Valencia County’s premier guide for newcomers & visitors


alencia ounty

Welcome to



Reaching for the Stars!

Belen, New Mexico
100 Main St, Belen, NM 505-864-8221
Mayor, Rudy Jaramillo Councilors, Wayne Gallegos, Mary Aragon, Jerah Cordova, David Carter City Manager, Lucy Baca


City of Belén



Greater Belén Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center 712 Dalies Ave. Belén, NM 87002 505-864-8091

Photos by Lenore G. Peña

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Financial options for every phase of your life

Whether you want to save for the future, secure a personal loan, utilize exclusive online and telephone banking services, or enjoy the convenience of our ATMs and many locations, we are here for you. Call, click, or stop by and talk with a banker. Belen • 101 S. Main St. • 505-864-5788 Bosque Farms • 970 Bosque Farms Blvd. • 505-869-2316 Los Lunas • 1027 Main St. • 505-248-9560
All loans are subject to application, credit qualification, and income verification. © 2013 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. (878819_08001)

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3/28/13 12:03 PM

This is the 18th edition of the

It is a publication of the Valencia County News-Bulletin. The News-Bulletin is a publication of Number Nine Media, Inc. See the News-Bulletin’s website at Contact us by email at Mailing address: P.O. Box 25, Belen, N.M., 87002. Telephone number: (505) 864-4472 The Valencia County News-Bulletin is published weekly on Thursday. Subscription rates are, in Valencia County, two years, $70; one year, $42; Elsewhere: two years, $84; one year, $51

On the cover

A magical place to be and visit................................ 6 A time line of where we’ve been.............................. 8 Belen is proud of its heritage................................. 10 Living in and visiting “The Farm”.......................... 14 Los Lunas holds onto its rural charm.................... 16 Peralta is a place of agriculture............................. 18 Valencia County is enchanting............................... 20 Calender of Events in Valencia County.................. 22 Our culture, our language...................................... 24 Economic Development in Valencia County. .......... 26 It’s an artist destination. ........................................ 28 Art galleries in Valencia County............................ 30 The mystifying Mystery Stone............................... 32 History aboard the Doodlebug............................... 34 Transportation in Valencia County........................ 36 Historic Harvey House Museum............................ 38 Chile: The food of the peopl................................... 40 Enjoying our Farmers Markets.............................. 42 Striving for excellence in Belen Schools. ............... 44 Enthusiasm for education in Los Lunas Schools... 46 School of Dreams Academy is making waves. ....... 48 UNM-VC: Higher education at its best................... 50 Tomé Hill: A place of faith and hope. ..................... 52 Moving in. ............................................................... 55 Birding is a way of life at Whitfield. ....................... 56 Matanza: Food for the soul.................................... 58 BNSF: The pulse of the community....................... 60

Designed by Mario Lara
Valencia County has many historic and cultural landmarks, including Tomé Hill, which is pictured on the cover of this year’s Visitors Guide. Thousands of faithful climb the hill every Good Friday for many different reasons. The three cross atop the hill were erected nearly 60 years ago.

4 Welcome to Valencia County



D A R E to D R E A M

Valencia County’s ONLY Public Charter School 7-12th grade
15:1 Student Teacher Ratio Dual Credit Classes Rigorous Academics Competitive Dance Nationally Ranked Robotics AP Art Classes Digital Art/Video Production Track and Field & Golf Credit Recovery Available Integrated Technology/E2020 Service Learning BEMP/Horticulture

Stop by anytime for a student led tour- You deserve to know more….

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A magical place to be and visit
ou’ve heard the expression — it’s high praise. Folks use it when they want to say something to epitomize a concept that it literally defines. We think that way, too. That’s why when we think of words such as “wonderful,” “heritage,” “artistic,” and, perhaps, most of all, “home,” we say that you could look them up in the dictionary and find a picture of Valencia County there. And what a picture it would be — the lush, green Rio Grande Valley with the purple Manzano Mountains to the east and the sepia tones of the mesas and hills to the west. We see spectacular sunsets, piñon burning in a kiva fireplace, the gentle curves of adobe homes, churches where centuries of worshippers have gathered, cottonwood trees, fields of sunflowers and sweet-smelling alfalfa, red chile ristras hanging from houses to dry. And we see faces. We see people with smiles, welcoming us, too. We see them at work and at play, learning at school and sharing golden days at senior centers. We see the growing community of artists whose work range from the traditional carving of saints for worship to the creation of pottery for everyday use. We see scientists and teachers, priests and police, homemakers and farmers. We see life. If you visit once, you’ll want to live here forever. Many out-of-staters are surprised to learn that central New Mexico enjoys the same four seasons that other parts of the nation do. And they are particularly beautiful here. Spring is a magical time in the middle Rio Grande Valley. The trees blossom quickly here, starting with a haze of green that at first seems almost imaginary. March winds are intense in most parts of the county, but in New Mexico, they can be fierce, blowing dust across the beautiful mesas and desert landscape.


The summer is a wonderful time to be in Valencia County. The alfalfa fields are in full blossom and the cattle and horses are kicking up their heels in the pastures. Summer days are long enough to give you time to wander around just looking. While the days are hot, the nights are refreshingly cool, making sleep a pleasant experience by just cracking the window. The cottonwoods that make up the river bosque — forest in Spanish — turn a bright yellow in the fall that stands out against that special azure sky in a way you just won’t believe. Huge Vs of sandhill cranes and other wintering birds wing through the sky, heading south — heading here!

Winter is the time when the snowbirds arrive. They find the weather pleasant — sometimes you can go out without even wearing a coat. Yes, it does snow, but that’s only a matter of an inch or two, likely clearing off by the afternoon. The smell of piñon fires perfume the air as people gather around making their traditional Christmas meals, including biscochitos, tamales and empanadas. Come any time. Bienvenidos — welcome. Nuestra casa es su casa — our house is your house. In this Visitors Guide, we will try to present the many faces and places of life in our valley.

6 Welcome to Valencia County


Nancy Montoya

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A time line of where we’ve been
he history of Valencia County spans centuries, several wars, epidemics and the lives of our ancestors and family memories. Many of the events that riddled our past have made Valencia County what it is today. From the days of colonization, to the era of the Indian revolts, up to the land grants of various communities in the area, New Mexico and Valencia County have seen its share of wars, settlements and illness. As the state and county prospered with the coming of the railroad, municipalities grew not only financially but by population. Local historian and UNM-VC professor Richard Melzer provided much of the information for this history time line.


16th century

1540-1542: Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led the first exploration into the region. He and his troops only stayed for two years. 1598: Conqueror Don Juan de Onate, colonized and established the “Kingdom of New Mexico.” This is the period when recorded history starts.

1716: One of the first private land grants given was the San Clemente (in Los Lentes). Los Lentes is older than the village of Los Lunas as a community settlement. Shortly after that the Luna family made claim to the grant and took possession of it. 1739: The town of Tomé was settled when grants were given to Juan Varela and other families by Gov. Gaspar Dominguez de Mendoza. Nicolas Duran y Chavez, said to be the founder of Los Chavez, was given a grant from Mendoza for land in the area. 1740: The town of Belen was settled when the governor granted the area to Capt. Diego de Torres and 32 other families. The Belen settlers came mostly from the Albuquerque area. Belen was referred to by numerous names including Belem, Bethel and Nuestra Senora de Belen. Late 1700s to early 1800s: Smallpox epidemics in the county cursed thousands of people. It was said that millions of Indians nationwide were wiped out by the epidemic, more than in battles. Half of the indigenous population was gone by the end of the 19th century because of small pox.

17th century

1598-1680: First Colonial Period. During this time the missions were first established in the Rio Abajo, including Isleta in 1929. 1680: The Pueblos revolted to expel the Spanish from New Mexico. There were about 2,500 Spaniards in the colony and about 400 were killed by the Pueblo Indian rebels, which included some from Isleta. 1692: Don Diego de Vargas came to New Mexico on a reconnaissance expedition seeking to reconquer the area from the Pueblo Indians.

19th century

18th century

1710: The mission at Isleta was rebuilt and renamed.

1821: New Mexico becomes part of Mexico after Mexican residents rebelled against the mother country, Spain. 1823: The Casa Colorada Grant was given to Jose Maria Perea and others by Gov. Bartolome Baca. 1846: US/Mexican War; United States troops invaded Mexico and took it over. Troops were sent into New Mexico, including Valencia County. New Mexico then became a territory of the United States. 1852: The county of Valencia was established. Valencia County stretched from the New Mexico-Texas border to the New Mexico-Arizona border.

1862: Civil War and Confederate invasion into New Mexico. Troops came into Valencia County and sought loans and supplies from local merchants. Troops went through the county going north and were defeated in a major battle at Glorieta Pass. On their way back, the troops were once again defeated at the last battle of the civil war in New Mexico, in Peralta. 1876: The county seat was moved from Tomé to Los Lunas. 1880: The railroad was built and ran tracks north and south through New Mexico, including through Los Lunas and Belen. The railroad needed land to lay tracks and when crews got to Los Lunas they were blocked by a hacienda owned by the Luna family. The railroad made a deal with the family that if they sold their land, the railroad would build the family a new home. The new home is now known as the Luna Mansion. 1898: Most famous train robbery in Belen done by Bronco Bill Walters and his sidekick, Kid Johnson. The two are said to have tied their horses miles down from the train depot in Belen and walked north to catch the train. Walters and Johnson forced the conductor to stop the train where they had left their horses and blew up the safe where the money was kept.

20th century

1903: First bank opened in Belen, and soon after the first bank robbery was committed. 1907: The railroad built the Belen cutoff, linking Amarillo and Belen. 1912: New Mexico became the 48th state in the union. 1918: Belen was incorporated as a village. Belen’s first mayor was Bernard

Continued on page 9

8 Welcome to Valencia County


Jacobson. 1918: Towards the end of the year, the worst flu epidemic in the state’s history hit New Mexico. During the two months of the epidemic thousands of people died. It’s said people would contract the flu in the morning and by that same night they would be dead. Almost every family in the county was affected by the epidemic, and the bells in the churches were constantly ringing. 1928: The village of Los Lunas was incorporated with Antonio Archuleta serving as its first mayor. Late ’20s-1938: Route 66 passed through Los Lunas. 1929: The Los Lunas Hospital and Training School was constructed. The center provided care for mentally and physically handicapped residents on 126 acres of land. 1935: The U.S. government offered 42 tracts of land in Bosque Farms in a relocation settlement lottery. The plots ranged from 40 to 80 acres each. A lot of the houses are still in existence. 1941-45: WWII Post war period: There was tremendous

Continued from page 8

growth in the population, and with the war people were leaving to California seeking jobs in the defense area. A lot of people were moving to San Diego and Barstow, Calif. 1960s: Rio Communities was established; and the population in the late ’60s equaled or exceeded Bosque Farms and Los Lunas. 1974: Bosque Farms was incorporated and its first mayor was Robert Fisher. 1978: The University of New Mexico began serving Valencia County residents with the new Eastern Valencia County Satellite Center. 1981: Valencia County was almost split in half between the east and west when a new county, Cibola, was created by the state Legislature. The population of Valencia County remained at 32,000. 1986: The college satellite center in Valencia County was accepted as a formal branch of UNM. 1986: A new UNM-VC campus in Tomé was built in response to need.

21st century

2007: Voters in Peralta elected to incorporate as a municipality in Valencia

County by a 682 to 250 vote. A few months after the incorporation was passed, Edward Archuleta was elected the first mayor of Peralta. Michael Leon Otero Joseph K. Romero, Nancy (Pug Burge) Kinchen and Christian Garcia were elected to the council while Louis A. Burkhard was elected Peralta’s first municipal judge. 2008: Construction of a new Valencia County courthouse, located at Morris Road and N.M. 314, was completed. The new state-of-the-art 55,000-square-foot, three-story building cost taxpayers a total of $12 million. 2009: Los Lunas Mayor Louis Huning retired after serving 27 years in office. Huning, who was first elected mayor in 1982, was not the first in his family to serve in public office. His grandfather, Fred B. Huning Sr., served as mayor for 16 years from 1936 to 1952 — the longest until his grandson. 2013: Voters in Rio Communities elected to incorporate as the state’s newest municipality by a vote of 672 in favor to 391 against in a January election. The first municipal election is slated for May 2013.

Follow Valencia County’s Arts & Heritage Trail
Explore Sites for:
Historic Places Fine Food Fine Art

Tomé Art Gallery
Art & Fine Craft
Over 50 traditional & contemporary artists
2930 Hwy 47 Los Lunas, NM 87031

near the historic Tomé Plaza

Trails &
"This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts"

Trail Site for: New Mexico Fiber Arts, Trails & Rails Arts & Heritage

(505) 565-0556

open daily 10 am to 5 pm

Belen is proud of its heritage
estled on the western bank of the Rio Grande, the city of Belen is rich in history and culture, and although progressing, the city strives to maintain its charm and celebrate the traditions on which it was established. Founded in 1740 by Don Diego Torres and Antonio Salazar, the quiet community was named using the Spanish word for Bethlehem, and today still holds tight to traditions from hundreds of years ago. The small community of about 40 families first worked the land, but by the 19th century, the ever-growing community expanded into sheepherding. First known as Nuesta Señora de Belen (Our Lady of Bethlehem), Belen continues to celebrate its bond to the Christ child’s birthplace and the deeply religious traditions that the city was based on. As part of its devotion, the city annually presents “Los Pastores” — the shepherds — a Christmas pageant in folk song whose origins are lost to the ages. Belen was incorporated in 1918 and passed the first village ordinance on July 1, 1919. That was the foundation for implementing fire and police protection as well as official government positions and taxes. Belen officially became a town in 1940 and a city in 1966. Located near the center of the state, Belen was nicknamed the Hub City, partly because it was the hub of the old Santa Fe Railway system that arrived in 1880. Today, about 160 trains a day pass through the city since the addition of a double track through Abo Canyon that was part of a BNSF track expansion of a five-mile stretch through the area. With the increase in activity on the railroad, a Harvey House was opened in 1910, and for 29 years it bustled with business from railroaders. Although it was reopened for a short time during World War II, today the Harvey House Museum stands as it was, filled with Harvey Girls and railroad memorabilia that tells the story of days gone by.


