According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research 20 percent of the vets who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffers from either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. 19.5 percent of vets in these two categories have experienced a traumatic brain injury. These three service-related disorders alone have an enormous impact on the demand for veteran mental health treatment.
Veteran mental health services are essential to help our returning vets recover from their combat experiences and mental health issues related to their military service. There are a number of troubling statistics which show that enough is not being done and that many of our veterans are not receiving the care that they deserve in this area.
A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that only 50 percent of returning vets who need veteran mental health treatment will receive these services.
Both active-duty service members and veterans face barriers to treatment for mental health issues. Some of the barrier’s veterans face, identified by the USGAO and other sources, include:
Personal embarrassment about service-related mental disabilities
Long wait times to receive mental health treatment
Shame over needing to seek mental health treatment
Fear of being seen as weak
Stigma associated with mental health issues
A lack of understanding or lack of awareness about mental health problems and treatment options
Logistical problems, such as long travel distances to receive this type of care
Concerns over the veteran mental health treatment offered by the VA
Demographic barriers and false perceptions based on these demographics such as age or gender
According to the American Psychological Association, 22 percent of veterans sought veteran mental health treatment in the private sector rather than getting help from the VA. That number has increased along with wait times at many of the VA mental health facilities around the country.
The general statistic for suicide is that 22 veterans a day will commit suicide. This staggering stat shows a significant hole in the system of recovery for our vets and a gap in services and prevention servicing those at-risk returning veterans.
As such communities and community groups across the nation are working to bring awareness to the suicide rates. In Alamogordo two Motorcycle Clubs have paired up for the past several years to bring awareness and raise funds for Veterans issues.
The US Veterans Motorcycle Club and Slate Riders together are hosting their annual LIVE. RIDE. REPEAT Fundraiser and Awareness Campaign to Combat Suicide. This jointly sponsored and hosted event will be held May 14th, 2022, with registration at Liberty Cycles, 649 Hwy 70 W, Alamogordo, New Mexico from 10 am to 12 noon.
The ride will travel around the area with 75 or more bikers and other reminding the public of Suicide Awareness and raising funds. The ride will end at the VFW Post #7686, 700 Hwy 70 West, Alamogordo, New Mexico. The fee to participate is $20.00 a single rider, $15.00 for each additional passenger, and yes cars are also welcome to this fundraising and awareness building event.
Lynn Kimball is the founder of the Slate Riders. The Slate organization was created in the memory of Lynn’s son, Slate, who succumbed to suicide. Lynn as a caregiver had several foster children over the years and Slate became a Kimball as a true son to Lynn and her family. Slate struggled over the years with depression, and as an adult at age of 24, he took his life via a gunshot to the head. Slate left his favorite bike a Suzuki 750 behind for his mother.
Lynn told this reporter the story about one of her fondest memories with Slate was that he encouraged his mom one day to ride with him. Together they rode into the sunset and surpassed a speed together of 100 MPH. Lynn said she “fell in love with riding thanks to Slate.” She said that Slate “taught me to really live. He taught me to love and live through the motorcycle.”
So, upon his death his mom, Lynn, took his moto up as a mission. During his funeral several bikes appeared in his honor. His friends and his mom Lynn, then decided to create a memory ride and an awareness ride in his honor. The first ride had 15 to 20 riders and subsequently the ride partnered with the U.S. Veterans Bike Club and expanded. Prior events had around 70 to 80 riders. This year’s event is expecting at least 75 participants.
The US Veterans Motorcycle Club is a 501C3 nonprofit organization and partnered with Lynn due to her compelling story in partnership on the cause. Lynn Kimball speaks typically during registration, passes out pamphlets and educates on suicide awareness.
The US Veterans Motorcycle Club started in 2007 in New York and expanded across the US. The Alamogordo chapter was chartered in 2018 with a mission of veterans helping veterans. If a veteran needs assistance the club tries to point them in the direction of a solution either directly or via its network and affiliations. Money raised in the past has helped with calls for assistance from building a roof for an at-risk veteran to raising awareness. The US Veterans Motorcycle Club was chosen in the past by the Alamogordo 100 Women that Care and the funding was allocated to sponsor 3 Vets for an Honor Flight.
The organization tries to keep the money and support primarily in the local Otero County community but has helped other veterans in need when it could.
The organization has supported the Patriot Guard Riders and USVMC has helped them with their mission, to protect the families during funerals of fallen veterans. They have also joined them in parades and other local events.
