AlamogordoTownNews.com Judge Ellen Jessen Announces Candidacy and Meet the Candidate Events www.electjudgejessen.com

Judge Ellen Jessen declared her candidacy for the 12th Judicial District, Civil Division II on March 8, 2022. 

Judge Jessen has served as a civil Judge since July 2020, after being nominated by a bipartisan Judicial Selection Commission, made up of judges, attorneys, and members of the community. She is no stranger to the 12th
Judicial District, having served as a Domestic Relations Hearing Officer from 2017 to 2020. Previously in private practice in Alamogordo and Cloudcroft, she specialized in civil and domestic relations law. As an attorney for COPE from 2008 to 2012 she represented hundreds of clients in domestic violence, divorce, and parentage cases.

Judge Jessen credits her 25 years’ experience in civil and domestic relations law for Division II providing swift access to justice. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Catholic University of America and a degree in Business Administration from Wheeling Jesuit University. As for her philosophy, Judge Jessen says: “Swift access to justice is essential. Fair and impartial rulings are part of the fabric of our Constitution. It is my commitment to see that your rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, are protected and defended.”

The primary election will be held Tuesday, June 7, 2022. For further information on registering or updating to voter information, please contact www.NMVote.org. To learn more about Judge Jessen and her candidacy visit her website for “Views from the Bench and more at 

www.electjudgejessen.com 

To meet the candidate in person she has the following appearances scheduled…

Easter in the Park, April 16, Washington Park, 10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

4th Friday at the Zoo, April 22, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Friday at the Zoo, May 27, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Earth Day, April 30, 10 – 6

Couy Griffin Guilty 1 Count, Acquitted on 1 Count

The elected New Mexico, Otero county commissioner and pro-Trump grass-roots group leader was convicted at bench trial by a Trump-appointed judge. He was acquitted of a second count of disorderly conduct

An elected Republican county commissioner representing  Otero County, New Mexico  posted a video on Facebook of himself on the inauguration stage within the barricaded perimeter of the Capitol grounds during the Jan. 6 riot that forced the evacuation of lawmakers meeting to certify Joe Biden’s election victory. Griffin, 48, turned down an offer to plead to a lesser charge and probation, waived a trial by jury and bet his freedom on a bench trial that started Monday before U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden of Washington.

The conviction gave the Justice Department its second victory at trial in the Capitol riot probe, affirming its decision to level misdemeanor charges punishable by up to one year in jail against hundreds of defendants. A jury earlier this month found a Texas militia movement recruiter, Guy Reffitt, guilty of five felonies, including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering and interfering with police in a riot.

Donald Trump who injured scores of police, ransacked Capitol offices and caused Congress to evacuate as it met to confirm the 2020 election results, Griffin was not accused of violence or entering the building — one of the few such defendants among more than 750 people federally charged in the Capitol siege investigation.

Defense attorneys David B. Smith and Nicholas D. Smith have said U.S. authorities targeted Griffin for prosecution based on his protected speech. McFadden rejected that contention, finding that Griffin’s alleged leadership role, more blatant conduct and position as an elected official might rationally merit different handling by prosecutors.

McFadden, a 2017 Trump appointee, said video showed Griffin climbing over a stone wall marking the Capitol’s security perimeter, walking over other plastic mesh fencing and metal bicycle rack barriers that had been pushed down, and spending more than an hour on the front railing of the inaugural stage with a bullhorn.

The law requires that offenders act knowingly to disrupt a government proceeding. Griffin was recorded saying that he thought Vice President Mike Pence had already acted and that the certification was over at the time, McFadden said. Prosecutors said that Congress was only in recess and still in session to certify the election, and their evidence showed that members of the crowd around Griffin were chanting “Decertify!” even as their presence delayed Congress’s return to vote until that evening. However, McFadden found that although Griffin “could have thought business was still taking place, . . . the burden was on the government” to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

The judge set sentencing for June 17, after his attorney, Nicholas Smith, declined the judge’s offer to immediately sentence Griffin on Tuesday.

Upon Griffin’s return he faces two new lawsuits filed against him in New Mexico, one calling for his removal from office and one for campaign finance violations.

We requested a statement from Mr. Griffin and have not received one as yet. If he provides us commentary we will update the article upon receipt. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Sold Out Alamogordo Center of Commerce State of the Union Banquet Highlights

The who’s who of business and political leadership met together at Alamogordo’s civic center for a reflection of the business community at the Alamogordo Center of Commerce annual “State of the Union Banquet.”

Before a sold out crowd local businesses were highlighted, commerce was discussed and all were entertained.

The event was a celebration to survival of a business community that survived the rampage of Covid-19 with a commitment to growth and longer term prosperity. The event brought political leaders such as Mayor Susan Payne, Commissioner Sharon McDonald, together with those seeking office and the business leadership of Alamogordo into one room to celebrate and to educate on the opportunities and obstacles ahead. 

Speeches were delivered, levity was provided along with great food and beverages and all left knowing a community United and committed to growth and commerce makes for a stronger healthier overall community. 
“Unity is strength” was a message Center of Commerce Executive Director GB Oliver addressed in conversations and review.

The New York Avenue Main Street business corridor and its renewed commitment to renewal and rehabilitation this year is just one of many examples of strength that is demonstrated; that when Alamogordo unites around goals of success, great things can occur.  This business corridor is rebounding with new investment, new business growth and an innovative partnership between its historic elements in a collaborative nature with the Tularosa Basin Museum and Roadrunner Emporium, Victoria Alamogordo,  the cultural arts vía New York Avenue Art & Music Studio, Otero Arts and Flickinger Center and witnessed with new business growth like the Local Bodega and soon to open new businesses. This corridor is an example of innovation and partnerships across political spectrums, arts and history that can occur and shows strength within the membership of the Alamogordo  Center of Commerce to think outside the box; innovate, put partisanship aside and all grow together with a common goal that “ unity is strength.” Alamogordo Main Street is expanding its board membership to more accurately reflect the diversity of New York Avenue and Alamogordo’s business community at large and collaborating better as a result with the Center of Commerce and the city showing unity in strength from the city core in partnership.