The view from the walking bridge on Reinken Avenue shows the beauty of the Hub City as well as its water tower, a landmark in the community.

Mayor: Rudy Jaramillo Council: Wayne Gallegos, Jerah Cordova, Mary Aragon and David Carter City Manager: Mary Lucy Baca Police Chief: Dan Robb Fire Chief: Manny Garcia Municipal Judge: Kathy Savilla Becker Avenue, named after the legendary John Becker, who arrived in Belen during the second half of the 19th century,

runs through the heart of Belen, and its renovation is near completion. The avenue has a quiet charm to it where pedestrians can stroll, and diagonal parking, that signature of the old days, makes it easy to get in and out. The old town feel that Belen exuberates has caught the attention of movie makers and been captured in a number of movies and television series, including “The Last Stand,” a modern-day Western, starring former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Other films and television

Continued on page 11

10 Welcome to Valencia County


Continued from page 10
series shot in the Hub City include “In Plain Sight,” “As Cool As I Am,” “Swing Vote,” “Living Hell,” “West Texas Children’s Story” and “Gas-s-s-s.” A large arch, with an iron nativity scene in front of it, is the gateway to this quaint part of town. Summer and fall festivals are held beneath the pavilion, with the streets closed off for the community to celebrate, dance and enjoy live entertainment. Further down Becker Avenue, residents and visitors alike can visit the Belen Art League Gallery, which is filled with creations by local artists. Next along the street is world-renowned artist Judy Chicago, who has renovated the old Belen Hotel as her home and studio. Across the street is her non-profit Through the Flower educational facility. While the traditions and small town feel remain, the progressive works of the city council and chamber of commerce are moving the city forward and readying it for the expected growth that’s coming. A newly annexed 6,000 acres west of the city’s borders could double the size of Belen over the next 15 years and bring more industry, stores and restaurants to the

community. With the Manzano Mountain wilderness lying to the east of Belen, hiking and picnicking is a stone’s throw away.



Population: 7,269 (2010 Census) Employment: About 2,800 persons are employed in Belen, 25 percent of which are in management, professional and related occupations, according to the latest census data. Sales and office occupations make up 24 percent of Belen’s workforce, while jobs in service fall in at a 19 percent clip, the data says. The major employers in Belen include: Belen Consolidated Schools, Walmart Supercenter, Ambercare Health Services and the BNSF Railroad.

Water: City of Belen Source of water: Groundwater Sewer: City of Belen Solid waste: City of Belen Electric: Public Service Co. of New Mexico Natural gas: New Mexico Gas Co. Telephone: CenturyLink


Population trends, 1960 to 2010

Air: A general aviation airport, Belen Alexander Municipal Airport Intercity bus: TNM&O Train, Freight: Burlington Northern Santa Fe; New Mexico Rail Runner Express, a commuter train with multiple daily runs travels from Belen to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, with bus connections at train stations.

(U.S. Bureau of Census) 1960: 5,031 1970: 4,823 1980: 5,617 1990: 6,547 2000: 6,901 2010: 7,269


Police: City of Belen Fire: City of Belen Parks: The city of Belen maintains parks, athletic fields, recreation facilities and a senior citizen’s center.

LiveWork in Los Lunas
Do you have a home based or mobile business? Do you want to start a home based or mobile business? The Village of Los Lunas LiveWork program helps home based and mobile businesses.

Los Lunas — A Great Place to Live and Work!
For information about the LiveWork program Contact Ralph L. Mims, MCP Village of Los Lunas Economic Development Manager Community Development Department Mayor Direct Line: (505) 839-5654 Robert Vialpando Fax: (505) 352-3593 Village Administrator Cell: (505) 604-4156 Gregory D. Martin e-mail: Village Council Charles Griego Richard Lovato Main Street and Don Pasqual Amanda Perea 505 839-3840 Gerard Saiz

Village of Los Lunas

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455 Hwy 314 SW Los Lunas • 865-9384

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Living in and visiting ‘The Farm’
he village of Bosque Farms is the northernmost municipality in Valencia County. Nestled on the east bank of the Rio Grande, Bosque Farms is a well-known dairy and farming community. The first known inhabitants of the area were the sedentary Tiwa Indians, who lived in small pueblos along the Rio Grande from Taos Pueblo to Mexico. Following a period of Spanish exploration and settlement, the Bosque Farms area later became part of a land grant. The Depression years saw much of the grant land repossessed and administered through the federal government. The drains, canals and levees were constructed to improve soils and irrigation for agriculture and also to help prevent flooding from the river. This land was divided into 44 farms ranging in size from 40 to 80 acres each by the federal government, and farmers were moved onto the land. It wasn’t until the 1960s that developers began to subdivide the land in Bosque Farms into lots of one acre or less. Residents were able to enjoy a rural atmosphere and keep horses and other livestock on their property. In the early ’70s, several residents began to complain about the lack of law enforcement in the village. As a response to their dilemma, a citizens’ patrol was formed. Night after night, the residents patrolled the roads and ditches looking for suspicious activity. From the citizens’ patrol evolved the idea that Bosque Farms really needed its own police officers and was in need of becoming its own town. Instead of counting on the county for all its support, residents started circulating petitions calling for a special election to become an incorporated village. Residents realized that the advantages of that, of course, were that they would get the gross receipts from the businesses along N.M. 47 to purchase their own police cars instead of depending on others.


The Bosque Farms Public Library underwent a long-awaited and a much needed expansion this year, to include a meeting room and much more.

Mayor: Robert Knowlton Council: William Kennedy, Wayne Ake, Russell Walkup and Dolly Wallace Clerk/administrator: Gayle Jones Police Chief: Greg Jones Fire Chief: Spencer Wood Municipal Judge: R. Lar Thomas Another issue for incorporation was zoning. “People were starting to come to Valencia County in droves from the city. The zoning, or the lack of it, in Valencia County wasn’t good, and people who

owned land in Bosque Farms didn’t want it to look like that,” said former Mayor Sharon Eastman. “We thought if we incorporated and had proper zoning, we could protect our property values and guide development.” The village of Bosque Farms was finally incorporated on Saturday, June 1, 1974. The incorporation was ratified by 75 percent of the voters in a special election. An unexpectedly high 86 percent of the 752 eligible voters living in the village turned out to vote in the single-issue election. Two months later, Bosque Farms had its election and selected its first mayor, council and municipal judge.

Continued on page 15

14 Welcome to Valencia County


Bob Fisher was elected mayor, winning 35 percent of the total 648 votes cast. Charles Roberts, Ronald Koch, Robert Baughman and Thomas Hunter were elected to the council, and Kirk Gilcrease was voted in as municipal judge.

Continued from page 14

Sewer: Village of Bosque Farms Solid waste: TBA Electric: Public Service Co. of New Mexico Natural gas: New Mexico Gas Co. Telephone: CenturyLink

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Population: 3,904 (2010 Census) Population trends, 1970 to 2010 (U.S. Bureau of Census) 1970: 1,699 1980: 3,353 1990: 3,791 2000: 3,931 2010: 3,904


Air: Albuquerque International Airport is 15 minutes away.



Water: Village of Bosque Farms Source of water: Groundwater

Police: Village of Bosque Farms Fire: Bosque Farms Volunteer Fire Department Parks: The village of Bosque Farms maintains a park, baseball fields, tennis courts, and a community/senior center. There is also a privately-owned rodeo arena.

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The mission of Los Lunas is to provide an engaging, high quality education where learning focuses on the whole child and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to install the belief that all students can succeed. The Los Lunas Schools are committed to being first in New Mexico in all key measures of student achievement.

Mission Vision

Los Lunas High School ca. 1926

The New Los Lunas High School

Valencia High School

From the Past looking forward into the future. Supporting our Students and Community. Los Lunas Schools •

Los Lunas holds onto its rural charm
os Lunas is the second fastest growing city in the state, yet it retains its rural character and offers residents a slower pace. With a population of 14,835 people, Los Lunas is a unique combination of city and solitude. It is buffered from Albuquerque’s urban sprawl on the north by the Isleta Indian Reservation, but has plenty of room to grow on the west side of Interstate 25. To the south of the village lay small, bucolic towns. Residents can venture about 20 minutes north to New Mexico’s largest city to enjoy the many shops, restaurants and businesses Albuquerque offers, or continue driving for another hour to Santa Fe, the state capital and a city rich in culture and art. Many residents take advantage of commuting by train to work or to play in the cities to the north, on the Rail Runner Express, located on N.M. 314 and Courthouse Road. What began as a small rural farming and ranching community has blossomed into an area that has taken in rapid growth in population and business without losing its small-town charm or friendly neighborhood values. “The people are great,” said Peter The Daniel Fernandez Youth Center in Los Lunas was named after a local soldier, who Fernandez, former village administrator and lifetime resident of Los Lunas. “It is was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in the Vietnam war. a well-managed community where peoand is listed on the New Mexico ple take a very special interest in making Historical roster. the community better. The Luna Mansion is architecturally “Every action the governmental entity Mayor: Robert Vialpando unique because it is designed in a southtakes is with the idea of bettering the Council: Charles Griego, Gerard Saiz, ern colonial style typically unseen in community as a whole.” New Mexico. However, its basic conRichard Lovato and Amanda Perea Los Lunas, which translates to “where struction material is adobe, a traditional Clerk/Administrator: Gregory Martin the Lunas live,” was named after the material used for making houses in the prominent and politically influential Luna Police Chief: Roy Melnick state. family. Fire Chief: Lito Chavez “People always come up and ask me, The first Luna to set foot in Valencia Municipal Judge: Henry Perea ‘With all the growth that the village has County was Domingo de Luna, from Spain, in 1692. Mansion, built in 1880, still stands today The beautiful and historical Luna Continued on page 15



16 Welcome to Valencia County



experienced, when will it become a city?’ My philosophy has always been, we like the name of village because it has a connotation of a caring community and a community as a whole,” Fernandez said. The village of Los Lunas, the county seat of Valencia County, lies primarily on the west bank of the Rio Grande. The land was originally part of the San Clemente Grant, granted to Don Felix Candelaria in 1716. Historically, this area had been a farming community, but since the 1960s, the village has become a growing business center. Los Lunas has annexed land on the east side of the Rio Grande, but most of the growth has been in the western direction. Interstate 25 passes along the west side of the village and provides excellent north and south access to the state. The Los Lunas area began growing rapidly in the 1980s with the expansion of the Albuquerque metropolitan area. The 1990 Census found that about half of the Los Lunas labor force worked in the Albuquerque area.

Continued from page 16


Population: 14,835 (estimated 2010) Employment: There are about 5,000 persons employed in Los Lunas. About 30 percent of the jobs are in the government sector. Nearly 25 percent of the local jobs are in the retail sector. Services account for slightly less than 20 percent of the employment. In addition, just south of Los Lunas are two New Mexico Correction Department facilities that provides an additional 400 to 450 jobs. Major employers are: Los Lunas School District, Walmart Supercenter, Walmart Distribution Center, Valencia County and the Village of Los Lunas Population trends, 1960 to 2000 (U.S. Bureau of Census) 1960: 1,186 1970: 773 1980: 5,525 1990: 6,013 2000: 10,034 2010: 14,385


Water: Village of Los Lunas Source of water: Groundwater Sewer: Village of Los Lunas Solid waste: Village of Los Lunas Electric: Public Service Company of New Mexico Natural gas: New Mexico Gas Company Telephone: CenturyLink


Air: A general aviation airport, Mid Valley Airpark Intercity bus: Rio Metro (505) 352-3595 Train, Freight: Burlington Northern Santa Fe, N.M. Rail Runner Express


Police: Village of Los Lunas Fire: Village of Los Lunas Parks: The village of Los Lunas maintains several parks, one with a baseball field and picnic facilities, one with soccer fields and skate park.

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Los Lunas Office 1400 Main Street Suite G 505-865-2944

Peralta is a place of agriculture
eralta was only incorporated as a town in 2007, but its history stretches back hundreds of years. The town was named for Andres and Manuel de Peralta sometime before 1680, says Mayor Bryan Olguin. “It’s much older than that, but that is the first records they had,” Olguin said. He said El Camino Real runs through the area. According to historian Robert Julyan, the town is also named for Pedro de Peralta, a native of Valladolid in New Spain, who was among those returning to New Mexico after the reconquest in 1692. His descendants still live in the area. Locally, the community has been known as Los Placeres, “the placers,” for reasons unknown. “All of Peralta was basically the Lo de Padilla land grant,” Olguin said. “Many of the heirs of the Spanish land grant owners still live here.” Julyan wrote that in 1862, Confederate and Union troops battled near the town. A battle with similar characteristics is featured in the Sergio Leone film “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” It ended in a Union victory and the Confederate army retreated through Los Lunas. “The confederates basically got spanked The Peralta Town Hall was established several years after the town incorporated in here and driven back to Texas,” Olguin 2007. said. In 1863, Col. Kit Carson mobilized his ing. forces in Peralta prior to the campaign “There are still some farmers around against the Navajos, according to Julyan. here,” he said. Olguin said the first post office was N.M. 47 has been expanded from a dirt Mayor: Bryan Olguin established in 1861. Julyan writes that in road to a two-lane highway and then to the Council: Tracy Aragon, Leon Otero, 1865, the post office’s name was changed four-lane highway it is now. Joseph Romero and Ginger Shoemaker to Los Pinos, “the pines,” or perhaps a In 2007, the town incorporated. It has Town Clerk: Julie Pluemer family name, but in 1866 it reverted to been through four city councils and two Police Chief: Bosque Farms Chief Greg Peralta. mayors. Jones He said Peralta is the site of an early Fire Chief: John Dear Methodist church, and the Catholic church Demographics Municipal Judge: David Young in the town, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is Population: 3,660 (2010 Census) well over 150-years old. It recently went through a major renovation. Olguin said the town was largely agriculThe town is full of historical buildings. Continued on page 19 tural, the major industry being sheep shear-



18 Welcome to Valencia County



Population trends, 1990 to 2010 (U.S. Bureau of Census) 1990: 3.182* 2000: 3,750* 2010: 3,660 *Population for Peralta Census Designated Place, prior to formal incorporation.

