Letters to the editor (12/31/11)

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Chamber to work hard to preserve matanza
Editor:
It is with much disappointment that the officers and Board of Directors for the Valencia County Hispano Chamber of Commerce announce the cancellation of our 12th annual matanza due to restrictions imposed on our event by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The event was to be held at the Sheriff’s Posse Fairgrounds in Belen on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.
The chamber is not willing to jeopardize the event, our teams, our board, our community, and most of all, our culture by proceeding and being penalized by the USDA. We are unified as a board and are committed to preserving the tradition of matanza!
We will continue to work towards a permanent resolution with the USDA, which will allow us to continue the tradition of matanza as it has been taught to us by our ancestors for hundreds of years.
As a community, we take great pride in our annual matanza and must take proper safeguards to preserve that tradition in its truest form.
We are extremely proud of the hard work of hundreds of volunteers that in 11 short years have made our annual matanza the largest event in Valencia County community.
In that time, more than 75,000 people have enjoyed a meal at our matanza and we have never had one food-related health issue. We have respectfully worked with our local New Mexico Environment Department to safeguard the public’s health while being true to the matanza tradition. This includes voluntarily allowing up to five on-site health inspectors to supervise the processing, cooking and serving of pork on the day of the matanza.
The chamber has also gone a step further by organizing and scheduling a food handling training session to ensure public safety.
For 11 years, proceeds from the matanza have gone to provide about $115,000 in scholarships to more than 200 local students.
The matanza has also had a tremendous effect on the local economy.
We want to thank the community of Valencia County, our teams, sponsors and local politicians who have supported the matanza. We will be asking for your support in the coming weeks and months in our efforts to maintain and preserve this vital part of our Hispano culture.
It is the contention of the chamber that the loss of culture and tradition pervades our country. It is with great pride and perseverance that the tradition of holding a matanza is still prevalent and common place for New Mexicans.
We promise the residents of Valencia County that we will work tirelessly to overcome these obstacles so that the community can come together, once again, at our chamber’s traditional matanza.

Yvonne Sanchez
President
Valencia County Hispano Chamber of Commerce

Human nature is restored in Belen
Editor:
I want to share a bittersweet story about our community.
(In November) I stopped by the Belen Walmart to pick up a few groceries. When I left the store, I saw a couple of people standing by my car, a 1987 Pontiac Fiero GT, a classic car I’ve owned and pampered for almost 25 years.
They pointed out the damage to the front of my car; the front was almost torn off, this was no parking lot ding.
They said they saw the white pickup truck that did it and then sped away from the parking lot.
These good samaritans then gave me the vehicle description and license plate number and their names and phone numbers to pass to the police as witnesses.
I called 911 and a Belen police officer responded and investigated the accident.  When I picked up the accident report, I discovered the officer identified the hit and run vehicle owner, made contact with the witnesses, and got a copy of the Walmart security camera tape that showed the accident and the circumstances surrounding it.
I turned the report over to my insurance company, who assured me they would be following up with the hit and run driver’s insurance company for full restitution of the over a $1,000 repair bill.
The bitter part of this story was the damage done to my pride and joy, but it will be repaired.
The sweet part was my faith in human nature was restored by the action of the witnesses to get involved when today we often choose not to, and the professionalism and initiative displayed by the police office which reflects favorably on the training and leadership of the Belen Police Department.
We should all feel good about our community and our police force, but I’m a little skeptical about our driving ability.

Dennis Prescott
Rio Communities

County should look at other options
Editor:
Well, building a hospital in Valencia County seems to be tabled for a while, at least until the three county commissioners up for re-election are replaced.
The current “hot potato” here is planning for the solid waste program with several public meetings that were scheduled during December.
I moved to Rio Communities in 2005; and because I came from California, I did the work that it took to track down recycling options — rather tough to find in New Mexico, but they exist. I specifically did not sign up for trash pickup, and in the six years since I arrived, I have recycled all the same stuff that my neighbors pay to get trucked to the landfill.
Really, I do recycle everything. My yard is bare dirt, so I don’t have to worry about greenery. The drought was so bad this year that even the tumbleweeds never sprouted in my back yard.
I used to take basic recycle materials to the station behind Los Lunas Village Hall, but they stopped that a while back, so now I haul my basic recycle bins with me now and then as I slog up the freeway to visit Albuquerque. The city yard on Edith takes glass, cardboard, metal and paper.
Once a year, I stomp the aluminum soda cans flat and turn a large bag in for a dollar or two. Rags go to Savers on San Mateo.
That leaves only eggshells and food scraps and a little packaging. So every week or so, I take a bag about the size of a soccer ball and drop it in the trash can where I buy gas. I take my extra plastic grocery bags and stuff them in the bin by the front door at Albertsons.
But I take this even further and pick up soda cans and beer bottles and the occasional cardboard box or phone book and toss them in the back of my car. Those get recycled too, which makes me “negative to the landfill.”
I recycle more material than actually crosses my threshold. I am a champion recycler.
For the solid waste committee folks, there are three points:
1. People who recycle, people who are off the grid, people who compost must be taken into account; any laws and-or contracts must “grandfather” them in. Without such consideration, the law or contract will be unconstitutional, in that we are not represented.
2. I understand the gradual nature of modifying Valencia County’s present solid waste policies. But the eventual goal should be to make available recycling options for the residents of the county, and especially coordinating with Belen and Los Lunas and the other cities.
One simple option would be to park the same yellow bins that are open 24 hours at the Albuquerque city yard, to park them at several locations down here, essentially piggy-backing on Albuquerque’s effective and efficient program.
3. Part of what the solid waste committee looks at should be costs, of course. The central comparison is the cost per truckload to pickup and dump trash to the county landfill versus the actual cost of parking yellow bins around the county and hauling a truckload north.
If the cost to haul and cover and manage the landfill is more than hauling recycled material, then the county would actually save money by doing the latter.
If the cost of recycling is even with or just a hair more than using the landfill, then the benefits still come from the recycle program since the landfill will not fill up so fast, nor will there be so much toxic waste (plastic, metal, etc.) sent there.
The city of Los Angeles is ranked top among the ten largest cities in America for recycling; and they are very near the state-mandated “50 percent landfill diversion” standard, i.e. half of trash goes to landfill, half is recycled.
There is no reason that Valencia County and the cities and communities within its boundaries cannot aspire to the same standard.

G.E. Nordell
Rio Communities