three inches of snow already.  Road reports are not encouraging, and neither are the roadside camera shots from  Cameras at I-40 & NM 14, and at Carnuel, are iced over, with no image available except for the ice on the camera.  The I-40 & Zamora Rd. Camera shows some snow in both lanes, and having looked at two consecutive images, we think it may be getting worse there.  The Sedillo Hill camera shows at least some snow in all lanes – and both cameras show snow still falling. According to, the following schools in our area are closed:

  • East Mountain High School

    Senior Meteorological Correspondent Wilson Taking Scientific Snow Depth Measurements

    Senior Meteorological Correspondent Wilson Taking Scientific Snow Depth Measurements

  • Edgewood Christian School
  • Mountainair Junior High
  • Albuquerque Public Schools East Mountain Schools
  • Estancia Municipal Schools
  • Moriarty-Edgewood Schools
  • Mountainair Public Schools

TCPO To Go Transportation and the Estancia and Moriarty Magistrate Courts are also closed.  If we’ve missed any schools, we’d appreciate it if our readers would let us know.

Lest the local climate change “skeptics” get too excited, let’s remember that winter storms of this nature (and the frequency with which they’ve been occurring) are typical of El Nino conditions – a warming of surface waters in the Pacific Ocean.

Public Service Announcement: Family and Home Safety Fair

by John Weckerle

We’ve received word from Ellen Burgess at the Torrance County Project Office that a Family and Home Safety Fair will be held in McIntosh on Saturday, January 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The Fair, which will address such issues as child safety, disaster preparedness, quality of life, and associated subjects will also include free food and door prizes.   Presenters will include the NM Attorney General’s office, the Central New Mexico Electrical Cooperative, Torrance County Sheriff’s Department, Moriarty Police Department, the Cariño Toy and Resource Library, and many others.  For more information, see the event flier.

Oh, The Weather Outside…

by John Weckerle

Last night brought us some fairly intense weather here at NM-Central headquarters, with times of snow, freezing rain, thunder and lightning, and high winds.  This morning seems dominated by the wind, although weather authorities warn of more potential precipitation before the system has passed.  Local TV stations indicate that the Estancia Valley, including Estancia itself, will likely bear the brunt of the storm in our area.  The northern part of the state has received substantial snowfall.  Here at NM-Central, we’ve received a few inches or so. reports that road conditions in the area are (at best) snow-packed and icy.  According to, Moriarty-Edgewood schools and Estancia schools are closed, and East Mountain High School and APS schools are on a two-hour delay.  We have not been able to find any information on Mountainair’s schools.   We recommend that our readers stay home if they can, and to those who can’t, please be extra cautious.

Public Service Announcement: KXNM-88.7 FM seeks donations

from the KNSM-88.7 Community Foundation:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

The KXNM FM 88.7 Community Foundation has recently received a match donation of up to $50,000.00 from a generous Torrance County Family that realizes the value and potential that a community-based educational not for profit radio station has to offer to area residents, businesses, schools, civic and non-profit organizations, municipal and county governments.

If as a community we rise to the challenge and raise $50,000, we will have enough money to build the transmission tower.  It is the crucial and pivotal piece of infrastructure.  No gift is too large or too small; this is truly a grass roots effort.
If you are an individual, organization or business that is able to give $2,500 or more you are eligible for the advantages of our Radio Pioneer underwriting program. »» Public Service Announcement: KXNM-88.7 FM seeks donations

Who Will Win The Battle?

Editor’s note: Thanks to Mountainair Announcements for the heads-up on this event.

by John Weckerle

That depends on who plays best – in this Saturday’s Battle of the Bands at Estancia’s first annual Teen Fest.  Teen Fest, to be held beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 25 at Estancia Park in…well, Estancia, of course… includes the Battle of the Bands, a teen art and music festival, and a Guitar Hero competition. For more information, call 384-1092 or stop by the Estancia Town Office.

Teen Fest comes to us via the Teen Outreach Program (TOP), available thanks to the efforts of the good folks at the Torrance County Projects Office (TCPO). According to the New Mexico Department of Health, the TOP is “a school and community-based program designed to prevent teen pregnancy and academic failure, and to promote positive youth development.” There are opportunities for community service, classroom discussions, activities, and developing life experience. For more info, see the TOP flier or contact TOP at 384-1092 or 832-0332.

