The year in quotes

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“It’s a great way to start the year. You see so many people you know out here. ... It’s a great part of being in Las Vegas.”
— Las Vegas resident Peter Linder, at the annual Polar Bear Plunge into Storrie Lake on New Year’s Day.

“The long-term picture is the growth in the Hispanic population and graying population and urban growth.”
— Jack Baker, a senior research scientist at the Census Bureau, in predicting New Mexico’s population growth.

“Very seldom do we get to recover so much evidence. ... These female NMHU students returned from winter break to discover that their duplex had been broken into and that their property had been stolen.”
— Investigation Sgt. Pamela J. Sandoval, after three men were arrested for a series of burglaries while Highlands University students were away on their winter break. Sandoval also credited Lt. Martin Salazar with “helping solve this case” after spotting some suspicious activity that led to an investigation and the arrests.


“My No. 1 responsibility, above everything else, is to protect the assets of the city of Las Vegas. ... This is one of the issues where I’m going to have to make a decision and it may not be the politically popular decision to make.”
— Las Vegas City Manager Timothy Dodge, on his looming decision as to whether the city should move forward with a lawsuit to determine the validity of the new charter, which was approved by 56 percent of the voters in 2010. The city never did file the suit.

“It is obvious that when a school district has financial authority removed from local control, it takes many demonstrations of good practices to regain the authority it previously might have taken for granted.”
— Ruben Cordova, superintendent of the West Las Vegas School District, regarding the news that, after nearly six years, the state is returning control of the district’s finances to the district itself.

“The governor is making the distinction that this is a pork project, but in reality this is a student-oriented project.”
— State Sen. Pete Campos, in defense of a $205,000 appropriation for a weight room at West Las Vegas School District, after Gov. Susana Martinez criticized it.


“We understand that it will take many years for them to grow into beautiful, big trees like those elms. ... But (the ones being removed) are dangerous — look at the front page of the Optic yesterday.”
— John Spencer, chair of the city’s Tree Board, referring to an Optic photo and article about a tree that fell and damaged a mobile home at McRae and Silva streets.

“I’m so excited! ... I’m proud of our community — that we’re above all this negativity. We’re going to shout out a joyful noise for our community.”
— Vince Howell, councilor-elect in Ward 2.

“We are on track to get our reconciliations done, and all audits will be complete before June.”
— Las Vegas City Schools board member Ernesto Salazar, a past critic of how the district was handling its finances who now says he’s pleased with what he’s seeing.


“This is a historic moment for Vegas, and it may face legal challenges, but that’s how you start changing federal law. ... I feel really passionately that our rights are being trampled at the expense of corporations for profit, and that the ... citizens in this country need to start taking back their rights. This is where it starts, in a grassroots effort.”
— Las Vegas Councilor Andrew Feldman, who’s anti-fracking “rights” ordinance passed a council vote by a 3-1 margin.

“I do have serious, serious concerns about the constitutionality and the legality of this document. ... It violates, in my opinion, the constitution of the United States, the constitution of New Mexico. It is pre-empted by state law.”
— Las Vegas City Attorney David Romero, speaking against the same ordinance.

“There are lessons we can learn from the 2011 catastrophic wildfire season in New Mexico, when nearly one million acres burned.”
— Andrew Egan, New Mexico Forestry and Watershed Restoration Institute director, regarding the worst wildfire season on record and how it relates to efforts to protect the Gallinas Watershed.

“I let people make the choice, and they made it. I’m going to devote all my time and energy to doing whatever I can for the city.”
— Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz, after winning re-election.

“This gives me the open door to go in there and prove myself to the community that I can get the job done. ... When I run again in four years, I plan on winning because of my accomplishments and my accomplishments alone.”
— Councilman-elect Joey Herrera.


“If you look at it on paper, we don’t look as healthy as we are, but if you look at our bank account you wouldn’t feel bad.”
— Sheryl McNellis-Martinez, Las Vegas City Schools superintendent, on the district’s finances as the closing of the fiscal year approaches.

“What you did not only smells bad, it was flat-out wrong, and you should have known better.”
— Judge Eugenio Mathis, as he nixed the Mora-San Miguel Electric Cooperative election scheduled for earlier in the month. Mathis ordered the co-op to reverse its previous action and put Rock Ulibarri back on the ballot.

“The Plaza Hotel was expanded during a time when construction costs were higher than ever before or since ... The expanded facility came with new operating costs and a larger mortgage payment, just as the economy went into a tailspin, which no one saw coming.”
— Wid Slick, owner of the Plaza Hotel, explaining some of the economic circumstances that led to the historic hotel’s fall into foreclosure.