The organization is a member of the Southern New Mexico Council of Motorcycle Clubs and Independents. It keeps its eye on legislation that can impact the biking community in general.
This 2022 collaborative event is even more energized as the 4th annual event because last years was not held in person due to Covid issues. This years’ event is titled “Live. Ride. Repeat…” to learn more about this event visit https://www.facebook.com/usvmcnm or Instant message on that page. Or you may call Ryan Nowaczck the President of the USVMC Alamogordo at 254-833-4901 and leave a message. Be patient if calling as he may be in the air flying in service to our country.
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Alamogordo MainStreet, in a press released today, announced that Nolan Ojeda has been hired as the new Director for the nonprofit focused on economic development in Alamogordo’s downtown historic district.
Mr. Ojeda has hit the ground running during his first week in the position by working with the board in its monthly board meeting, conducting several one-on-one meetings with merchants and today meeting with the senior leadership of the City of Alamogordo.
According to the press release from Alamogordo MainStreet…
Mr. Ojeda is originally from Las Cruces; Ojeda’s passion lies in community building. As a downtown merchant on New York Ave., Ojeda and his wife run The Local Bodega, a shop and small business incubator that features local makers and artisans. Ojeda’s experience also includes Mechanical Engineering and Project Management with the US Navy. This background makes Ojeda uniquely positioned to understand the needs of the downtown businesses and implement Alamogordo MainStreet’s Economic Transformation Strategies through the New Mexico MainStreet Four Point Approach -Economic Vitality, Promotion, Organization and Design.
Cindy Boylan, President of Alamogordo MainStreet, is excited to welcome Ojeda, “The Alamogordo MainStreet Board of Directors was unanimous in our decision for a new Executive Director. We are looking forward to Nolan’s leadership in facilitating an aggressive agenda and multiple events, starting with our Atomicon Cosplay Event on May 14th.”
Ojeda’s hiring comes as the nonprofit is poised to bring back the first full calendar of in person events since the start of the pandemic, as well as implementation of the Great Blocks Grant Program and creation of an Arts and Cultural District, both of which have the potential to bring major monetary investments into the local economy.
Ojeda is also very excited for his new role, “I’m thrilled to be a part of the efforts to revitalize downtown. I look forward to working with our passionate and talented board, as well as New Mexico MainStreet and the City of Alamogordo, to get closer to creating a space downtown for people to enjoy and small businesses to thrive. I’m up for the challenge to move the organization forward on its ambitious goals and a transition that will make the community proud.”
Alamogordo MainStreet and the Downtown Merchants of New York Avenue have several events planned the end of April and into May to entice and entertain the community…
April 30, New York Avenue from 1oth Street to 12th Street will be closed off for an “Evening Under the Stars” Gala Event with is an arts and culture event sponsored by Roadrunner Emporium, New York Art and Music Studio and Patron Hall which is a free to the public street party showcasing live music, art, culinary arts, a street beer garden, food trucks, live radio remote, live performance art and more.
There is a VIP ticket for a special Patrons Hall wine and appetizers events showcasing Lacy Reynolds on the Harp, belly dancing demonstrations and more.
May 6th, New York Avenue Presents Downtown Nights Alive After 5, Most of the New York Avenue Businesses will be open from 5 pm to 8 pm with special pricing and events. This event under the leadership of Alice Weinman of Victoria Alamogordo is a merchant driven event to drive awareness of the New York Avenue businesses after 5. This month there will be a live radio remote, live music at some storefronts, food trucks and more.
May 14th, Atomicon Alamogordo sponsored by Alamogordo MainStreet. ATOMICON is Alamogordo’s version of “Comic-Con”
Comic-con is an international comic book convention and nonprofit multi-genre entertainment event that is normally held annually in San Diego, California.
A comic book convention or comic con event has a primary focus on comic books and comic book culture, in which comic book fans gather to meet creators, experts, and each other. Main Street is in hopes to try and gather as many fun-filled themed vendors, performers, and guests dressed in costume as possible to fill the streets!
Guests, vendors, and MainStreet merchants dress up and decorate and join in the fun of the event. There will be a costume contest, entertainment, vendors, food trucks, live music and much more!
There will be live music by Rosewater Blues & Doso Dirtbags & beer gardens located throughout the streets
Patron’s Hall will be turned into “Hobbiton” to showcase the hard work put into the performance and to coincide with the comic theme, there will be photo ops and fun activities for the whole family!