Memorial Weekend Fire Safety Reminder

by Arlene Perea, Mountainair District Ranger Station

Mountainair, NM, May 19, 2009 – Cibola National Forest officials remind everyone of the importance of responsible recreating in anticipation of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. The Mountainair Ranger District as well as the Kiowa & Rita Blanca Grasslands are the only districts currently under stage 1 fire restrictions.  Although Black Kettle, Mount Taylor, Magdalena and Sandia are not under any fire restrictions, we would like to remind all forest visitors to use extreme caution to prevent any wildfires within the Cibola National Forest and Grasslands.  In anticipation of the upcoming holiday, district fire and recreation personnel will continue to patrol the roads, trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreational facilities during the holiday weekend.
The following Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands Ranger Districts remain affected by high fire danger:

Open Campfire Restrictions:

  • Campfires, charcoal grills and stove fires are prohibited on national forest lands, except in Forest Service developed camp and picnic grounds where grills are provided.
  • Pressurized liquid or gas stoves, lanterns and heaters meeting safety specifications are allowed.

Smoking Restrictions:

  • Smoking is allowed within an enclosed vehicle or building; a developed recreation site; or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter and free of all flammable material.


  • As always, fireworks are prohibited on all national forest lands.

Forest Officials would also like to remind the public to please “Be Bear Aware”. Some areas of the forest have been experiencing a high occurrence of black bear sightings. Although beautiful to look at, black bears are wild creatures that can be very dangerous if provoked. Camp and picnic grounds are heavily used over the holiday. Please remember to keep your Forests free of litter.

For further information, please contact the Cibola National Forest at 505-346-3900 or visit us on the web at  You may also call the districts at:

Sandia – 505-281-3304
Mountainair – 505-847-2990
Magdalena – 575-854-2381
Mount Taylor – 505-287-8833
Kiowa & Rita Blanca – 575-374-9652
Black Kettle – 580-497-2143

Partnership For A Healthy Torrance County

by John Weckerle

Our friend Vanessa Crary Vaile from Mountainair Arts informs us that the Partnership for a Healthy Torrance County (PHTC) will meet this Wednesday, April 1, from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m.  For more information about the PHTC meeting, see the meeting agenda.

PHTC, a cooperative effort among various state, county, municipal, and private health organizations,  is another of the array of interesting programs offered by the Torrance County Project Office.  Other community programs include the founding of KXNM FM, currently in progress; child car seat distribution; domestic violence and child abuse prevention programs; youth services; a bus system providing local service as well as service into Albuquerque (with stops throughout Torrance County and Edgewood; see the schedule); and more.  For more information, see the TCPO web site or contact them at (505) 832-0332.

Gimme Shelter – Part 1

by John Weckerle

(Editor’s Note: Chuck Ring contributed substantially to this article)

In a January 22 article on outlining financial problems faced by the Moriarty-Edgewood School District, Mountain View Telegraph writer Lee Ross reports on apparent consternation among the local school board members regarding the new Estancia Valley Regional Animal Shelter proposed to be located in Edgewood’s Section 16, south of Edgewood Middle School.  According to the article, Moriarty-Edgewood School Superintendent stated: “I honestly did not have any idea that this was going into place.”

Excuse me?

As pointed out by former Town Council member and animal friend Chuck Ring, the regional animal shelter has been the subject  of at least 13 articles in the Telegraph alone, all but one of which mentions Section 16 as the location for the facility.  One would expect that elected officials would keep abreast of issues affecting the interests of the District, and that District personnel would be scanning the news for such issues and reporting back to the school board.  Further, a naming contest was held in coordination with the school district, and Ms. Couch reportedly participated directly in that effort. »» Gimme Shelter – Part 1

Goodwill Industries Looking To Hire Seniors

by John Weckerle

Goodwill Industries of New Mexico has announced their Senior Employment Community Services Program, in which low-income residents of Torrance County who are 55 and older can earn $7.50 per hour working 20 hours per week.  For more information, contact the Workforce Connection office in Moriarty at 832-6774 or stop by their office.  The Workforce Connection is located at 777 Old Highway 66 in Moriarty (Chamber of Commerce building).

Moriarty-Edgewood School District 2 Mill Levy Election To Be Held

by John Weckerle

On February 3, The Moriarty-Edgewood School District (MESD) 2 Mill Levy Election will be held to determine whether the current levy will be extended through  2014.  Funds from the levy would, according to the MESD brochure, be ” used for the maintenance of buildings, acquisition of equipment, and other capital improvement purposes.”  The money cannot be used for operational expenses such as salaries and other personnel costs.  Anticipated funding from the continuation of the levy is anticipated to be approximately $930,000 per year, which would be matched with about $35,000 per year from the state Public School Capital Improvement Fund.

It should be noted that “A vote for the captial improvements tax levy will not result in a tax increase.” This is money that is sorely needed for the upkeep of our school facilities, and we urge local residents to support the mill levy.  For more detailed information and a list of polling places, please see the MESD brochure.