Alamogordo is a community in the midst of a fundamental transformation with a renewed commitment to excellence at every level. We are a community on the move, staring at the greatest economic opportunities in its history and events like the “State of the Union” led by the Alamogordo Center of Commerce keep the community at large on task to build upon the fundamentals before us.

Excellent job Alamogordo Center of Commerce with your event, the vision and leadership into the years ahead. Job well done!

Photos courtesy Alamogordo Center of Commerce 

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Flickinger Center Showing of “Alamogordo Center of the World Trinity 1945”

The Flickinger Center is partnered with the Tularosa Basin Museum to proudly show – “Alamogordo, Center of the World, Trinity 1945” on April 1st at 6 pm. 

Created by Larry Sheffield and Trent DiGiulio, the film discusses how Alamogordo was chosen as the site for atomic bomb testing at what became the Trinity Site on what is now White Sands Missile Range.

The movie will start at 6pm and a Q&A will follow.

Tickets are available at the Flickinger Center box office for $10, you can also purchase the day of the show.

Event link – https://www.facebook.com/events/500806501483215/?acontext=%7B%22event_a…

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AlamogordoTownNews.com: DC Court Case Begins, Additional Lawsuits File Against Couy Griffin in New Mexico

As the case commences in Washington DC, Monday 3/21/22 on Federal charges and Griffin decides not to ride up to the courthouse by horseback as discussed previously, two other lawsuits back home in New Mexico have been filed against Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin…

New Mexico Court Case 1:

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin is now facing criminal charges in New Mexico. The “Cowboys for Trump” founder has been embroiled in a legal battle with the secretary of state since 2019 when she defined his group as a political committee.

That meant Cowboys for Trump had to register with the state and identify its major donors. Griffin sued, arguing that was a violation of his first amendment rights. A federal appeals court threw out his lawsuit.

Now, the New Mexico attorney general has filed a misdemeanor charge against Griffin for failing to register a political committee. 

The criminal complaint that was filed by the attorney general can be found here…

https://acrobat.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:4dd6abbc-469…

The AlamogordoTownNews.com staff contacted Couy Griffin for a comment on this pending case upon his return from Washington DC and his statement is as follows…

I’d like to say that if Hector Balderas was not a political hitman using his office to destroy political opponents he would be advocating for the extradition of Prince Andrew!! Prince Andrew traveled from England to New Mexico with the single objective to sexually abuse underage girls.”  Mr. Griffin continued, “Yet the Santa Fe Sheriff and New Mexico AG remain SILENT!!! Such a disgrace.”  Mr. Griffin concluded his comments with, “Absolutely print this. That POS Prince Andrew flew into our great state and sexually abused young girls who were under the age of consent. All orchestrated by Jeffrey Epstein at Zorro Ranch! The ranch formally owned by NM Governor Bruce King!!! But yet he abuses girls in our state and the Sheriff and AG let him walk?? And then the arrogant blue blooded a——  pays the girls so it shows the world if you have enough money and power you can get away with being a PEDOPHILE? America starves for justice. An no better place to state with the pervert uncle Andrew.”

New Mexico Court Case 2:  Lawsuit Filed to Remove Couy Griffin from Office

“Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin must be removed from office and disqualified from holding future public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution based on his participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection”, according to a lawsuit filed today by a group of New Mexico residents. 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the New Mexico-based law firms of Freedman, Boyd, Hollander and Goldberg, P.A, Dodd Law Office, LLC and the Law Office of Amber Fayerberg, LLC serve as co-counsel on the case, which also seeks a court order declaring the January 6th attack on the Capitol and the events surrounding it an insurrection under the 14th Amendment.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause, bars any person from holding federal or state office who took an “oath…to support the Constitution of the United States” as an “officer of any State” and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or gave “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.

Griffin has served as an Otero County Commissioner since January 2019. Upon taking office, he swore an oath to “support and uphold the Constitution and laws of the State of New Mexico, and the Constitution of the United States.,”  per the lawsuit filed. 

Link to complaint filed in the courts:

https://www.citizensforethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Griffin-Qu…

Exhibits filed against Couy Griffin in the second case per above:

https://www.citizensforethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Griffin-Qu…

WASHINGTON DC Update as of 6 pm Eastern Time

Meanwhile Couy Griffin’s federal trial began in Washington DC today. For the first time, a U.S. Secret Service agent testified publicly Monday about the underground loading dock where Vice President Mike Pence and his family were evacuated on Jan. 6.

The testimony came late in the day during the trial for Couy Griffin, a commissioner in Otero County, New Mexico, and the founder of “Cowboys for Trump” who was indicted on two misdemeanor counts in connection with the riot. Griffin chose to forgo a jury in favor of a bench trial in front of U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, which began Monday morning.

Though Griffin was charged with some of the least serious offenses among Capitol riot cases, the trial was an important test for how much the government may have to disclose to other defendants about former Vice President Mike Pence’s whereabouts on Jan. 6. Jurors in the first Jan. 6 trial of Guy Reffitt saw a brief video of Pence and his family being evacuated from a ceremonial office in the Senate Wing. But Griffin’s attorney, David Smith, pushed for far more information to be made public – arguing the vice president’s exact location at the time he entered Capitol grounds was critical to determining his guilt.

In a contentious back-and-forth, Smith asked Hawa about who decided on the security perimeter around the Capitol on Jan. 6 and whether the restricted area extended underground or would move with the vice president. After repeated objections from the DOJ, Smith angrily claimed prosecutors were attempting to stop him from asking legitimate questions — prompting assistant U.S. attorney Janani Iyengar to suggest they “bring the temperature down.”

McFadden upheld the DOJ’s objections and advised Smith to move on, telling him he’d failed to show Pence had left the restricted area — likely dooming that prong of his defense strategy.

