Morning Word

Santa Fe County Resumes Annexation Hearing

Bicentennial Pool reopens for the season

County resumes hearing on Agua Fría annexation

During its regular meeting today (item #12, which won’t be heard until after 5 pm), the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners will resume a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would, if adopted, incorporate Area 1B—approximately 1,100 acres in the area between Alameda and NM 599—into Agua Fría Village. County Commissioners forestalled a decision on the contentious issue at their May 1 meeting, after hours of testimony primarily from residents supporting the proposal and Homewise, which owns lots in the area and characterizes residents’ push for incorporation as an anti-housing effort; as does the City of Santa Fe. The latter has gone to court to attempt to stop the county from accepting residents’ petitions on the matter; in its legal response, the county says the city is attempting to exercise prior restraint and disallow the rights of residents. At tonight’s meeting, commissioners will decide whether to accept a supplemental petition in favor of incorporation of the area into Agua Fría Village, along with additional signatures, and whether to adopt the ordinance as is; or with changes; or to postpone or delay action again. Since the May 1 meeting, attorney Frank Herdman, who represents Homewise, Big Sky Santa Fe, LLC and Buckman Development, has filed additional comments on his clients’ behalf—more than 400 pages of them—in opposition to the ordinance. Big Sky Santa Fe and Buckman Development are both for-profit subsidiaries of Homewise, described in a 2022 Homewise Community Investment Note prospectus as single-purpose entities that own land slated for future development. In total, the three lot owners’ holdings consist of approximately 205.55 acres in Area 1B, or about 19.7% of the area, Herdman’s written comments say.

City talks culvert

Meanwhile, also on the West Alameda beat, the City of Santa Fe tonight will deliver an update from 7 to 8 pm at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center on the collapsed culvert on West Alameda, and the project to fix it and reopen the road. According to a city news release, the deadline to RSVP to the meeting was yesterday, Memorial Day, but it’s unclear what will ensue if one attends without an RSVP. The meeting will include refreshments and attendees will be allowed to each ask one question. As for questions, the city has provided an FAQ on the issue. In brief: The road became a city road when the city annexed the adjacent land to the south of West Alameda in 2013. The culvert collapsed, the city says, because when “Santa Fe County owned the road, they performed a road widening project during which they extended the culvert but did not install an outflow structure and downstream armoring.” The culvert collapsed and the road caved in at the end of March, at which point the city closed it to through traffic, creating a giant clusterf*** on Agua Fría Road (the city does not actually mention that last bit in its FAQ; we’re chiming in here). As for repairing the culvert and reopening the road: tentatively August, pending costs and a construction schedule.

Santa Fe County Sheriff: Fatal shooting in Chimayó

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office is investigating a fatal shooting that occurred on Sunday, May 28 in Chimayó. According to a news release, officers were dispatched at 9:36 pm to a 911 call of shots fired in the area of Canada Ancha and El Potrero Road in Chimayó, with the 911 caller indicating a male individual had suffered a gunshot wound. Sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene at 9:48 pm, at which point they discovered a crime scene where windows to the residence had been shot out and a deceased a male victim identified as Jerome Chavez, 22, of Chimayó. Witnesses told investigators they had been in the residence’s garage when shots were fired at them from the driveway. Sheriff’s detectives observed multiple casings from the discharged firearms. Several individuals were inside the home when the assault occurred, but remained uninjured despite various rounds striking the residence. As of yesterday’s news release, sheriff’s detectives were continuing to conduct witness interviews, had secured the crime scene, and were working to collect evidence. Anyone with information regarding the crime should call Santa Fe County sheriff’s detectives at (505) 428-3720.

Investigation ongoing in Red River motorcycle shooting

Red River Mayor Linda Calhoun says a special council meeting will be held at 1 pm tomorrow to work through the aftermath of the May 27 shooting that took place during the 2023 Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally, which killed three people and injured five others. Everyone involved, police say, was part of an “outlaw motorcycle gang,” either the Bandidos or the Waterdogs. In a news briefing the following day, State Police Chief Tim Johnson said the incident began with a confrontation over a photograph in Albuquerque. The three deceased individuals were identified as Anthony Silva, 26 of Los Lunas; Randy Sanchez, 46 of Albuquerque; and Damian Breaux, 46 of Socorro. Police have charged Jacob David Castillo, 30, of Rio Rancho, with an open count of murder. This case remains under investigation and state police asks anyone who was a witness or has any video footage to contact the New Mexico State Police at (505) 425-6771, option 1. In a letter posted on social media, Calhoun described the shootings as “devastating to our small close-knit community. At this point, we need to look towards the future and how we can heal as a community.” The state’s congressional delegation also released a joint statement describing themselves as “heartsick” over the events. “Yesterday’s shootings desecrated a decades-old, cherished community gathering,” their statement reads. “We are painfully aware that these shootings also came less than two weeks after the mass shooting in Farmington. We cannot let these events become normal. We must do more to prevent gun violence.”

