Archive for February, 2009

Public Service Announcement – EBWPC Vacancy

The Torrance County Agricultural Position for the Estancia Basin Water Planning Committee (EBWPC) is vacant, and the EBWPC is seeking to fill the position.  Interested parties involved in agriculture in Torrance County should send a resume to Catherine Long by March 18, 2009.  For more information, contact the EBWPC at 505-384-2272, ext. 103.

Movies In Moriarty At Mustang Mudd’s

by John Weckerle

It’s not just that it’s wind season – the winds of change have been blowing, especially in Moriarty.  Le Barn Wild West Chic and the associated members of the women’s cooperative enterprises located there have moved to  1210 Route 66, in the Melody Ranch Plaza two doors west of Hart’s Home Center.  Like the previous location, the new space has a coffee bar, although it is smaller, and will likely  be selling ice cream when the weather gets warmer.  Le Barn has also chosen to de-emphasize furniture and focus more on video sales, home decor, and gifts because, according to owner Maria Braendle, furniture sales have declined sharply during the current economic downturn.

As for the old location, it is for sale, but in the meantime has been recommissioned as a unique movie “theater.”  Mustang Mudd’s, the coffeehouse that occupied part of the former Le Barn  structure, is now showing movies on the weekend on its big screen television, complete with surround sound.  Some are old classics, but some, including tonight’s showing – Taken, starring Liam Neeson – are first run movies still running in theaters nationwide.  Today marks the enterprise’s first Saturday matinee (High School Musical III, starting at noon).  Admission is $2.00 to $5.00, depending on the movie.  Seating is limited to 30 people, providing a unique and relaxed viewing experience.  For more information on this week’s offerings, see the flyer or call Le Barn at 832-9481, and to receive e-mail notification of events and movie titles, send Maria a message at

A New Future For The Edgewood Chamber?

by John Weckerle

Recent articles in The Independent and the Mountain View Telegraph have reported an apparent rebirth of the Edgewood Chamber of Commerce.   The Chamber’s Executive Director, Myra Oden, resigned last week.  Under the leadership of the Chamber’s new president, Kelly Krauth, reforms are reportedly to be expected.  According to The Independent, these will include greater transparency, efforts to better seek services locally before contracting with outside vendors, and improved relations with the Town of Edgewood.

Under other circumstances, and certainly in light of the events of recent years, I would be inclined to express extreme skepticism – were it not for the involvement of Ms. Krauth.  Past discussions with Ms. Krauth suggest that, if anyone is likely to achieve the goals expressed recently by the Chamber, she may well be the one to see the effort through.  It remains to be seen whether Ms. Krauth and her supporters will be successful, and the Chamber certainly has its share of fences to mend, but we join The Independent in wishing the Chamber good luck in its endeavor to realign itself and work more closely with its constituency.

Mountainair Animal Shelter Fundraiser

by John Weckerle

Checking in on our friends at Mountainair Announcements, we find that that there will be a fundraiser for the construction of a local animal shelter (in Mountainair; this is separate from the regional shelter project fighting for its life in Edgewood) at the Dr. Saul Community Center on Saturday, March 14, at 2:00 p.m.  The benefit will include a talk on animal training by Albuquerque-based animal behavior expert and author Judy Halliburton.   Admission is $10.00.  For more information, see the Mountainair Announcements article and consider attending; our animal shelter efforts need all the support they can get.

There’s Nothing Like A Martin

Photo - Martin Guitar Museumby John Weckerle

As we return from last week’s hiatus in New Jersey, one last experience worthy of note remains: a trip to the C.F. Martin guitar factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  We won’t go into extensive detail, here, as there is a substantial amount of information on the Martin Guitar site.  However, we did grab a few photos and learn a few interesting things about guitar making that might be worth passing on. Visiting the factory, and taking the tour, was a great experience and highly recommended to those who want to know how these great instruments are made.

The factory includes a museum that traces the history of Martin guitars from the youth of Christian Frederick Martin (the first, of course; C.F. Martin IV currently runs the company), his emigration to the United States, early years in business in New York, and the move to Pennsylvania.  This is separate from the factory tour, which lasts about an hour.  Because of the noise in the factory, the tour guide speaks through radio headsets, which was very helpful.  Each stage of creating a guitar, from selecting materials to the finishing touches, is covered, although not exactly in a step-by-step manner. »» There’s Nothing Like A Martin

Lettergate Continues

by John Weckerle

In response to a New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act request submitted January 13, I received a response from Edgewood’s Town Attorney, Marcus Rael, denying the request.  The reason: it is his position that Chief Paul Welch’s resignation letter represents the initiation of a “settlement negotiation” resulting in the Chief’s departure, and therefore is not a “public record.”  I consider this argument to be preposterous, and little more than a subterfuge to protect potentially embarrassing information from public scrutiny.