Smith spent significant time developing a second prong, however, with the prosecution’s primary witness, Matthew Struck. Struck, a freelance videographer, traveled to D.C. with Griffin on Jan. 6. Under an immunity agreement, Struck provided the DOJ with dozens of videos of Griffin on Jan. 6, including many showing him on Capitol grounds. In one video, Griffin appeared to say Capitol Police had told members of the crowd not to enter the area being prepared for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. In another, Griffin could be heard saying things would become “less and less” peaceful if, as he believed, election laws continued not to be followed. He also lamented on multiple occasions that, “Mike Pence sold us out.”

But Struck’s testimony was far from the nail in the coffin prosecutors might have hoped. He downplayed Griffin’s involvement at the riot – saying he’d just been there to look for a place to pray – and repeatedly said he either couldn’t remember or couldn’t hear potentially inflammatory statements on video. Under cross-examination from Griffin’s attorney, Struck said Griffin told him Pence had already certified the election before they got to the Capitol – which, though not true, proved Griffin thought Pence had already left the building, Smith said.

Smith also focused in particular on questioning U.S. Capitol Police Inspector John Erickson, who the prosecution called to outline the restricted area on Jan. 6. Smith pressed Erickson on the exact contours of that area, how USCP handles Secret Service protectees and whether the Capitol Visitor’s Center was part of the building. Much of Smith’s questioning fell to objections from the DOJ, however, including a statement from another USCP officer he attempted to enter describing the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center – which is in the lower level of the Capitol – as being separate from the building. That would have been particularly helpful for Griffin, since, as Hawa testified, the vice president and his family were in the visitor’s center loading dock while Griffin was on the Capitol grounds.

Federal Court in DC ended for the day shortly before 6 p.m. with no resolution. McFadden called Hawa back for closing arguments Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Article is a collaborative sourced article with AlamogordoTownNews.com. WUSA9, Citizens for Responsible Ethics, US Department of Justice and Couy Griffin provided commentary.

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St Patrick’s Evening 5 pm onward- Chris Ward Exhibition, Vibe@5, FREE Live Music & More at Roadrunner Emporium, New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Make Thursday night, a complete night of arts and culture, live music, free foods and fun in Alamogordo. 

Start the night at 5 pm at the Granada Shopping Center, East 1st Street Alamogordo. On March 17th from 5 pm to 7 pm in the main Gallery Room Adjacent to Clay Time Pottery & Ceramics there will be an exhibition of the original works of Chris Ward. Food, refreshments and meet the artist will be happening. Chris Ward has been involved with art since he was a child winning a second-place school competition at 11 years old. Watercolors and pastels were his medium.

Next jump in your car and drop by Green Health CBD, for a St. Patrick’s Day themed Vibe@5 event hosted by the Center of Commerce. Live music by James Ethington, education, door prizes, food, beer & wine, and networking.

Finally end up at Roadrunner Emporium on the historic New York Avenue. The party at Roadrunner runs till 9 or possibly 10 pm. Featuring 4 musical talents performing for FREE.

Roadrunner Emporium is hosting its St Patrick’s Day New Issue Release Party for Influence Magazine that is FREE and OPEN to the public 6 pm until? Come see Alamogordo’s largest St Patrick’s Day tree of leprechauns and Irishness.  Wear your best Irish Green and join in the fun. The evening will showcase 4 live performers singing and playing live instrumental music from 6 pm to 9 pm. Picacho Brewing Company will be serving wonderful free appetizers, free beverages and more. 

A live remote from KALH radio hosts will be out front of the shop at 928 New York Avenue 6 pm to 8 pm, interviewing our local celebrities, artists, Influence Magazine article contributors, and more. 

Meet the editor; Meike Schwarz and the publisher; Cedric Fisher. Meet some of the artist of Roadrunner Emporium and New York Avenue to include spinning artist Linda Swenson spinning yarns on location, meet Delia Lopez Holloway a local acrylics painter whose works have been on display throughout New Mexico, Linda Howard whose collectibles from Capitan have been showcased for generations.

Coach Robert Sepulveda the most award-winning track and field coach in Alamogordo’s history will be on site as featured in Influence Magazine. Also on site will be the legendary owners of New York Avenue Art and Music Studio; Lydia Aspen and Emmanul Renteria to bring wonderous smiles to anyone in their presence. 

Come join the FREE fun, the live music, be entertained, enjoy some free snacks and beverages, and shop on New York Avenues crossroads of art, culture, music, history and commerce 928 New York Avenue’s Roadrunner Emporium 6 pm to 9 pm. 

Live singers include Lenore Whitney, Influence Magazine showcased performers and more. Come on down 6 pm to 9 pm Thursday. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Ronda Merrick’s Crusade to Bring Low-Cost Veterinary Care to Alamogordo

The Alamogordo City Commission meeting is scheduled for 3/8/2022 and County Commission Meeting on 3/22/22 at 9 am, Ronda Merrick and others are seeking public support for her comments to be presented to seek a solution for affordable care for Alamogordo’s dog and cat population. The community has an extreme issue of over population of dogs and cats leading to strays and at-risk animals. Further there is no local emergency vet service in the area nor affordable alternatives for individuals that may be elderly or on fixed incomes to provide affordable health care to their animals.

Per Mrs. Merrick, “The local shelters remain full most of the time. Even with the rescue agencies doing the huge job of removing animals from our local shelters and getting them to no kill shelters we continue to find our animal control facilities full.”

Alamogordo has no emergency vet available around the clock and in an emergency, citizens are advised to go to El Paso or possibly Ruidoso which is often too far to transport a sick or injured animal and in cases of those with limited incomes or some elderly too far to transport nor affordable. 

The facts are the average spay and neutering is $400 at most local vets but for low/fixed income vets charge $100 but typically limit the number at this rate per month.

As Alamogordo’s population continues to age and the number of retires moving to the town increases then the need for this service becomes even more important.

It is a fact that animals help with the mental health of the elderly, shut ins and at-risk youth.  It is shameful for a community not to offer affordable health care for animals to the elderly, shut ins and at-risk communities. Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Some of the health benefits of having a pet include decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, decreased feelings of loneliness and increased opportunities for socialization.

