June 29th, Marijuana Possession is Legal, Local Politicians Have Shown Mixed Support. Jobs & How are citizens impacted in New Mexico?

Photo of Marijuana which is legal in New Mexico June 29th, 2021 (Alamogordo Town News Photo)

The road to legalization of recreational marijuana use in New Mexico has been a mixed and complex journey which finally culminated on the legislature approving and the governor signing into law legalized marijuana in the state of New Mexico. Effective June 29th, 2021 possession of marijuana is no longer a punishable offense by city nor state law.

However. be careful on Federal lands and at border control checkpoints. It is still a violation of Federal law to be in procession of marijuana so technically a border control agent at a checkpoint or on any Federal lands if in procession of marijuana one is in violation of Federal laws.

The road to legalization has been a mixed one, locally in Otero County and the city of Alamogordo politicians have been mixed in their support of the changing laws.

In Tularosa, Mayor Margaret Trujillo was happy that the new cannabis bill passed the state legislature.

She told the Alamogordo Daily News Reported Nicole Maxwell in March per an Article in the Alamogordo Daily News April 3, 2021; “I think it was a fantastic idea. I’m glad that it was finally done,” Trujillo said. “I think were several years behind the whole thing. I mean other states have done the same thing and they have raked in lots of money and we’re (New Mexico) barely getting started. At least we’re getting there.”

On the flip side of the coin, Alamogordo City Commissioner, Susan Payne seeing the writing on the wall, has shown support in voting to align local laws with the state laws concerning marijuana, yet she has issued a statement in opposition to marijuana decriminalization law revisions.

During a revision to the local laws to align decriminalization to the state laws in July of 2019, Commissioner Susan Payne, issued a statement in opposition to decriminalization of marijuana laws. The city commission voted to update an ordinance regarding unlawful possession of marijuana to be in line with a new state law in 2019.

Per the city attorney “It decriminalizes the first offense up to half an ounce, just to make it easier for everybody, we are staying right in line with the state just as we do with all of our ordinances,” City Attorney Petria Bengoechea said before commissioners.

The motion to update the ordinance passed unanimously at the meeting, but Commissioner Payne was not happy with the outcome. District 3 County Commissioner Susan Payne voted in favor of the motion but said she disapproved of the ordinance changes after the vote per the Alamogordo Daily News report of July 25th, 2019; Professionally speaking, I think that we do need to be in line with the state but personally, no I am absolutely not in favor of this and I just wanted to make that clear,”
Payne said.

Meanwhile, Marijuana legalization means JOBS for Alamogordo, Tularosa and Otero County citizens.

Just outside the Tularosa Village Limit is Ultra Health’s hemp farm. Through this farm legal marijuana means JOBS for the Otero County community and Southern New Mexico. This company is building the largest cannabis cultivation site in North America. Ultra-Health is New Mexico’s #1 Cannabis Company and the largest vertically integrated medical cannabis provider in the United States.

Ultra-Health is expanding its outdoor cultivation capacity with the acquisition of 150 acres of additional farmland and more than 750 acres of water feet in Tularosa, New Mexico. The operator purchased an initial 200 acres of farmland and 1,000-acre feet of water in the same area in early 2018.

Between all its operations, Ultra Health has more than 15.8 million square feet of retail, production and cultivation space and has already invested more than $30 million into the New Mexico cannabis market. Ultra-Health’s 2020 expansion efforts exceeded $12 million including constructing a new, state-of-the-art, 35,000-square foot greenhouse on its Bernalillo campus as well as the purchase of HQ1, a 35,000-square foot commercial building in Albuquerque that will serve as the organization’s New Mexico headquarters.

The provider currently employs nearly 300 New Mexicans and plans to hire several hundred more employees to satisfy retail, cultivation, packaging, distribution, and professional services required to support both increased medical patient and adult-use demand for commercial cannabis activity. With the expansion of the facilities new Tularosa, it means jobs for Otero County residence.

The Law and How it Impacts Citizens Daily:

The verbiage of the law can be found at https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/21%20Special/final/HB0002.pdf

On June 29th, 2021, cannabis or more commonly referred to as marijuana, will be legal to possess or use in New Mexico by adults aged 21 years or older.

How much possession is allowed after the 29th?

  • Up to 2 ounces of cannabis;
  • up to 16 grams of extract;
  • or up to 800 milligrams of edible cannabis.

Where can I consume marijuana legally after the 29th?

Like alcoholic beverages, public consumption of cannabis is limited to licensed “consumption areas” where it may be served and consumed — and those don’t exist yet. Consuming cannabis elsewhere in public could get you a $50 ticket. So, if you have your marijuana don’t smoke it out in the public but you may in your house or backyard.

Private property owners and businesses can forbid it, and your workplace can institute zero-tolerance policies against it. Under federal law, “marijuana” is a Schedule One controlled substance, classified with heroin and other narcotics, which means any amount is forbidden on federal territory so do not take it to the base or Federal public lands.

Where can I buy it?

Legally, nowhere in New Mexico yet, unless one is a registered medical cannabis patient who buys medicinal products at licensed dispensaries. For non-medicinal cannabis, the state has until September to begin processing business licenses and until January to establish rules for producing, marketing, and serving cannabis. Retail sales are to commence no later than April 1 of next year, if not sooner.

And yes, that means for a few months, possession of small amounts of cannabis will be decriminalized while it is not yet legal to buy or sell it in the state but of course you can pop over to Colorado or Arizona where it is legal and buy from one of their dispensaries until April 2022 in New Mexico.

Or of course you can plant it between the tomatoes or in your flower garden…

The law permits individuals up to six mature cannabis plants and six immature plants, or a maximum of 12 in a household with multiple residents. The law also says you can make edibles or extracts — with nonvolatile solvents, alcohol or carbon dioxide or no solvents.

Whatever the case, on June 29th in New Mexico, Otero County and Alamogordo you can roll yourself a joint, and you can share some with a friend if they are at least 21 years old and with that a new era begins.

For some there will be the flashback to the 60s and a reminder of the song by the 5th Dimension The Age Of Aquarius, Let the Sunshine In!

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius
Aquarius

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius

Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in…

Given the modern political climate of our time, a look back at the age of Aquarius and letting a little sunshine in would be a particularly good thing.

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Supreme Court Upholds ADA for a 3rd Time

The Supreme Court on Thursday tossed out a closely watched legal battle targeting the Affordable Care Act, rescuing the landmark health care law from the latest efforts by Republican-led states to dismantle it.

The court ruled 7-2 that the red states and two individuals who brought the dispute do not have the legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate to buy health insurance and ordered the case to be dismissed.

Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion for the court.