Alamogordo’s New York Avenue, the New York Avenue Merchants, Arts Community and AlamogordoMain Street are all collaborating in a renewed effort to showcase the best of history, culture, arts and commerce at heart of Alamogordo – New York Avenue.
Come shop the local businesses in the MainStreet district and stop by the Alamogordo MainStreet office to congratulate Nolan – that is, if you don’t find him walking downtown and chatting with the MainStreet business owners or walking the streets during the upcoming 3 street festival and shopping events.
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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
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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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.”
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.
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…
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.
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.
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 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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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 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 Celebrates Black History Months with its series, “The Spirts of Delaware Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico”. This article is the story of Alamogordo High Schools first black female coach and its very first state title in Girls Interscholastic Sports…
Many residents of Alamogordo, who have been in the community since the late 60’s, recognize the Scott name, for their visible community leadership within the Black community of the 60s, 70s and 80s. All the family was involved in various aspects of community and the educational community at large.
Ms. Scott’s father, a former military officer, was a pioneer at Alamogordo high school as a strict but compassionate guidance counselor. Her sister was respected and recognized for her many achievements including exceptionalism with the National Forensic League Speech and Debate Oratory events.
Debra Scott came up in the educational system during a period when women’s athletics were not funded by the schools and the only outlet for competition for girls was via the GAA (Girls Athletics Association.) In those days most girls’ athletics was not funded as part of the traditional school funding, The girls and their coaches had to do fundraising to fund the sports activities they participated in. Events held were limited in the sports offerings for girls.
As an example, Coach Bob Sepulveda re-created the White Sands Relays which in the 1950’s Coach Rolla Buck founded.
The first revamped White Sands Relay Race was in 1970 and was only for men. The second White Sands Relay was hosted in 1972. The second annual meet was opened to girls in 3 events, thanks to the encouragement of Coach Marilyn Sepulveda, to open it up to the girls. The second meet was opened to girls for 3 events and expanded drastically in subsequent years post GAA under Title 9.
GAA or meets under the Girls Athletic Association did not have the same prestige of interscholastic of the modern times of today but the competitors that did compete were fierce and created record times that would stand against any today.
Debbie Scott as a student athlete at Alamogordo High was one of those record holders and girls with significant promise in her athletic, and academic abilities under the mentorship of Coach Marilyn Sepulveda and others.
Coach Scott told the Alamogordo News in a May 15th, 1974, article that; “she began running in the 4th Grade and has not stopped since. She claimed when Grayland Walsh tried to kiss her on the playground she learned to run and one year later was beating the boys in the 100-yard dash.”
Note: she was such a great runner that Coach’s Bob Sepulveda who coached the boys track team and Coach Marilyn Sepulveda who coached the girls’ teams agreed to allow her to train with the boys when running.
When researching the book; Coach Bob Sepulveda, The Early Days published by 2nd Life Media the author tells of many of the “boys of that time praised Debbie Scott.” Several boys said, “she used to embarrass them by how fast she was compared to them.” They said they’d get back to the locker room and they would get a ribbing about Debbie “whooping them, not only in speed but also in form.”
She often came in 1st in Elementary School relays and for the many years to follow in high school and college. She was a natural winner and had the discipline and passion for excellence.
She earned her 1st of 4 Presidential Physical fitness patches in the 6th grade and continued a tradition of winning thereafter.
Her parents enrolled her in dance lessons for 13 years and in piano lessons for 9 years. She continued learning dance for years after and teaching dancercise classes in the high school later in her career. Those students in reflecting, remembered this many years later, the Jane Fonda style dancercise classes conducted by Ms. Scott were unique, innovative and “great fun under Coach Debbie’s leadership.” Coach Bob Sepulveda said that “Debbie’s dancercise classes and his weight classes were the most popular offerings ever offered by the PE department” at least that is during his 30 plus year tenure at Alamogordo High School.
“It takes a lot of time to be good at something and you have to be willing to sacrifice your social life for something you feel you’ll get just as much satisfaction out of”, she was quoted as saying to the Alamogordo News. Coach Scott believed the good outweighs the bad in athletics.
It allowed her to travel the country, meet many great people and gain accolades and confidence that she was able to pass to her students years later based upon her performance of excellence.
In 1973 in college, she went to the AAU nationals and was selected to the women’s All American Track Team. She held the state record for college level women in the 220-yard dash at 24.5 for several years and was rated 4th best in the nation in long jump in 1974.