Per the American Medical Association, “having a pet helps elderly get out of the house, exercise, meet new people, reduce stress, etc. For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn.”

Dogs and Cats can help ease anxiety by motivating one to get better. Studies have shown that animal-assisted therapy can decrease anxiety and pain, lower blood pressure and help alleviate depression while offering welcome companionship and a positive distraction from treatment schedules and worries. Caring for a 4-legged friend can help distract you the day-to-day realities that may lead to depression you deal with while being sick.

A study conducted with head and neck cancer patients at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City found that although their physical well-being deteriorated during chemotherapy, patients who spent time with a therapy dog or cat before each treatment reported an increase in their emotional and social well-being.

An example of loss…

Shortly after Bobby’s father died of kidney cancer, his mother’s golden Labrador retriever mix – was diagnosed with a rapidly growing tumor of the blood vessels. The pup had been healthy and suddenly health problems, Bobby and his mother was distraught. They proceeded to find a local vet to see the animal, but none was available for over a month. They talked to one on the phone and he said once an appointment is made tests would run upward of $5,000 and no guarantee of success in saving the pup. 

That’s not an uncommon scenario in veterinary medicine especially in rural communities,” said Dr. David Owens, veterinarian and professor of clinical pathology in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis.

If you ask most veterinarians the hardest thing they do, it’s telling the senior man or woman that comes in, having just lost a significant other or spouse or partner, that now their animal, dog or cat and an important part of the family is sick as well and that it is probably above their means to pay for a fix to the animals health,” he said. “Those conversations … they just tear the heart out of you.”

What choices do the elderly, lower income individuals and those needing the companionship of animals have in Alamogordo or Otero County for affordable health care for their animals?

Alamogordo has limited options at best, but Ronda Merrick is presenting an alternative to the City and County to work in collaboration with a non-profit or private individuals and create a real solution with city and county government leadership. Per Ronda’s proposal, “the city and county should work together and hire a City/County Vet that would be affordable for the elderly and those individuals on fixed incomes to provide spay and neutering services and emergency services for animals. An option would be for local vets to participate as well and rotate in as on call emergency vets at the agreed to affordable rate for services. There is a property located at 19 Acoma Rd off of Zuni once used by Animal Rescue Mission. Per the Secretary of State’s Office filings, the non-profit owning the building is NOT in good standing with the state and possibly the city and county should investigate a joint purchase of the shelter facility as an alternative to provide relief to the local overrun shelters with an affordable and well thought out facility as an alternative.”

The fact is Alamogordo has a problem with affordable emergency care for the fur babies of those with limited financial means. Our 4-legged friends provide emotional health support for at risk and the elderly as well as a larger population in Alamogordo. Alamogordo needs affordable options and Ms. Merrick is presenting a solution for consideration. Public feedback on this concerning issue is requested. Please attend the city and county commission meetings and or send emails and comments into your local city commission representatives and county commission leaders.

Alamogordo City Commission Contact Information:

Paul, NickDistrict OneEmail Nick Paul805-728-5715
Melton, KarlDistrict Three RepresentativeEmail Karl Melton575-214-9347
McDonald, SharonDistrict Five RepresentativeEmail Sharon McDonald575-446-9910
Payne, Susan L.MayorEmail Susan L. Payne575-214-0024
Rardin, JoshDistrict Four RepresentativeEmail Josh Rardin575-434-0720
Burnett, StephenDistrict TwoEmail Stephen Burnett
Wright, DustyMayor Pro-Tem, District Six RepresentativeEmail Dusty Wright575-430-3395

Alamogordo County Contact Information:

Let’s support solutions to affordable health care for our fur babies. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com: Book launches, Authors Showcased and a New Magazine Launch all from Alamogordo’s New York Avenue…

New York Avenue’s Cultural Arts and History District via New York Avenue Art and Music Studio and Roadrunner Emporium, Otero Artspace. and other unique business interests, are helping to foster the growth of artisans, artists’, and entrepreneurs. Another important mission of this district’s success in building a bridge of culture to commerce, is the support to local authors via book launches, author showcases, author workshops and assistance in marketing and showcasing of local authors.

Over the last several months a plethora of authors have been featured and/or conducted “meet the author events” and have scheduled book signings. Others have conducted readings at the venues of New York Avenue and at Otero Arts on Indiana Avenue, and yet another new publication of grand quality to rival New Mexico Magazine has launched, off of Alamogordo’s New York Avenue, Southeastern New Mexico’s Influence Magazine.”

Alamogordo has a variety of stories to tell from a variety of sources and viewpoints. Recently showcased authors offered a spectrum of pros from factual history to children’s books, faith based, fictional snippets and short stores and self-help to a magazine that celebrates culture and diversity.

Local authors of recent include…

Josette Herrell

Local Historian and Tularosa Basin Museum Board Member Josette Herrell is a newly published author of children’s stories. Her first work to appear on New York Avenue is titled “Timmy’s Big Adventure.” The illustrations to this wonderfully fun children’s book were completed by local artist Diana Sill who is known locally for her “Create the Great Masterpiece” Classes she conducts monthly at Roadrunner Emporium and other locations within the region. Ms. Josette Herrell has lived in Southern New Mexico since 1948. When a relative sent her an old box of family photos, she started putting pictures and stories together. Knowing those stories could be lost to future generations, she decided to write a book about family. Her first “family” book was published in 2019. Although Timmy’s Big Adventure is a children’s bool based on a family event. At the age of 81, Ms. Herrell continues to enjoy writing family books and supporting the history of Alamogordo. Ms. Herrell’s passion for history is on display daily when visiting New York Avenue as much of the preservation of its history and stories is thanks to her commitment to the Alamogordo community.

