Morning Word

City of Santa Fe Activates Chavez Center as Evacuation Center

Los Alamos County on “set” status for Cerro Pelado Fire; Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire jumps highway

Santa Fe prepares Chavez Center to house evacees if needed

Extreme winds kept New Mexico in red flag conditions throughout the weekend—and continue today—with additional evacuations statuses set for communities impacted by both the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, as well as the Cerro Pelado Fire in the Jemez Mountains. In a community briefing for Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon last night, fire and law enforcement officials pleaded with community members who have not evacuated mandatory evacuation areas to leave while they still could. The fire jumped NM 518 yesterday, directly threatening people in Chacon, Guadalupita and Holman. Meanwhile, Los Alamos County, as of 8 am today, is in “set” status as a precautionary measure. The City of Santa Fe, working with the Red Cross, over the weekend established the Genoveva Chavez Community Center as an evacuation site should it be needed. “What I’ve told our staff is that without any consideration for cost right now, we want to help as many people as we can,” City Manager John Blair told SFR. “And that is the priority...if this were happening to us, we’d expect that sort of help and we need to be able to help anybody else who needs it.”

State settles whistleblower suit

New Mexico’s Department of Public Safety has reached a $175,000 settlement agreement with a former member of former Gov. Susana Martinez’ security detail. Tony Fetty’s whistleblower lawsuit, filed in 2019, alleges the state retaliated against him after he reported concerns about colleague Ruben Maynes’ gambling debt; Maynes’ relationship with Martinez; and an episode with another colleague in which the officer threatened self-harm and said, “maybe I should just drink this bottle of bleach or cut my wrist.” The suit also claims Martinez’s husband, Chuck Franco, suspected the governor was having an affair with Maynes—allegations the state denies. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the state settled a series of additional claims in 2019 against DPS, including a $1 million settlement at the end of the Martinez’s administration to resolve claims for gender discrimination, harassment and whistleblowing.

City seeks redistricting feedback

The City of Santa Fe’s Independent Citizens’ Redistricting Commission will hold the first of four public meetings starting at 5:30 pm tomorrow (May 10), to solicit feedback on proposed redistricting maps. As required by the city’s charter, members of the 2022 Independent Citizens’ Redistricting Commission were appointed after the city received the most recent federal census data. The city contracted Albuquerque-based Research and Polling Inc. to analyze the most recent census data—information that was then used to generate five new district map options. “We are encouraging everyone to look at the maps and concepts, provide us feedback, and be involved in this process,” Independent Citizens’ Redistricting Commission Chairwoman Lilliemae Ortiz said in a statement. “Fair and accurate districts are a key element of our election system, and it is important for our residents to be engaged as we move forward.” A Zoom link for tomorrow’s meeting is available on the city’s meeting portal or the meeting can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel. The proposed map concepts can be viewed here; send written comments to the clerk’s office: PO Box 909, Santa Fe, NM 87504-0909; or email

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported May 6:

New cases: 323; 523,940 total cases

Deaths: nine; At last county, Santa Fe County has had 279 total deaths; there have been 7,556 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 37; Patients on ventilators: zero

Case rate: According to DOH’s most recent report on trends across the state, as of May 2, the state had recorded 1,372 new COVID-19 cases in the previous seven-day period—a nearly 23% increase compared with the week prior. Santa Fe County has a case rate of 18.3 per 100,000 population during the seven-day period of April 25 through May 1—the fourth highest in the state. In response to SFR’s inquiry regarding a 766-case discrepancy for Santa Fe County’s cumulative case count, the health department on Friday said there had been an error in the report; Santa Fe County had 69 additional cases recorded between the April 25 and May reports.

Transmission: According to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination to determine the state of the virus on a county level—30 of New Mexico’s counties currently have “green”—aka low—levels, whereas Cibola, De Baca and Harding counties are at yellow, or medium. Lea County, which was the only yellow county last week, is now green. The CDC updates its map on Thursdays.

Resources: Vaccine registrationBooster registration Free at-home rapid antigen testsSelf-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

Jess Clark, director of Sexual Violence Prevention for the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, has launched a podcast titled Both/And: A Sexual Violence Prevention Podcast. For the first episode, Clark interviews Heather Imre, who has more than 20 years of experience in the sexual violence prevention field, for a conversation about how much they both love the field; Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an origin story; and how people in the anti-sexual violence movement talk about people who cause sexual harm. This episode was made possible by the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs and the state health department.

Searching for gold (and more)

The Washington Post burrows into treasure hunters’ quests to unearth confederate gold allegedly hidden from Ohio to New Mexico by Jesse James and collaborators (who hoped to use the bounty to help the South “rise again”). Writer David Montgomery examines this particular treasure-hunting movement first-hand and writes: “I’d come to see treasure hunting and amateur code breaking as metaphors for our age, when the traditional arbiters of truth—the media, government officials, political parties, religious institutions—have lost some, or all, of their authority.” Bet you know where this is heading! Right on over to Outside magazine, which has an update on an ongoing lawsuit related to Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure (found by Jack Stuef in 2020). This lawsuit, from Florida man Jamie McCracken, alleges Fenn moved the treasure each time McCracken grew close to finding it—four times, he says—and that he will prove Fenn remained alive after his death was announced. The lawyer for Fenn’s estate, Karl Sommer, describes the McCracken suit as containing “bizarre shit,” which sums it up nicely. The suit does appear to have the potential to finally reveal the exact location where Stuef found the treasure, Outside writes, and it sounds as though officials at Yellowstone National Park really don’t want that to happen.

We’ve got it all

Being home to the country’s largest wildfire does not appear to have dampened national travel magazines’ thirst for recommending New Mexico vacations. Santa Fe, in particular, receives a heavy dose of praise from Travel & Leisure, which describes it as the “perfect all-season destination.” Why? Let us count the ways: arts, food, outdoors. Moreover, Santa Fe is “something of an under-the-radar spa destination. Though it might not have the acclaim of Arizona’s Sedona, the city is home to world-class spas, some of which are located in downtown hotels, and others of which are part of resorts built around natural hot springs” (Ojo Santa Fe and Ten Thousand Waves receive shout-outs, natch). T&L also doubles down on Santa Fe as the perfect spot for mother/daughter bonding: Last week, the magazine included the city on its top 10 round-up of great mother/daughter trips in the US, followed by a first-person testimonial from travel writer Evie Carrick, who describes Santa Fe as “a destination that often gets overlooked” (by whom, we are not sure). Lastly, at least for now, TravelAwaits rounds up Santa Fe’s six best historic hotels, starting with La Fonda and ending with Inn of the Five Graces (we won’t spoil the rest).

Up in the air

Temps today will reach a high near 81 degrees. The sky will be sunny and, yes, it will be windy: a southwest wind 10 to 20 mph increasing to 20 to 30 mph in the afternoon, with wind gusts as high as 40 mph. The National Weather Service has us under a red flag warning because of the wind, heat and drought, and has also issued an air quality alert for potential blowing smoke and dust through noon in Santa Fe and other areas of Northern New Mexico. Find tips on protecting your health on smoky days here, and an interactive smoke map here. Check out the state’s smoke and dusty plumes yesterday via National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration satellites.

Thanks for reading! Since Wanted Man starring Kelsey Grammer (and Dolph Lundgrenhas started production in Las Cruces, The Word figured there’s be no better time to mention the viral Grunge Frasier video.

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