Continued from page 18



Water: Well water Source of water: Groundwater Sewer: Septic Electric: Public Service Co. of New Mexico Natural gas: New Mexico Gas Co. Telephone: CenturyLink Air: Albuquerque International Airport is 20 minutes away Police: Village of Bosque Farms Fire: Peralta Volunteer Fire Department Total: 4.4 square miles

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Valencia County is enchanting
alencia County is part of the Rio Abajo, an area of the Middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico that stretches from the Española Valley in northern New Mexico, to Sabinal in the south. The Spaniards settled this area as early as 1598 after the first colony was founded by Gov. Juan De Oñate in the Native American village of Ohke on the upper East Bank of the Rio Grande. The Española Valley was called the “Río Arriba” (the Upper River) while the area just below La Bajada Hill was called the Río Abajo (the Lower River) valley. New settlements were always found near Indian Pueblos. The Pueblo people were friendly and insisted that the new colonists build their homes near the Rio Grande. The river had a lot to offer to both the indigenous peoples and the colonists in the way of sustenance to both man and beasts. The county comprises 1,458 square miles in central New Mexico, bordering on Socorro County directly to the south, Cibola County to the west, Bernalillo County to the north and Torrance County to the east. The county seat is in the village of Los Lunas, 20 miles south of the state’s largest city, Albuquerque. The quality of life in the county can be characterized by a strong sense of community that is enhanced by a rural lifestyle.   Residents of the area have identified peace and quiet, friendliness of the people, and terrific weather as benefits that has made this rural setting a wonderful place to visit and live.


The vast landscape of Valencia County’s agricultural community can be seen from atop Tomé Hill, one of the most sacred venues in the state. A steady influx of new residents from Albuquerque in search of pleasant alternatives to city living spurred population growth of 16 percent between 2000 and 2010 in the county, and fairly rapid growth is expected to continue in the future. Valencia County has been a magnet for industries needing room to expand. The attractions are low-cost industrial sites, easy transportation access, available workforce, affordable housing and a positive business climate.

County Manager: Bruce Swingle County Commissioners: Mary Andersen, District 1; Alicia Aguilar, District 2; Lawrence Romero, District 3; Chairman Charles Eaton, District. 4 County Clerk: Peggy Carabajal County Sheriff: Louis Burkhard County Treasurer: Dorothy Lovato County Assessor: Viola S. GarciaVallejos


Population: 76,569 (2010 Census) Employment: Valencia County, traditionally an agricultural area, has become increasingly diversified. Residents still cherish a quality of life that’s both country and cool — access to big-city amenities but rural in character. 

Continued on page 21

20 Welcome to Valencia County



Continued from page 20


Population trends, 1960 to 2010* (U.S. Bureau of Census) 1960: 15,146 1970: 20,451 1980: 30,769 1990: 45,235 2000: 66,152 2010: 76,569 *Valencia County was split in 1981 to form two counties, Valencia and Cibola. Populations for 1960 to 1980 are computed from census data only for the Los Lunas and Belen Census Divisions.

505•865•8813 3216 Hwy 47 South Los Lunas, NM 87031


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The Conejo Waste Transfer Station, 1100 Manzano Expressway, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. It’s closed at times of high wind. Call 565-2256 for current status. Valencia County Animal Shelter, 1209, N.M. 314, in Los Lunas; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; 505-8662479.

Community centers

Casa Colorada, Don Jose y Dolores Cordova Cultural Center in Jarales, El Cerro Community Center and Meadow Lake Community Center. Senior Centers: Belen Senior Center, Fred Luna Senior Center, Meadow Lake Senior Center and Del Rio Senior Center.

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Officers Board Members
- President - Treasurer

Martin Callahan Dave Carlberg Darleen Aragon
- Secretary

Claire Cieremans Ralph L. Mims Robert Noblin Tim Marlin Michael Ogas Bruce Prater Andrew M. Barnes

751 Juan Perea Rd. (Transportation Center 2nd Floor) Los Lunas, NM • 505-352-3596 •

Calendar of Events in Valencia County
eople in Valencia County enjoy having a party — and there’s plenty to do every year, no matter what your interests.



• The annual San Clemente Day will be held on Saturday, May 4, at 430 West N.M. 6, west of Los Lunas. There will be free barbecue, live music, a presentation on the rangeland restoration project, children’s horse rides and various demonstrations. • The Tim Lardner Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament, presented by the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce, will be held on Friday, May 10, at Tierra del Sol Country Club in Rio Communities.

• Our Lady of Belen Fiestas, celebrating the 218th annual fiestas, will be held Friday through Sunday, Aug. 16-18. There will be a parade down Main Street on Saturday, ending at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church, followed by entertainment, a carnival, food and dancing under the tent at the church. • The 79th annual Valencia County Fair will be held from Saturday, Aug. 17 to Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Valencia County Fairgrounds. The Valencia County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo is on the last weekend of the fair. • The Valencia County Fair Parade will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24 down Main Street in Belen, ending at the fairgrounds.


September August

• The Belen American Cancer Society Relay for Life will be held at the Belen High School baseball fields. • The annual Summerfest will be held on Friday and Saturday, June 7-8. Activities will include a car show, backyard barbecue cook-off, carnival, outdoor movie, live band and local vendors at Heritage Park on Lambros Loop in Los Lunas. • The Los Lunas American Cancer Society Relay for Life will be held at the Los Lunas High School baseball fields. • The Belen All American Independence Day and Music Fest will be held all day on Saturday, June 30. The event will feature arts, crafts, vendor booths, balloon bounce, contests and fireworks at dusk, at the Heart of Belen Plaza on the corner of Becker and Dalies Avenue.

• A Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce Educators Luncheon will be held at the Tierra del Sol Country Club in Belen. The luncheon celebrates the new hires for Belen Consolidated Schools, Calvary Academy and St. Marys Catholic School. • The Bosque Farms Community Fair will be held Friday through Sunday, Aug. 2-4, at the Bosque Farms Rodeo Association Arena. There will be food, games, a parade, a greased-pole climb competition, toad racing, indoor exhibits, a rolling-pin throwing contest, a car show and vendors. • A National Night Out will be hosted by the Los Lunas and Belen police departments and the Valencia County Sheriff’s July • The annual Fourth of July parade down Office on Tuesday, Aug. 6. The events will include free barbecues, children’s events Main Street to N.M. 314 will be held at 9 a.m., Thursday, July 4, in Los Lunas. There and a chance to meet and talk with local law enforcement. will be entertainment beginning at 4 p.m. • The Valencia County Community Expo at Daniel Fernandez Park and a fireworks will be held Wednesday, Aug. 7, through display at dusk. Saturday, Aug. 10, in Los Lunas.

• The annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony is held at the 9/11 Memorial Park on Church and Main streets in Belen on Sept. 11. • The Rio Abajo Becker Street Festival will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28, in Belen. The event this year will include a new children’s carnival, arm wrestling tournament, a tough-man contest, balloon glow, six live bands, green chile cook-off, car show, poker bike run, blacksmithing contest, food, crafts and community vendors all day long.


• The Valencia County Cooperative Extension Office will hold its annual Fall Fest at the New Mexico State University Science Center in Los Lunas. The event includes a huge pumpkin patch, pumpkin decorating, hay rides, horse rides, milk cow demonstrations, games, activities and much more. • The seventh annual Capt. Tamara Long-Archuleta Memorial Open Karate Championships will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Belen High School gymnasi-

Continued on page 23

22 Welcome to Valencia County


Continued from page 22

um.• The city of Belen will be hosting a fall festival on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Anna Becker Park in Belen. There will be fun and activities for children. • A Halloween haunted house will be held from 5 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 31, at the Daniel Fernandez Youth Center in Los Lunas.

• The Los Lunas Christmas Electric Light Parade will be held at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, down Main Street. • The annual Santa in the Park will be held at 6 p.m, Saturday, Dec. 14, at Daniel Fernandez Park in Los Lunas.

Valencia County Fairgrounds every weekend in February and the first weekend in March in Belen.



2013 January

• The Belen annual Christmas Festival will be held Saturday, Nov. 30. Arts and crafts, food, Snow Queen contest, light display, the Miracle on Main Street Electric Light Parade and a hot air balloon glow will be held. All the events will take place in the Heart of Belen. • The annual Art Along the Railway event will consist of displays in art galleries throughout Valencia County.


• The traditional folk play sung in Spanish, La Gran Pastorela de Belen, will be performed at the Harvey House Museum in Belen and throughout the county multiple times during the season.

• The 20th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Candlelight Vigil will be held on Monday, Jan. 20, at Anna Becker Park in Belen. • The 13th annual Valencia County Hispano Chamber of Commerce Matanza will be held on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Valencia County Sheriff Posse Grounds in Belen. The day-long event includes a matanza competition, tortilla, biscochitos and red chile contest, children’s activities, an art center and live bands throughout the day.

• The 30th annual St. Patrick’s Day Balloon Rallye will be held on Friday through Sunday, March 14-16, at Eagle Park in Belen. The annual rally features dozens of hot air balloons taking off at dawn to fly the county skies. • The annual Good Friday pilgrimage to Tomé Hill will be held on Friday, March 28. The traditional walk begins at sunrise and continues throughout the day to the three crosses placed on the sacred hill by the late Edwin Berry. • The Los Lunas Police Department will hold its 10th annual Cops for Kids Fun Run/Walk beginning at the Los Lunas High School football stadium. The exact date is yet to be determined.



• The 38th annual Casper Baca Rough Stock Rodeo Series will be held at the

• The village of Los Lunas will sponsor Easter egg hunts for area children. The events usually happen at local parks.

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To help students acquire the knowledge, skills and character to become productive adults, deal effectively with change, and have a positive impact on their community.

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For more information, call (505) 966-1000 or visit us at

Our culture, our language
ere are some basic Spanish terms that might come in handy when you’re talking to folks in Valencia County: • Acequias: Irrigation ditches. • Biscochitos: A traditional sugar cookie baked with anise, most often served at Christmas time. If you don’t think New Mexicans take food seriously, then remember that the State Legislature debated the word’s spelling for hours when making it the official state cookie. • Bosque: Forest. It’s most often used to describe the cottonwood stand along the Rio Grande. (Pronounced: bos-kay.) • Bueno: Good. • Cerro: Hill. We have Cerro Tomé — Tomé Hill — and the community called El Cerro. • Cerveza: Beer. • Chicharones: Fried pork skin. Southerners called them chitlins. They’re cooked fresh at a matanza. • Chile: This is the correct Spanish spelling of the state’s official fruit. Chili comes from Texas or out of a can con carne. • El Camino Real: The royal road that stretched from deep inside Mexico all the way to Santa Fe through the heart of Valencia County. It was the main route along which trade was moved in colonial days. • El Rio Abajo: The lower river, the area surrounding the Rio Grande down to the Las Cruces area. • Feliz Navidad: Merry Christmas! • Fiesta: A party; more commonly used to designate the days-long celebrations held by Catholic churches in New Mexico to mark their saint days. • Frijoles: Pinto beans, the state’s official vegetable. • La Llarona: The Weeping Woman. A classic Southwestern and Mexican ghost story about a woman who murdered her children. She’s also called the Ditch Witch and is used to frighten children (and make them stay away from the fast-running irrigation water.)


Our culture in the Middle Rio Grande Valley is comprised of many things, including our language. Chile is the correct Spanish spelling of the state’s official fruit. • Ladron: A mountain to the southwest. The word means thief and it reportedly was a hiding place for bandits. • Luminarias: A Christmas decoration

Continued on page 25

24 Welcome to Valencia County


Continued from page 24
created by placing a candle in sand at the bottom of a small paper bag. They’re set along sidewalks and the roofs of houses. In northern New Mexico, they’re called farolitos; luminarias there are small bonfires. It’s all very confusing. Just go with the flow and enjoy. • Manzanos: The mountains at the eastern edge of the county, named for the apples whose rosy color they glow with at some times of the day. • Matanza: A barbecue at which a pig or goat is butchered and prepared outside. Very good eating. • Mesa: The flat-topped hills seen throughout the Southwest. A perfect example can be seen at the western edge of Belen. • Mijito or mijita: The shortened version of Mi hijito (little son) or Mi hijita (little daughter); usually used fondly by a parent when addressing or talking about their child. • No más: No more! • Piñon: Pine nut; often sold by the pound along roads by vendors who picked the new crop themselves. Plural is piñones. • Sopaipillas: A sort of puffy fried bread served with meals, often eaten with honey. Stuffed sopaipillas are topped with lots of goodies such as beans, meat, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese and served with chile sauce. • Vamanós: Let’s go! • Viejitos: Little old ladies and gentlemen. The old folks, thought of endearingly.


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- Supplying concrete from a state of the art concrete plant conveniently located on Highway 6 in Los Lunas. - Locally owned and operated keeping your money in your community. - Providing the best QUALITY products available along with the BEST associated service.