As originally enacted in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required most Americans to obtain minimum essential health insurance coverage. The Act also imposed a monetary penalty, scaled according to in- come, upon individuals who failed to do so. In 2017, Con- gress effectively nullified the penalty by setting its amount at $0. See Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Pub. L. 115–97, §11081, 131 Stat. 2092 (codified in 26 U. S. C. §5000A(c)).

Texas and 17 other States brought this lawsuit against the United States and federal officials. They were later joined by two individuals (Neill Hurley and John Nantz). The plaintiffs claim that without the penalty the Act’s min- imum essential coverage requirement is unconstitutional.  The court concluded they had no standing. 

To read detail of the ruling visit

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-840_6jfm.pdf

Thursday’s 7-2 ruling was the third time the court has rebuffed major GOP challenges to former President Barack Obama’s prized health care overhaul. Stingingly for Republicans, the decision emerged from a bench dominated 6-3 by conservative-leaning justices, including three appointed by President Donald Trump.

“The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land,” President Joe Biden said, using the statute’s more formal name, after the court ruled that Texas and other GOP-led states had no right to bring their lawsuit to federal court.

At the time of printing no statement has been released by the New Mexico Republican Party concerning the ruling. 

The lawsuit, initially fashioned as Texas v. United States, was filed in February 2018 by 20 Republican state attorneys general and Republican governors. The plaintiffs wanted to revisit National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius (NFIB), where the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, upheld the mandate as constitutional. In that decision from 2012, Chief Justice Roberts construed the mandate as a tax, concluding that it was valid under Congress’s authority to tax and spend.

The challenge in Texas is related. The plaintiffs argued that the individual mandate is unconstitutional after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, in which Congress set the penalty for not purchasing “minimum essential coverage” coverage to $0. That bill was adopted in December 2017 using the budget reconciliation process after Congress repeatedly tried and failed to repeal the ACA throughout 2017. Without the penalty, the plaintiffs argued, the mandate is unconstitutional. They further argued that the mandate is so essential to the ACA that it cannot be severed from the rest of the law, meaning the entire ACA should be struck down. At a minimum, they asked the court to strike down the law’s guaranteed issue and community rating provisions alongside the mandate.

The state plaintiffs were later joined by two individual plaintiffs who live in Texas and purchased unsubsidized marketplace coverage. These individuals objected to having to comply with the mandate but intended to purchase ACA-compliant coverage in 2019, even after the penalty was set to $0, because they wanted to follow the law. The individual plaintiffs were likely added to the lawsuit to bolster the states’ weak standing argument in the lawsuit—which we now know was to no avail.

Democratic state attorneys general from (initially) 16 states and the District of Columbia—led by then-California Attorney General (and now Department of Health and Human Services Secretary) Xavier Becerra—were allowed to intervene in the case to defend the ACA. These states sought to protect their interests in billions of dollars in federal funding under the ACA, to ensure that their residents have access to health care, and to prevent chaos in their health care systems if the ACA was found to be unconstitutional.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) partially agreedwith the plaintiffs and declined to defend the constitutionality of the mandate and other key ACA provisions. This was a highly unusual position: historically, the DOJ has defended federal statutes where a reasonable argument could be made in their defense. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed Congress of the DOJ’s position that the mandate was unconstitutional and that the ACA’s provisions on guaranteed issue, community rating, preexisting condition exclusions, and discrimination based on health status were inseverable and should also be invalidated. At that point, the DOJ had drawn the line there, arguing that the rest of the ACA was severable and should remain in effect.

In December 2018, Judge O’Connor, a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas, agreed with the plaintiffs and declared the entire ACA to be invalid. He reaffirmed this decision in late December when issuing a stay and partial final judgment. Many of district court’s legal conclusions, from standing to severability, were criticized by conservative legal scholars, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and the National Review editorial board, among others. 

The Fifth Circuit

The DOJ and Democratic attorneys general appealed Judge O’Connor’s decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Democratic attorneys general from an additional four states and the U.S. House of Representatives were allowed to intervene to defend the ACA while two plaintiff states withdrew from the case. On appeal, the DOJ under then-Attorney General William Barr took the new position that the entire ACA should be declared invalid. From there, the DOJ changed its position twice more, suggesting first that the district court’s decision applied only to the plaintiff states and two individuals, and second that the court’s remedy should be limited only to the provisions that injured the individual plaintiffs.

After oral argument, the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, partially affirmed the district court, agreeing that the mandate is now unconstitutional. However, instead of determining what this meant for the rest of the ACA’s provisions, the court remanded the case for additional analysis on the question of severability. One judge disagreed with these conclusions and filed a lengthy dissent arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that, in any event, the mandate remains constitutional and severable from the rest of the ACA. She opined that there was no need to remand, especially on severability.

At The Supreme Court New Mexico Joined The Argument the ACÁ Should Stay Intact

The Democratic attorneys general and the House appealed the Fifth Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court. They initially asked for expedited review, which was denied. However, the Court agreed to hear the appeal on a non-expedited basis and also granted a conditional cross-petition filed by Texas, which asked the Court to uphold the district court’s decision. By granting both petitions, the Court considered the full scope of legal issues in Texas—from whether the plaintiffs have standing to whether the rest of the law could be severed from the individual mandate.

During the briefing and oral argument, 18 Republican attorneys general and governors, two individuals, and the Trump administration argued against the validity of the ACA, which was defended by 21 Democratic attorneys general and the House. The 18 challenger states were Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. The 21 intervenor states were California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington. Republican attorneys general in Montana and Ohio were not parties to the case but filed an amicus briefarguing that the mandate is unconstitutional but severable from the rest of the ACA. And a bipartisan group of governors from Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin filed a separate brief arguing that the ACA should be upheld. All but four states took a formal position in the lawsuit.

Briefing was completed in mid-August, and all filings are available here. Prior posts analyzed opening briefs from California and the House; amicus briefs from nearly 40 health care and other stakeholders; opening briefs from Texas, two individuals, and the Trump administration; amicus briefs from six organizations; reply briefsfrom California and the House; and reply briefsfrom Texas and the two individuals.

Oral Argument

Oral argument was held on November 10, 2020 by the full panel of judges, including then-newly seated Justice Amy Coney Barrett whom President Trump nominated after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (The Texas litigation and oral argument loomed large over Justice Barrett’s confirmation process in the Senate.) All three core issues of the litigation were discussed during oral argument: whether the plaintiffs had standing to sue, the continued constitutionality (or not) of the individual mandate, and whether the rest of the ACA could be severed if the mandate is unconstitutional.

