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Thumbs Our high country lowdown on the news - Jan. 24, 2014

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By Optic Editorial Board

THUMBS UP! FORESTRY PROGRAM ACCREDITED
The Society of American Foresters has granted accreditation to Highlands University’s Forestry Program. That’s great news because it makes Highlands the first university in the state to offer an accredited forestry degree and the only Hispanic Serving Institution in the country to offer an accredited forestry degree. Congratulations to everyone at Highlands who worked hard to make it happen.

THUMBS UP! NEW SHERIFF
Mora County has a new sheriff, and that’s great news considering the turmoil that has reigned in that office for more than a year. Amos Espinoza, who was sworn in last week, pledged to bring stability to the sheriff’s office. We wish him luck in that endeavor.

THUMBS DOWN! TROUBLING RANKING
New Mexico Voices for Children released its annual Kids Count report on opening day of the legislative session, and the picture it paints isn’t good. The report places New Mexico last among states when it comes to well being, which is the same place the state finished in the nation’s Kids Count report that was released last summer. We all need to work to turn this around.

THUMBS DOWN! ANOTHER LAWSUIT
A second lawsuit was filed against Mora County over its community rights ordinance. As expected, that lawsuit asks a federal judge to strike down the entire ordinance because it violates the state and federal constitutions. We suspect that a federal judge will agree.

THUMBS UP! ALMOST THERE
Los Pueblos Community Council reached a milestone recently. The organization was granted a certificate of occupancy for the Old Ribera School that it has been restoring for years. That’s great news for Ribera and the surrounding communities.

AND WE QUOTE
“I plan to restore the respect from the community and the state. (I will) also try to stabilize the department because it is pretty much a sunken ship.”
— Amos Espinoza, who was sworn in last Friday as Mora County’s new sheriff after former Sheriff Thomas Garza resigned.