An All-America team is a hypothetical American sports team composed of outstanding student players. These players are broadly considered by media and other relevant commentators as the best positional players in a particular sport, for a specific season.
Debbie Scott was the first female athlete to graduate from Alamogordo High School to gain that status as an “All American Track and Field Athlete.”
The designation of “All American” is administered by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association. The selection rules are that the top eight finishers in each individual event, as well as American competitors who finish outside the top eight in their event but are among the top eight of the American finishers in an event, earn All-America designation. She qualified for her excellence in two events: the long jump and the 220-yard dash.
Her advice to other female athletes was, “If you have got talent or are just interested in sports, you should take advantage of the opportunities for women everywhere you can.”
While a student at Alamogordo High she competed in the last year GAA existed. She won multiple awards and medals placing often in the 100-yard dash, long jump, and other events. She ran often as an independent woman with the Duke City Dashers Running Club and set records in the Mile Relay and the 220.
Debbie Scott ran on a relay team with Alamogordo alumni Carolyn Patterson and Julia Fultz ranking 2nd at a Northern Colorado Invitational while attending New Mexico State University. New Mexico State University had 4 alumni of Alamogordo Girls Track & Field Team that competed: Debbie Scott, Carolyn Patterson, Julie Fultz, and Vicki Murray.
Upon graduation from college Debbie Scott was hired by the Alamogordo school system to teach and to coach. She would ultimately lead Alamogordo girls’ teams in Volleyball and in assisting Coach Marilyn Sepulveda in Track & Field to great success.
The early 70s was a transitional year for Alamogordo Girls Sports and for Debbie Scott who as an Alumni and then re-joined Alamogordo High School, but now as a teacher and a coach.
The passage of Title IX, the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act, expanded high school athletic opportunities to include girls, revolutionizing mass sports participation in the United States. Organized sports have long been an integral part of the American high school experience for boys. However, the same has not been historically true for girls. Indeed, girls only began playing sports in large numbers after the passage of legislation mandating gender equity in schools.
The first regulation stipulating the procedures for the implementation of Title IX were not released until June 1975. Some schools began interpreting and implementing Title IX prior to June of 1975.
Alamogordo High was one such school system that progressively moved forward with implementation prior to the full Federal rules rollout. From the 1950’s through the late 1970’s Alamogordo High School was considered “aprogressive front runner in leading social change and a model for school systems across the country.”
Teacher and Coach Debbie Scott was named Head Volleyball Coach the 2nd year after girls’ interscholastic volleyball was introduced at Alamogordo High School.
She was the first African American Woman to lead a sports program in Alamogordo High School since organized sports began in 1912.
But that would not be her only first.
Under Coach Debbie Scott the Alamogordo Girls Volleyball team that she coached was the first of any girls’ sports team to achieve the status of winning a state title. Under her leadership the first state title in girls’ athletics for Alamogordo High School was achieved….
Marylin Sepulveda as track and field coach was the first to bring state trophies home placing 2nd place several times prior but it was Debbie Scott that broke the glass ceiling and brought home the 1st Red Trophy or 1st Place State Title in Girls Sports to Alamogordo…
Alamogordo Girls Volleyball team wins the State 1979/80 School Year
“Alamogordo Girls Volleyball team wins the state competition in Santa Fe” read the local sports headlines.
Girls Volleyball Coach Debbie Scott was incredibly pleased that her girls who placed 2nd in the district meet then showed what they had, and came through, to win the state competition with a 1st Place showing a week later in the class AAAA girl’s tournament.
The tournament was deep, in steep competition, as their first round they drew state champion Santa Fe and were expected to lose. The Santa Fe Coach had said in a television interview the day prior that, “we will sail easily through the opening round against Alamogordo.”
With Debbie Scott coaching and rallying the girls forward,” the Alamogordo Tiger Girls roared and knocked Santa Fe right out of the action.”
The final round they competed against Albuquerque Eldorado for the championship. The Tiger girls took the first game by a narrow margin of 15 to 11.
The 2nd game was even closer 16 to 14 but they won it and walked away with the state title.
Coach Debbie Scott was thrilled to receive the NM State Title Trophy at a hastily called assembly of the school and her girls that Monday morning. Many of the volleyball girls went on to play girls basketball the same year.
The girls that competed that very special weekend under the direction of Coach Debbie Scott had no way of knowing then that they were shattering glass ceilings, breaking the barriers of race and gender that once existed with the simple act of a volley across a net in Santa Fe.
A record of firsts places Debbie Scott into the books of Alamogordo History.