As discussed here, much of the oral argument focused on standing. Many Justices seemed troubled that the penalty-less mandate could not be enforced against the plaintiffs and that invalidation of the mandate alone would not address their alleged injuries. Many also raised concerns about the “standing through inseverability” theory advanced by the plaintiffs and DOJ. These topics were key in the Court’s ultimate decision, discussed below.

Post-Oral Argument

Following the 2020 election, the Biden administration formally changed its position in the litigation. In early February, DOJ submitted a letter to inform the Court that it had reconsidered its position and no longer adhered to the conclusions in previously filed briefs. Upon reconsideration, DOJ’s new position was that the individual mandate, even with a $0 penalty, remained constitutional: The 2017 amendment to the ACA to reduce the penalty to zero “did not convert [the mandate] from a provision affording a constitutional choice into an unconstitutional mandate to maintain insurance.” DOJ’s argument echoed the briefs filed by California and the Housebut did not address standing at all.

It is worth noting that Congress enacted the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021. This new law expanded upon the ACA by temporarily enhancing marketplace subsidies for lower- and middle-income people through 2022. To the extent that the Court looked to subsequent congressional action, this would have showed that the current Congress believed the ACA remained sound and constitutional. 

New Mexico Health and Human Services Department estimated that over $1.7 billion in federal funding was at risk because if the Medicaid expansion went away, then that would have away too, and so underpinning all of the ACÁ is not just the coverage that people have. It’s also the money that comes into New Mexico from the Federal system.

There was also concern about people with preexisting conditions, which is a protection under the Affordable Care Act that prevents insurers from discriminating against those who have them. If it had been overturned those protections would have also gone away.

Yet serious problems remain.

Nearly 29 million Americans remained uninsured in 2019, and millions more likely lost coverage at least temporarily when the COVID-19 pandemic hit according to the Kaiser Foundation. In addition, medical costs continue to rise and even many covered by the law find their premiums and deductibles difficult to afford as inflation rises.

In response, Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package enacted in March expanded federal subsidies for health insurance premiums for those buying coverage. His infrastructure and jobs proposal being negotiated in Congress includes $200 billion toward making that permanent, instead of expiring in two years.

But his plan includes none of his more controversial campaign trail proposals to expand health care access, like creating a federally funded public health care option or letting Medicare directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. While those proposals are popular with Democratic voters, they face tough odds in a closely divided Congress.

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Bill Swartz Crossing America for Charity Stops By Roadrunner Emporium & Fine Arts Gallery, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Dateline: Alamogordo, New Mexico, June 8, 2021

In case you missed the jovial guy on a bike zipping around Alamogordo yesterday, you missed a man of commitment and compassion.

Meet Mike Swartz. While some people have sat back and complained during this dark period of Covid-19 and the new awakening as we come out of it, there are some individuals that didn’t just sit back in self pity but some individuals set a goal and a path forward to help the greater good of their community and followed through on that path forward in enlightenment and action.A view of Bill Swartz journey 

Mike Swartz is one of those individuals. He is bicycling across America from Harbor New Jersey to San Diego to raise awareness and funds for charity.  His solo ride of about 4000 miles in total down the east coast and across the country is to raise money for Bell Socialization Services which began in 1966 as “The Bell Club,” a social gathering for people being discharged from local psychiatric hospitals into the greater York, PA community.  Created with support of the York chapter of Mental Health America and a financial donation from the York Jaycees, early Bell programs included meals and activities hosted by churches and organizations such as the Catholic Women’s Club, the Jewish War Veteran’s Auxilliary, the Jaycees Wives, etc., as well as dances, presentations, and outings.

The organization then engaged to enrich mental health services, in 1977, programs were also added to assist individuals with intellectual disabilities , and in 1986, the agency added shelter services to meet the needs of York County’s homeless families.

Over the years Bell services continued to evolve and expand and, today, about 2,500 people are served each year through dozens of programs offering an array of housing and basic living supports, guided by our Vision, Mission, & Values. Many Bell programs are licensed and/or accredited to meet strict standards of quality care. With more than 50 properties throughout York and Adams counties, people using Bell services are an integral part of the greater community.

You can follow along the remaining parts of Mr. Swartz journey and read his commentary and blog over his encounters along the way ata variety of social media pages which are  devoted to this bicycle ride. ‍ You’ll see photos, video clips and stories about my experiences and the interesting folks I meet as I bicycle across America.
* FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/coasttocoastbicycleride/
* INSTAGRAM: @billswartz3
* WEBSITE for this COASTtoCOASTbicycleride: www.thisclearbluesky.com

We were fortunate to meet this jovial man at Roadrunner Emporium on New York Avenue yesterday. He explained his journey and his passion and moved us with his experiences.

Mr Swartz said he was attracted to the street and to come into Roadrunner Emporium as he heard John a Lennon’s famous “Imagine” being coming from the Emporium and he knew from that inspiring sound he had to check out the Emporium and the historic New York Avenue. Proving once again “music unites us.”Artist Dalia Lopez Halloway and Author Chris Edwards Photographed by Bill Swartz on His Journey

His journey reminds us all that there are good people out there, not just sitting back but taking action from the darkness to bring light to causes and issues that are important to the community and the nation at large.

Humanity is out there if we just keep our eyes open and look for it. Good luck Mr. Swartz.

And to make a donation to the charity follow the link attached:

https://gofund.me/5b660142

To learn more about the charity he is supporting visit:

https://bellsocialization.com/aboutbell/

To see a FOX News Clip on his journey visit The Fox 43 TV news  affiliates video clip that gives a good overview of this coast to coast bicycle ride fundraiser and the charity for which I’m riding:

https://www.fox43.com/mobile/article/news/local/york-county-man-biking-across-the-country-to-raise-money-for-bell-socialization/521-0da649dc-48bb-4053-a4c2-7dde9b59e747?fbclid=IwAR2XGpbTP1JN_RCTKU3wJLQ2VorxOqTvSRc3x8EIwn98XCMLIuTqHD9Q6

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Don’t Blame the Governor, Local Government and Business Leaders Own the Economic Recovery Alamogordo Town News Special Report A Microcosm of the Nation on Jobs Creation

The economy within Alamogordo, Otero County and New Mexico was damaged by the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 and into the beginning months of 2021. Productivity plunged, new business development, licensing, and recruitment all but stopped and unemployment spiked. Mandated shutdowns, social distancing, and altered consumption patterns has resulted in many businesses adjusting work hours, some closing permanently and several laying off workers, modifying working conditions to include more automation and less need for employees.

