Morning Word

Ruidoso Residents Confront Wildfire Aftermath

Gov backs US Surgeon General gun violence declaration

Morning Word

Searches ongoing for people reported missing in wildfires

Fire activity on the South Fork and Salt fires has reduced significantly, officials reported yesterday, largely thanks to “persistent scattered storms…While pockets of large, heavy, dead/downed fuels, snags, and stumps continue to smolder, growth potential along the perimeter will be very minimal.” As such, containment on both has increased to 54% and 38%, respectively, at 17,556 acres for the South Fork fire and 7,947 acres for the Salt fire. Both began June 17 on Mescalero Apache Tribe land, with no official cause yet declared. The FBI over the weekend issued a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the blazes. Ruidoso full-time residents have largely returned home, with 89 people unaccounted for and 11 reported missing. Despite the devastation the fires have caused—with an estimated 1,400 structures lost—several residents interviewed by the Albuquerque Journal expressed optimism and determination that the communities will rebuild. Resilience also was a theme in the latest address from Ruidoso Mayor Lynn Crawford. The fires impacted both people and animals. SFR also spoke to animal shelter employees in Ruidoso, who received help from other shelters around the state, including Española Humane. Find resources to receive and provide help here. The state Health and Human Services Department announced yesterday it is working to help fire victims replace lost food benefits.

Gov backs Surgeon General gun-violence declaration

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy yesterday released an advisory declaring gun violence a public health emergency. The advisory, according to a news release from the US Department of Health and Human Services, is the first one from the Office of the US Surgeon General dedicated to gun violence, which he describes in a statement as “an urgent public health crisis that has led to loss of life, unimaginable pain, and profound grief for far too many Americans.” Firearm related deaths, due to both homicides and suicides, have been steadily rising, HHS notes, and in 2020 firearm-related injuries surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death for children and adolescents nationally and in New Mexico. Murthy’s written advisory includes a roadmap for a public health approach to addressing gun violence, which includes “critical research funding, implementation of prevention strategies, and increased mental health access and support.” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who declared gun violence a public health emergency in New Mexico last September—and backed several gun-reform measures in the most recent legislative session—issued a statement yesterday lauding Murthy’s announcement. “General Murthy’s declaration will help build even more support for keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, children and individuals with serious mental health issues,” she says. “It also contains valuable recommendations for addressing the severe physical and psychological trauma inflicted on gun violence survivors, their family members and community members at-large.” The governor also referenced the forthcoming special legislative session starting July 18, which will focus on public safety measures. “Convicted felons, who are prohibited by both state and federal law from possessing firearms, are a key driver” of the violence in the state, the governor’s statement notes. “That’s why I’ve called a special session to address public safety in July. I implore lawmakers to enhance the criminal penalties for felons who continue to possess guns in our state. New Mexicans are demanding accountability on this front, and we intend to deliver it.”

NM farms will participate in bird flu testing

The US Department of Agriculture yesterday announced New Mexico is one of four states that will participate in voluntary testing of “bulk milk tanks on dairy farms for bird flu,” Source New Mexico reports. Texas, Kansas and Nebraska also will participate in the testing, and officials say they are in discussions with about a dozen other states about also participating. “It was important for us to get these four states going so that other states could watch how the program works and gain additional confidence,” Eric Deeble, the acting senior advisor for H5N1 response at USDA, said during a press call. Thus far, the USDA has confirmed 126 cases of bird flu in dairy cattle herds in New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. At the same time, the US Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday it is expanding the number and types of dairy productions it will be testing to include products such as “aged raw milk cheese, pasteurized milk and pasteurized cheeses, cream cheese, butter and ice cream.” As reported by Source, Don Prater, acting director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA, says the additional “retail sampling effort is intended to address remaining geographic and product gaps from the initial sampling of the commercial milk supply that FDA conducted between April and May of this year.”

