Morning Word

Santa Fe City Council Races Start to Shape Up

SFPD IDs Weekend Homicide Victim

Santa Fe City Council races start to shape up

At least one City of Santa Fe council seat will be open come the Nov. 7 municipal election. SFR staff writer Andrew Oxford reports retired fire chief and District 3 Councilor Chris Rivera does not intend to seek reelection. “Twelve years to be in office is a long time,” Rivera tells SFR. “Having new ideas and new blood is a good thing.” District 2 Councilor Michael Garcia announced yesterday he intends to run for a second term using public financing. His priorities, he says, will be boosting affordable housing; protecting neighborhoods from gentrification; and formalizing financial oversight for the city, which continues to lag behind on its audits. District 4 Councilor Jamie Cassutt also intends to seek a second term, but will not seek public financing. She also cites affordable housing, along with overall cost of living issues—including child care—as priorities for a second term. District 1 Councilor Renee Villarreal tells SFR she plans to announce her plans by the end of the week; the Santa Fe New Mexican reports Café Castro owner Alma Castro intends to run for Villarreal’s seat. Each of Santa Fe’s four council districts elect two councilors who serve staggered four-year terms. The position of municipal judge, along with to-be-determined questions related to the city’s charter (and the Charter Commission has a public meeting at 1 pm today) will be on this year’s ballot. Forms for candidates seeking public financing become available May 8.

NM Gov promotes hydrogen plans

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham remains bullish about the prospects for hydrogen energy development in the state, despite prior opposition from environmental groups and other lawmakers. The Albuquerque Journal reports the governor spoke to approximately 300 people yesterday at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce luncheon in her first large address since finishing bill signing last month, telling them she anticipates the federal government will choose New Mexico as a hub for hydrogen development. Last month, the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub LLC—developed last year between New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming—submitted an application for a $1.25 billion grant from the US Department of Energy in response to the DOE’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs funding opportunity. WIH2′s proposal identifies eight projects with qualified project partners across the four states, with at least one project in each state. The governor also spoke about plans to create a statewide tutoring program; make medical school more affordable for residents; and explore desalination as a possible new water source.

SFPD ID shooting victim

The Santa Fe Police Department yesterday identified the victim of the April 30 shooting in the parking lot of Lowe’s Home Improvement on Zafarano as 21-year-old Ramon Vigil, a Santa Fe resident. According to a news release, Vigil “was meeting with a group of people in the Lowe’s Home Improvement parking lot the night of the shooting.” SFPD detectives continue to work leads on the case and have asked for witnesses or anyone with information to contact Detective Rebecca Hilderbrandt at 505-955-5625 (case number 20223-004959). No suspects have been identified as yet. As previously reported, SFPD was dispatched to Lowe’s at approximately 12:30 am, April 30 regarding a shooting and, upon arrival, located a 21-year-old victim with at least one gunshot wound who was pronounced dead at the scene. Vigil’s is reportedly the city’s third homicide of the year; Capt. Aaron Ortiz tells the Santa Fe New Mexican a similar and previously unreported shooting occurred in February in a Home Depot parking lot, eventually leading to the death of 39-year-old Ricardo Chavez-Padilla, but police determined the two events were unrelated.

NM airports slated to receive $2.8 mil

New Mexico’s congressional delegation says the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded approximately $2.8 million in grants for eight New Mexico airports to repair runways, taxiways and other infrastructure (no: the beleaguered Santa Fe Regional Airport is not one of them, although in fairness, these are rural airports). The largest award will go to the Belen Regional Airport ($990,000) to reconstruct 3,257 feet of existing taxiway. Other grants include: $302,231 for Moriarty Municipal Airport; $283,500 for Lordsburg Municipal Airport; $180,000 for Clayton Municipal Airpark; $150,000 for Four Corners Regional Airport; and $111,295 for Raton Municipal Airport to reconstruct 4,500 feet of existing taxiway. “These funds will make sure that rural airports from San Juan to Clayton can stay open to flight traffic, support economic growth, and provide transportation to rural areas,” Democrat US Teresa Rep. Leger Fernández, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, says in a statement. “When a plane taxis into Roswell Air Center to be repaired, or repainted, it may go on to save lives on SAR flights, fighting fires, or to transport medical supplies across the country. These resources help enable small places to do big things.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported May 2: New cases: 112; 680,260 total cases. Deaths: six Statewide fatalities: 9,224; Santa Fe County has had 410 total deaths; Statewide hospitalizations: 66; patients on ventilators: six. The state health department will stop reporting daily COVID-19 cases on May 11.