Do not blame the governor and those outside of Alamogordo the issue of the thousands of square feet of vacant and not rented retail space began in Alamogordo long before Covid-19. Self-reflection and holding local political leaders accountable are where solutions begin. We can blame the Democrats; Democrats blame the Republicans, but the fact is the ownership of local jobs and education issues and the solutions to each can only come from within Alamogordo and Otero County. Help in the form of Federal Grants and State Grants can assist but first the local political and business machine must own up to creating a roadmap, accept responsibility for past sins, quit blaming others and remedy the issue with a collaborative, solutions driven resolution towards jobs growth and long-term economic prosperity. Call center recruitment is a 20th Century solution that is a failed path to jobs growth. Tourism, specialty retail, arts, culture and fitness that takes advantage of the local features of nature are the key to local prosperity.

Just look at the expanded self-check checkout lines at Lowes Grocery Store, Albertsons, Walmart, and McDonalds. Jobs are not being lost locally due to immigrants taking low wage jobs, jobs are being lost due to automation, a business community that is not adapting to changing retail trends and political leadership that must collaborate with small business owners via incentives, tax rebates, and state and federal block grants.

For Alamogordo and Southern New Mexico to move forward and replace lost jobs and incomes, the region needs small business entrepreneurs to fill the void with business startups of businesses that can capitalize on the local resources, tourism, fitness, arts and culture.

During the economic downturn a decade ago, the business startup rate fell and never fully recovered, which contributed to a slow recovery. Alamogordo had its business peak during the 70’s and has had a slow drain and a lack of consensus among the political leadership and the business community to end the economic drain.

The business community also suffers in recruiting due to the downward spiral of the public school system in rankings. In the 1960’s Alamogordo ranked in the top 10 school systems in the US in achievement pay and rankings. Today Alamogordo High ranks in the bottom 1/3 of US High Schools, no longer offers most vocational educational training programs of the 60’s and 70’s and the poverty rate among students is at a record high. The high school is feeling additional pressure and a loss of students and community support due to the proliferation of religious based private educational institutions that pull students from the public system, offer inconsistent curriculums and compete thus lowering even more the pull of funds available to the public education system and further depressing jobs recruitment of large corporate jobs into the area.

The startup rate of small business growth has trended downward since the 1980s. That is troubling because startups play crucial roles in the local economy and the sales tax base that funds local services. Small business entrepreneurs create the most net new jobs in most communities and Alamogordo would not be unique. They are a key source of innovation because new products and services offerings are often pioneered by new companies. And they challenge dominant firms, which helps to restrain prices and expand consumer choices as witnessed locally by the growth of Walmart and the closure of so many small businesses to include more recently several at the local mall such as Penny’s etc.

This Alamogordo Town News spotlight suggests that state and local policymakers should slash regulatory barriers to startup businesses. The state of New Mexico State should repeal certificate of need requirements, liberalize occupational licensing and restaurant alcohol licensing, liberalize licensing requirements of ex-felons and quick start the business licensing of legalized marijuana and hemp businesses.

The Alamogordo city and county government should collaborate on reducing small business owner property tax rates and provide sales tax holidays to small business owners to encourage business growth, sales, and entrepreneurship. The city should implement online permitting and licensing application for new businesses and make a commitment to turn licenses within 5 business days of application. The cities of Southern New Mexico should also liberalize zoning rules for home‐​based businesses and encourage their growth and that of food trucks and locally crafted arts, crafts, and food items.

US trends that are trickling into New Mexico, Ortero County and Alamogordo.

In recent years in the United States, entrepreneurship and business growth and adaptability have trended downward. An indicator of this is the decline in the startup rate for employer businesses, as calculated from the Census Bureau’s “business dynamics” data.

During the economic downturn that began in 2008 and we clawed out of by 2010, the startup rate for new businesses fell below the shutdown rate for several years. Alamogordo was not immune to that trends and the bounce back has never materialized in Alamogordo’s retail sector as witnessed by the many empty retail storefronts on 10th Street, the New York Avenue District and on the White Sands inner city corridor.

The new business startup rate has not fully recovered from the decline, which is one reason why it has taken many years for the unemployment rate to fall to its pre‐​recession low and is now spiked during Covid with questions of its rebound.  Political leaders and struggling business recruitment like to point blame for unemployment on liberal unemployment compensation, closures mandated by the governor and deflect responsibility locally for the lack of incentivizing business development and lack of commitment to small business entrepreneurship incubation.

Per the CATO Institute, business permitting, and licensing is a challenge for startups in the restaurant industry, which is the largest industry for new businesses aside from professional services. There are about 650,000 restaurants in the United States and about half are not part of chains. Restaurants employ more than 12 million people. In 2020, the industry was hit hard by the pandemic and government‐​mandated shutdowns. A September 2020 survey found that more than 100,000 restaurants may close permanently.

State fees for alcohol licenses range from about $100 to more than $6,000. But there are 18 states that impose on‐​premises license caps, which limit the number of licenses for each municipality generally based on per capita formulas. Such caps create shortages — often severe shortages — with the result that licenses sell on the secondary market for vastly inflated prices, often hundreds of thousands of dollars. The restrictions on hard alcohol licenses are typically more severe than restrictions for beer and wine licenses. In big cities, full liquor licenses can cost up to $250,000 in California, $750,000 in Florida, $400,000 in Indiana, $320,000 in Montana, and $975,000 in New Mexico. If Alamogordo wants to get serious about catering to tourism and creating real jobs it needs to work with the state assembly and the governor on a process to better procure liquor licenses for Southern New Mexico at a more affordable rate. Further collaboration in efforts begin with the City Commission addressing the concerns of liquor license costs and the few numbers available to Southern New Mexico via the assembly and via the state Liquor Control Board. A resolution of concern is a first step and needs to be taken by the mayor and the city commission.

The complexity of permitting, licensing, and zoning rules, and the discretion it gives to officials, makes it a breeding ground for corruption in many municipalities. Corruption is exacerbated by artificial caps that limit the supply of valuable permits and licenses and by slow bureaucracies that incentivize businesses to bribe officials in order to speed approvals.

Corruption favors incumbent and politically connected and existing businesses at the expense of new and independent businesses. One expert noted on marijuana licenses that “A statewide cap tends to benefit well‐​connected and well‐​capitalized applicants such as large publicly traded companies while excluding smaller entrepreneurs and resulting in less choice and availability in the marketplace.” The lessons from alcohol licensing and the abuse seen needs to be noted as the regulations around marijuana are being debated at the state and local levels.

The 2020 pandemic caused the shutdown of many businesses and threw millions of people out of work nationwide and thousands in southern New Mexico. As the economy rebuilds in 2021, it needs startup new businesses especially in services, tourism, fitness and the arts to create jobs and pursue new post‐​pandemic opportunities.

Startup businesses in the arts, fitness and tourist related realms add value to Alamogordo and Southern New Mexico as well as the state and nation.

