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Columns

  • Another Perspective - Negotiation, litigation, and never an agreement

    Last week we went into detail about how the City of Las Vegas and the acequias moved from litigation to negotiation and, unfortunately, back into litigation over Gallinas River water rights. Now let’s explore where the impasse currently stands — and how litigation is again getting in the way.

    When the court-ordered legal proceedings to resume litigation, the acequias sought to continue negotiations and, at first, the city seemed to agree. Not so now.

  • Work of Art - ‘Officer, it’s water, not beer’

    The commotion lasted half a Saturday morning, taking place almost directly in front of my house on Railroad Avenue, otherwise known as El Barrio.

    It was back in the ‘50s, on a summer morning when several of us spotted a shirtless neighbor, Tommy, driving while guzzling a can of Coors.

  • Editor's Note - Listing our water needs

    Two weeks ago in this space, I told you about a couple of watershed tours I took with several others. The New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute organized a tour of the Gallinas Canyon watershed, where Las Vegas gets nearly all its water, and a second-day excursion to Raton, where we toured that city’s watershed, which burned a year ago.

  • Nuestra Historia - A tale of two cities

    As in the Dickens classic, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, as East and West Las Vegas grew along the Gallinas River after the railroad arrived in 1879.

    For almost a century — except for a permutation from 1882 to 1884 — the twin cities existed as separate and independent municipalities, each with its own mayor, council, administration, police and fire departments. Though separated only by a modest river, their evolution would be strikingly dissimilar, always accentuated by a stark racial divide which set the two towns apart.

  • Another Perspective - City, acequias still wrestling over water rights

    Historically, there has been a thriving agricultural community in and around Las Vegas, based on the acequias — which can be understood as both physical structures to deliver water and communities of people with a proud tradition.

    In the 1950s, the New Mexico Supreme Court gave the City of Las Vegas the right to take as much water as it needed from the Gallinas River under the so-called Pueblo Water Rights Doctrine. Using this decision, the city gradually increased the amount of water it diverted from the river until it was sometimes taking all the water available.

  • Work of Art - A psshh-ing expedition

    “Let’s go over that again, Phillip, and this time, try to get rid of the excessive tire pressure.”

    That was part of a bit of coaching I once did as a teacher of beginning speech in high school and college. My 33 years of teaching that subject yielded some interesting trivia.

    First, I learned that students in this area have peculiar speech mannerisms. How many times have you heard it said that people in Las Vegas specifically, and northern New Mexico generally, have their own style of talking?

    Let me explain:

  • Editor's Note - Good educators and ideas

    Call me the hard sell. I don’t think East’s four-day school week is going to improve teaching methods or better prepare students for the larger world, and it’s going to take more than a spin doctoring to change my mind.

    Nevertheless, the four-day schedule is now in place, and I wish students, teachers and administrators the best in the 2012-2013 school year.

  • Nuestra Historia - The judgeship since 1965

    For more than a half century between statehood and Judge Luis Armijo’s passing in 1965, only three men occupied the district court bench in Las Vegas — Judge Armijo himself claiming 34 of those years. Ten judges have served in the half century since.

  • Work of Art - Cute and cuddly porkers

    Lora M. Shields, a professor after whom a science building on the Highlands University campus is named, once told a class I was in about some amazing properties of pigs and piglets.

    She said a farmer could fill a pail of milk and let the pig drink it all, then lift that same pig into the same bucket and even have a little room to spare. It took some of us a while to catch on.

  • Editor's Note - Touring two watersheds

    For a couple of days last week, I was a watershed tourist.            

    But not just me, of course. On Monday, about 20 Las Vegas movers and shakers took a ride into the Gallinas Canyon, stopping at various points along the way to learn from experts about the condition of the river, the woodlands and how Las Vegas collects, stores and uses the watershed’s most valuable resource.