• We have many Alpacas to see, touch and feed • Learn about Alpacas during our tours for families, groups and organizations. • Alpacas for sale, mentoring and boarding • Schedule your next event here for picnics, birthdays, weddings
Come visit our Gift Shop where you can find unique Alpaca fiber clothing, collectibles and antiques

Hours: Friday-Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm or by appointment
150 North Bosque Loop Bosque Farms NM 87068
(505) 869-2133 Ranch (505) 385-6022 Bill’s Cell (505) 710-6171 Angela’s Cell

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Economic Development in Valencia County
Los Lunas Chamber of Commerce
751 Juan Perea Road; Transportation/ Rail Runner Center P.O. Box 13, Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 505-352-3596 Web site: Email: The goal of the Los Lunas Chamber of Commerce is to improve the economic environment of Los Lunas, thereby benefiting all established businesses and encouraging the development of new business. The chamber provides networking and educational opportunities with general membership luncheons, monthly newsletters and other social events. Summerfest is a two-day event held in June that has been hosted by the Los Lunas Chamber of Commerce for 14 years. It is a family fun-filled weekend with one of the most impressive car shows in the state of New Mexico. There will be a barbecue cook-off and outdoor movie. A portion of the proceeds will go toward the “Cops & Kids” program. Board of Directors: Martin Callahan, president; Michael Ogas, president-elect; Dave Carlberg, treasurer; Darleen Aragon, secretary; Andy Gomez, past president; members, Tim Marlin, Bruce Prater, Claire Cieremans, Robert Noblin and Ralph Mims; Stephanie Flynn, executive director Companies and individuals often become members of the chamber to demonstrate a commitment to the local economy and to develop their business and community contacts. The Belen Chamber also is the location of the city of Belen’s Visitor Center, which is run by the Belen chamber staff. The visitor center offers information on area sights and activities, lodging and restaurants. The two major fundraising events are the Eagle Pride Golf Tournament, held the third Friday in April, and the annual Rio Abajo Days, a three-day event the last weekend in September. Board of Directors: Jennifer Hise, president; Anna Duran, first vice president; Tom Greer, second vice president; Carmie Carrejo, treasurer; members Kelly Fajardo, Carl Gallegos, Jay Gastelum, Dave Puddu, David Renteria, Terri Young, Michael Vallejos, Luz Chavez, Wayne Abraham, Mary T. Aragon and Cynthia Swanson; Rhona Espinoza, executive director. McDonald, vice-president; Yvonne Sanchez, past president; Lorraine Spradling, secretary; Edward Archuleta, treasurer; members Jerah Cordova, Ronni Goforth, Georgia Otero-Kirkham, Noe Lara, Ron Marquez, Mike Mendoza, Dana Sanders and Ron Tabet.

Greater Belen Economic Development Corp.

Valencia County Hispano Chamber of Commerce

Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce

712 Dalies Ave., Belen, N.M.. 87002 505-864-8091 Web site: Email: belenchamber@belenchamber. org Formed more than 50 years ago, the chamber’s aim is to improve quality of life and build a strong community.

P.O. Box 539 Belen, N.M. 87002 505-702-9468 The chamber promotes business and community cohesiveness. It annually hosts the county’s single largest event, a matanza (traditional New Mexican pig roast) that draws thousands of people from throughout the nation. Proceeds from the day-long January event go to fund scholarships for local students and other charitable activities. The chamber also holds a 9/11 Memorial Lunch every year, serving a mid-day meal to law enforcement and fire department personnel. Board of Directors: Toby Jaramillo, president; Fernando Sisneros, president elect; Shireen

100 S. Main St. Belen, N.M. 87002 505-864-8221 The Greater Belen Economic Development Corporation is a private, nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to increase economic opportunity by generating more employment and to increase the tax base and tax revenues in the greater Belen area. Belen EDC works to retain and recruit economic-based jobs in southern Valencia County by fostering the economic assets of the region through its flexible business development system that helps current businesses thrive while attracting innovative new companies to Belen and the surrounding area. Belen EDC also works to capitalize and market the assets of the region by taking a leadership role in advocating economic development tools and communicating the activities and importance of the work of the EDC. The EDC is supported by its members, a coalition of business, government, education, environment, trade and industry social organizations and chambers of commerce.

Bosque Farms Economic Development Team

Economic Development email:

Continued on page 27

26 Welcome to Valencia County


Continued from page 26

Mailing Address: Economic Development Committee Bosque Farms Village Offices P.O. Box 660 Peralta, N.M. 87042 505-869-2357 The village governing body created the Bosque Farms Economic Development Team to foster business development and to work with companies considering relocating to Bosque Farms. The core of the team is the Economic Development Committee, which includes professionals with an array of specialties and interests in the economic development arena. Committee members have economic development training and are active in economic development at the state level, including working with the New Mexico Economic Development Department, the New Mexico Partnership, the Small Business Development Center, and regional economic development organizations. The Bosque Farms Business Retention and Expansion Program is a communitybased economic development strategy

with a focus on nurturing and supporting businesses already in the community. The goal of the program is to sustain the viability of the local business community, improve the competitiveness of local businesses by identifying and addressing their needs and concerns, and actively pursuing business development opportunities. The committee’s activities include “shop local” marketing programs, newbusiness outreach, educational programs on available incentives and tax credit opportunities, and beautification programs to upgrade the business district.

Los Lunas Community Development Program

Christina Ainsworth, Community Development Director 352-7659, Los Lunas Municipal Building 660 Main St. NW Los Lunas 87031 The village is working on a retail management strategy plan. It also has a contract to work on industrial prospects. The

program can help with anyone looking for a place to start a business or a satellite site for its main headquarters. Los Lunas has one industrial park, Los Morros, that sits on 500 acres with good access to Interstate 25. A Walmart Distribution Center and several other businesses are located on the site. The village recently annexed 1,000 acres west of Los Morros for marketing to industrial prospects. With large growth in population in recent years, Los Lunas offers many small shopping centers with easy access from Main Street and N.M. 314. It offers a development process manual with information about subdivision and sign ordinances, business licenses, water and sewer services and other necessary facts. It contains contact numbers for environmental regulators and other agencies necessary for business. The village is also actively encouraging and developing a support structure for home-based businesses

Continued on page 31

It’s an artist destination
ince Susan Brooke spends many of her waking hours working on her art, she’s not what one would call a hobbyist. “Art is my obsession — what I dearly love,” said Brooke. “I’d rather be surrounded by beautiful things than have a brand new car.” While the love of art is what keeps many artists hard at work in the studio, there are many aspects to getting art sold, and a lot of work on that side as well. For artists who are investing enough time and money to produce sellable work, especially full-time artists, an entire realm of tasks must be completed in order to get products to consumers. “The main three questions I ask are: ‘Is it good,’ ‘Where is it going to go (mantle, hallway, lobby, etc.),’ and, ‘Will it sell’,” said Brooke. The Rio Communities resident is one of several Valencia County artists who derive much or most of their income by selling their own art. The business of art has become a complex one in the Internet age, with tons of new co-ops and one-man operations now on the playing field. “The supply far exceeds the demand, and mass reproductions can be made cheaply,” said Jim Anderson, an El Cerro painter. “There are hundreds of thousands of oil paintings available on eBay, and many are made in China.” Despite the explosion in the number of ways customers can find the art they like, painting local subjects and getting known in local galleries are still valuable ingredients in getting work sold. Local arts and crafts shows are venues where beginning artists can display and/or sell small samples, and galleries seem to be excellent contacts. Art shows allow many artists to combine resources and be seen by collectors and the general public under one roof. There are two kinds of art shows: general ones, where any artist who completes the entry process is admitted; and juried


Cheri Reckers is one of many artists who creates, works and lives in Valencia County. This fiber artist has shown her work in Japan. shows, where only selected, judged, quality work is accepted. Judy Chicago, the internationally known feminist artist, writer and Belen resident, said not much has changed in terms of the importance of local galleries — which may be a wake-up call to some young artists. “Having a website allows an artist to promote their work more widely,” said Chicago. “Which is a good thing, as long as they don’t fantasize that they will make lots of money via Internet sales. Most art still gets sold through galleries.” Fiber artist Cheri Reckers, of Jarales, creates many wearable and fiber-art items, and recently came across an opportunity to show her work in Japan. While she insists quality photographs and Internet social networking are important components of becoming known, those are merely tools to arrange for inperson meetings and events. “I’m very tactile — I’d rather be in the studio than at a computer,” said Reckers. “The Internet makes it easier to do things, like research shows and figure out which ones to apply for. But you need to know your market, too. Competitions and awards can really validate the work.” Reckers said artists, especially young ones and beginners, can’t take negative feedback personally. “You have to have a thick skin,” she

Continued on page 29

28 Welcome to Valencia County


said. “Don’t expect everyone to like your work.” Reckers recommends artists enlist the help of places such as the Small Business Development Center at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus in composing a business plan. Anderson said customers of handmade art will buy sightunseen, having never laid eyes on the artwork. He purchased an expensive laser printer and does his own framing to reduce the outsourcing costs on his paintings, but he still values the importance of networking across the Southwest. “Selling art in New Mexico is tough,” he said. “That’s why I try to paint things that are local, like dancers, rodeo scenes, or cottonwoods or the Sandias.” Brooke said it’s important for an artist to establish themselves with a particular reputation, both for quality work and for unique patterns, style and type of art. “You can’t go from abstract to impressionist and keep jumping around,” said Brooke. “People want to know your work. Your name is associated with a particular style.” Pricing is another component of getting art sold, as galleries and Internet sales both will take a cut. Chicago points out that local galleries are still trying to turn a profit as well. “Many young artists don’t realize that galleries take 50 to 60 percent of the sale price in exchange for offering artists’ work to their client base,” she said. Reckers values the local gallery route. “There are a lot more ways to market art than there used to be,” said Reckers. “But one of my best bets has been local galleries. I still believe in that.”

Continued from page 28

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Art galleries in Valencia County

Tomé Art Gallery

2930 N.M. 47 (Tomé) Los Lunas, N.M. 87031 505-565-0556 Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 104 N. First St. Belen, N.M. 87002 505-861-0581 Tuesday-Saturday 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Belen, N.M. 87002 505-861-0217 Wednesday to Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Harvey House Museum

Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts
251 Main St. SE, Los Lunas, N.M. 87031 505-352-7720 Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Paseo de Peralta Bella Chiv Boutique
02 Zamora Lane Peralta, N.M. 87042 505-869-9119 Tuesday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

UNM Valencia Art Gallery
280 La Entrada (Tomé) Los Lunas, N.M. 87031 505-925-8702

The Mansion Players
1065 Mesa Cruzada Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 505-306-1929

Belen Art League Gallery

509 Becker Ave., P.O. Box 432

30 Welcome to Valencia County



Continued from page 27

Isleta Business Corporation Isleta Tribal Services Complex

3950 N.M. 47 SW-C127A Albuquerque, N.M., 87105 869-9729 The Isleta Business Corporation is an economic development organization of the Pueblo of Isleta that primarily focuses on creating a diverse and sustainable economy for the Pueblo of Isleta. The IBC oversees the pueblo’s corporate operations, which includes two convenience stores that are located on the north end of the pueblo, and the Comanche Ranch, which is located in Valencia and Socorro counties. IBC was created by the Pueblo of Isleta to contribute to the expansion of not only current business enterprise, but to also aid in the diversification of new business ventures and to promote community and economic growth within the pueblo and local communities. The core of the IBC Team is to sustain business opportunities and nurture potential business affiliations with various economic partners throughout New Mexico and the United States. Board of Directors: Harold J. Culberson, chairman; James E. Fitting; vice chairman; members Fayla Kovacs, Nathan A. Lucero and Michael Paquin

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The mystifying Mystery Stone
t’s been called the Bible Stone, the Mystery Rock, the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone. Despite its various names, the giant basalt boulder has not disclosed one thing in the 50 years of it’s known existence. Weighing 80 to 100 tons, the stone is about six feet long and three feet wide. Its flat surface is engraved with 216 characters in 65 character groupings. So what do those 216 characters say? What is the message? That is what no one knows. Sitting at a 40 degree angle in a small hollow on the southeast side of Hidden Mountain, the stone’s location overlooks the Rio Puerco Valley, 16 miles west of the village of Los Lunas on N.M. 6. Local historian John Taylor points out that Hidden Mountain and the stone aren’t actually terribly hidden. “You have to get a permit to go out there,” Taylor said. “But it’s right there.” The stone and the mountain are on New Mexico state trust land and those wishing to hike to the site need to file for a recreational access permit. Visit for a permit packet, or call 827-5760 for more information. The first person to describe and document the stone was Dr. Frank C. Hibben, professor of archeology at the University of New Mexico, in 1936. Hibben reported that he was made aware of the stone and its inscription three years prior to that by a Valencia County local. The man, who Hibben never named or identified in any way, claimed his ancestors had known about the stone as early as 1800. Taylor said there are anecdotal reports that landowner Franz Huning knew about the site as early as 1871. Hibben’s first reports describe the stone as lichen-covered and partially buried in sand. In order to determine if the stone was a genuine archeological find, Taylor said


Courtesy of Thornton Schwenk

The inscription on the Los Lunas Mystery Stone is said to be a Paleo-Hebraic script with some Greek and Phoenician letters included. It is read right to left, top to bottom

there needs to be consideration to “archeological context.” Are there other objects and artifacts in the vicinity or does the stone, with its mysterious inscription, sit alone and unique in the desert? There actually are additional inscriptions, some ruins and petroglyphs at the site, Taylor said. Some of the petroglyphs on the top of Hidden Mountain are believed by some to depict star positions during a partial solar eclipse in 107 B.C. The ruins on the top of Hidden

Mountain have been cataloged by the Department of the New Mexico State Archeologist as Ancestral Piro dating to between 1300 and 1540. Taylor said it has been suggested that Hidden Mountain may be an outlier related to the nearby Pottery Mound, about four miles to the southeast, a larger Ancestral Piro site, which is dated circa 1325.