BJ Oquist

Barbara J Oquist grew up on 120 acres of farmland in Missouri. This acreage she explains was truly a “family farm” meaning it was complete with a garden, pets, farm animals and more. As an adult she worked for the state of Minnesota for 26 years. After her and her husband’s retirement they relocated to New Mexico to enjoy the sunshine and natural wonders of the southwest. Between her and her husband they have 5 children and eleven grandchildren. She was inspired to write a children’s book after attending a writing group at Christ Community Church. Her locally marketed book is titled, “Farmer Jon’s Very Special Team.” Her first array into the world of children’s books is a charming fictional children’s book in which two horses fall in love and is based upon a team of horses that Oquist’s father owned when she was a child. She told the Alamogordo New in an interview, “he got them when they were young, and it talks a little bit about their training process and some of the things he learned along the way while he was training them.” Mrs. Oquist’s book was also illustrated by Alamogordo artist Diana Sill.

Dennis Swift

Locals in Alamogordo may remember Dennis Swift for when he was a student at Alamogordo High. During Dennis’s tenure at Alamogordo High, he won multiple Cross Country and Track and Field medals over the years and received multiple academic awards including recognition in the National Honor Society. Today, Dennis Swift is the pastor of the Church of All Nations in Portland Oregon He regularly guides group tours of South American archaeological sites. Dennis received multiple degrees including his B.A. and M. Div. from Point Loma Nazarene University and his Th.D. from the University of South Africa. He pursued Indian studies at the University of New Mexico and Western New Mexico University. Dennis has pursued archaeological work in Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Cambodia, Turkmenistan, Israel, and the American Southwest. He has traveled to Peru over a dozen times. Dennis gained national notoriety for his book, “Secrets of the Ica Stones and Nazca Lines” available online and locally on New York Avenue at the Roadrunner Emporium.

The thesis of the book is Proof that Dinosaurs and Man Lived Together. It is a fascinating collection of information obtained from ancient Peruvian cultural artifacts which offers a theory that men and dinosaurs lived together in South American within the last 2,000 years. The author, Dennis Swift, first came upon the Ica Stones more than thirty years ago; he was tempted to dismiss the stones because he had been taught that men and dinosaurs had missed each other by about 65 million years. However, their presence in Peruvian museums intrigued him. The stones in the museums show carvings of men and various animals, including extinct fish and llamas, and dinosaurs. Although the carvings are supposed to be hundreds or thousands of years old, the detailed positions and features of the dinosaurs were not known to modern science until recently. Dennis with his theory has been featured in many media outlets including Coast to Coast AM and with William Shatner on the Discovery Channel & National Geographic’s, Weird or What!

Robert M. Pollack

Locally some know Robert M. Pollack for his musical CD’s of gospel songs, others for his evangelism and others for his writings. Roadrunner Emporium on New York Avenue and a host of other area businesses offer the works of Mr. Pollack. Mr. Pollack was born on November 1st, 1944, in Oakland California to Manuel and Julietta Pollack, and he was raised in Albuquerque New Mexico. Robert was number 13 of a family of 15. He graduated from Albuquerque High school in 1963 and joined the Air Force that same year. He spent time in Viet Nam, all over Southeast Asia, Europe, and Egypt, as well as numerous places in the United States. Robert retired from the Air Force in 1983. He received Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior in 1980 and was baptized with The Holy Spirit while on tour in Egypt. He speaks and also writes in tongues. He’s turned his spiritual writings into an art form. He loves the written word. Robert writes and sings his own songs where ever the Lord leads him. He has written around 750 songs. Robert has eight children, six Grand Children and 17 Great Grand Children, and still counting. He is married to Concepcion Pollack.

Mr. Pollack’s book available at Roadrunner Emporium is titled, The Sixth- and Seventh-Day Man, A Trilogy.”

This trilogy of 3 books in one begins Book One: The Time of Adam and Eve…

In chapter 1 of the book of Genesis, God the Father creates a male and a female and blesses them and tells them to go out and replenish the world. He gives them everything His hands have created. These people of the Father God almost destroy themselves and create a weapon that, when discharged, covers the earth with a thick cloud and pigments their skin white. God the Father rests on the seventh day. In chapter 2 of the book of Genesis, the Lord God forms a man on the seventh day, places him in a garden, and forbids him from eating of the tree of life. When Adam and Eve are cast out of the garden, they come face-to-face with the Sixth Day Man. The Seventh-Day Man Adam and his wife Eve, their children, and their decedents are dark skinned and clash with the white race of the Sixth Day people. Adam and Eve, who were formed on the Seventh Day by the Lord God, live on the Land of Adam where gopher wood grows. The Sixth-Day Man lives in the city of Eden, which is ruled by Emperor Rama Dan Doo. They worship the god Ramah. Adam and Eve worship the Lord God.

Book Two: The Time of Enoch

This book continues the battles that the descendants of Adam and Eve must endure because of the color of their skin and their love for the Lord God. They are enslaved and treated horribly by the white-skinned people of the world. The city of Eden and the great city of Enoch are built on the backs of the children of Adam and Eve.

Book Three: The Time of Noah

The days of Noah mirrors our time in brutality and crime. The book is set into the future with anti-gravitational vehicles called click-clacks and carts. Noah and his wife, who is his sister, along with his father and grandfather, return to the Land of Adam, and God tells him to build an ark. When Noah tells the world what God has planned, he and his family are laughed at, but Noah continues to build with help. He has encounters with Satan, who tries to discourage him. This book may be a bit intense for the younger readers. The scriptural verses in The Sixth- and Seventh-Day Man are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

Rochelle Willams

Rochelle Williams is an accomplished published writer of short stories and snippets that have been printed on a variety of forums. In partnership with Otero Arts and the New York Avenue business of Roadrunner Emporium Ms. Willams’ first complete book a collection of snippets is about to come to life. The book entitled, “Acts of Love and Ruin” will be publicly released on April 30th. “Rochelle Williams is a writer with remarkable talent. She weaves the emotional lives of her characters with a palette of words that results in a true literary art form. Her stories range over life in the way a painter would range over a canvas–brilliant and colorful with striking designs. Here is an author everyone should read. A fine collection of stories.” Mark Conking -Author of Prairie Dog Blues and Killer Whale Blues

Rochelle Williams lives in southern New Mexico. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in, Chokecherries, Desert Exposure, Earthships: A New Mecca Poetry Collection, Menacing Hedge, The MacGuffin, Packingtown Review, and other journals. Her fiction has won two Southwest Writers Workshop competitions, Recursos de Santa Fe’s Discovery Reading Series, and Women on Writing’s Spring 2020 Flash Fiction contest. She holds an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is working on a novel about the French early modernist painter, Pierre Bonnard. In addition to writing Ms. Williams is a photographer. Rochelle Williams’ photograph titled “Winter, Half-Moon Bay” was featured along with multiple other artists works, recently at the Otero ArtSpace Winter Showcase of regional artists.

