Archive for June, 2008

A Celestial Reminder

by John Weckerle

The International Space Station will be making its way across the early morning sky above the East West Mountains again over the next couple of weeks. If you’re up early, take a look up and see if you can spot it! The current schedule can be found here.

Additional Closures And Restrictions Announced In Sandias and Manzanos

by John Weckerle

Effective Monday, June 30, the closures and restrictions on activities within the Sandia Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest will be expanded. Hiking and biking are now prohibited except within portions of Forest Trail 365 and associated secondary trails outside the Sandia Mountain Wilderness (foothill trails), and within the boundaries of the Sandia Peak Ski Area. All other trails are closed, including the La Luz trail. For a full listing of closures and restrictions on activities within areas still open to the public, see the full text of the closure announcement.

A Better Deal Elsewhere For Wildlife West?

by John Weckerle

We have posted several articles here about the treatment that Wildlife West Nature Park has been receiving from the Town of Edgewood. Wildlife West, a community asset providing employment opportunities, educational programs, an enhanced zoo, and great entertainment, has faced what appears to be outright hostility from the Town government since the March election. Despite the fact that the Town’s attorney has stated that there may be way to legally fund the annual Town music festival at the Park, Mayor Bob Stearley has remained adamant that any support for the event represents a violation of the anti-donation clause of the State Constitution. Knowing that tax revenues would increase as a result of new gross receipts for the Town, Mr. Stearley has resolutely insisted that the Town is too strapped for cash to make a contribution to the event, a claim we have repeatedly disputed here – and based on this article in the Mountain View Telegraph, it would appear that we were right in disputing it. Thus far, the Edgewood Town Council has gone along with Mr. Stearley’s positions with little resistance. According to the article, Mr. Stearley committed at the July 18 meeting to asking the Town attorney to look into ways to fund the music festival and, in a request dated June 27, Mr. Stearley instructed the Town attorney to report to the Council at its July 2 meeting.

Certainly, this treatment has been difficult for the folks at Wildlife West, and for those who have selflessly donated money, provided food for the animals and materials for improving the Park, and volunteered to make the Park the outstanding community asset it has become. Now, it would appear, that at least one nearby community recognizes the value of the Park, and might just be willing to give it the treatment it deserves. »» A Better Deal Elsewhere For Wildlife West?

“Grow Your Own” Redux

by John Weckerle

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for another sustainable vegetable garden update. The plants all appear to be doing splendidly. The yellow squash and zucchini are still too small to pick, but with luck we’ll be able to sample them over the coming week. The lettuce in Bed 2 has provided us with the basic ingredient for several excellent salads, and it looks as if we can expect for that to continue at least into the near future. Three of the tomato plants in Bed 1 are flowering, and we’re looking forward to that first tomato – and then all the ones after it. »» “Grow Your Own” Redux

Public Service Announcement – Moriarty Water Conservation Request

We received a forward of this message from the City of Moriarty via the Moriarty Chamber of Commerce:

Attention:

The City of Moriarty is experiencing problems with one of the water wells.

The Mayor has asked that Residents and Businesses within the city limits conserve water for the next few days. Please do not irrigate or use large volumes of water. Please share this information with people you know that live and/or work in the city limits.

Thank you

Geri Salazar
Grants
Administrator
City of Moriarty
201 Broadway
PO Box 130
Moriarty, NM 87035

Phone: (505) 832-4406
FAX: (505) 832-6919
grants@moriartynm.org

Big Spring Fire Explodes

by John Weckerle

People traveling through the Estancia Valley were met yesterday with the sight of a huge plume of smoke rising from the Manzano Mountains, the result of an expansion of the Big Spring Fire. The fire, according to this Albuquerque Journal article, has grown to 3,000 acres and is being exacerbated not by wind – as with the Trigo fire – but by dense, dry fuel (the effects of tree density are also discussed in this Mountain View Telegraph article). The article states that two public meetings will be held today: one at the Estancia Community Center at 2 p.m., and one at the Torreon Community Center at 6:30 p.m. An evacuation center has been set up at the Estancia Community Center.

Supreme Court Upholds Gun Ownership Rights

by John Weckerle

The Supreme Court today issued its first major ruling to interpret the rights of individuals to own firearms, striking down gun bans in Washington D.C. and, presumably, in other cities where such bans are in effect, such as Chicago. The ruling, which effectively settles the longstanding debate over whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to individuals or only those serving in state militias, apparently leaves most other gun control statutes intact. Articles:

MSNBC – Court says individuals have right to own guns

New York Times – Justices Rule for Individual Gun Rights

Eat Your Veggies Today – You May Not Have Them Tomorrow

by John Weckerle

Photo - Bee in Sunflower by John WeckerleYesterday we received a link to this video about research into genetically engineering yeast to produce a form of bio-gasoline – not ethanol, mind you, but actual gasoline – from sugar. The video does not provide much detail other than the fact that the research is ongoing. However, the video started a train of thought that traveled through issues surrounding the pressure on the food supply by corn ethanol production and arrived at the little-publicized crisis that may be striking our food supply in the relatively near future: Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a subject on which an episode of Nature reported recently on PBS. The episode can be viewed here.