To speed economic recovery and support long‐​term growth, governments should remove regulatory barriers to startups.

State and local governments should review all occupational licensing rules and regulations and repeal those that fail cost‐​benefit tests. States should accept licenses issued by other states, explore whether licenses can be replaced by private certification, and reduce the costs and time requirements for needed licenses. States and local governments should repeal most licensing boards as they are detrimental to new business growth. The state and local governments should repeal laws around licensing of ex-felons and encourage them to gain full professional employment rather than punitive long term punishment post incarceration.

Bureaucratic processes should be much faster and more transparent, and most licensing should be done online, automated with status updates available online for transparency reasons. It makes no sense that entrepreneurs burn through cash for months on end waiting for government approvals before they can open their businesses. There is no excuse in small towns and cities in New Mexico nor anywhere in the US that business licenses should take more than two weeks to be executed given the real time data that is in front of everyone via the interconnected web of the internet we live in today.

Sources:

“Business Dynamics Statistics,” U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/bds.html “Federal Policies in Response to Declining Entrepreneurship,” Congressional Budget Office, December 29, 2020. The CBO estimates are based on data from “Business Dynamics Statistics.” The CATO Institute, Elizabeth Weber Handwerker, Peter B. Meyer, Joseph Piacentini, Michael Schultz, and Leo Sveikauskas, “Employment Recovery in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Monthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2020. And see Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker, https://tracktherecovery.org

Positive News – Daily Affirmation from a dogs perspective: 6-2-21, 28 Days A Habit, 90 Days A Lifestyle

As we remind our readers, podcast listeners and partners daily concerning our affirmations; a habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” Habits become a lifestyle a “glass half full” mindset becomes a lifestyle and that leads to permanent results. Science and real-world experience tell us that it actually takes a minimum of 28 days to begin to form a habit, but on average its really between 60 to 90 days. For most of us 90 days is a much more effective and realistic timeframe to incorporate a new behavior into our life, thus 90 Days To A Glass Half Full Lifestyle.

Our Daily Action Steps Are To:

  • Commit to taking 5 minutes each morning as you begin your day to read the daily quote.
  • If you are moved or inspired by the quote; share it in an email, phone call, conversation, text, tweet or on your social media network or platform. When we share something, it becomes more real to us.
  • In your own words write in a journal how the quote or thought applies to you or your circumstances, today. If it doesn’t write on your page the first thing that comes into your mind after reading the quote.
  • The end of the day, prior to bed, take 5 more minutes for yourself. Re-read the quote again and write or think of how you applied or took an action today with a person, situation or referenced the daily quote in mind. Reflect on the day, was there any event in the day where your thinking was impacted differently because of the quote or the affirmation.
  • Let’s have fun with the system and commit.
  • Now, Let’s begin with today’s affirmation:
“THINGS MONEY CAN’T BUY: A DOGS LOVE, A DOGS LOYALITY, A DOGS JOY IN GREETING YOU, A DOGS FAITH IN HUMANS.” – TUDY


Beginning of Day
: How’s the above quote apply to me or what comes to mind when reading the quote above?

End of day: Re-read the quote. Did I share the quote or apply any of its meaning into any part of my day? What issue or situation made me think of or refer to the quote above? Did it help me bridge a positive outcome or mindset?

We encourage you to write or journal your thoughts or reflections on today’s quote.

“Things money can’t buy: A dogs love, a dogs loyality, a dogs joy in greeting you, a dogs faith in humans.” – Tudy

It’s your life, express yourself as your true and honest self and let’s work together for self improvement and a Glass Half Full mindset.

Author Chris Edwards lectures, has his podcast and writes. His book series 90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle is 3 part series that garnered much acclaim from many coming out of rehab and those coming out of incarceration and beginning anew. His other book series, book 1 Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days is an inspirational sport history of interscholastic sports in New Mexico. All of his books are found at fine independent book sellers such as Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico and available via Amazon in 36 countries.

Listen to our report and positive affirmations via our podcasts:

Memorial Day May 31, 2021 The history, the numbers and how you can honor those fallen heros memories…

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/31374/alamogordo-remembers-memorial-day-may-31-2021-history-and-how-you-can-honor

L-R Catherine Trevino, son Edward Balli, killed in Afghanistan 2014; Nadia McCaffrey, son Patrick killed in Iraq 2004; Martha and Daniel Garcia, son Juan killed in Iraq 2005; Kathleen Chappell, stepson Jason killed in Iraq in 2004: and Sandra Aceves. son Fernando, killed in Iraq 2004 at Gold Star Manor on Thursday, May 27, 2021. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

World War II lasted nearly four years for the United States and during that time, 49,579 New Mexican men volunteered or were drafted into military service. New Mexico had both the highest volunteer rate and the highest casualty rate out of all the forty-eight states which were then in the Union.

Soldiers from New Mexico were some of the first Americans to see combat during the war. Hundreds of soldiers from the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard, were in the Philippines manning the anti-aircraft guns at Clark Field and Fort Stotsenburg when it was bombed by the Japanese aircraft just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The New Mexicans found their job frustrating because their shells could not hit high-flying Japanese bombers, although they did manage to shoot down a few fighters, which were flying at a low altitude. After the Japanese launched their main offensive to conquer the Philippines, the 200th Coast Artillery and New Mexico’s 515th Coast Artillery covered the withdrawal of Filipino and American forces during the Battle of Bataan, which ended on April 9, 1942.

The New Mexicans then took part in the Bataan Death March, in which thousands of Allied prisoners of war were killed during a forced march from the battlefield to camps at Balanga, where they remained until the end of the war. Of the 1,800 New Mexican troops serving in the Philippines, only 800 returned to their home to New Mexico.

The History of Memorial Day:

Before it became a federal holiday in 1971 and its observance moved to the last Monday in May, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day and took place on May 30th.

The roots for Decoration Day go back to shortly after the Civil War when citizens paid local tributes to those who had died. In 1868, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued an official proclamation for a nationwide Decoration Day observance. After World War I, the observance was expanded to honor all those who had died in service during any American war.

Since its transfer to make it part of a three-day weekend, however, Memorial Day has also become synonymous with the unofficial start of summer. Over the last 45 years, trips to the beach to kick-off the vacation season or local mall to take advantage of holiday sales have vied for attention with more traditional observances.

In keeping with day’s more solemn purpose, here are a few things you could do this Memorial Day to honor our nation’s fallen heroes.