Chris Edwards & Rene Sepulveda

Authors, Chris Edwards and Rene Sepulveda have created a partnership of written works around the athletic programs of Alamogordo High School. The central character to their book series is Coach Bob Sepulveda and his success as the winningest coach in Alamogordo History. However, the book series digs into the years prior to Sepulveda’s arrival to include the formation of interscholastic sports in Alamogordo in 1912 to present day. In addition to the history of Alamogordo sports this team of authors has crafted books around the world of positivity as a self-help series titled, “90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle”, the team also have crafted several books around self-publishing, a public policy book on government overreach in licensing and is finalizing a book on social media marketing.

Meike Schwarz and Cedric Fisher, editor, and publisher of Southeastern New Mexico’s Influence Magazine

Meike Schwarz, editor, has been a real estate professional for over 23 years, 10 years as owner/broker of Welcome Home Realty on New York Avenue, Alamogordo. In 2021, Meike embarked on a new venture combining her love for people and storytelling: becoming editor of Southeastern New Mexico’s INFLUENCE Magazine. Meike hopes to highlight the best and brightest community leaders, business icons, and diversity figures both inside and beyond Alamogordo.

Cedric D. Fisher, publisher, is a 40-year career publishing executive, a leading publishing authority, author, and instructor having lead publishing operations in New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Antonio. Cedric’s a professional speaker, and he and his team also conduct online writing and publishing workshops. He is the CEO and founder of Cedric D Fisher & Company Publishers.

Launched from New York Avenue, Alamogordo, Southeastern New Mexico’s Influence Magazine mission is to elevate the influential forces in Southeastern New Mexico arenas to promote diverse agendas with multimedia features on family, business development, culture, economic development and environmental awareness, fashion, music, religion, inspiration, and educational, artistic, and technological achievements, supplier/workforce diversity and business development. The inaugural issue was launched in January. The April/May issue is soon to be released with a planned community release party scheduled for St Patrick’s Day, March 17th at Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue. This release party will showcase the wonders of the newest edition, live music and green libations will be served and more.

Each of the books and magazine showcased above are available at Roadrunner Emporium on New York Avenue.

New York Avenue is fast becoming the rededicated crossroads to cultural arts, history and commerce. Come on down and support the hundreds of local small business entrepreneurs, artisans and AUTHORS represented in the variety of shops on Alamogordo’s Main Street New York Avenue. Alamogordo’s New York Avenue is Alamogordo Main Street.  

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AlamogordoTownNews.com An Intimate Look at Lydia Aspen & Emmanual Renteria & New York Avenue Art & Music Studio

Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve met someone new or brought someone into your circle and have this immediate and deep connection – sometimes to the point of being able to anticipate what they are feeling, as if they’ve been in your life before?

Often this can mean “they have been” in a spiritual sense, as this kind of ‘instant karma’ we feel with certain people is exactly that. Spirituality and fate can be an interesting experience and when one encounters it, it can feel karmic like that there was a past life connection.

As a sceptic of such events and of most of the “supernatural world,” it can be unsettling, at first, when confronted with such an experience.

When smacked with it, at first, we encounter a level of comfort and feeling that we already ‘know’ someone, when getting to know them better it them becomes an affirmation that we are merely catching up with our shared history, and our paths again cross, as faith would have it, and that is what has carried our energy across the millennium.

Recently, we have encountered such feelings, unsettling at first, yet joyous when the feeling is affirmed through conversations, and we can feel what the other person is feeling with just a look or a smile.

That unsettling, yet joyous connection, is what we made with the artisans of Lydia Aspen and Emmanual Renteria. We’ve shared glasses of wine and other novelties of indulgence in the past, and with each encounter our laughter, appreciation and admiration of our shared paths grow.

This past weekend the couple was gracious to allow AlamogordoTownNews.com into their gallery space at 1120 New York Avenue and to dive into their history or evolution as artisans, the Alamogordo community and New Mexico. The community of Alamogordo is just beginning to recognize the value they bring to Southern New Mexico and well beyond, and the best is yet to come with their partnership of love.

We began with a glass of champagne and red wine, then took a deep dive into their past and skirted the future. We discussed their vision of Alamogordo’s New York Avenue, and the role of the artisan community in Alamogordo’s future but more importantly to this article today their shared bits of their history that led to the evolution of who they are today.

We asked if they would allow us, to pry, and get to know their history prior to opening the art gallery at 1120 New York Avenue, Alamogordo and what motivated their passions for the cultural arts.

Lydia Aspen

Lydia Aspen born in Minnesota. Independent and on her own by the age of 12. A life lived that would represent five, possibly ten, lives of others. Her’s is a story, that for many young girls turns out to be far different than her own and far darker. Her’s however, is a story of survival, resilience, deep emotions and compassion, and how artistic expression can be curing not only for a victim but also for those fortunate enough to cross paths with such a power of energy. Lydia Aspen is just that, a force of energy that dreams it, lives it, embraces it, and always from the heart.

From the age of 12 to 20 years of age; Lydia learned the art of survival. In and out of a variety of homes and the streets, passed off from her mom and others, Lydia’s energy shined and carried her forward. Others in similar circumstances would have broken, not Lydia, instead she channeled her strength from within, found her passion in a variety of artistic forms, grasped complex psychological concepts, and ran forward with a path of heartfelt expression and love of others channeled through artistic expression.