CCD is an affliction that is striking honeybee colonies worldwide, causing hives to die out on a greater and greater scale. While no single cause has been identified, research points to a potential combination of a virus that first arose in Israel and a variety of environmental stresses, especially associated with agricultural pesticides. At the current rate of decline, honeybee populations could be completely wiped out worldwide by 2035. »» Eat Your Veggies Today – You May Not Have Them Tomorrow

More County Fees On The Way?

by Chuck Ring

Information on new proposed development fee schedules and an ordinance should prove interesting to those living outside the corporate boundaries of Edgewood and other municipalities in Santa Fe County. This link should provide valuable information to those potentially affected

http://santafecounty.org/gfx/news/document/PERMITFEESOrd070808.pdf

Additional information can be requested from

www.santafecounty.org

Our Friend The NMIPRA

by John Weckerle

In response to concerns voiced by former Edgewood Mayor Howard Calkins in a letter to The Independent and by others in a variety of venues, I submitted an Open Meetings Act complaint to the NM Attorney General’s office several weeks ago. This complaint revolved around Mr. Calkins’s concerns and what has been suggested as an excessive use of e-mail that may not be in compliance with the Open Meetings Act. The AG’s office has responded with a request for additional information, which has been compiled and is being submitted. I have also been submitting requests for information regarding the recent debate on funding Town events, and thus far the Town has cooperated.

This brings us to a short discussion of the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (NMIPRA), which provides that every public body must provide access to records for the purpose of inspection to every person requesting it. NMIPRA provides statutory time limits for response and penalties for improper denial of access, including damages of up to $100 per day plus reasonable attorney’s fees. The Act also provides for enforcement either through the Attorney General’s office or by civil action through district court.

It is important for all residents of our area to know their rights under this very important statute. We are therefore providing the text of the statute as well as our letter to the Town of Edgewood as an example.

Jar Shapes Demystified

by John Weckerle

In comments to our last post, questions were posed and answers theorized as to the reasons why peanut butter comes in round containers, rather than square ones that would minimize wasted space in crates and boxes used in shipping.  We sent messages to Con Agra (the makers of Peter Pan peanut butter) and Smucker’s asking for clarification, and received this response from Con Agra.  While our proposed reasons probably had some validity, their reason was perhaps more simple: it’s easier to get the peanut butter out of a round container.

In Search Of The Unbroken Cracker

by John Weckerle 

Not long ago, we received a link to this story about Wal-Mart’s crusade to cut costs of food, including pressuring manufacturers to reduce package size.  Here’s another one I’d like to see them tackle: reducing the amount of broken crackers, chips and other products that represent a potentially substantial waste of food and money.

To illustrate,  we purchased a box of Triscuits at the Edgewood Wal-Mart, brought them back, and opened them up.  Crackers were removed by gently inserting the hand into the free space in the box and carefully tipping crackers into the hand to avoid accidental breakage.  They were sorted into two piles – broken and unbroken – and the broken pile was weighed using a common kitchen scale.  »» In Search Of The Unbroken Cracker

Edgewood Mayor’s Statements Need Clarification

by John Weckerle

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been making a series of information requests to, and asking some rather detailed questions of, the Town of Edgewood regarding the Town budget and the Town attorney’s opinion regarding funding Town events. As a result, we find the timing of this Guest View in the Mountain View Telegraph to be rather interesting.

One of the issues we have with the Town budget spreadsheet is the fact that it appears to be incomplete and/or not configured correctly. A budget subject to State approval and public release should not contain (#REF) entries in any of the cells. We have requested a copy of the final spreadsheet. We will reserve judgment on the forward-looking statements in Mayor Stearley’s Guest View regarding the sewer (and other initiatives) and will be delighted if, as suggested, it is operating by January. »» Edgewood Mayor’s Statements Need Clarification

On The Trail Of “Grow Your Own”

by John Weckerle

Examination of our beds this morning reveals another week of excellent progress. Two of the tomato plants in the north bed (Early Girl and Better Boy) have begun to flower, and the squashes are flowering prolifically (most of the flowers are hidden by the leaves). The plants continue to grow rapidly. I have a concern regarding the red and golden bell peppers, however, as it seems that they are destined to be over-shaded by the squash. Attempts to keep them in the sun by cutting back squash leaves will continue. »» On The Trail Of “Grow Your Own”

Hay, Alfalfa!

by John Weckerle

No, not the one in The Little Rascals – today, we’re talking real hay, and real alfalfa. Many area farmers are currently harvesting alfalfa, and yesterday I had the privilege of joining Jim and Peggy Schwebach and Ryan Schwebach at their farm near McIntosh, NM to get a first-hand look at how alfalfa is harvested. The Schwebachs grow alfalfa and corn (for silage), much of which is consumed by dairy cattle within the state.

Harvesting alfalfa is not simply a matter of starting up the mower and picking up some hay. First, the alfalfa is cut and laid out in windrows. The Schwebachs use flat windrows to allow for a wider variety of conditions under which the hay can be collected. Alfalfa can only be baled effectively under certain conditions, and knowing when to bale requires balancing a complex range of variables including temperature, dew point, humidity, and wind speed. All of these can affect the moisture content of the hay, which is critical to successful baling as well as the value of the hay. To estimate the time at which conditions may be right, the Schwebachs monitor the hourly predictions available at the NOAA NWS web site (McIntosh, NM example). They must then be ready to confirm that conditions are right using real-time measurements at the farm. »» Hay, Alfalfa!