We agree with The Independent that this letter, which purportedly addresses potentially inappropriate actions on the part of elected officials, should be released immediately.  The Town of Edgewood should put more effort into operating in an effective and transparent manner, and less effort into finding “clever” ways of camouflaging its actions.

As for the issue of whether the letter is a public record, Mr. Rael will have the opportunity to debate that with the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General; the complaint will be filed next week.

New Military Support Group Being Formed

By Bob Steiner

Recently, a group of veterans, active military personnel, related family members, and other interested citizens  from the Estancia Valley have met with the goal of forming  an organization to assist members of our military community in areas not presently addressed by other support agencies. As yet unnamed, the group included several Vietnam vets, a representative from New Mexico Veteran’s Affairs, and an 87 year “young” Word War II Infantryman.

Initially, there may only be a few sponsors for the group. Involvement by almost any civic, church, civic, or other veteran’s organizations would ,however, be welcome.  Non-veterans and individual  citizens are encouraged to participate in the group.

»» New Military Support Group Being Formed

The Veternarian In That “Flying Machine”

By Bob Steiner

      Living just South of the Airpark in East Edgewood for the last eleven years I have become accustomed to aircraft coming and going from the park’s landing strip. I have also gotten used to people asking me if I, too,  had seen  some of the weird aircraft that fly in this area.  At times I almost had the impression that some of the pilots were trying to land on the roof of my double-wide. While most of  the aircraft are of the small fixed wing  single engine variety and belong to park residents,  now and then military “Black Hawk” helicopters from Kirtland Air Base descend and pass slowly over the strip at low altitude, as if they were studying the site for future landings.

      Recently, even the odd-looking Air Force “Osprey” has been venturing  into our air space.  This is an aircraft that has wings which enable it to fly like a fixed wing airplane but also has two large helicopter rotors  which allow it to take off and land like a helicopter. Having spent  some years with military aviation units, courtesy of the U.S. Army, I thought that I had seen about everything that could fly. Then some three years ago a really weird “machine”  made its presence known.

»» The Veternarian In That “Flying Machine”

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

by John Weckerle

We join you today “from the road.” Well, trains, planes and automobiles are, in fact, something we spent some time with yesterday, at the Northlandz, Home of the Great American Railway in Flemington, New Jersey.  Billed as the largest model train layout in the world, Northlandz may be just that.  With about a 1-mile tour and 8 miles of track, the museum boasts hills of up to 30 feet.  The level of detail is, in some cases, truly impressive, and there is both a sense of history and a sense of humor embodied in the presentation.  We recommend stopping by if you are in the neighborhood.

Photo - Northlandz Train Museum »» Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Edgewood’s Law Enforcement Meltdown

by John Weckerle

In this week’s issues of the Mountain View Telegraph and The Independent, articles appeared reporting the resignation of Edgewood Police Chief Paul Welch.  According to the articles, factors leading to the Chief’s departure include problems with standard operating procedures, as well as issuing equipment and ammunition.

The Telegraph article suggests mismanagement of equipment and ammunition. This would, on the surface appear inexcusable – but without hearing the other side of the story, it is not clear how this came to pass.  Of significant interest is the discussion of the development of procedures.  According to the Telegraph, Mr. Welch filed a draft of the procedures on June 1, 2008.  The article also states: “Stearley said he required the chief to turn in a set of procedures before the first officer was hired, but didn’t have the work reviewed until recently.”  The Town’s attorney reportedly saw problems with the procedures, which lead, supposedly, to the Chief’s resignation.

It seems inconceivable that such a critical issue was essentially left ignored for such a length of time, and allowed to build to a crisis.   Questions that must be asked and answered are many, but should certainly include an examination of just why the procedures were not reviewed “until recently.”  Mr. Welch’s side of this story should also be heard.  It is one thing to be negligent in developing vital policies, but quite another to attempt to do so and be hogtied by bureaucratic inattention.  Without access to Mr. Welch’s resignation letter – which, according to the article in The Independent, the town refused to release – it is impossible to ascertain the facts of the matter. »» Edgewood’s Law Enforcement Meltdown

Good Morning

by John Weckerle

Yesterday’s “storm” may not have left us much in the way of moisture, but at least it dropped a good sunrise on us on its way out.