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32 Welcome to Valencia County


Continued from page 32

For decades, the other question surrounding the stone has been, “Is it real or a brilliant fake?” If it is indeed a legitimate artifact, its origins have been explained in a number of different ways. Most modern scholars believe that the inscription is an abbreviated version of the Decalogue or Ten Commandments from Exodus 20, Taylor said. The inscription is a Paleo-Hebraic script with some Greek and Phoenician letters included, and using an astronomical interpretation of nearby petroglyphs, some believe the stone was carved around 107 B.C. “Possible ‘authors’ include one of the lost tribes of Israel, exiled Samaritans, pre-Columbian inhabitants of North America or traders dispatched by King Solomon,” Taylor said. But the theory that the writings are Biblical in nature are called into question, Taylor said. Among scholars, there is controversy over the use of some letters, and punctuation and style have been disputed. There are apparent errors in the text

and scholars have been unable to date the inscription using conventional methods. Well-intentioned attempts to clean the Stone over the years have resulted in an inability to date the object using patina. But if it isn’t genuine, who came up with such an elaborate fake? Taylor says one theory suggests that Andres Muñiz, a disgruntled translatorlinguist who traveled through the area in the late 1700s on the DominguezEscalante expedition to find a route from Santa Fe to California, may have made the inscription. On the flip side, Taylor says some of the letters used in the inscription may not have been known to modern epigraphers until the early 20th century. The two most popular theories about the stone being a hoax center around the man who “discovered” it — Dr. Hibben. Hibben was not well-liked or respected by many archeologists in the early 20th century because of allegations that he “seeded” sites and fabricated data. Taylor says there is the possibility that a student of ancient languages or a professional rival may have carved the

inscription as a prank to further discredit Hibben. And of course, Hibben could have produced the inscription himself, Taylor said. After accusations of seeding the Sandia Man Cave site and fabricating his findings of pre-Clovis arrowheads, Hibben did not enjoy the greatest of reputations amongst his peers. “He had the requisite knowledge to produce the inscription,” Taylor said. “And because he never named his guide, he could have fabricated the story of being led to the site. “Major archeological/anthropological discoveries are infrequent, but can make the reputation of a professor. And just think if Hibben had made such a discovery not once, but twice.” With many theories abounding, Taylor called the Mystery Stone “one of the most inquired about objects in the Rio Abajo. Is it evidence of ancient visitors to the Rio Abajo or a very clever 20th century forgery? Let the debate continue!”

Belen · Rio Communities · Los Lunas · Mountainair · Albuquerque

History aboard the Doodlebug
nce boarded up and rusted, the Santa Fe M-190, known as the Doodlebug, sits at Belen’s Doodlebug Park, glistening once again. The commuter train has been restored to its original colors, but that wasn’t the only improvements the area saw. Weeds and trash were removed from the park, located at Second Street and Castillo Avenue, to make way for xeriscaping. Now, two railroad enthusiasts have plans to repair the train to either glide out of the park on nearby railroad tracks or become an educational facility about trains for area school children. More than $15,000 of restorations for the historic train and a portion of the landscaping were funded by the production crew of “The Last Stand,” a modern-day western starring former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which finished filming in December 2011. The crew that filmed in the Hub City for three months offered to complete the work themselves, since they had the expertise to do so, as a way to thank the city for allowing them to film the movie in Belen, but couldn’t. At that time, the Doodlebug was owned by the New Mexico History Museum, and transferring ownership to the city of Belen took longer than expected. “De-accessioning, removing or selling an item from a museum’s collection, isn’t simply a transfer of title, but needs to involve a careful consideration of the transfer of obligation to preserve and protect the object in perpetuity,” said Frances Levine, the museum’s director. The matter was voted on by the museum’s collections committee and their board of regents after the two groups outlined Belen’s long-term obligations with the rail car. The transfer of ownership was completed on Jan. 31, 2012. “The Doodlebug means so much to Belen; it is an appropriate home,” Levine wrote in a letter to the city. “We wish the city and the dedicated volunteers the very


best as you start the next phase in the Doodlebug’s history: restoration of this historic piece of railroad history in New Mexico.” The Doodlebug was transferred to the New Mexico museum in May 2007 from the state of California, where the commuter train spent several years under the care of Sacramento’s California Railroad Museum. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Schwarzenegger worked together to get the Doodlebug back home to New Mexico. During the 2007 legislative session, $40,000 in capital outlay funds were appropriated to relocate and restore the Doodlebug train. At the time, former Belen Mayor Ronnie Torres said, “It’s like bringing home an old friend. Everybody has a story about the Doodlebug — like it was their own personal train. It’s great that we’re bringing this piece of Belen history home.” Railroad enthusiasts Gene Green, of

Belen, and Roger Ward, of Marshalltown, Iowa, began the path to their goals of restoring the rail car in December 2012 by securing and cleaning the train, while taking a full inventory of supplies and materials needed to get the locomotive up and running. While the Doodlebug was in California, some parts were stolen from the engine, generator and radiator, said Green, president of The Belen Railway Historical Society that maintains and restores “the old heifer.” Although finding replacement parts isn’t impossible, the two need to know what to search for from similar trains that are being retired. The majority of Doodlebugs are no longer in existence, with many shredded into pieces after they were used from about 1925 to 1959, Green said. The Doodlebug contains a V-12 diesel engine designed for submarines, Green

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34 Welcome to Valencia County


Continued from page 34
said. These engines were narrowed down and placed into locomotives after World War II when the U.S. Postal Service required locomotives transporting mail to use diesel instead of gasoline engines. “It’s the only one this powerful and in two parts, so it’s unique but you don’t see them at all … There’s not that many left in many small communities,” Green said. The two completed this work with the assistance from local businesses who donated materials and supplies, Green said. Ward, mechanical in charge at Union Pacific Railroad, learned about the Doodlebug in April 2011 while visiting Green. As soon as Ward laid eyes on the locomotive, Green joked that Ward’s tongue rolled out of his mouth right into the dirt. Upon Ward’s retirement in September 2013, he plans on spending two to three months at a time, during the winter, restoring the locomotive to once again run on tracks. Instead of getting the old locomotive up and running, Green would like to focus on turning the baggage claim car into a classroom, where students could learn about the train and the importance of railroads. He wants young people to understand the importance of railroads to this country, he said. “I want young people to understand that the western part of the United States and the West, which starts in Ohio, but the western part of the United States, was built by railroads,” Green said. The Doodlebug, also fondly known as La Marranita, was officially retired in 1968. When it was in its prime, the trip from Belen to Albuquerque took about 45 minutes and the train was scheduled for four round-trips daily.

Transportation in Valencia County
Belen is a longtime major hub in the BNSF Railroad system. While it’s mainly a fueling facility, Belen serves as the operating division headquarters for the railroad in New Mexico and Arizona. More than 100 trains run through Belen each day in an occupation that employs about 1,500 people statewide. Amtrak passenger service is available in Albuquerque. passengers from the Belen Rail Runner station to stops along Reinken Ave., 10th Street, Ross Avenue, 11th Street, West Aragon, Mesa Road and Camino del Llano. A Dial-A-Ride program is also available in Los Lunas and Belen each weekday. The service is a curb-to-curb transportation services available to anyone traveling in Belen or Los Lunas for $1 each way. Rides must be reserved 24-hours in advance. To make reservations, call 505-352-3595.

Rail Runner Express

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter train was introduced in 2006 and has recently expanded its service as far north as Santa Fe. The commuter train carried its 2 millionth rider in 2012. The Belen station is located at Reinken Avenue and Wisconsin Street. The Los Lunas station is located at 751 Juan Perea Road, next to the Los Lunas Transportation Center and adjacent to N.M. 314. There are 11 other stations along the route to Santa Fe, most with commuter bus connections, and the train offers free WiFi. Details at

Albuquerque Sunport

two years and a new privately-owned hangar was added this year. Fixed-base operator is Alexander Aero, 505-864-4500. Full-service fuel and repair services, hangars and tie-downs available. Airport manager, 505-966-2650.

Albuquerque’s international airport is an easy connection to get anywhere around the world. About 20 miles north of Valencia County just off I-25. Served by seven carriers: American, U.S. Airways, Delta, Frontier, New Mexico, Southwest and United. Freight service is provided by DHL Express, Federal Express and United Parcel Service. General aviation services also available.

Mid-Valley Air Park, FAA Indentifier E98, is a resident-owned airport located about three miles south of Los Lunas. The 4,340-foot asphalt runway is open to Belen Alexander Municipal the public. There is no fixed-base operator, but there is a full-time manager. Airport The airpark offers self-service fuel, some The Belen Alexander Municipal Airport, repair services, and a few tie-downs. No FAA Indentifier E80, is on the mesa west transportation is available from the airport. of Belen, about 30 miles from Albuquerque Details are available at and two miles from Interstate 25. For information, call 505-610-3776. In addition to the current runway, a new one-mile crosswind runway is planned within the next few years, and the project Rio Metro will be in the design phase within the next The Rio Metro Regional Transit District year. is a regional transit district that provides The airport is home to more than 50 air- economical transportation alternatives for craft, a skydive club, a propeller overhaul the residents of the Albuquerque Metro facility, aerial photographer and other Area, which includes Belen and Los small aviation businesses. The pilot lounge Lunas. in the office was renovated within the last Route 206, a fixed route in Belen, takes

Mid-Valley Air Park


Belen has three convenient freeway entrances onto Interstate 25, the major north-south route in the state. An easy 30 miles north to Interstate 40, the major eastwest roadway in New Mexico. The northern exit leads to N.M. 314 and Main Street, going past the city’s Walmart Supercenter and Valencia County Fairgrounds. The middle exit leads motorists onto historic Camino del Llano past Belen Meadows Health Care and Rehabilitation Center and onto Main Street. The southern exit leads motorists directly onto Main Street and to the businesses on the city’s south side. There is one Los Lunas exit, onto Main Street in the village. There are two exits to Isleta Pueblo, one on the west side of the Rio Grande and the other east of the river.

36 Welcome to Valencia County



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Historic Harvey House Museum
ll Abooooooaaaaard! That might have been the call that echoed for years toward the Harvey House, a railroad hotel and restaurant in Belen that was part of a nationwide chain. Fred Harvey, owner and builder of the restaurants, entered a partnership with the railroads in 1878 to construct dining houses and lunch stands along railways throughout the western United States. In 1910, the Harvey House in Belen was built, one of the last of the houses to be constructed. Fred Harvey had already passed away, and the business was being run by a second generation of Harveys. The Belen house stayed in operation until 1939. It was briefly re-opened to serve traveling soldiers during World War II, and the house served railroad employees as a reading room and boarding house for railroad employees through 1972. It’s still located along a working railyard, one of the busiest in the BNSF line, and the sounds of freight trains chugging past add to the ambience. A large gift shop with plenty of railroad memorabilia, historical books, cookbooks and other items is part of the fun. The famous Harvey Girls, known for impeccable manners and hotel and restaurant service, lived upstairs at the Belen stop and served as waitresses in the restau- The Harvey House Museum exhibits artifacts from the historic era, the railroad and rant on the first floor. other historical items. The 1946 Judy Garland film “The Harvey Girls” is based on a woman runprojects. ning into a group of such girls on a train The museum, operated by the Valencia trip, and the film is set in New Mexico. County Historical Society, expanded its The artifacts in the building now are hours last summer to include two hours on from both the Harvey House and railroadSundays. boarding eras, but not all of those are The Belen Model Railroad Club, which directly tied to either. In fact, the museum 104 N. First St. in Belen shares the building, can currently only be has far more historical items in stock than Hours: 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday accessed through a separate entrance, but can be displayed due to limited funding to Saturday, and from 1 to 3 p.m. on the hope is to have the building one day and personnel resources. Sunday become one continuous museum. The museum now has original dishes The railroad club currently has two Phone: 505-861-0581 from the original Fred Harvey dining cars. It is the hope of docents and others involved that young people will take an Continued on page 39 interest in continuing the Harvey House


Harvey House Museum

38 Welcome to Valencia County



Continued from page 38
rooms filled with running model trains and accompanying landscape, and a third large room is where a scale model of the Belen railyards is currently up and running. The club is expanding the tracks and trains will travel through a wall and into another room that will eventually be handicap accessible. Today, the main museum mostly uses only the front half of the first floor, which used to be the main dining room. The front area, known in the Harvey days as the lunchroom, now serves as a rotating exhibit area used by the historical society for a different show each month. The Harvey House is located at 104 N. First St. in downtown Belen, less than two blocks south of Reinken Avenue, and a short walk from the New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter station. The city of Belen owns the building and the land, and allows the historical society and the model railroad club to operate it. The museum and model railroad exhibit are both open from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. The museum can be reached at 505861-0581. The 2013 calendar features the Belen Model Railroad Club Spring Show in April and the Belen Art League Annual Spring Show in May. In October, the railroad club will host its fall show and in December, the Harvey House will become home to the “La Gran Pastorela” and the “Festival of Trees.” There’s no charge to tour either side, but donations are appreciated.