We remember those soldiers killed in the many American military conflicts…

During the Korean War according to the Department of defense over 200 soldiers were killed while in active duty…

A complete listing of those 200 New Mexican heroes’ can be found at https://www.archives.gov/files/research/military/korean-war/casualty-lists/nm-alpha.pdf

During the Vietnam War over 395 New Mexican soldiers died in service per the national archives the complete recognized list includes…

Even as the perceived major wars have ended our military has continued to serve in war zones and those heroes get less attention via the press than those from the great wars however each deserves equal respect…

In Operation Enduring Freedom, the name for the war in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001 and officially ended December 2015, 2,351 Americans were killed. More have continued to be killed since the official end to the war as we draw down. A complete list of all 2351 solders that died through 2015 can be found at

Operation Iraqi Freedom, the initial name for the war in Iraq, lasted from 2003 to 2010, during which 4,412 Americans were killed. A list of the solders that died through 2015 can be found at https://cms.qz.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/oifnames-of-fallen.pdf

Operation New Dawn, as the campaign was renamed after the US reduced its troop presence, has claimed 66 deaths on the American side. A list of the solders that died through 2015 can be found at

As the draw down from Afghanistan and Iraq continues the number of fallen soldiers reported continues to grow and more concise records of those fallen are committed to be released via the National Archives by the end of 2021. We honor all that have fallen and apologize for the missing names of those more recent deaths in the service to our country.

This statistic shows the fatalities of the United States’ military in Iraq and Afghanistan as of February 02, 2021, has grown. As of February 02, 2021, the United States had lost total 7,036 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 128 coming from New Mexico.

A May 24th release by the Department of Defense tell the story of death by the numbers in presently active war zones…

What can you do to honor the sacrifice of those who died serving our country?

Attend the Memorial Service in Tularosa on Memorial Day or if not in Southern New Mexico attend a service in your community. The Tularosa Memorial Day Service details

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/e/31355/tularosa-veterans-memorial-day-observance

The public is invited to the Tularosa Veterans Memorial Day Observance to be held in Tularosa Veterans Park, 1050 Bookout Road, along Highway 70, on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2021, at NOON. We honor the fallen, those who served and those who are serving today. This observance is dedicated to the memory of Major Wm Guthrie.

Wear or display a red poppy.

Around Memorial Day, you usually can find Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members selling paper red poppies in front of shopping centers. Now a widely recognized memorial symbol for soldiers who have died in conflict, the red poppy tradition grew from the World War I poem, “In Flanders Field,” by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. The poem refers to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers in the lines:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row by row.”

Pause at 3 p.m.

In accordance with the National Moment of Remembrance resolution, which was passed in 2000, pause from whatever you are doing at this time to reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom to all. https://www.usmemorialday.org/national-moment-of-remembrance

Read the original Decoration Day proclamation.

Less than 500 words in length, Logan’s proclamation, officially titled General Orders No. 11, is a sobering call-to-duty for all U.S. citizens. https://www.usmemorialday.org/general-order-11

Display the U.S. flag.

Do you have an American flag for your home? Since Memorial Day is a day of national mourning, fly the flag at half-staff from sunrise until noon to commemorate those who have died. The flag is raised back to full staff at 12 p.m. to honor living veterans.

Volunteer and Commit Your Time to Veterans

Agencies and organizations that work with veterans or active military and their families need volunteers the local hospital, USO center or homeless shelter, senior center and commit to volunteer your time on a regular basis.

What do you plan to do this Memorial Day to honor our nation’s fallen heroes?

Take a moment reflect and honor those fallen today as you move forward this holiday with family, shopping or continuing your day-to-day routine. At the Alamogordo Town News and 2nd Life Media and Boutique this weekend we pause a moment, remember and celebrate the sacrifice.

Article Sources: Wikipedia, The Department of Defense, The National Archives, Memorial Day.org, USA Today, CMS.QZ.com, New Mexico History Archives

Author Chris Edwards, 2nd Life Media & Alamogordo Town News. Published books and bio found at

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/

Alamogordo, New Mexico Sports History, Alamogordo History: Look Back Girls Track & Field Success 1977 District Win & Remembering Coach Lawrence E. Johnson

The year as 1977 and the Alamogordo Girls Track and Field Team continued to show the state they were a team to take serious as they captured the 3AAAA district crown as the top team in the district. The Tigers earned 134 points placing 1st with Mayfield at 122 points in 2nd place and Las Cruces in 3rd
place with 104 points. 

Ruthie Fatheree collected a total of 33 points to pace Alamogordo’s effort for a victory.

District Medalist included:

  • Ruthie Fatheree, 1st Place, 50 Yard Dash, 6.0
    • 1st
      Place, 220 Yard Dash, 26.9
    • 2nd
      Place, Long Jump, 17’ 3”
  • Vicki Lee, Susan Lee, Debbie Salcido, Fatheree, 1st Place, 440, 50.4
  • Susan Lee, Fatheree, Salcido and Donna Scroggins, 1st Place, 880, 1:48.3
  • Vicki Lee, 1st Place, 100 Yard Dash, 11.3
  • Carmen Smith, 1st Place, Shot Put
  • Ruth Turning, 2nd Place, High Jump, 4’ 10”
  • Vicki Lee, Susan Lee, Cathy Frederick, Karen Guerrero, 2nd Place, Mile Relay, 4:14.9
  • Debbie Salcido, 3rd Place, Soft Ball Throw, 183’ 3”
  • Kim Campbell, 3rd Place, 110 Low Hurdles, 15.8
    • 4th
      Place, High Jump 4’ 8”
    • 5th
      Place, 80 Yard Hurdles, 11.9 (state qualified time)
  • Cathy Frederick, 3rd Place, 440 Yard Dash, 63.0
  • Toni Irvine, 3rd Place, Shot Put 34’ 8”
  • Salcido, Scroggins, Cheryl Greer and Guerrero, 3rd Place, Medley Relay, 1:59.6
  • Susan Lee, 4th Place 100 Yard Dash, 11.8 (state qualified)
  • Karen Guerrero, 4th Place, 440 Yard Dash, 63.4
  • Delinder Compton, 4th Place, 440 Yard Dash, 65.4
  • Angela Holloway, 4th Place, Shot Put, 34’ 5”
  • Janet Haug, 6th Place, 440 Yard Dash 65.9
  • Lisa Busick, 6th Place, Mile Run, 6:14.0

Coming off the district meet 10 girls qualified for state in 11 events. Ruthie Fatheree led the team in 5 events at the state meet. Susan Lee and Vicki Lee also feel the team pressure as both are competing in 7 events.

Albuquerque Manzano wins top team honors in girls AAAA Track & Field for the 1977 season. Alamogordo  Girls placed 6th at the state meet. 