Coach and Educator Debbie Scott would continue at Alamogordo for several more years in leading the Volleyball team to victories and assisting with Marilyn Sepulveda as the assistant track and field coach for the Tiger girls and eventually also lead them with Mrs. Sepulveda to State title history.
Debbie Scott was and remains a pioneer of black history but more importantly a leader, an example and a pioneer in gender equality and the overall history of Alamogordo.
Ms. Scott now an educator, in another state, remains a recognized leader, an accomplished athlete and a name embedded into the annual’s fabric of Alamogordo history for eternity.
Black history is our history and the history that includes all of us!
This is one of the many tales of Alamogordo Sports History and Alamogordo Black History from our AlamogordoTownNews.com Series – “The Spirts of Delaware Street, Alamogordo, New Mexico”.
Author Chris Edwards – Sources: Coach Bob Sepulveda: The Early Days, Publisher 2nd Life Media, New Mexico Athletic Association, Diaries of Marilyn Sepulveda, Alamogordo Town News, New Mexico Coaches Association Archives
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When one thinks of an artistic and literary enclave in New Mexico, the mind wonders to Santa Fe, Taos and possibly areas around Los Alamos and Albuquerque; most think exclusively Northern New Mexico and dismiss areas to the south.
Regional and national art critics and magazines that cover culture and the arts, would have those to the north and outside New Mexico, believe the sun rises and sets to the north and that Southern New Mexico is a wasteland in the artisan or literary sense. But those times are changing and changing fast. Hello world!!!! The winds of the White Sands are awake with the spirits of creativity, and those sands of creativity are blowing daily on Alamogordo’s Main Street- New York Avenue.
While the business shutdowns and drama of the pandemic was a nightmare to many in the arts and literary communities of Northern New Mexico; several members of the artistic and literary community of Alamogordo, New Mexico, used the period of shutdown or slowdown; to create, to fine tune and to craft plans to bring Alamogordo out of the funk of a pandemic, and to rise like a phoenix, into the budding cultural arts capital of Southern, New Mexico.
The shutdown of business and life as we knew it, forced many individuals to revisit those things that were important to them; to reinvigorate their passions and to write, sculpt, or create, and craft plans to bring the arts and culture back to life in Southern New Mexico, most specifically in Alamogordo and Alamogordo city center – New York Avenue.
The cultural evolution of Alamogordo began in 1988; when Alamogordo resident Margaret Flickinger bought the Sierra Theater, a 1950s-style movie theater donated it to the county as a performance space called the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts. The inaugural performance at the theater was in December 1988 by the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. The inaugural season started in October 1992 and the center has undergone several renovations since. Fast forward to 2022, and the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts, is energized as the anchor for live professional and community live performance art and a leader in the cultural renaissance that is happening on Alamogordo’s, New York Avenue.
During the pandemic several artist and artistic ventures struggled statewide, but several innovative entrepreneurs tweaked, reinvented, and recommitted that as the state reopened; so too would the artistic community with a renewed passion for visibility and sustainability on Alamogordo’s, historic New York Avenue.
Otero Arts Inc was one such organization that recommitted and renewed its commitment to drive forward with a true focus on cultivating and showcasing the artisans and authors of Alamogordo and Otero County. Otero Arts Inc. is a community-based non-profit organization formed in 2019 “to enrich the lives of the people of the community through the arts and to foster a spirit of mutual support and cooperation among artists,” according to its mission statement.
In the post pandemic, second half of 2021 and into 2022, under the direction of then, Board President, Chris Jones the organization officially started hosting diverse events at the 1936 built Women’s Club Building. Events to pique the interest of the locals and tourist alike included art shows, belly dancing classes, weaving circles, and even participating in a ghost, arts and history tour sponsored by artisan partner and donor, Roadrunner Emporium.
Otero Arts has shown a path forward for many in the artistic community. The organization has expanded its membership, invested heavily in the infrastructure to host a multitude of events in the new year. 2022 looks to be a venturesome year for the organization, with an aggressive calendar of events planned that will encompass and showcase a broad cross-section of artisan creations and gallery events to please its membership and the public in Otero County and beyond.
During the summer of 2021, a rekindled spirit of artistic expression took hold of the historic New York Avenue, the main street of Alamogordo. The Alamogordo Main Street organization once again began hosting events, and behind the scenes had been working with local politicians to ease restrictive interpretations on ordinances to allow more street fairs and activities on the main street corridor. They began with the New York Avenue Christmas Street Fair 2021 and are planning many events in 2022 to include Atomicon on May 14th, 2022, and other festivals sure to inspire the senses.