At Age of 21, she was living in Kansas City and at that age founded her own art gallery. Not only was it an art gallery but it was more of an artisan colony where she taught dance, created abstracts, and held all forms of performance art with collaborative artisans.

During her lifelong journey of artist and gallery owner, Lydia has grown. She grew in how to express herself, and work through her inner and real-world demons that have chased her peace and happiness. As an observer, it appears she has now found her inner and outer peace and a partner that provides her true happiness.

Her life is a life that is a checkerboard of many lives and adventures lived, with learning along the way. Much success and acclaim has come her way, accolades from afar, for the good she created, and the positive impact she made on those around her.

Her journey carried her into the world of academia via her performance art and her natural understanding of psychology and human instinct. Beginning around 1980, and onward she has conducted classes and workshops with an understanding of human relationships and behaviors as the core.

For Truman Medical Center as a very young woman, she conducted classes to include Hemispheric Lateralization, Doctor Patient Relationship Skills, Conflict Resolutions etc. using art, music, mime, movement, and role playing as the canvas to instruction. By 1997, in addition to performance art and art on canvas, she was conducting classes at Baker University School of Professional and Graduate Studies such as “Psychological and Physiological Interactions in Human Development.”

As an instructor she incorporated performance to combine education with aesthetics. Via her “Journey through Madness” performance piece she carried attendees through performance of the conflicts that each person may face. She used two characters Annie Lytical and Clara Voyant – to examine how people deal with opposition, conflict resolution and how this affects personal development.

Her two “characters” carried her forward in life and opened many interesting doors in journey of artistic and educational development.

We asked Ms. Aspen if these two characters were manifestations of her own personality? She said these two personalities eventually molded into one and helped her evolve into the accomplished person she is today. She said there was a time in her life that she felt that; “I didn’t deserve to be in a room with humans.” Ms. Aspen expressed that her artistic expression and working through the world via her characters has allowed her to evolve but, “that feeling never completely goes away.”

Well, rooms full of humans over the years have embraced the worth of Lydia Aspen, and that of her artistic expression and creations. Over the years her works have evolved and hundreds of her works are in the hands of collectors, the world over. She is an accomplished artist and when we asked her what work she was proudest of, she responded was that her work she titled “Lady Liberty.”

This piece in full color shows the statue of Liberty with flames engulfing her in the lower half of the painting, yet lady liberty, is pregnant and has her sullen face of determination. The piece was created prior to 9-11 and was considered controversial, yet after 9-11 the work took on a whole new meaning to those that viewed the art piece as an “expression of rebirth and renewal arising from the flames of terror.” The painting was on display at Artisan Alley in Cloudcroft for a period and then traveled with a group that was dealing with PTSD for a period, and was a piece used as a part of a suicide prevention campaign. The work has traveled across the country, been showcased in a museum in El Paso. The piece has brought acclaim in a variety of showings across the country and is now believed to be in a private collection.

When Lydia Aspen was asked what of her lifetime collection of works meant the most to her; she immediately told us the story of how she was teaching at a professional conference at an event hosting the Scientist of Unexplained Phenonium in Cuernavaca Mexico. The divide of wealth was disturbing to her but an event during this conference would have an impact on her that lasted a lifetime forward. She was asked to attend a day trip to an area church. On the property, she encountered a large bronze sculpture, of a young girl holding a rabbit and she felt the piece of artwork in “the core of her being.”

Lydia had once owned a rabbit that meant much to her. It got out and was the center of attention between a German Shepard that grabbed it, a Coon Hound that also found interest and her wolf. Eventually the wolf won it. She received it back from the wolf, wounded and paralyzed but not completely out of sorts. She nursed the rabbit to some semblance of health, carried it around in a pouch for quite some time on her being. She always felt a connection to the rabbit, thus the rabbit and the girl sculpture we see glimpses of her inner self. 

When the artistic creations of Lydia Aspen from the “Rabbit Girl” series are viewed one is left to wonder if the rabbit, or the rabbit and the girl, was symbolic to events in her own life, and rather the symbolism impacted her art forms and creativity. The answer would be presumptive of this writer to say yes, but as the years moved forward to the present rabbit girl has evolved and so too has the artist, Lydia Aspen.

From those spiritual connections, Lydia creates a series of paintings, sculptures, and other works around the “Rabbit Girl”. Each of her works has a young girl with big eyes as a prominent feature. When one concentrates on the artistic creation; one can feel the girls’ emotions through her eyes communicated through the work. With each creation, the girl is holding or in the accompaniment of a rabbit. Since the series began, Lydia has created over 100 pieces of art around the theme of the Girl and the Rabbit.

Lydia Aspen is a very accomplished artist, a free spirit, passionate and full of energy. When asked what is the proudest thing to happen to her and what has made her happiest? A big smile crosses her face, and she points to the man that was to her right, Emmanuel Renteria. She said the best thing to happen to her was “this man.”

Who is this man, Emmanuel Renteria?

Some in Alamogordo know him as a contractor, others as an owner of significant real estate, others as the guy that plays the drums, the guys that loves art, a graduate of Alamogordo High School that did well, but who is he, and how is he connected to New York Avenue and to Lydia Aspen?

Emmanual Renteria claims his life is “a lot less interesting than Lydia’s” and is a bit shy and quiet when it comes to telling his story. He shines her into the spotlight when in a conversation with the two of them, though when one wonders around and views their shared gallery and home, one can see both are very colorful and complementary beings that love and respect one another immensely.

We asked Emmanual about his upbringing and what brought him to become a leader in the cultural arts community of Alamogordo’s New York Avenue. He shrugs and is shy and then proceeds to explain his formative years. He was raised in Europe, born in Austria till around the age of 16 when his family settled in Alamogordo as a final home. From an early age he always has loved music and is very partial to the drums. As a youngster Emmanuels mother encouraged him to learn music, however it was not the drums, that he is passionate about, she had him learn on the accordion.