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Chile: The food of the people
arly Spanish settlers cultivated the long chile pod we are familiar with today, said Dr. Stephanie Walker, New Mexico University extension vegetable specialist, though some of the short chile varieties from central South America are still grown in northern parts of the state, she said. Native Americans had long been cultivating corn, squash and beans, but alfalfa was brought to the Americas by Spanish colonizers as feed for their horses. Today, communities up and down the Rio Abajo grow a large variety of crops, including chile, corn, beans, squash, melons, wheat, alfalfa, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, grapes, apples and many others. The shiny, bright green and red chiles New Mexico is known for have shaped the culture that grew along side it by gathering communities together at harvest time. In early fall, the air around local chile farms and markets is heavily scented by the smoky, spicy aroma of roasting chile, and flaming red strings of chile pods, called ristras, hang festively from trees and rafters. The ristras today are often used as decorations, but in the old days, chile was strung together to dry and be stored much as beans are dried for future meals, said Teresa Chavez, of Chavez Farms. “It was the whole winter food supply,” said Teresa. The Chavez Farm is located in Los Lunas, and is known for its tasty chiles that David


gathered to do the work and visit with one another. The Chavezes work the Los Lentes land that has been farmed for more than 200 years — land that belonged to Silverio and Ernestine Sais. Sichler and Sais are two historical family names in the area, known for their chile and alfalfa crops. The early communities were close-knit because everybody participated, Chavez said. “The women did the chile and the cooking, the men usually did the slaughtering, you know, it was a joint effort for everything,” he said. “Alifas (Valenzuela) would sometimes slaughter a pig just to have people over, and they drank a lot of homemade wine.” At harvest time, locals are so Chile is known for having shaped the culture of New Mexico as anxious to try the new crop of members of the community come together for harvest time. chile they will warm a tortilla and put in a peeled, freshly Chavez farms in the same manIt takes all winter to prepare roasted chile, sprinkled with a ner as they did 100 years ago, for the chile season in midlittle garlic salt, add a piece of without any synthetic fertilizers April, when chile seeds will be cheese and roll it up to eat it or chemical pesticides. sown, then at harvest, the pods just like that, said Los Lunas “Everything I grow here is have to be picked by hand resident Alex Aragon. organic,” said David Chavez. plant-by-plant. Busy markets are filled with “It’s not certified organic, but The sun beats down on the the melodic sound of Spanish it’s organic.” parked cars at the Chavez mar- banter, occasionally muted by The alfalfa fields are rotated ket, while shoppers inspect the the chile roasters that roar like with chile crops about every six chile, apples, cucumbers and mythic fire-spewing dragons. to seven years, providing the other produce under the shelterThe Chavezes grow a variety chile with richly fertilized soil. ing relief of canopies that cover of chile, including a few plants The legume’s nitrogen-fixing the produce stand. of Lumbre, which is probably bacteria live symbiotically on The scene is just about identi- one of the hottest chiles, barkthe alfalfa plant root, fixing cal to the market 100 years ago, er’s, which is the next hottest, nitrogen for the plant’s conwhen Teresa’s grandfather, then Sandia hots, the medium sumption. Ernest Sichler, farmed the land, hot Big Jim’s, and the mild In turn, Chavez rotates his and his prodigy worked under New Mexico Heritage chile. chile fields to alfalfa, often the canopy. “And that’s really tasty,” allowing his cattle to graze the It was a time when stringing Teresa said. “That goes back to chile stubble in a cycle of natu- ristras was a social occasion ral soil fertilization. and local farmers and neighbors Continued on page 41

40 Welcome to Valencia County



Continued from page 40
the heritage seed.” Among the old time traditional farmers of the county, new blood is occasionally infused into the area. Clovis friends Blake O’Hare, 22, and Tomas Serna, 20, started farming chile, alfalfa and corn in Peralta three years ago. They sell sweet corn to the local school district. “We use all New Mexican varieties for our chile,” O’Hare said. “And we’ve done a lot of research on the chile grown here, versus the chile grown in Hatch.” Valencia County is a perfect place to grow good chile because of its particular elevation, water and soil, they said. “The soil sediment here is really, really good,” said O’Hare. “That’s what the Middle Rio Grande Valley is kind of known for — the quality of the soil. Also, the alkali in the water isn’t something we have to deal with either, and that’s what makes a chile taste really bitter.” The chile the new farmers have grown has received positive reviews and recognition, they said. “Our farm is right there next to the road,” Serna said. “They’ve seen us out there from day one working hard. It’s kind of cool for them to see. It’s a little bit different view on the way they get their food. It’s not just straight supermarket, there’s actually a feeling associated with it now.” Amid the sounds of rush hour traffic on Main Street in east Los Lunas, the O’Hare Serna Farm produce stand is nestled next to Walgreens at the “Y,” with the vibrant color of the chile ristras hanging from the rafters as sentinel of New Mexican culture.

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Enjoying our Farmers Markets
any words come to mind when one thinks of the Rio Grande Valley — lush, verdant, productive and caring. All those qualities have culminated in local growers having the opportunity to share their homegrown produce with the community in different farmers markets across the county.


Los Lunas Farmers Market

The Los Lunas Farmers Market has bounced around from location to location in the seven years of its existence due to the fire danger along the bosque area, but it’s found a new place to call home. The market, formerly located at River Park off Main Street, will now be located under the shady trees at Heritage Park on 3447 Lambros Rd. SE. The back-and-forth change of locations from the river to Heritage Park has made for a rough couple of years that have hurt business, said Loretta Torres, a board member of the Los Lunas Farmers Market. “We will be at this park on Tuesdays, 4 to 7 p.m.,” said her husband, George, who manages the Los Lunas Farmers Market. “We are accepting WIC checks, we have EBT and we have debit capabilities here, so you can use any one of those modes of payment.” The market boasts that it thrives as a nopesticide market, he said. Farmers and backyard gardeners are encouraged to bring their surplus produce to the market to add their variety to the venue. Vendor space is available at only $8 per day. The park, also known as the skate park, contains more than just soccer fields, basketball courts, a playground and sand volleyball courts. The Los Lunas Visitor Center and Los Lunas Wellness Center can also be found on the more than 13 acres of land the park sits on. Torres said up to 25 percent of vendors can bring other products, such as jewelry,

Some of the best homegrown food can be found at local farmers markets. arts and crafts. Lorri Eberlein’s locally made lotions, creams, and bath products smell sumptuous. She handcrafts these products at home with the finest, freshest ingredients, she said. Torres sells plants as well as produce and has a variety of potted rose bushes and flowers, including geraniums, salvia, dianthus, dahlias, ganzania and yarrow. A nice variety of fresh herbs, including thyme, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, peppermint, lavender, yarrow and catnip are available. “Our market is consistently trying to support and promote good, fresh, locally grown produce,” George said. The market is open from 4 to 7 p.m., every Tuesday, from June 4 until the end of October. To register for a space at the Los Lunas Farmers Market, call George Torres, market manager, at 307-1891. And for additional operations hours and locations, call Loretta Torres at 307-1857.

Bosque Farms Farmers Market

The community of Bosque Farms has expressed an interest in hosting a market, said George Torres, market manager for the Los Lunas Farmers Market. And the community came out to support the newest market that began last year. “We knew people like good, fresh, local produce,” Torres said. “These markets are about engaging the community and coming together.” Loretta Torres, who helps George organize both markets, said there is always room for more customers and encouraged people to come see what the growers have to offer at all the markets. The Bosque Farms Growers Market starts at 9 a.m. every Saturday, beginning May 4, at 1090 North Loop, and she urges shoppers to come early to get “the best stuff.” Like the Los Lunas market, the Bosque Farms location accepts debit and EBT cards. Loretta Torres said they are also accepting WIC checks, as well. Many of the vendors in Bosque Farms

Continued on page 43

42 Welcome to Valencia County


Continued from page 42
use no pesticides on their produce, Loretta said. “There’s just so many other easy ways to do it,” said Don Draisner with Peralta Gardens. Under the shade of the elms, growers recommend soil types, tips on safe pest control, suggest watering schedules and even offer up simple but mouth-watering recipes for their produce. The scent of garlic and roasting corn waft through the air and colorful flowers bob and nod their heads in the breeze. Growers and customers alike agreed that having the market was good for the community. “I love it. There’s a real feeling of community and it’s a way to bring people together from the neighborhood to see what’s going on,” said Bosque Farms resident Alice Bris as she picked out gladiolus from Jared Barkemper’s stand. People are stopping by all right. Nancy Cole lives in the village and her daughter-inlaw-to-be from Albuquerque, Lisa Cordova, was the impetus to get her to the market. “She saw the sign and stopped by on the way to our house,” Cole said. “She got there with a bag of peaches so we came back to check it out.” The two women left with bags of squash and red geraniums ready for planting. The Bosque Farms farmers market starts at 9 a.m. on Saturdays and wraps up around noon, and is located on the north side of the bend where the North and West parts of the loop meet. Public parking is available in the vacant lot east of where the vendors set up. (As of this publication, it’s still unknown if Belen will resume its farmers market this year.)

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Striving for excellence in Belen Schools
he Belen Consolidated School District is destined to continue the path toward academic success with its driven students and innovative programs. About 4,278 students attend Belen’s seven elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and alternative school in a district that is striving to excel. The Belen district uses programs, such as the career academy, as a benchmark to encourage students to be the best they can be. Belen High School has made several additions to its career academy, including a pre-engineering program and a health-technology-based program. The academy includes nursing and emergency medical technician training. The academy also has career pathways in agriculture, digital media, health technology, family and consumer science, business and culinary arts. There are many courses in the program that have dual credit with the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus and Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque. The district, the 16th largest in the state, has about 700 employees and 30 administrators and has implemented programs from bilingual education to computer-aided drafting. Voters recently approved a $23.75 million bond issue that will bring additional classroom space and a new indoor community pool to Belen High School and a new building for Belen’s Family School. The majority of the bond money will go to new buildings for a district that needs additional wings at several of its sites because of expanding class sizes and a need to improve older structures. Projects, such as Infinity High School and the football and baseball field houses, have kept Belen up to par with the other school districts in the state. The district also recently completed a state-of-the-art tennis complex with eight courts.


Henry T. Jaramillo Community School is named after a well-known educator and former Belen Schools superintendent. width speeds for students and teachers to effortlessly stream the Internet. In 2010, solar panels were installed at the high school’s career academy as part of a statewide $4.5 million grant. The 50-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system will help offset energy costs and provide students with learning opportunities.

Superintendent: Ron Marquez Board of Education: Sam Chavez, Adrian Pino, Dolores Lola Quintana, Lorraine Espinosa and Larry Lindberg Administration location: 530 N. Main. St., Belen, 87002; 505-966-1000 The Belen Consolidated School District also puts a premium on technology. The district has installed microwave towers at each of its schools to improve band-

High Schools
Belen High School 1619 West Delgado Ave.

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44 Welcome to Valencia County


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Belen, N.M., 87002 Phone: 505-966-1300 Co-Principals: Rodney Wright, Joann Carter, Manuel Lucero Students: 1,069 Infinity High School 221 S. Fourth St. Belen, N.M., 87002 Phone: 505-966-1500 Principal: Buddy Dillow Students: 78

Belen, N.M., 87002 Phone: 505-966-1200 Principal: Cynthia Swanson Students: 254 Dennis Chavez Elementary School 19670 N.M. 314 Los Chavez, N.M., 87002 Phone: 505-966-1800 Principal: Rita Martinez Students: 392 Belen Family School 376 Rio Communities Blvd. Belen, N.M., 87002 Phone: 505-864-0728 Principal: Buddy Dillow Students: 80 Gil Sanchez Elementary School 362 Jarales Road Jarales, N.M., 87023 Phone: 505-966-1900 Principal: John Caldarera Students: 352 H.T. Jaramillo Community School 900 Esperanza Drive
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Belen, N.M., 87002 Phone: 505-966-2000 Principal: Andrea Montano Students: 390 La Merced Elementary School 301 Alame Loop Rio Communities, N.M., 87002 Phone: 505-966-2100 Principal: Isela Jáquez Students: 502 La Promesa Elementary School 898 N.M. 304 Las Nutrias, N.M., 87062 Phone: 505-966-2400 Principal: Joanne Silva Students: 227 Rio Grande Elementary 15 East Side School Road Belen, N.M., 87002 Phone: 505-966-2200 Principal: Margaret Manning Students: 280

Middle School
Belen Middle School 314 South Fourth St. Belen, N.M., 87002 Phone: 505-966-1600 Principal: Sheila Armijo Students: 670

Elementary Schools
Central Elementary School 600 Picard Ave.



BWVC helps to support various organizations within Valencia County. We actively work to make this a better place to live!
Senior Needs: Prepare baskets of clothing and supplies going out to senior citizens in dire need. Student Needs: From our donations, BWVC purchases uniforms and school supplies. VC Animal Shelter: BWVC was able to donate enough money to build another kennel at the Shelter. Trash Pickup: BWVC adopted a section of Hwy 263 and actively works to keep it clear of litter and debris.

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Enthusiasm for education in Los Lunas Schools
rom pre-kindergarten all the way through upperclassman, Los Lunas Schools is consistently providing students with quality education, an enthusiasm for knowledge and a drive to succeed. The district is comprised of roughly 8,600 students in 16 schools, including 10 elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and one alternative high school. New this year is the implementation of Common Core State Standards that are being introduced in U.S. classrooms in all but four states. The CCSS initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and will make schools comparable in educational progress. “It’s much more rigorous than our current state standards,” said Julie Smith, director of curriculum. Each common core grade level in math, science, English and history builds upon the previous level with a focus on depth of knowledge versus breadth, said Ron Williams, assistant superintendent. For example, young students will learn to read educational books, rather than entertainment books. Through the language arts curriculum, students will learn about history, science, arts, media, music and other subjects. Every school in the district has the Jostens Renaissance program. It is the only national program created to recognize and reward the academic achievements of students from elementary school through college. The goals are to increase student performance and teacher enthusiasm, and enhance school community participation. Another major project in progress is building the new Los Lunas High School. It is currently under construction in a twophase plan. Phase one is expected to be


Sundance Elementary School is one of 16 grade schools in the Los Lunas Schools District.