City receives funds to rehab library

The City of Santa Fe has received $231,300 for work on the main library via the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division’s new Cultural Properties Restoration Fund. Originally established in the mid-’90s, the CPRF had not received funding in decades, according to a news release, but is now one of 10 state programs receiving money through the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, signed into law last year. “This statewide fund enables us to provide support for organizations working to preserve New Mexico’s cultural heritage for future generations,” Department of Cultural Affairs Cabinet Secretary Debra Garcia y Griego says in a statement. The total $1 million funding for FY25, the program’s first year funding cycle, includes grants to five entities, including the Albuquerque Railyards, Silver City Waterworks, the City of Deming and the state Land Office. “The Cultural Properties Restoration Fund represents an opportunity to fund preservation efforts at a variety of cultural properties doing important work around New Mexico,” NMHPD Interim Director Michelle Ensey says in a statement. In the case of the John Gaw Meem-designed Santa Fe main library, the funding will be used for “interior condition assessment, measured drawings, programming and space planning, schematic design, design development, and arborist consultation/tree work.”

Listen Up

When it comes to hostage negotiations, the deals never improve over time, and time never benefits the hostages. Hostage negotiator Mickey Bergman, who worked alongside the late former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at the Richardson Center, which the latter founded, explained these two rules earlier this month when he appeared on PBS News Hour to discuss his new book, In the Shadows: True Stories of High-Stakes Negotiations to Free Americans Captured Abroad, co-written with journalist Ellis Henican. Bergman, who now directs the Richardson Center, as well as Global Reach, will discuss and sign his book at an event from Global Santa Fe and Collected Works Bookstore at 6 pm today at the store (202 Galisteo St.) and online via Zoom.

Olé!

Thrillist explores how Albuquerque became the flamenco capital of North America, opening the story with the National Institute of Flamenco’s repertory company Yjastros and its show last April, Flamenco Fandanguero: Primos de la Raza Cósmica. While the dance moves were familiar to anyone who knows flamenco, Thrillist writes, the costumes were muted and the story “very deeply New Mexican.” Albuquerque in particular “is so entrenched in flamenco that it has been dubbed the flamenco capital of the US,” and the University of New Mexico is the “only one in the world to have an accredited dance program that offers an undergraduate major and an MFA dance degree with concentrations in flamenco.” Thrillist’s story appears amid Albuquerque’s major flamenco festival (through June 29), and suggests the city’s reputation for flamenco connects to Marisol Encinias, the executive director of the National Institute of Flamenco, and her “her rhythmically-inclined lineage.” The Saturday Evening Post also profiles Albuquerque’s flamenco scene, talking to Encinias, and paying a visit to Casa Flamenca, where, “In a setting no bigger than an average living room space, about 40 folding chairs, the durable plastic type that are commonly used at family parties or community events, lined the back walls of the room in a U shape. People of all ages and sizes filled the seats, motionless as the sounds of flamenco music resonated within the packed space of the tablao.”

Go west

TravelAge West, a website geared at travel advisers, reviews The Blake at Taos Ski Valley, which writer Michelle Juergen describes as the “perfect home base” to explore the nature and art of the area. As for digs, her “530-square-foot queen room was bedecked with dark wood and jewel tones balanced by cozy neutrals and cabin-chic decor such as rustic tree-trunk table lamps, woodsy wallpaper and a wrought-iron bed frame.” Upgrades abound, she notes, and “all stays can be enhanced by booking The Blake Elevated Experiences,” four-day, three-night packages focused on recreation, culture or wellness. The story also details options for activities and cuisine. Speaking of which, AARP includes Santa Fe in its story on three “chef-inspired road trips” (albeit with an incorrect spelling for Santa Fe). Chef/owner Lisa Dahl of the Dahl Restaurant Group in Sedona, Arizona, says her “most memorable food-focused road trip” begins in Sedona and ends in Santa Fe. She has tips for stops along the way, but once here, she and her husband enjoy eating at Geronimo, “where they have been dining for 25 years,” along with La Boca and Radish & Rye. “Choose road trips that have great scenery, and your destinations should be places with some type of spiritual familiarity—places that call you back over and over,” Dahl tells the magazine. “The more you travel to these types of familiar places, the more you get a sense of the deeper culture and community.”

Stay dry

The National Weather Service forecasts a 60% chance of precipitation today and tonight, with showers and thunderstorms likely after 3 pm; otherwise, it should be partly sunny, with a high temperature near 91 degrees. The rain will likely continue tomorrow, when NWS has a flood watch in effect.

Thanks for reading! The Word finds it surprising the year is half over already, but appreciates the mid-year playlists.

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