The Centers for Disease and Prevention most recent April 27 “community levels” map shows all New Mexico counties remain green—depicting low levels—for the third consecutive week.

Resources: Receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household via; Check availability for additional free COVID-19 tests through Project ACT; CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. 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

As one might expect, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted school nurses’ jobs. On the most recent episode of the Inside Santa Fe Public Schools podcast, host and SFPS Public Information Officer Cody Dynarski talks to Santa Fe Public Schools lead nurse Anita Hett (a co-author of this 2021 paper on “School Nursing in a Pandemic”) about her trajectory toward becoming a school nurse—as she prepares to retire—and what it was like to be on the frontlines of school health as COVID-19 began. “It just came rolling at us and we had to react and do whatever we needed to do so we could keep our kids and our families and our community safe,” Hett says.

Location, location, location

Turns out not everyone loves a Die Hard rip-off. But at least a Die Hard rip-off set in a beautiful location provides nice scenery. So it reportedly goes for The Best Man (directed by Shane Dax Taylor; starring Brendan Fehr, Luke Wilson, Dolph Lundgren and others) and filmed at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Mescalero, which is owned and operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe. The LA Times includes the movie in its roundup of so-so flicks with superlative settings. Storyline: “The Best Man takes place on a remote resort, in the midst of a wedding where mercenaries take control of the property. Now it’s up to the groom, the best man, and their best friend to defeat the terrorists and save the hostages. Die Hard at a wedding.” The Austin Chronicle writes: “It may not be much of a film, but it is a pretty good commercial for the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Mescalero, New Mexico. Apparently, it’s a good place to make your movie.” Director Taylor apparently agrees (about the location, not the assessment of his film). In an interview with entertainment website Ain’t It Cool News, Taylor notes: “We shot 100% of the film interior and exterior at that location…The pros were how easy it was to shoot in this one location and how wonderful the Mescalero Apache tribe is. The cons were we were shooting in a working casino and resort, so it wasn’t like we could shut this thing down. We just had to take everybody and like move [them] over to this side. ‘We’re gonna shoot this way, but can you stand behind us, but just kind of stay out of these shots.’ That was a blast.”

NM cop becomes rising country star

“Country music’s next stars are Latino,” Axios’ Russell Contreras writes. Indeed: turns out Latino singers are “transforming” the industry, with the Country Music Association reporting a 25% increase in Hispanic country music listeners versus 7% for white listeners between 2006 to 2016. One of those rising stars hails from New Mexico: Deming native Frank Ray, 36. Despite their growing numbers, Latino country performers only represent a small fraction of the genre and don’t garner the same level of air play. Still, some like Ray are making gains with streaming services, Axios reports, as with his song “Country’d Look Good On You,” which has amassed 6 million listens on Spotify since its 2021 release. According to the story, Ray spent a decade working as a police officer in Las Cruces before devoting himself full-time to country music just a few years ago. “We sprinkle in a bunch of Latino influence and stuff when we get on stage. But the fact that we can play country music and do it justice really surprises a lot of people. Then the fun starts.” In March, Ray joined US Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, on a panel in Washington, DC about the mental health challenges faced by first responders, coinciding with Ray’s launch of the mental health initiative FRAY (First Responders Mental Clarity). According to a news release, Ray incorporates visits to police and fire stations on his concert tour to talk about the initiative: “Conversations about mental health have always been a taboo subject in the first responder community largely in part because of the negative stigma attached to it,” Ray said in a statement. “First responders are notorious for compartmentalizing the trauma they witness every day, so I’m glad we’re moving the conversation forward into a normal topic of conversation for this community of brave men & women who protect us.”

Listen for the thunder

The National Weather Service forecasts a mostly sunny day with a high temperature near 73 degrees; east wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest sometime this morning; and isolated thunderstorms after 3 pm with little to no precipitation expected; we have a slight chance (20%) for showers and thunderstorms this evening. No dust storms for us today!

Thanks for reading! The Word is learning about the #savequiet movement while listening to the sounds of nightfall on the Zabalo River in Ecuador.

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