Listen up

ICYMI, last Thursday, Virgin Galactic completed its spaceflight Unity 25 from Spaceport America in New Mexico—a trip to scope the end-to-end astronaut training and spaceflight experience in advance of its “commercial research mission” Galactic 01 planned for late June. Damian Willis, host of the Las Cruces Sun-News podcast The Reporter’s Notebook, talks to one of the astronauts from Thursday’s expedition: Las Cruces native Jamila Gilbert, 34, who became the third Virgin Galactic woman to fly to space, one of the first 100 women astronauts in history and one of just 16 Hispanic astronauts. Willis also speaks with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham about the commercial space industry’s potential impact on New Mexico.

Beyond chile & cheese

Want a chile con queso like no other? “Head to Southern New Mexico,” the New York Times decrees, in a story celebrating Chope’s Town Bar & Cafe in La Mesa, a family-owned restaurant and bar dating to 1909. “The chile con queso is deceptively monochromatic,” Maggie Hennessy writes, “a white bowl filled with melted white Cheddar and served alongside warm, foil-wrapped flour tortillas. Customers tear off bits of tortilla and plunge them through the thick cheese layer to unearth diced roasted chiles simmered in their own tangy, spicy liquor.” (Yes, a stomach-growling-inducing photo accompanies this story.) The 80-year-old recipe dates to the family’s forebears in Copper Canyon, Mexico, the story says, and only a handful of folks, including Chope’s head chef Josefina Garcilazo—who characterizes Velveeta cheese as “gringo”—have been entrusted with its secrets. The restaurant’s namesake Chope Benavides and his wife, Lupe, who invented the recipe, took over the restaurant for Chope’s parents in the 1940s; their daughters own it now and their grandsons work as managers. One of them, D.J. Martinez, tells the Times he safeguards his grandmother’s chile con queso recipe, along with the restaurant’s chile rellenos and enchiladas. “Do you know what sazón means?” he asks. “Sazón means, like, the culture, the tradition, and the style of cooking all come together and create the flavor. That’s kind of what it means; that’s why it tastes so good.”

Land of plenty

In his latest essay collection Soil and Spirit (published earlier this month by Milkweed Press), farmer, poet and educator Scott Chaskey “explores the evolution of his perspective” as a farmer and poet with decades of devotion to organic farming and the Community Supported Agriculture movement. Orion magazine publishes an excerpt from the book in which the New York-based Chaskey and his wife Megan visit Santa Clara Pueblo at the invitation of Tewa Women United to harvest amaranth seeds. The essay provides a fascinating history into the seed itself, as well as a window into the work of the Indigenous activists devoted to food sovereignty and the restoration and preservation of heritage seeds and crops. “We snap the ripe stalks and bundle the brilliant seed heads, as many as we can carry, to transport the harvest to the lawn below,” Chaskey writes. “We stack the grain on several tarps and kneel before an age-old mystery: out of the tiniest of seeds placed in a substance ground down from rock over millennia, in a high, dry country, this superfood (millions of seeds) came to maturity on substantial stalks taller than our bodies. As we cup our hands around and over the flame-shaped seed heads, they shatter, and a sea of pink and gold grains flows around our knees. Perhaps we are at a threshold, the place of entrance to a dwelling. The dwelling is the soil we kneel upon as we thresh the grain, our common home; the amaranth is an entrance, our shared harvest.”

Bathing suit season

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day, with a high temperature near 78 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. While summer may still be three weeks in the offing, the start of the summer swim season arrives today, as Bicentennial Pool (1121 Alto St.), the city’s only outdoor pool, reopens for the season with expanded hours and swim lessons for multiple levels throughout the summer at both Bicentennial and Genoveva Chavez Community Center. Fort Marcy and Salvador Perez pools close temporarily starting today through through June 11 to accommodate Bicentennial’s reopening and expanded schedule “and to allow for additional aquatics staff recruitment and training,” a city news release says.

Thanks for reading! The Word sure loves summer books lists.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.