With that renewed passion on New York Avenue, new investment into artisan focused businesses took shape. The lead investment was made by partners Chris Edwards and Rene Sepulveda into the Roadrunner Emporium which has grown into an entrepreneurial artisan showcase with a very specific nod to the history of the building it is housed in and the historic importance of the New York Avenue district. This “entrepreneurial artisan and collectibles focused collaborative” is located at 928 New York Avenue in a building built in 1900, as Alamogordo’s original First National Bank, chartered in 1900.
With its outreach to both artisans, antique’s collectors, authors and partnership with the Flickinger Center, Otero Arts, and the Tularosa Basin Museum; it is viewed by many locals as “the center of renewed cultural activities for the New York Avenue business district.” The Roadrunner Emporium Gallery, on 3 floors, in a historic building, is a showcase history, and of over 80 artists: from weaving and spinning, to acrylics, sculptured art and even live performance art, in addition to antiques, jewelry and collectibles entrepreneurs, all under one roof.
Twice a month the space hosts free to the public live music concerts such as Lacy Reynolds on the Harp upcoming February 11th, 2022, or Lenore Whitney singing jazz vocals February 25th, 2022. And it will be cohosting a “celebration of history event” with the Tularosa Basin Museum in March showcasing the historic safes and cashiers’ cages that once inhabited the building from 1900 to 1928 and are now restored and on display to the public.
In partnership with Lydia Aspen and Emanuel Renteria; Roadrunner Emporium and Main Street Music and Arts will be hosting a showcase of Alamogordo artisans, this spring at the Patrons Hall at the Flickinger Center. This event will showcase artist, live performance art, culinary delights and much more.
The 928 New York Avenue location hosts author book signings, artist led classes and workshops for kids and adults, and even offers “how to classes” for aspiring authors, small businesses around social media and entrepreneurs.
The success of this New York Avenue anchor business has spurred the investment of other artisan focused businesses on New York Avenue and new businesses planned for launch this year partnering with those recently opened.
Next door to the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts, on the historic New York Avenue is a new gallery space that opened in October 2021. The gallery is a classic gallery in the sense of initial feel and represents the finest and most eclectic collection of art to be found in Southern New Mexico. The gallery is under the leadership of Lydia Aspen and collaborator Emmanual Renteria located at 1120 New York Avenue. This unique gallery is a sight to be seen and a true showcase of color, texture and is certainly not a stoic gallery that takes itself too seriously. Lydia Aspin and partner, Emanual Renteria, bring art to life with color and personality in a whimsical, yet creative approach to local art. Art, jewelry, sculptured arts, and music – a drum set that was formerly on tour with “Prince” and the very finest in local arts are all on display and for sale, by the kindest most approachable artistic proprietors in New Mexico.
In December, the Local Bodega, 906 New York Avenue opened its doors. The shop is a local showcase of “Made in New Mexico” farm fresh products and more; from fresh fruits and veggies to soaps and candles representing farm to home style products and accessories is the goal of the Local Bodega. With a “passion for local” this small business inspires the senses of fresh, when one enters the doors. This is a small independent shop not to be missed on a visit to Alamogordo’s New York Avenue.
The cultural arts scene is not, just new businesses, on New York Avenue, in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The veterans of the street have kept it alive and are constantly expanding their successes.
Of special note, are the established businesses of New York Avenue that have inspired the community for decades; to include Victoria 913 and Pins and Needles which offers quilting classes and showcases the artesian needlecrafts of a bygone era still alive and growing exclusively in Alamogordo. The creations of fine quilts and other handsewn artisan creations from Alamogordo’s New York Avenue and Victoria 913; are considered highly collectible and of quality seldom found in our modern times. Under the direction of Alice Weineman for over 35 years, she is the respected elder stateswoman of the street. Local quilters have made Victoria on Pins and Needles the go-to source for fabric and other sewing needs. Quilting classes are taught by Lisa Blevins and are offered at the shop on a regular basis. Ms. Blevins is a certified quilting teacher and she, along with Pam Holland teach and inspire quilters throughout Southern New Mexico. Now, that New York Avenue is reopened for business; classes are back and stronger than ever and inspiring a whole new generation of quilters to carry the craft forward.