Superintendent: Bernard R. Saiz Board of Education: Charles Tabet, Robert Archuletta, Shaun Gibson, Georgia Otero-Kirkham and Kelly Chavez Administration location: 119 Luna Ave., Los Lunas, 87031; 505-8659636.

completed in November. The new school will be designed around the concept of smaller learning communities, and reflect state-of-the-art technology. Phase I is essentially the construction of four educational academies including

the Freshman Academy, the Flex Academy, which houses the nursing program and Project Lead the Way, the Fame Academy, and part of the Future Academy, as well as the library, reading room, kitchen, cafeteria, commons area, and classrooms. Phase II will begin after the school moves into the two-story, phase one building, but some of Phase II infrastructure is already being built, which includes electrical and IT wiring, fire alarms and security systems, as well as storm drains, They also hope to have the VocationalTechnology area completed in Phase I, said Antonio Sedillo, district supervisor of construction management. The high school was also the recipient

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of a solar energy grant of $600,000 last year, and installed a 50 kW photovoltaic solar power system. Students will monitor the system to evaluate daily energy production, giving them hands on technical experience using math, engineering and the computerized monitoring software. It was the school’s Project Lead the Way pre-engineering students who brainstormed the initial architectural design and optimal location site for the new solar energy system, and they were also instrumental in winning the grant for the school. Project Lead the Way is a four-year sequence of courses that introduces students to the scope, rigor and discipline of engineering prior to entering college. Courses offered include digital electronics and aerospace engineering. Regardless of which elementary, middle or high school any given student attends, the curriculum standard to which they perform and academic expectations remain the same. Between curriculum, innovative programs and a rich history, Los Lunas students are reaping the benefits of a multidimensional school district that prepares them for tomorrow, while instilling a sense of community. 320 Bonita Vista Blvd. Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-866-2153 Principal: Wilson Holland Staff: 11, Certified 7 Students: 100

High Schools
Los Lunas High School 1776 Emilio Lopez Road Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-865-4646 Principal: Dan Padilla Staff: 124, Certified 81 Students: 1269 Valencia High School 310 Bonita Vista Blvd. Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-565-8755 Principal: Andrew Saiz Staff: 106, Certified 58 Students: 933 Century High School

Middle Schools
Los Lunas Middle School 220 Luna Ave. Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-865-7273 Principal: Victoria Baca Staff: 73 Certified 45 Students: 754 Valencia Middle School 22 Marlink Road Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-865-1750 Principal: Ron Hendrix Staff: 51, Certified 33 Students 545

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Great Things Happen!™

School of Dreams Academy is making waves
he School of Dreams Academy, the only charter school in Valencia County, offers an alternative to the traditional education format by specializing in digital arts, performing arts and robotics. SODA also has a community service component working with senior citizens, service with an environmental focus and hands-on ecological education in an outdoor setting, as well as other interactive community activities. There are four core areas of curriculum: math, social studies, science and language arts that are taught online. Students wear headphones to listen to instruction in E2020 computer classes, and can replay the sequence if they don’t understand a concept being taught. They also have assistance from their classroom teacher. SODA is a state accredited charter school with national and international recognition through AdvancED, an accreditation supported by research-based standards that are embraced beyond the state level. The process helped the school establish a foundational structure to build on that guides the school’s continued growth with quality assurance. The school opened its doors in August 2009 with grades seven through nine, adding a grade level each year. This year, the school has its first graduating class. Students are encouraged to go at their own pace, and some students will graduate early because the school offers dual and concurrent college enrollment, a rapidly expanding program. Classes are available on the SODA campus and at the University of New MexicoValencia Campus. “We’ve been doing really good in our dual-enrollment numbers the last couple of years, but for some of our older kids this could begin to look more like a community college setting,” said Principal Mike Ogas. Enrollment is at about 340 students, and the School of Dreams Education Foundation, a separate entity, is in the process of purchasing land to build a new


The School of Dreams Academy, the first and only charter school in Valencia County, opened its doors in August 2009.

Principal: Mike Ogas Governing Council: Kenneth Griego, Gene Garabajal, Junaita Sena, Dr.David Schnieder, and co-founders Kathy Chavez and Teresa A. Ogas Administration location: 1800 Main St. NE, Los Lunas, 87031; 505-8667632 school to accommodate the school’s growth. The robotics program has been instrumental in exciting students about math and science, and students in the program have attracted a lot of attention nationally and internationally. This has brought them opportunities for internships and scholarships. The SODA robotics teams have won many trophies, plaques and ribbons in BEST Robotics, Botball, First Robotics,

Advanced Robotics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Drone robotics, RoboRAVE and others. Scientists from Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque have been so impressed with the students they have volunteered to mentor them, Ogas said. This year, students undertook a collegelevel submarine robot competition, and built a submarine about three to four feet long. The digital arts program has students filming and producing commercials for local businesses, and business owners can use the videos for television or website advertising. “We have some of the best technology available,” Ogas said. “People don’t realize, but once they get in here, they begin to understand.” The school has a wide assortment of digital arts software, a sound-proof music recording room, virtual desktop servers and a state-of-the-art wooden dance floor.

48 Welcome to Valencia County


Church Directory
“Come and See”

First Baptist Church of Bosque Farms 505.869.2759
Sunday Bible Study 9:15 Worship Service 10:30 Wednesday Midweek service 6pm Children and Youth activities 6pm Nursery is available for all services

09 Los Chavez Park Rd • Belen 865-7701 • 864-6774

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
Mission Statement:
We are called to come together to love, pray and worship, always growing in faith and raising future generations to know the love of God. Spreading the word of God, through his son, Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Holy Eucharist: Sun. 8:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m. Wed. 10:30 a.m. Fri. 5:30 p.m. All are welcome at St. Matthew’s 400 Huning Ranch Loop West - Los Lunas (Just north of Sundance Elementary)

9:00am Fellowship • 9:30am Bible Study 10:30am Morning Worship • 6:00pm Evening Worship Wednesday - 7am Midweek Prayer Service, 6:30pm Youth Group


75 Manzano Expressway • Belen 864-6095

“...a place to grow, to serve and to get connected with Jesus!”

First United Methodist Church
“A place to belong” Pastor Jay A. Armstrong
9am Contemporary Worship • 11am Traditional Worship 9am Children’s Church


UNM-VC: Higher education at its best
ike the fountain in the center of campus, students spring forth from academic buildings across the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus, hurrying on their way to their next learning experience. Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the UNM branch campus nestled in Tomé. But the home of higher education in Valencia County actually started two years before that, in August 1978, as a satellite center for UNM. The University of New Mexico began serving the educational needs of the county when the Eastern Valencia County Satellite Center opened its doors at the Valley Community Center in Rio Communities. A total of $93,000 in seed money was raised to help open the facility. A formal proposal to establish the branch was accepted by UNM in March 1981. Classes began in August of that year. Technical certificates and associate degrees could now be completed locally for the first time in Valencia County’s history. Continued growth in enrollment and program offerings soon created a need for additional space and new facilities. A new campus at the present 150-acre site was built in response to this need. The four-building campus, consisting of an administration building, two classroom halls and a cafeteria-student center, opened its doors in the summer of 1986. The campus currently utilizes just under 26 acres, so there is plenty of room for expansion. During the years, additional classrooms and space for services have been added, including a library and learning resource center in 1994, student-community center, wellness center and bookstore in 2000 and health science building in 2004. The health science building consists of a cadaver lab, science labs, classrooms and offices. In the fall of 2005, the new Vocational/


The University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus is more than 31 years old, serving thousands of local students every year. dents for state or national certification. Dr. Alice Letteney, the campus’s executive director for 17 years, said when the Executive Director: Dr. Alice Letteney campus opened in 1981, UNM-VC had a Advisory Board: Paul Luna, Eloisa head count of 320 students. This fall, it Tabet, Corrine Sedillo, Belinda Martinez boasted a head county of 2,493. and Russell Griego In her years as executive director of the Phone: 505-925-8500 campus, Letteney said many programs have been implemented that have furCareer Technical Center was built, contain- thered educational opportunities. ing classrooms, computer labs, and the Letteney said interest in STEM — sciTRiO program offices, computer lab and ence, technology, engineering and math conference rooms. — programs have exploded. The Health Sciences building also housThe University of New Mexico-Valencia es UNM-VC’s new nursing program. In 2009, the school received a $1.38 million Campus is located in Tomé, at 280 La Department of Labor grant to establish Entrada Road, halfway between the city of the two-year associate’s degree program. Belen and village of Los Lunas, the two The vision of the program is to develops main population centers of Valencia professional nurses with abilities to promote, restore and maintain health for indi- County. The campus occupies 150 acres of rural land overlooking the Rio Grande viduals, families and groups within our Valley, the Manzano Mountains and Tomé rural community. Each course is designed to prepare stuHill.


50 Welcome to Valencia County



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Elementary Schools
Desert View Elementary 49 Camino La Canada Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-866-2488 Principal: Diedra Martinez Staff: 70, Certified 38 Students: 499 Raymond Gabaldon Elementary 454 Coronado Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-866-0456 Principal: Barbara Carrillo Staff: 41, Certified 20 Students: 335 Ann Parish Elementary 112 Meadow Lake Road Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-865-7364 Principal: Elena Trodden Staff: 69, Certified 40 Students: 507

Bosque Farms Elementary 1390 W. Bosque Loop Bosque Farms, N.M., 87066 Phone: 505-869-2646 Principal: Cindy Philips Staff: 62, Certified 34 Students: 427 Katherine Gallegos Elementary 236 Don Pasqual Road Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-865-6223 Principal: Samial Morerod Staff: 62, Certified 34 Students: 525 Los Lunas Elementary 800 Coronado Road Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-865-9313 Principal: Valerie Otero Staff: 78, Certified 33 Students: 533 Peralta Elementary 3645 N.M. 47 Peralta, N.M., 87042

Phone: 505-869-2679 Principal: Monica Arguello Staff: 48, Certified 25 Students: 290 Sundance Elementary 3701 Sundance St. NW Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-866-0185 Principal: Mildred Chavez Staff: 42, Certified, 24 Students: 536 Tomé Elementary 46 Chacon Road Tomé, N.M., 87066 Phone: 505-865-1102 Principal: Felipe Armijo Staff: 74, Certified 47 Students: 544 Valencia Elementary 111 Monica Road Los Lunas, N.M., 87031 Phone: 505-865-3017 Principal: Julie Crum Staff: 61, Certified 40 Students: 386

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Tomé Hill: A place of faith and hope
hile the Rio Grande may be the lifeblood of the valley, it can be argued that Tomé Hill is the very foundation of the community. When the Tomé Land Grant was established, the Spanish Crown didn’t just award land to people on a whim. Water, pasture lands and building materials were fairly easy to come by, the people needed something solid to literally build their community on. According to Tomé native and historian Ramon Torres, that’s where the hill comes in. “To build a house, you need footings,” Torres said. “The only place to get rock was from the hill. Every house and church built in Tomé started with rocks from the hill.”


Ancient leavings

Capped with basalt rock, it’s no surprise the hill, as one of the highest points in Valencia County, stood against innumerable floods from the Rio Grande. But the Spanish settlers weren’t the first people to use the resources of the hill, to post lookouts for marauders on it, to use it for a guiding beacon home. Etched into those basalt boulders are more than 1,800 ancient petroglyphs. In the mid-1990s, the Office of Contract Archeology with the University of New Mexico spearheaded the cultural study of the hill that got it placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a traditional cultural property on July 9, 1996. The petroglyphs appear to date to the Pueblo IV time period, between 1300 to 1450 A.D., or, in some areas, until Spanish contact in 1540.

Thousands of faithful pilgrims climb the historic Tomé Hill every Good Friday to pray, give penance or as an annual tradition. Dominguez de Mendoza in 1659. That year, 125,000 acres were granted to 30 families from the town of Tomé by the Spanish Crown and affirmed by the United States in the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. In mid-1955, the grant converted to the Tomé Land and Improvement Corporation and land grant members become shareholders. However, over the next decade, conflict grew between the so called “progressive” and “conservative” members of the corporation over whether to sell the land. When the “progressives” won a majority of the seats on the board of directors, that cleared the way for the sale and in 1967, stockholders voted to sell, 175-18. The following year, the $4.7 million contract for sale of the land to Horizon Corporation was approved by the board. The sale of the grant to Horizon was completed on Nov. 4, 1968.

Tomé Land Grant

In 1598, Spanish settlers led by Juan de Oñate moved through the lower Rio Grande Valley to begin permanent settlements. The original Spanish land grant, including Tomé, was awarded to Thome

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El Calvario

Tomé native Edwin Berry decided to make his mark on his community after his return home from World War II. After surviving bullets, bombs and malaria, Berry knew he owed his maker something in return. In a 1996 News-Bulletin interview, Berry said he began feeling depressed, inferior, because he wasn’t on the front lines of the fighting. “But I kept telling God I wanted to at least show my appreciation, my sympathy for those who were face to face with the enemy,” he said in the article. As Berry decided how to best honor his fallen comrades, his mind returned to the cross the penitentes put up every year on the top of Tomé Hill until around 1922, when someone burned it. “They would put the cross up on Ash Wednesday and leave it up 41 days,” Berry told the newspaper. “On Good Friday, the penitentes would sleep on the hill, stay there all day Saturday and on Easter Sunday, take the cross down at dawn while singing. It could be heard across the valley.” Inspired by the devout men who had come before him, Berry literally drew up a plan for the monument he wanted to erect on the hill. The plans called for the monument to face west, set upon an alter 8-feet by 4-feet, with an aluminum finish cross rising 16 feet above the alter.

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“This is my plan: I will build a truly Christian monument atop this mount — Cerro de Tomé — I will bear all cost, but I will invite all people to help me with the work — and it will bring happiness, faith, hope and peace to all people of good will. The inscription will also commemorate our fallen heroes — those who gave their lives in the war.” According to Torres, the center cross faces the Eucharist Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Tomé. The total cost of the monument was a mere $383. Berry started construction in 1947 and completed the monument in 1948.

The current owner

Berry was one man dedicated to the preservation of the 178 acres that is Tomé Hill. And the company that currently owns it is also dedicated to that same mission. The hill, along with other common areas, parks and land set aside for public schools, was deeded over to Valley Improvement Association in 1970 by Horizon Corporation, said Paul Baca, VIA’s president and CEO. “Tomé Hill is very special to the people of the community,” said Baca, a Belen native. “I’m glad VIA was able to help in its preservation and continued access.” Under VIA’s ownership, Baca said the company has done minimal “work” on the hill. Mostly, it has put up post and cable around the perimeter to keep out motorized vehicles and discourage people on horseback, erected signs reminding people to be respectful of the hill and to “pack it in, pack it out.” Baca says just seeing the hill can make a person reflect on life. “As things evolve, progress, whether we want them to or not, whether you are from here or new, the hill kind of pulls you back from the hustle and bustle of life,” he said. “We can preserve it as growth comes, and keep it as a focal point, a refuge.”

Edwin Berry, a Tomé native and WWII veteran, erected the crosses on El Cerro de Tomé in honor of his fallen comrades and to ‘bring happiness, faith, hope and peace to all people of good will.’