Emmanuel said, “my brother would be outside playing baseball and mom had me practicing the accordion.”

That passion would evolve over the years as he learned to master a variety of instruments from ear with a great passion for the drums. He has a collection of multiple grand piano’s, string instruments and drums to even include a set of drums that traveled on the road with the entertainer, “Prince.”

He once channeled into a potential past life and said, “I envisioned myself on the African Dysphoria playing the drums to communicate with my brother via the beat in a neighboring tribe.”

Rather his talents evolved from a past life or are just a natural gift one thing is clear, he is a many of artistic talents both is music and on canvas. Be that canvas a natural canvas as witnessed by an early painting he shared with us, or the canvas of a scene created with a variety of elements, mediums, colors, and lighting. He sets a stage or scene, and it gets attention and is a form of artistic expression.

As the years progressed Emmanuel graduated from Alamogordo High School, married, served in Germany when drafted into the military. He was successful in each of his varied careers but always had a flair for artistic expression in the work he did.

While in college he continued to learn about music and participated in bands from his college days to the present. He does not read music but is a composer and an accomplished musician with talent that exceeds many classically trained musicians.

While in the military he played in bands which on many occasions kept him from trouble with the officers that respected his musical talents. When his squad would march, he would play the drums and play special rim shots that made his squad almost dance on their marches. The squad and commanders loved his artistic flair.

After leaving the military he moved back to Alamogordo and was a contractor. He built houses and spent 5 ½ years at White Sands building 20-foot to 100-foot towers that the military would use for “target practice and blow them up.”

Emmanual was a savvy investor and purchased land and real estate around Otero County and for many years lived in High Rolls where he and his wife acquired the Spruce Cabins and rented them.

His passion has always been creativity and exploring music, colors, and textures. When he built houses, he put in the finest of fixtures and textures and build homes that other builders had difficulty emulating or competing with, due to their high design elements.

Over the last decade, Emmanuel Renteria has honed into his artistic side and acquired the former Coke Plant on New York Avenue. From that location he purchased from an area doctor, he has built it into a wonderland of gardens, performance space and a home unmatched in Alamogordo for artistic design, color, and flair.

His wife died about 15 years ago and as such he has channeled much energy into creativity since her passing. He served briefly as the artistic director for the Flickinger Center and has become a huge advocate for the arts and a renewal of the New York Avenue corridor.

Lydia Aspen claims the best thing to happen to her was meeting the “shinning inspiration of Emmanuel.”

We asked how that meeting happened and she said it was simple. She had her gallery on New York Avenue, and he was entering his house one day, and she hollered over to him and asked if he owned that building. Emmanual responded he did, and they started talking. From that simple conversation was “a spark of energy between the two of them that has evolved into a beautiful partnership.” That partnership is one of mutual respect and admiration and of building a life together that evolves with love each day.

The two now live together in a partnership of love in the big “Coke Plant” on New York Avenue near the Flickinger Center and have made it into a beautiful home together. They have created a Lydia Emmanual Productions which owns the wonderfully eclectic gallery at 1120 New York Avenue called New York Avenue Art and Music. Together they are actively pursuing a variety of projects showcasing artists, expanding an appreciation for artistic design via advocacy and leadership and investing in the revitalization of New York Avenue with their own art studio, energy, and flair.

The New York Avenue business community and the community at large is thrilled to collaborate and engage with Emmanuel and Lydia. Look forward to a prosperous turnaround of New York Avenue with their artistic flair and leadership as a key component to reinvention of this historic district into a destination location.

Upcoming Events by Lydia Emmanual Productions:

Lydia and Emmanual’s, New York Avenue Art & Music Studio has partnered with Roadrunner Emporium for an April 30th night of artistic expression to be showcased at the Patrons Hall. The April Evening Under the Stars Gala event will showcase artisans from both galleries, culinary arts, live performance art, special celebrity guests and more. This will be a gala event like Alamogordo has not seen in years, showcasing a huge variety of artistic forms of expression in a fun and uniquely unforgettable evening.

Mark your calendar for this first of many collaborations between these two artistic enterprises to be showcased at Patrons Hall on April 30th.

Thank you; Lydia and Emmanuel, for opening your hearts and your home to our interview and to sharing your story with us and the Alamogordo community. It’s been said that “Fate controls who walks into our life.” The Alamogordo community is fortunate to have these two talented individuals engaged and “walk into our lives”.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Couy Griffin & Cowboys for Trump to re-File Based on 10th Circuit U.S. C

The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals declined to reverse the U.S. District Court’s dismissal of Cowboys for Trump’s allegation that New Mexico’s Campaign Reporting Act was unconstitutional as reported yesterday.

The AlamogordoTownNews.com staff reached out to Couy Griffin for comment, and he said: “I just got off the phone with council. We are going to clean up the complaint and re-file. We are also going to file a stay to prevent the state from applying the fine and penalties of about $7800 until the complaint is revisited.”

Opening the door for the ruling to be overturned the court suggested a potential path forward when it said:

“We will not disturb the district court’s ruling because plaintiffs failed to include allegations in their complaint related to registration and forfeited these arguments without arguing plain error,” the Feb.15 ruling stated. “Had (Cowboys for Trump) included the allegations made for the first time in their reply brief in their complaint or made similar arguments in their opening brief, the challenge to the registration requirement may have been preserved. But they did not do so.”

The initial suit filed was filed by Cowboys for Trump in 2020 after an arbitration between the two parties found that Cowboys for Trump fell under the jurisdiction of the Campaign Reporting Act.

Cowboys for Trump was founded by Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin who has been viewed by some as a lightning rod of controversy.  Griffin has been the organization’s spokesman since its inception and has led the organization in appearances around the country to include a visit with then President Donald Trump. 

Based upon the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals statement and the pending re-filing, Couy Griffin was feeling upbeat in relation to this case as it rewinds through the courts. 

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