Morning Word

NM Flu Cases Rising

First Midtown housing proposal won’t offer affordable units

Flu cases rising in NM

Depending on whom one asks, flu cases are either high or moderate in New Mexico, but rising in either case. The federal Centers for Disease Control characterizes New Mexico’s influenza situation as “high” in its weekly influenza data. The state Department of Health, however, says instances of “influenza-like illnesses” are below the state’s baseline. DOH spokesman David Barre tells SFR the discrepancy is because “CDC and NMDOH use different methods to calculate and classify influenza-like illnesses…CDC uses the whole year to establish a baseline; since there are many weeks with low or no influenza-like illness activity, the baseline is lower. In New Mexico we use [20] weeks covering the normal respiratory season to establish our baseline,” he writes. That being said, the most recent state influenza report notes instances are above the national baseline and continuing to rise. Moreover, less than 25% of those eligible in the state (anyone six months and older) have received a flu shot this season. To that end, the health department yesterday encouraged residents to obtain a flu shot in advance of the forthcoming holiday season. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to stay healthy during the holiday season so we can spend more time with family and friends,” COH Chief Medical Officer Miranda Durham, says in a statement. “Getting the flu shot reduces your risk of getting the flu and lessens the severity of symptoms if you do get sick. Take a few minutes from the holiday rush to take care of yourself and get vaccinated.” Find flu shot appointments via or by contacting a local public health office. For help with scheduling, call the DOH helpline (7 am to 8 pm Monday through Friday and 10 am to 4 pm on weekends) at 1-833-SWNURSE (1-833-796-8773).

Midtown developer will pay fee in lieu of affordable units

The proposed Shellaburger Multi-Family apartment building, if approved, will offer 129 units in a four-story building on the Midtown campus. The plans, which were shared as part of an early neighborhood notification meeting last week, say the building’s architectural style will reflect the “Midcentury modern vernacular” of several facilities on the campus. The design will include pedestrian access to a nearby bus stop on Siringo Road, as well as interior and exterior bike parking. The application also notes Santa Fe’s housing shortage as part of the project’s potential economic impact: “The creation of new housing supply is critical to economic development is Santa Fe by providing more housing opportunities for the employment base. In addition, the project will create jobs in construction related industries.” The complex will not, however, include affordable units; instead, the developer, Midtown Santa Fe Residential QOZB LLC, will pay a fee in lieu toward the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund—an option available under city law. The developer’s state registration lists its registered agent as Phillip Gesue, a New York realtor who purchased the Shellaburger Tennis Center last year. JenkinsGavin Land Use Project Management Principal Jennifer Jenkins, tells the Santa Fe New Mexican she expects that fee will be approximately $350,000 to $450,000. Mayor Alan Webber and the City Council last May rejected a proposal that would have barred developers from using the fee in lieu option on the Midtown campus, with opponents arguing it would discourage and stifle Midtown construction.

NM Courts announces new “justice stations”

Residents in Northwestern New Mexico will not have to travel as far to access court services, the Administrative Office of the Courts announced yesterday, thanks to newly installed “justice stations” on the Navajo Nation and other communities in Northwestern New Mexico. The stations will allow virtual access to magistrate court hearings in San Juan and McKinley counties for cases such as ones involving traffic violations and have already been set up at the Rock Springs Chapter House, the Beclabito Chapter House, Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup and the Gallup Magistrate Court, with more expected by the end of the month. State Supreme Court Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon said the justice stations “expand access to the justice system to enable people to protect their rights and advocate for their interests if they have a legal problem,” and are another example of how the courts are using technology to address justice equity gaps. The Eleventh Judicial District Court, which serves the Northwestern area, is collaborating with public and private entities to establish the justice stations. “By using a justice station, people can conduct business with a state court when they have no internet connection at their homes or lack reliable cellular phone service,” Eleventh Judicial District Chief Judge Curtis Gurley says in a statement.