Medalist at the state meet included:

  • Vicki Lee, Susan Lee, Debbie Salcido, Fatheree, 2nd, Place 440 Relay, 50.30
  • Vicki Lee, 5th Place, 100 Yard Dash, 11.38
  • Ruthie Fatheree, 6th Place, 50 Yard Dash, 6.26
    • 4th
      Place, 220, 26.45
  • Carmen Smith, 2nd Place, Shot Put, 40.3
  • Susan Lee, Fatheree, Salcido and Donna Scroggins, 3rd Place, 880 Relay, 1:47.5
  • Kim Campbell, 4th Place, Long Jump, 16’ 2 ¼

The 1977 Athletics season seemed to be coalescing with the coaches working more closely together under a new football coach now in full force that being coach Gary Hveem. At Alamogordo High School in 1977 both the girl and boy student athletes began working closer together. 

Cross Country, Track & Field, Golf and Tennis had boys and girls training together and sharing coaching staffs. Girls Track under the leadership of Head Coach Marilyn Sepulveda was assisted by Kay Morgan and Joe Bryant and beginning to garner attention from around the state. In the years to come many great things would be seen based on this solid foundation of excellence.

Most athletic programs were growing at Alamogordo High in 1977, but the result of Title IX and expanded girls athletics, the decision was made to cut the wrestling program to ensure all other programs were funded appropriately and all students had the opportunity to compete.

The 1977 school year also saw the return of Lawrence Johnson from a former star athlete and student to a teacher and coach who assisted the boys and girls track programs. As outlined in book one in the series he had an amazing career at Alamogordo, became a guidance counselor who assisted hundreds of students and ultimately became the Athletic Director in future years.

Lawrence Johnson was born July 15, 1949 in Dallas, Texas, to Rubin Lee and Susie Mae Johnson. His nickname was Slick and was famous with his student athletes for his sunglasses. He graduated from Alamogordo High School in 1969. He was an athlete under Coach Sepulveda and others. He was a district track and field champion in broad jump.

He went to college at Western New Mexico University in Silver City where he earned his bachelor’s in 1972 and master’s degree in 1975.

“I graduated from high school here in Alamogordo in 1968 and went off to college, I came back in 1972 and I got a job,” Johnson said in a 2014 Daily News article about his retirement. “I started teaching physical education and social studies at the middle school and I just continued from there. I really enjoyed teaching the kids, I also enjoyed coaching. I started the learning process at that time and I really enjoyed myself.”

He served 42 years at Alamogordo as a coach, teacher, guidance counselor and athletic director.

In 1982, Johnson began working at Alamogordo High School as a track and boys basketball coach, which he did for five years after prior experience as the JV Basketball Coach and Coach at the Middle High. He aided Coach Sepulveda from the beginning of his tenure with the Alamogordo school systems and throughout his career.

He also served as a guidance counselor for six years. Johnson became the assistant athletic director at AHS in 1993, the following year he became the athletic director. Johnson served as athletic director at AHS for 21 years, the longest tenured Athletic director in the school’s history.

He served on the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Board of Directors. In addition, Johnson was a member of the New Mexico Athletic Directors Association, (NMADA) board for 20 years. From 1998 to 1999, New Mexico Athletic Directors Association (NMADA) board for 20 years. From 1998 to 1999, he was president of NMADA.

In 2017, Johnson was honored with the Distinguished Service award from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA). He was one of 11 educators nationwide to receive the award.

In 1972, Johnson began working at Alamogordo High School as a track and boys basketball coach, which he did for five years after prior experience as the JV Basketball Coach and Coach at the Middle High. He aided Coach Sepulveda from the beginning of his tenure with the Alamogordo school systems.

Alamogordo School Board members unanimously approved the renaming of the Tiger Pit sports complex at Alamogordo High School to honor Lawrence E. Johnson for his many years of contribution to the community and the thousands of students and athletes he positively affected as a mentor and role model. His legacy continues in that facility today…

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/30819/alamogordo-sports-history-look-back-girls-track-field-success-1977-district

Excerpted from Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days a joint collaboration of Author Chris Edwards and Artist Rene Sepulveda, available at Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico and on Amazon in 36 countries. Soon to be released, Coach Bob Sepulveda The Golden Years 1977 to 1995 soon to be released on Amazon and fine independent bookstores everywhere. 

Young School Board Leaders with fresh ideas, making a difference, challenging the status quo…

In the 1960’s, Alamogordo High School ranked in the top 10 in the nation and attracted teachers from around the nation. According to US News and World Report School rankings the school now ranks #40 in New Mexico High Schools and 6754 in national rankings.  In school districts around the nation with problems, youth are stepping into leadership roles within school boards, with fresh ideas and insights and making a difference in challenging the status quo and making change.

Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” That is the mantra of Anthony X. Vigil the 19-year-old elected school board president of Mesa Vista Consolidated School District in New Mexico. This quote seems to be a similar mantra for several other young people from a diverse spectrum of cultures who are grabbing ahold of American Democracy, and not only participating, but seeking elected office and winning at the level of school board.

There are those in life that complain about the political system and the world around us, and then there are those that do something about it. Age does not determine one’s ability to have a positive impact and to make a difference in the world. One’s ability to go after a goal, and get it done, is what determines success, no matter age or experience.

Photo of Anthony X. Vigil Swearing in to School Board Mesa Vista Consolidated School District in New Mexico. (Photo Courtesy of Mesa Vista Consolidated School District, Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Anthony X. Vigil was a graduate of Mesa Vista High School in 2019, he was elected to the Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools’ Board of Education on November 5, 2019. Anthony ran for the school board to give the students, who are his contemporaries, a voice. He knows that since students are directly impacted by district shortfalls, they may be able to offer valuable outside-the-box solutions. At age 19 he would be one of the youngest elected school board leaders in the nation, and one of the youngest in the nation at age 19 to be named as the school board president.

Anthony X. Vigil appears to be one of several young student activists, turned candidate being elected as representatives of their school system. There is a trend toward student activism and entering politics at a young age. The school board appears to be an excellent entry point for these young citizens to enter the profession of politics.

A trend toward diversity and youth…

Photo of Kelly Gonez (Photo Courtesy Los Angeles Unified School District Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

In 2020 the nation’s second largest school system in the US, the Los Angeles Consolidated School system, elected its youngest school board president ever at age 32. Kelly Gonez became the youngest-ever female president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Gonez, 32, was also the first of the millennial generation and one of only four women of color and one of three Latinas to lead the board that sets policy for the nation’s second-largest school district, which serves a student population that is currently 80% Latino or Black, according to LAUSD officials. Kelly Gonez, 32, is the only parent on the school board with young children, and she grew up in an immigrant family in the district she now represents, encompassing much of the East San Fernando Valley.