Photo - Sunrise over the Estancia Valley by John Weckerle

Grow Your Own – Ready…Set…Wait For It…

by John Weckerle

Photo - Mini-GreenhouseAs the sprouting vegetables continue growing and requiring larger pots, we turn our thoughts briefly outdoors again with a longing eye turned toward the coming Spring.  With that in mind, I decided to prepare the next experiment – a mini-greenhouse made of plastic wrapped and taped over the existing PVC hoop and chicken wire structure.   To do this, I simply set the roll of plastic sheeting on the ground at one end and pulled the plastic up over the other, leaving a little extra on each side, and made a straight cut along the edge of the roll.  Then I unfolded the plastic, and voila! – perfect fit (whew).  A little folding, a little tape, and a couple of rocks, and we have a tiny greenhouse that, in theory, should allow me to plant earlier than would otherwise be the case.  One modification – a little observation/ventilation flap in the top – remains to be completed, and I need to pick up a thermometer for monitoring purposes.  The entire enterprise took about 15 to 20 minutes, with just one person. »» Grow Your Own – Ready…Set…Wait For It…

Everyone Knows It’s Windy

by John Weckerle

(Editor’s Note: Your editor has made much of his living over the last couple of decades in the area of assessing environmental impacts of various projects and programs.  He has worked both sides of the fence in this area, and has worked and continues to work with Federal agencies preparing National Environmental Policy Act documents and providing support for compliance with this law.  He supports the appropriate use of renewable energy, has done work with clients in both the renewable energy and green building industries, and is a member of the New Mexico Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.)

The winds of change are blowing strong – and the breeze of discourse has reached gale force, at least in the editorial pages of recent editions of The Independent.  From opponents of unrestricted windmill construction expressing outrage to windmill advocates indulging in a little name-calling as they attempt to make their point, it seems likely that the Spring winds normally scheduled for March are starting early and roaring across the plain, or at least the publications serving it, giving us the opportunity to take a metaphor and whip it to death like a flag in a tornado.

First, let us be clear: this subject is very complex and very important, and it is important that we conduct the discourse seriously, with a willingness to consider all factors, and with respect for those with whom we may disagree on the subject.  The discussion has already taken at least one unfortunate turn where that is concerned – we refer to the letter by Douglas Mercer in the January 4 issue of The Independent, in which Mr. Mercer characterizes the objections of Tim Oden (letter opposing windmills in the January 28 edition) as “outdated and antiquated” and “the very sort of shallow consideration “attitude” that has gotten our country into the trouble it’s in today.”  Mr. Mercer then goes on to blithely dismiss the potential effects of windmills on visual resources and property values – issues of great importance to local residents and property owners – as irrelevant.  Shallow is as shallow does, we suppose, but we encourage a more comprehensive consideration of the subject by all parties.

The fact that Mr. Mercer believes residential wind power generation is more important than socioeconomic factors and that Mr. Oden places more value on the latter points out a crucial need to address a broad spectrum of issues.  As before, we recommend development of a comprehensive study of the relevant issues, including socioeconomics, and analysis of reasonable alternatives by QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS  as a precursor to any development of a plan, strategy, or ordinance to bring Edgewood into the renewable energy age.  We concede the point that windmills have many beneficial attributes, providing a renewable and relatively “clean” source of energy that can be adapted to both centralized and distributed energy production.  However, there are other issues to consider.  Let’s take a brief look at a few of the relevant factors. »» Everyone Knows It’s Windy

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

What About Section 16? Again?

By Bob Steiner

According to the advance agenda notification for the Edgewood town council meeting on Wednesday, Feb 4, one of the the items to be discussed is property acquisition. For a variety of reasons such discussions are held in a closed session. The mayor, town council members, and staff “retreat” to an adjacent room where the  matter is considered without  potential “discordant” input from the audience.  Ultimately. if a decision is made in the “back room” to recommend purchase of real property, the matter would be scheduled as an agenda item for a “forthcoming” council meeting and the transaction would be voted on by the council. While the procedure described does not really bother me, recent actions by the town cause me to want to “view” any potential real estate transactions with a critical eye.

Specifically, the area known as section 16 was designated as the eventual location for the Edgewood town’s municipal complex shortly after the town was incorporated in 1999. Over the years a 12 acre parcel of land was purchased to be the nucleus of the center and options to purchase adjoining property were negotiated with other entities, including the state land office. Extensive planning for roads and buildings at the site have been developed.

»» What About Section 16? Again?