Inside school internet censorship

Albuquerque figures heavily in a Wired magazine story about school’s Internet censorship protocols. Because of a two-decade federal anti-porn law, Albuquerque Public Schools, like other districts across the country, uses filters provided by companies such as GoGuardian and Blocksi. But those filters do more than block students from looking at inappropriate content. According to Wired, they also blocked an Albuquerque student searching for a suicide prevention hotline. That particular student, the story reports, tried more than a dozen times one night last July to “access online mental health resources, and the district’s web filter blocked their requests for help every time.” In the week that followed, “students and staff across Albuquerque tried and failed to reach crisis mental health resources on district computers. An eighth grader googled ‘suicide hotline’ on their take-home laptop, a ninth grader looked up ‘suicide hotline number,’ a high school counselor googled ‘who is a mandated reporter for suicide in New Mexico,’ and another counselor at an elementary school tried to download a PDF of the district’s suicide prevention protocol. Blocked, blocked, blocked—all in a state with among the highest suicide rates in the US.” (Numerous online documents indicate Santa Fe Public Schools also uses GoGuardian, but SFR was unable to confirm at deadline).

Listen up

Washington Post feature writer Jada Yuan joins Santa Fe International Film Festival Artistic Director Jacques Paisner at 6 pm this evening at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St.) to discuss Yuan’s new book, Unleashing Oppenheimer: Inside Christopher Nolan’s Explosive Atomic- Age Thriller, which traces the creation of Nolan’s latest film from script to screen through exclusive interviews with the director and his cast and crew, plus electrifying visuals from the film including on-set photos, concept art, research materials and storyboards.” Attend in-person or watch via Zoom by registering here.

Eat, drink, be merry, repeat

The New York Times proclaims burritos as the best holiday wrapping, and includes a New Mexico-style breakfast burrito in its roundup of wrapped suggestions to fill the food void between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Atlas Obscura, meanwhile, includes “exotic” fowl eggs (think ostriches, emus  and rheas) from Floek’s Country Ranch in Tucumcari as one of its picks in its Gastro Obscura foodies gift guide. Also on the food beat: Esquire magazine released its roundup of the 50 best restaurants in the US for 2023, including Corner Office in Taos on the list. Zak Pelaccio and Jori Jayne Emde’s natural wine bar, Esquire writes, is “quirky and unlike anything Taos has ever seen…the après-ski lodge of your dreams: a warren for natural wines and funky comfort food.” Passport magazine, meanwhile, interviews New York City-based costume designers Kurt and Bart (Kurt Swanson and Bart Mueller) about their culinary adventures around the world as they work on location. The duo shout-out Cocina Azul in Albuquerque, where they became regulars while working on Tom Hanks’ post-apocalyptic film Finch. “Nothing fancy, but I could eat their huevos rancheros, served in homemade tortillas and smothered in New Mexico’s signature red and green chiles, or as they call it, ‘Christmas-style,’ every day,” Mueller tells Passport. Swanson also mentions Hotel Chaco’s Level 5 restaurant, for its rooftop views and menu. “We had many great brunches and dinners there,” he says. “I especially remember the Chilean sea bass with risotto and the eggplant ‘steak’ marinated with balsamic and basil.”

Mountain news

As the 7 inches of snow that fell in town last week indicates, ski season is off to a good start. Ski Santa Fe reports a 30-inch base, 18 from the last week. Powder magazine talks to Ski New Mexico’s new executive director, Christy Germscheid, who took over last summer after George Brooks retired. Germscheid, who spent much of her career in Angel Fire before her new gig, tells Powder New Mexico’s ski areas are addressing the challenges climate change brings to the industry by “continued investment in snowmaking upgrades and adjustments to opening and closure dates.” Other challenges, she says, include employee recruitment and housing. Germscheid also discusses the anticipated El Niño year, expected to bring healthy snow to the state’s resorts, as well as improvements and innovations for the season. Those include Ski Santa Fe’s new ticketing system and improved snowmaking capacity. New Mexico Magazine also has a guide for what to expect at the state’s ski resorts this season, as well as a guide for fun beyond the slopes at area resorts. Two New Mexico ski areas appeared on USA Today’s recently released “10 best ski towns in North America” list, with  Taos coming in at #10 and Red River in the #1 spot for the second time (it previously ranked first in 2021).

T-shirt weather returns

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 50 degrees and north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word has never used the newly announced 2023 Oxford Word of the Year—nor most of the words from the short-list—but she’s planning to employ all of them today. Possibly in the same sentence.

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