High Fashion from tuxedos to the finest in women’s formal ware are found also on 918 New York Avenue at Elite Memories Boutique. Elite Memories Boutique is recognized across New Mexico for its spin on high fashion, as it where Ms. New Mexico comes to be fitted every year for the annual Ms. New Mexico contest that is hosted annually in Alamogordo.
Miss New Mexico, Misa Tran strolled across the national stage in a flowing red gown during the 2019 Miss USA pageant and was just one of many young pageant hopefuls outfitted by Alamogordo’s Elite Memories Boutique. Elite Memories Boutique is the gown sponsor for Miss New Mexico and for Miss America, recognized across the nation for its selection of high-quality fashions. Elite Memories Boutique owner, Claudia Loya is a survivor and has operated on Alamogordo’s New York Avenue since 2014. She is board Vice President of Alamogordo Main Street and is committed to the rebirth of this historic district.
Mia’ Collectibles located at 823 New York Avenue offers the finest in antiques and collectibles and has a following of individuals that travel from San Francisco and Houston for the highest quality offerings at affordable Southern New Mexico prices. As a member of AntiqueTrails.com Mia’s is a must stop destination for the antique shopper seeking the best in fine antique but at Southern New Mexico prices.
Lastly, we cannot forget the wonders of Moni Cake’s Bakery at 924 New York Avenue that strives to bring the latest in edible art to life. The delights of artisan pastries, cakes, and the wonders of the fresh backed culinary arts of Moni Cakes Bakery has created a following of thousands of Facebook fans eager to see the photos of the newest culinary delights. Note, get your orders in early, as they sell out daily of the freshest and prettiest of artisan baked goods that can compete with any bakery from the finest of cities in America.
The historic New York Avenue in Alamogordo, New Mexico is in a true state of renewal, reinvigoration, and certainly is on mission with a purpose. It is a work in progress, and the best is yet to come. But daily one sees elements of this renewal in action.
The photo that began the article showed local authors Josette Herrell with author BJ Oquist who did a book signing and release of 2 children’s books from New York Avenue. Also pictured was spinning artist Linda Swenson, whose high style fashions have become a favorite of women from Houston, Dallas, San Francisco and beyond. She has developed a following of fans that travel to Alamogordo for her creative designs. It is becoming more and more common to participate in; “meet the artist or author events”, hear live music, see crafting classes in action and more, all a part of this energized group of artisans committed to urban renewal of this historic zone.
History comes alive with culture, the arts and business now on New York Avenue, Alamogordo.
Alamogordo’s New York Avenue historic district is well on its way of repositioning itself as the new center of culture for Southern New Mexico. With the focus on live performance venues, galleries, antiques and collectibles shops, the culinary arts, the evolution of local authors, tapping into local talent; this historic district, showcasing their works, in a partnered approach, represents a promising future for Alamogordo.
Watch out Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque, as the wind blows across the White Sands to the south, a phoenix is rising, spurred on by creativity and entrepreneurship, partnered with the vision of Alamogordo’s New York Avenue. When the artistic community and the creative class unites with business, and the natural beauty of a region is recognized; a force is created that spurs the imagination, and that is the renewal of Alamogordo’s, New York Avenue.
We can’t wait to see you, come join the fun and witness the evolution in progress, come on down south, and stay a while. Our locals and visitors make positive memories, daily onthat last a lifetime on Alamogordo’s Main Street- New York Avenue.
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The Founding of the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA)
In 1921 The New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) was formed as a nonprofit organization that regulates interscholastic programs for junior and senior high schools in New Mexico. It became the official host and record keeper for the statewide sports championship games each year thereafter and collaborated with the University of New Mexico to continue to host events. keeping and leading interscholastic events within New Mexico today.
NMAA was organized in 1921 by John Milne, James Bickley, F. H. Lynn, and J.D. Shinkle as the New Mexico High School Athletic Association.
Alamogordo High School joined the association in 1921 and proceeded to send athletes to its events.
The 1920’s has been called the Golden Age of American Sports. It also has been called the Age of the Spectator.
The United States had a strong economy for most of that decade with extensive growth on the west coast with the formation of New Mexico and new cities and school systems. Organized sports were at a pinnacle many workers had more leisure time. New and bigger stadiums and gymnasiums were built, interest and pride in local High School and College Teams became America’s pastime.
The introduction of radio made it easier for fans to keep up with their favorite teams. Radio and local newspapers increased their coverage of sports building local community support of their hometown teams. High School interscholastic sports gained significant traction and community pride via local media.
Alamogordo High School had a very limited sports program in 1922 but the Boys Basketball team was a bright spot for the citizens of Alamogordo that provided much community pride.
