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Today's News

  • Acequia ditch day suggest capital project model

     

    In “Democracy in America,” published in 1835, the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at length about the voluntary associations he found here. These groups of citizens came together to get things done, to build a schoolhouse, or whatever. They provided a core of what today we call civil society. 

    Now the worry is about “the decay of civil society as represented in part by the decline of thousands of private, voluntary organizations (Rotarians, Elks, et. al.) that have contributed so much to social order and progress in America.”

    George Melloan, the worrier here, was reviewing “The Great Degeneration,” the new book by Niall Ferguson, a Scot of some pop culture fame who teaches at Harvard. Ferguson did “Civilization: Is the West History?” a six-part documentary in 2011. 

  • A sensible approach to nonpartisan elections

     

    The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District held an election a few weeks ago. Though I don’t live, or vote in that district, the election reminded me of the inefficiency (dare I say lunacy?) of the way we hold special district, municipal and school elections in New Mexico. 

    The turnout was predictably small. Turnouts for these single-purpose elections typically range from small to pathetic.

    A few days later, the point about special elections was illustrated in a very public way by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. United States Sen. Frank Lautenberg died. To fill his seat, Christie scheduled a special primary, followed by a special election. The special election for senator will be in mid-October, three weeks before a general election. The cost to New Jersey taxpayers is estimated at $24 million. The second election could have been combined with that general election and saved the taxpayers half of that money.

  • Thousands Re-fight the Battle of Gettysburg

    Thousands of history buffs recreated the Confederate Army's ill-fated attack on Gettysburg in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's pivotal conflict.

  • Crews contain blaze in Valles Caldera preserve

    JEMEZ SPRINGS, N.M. (AP) — It has taken firefighters a month to corral a wildfire that has burned through the heart of northern New Mexico's Jemez Mountains.

    Fire managers declared the Thompson Ridge Fire 100 percent contained on Monday.

    The blaze burned more than 37 square miles in the Valles Caldera National Preserve after being sparked May 31 by a downed power line. At one point, it threatened historic cabins and barns at the preserve but crews were able to save the structures.

    Scientists recently wrapped up assessments of the damage. Their recommendations for dealing with post-fire flooding, runoff and other effects of the blaze are expected to be spelled out in a report to be released this week.

    Their analysis shows about one-quarter of the Thompson Ridge Fire burned at moderate and high severity.

  • Today in History July 2
  • Hotshots killed in Ariz. fire remembered, mourned

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Ariz., were killed Sunday when a windblown wildfire overcame them north of Phoenix. It was the deadliest single day for U.S. firefighters since Sept. 11. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s. Here are the stories of some of those who died:

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    ANDREW ASHCRAFT: AN ATHLETIC, GO-GETTER

    Prescott High School physical education teacher and coach Lou Beneitone taught many of the Hotshots, and remembered 29-year-old Andrew Ashcraft as a fitness-oriented student.

    "He had some athletic ability in him and he was a go-getter, too. You could pretty much see, from young freshman all the way, he was going to be physically active."

    Beneitone said athletic prowess was a must for the Hotshots. "That's what it takes. You gotta be very physically fit, and you gotta like it, gotta like the hard work."

    Ashcraft, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was honored to be a member of the Hotshot crew, and "he just had a really sweet spirit about him," Elise Smith, a Prescott, Ariz., resident, told The Deseret News of Salt Lake City.

    Ashcraft left behind a wife, Juliann, and four children, the newspaper reported.

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    TRAVIS CARTER: STRONG AND HUMBLE

  • Fallen firefighters were just in NM battling Valles Caldera wildfire

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez says the deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona hits close to home for New Mexico.

    Just weeks ago, the Granite Mountain Hotshots from Prescott, Ariz., traveled to northern New Mexico to help battle a fast-moving fire that charred more than 37 square miles of the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

    On Sunday, the 19 firefighters — all members of the elite Hotshot crew — were killed when flames overcame them as they fought a wildfire near Yarnell, Ariz., about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

    Martinez is asking New Mexicans to keep the firefighters' families in their thoughts and prayers. She says the firefighters are heroes who put themselves in harm's way to protect others.

    The crew also is being remembered for mentoring members of the Santa Fe Fire Department.

  • College Student Loan Rates Set to Double
  • More elite fire crews go to Ariz. after 19 killed

    YARNELL, Ariz. (AP) — A sudden windstorm turned an Arizona forest fire into an out-of-control inferno that trapped and killed 19 firefighters, nearly all of them members of an elite crew of "hotshots," authorities said Monday. It was the nation's biggest loss of firefighters in a wildfire in 80 years.

    The flames swept over the victims Sunday evening as they took cover in their foil-lined emergency shelters.

    "This is as dark a day as I can remember," Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement. "It may be days or longer before an investigation reveals how this tragedy occurred, but the essence we already know in our hearts: Fighting fires is dangerous work."

    The windblown, lightning-sparked fire — which had exploded fourfold to about 13 square miles by Monday morning — also destroyed dozens of homes and sent hundreds fleeing from Yarnell, a town of 700 people in the mountains about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

    Residents huddled in shelters and restaurants, watching their homes burn on TV as flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town.

    The fire killed 18 members of a hotshot crew based in nearby Prescott, plus a firefighter who was not part of the unit, Arizona Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling said.

  • Today in History July 1