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FeatureS

  • For the past six years, Highlands University Spanish Professor Lillian Gorman has been taking a group of students on an adventure that is partly academic and partly an exploration of a new world.

    And it’s with an intense focus on the Spanish language. 

    Each summer, Gorman and about a dozen students spend two weeks immersed in the Spanish language at Casa Xalteva, a small orphanage and school in Nicaragua.

    Each year, the students return home with many stories and fond memories of the special time they spent there.

  • ROCIADA — Many people around here have heard of Pendaries Village in Rociada, but few know about Camp Davis, which is a few miles down the road.

    The camp, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, features eight cabins, a dining hall and a recreation building, as well as opportunities for fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

    In the summer of 1939, Coach J. Mule and Liz Davis founded Camp Davis. In the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, the Davises had hundreds of kids from Texas stay at the camp throughout the summers.

  • This year’s theme for the Las Vegas Fiestas is Nuestras Tradiciones, Nuestros Tesoros — Our Traditions, Our Treasures. Many Las Vegans consider Cipriano Aguilar one of the Meadow City’s great treasures.

    For the last 47 years, this mild-mannered educator and longtime radio personality has acted as the Fiestas master of ceremonies and historian.

    Aguilar began his master of ceremonies duties after Jesus Lopez Sr. turned the microphone over to him in 1962.

  • The 21st Century Summer Program has ended with a flourish of fun, games and a picnic for the 180 kids who participated in the month-long, activities packed program.

    “The kids had a blast, today was the last day of our summer program, and this was a way to end it with a lot of fun,” assistant coordinator Theresa Chavez said.

    Program Director Michell Aragon she wanted to treat the children to a nice time on the final day.

  • Roberto Rios, the new executive director of the Las Vegas-San Miguel Economic Development Corp., expects the group to take strong stands under his management.

    But he said the EDC would study issues closely before making any decisions.

    Rios took his new job June 1. Just two days later, he witnessed one of the bigger controversies that pit one part of the business community against another.

    At issue was a proposed film moratorium, which would have stopped all movie productions in Las Vegas until the city revised its regulations to better deal with them.

  • Cancer survivor Lisa Briggs-Valdez said she is lucky, because there are many people who lost their battle with the disease.

    “There are many that are still struggling, many that have fought and won and will fight for the rest of their lives. Everybody knows a family member or friend, because cancer knows no boundaries, no class, or race, nothing,” Briggs-Valdez said. “I know many people that have fought and won, and some who lost the fight.”  

  • Dozens of cars followed a West Las Vegas bus through town Monday evening, honking and cheering for a successful middle school club.

    West Las Vegas Middle School Business Professionals of America sponsor Brian Gurulé and his young team of champions stepped off the bus to a large crowd, who had caravaned from the Interstate 25 exit through town, led by police cars with sirens and lights blaring in honor of the two national titles they were bringing home.

  • The doorway seemed an odd shape, but once inside, everything was conventional — sort of.

    Ignacio “Nash” Lucero, Las Vegan, contractor, builder, broker, home inspector, looks like a regular guy, but is far from it.

        Get this — Nash’s first “job” at the age of 6 was building a porch. Today, 85 on June 14, he’s still building, but much more than porches. Give him that hammer, some nails, a rough idea of what you have in mind, and he’ll build it, or tear it down, if that’s what you want.

  • If you happen to be a music fanatic like I am,  you probably have noticed that there are many different genres of music, ranging from soul and blues to the darkest and heaviest heavy metal. I like many different kinds of music but I draw the line at pop. (I have an exception for Pop because there are only a few singers that I like.)

    I am a huge fan of rock. It can be the oldies but goodies or the new rock that is coming out. Every band that is out there sounds different and the music is real.

  • ‘Carthago delenda est!” cried Cato the Elder, “Carthage must be destroyed!”

    And so the Romans did, reportedly by leveling the city, selling its surviving citizens into slavery, and then sowing the land with salt.

    The Spanish adopted a similar practice. When a landowner was convicted of treason, salt was poured upon their lands, spelling death not only for the resident plants, but also humans, and any animals, birds and insects that depended on those lands for their habitat.

  •  Residents of New Mexico will celebrate Arbor Day 2009 on March 13. While National Arbor Day is held on the last Friday in April, New Mexico, similar to several other states, observes the holiday at a time best suited for tree planting.

    The Arbor Day Foundation encourages everyone to plant a tree to celebrate this special holiday. The Foundation’s Web site (www.arborday.org) offers many helpful tips from how to plant a tree to selecting the right tree for the right place.

  • As most readers probably already know, the Optic is downsizing, going from five to three editions per week.

    The end to the Optic’s long tradition as a daily paper is slated for early March.

    The Muchas Cosas is  also being discontinued. This edition is the last.

  • If you can read this, be thankful. Many in San Miguel County and across the nation can’t read, and many more still cannot read at an adult level.

    Nearly half of New Mexico’s population reads at or below a benchmark standard called Literacy Level 2. Level 2 literacy is that level of reading and comprehension skills expected from children in the fifth through seventh grades. Nearly two-thirds of all jobs require literacy skills above this level, but in San Miguel County, 59 percent of our residents fall at or below Level 2.

  • We all think of a forest as millions of acres of green-topped mountains where water and wildlife rule the land. But there’s a forest right in our own backyards that sometimes gets overlooked — the urban forest.

    An urban forest includes trees, vegetation, and associated natural resources within and around the inhabited area of a community. Urban Forests include trees in parks, tree-lined streets, trees that dot our neighborhoods and any trees within the wildland-urban interface between communities and adjacent forest and rangelands

  • What to plant first? Most people who decide they want to have a garden  just go out and plant their flowers or veggies.

    When the plants don't do well, or even die, they conclude that they don't have a "green thumb" and move on to other things.

    Their problem is that they began at the end of the process. There are other things which must be cultivated first.

  • Hang out in organic gardening circles or read the publications and you will soon hear the high praises of compost tea. In its simplest form, compost tea is simply water in which a scoop of mature compost has been added and allowed to set. I have often wondered what the great benefit of this is — after all, the nutrients in the tea are just the nutrients in the compost, dissolved to facilitate rapid uptake by plants.

    It turns out though, that the real deal is something more robust, with a different purpose. Properly brewed compost tea is a microbial innoculant.

  • “We succeeded beyond my wildest expectations,” said Emelie Olson, organizer of the Solar Homes Tour on Feb. 7.

    “Over 100 people visited each of the three houses during the tour, far more than any of us expected.” 

    Most of these visitors apparently attended all three houses, each of which conducted their tours somewhat differently. At Linda Halouzka’s house, she showed people around her house and yard informally.

  • Back when I was a young fella, and attending public schools, the little bit we were taught about ecology, biology and the laws of nature could be summed up as follows: “Everything competes, the strong eat the weak, survival of the fittest is the rule, and the devil takes the hindmost.”

    This was the conventional take on Darwinism, and when used to justify laissez faire economics and cutthroat capitalism, such thinking was called “social Darwinism.”

  • Of course, recycling is all the rage, but now I must be the heretic once again and point out that recycling is the LAST resort of the responsible consumer.

    Let your mantra be the four Rs,

    Refuse

    Reduce

    Reuse

    Recycle

    These Rs are ranked in order of energy and resource consumption. Best to refuse; if you can’t refuse, reduce; that which you do use, try to re-use as well, and when all of that is done, recycle.

  • People on the street are hurrying by, collars turned up against the chilly February wind.  But you’re basking in the sun in shorts and a tank top, the air freshened by green foliage.   How can this be?  Think greenhouse.  Think sunroom.  Think passive solar.