“I remember both of them giving their speeches. It just motivated me to reach that same goal so I wouLd be able to do that same address.” —
Melecio Perea, West’s valedictorian, about his sisters’ valedictorian addresses at the same schools seven and four years prior to his.

“It’s a big deal.”
— Paul Martinez, District 4 Little League administrator, on the decision to move this year’s tournament from Las Vegas to Raton because of a lack of grass growing at Rodriguez Park. It’s an estimated $1 million blow to the local economy, especially for hotels and motels, restaurants and gas stations.

“This was a sad and unfortunate accident, and it does no good to penalize anybody further in light of all the suffering that everybody has endured.”
— City Attorney David Romero, regarding the announcement that two employees placed on paid leave last year following a fatal trench collapse returned to work and will not be disciplined.


“It is great to have three local musicians performing during the Olympics. It just shows how much talent we have coming from this area.”
— Rociada native Reynaldo Maestas, who, along with Dorothy Lanphere and James Leger, are going to London later this month after their mariachi group Buena Aventura was selected to perform with Baila Baila dance group of Albuquerque at the 2012 Olympics.

“I loved my husband dearly ... He wasn’t only my husband. He was my best friend.”
— Suzanne Aguilar, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for the 2011 stabbing death of her husband, Michael Martinez, at a hearing in which she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.


“It’s not if, but when, we get a large wildfire in the Gallinas Canyon, and we anticipate it could be catastrophic. ... The question is, How prepared are we for a big fire and its aftermath?”
— Steve Romero, U.S. Forest Service district ranger for the Pecos/Las Vegas District.

“We need a lot more rain to grow enough grain to have a successful bird migration.”
— Conrad Chavez, maintenance worker at the Las Vegas National Wildfire Refuge.

“I think it’s incredible, but not just for me but for our community. And I would really like to thank Judge (Eugenio) Mathis and Judge (Matthew) Sandoval for the faith that they have in me.”
— Judge Abigail Aragon, on being the first woman selected chief judge for the 4th Judicial District. She began her three-year term, replacing Sandoval in the position.


“I’m still doing administrative functions.”
— Mora County Sheriff Thomas Garza, regarding his 120-day law enforcement certification suspension, which bars him from doing any police work. The suspension does not prevent him from carrying out certain office duties at the sheriff’s department.

“It’s already September.”
— L.J. Sanchez, whose apple trees produced blossoms this fall, probably because of drought conditions this summer.

“In this case, I hope that it’s (the vote against forming a union) somewhat of a reflection on the way we treat our employees — that we treat them well. ... I wish we could pay them more; the budget just doesn’t allow for it. It was obviously a close vote. I know the administration and the commissioners didn’t take a position.”
— Nicolas Leger, San Miguel County Commission chair, who also said he is a strong supporter of unions and believes in employees’ right to organize.


“The board unfortunately hears of mishaps or when things do not work well, but like other industries we would like to share with you our other accomplishments.”
— Sheryl McNellis-Martinez, Las Vegas City Schools superintendent, in response to concerns about bus safety and overcrowding raised at a school board meeting. She pointed out that the district had taken 105 activity trips, most of which were without incident.


“Times are tough and the voters need to be conservative, I guess. That’s what we’ve got to live with. I would have appreciated more support from the city of Las Vegas, because they stood to gain a whole lot as well.”
— Les Montoya, San Miguel County manager, on voters’ rejection of a sales tax increase to go to emergency services.

“It’s a step in the right direction as far as ensuring that Mora County can do everything within its power to ensure that we do have an ambulance service. ... We’re going to work diligently to make it happen. This was a large part of the puzzle in that process. We’re definitely pleased with the turnout and we’re pleased with the results.”
— Thomas Sanchez, Mora County manager, on voter approval of a sales tax increase to go toward ambulance services.

“He stole my virginity, my sense of self. ... I’ve been through hell and back.”
— Jay Quintana’s victim, at the former teacher’s sentencing hearing.


“This is a big honor for Las Vegas and northeastern New Mexico. Most importantly, it symbolizes the confidence of my colleagues. … The recognition brought to northern New Mexico with this nomination shares with the entire state that we are one regardless of the demographics.”
— Sen. Pete Campos, on his nomination to be the next president pro tem of the state Senate.

“It’s the same drunks, DWI after DWI, and sooner or later they kill someone.”
— Gov. Susana Martinez, in pushing for stiffer DWI laws in New Mexico. According to a state Department of Transportation study, 60 percent of all DWI-related deaths in 2011 involved repeat DWI offenders.