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Features

  • Beatrice Maestas-Sandoval and George Ulibarri are master artists in their own right — judging from the array of artifacts tastefully arranged in George’s home and from the works in progress in the adjacent workshop area the two share.

    Beatrice remarks that some of her work is on display at her brother Jose Maestas’ business on Sixth Street.

  • Maggie Romigh is not only a mentor, but a mentor of mentors.

    She has sacrificed financially to work as a community coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico, but said she has been rewarded in countless other ways.

    “When I first came to New Mexico, one of the choices I made was that I was going to do what was important to me, rather than focus on making money,” Romigh said.

  • Judy Cordova-Romero had big dreams when she first came to Highlands University, and many of her dreams to make campus life better for students came true during her tenure.

    As Highlands University vice president for student affairs, Cordova-Romero was an advocate for the new residence hall that students enjoy today. She pushed for a new student center that had its groundbreaking ceremony Monday. And her dreams of refurbishing the Felix Martinez building into a one-stop shop for students’ needs came true during a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week.

  • What would it take to lure renowned musicians into one’s home? What if they were Arturo Toscaninni, considered by many as the greatest conductor ever to wave a baton, or George and Ira Gershwin, renowned lyricist and pianist and the beloved clarinet player, Benny Goodman?

    Luring wasn’t necessary; in the East 90th Street New York City home of Albert Fredric Stoessel, an American composer, violinist and conductor; these visits were customary. Stoessel’s son, Las Vegas resident, Fredrick Stoessel says, “I just thought of them as family friends.”

  • Gary Gamertsfelder went to Kansas City’s recent national SkillsUSA competition and loved every minute of it. While he may be the first local to crack the top 10 in the national competition, he has had a lot of mentors along the way.

    Instructor Anthony Baca remembers the inception of the automotive repair program at Luna Community College. He’s seen five state champions and four national championships during his tenure.

    Baca said Gamertsfelder is so good at what he does he motivates fellow students in the entire Luna auto shop.

  • April Esquibel saw herself as nerdy — and she wanted to change her self-image. So she started competing in pageants.

    The 18-year-old now is Miss Santa Fe and held the titles of Miss Las Vegas 2009 and Hispanic Teen New Mexico 2006. She is this year’s Fiesta queen, with the event taking place this weekend.

  • Most of us would struggle recalling close to 90 years of memories, but Arturo and Marie Montoya do it with ease.

    Arthur George Montoya, born in Las Vegas in 1919, and his wife, Marie Gonzales, born in Clayton in 1921, will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary Sept. 15. These two have offered, and continue to offer, a wealth of information concerning life in early 20th century agrarian northern New Mexico and beyond, gleaned from their full lives.

  • A father-daughter project has turned into a real passion for a local family in recent years.

    Ashley Wheeler and her stepfather, Estevan Ortega, began working on a lowrider bicycle a year ago and are now being noticed at major competitions.

    “I was very excited that I won first place in the Impalas Car Show in Santa Fe in May. I love my bike and couldn’t ask for anything more, and I am grateful to my stepfather for helping me be successful,” Wheeler said.

  • Robert Mishler is not a johnny-come-lately in Las Vegas’ historic preservation efforts. He’s been involved for decades.

    Recently, the state Historic Preservation Division gave Mishler, a retired Highlands University anthropology professor, a lifetime achievement award for his dedication to the cause of historic preservation for the last 35 years.

    When he and his wife, Ann, moved to Las Vegas in the late 1960s, much of the Plaza and Bridge Street areas was boarded up. Most of the town’s business and social activity was on Douglas Avenue.

  • Molly Salman is off to college after graduating with honors from Robertson High School, but she leaves a definite mark on her alma matter.

    This last school year, Salman was elected by students to sit with the district’s school board as the student representative. The Las Vegas City Schools is one of the few districts where students have a seat on the governing board.

  • Leroy Lucero, or “Pato,” as he is known to many, is seated at his Yamaha electric keyboard, making music, practicing for an upcoming collaboration with his compadre, Joe Franco’s group, “Dulce.” Sweet!

    A multi-talented, lifetime musician, Lucero has followed many paths, but always, accompanied by music.

    Born in Las Vegas, Nov. 10, 1946, Pato, 63, is the son of the late Ben Lucero and Carmen Garduño Lucero. Leroy’s siblings are Lonnie and Jeanette.

  • The original plan for Alma Sanchez and Phylisia Dimas was to graduate in 2011.

    But they defied expectations.

    Sanchez of West Las Vegas High School and Dimas of Robertson High School are walking the line in their respective commencement ceremonies this weekend — a year early.

    Sanchez and Dimas are among a growing number of Las Vegas high school students taking advantage of the access to dual-credit classes offered at Luna Community College and Highlands University.

  • Las Vegans Floyd and Theresa Chavez are a husband and wife with a big thing in common: They’re both educators.

    And they have a passion for their jobs, others say.

    “We live, eat and breathe education,” Theresa said.

    Floyd said much of what they talk about involves education.

    “It’s not the only thing in our lives. We do have other interests that we share, but education has always been a common thread between the two of us,” he said.

  • Some Las Vegans wanted a wind-beaten, sun-bleached, tattered flag taken down. They didn’t like to see the Stars and Stripes in such shape.

    But the tattered old flag had been flying over Sgt. 1st Class Gilbert Martinez’s house since the day he headed off to war in the Iraqi desert.

    That was a year ago.

    “The day he left we hoisted the U.S. flag. We had yellow ribbons all around the house and vowed we would only take the flag down when Gilbert returned home,” said family member Jodie Rael.

    And they did exactly that.

  • Through the years, the Memorial Middle School greenhouse has been a center of activity for students’ agricultural and science projects.

    It’s also a place for aspiring teachers to get hands-on experience in their craft.

    Tom Dormody, a visiting professor of agriculture from New Mexico State University, and a number of his graduate and undergraduate students are learning ways to teach science using agriculture and natural resource applications.

  • By Don Pace

    Las Vegas Optic 

    In 1973, Barbara Streisand sang, “Scattered pictures, of the smiles we left behind, smiles we gave to one another. Misty water -- colored memories of the way we were.”

    One way high school graduates in America have of remembering their friends is looking through their yearbook. And with every yearbook comes a staff that has worked for a year collecting and preserving those memories.

  • West Las Vegas Middle School teacher and coach Brian Gurule has been watching his kids succeed for 13 years. He says that’s what makes him happy.

    “I want to see them succeed and teach them that there is more to this world. I want them to experience the knowledge and insights one gets from travel. Many of our students have never traveled outside of New Mexico,” Gurule said.

  • The title above is no accidental allusion to Vergil’s “Aeneid,” often billed as history’s greatest Latin epic. The poet, who lived from 70 to 19 BC, says, in the original Latin, “Arma virumque cano,” or “I sing of arms and the man.”

    So what does this have to do with former New Mexico Gov. David Francis Cargo?  Perhaps if Vergil were writing today, the hero would be named David Cargo, or “Lonesome Dave.”

  • Not one of the 15 volunteers bolted from the barber chair as an appreciative crowd laughed, jeered and cheered them on to shaved-head heaven. 

    Psi Chi International Honor Society President Renee Shimek said the Highlands University psychology club holds a Spring Festival fundraiser every year.

  • New York Times bestselling author, artist and illustrator Jan Brett made a stop in Las Vegas on Saturday, pulling up to West Las Vegas High School in her shinny tour bus.  About 300 people waited her arrival.  Brett said she enjoys traveling by bus, because it gives her the freedom to stop at places off the beaten path from the average author tour.