The citizens of Alamogordo had significant pride in their Boys Basketball Team that season of 1922 under Coach & Professor L. R. “Peanuts” Robins. Coach Robin’s was a disciplined athlete that took education seriously. The coach expected his boys to perform well academically and athletically. Citizenship and good stewardship of their reputation and that of the Alamogordo High School was a paramount lesson he intended to instill upon his student athletes.
The 1922/23 season was a strong one for the the Alamogordo Tiger Boys which were picked to win the district tournament and carry that victory forward to the state championships hosted by the NMAA in Albuquerque.
According to the Alamogordo News at the time, “Close performance of the teams that were to participate in the high school tournament for the basketball teams of the southern district of New Mexico, agreed that Alamogordo would give a good account of its team at the tournament. And winning the tournament it was conceded that the Alamogordo high schools’ boys would mix it up pretty strong at the state contest in Albuquerque. The Alamogordo boys had already won from the Albuquerque team, winner of the central tournament.But Alamogordo did not win the Las Cruces district tournament.”
Alamogordo did not win the Las Cruces district tournament.
The why of the matter was very nicely told in the El Paso Times by Gene Fromme.
“Why Alamogordo Withdrew…
Alamogordo High School’s failure to enter the district basketball tournament for the state title for the 1922/23 school year had everyone wondering.
Every fan in the southwest knew Alamogordo High packed probably the classiest crew of cage performers in the entire state. Their slashing victory over the strong Albuquerque High School boosted them to a lofty standing and a championship for the team seemed almost assured.
Coach “Peanuts” Robins had molded a masterful quintet from the rawest kind of material. All of his backers had expressed their willingness to bet their boots Alamogordo would march off with the state title.
Then came the time for them to show their basket of wares and they failed to make an appearance.
Here is the mystery unreeled by one the shrewdest and fairest athletic followers, who is more than merely interested in the welfare of the Alamogordo High school basketball team:
It takes downright courage for a successful young athletic coach who has toiled night and day with his team to refuse to enter a tournament he would most probably have won, for sheer sake of principle. And that is exactly what Coach “Peanuts” Robbins of Alamogordo High did. This is the kind of coaching that places athletics on a plane worthwhile.
Without entering into a full discussion of the cause of the young coach’s commendable action, suffice it to say a small number only of the boys on the team who, after riding over the rough bumps of the Alamo trails, took of the cars and said they wished to take a ride around town. They feel victims to the smooth El Paso-Las Cruces Road, and before they knew it they were doing things not consistent with the best athletic conditions.
While this kind of a lark is not a legal crime, it showed poor judgement on the part of the boys, and certainly could not be tolerated by the coach.
Upon the boys’ return from their adventure the Alamogordo, Coach Robins promptly removed them from the team.
This naturally incapacitated the club for such as contest as was before them, and in which, considering all former “dope” they no doubt would have won. With crushed hearts the other boys who had remained true to their teachings and colors, along with their comrades, who would willingly have given anything to undo the wrong which they had done, moved our for the long night ride to their home. Thus, Alamogordo went unheralded for the season.”
Other accounts of the events around the district tournament report that Coach L R Robinson had every intention of entering the boys into the competition and believed strongly that they could carry the banner for a state title. According to the coach, “ the Alamogordo Boys took the trip entirely too lightly. The boys broke training and went joy riding.”
The public was confused. From the viewpoint of the chances of Alamogordo gaining basketball fame in the state tournament, the incident from some was considered deplorable. But from the angle of what sport in the schools stands for, cleanliness and training of the body and mind, the development of discipline and sportsmanship. Coach Robbins was eminently correct.
Coach “Peanuts” Robin’s goes down in New Mexico High School sports history and Alamogordo Sports History as the coach that placed principle and discipline over the accolades of winning a state championship.
The question of course is what kind of pressure did the coach face upon his return without a district or state title in hand?
Mr. Robins had the full support of the faculty and of the directors or school board of Alamogordo. He well deserved it. According to a statement from a school administrator at the time; “Coach R L “Peanuts” Robins proved himself a thorough sportsman and a man fit to be given the direction of young athletes.”
One wonders. if that same level of ethics and stamina exists within the coaching staff and administration to take on the public scrutiny of such a decision today. Would the same decision be made by the coach to pull the team in our modern times of today? Thoughts to ponder from lessons of the history of the Alamogordo Sports Program dating back over 120 years.
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