54 Welcome to Valencia County



Moving in
Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM) Customer Service: 888-3425766, no Valencia County office locations Nearest office: 414 Silver Ave. SW, Albuquerque Office Hours: MondayFriday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Natural gas

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Customer Service: 888-6642726, Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., or Emergencies: 697-3335. Los Lunas office: 2431 Main St. SE, near First Community Bank in Albertson’s shopping center. Hours MondayThursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Belen: City Hall, 100 S. Main, 864-8221 Los Lunas: Village Hall, 660 Main St. SW, 839-3841 Rio Communities, Meadow Lake, Pasitos del Cielo, Las Maravillas, Cypress Gardens: New Mexico Water Service, 401 Horner, Rio Communities, 864-2218

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Birding is a way of life at Whitfield
ird’s the word for many Valencia County birders, for whom bird watching is more than a hobby — it’s a passion and a way of life. “For me, as a person, I think (bird watching) helps me pay attention to the world around me,” says Molly Madden, the education coordinator for the Friends of Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area. Madden is one of many local residents who harbor a fascination with our feathered friends, a hobby, she says, that keeps you constantly learning, investigating and researching. She says being a birder is similar to being a detective or a sleuth in that you are often observing birds you’ve never seen before and have to go home, crack open your field guide and try and find the bird you were watching. And when there are thousands of birds flying around the world, this isn’t always an easy task to pin-point a specific one. Spending time with other birders, she says, is where you learn the most. “Since I’ve been (at Whitfield), I’ve learned tons,” she said. “You learn when you’re with other birders.” Madden says that any time anyone decides they have an interest in birding, there are always a lot of birders around who are eager to share what they know. She believes that in order to keep vibrant as humans, we must keep learning and keep asking questions, which, she says, is what bird watching gives to her. Linda Heinze, outreach coordinator for FWWCA, says for her, bird watching is also a great way to meet new people and see new places. Administration coordinator for FWWCA, Margette Pulis, says birding alone is fine, but that it is the most fun to bird watch with others. She says she enjoys birding with Heinze, who, she says, can hear birds and, unless it’s a mockingbird, identify it just by it’s sound. “I like seeing birds with other people and having that ‘ah-hah’ moment,” says


Many people enjoy the conservation efforts at Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area, such as bird watching. Heinze. For both women, birds are full of lessons and insight. For Pulis, birds teach her about “the color of life.” “Really, each one has a uniqueness,” Pulis says, adding that there is a sparrow in her back yard that she’s named Tuffy, who has one little feather that sticks up out of his head, making him different for the rest. “It reminds me of the uniqueness and beauty of people.” For Heinze, her favorite thing about birds is their “freedom to fly wherever they want and remind us there’s so much life out there.” She says bird watching is more relaxing than anything else because it brings her into the moment. You have to be tuned in, she says, you can’t be worrying about this and that or you’ll miss the birds. “Part of the fun of it is you don’t go out with expectations,” says Heinze. She recalled recently watching what might have been sparrows chase a hawk from their nest, describing it as “drama in the skies.” And another recent incident in which she watched a male humming bird fly in fantastical figure eights while a female sat on a branch watching. She later realized she had been watching their mating ritual. “The unexpected always unfolds before your eyes — you never know what you’re

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going to see. I think that’s what lures us in,” she said. Birding also offers people an excuse to get out in nature. And Pulis says that when you are out birding you discover more than just birds, you get to observe bees, butterflies, flowers and all parts of the natural world. Birding, says Heinze, helps people find the creatures’ places in the ecosystem. She used swallows as an example, explaining that they eat thousands of mosquitoes and how other birds eat insects that might otherwise decimate farmers’ crops. They help keep nature balanced, she said. “That’s what we try to get across (at Whitfield), that everything has a place in nature,” Heinze says. She describes Whitfield as a haven for birds that might not have a place to go otherwise, and that they have recorded more than 200 species in that area alone. Both women agree that anyone interested in birding should not be intimidated to jump right in with seasoned birders. They also say that it is an inexpensive hobby and the only tools one really needs is a field guide, journal, binoculars, and possibly a good camera to take pictures for later identification. For those interesting in birding, they recommend the following books: “The Sibley Field Guide to Birds,” by David Allen Sibley, “Birds of North America Western Region,” by Fred J. Alsop III, and “Birding Hot Spots of Central New Mexico,” by Albuquerque author Judy Liddell and Barbara Hussey. Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area is located at 2424 N.M. 47, north of Rio Communities. For more information, visit www.

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Matanza: Food for the soul
arly in the morning, men gather to select a well-fed pig. The jaras and discos are ready, boiling with water, traditionally over a wood fire. The bottles of wine, sharpened knives and tall tales are ready for the day-long preparation and eating of the pig. It is a shared experience. It is matanza.


A tried and true feast

According to Maggie McDonald, who has a doctorate in American Studies and who wrote her dissertation on Belen’s culture and history, the word “matanza” comes from the Spanish word “matar,” meaning to kill. She notes that the practice developed in Spain in the seventh century did not necessarily use pigs. Goats, lambs and other animals would be killed and cooked in a family or community setting. It became a politically-charged event as the Moors took over Spain, because there were religious differences involving the consumption of pork for both the Muslims and the Jews. Matanzas using a pig became a way of identifying those of a faith differing from Spanish Catholicism. “They could find out if you were a Jew or not by offering you pork,” McDonald said. “If you didn’t eat pork, then you were a Jew or a Muslim. It was a very distinguishing feature.” In the early settlements in the Rio Abajo, making it through the winter required a storage of meat. “The only way to survive was with the help of your neighbors,” said McDonald.

Matanzas are a big part of the culture of the Rio Grande Valley, especially here in Valencia County. main part of the pig. Carne asada and carnitos are usual staples at matanzas. In the olden days, when the families needed to store meat for the winter, only a small portion was used and the rest was wrapped in lard and stored. The longas are taken down and cut into cubes to be used in part for the lard and some for the chicharrones.

used to make chicharrones and rendered for lard to be used throughout the winter. The heart, liver, kidneys and other organs are chopped up and grilled with onions. It is a reward, called the matanza breakfast, for those gathered to cook. One of the distinguishing features of the matanza, as compared with other hog roasts, such as the Hawaiian Luau, is that It starts with parts every part of the animal is used. After the animal is slaughtered and Morcela is a blood pudding that is made drained, the organs are cut from the rest of with sweet onions and raisins. the meat. The tail and ears are cut off and cooked The back fat is cut into long strips, called directly in the fire. longas, and hung to cure while the rest of Several dishes are prepared from the the animal is processed. These are later

Chowing on chicharrones

Steven Otero has gained a reputation as a

Continued on page 62

58 Welcome to Valencia County


Dining Guide
Manny’s Fine Pastries Bakery
515 Main St. SE Los Lunas • 865-7082 Betty Jean Villa

Goldie’s Diner
OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK Sunday Buffet 9am - 2pm
Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner Blue Plate Daily Specials • Fish Fridays Meeting Room Available

Wedding Cakes • Pies • Pastries Doughnuts • Cookies & Empanadas

480 Rio Communities Blvd. Belen • 864-3005 Call for carryout

Rita’s New Mexican Restaurant
528 Becker Ave. Belen, New Mexico 87002

Taqueria & More
2350 Hwy 47 Belen, New Mexico 864-7918 Home of the BIG MIKE Burgers

New Mexican Restaurant
Natalie Valle and Joseph Acanfio Owner/Manager


Carry Out Available

Mon-Fri: 7am-2pm Sat: 7am-1pm Sun: 8am-1pm
orlando & rita gonzales

Dollar Menu Call-In’s For Mon-Friday Fast Pick Up Daily Specials
Family Owned and Operated

7 days a week 6am-6pm

2350 Main St. NE Los Lunas NM 87031 505-565-2055

Fast, Friendly Drive-Thru

Authentic New Mexican Cuisine
B aca’s

144 Main • Route 66 Los Lunas, New Mexico
1304 South Main St. Belen, NM (505) 864-4723
Convenience Store Drive-thru Car Wash Pay at the Pump


BNSF: The pulse of the community
icture this: a metal steam-powered machine rumbling across the Rio Grande Valley for the first time and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway building Harvey Houses across the state to accommodate everyone from passengers to railroaders. In 1880, the railway completed its first line through Valencia County from Albuquerque. It was the start of Belen becoming part of the transcontinental main line. By 1907, the Belen cut-off, which linked Amarillo to Belen, was completed. The move propelled Belen into a major railroad center in the state and gave the town the nickname “The Hub City.” More than 100 years later, the railway is still going strong under the renamed BNSF Railway Company. BNSF averages more than 100 freight trains a day that come through Belen and travel to places such as New York and Chicago. The Belen rail yard is one of four major corridors in the state of New Mexico, employing about 450 people. The locomotives, which could weigh upwards of 250,000 pounds, haul everything from grain and automobiles to chemicals and metals. According to BNSF, each year the railway hauls enough lumber to build 500,000 homes, enough asphalt to lay a single-lane road four times around the equator and enough coiled steel to lay the unrolled coils end-to-end 12 times between New York City and Seattle. The railway, which has a total payroll of $87 million, moves more than three million carloads of freight in the state each year. Last year, BNSF added five miles of double-track rail to allow north and southbound traffic through Abo Canyon, southeast of Belen. The move helped eliminate a major bottleneck, allowing traffic to continuously flow through the area. The company also announced it would


BNSF in Belen employs about 450 people. The local rail yard averages traffic of more than 100 freight trains a day. be the first “user” in what is now called the Rancho Cielo Industrial Hub, a 6,000-acre site in Belen that is expected to house a facility complete with industrial spurs where it would likely serve specific manufacturers to be able to transport certain products. Construction dates for the BNSF project have not been announced. But Joe Faust, a spokesman for BNSF, said the rail company aims not only to serve big-time companies, but also concentrate efforts on the municipalities employees work and live in. BNSF is integrated with the community on a number of levels, including donating time and money to the city and its residents.

Continued on page 62

60 Welcome to Valencia County


Welcome visitors and newcomers to let ul s-B w Ne at e lin on on cti se e tir en is th d Fin


Serving Valencia county since 1910
BELEN, NM • (505) 864-4472


Subscribe today!

Continued from page 60

“We are very concerned about the community and the citizens in areas where we operate,” Faust said. “We believe in having employees who are involved in the community where they work and live.” Faust said BNSF aims to hire people who play active roles in their communities and who are “good corporate citizens,” who have their ears toward the pulse of the community. David Renteria is one of those employees. Renteria, a Rio Communities resident, retired in 2011 from BNSF as a mechanical general foreman at the Belen yard and was instrumental in ensuring that trains came and went without a problem. During recent years with the company, Renteria was a local spokesman for BNSF at local functions and is past president of the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce. He worked at the railroad for more than 40 years. Renteria oversaw a yard that continues to be a major inspection and fueling facility on the transcontinental line between Chicago and Los Angeles. Some say Belen is a major hub because of the good terrain in the area. As one of the top three employers in Belen, BNSF has withstood recessions and depressions and is still a strong industrial player in both Valencia County and the state of New Mexico. Dennis Morgan, a retiree who worked in the mechanical department at BNSF, echoed the former foreman’s sentiments. He said the tax base is “pretty doggone good” for the area. “I think the railroad built Belen,” Morgan said. “Some politicians don’t want to admit it, but without the railroad, Belen wouldn’t be here.” Local experts say a single train can haul as much as 300 semitrucks and is essential for those who need to haul agricultural and industrial products. Renteria said in 2008, the Belen yard averaged 88 trains a day and used 645,000 gallons of fuel for trains that had to make pit stops at the BNSF station. Those stops weren’t always smooth. Renteria said problems could range from locomotive engine failure to derailments to a trailer leaning on one side or another. Crews would have to scurry around and switch out certain cars to get the train traffic moving again. During peak season, companies such as UPS expect to have packages delivered on time. “We (had) contracts,” Morgan said. “Every hour that we were late, we had to pay them.” Still, Renteria said the BNSF Railway Company strives to keep its community ties. Statewide, the company donates $50,000 per year for various causes, according to Renteria. Renteria, who is currently on the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said BNSF will continue to be a partner in the community. “Residents in this community should be proud to be involved with one of the top 10 companies in the country,” says Renteria.

Continued from page 58

matanza expert. He can trace his family matanza tradition back several generations in the Rio Abajo. According to Otero, the chicharrones are everything when it comes to matanzas. “If you have great chicharrones and everything else was terrible, then you had a great matanza,” said Otero. “The chicharrones is the gage of the success of the feast for that day.”

The ‘poor man’s butter’

The rendered fat of the pig was an important part of making it through an old-time New Mexico winter. It had the ability to seal food and keep it fresh before the advent of refrigerators. “This is what you primarily having the matanza for, is the lard,” said McDonald. “It is used primarily in New Mexican cooking.” Otero calls the lard “poor man’s butter.” “It is the reason they would get the pig as fat as they could, is that it would be good for the lard,” said Otero. He described an old tradition of storing the ham and bacon sealed in lard to make it last through the winter. A family could take out the meat, cut off a portion and the lard would seal and preserve it.

A community matanza

The Valencia County Hispano Chamber of Commerce holds a matanza every year in order to preserve the tradition. Matanzas are usually held starting in November to keep the food from spoiling. According to former Valencia County Hispano Chamber of Commerce President Yvonne Sanchez, the community organization decided to have a matanza as a way to raise money for a scholarship fund the weekend between the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. “This is also a celebration,” said Sanchez, explaining that the cost for the public has been held steady for the event to encourage the community gathering.

Celebrating tradition

“It has to go back over 400 years in this valley,” Sanchez said of the tradition. “Still, to this day, it is the men who do the slaughtering and preparing and cooking.” She did say that the use of the matanza has changed a little from the political protests in Spain in the seventh century to today’s political rallies and fundraisers for all types of causes. The gathering of friends and family is a celebration, a time for singing and sharing. “I have been to matanzas where people know that they are dying and their wish is to have a matanza,” she said. “It is the open place where you can walk in and visit with your neighbor and release all of your stresses. You are just there celebrating a meal together and a glass of wine. It is a celebration.”

62 Welcome to Valencia County


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