Thumbs: Our high country lowdown on the news

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NECESSARY DISMISSAL. Yes, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty applies to all, including Ramon Montoya, the Mora County Sheriff’s Department transport officer who is accused of getting drunk and passing out alongside Interstate 25. He deserves his day in court. But his employer isn’t obligated to wait until the judicial system reaches a verdict, and was therefore justified in firing him after an internal investigation.

Mora County Undersheriff Michael Benjamin performed particularly well during this unfortunately episode, by acting quickly and decisively in the interest of both the department and the public.

LIGHTS, PLEASE. Remember when we’d play in the streets until it got too dark to see the ball and our parents called us in?

The Highlands University Cowboys got a dose of that on Saturday when the mid-autumn sun went into hiding, turning everything dark and cold. For several minutes of the last quarter, the Cowboys and the visiting Mustangs from Western New Mexico almost needed to tally the yardage and first downs on the honor system, the ball being barely visible.

The stadium has a fine bank of lights. Let’s use them at the first sign of darkness.

BAD BEHAVIOR. Ken Garcia, the city’s utilities director, has pleaded guilty to felony assault in connection to an incident in which he physically attacked a man at a local bar. He’s been given 18 months probation, must write a letter of apology to the victim and pay for all costs associated with the attack.

Whether or not he will lose his city job over this incident has yet to be determined, but certainly some sort of disciplinary action needs to be taken. As a department head he’s not just a city employee, he’s a leader, and this kind of behavior, even off the job, is unacceptable.

COMMUNITY GENEROSITY. After only two hours on the radio last Saturday, the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program is more than $3,000 better off — thanks to the community response. The program, which matches adults in mentoring roles with children in our community, needs to raise $12,000 by the end of the year to keep its San Miguel-Mora county office fully staffed in 2011. A $3,000 boost is a great start of the end-of-the-year fundraising blitz.

Ours is a generous community, filled with people who give to worthy causes. Big Brothers Big Sisters is just the latest recipient of the kind of sharing that takes place here, and we appreciate the good works of all involved.

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“Prove it to me. Are they going to get out with guns and shoot cows? How will they kill the animals? I’m in favor of the Air Force.”
— San Miguel County Commissioner Albert Padilla, in disputing arguments that proposed low-altitude flights over the area would adversely affect cattle.