But the trend is showing an interest of those even younger getting involved and making a difference

Photo of Bushra Amiwala, the youngest elected Muslim official in the United States. (Courtesy Busha Amiwala twitter Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Meet Bushra Amiwala, she is the youngest elected Muslim officeholder in the United States. Amiwala’s age and status as the youngest elected Muslim official and the only one wearing a hijab in the state of Illinois have brought her fame not normally associated with being elected to a school board. Among the diverse membership of the Skokie School District Board of Education, Bushra Amiwala stands out. She is also a former student in the school district and is featured in a Hulu documentary, “Our America: Women Forward,” which began streaming this March 2021. She is up for re-election to the school board in April 2023 but openly admits she is keeping her eye on other potential offices.

Photo of Ty’Relle Stephens (Photo Courtesy of Channel 10 WJAR Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Out of the ashes of the Rhode Island state takeover of the Providence Public School system, comes a fresh voice. The city’s youngest school board member ever. Meet 20-year-old Ty’Relle Stephens, one of the newest, and the youngest ever Providence School Board member, sworn it at City Hall Wednesday. Stephens started his freshman year at the Juanita Sanchez Education Complex on Thurbers Avenue in South Providence in 2015, getting the lay of the land. Stephens says the voices of the students who have gone through the failed school system are invaluable to fixing what is broken. His plate is full working full-time at Kent Hospital in patient access, and now Providence School Board member, but he is up to the challenge. When asked if he would like to advance in the profession of politics. He leaves that answer to his supporters that believe he has a strong future ahead of him.

Photo of Musab Ali. (Photo Courtesy of NJ.com Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media)

Mussab Ali, 23, became the youngest trustee to ever to named Board of Education President following a 5-2 vote during the board’s reorganization meeting for Jersey City, New Jersey’s Board of Education, earlier this year. He is the youngest trustee and is its new president for 2021. Ali, a law student at Harvard University, won his first year-long term on the school board in 2017 and was later re-elected to three-year term. He is the youngest person ever elected to the nine-member Jersey City school board and the youngest elected official ever in Jersey City. In 2018, Ali was accepted into a prestigious master’s degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The board’s counsel approved Ali’s request to continue serving on the board while studying in China. Ali, a 2015 graduate of McNair Academic, was one of 147 people chosen for the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University. He studied biology and economics at Rutgers University-Newark.

And back to New Mexico, where we began this article, we have the youngest school board president in the state and quite possibly the US, Anthony X. Vigil, age 19.  At age 19 he is making an impact on his district in leading it based upon his high school experience. We reached out to Mr. Vigil and asked him about how he got his start in the political process in New Mexico and he responded, “I attended board meetings since I was in middle school and since then I knew I wanted to become a part of the board. Shortly after my first board meeting, I acknowledged my passion to make a real change in society. I always had a strong support system and am compelled to create more opportunities for the generation to follow. The year I graduated was an election year and I didn’t want to waste any time on creating a better tomorrow.”

We mentioned a few of the other young leaders referenced above and asked if he felt participation and leadership by younger adults was becoming a trend and what was the catalyst for that trend? We also asked if he considered himself liberal or conservative in his political leanings. His response, I believe there is a combination of factors leading to the up-tick in the younger generation running for elected positions. I think more and more people are realizing that age is not a barrier and young people offer outside-the-box solutions to world-wide challenges. I am thrilled to see younger people becoming involved in the democratic process. Whereas I am more liberal, I firmly believe educational growth should be a bipartisan consensus. After all, education yields innovation across all industries.”

We would happen to agree with Mr. Vigil wholeheartedly. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of New Mexico. Additionally, Mr. Vigil is an intern with the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Engineering Services Division. Before joining the National Labs, he served as an intern Medical Assistant at Las Clinicas del Norte, a non-profit health center which serves the local community. In high school, he led several student organizations and was a runner for the 2015 and 2016 cross country state championship teams. In 2019, he was part of the state championship medley relay team for track and field.

Under his leadership as the president of the board of education he is championing those issues that are important to the students and partnering with leaders in the state to make that happen. As a former track and field and cross-country athlete he knows that a well-maintained track is critical to a team’s success. As such he and the board have partnered to get capital funds from the state of New Mexico to assist in getting much needed track maintenance done at his former high school. In partnership with New Mexico State Senator Leo Jaramillo, $75,000 in capital outlay funds were secured for a new track and field.

The money comes from Capital Outlay funds. School Board President Anthony Vigil says the track needs repaving, and the field needs new grass. “We will be redoing the track and making those repairs so that way it can be used to host track meets,” Vigil said. Vigil says they hope to have the work completed by the next track season.

Anthony X. Vigil, age 19 of New Mexico; Ty’Relle Stephens, age 20 of Rhode Island; Bushra Amiwala, age 22 of Illinois; Mussab Ali, 23 of New Jersey; Kelly Gonez, age 32 of California each represent true diversity and action.  Each is of a diverse generation of young, aggressive and determined individuals that respect the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, team activities and active participation in the system of civics. Each represents a diverse collection of ideas from a broad section of our country representing school districts large and small. Through their actions and their rise into political power they demonstrate as a truth, Mark Twain’s quote, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Getting started they have done indeed! We will be watching each of these youthful young adults as their careers move forward over the decades ahead. Inspired we are, in their youthful approach to stepping up, acting and owning the future by offering solutions by their personal actions today.

As we conclude, we wonder, are there any inspired youthful leaders in Southern New Mexico, and more directly in Ortero County or in Alamogordo, ready to take on the challenge and the example set by these youthful leaders? Alamogordo, who is the next generation of leaders ready to step forward today?

Salute’!

Follow Executive Coach and Author, Chris Edwards via the Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media or his Podcast, 2nd Life Media Presents.  Published books by Author Chris Edwards include Coach Bob Sepulveda: The Early Days, 2 Hours Unplugged Unplug and Reconnect, 90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle, and has published essays on criminal justice reform Removing Barriers to State Occupational Licenses to Enhance Entrepreneurial Job Growth: Out of Prison, Out of Work.

Research for the story above sourced from:

KRQE NEWS, ABC 7 News Los Angeles, Los Angele’s Unified School System, The Hudson County View, www, NJ.com, Baca, Stacey (2021-03-09). “Skokie’s Bushra Amiwala is the youngest Muslim elected official in US”. ABC7 Chicago, Wikipedia, Providence Schools, Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools, Alamogordo Public Schools, US New & World Report

History of Alamogordo New Mexico, White Sands Proving Ground and the Missiles that blew up in Alamogordo and Juarez, Mexico

Alamogordo has a vast history and was a city of significant and strategic importance to the US Military establishment in the 1940’s through the 1970’s. During that time some would say that was the peak of Alamogordo. It was the center of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Following Hitler’s fall in 1945, the United States brought 177 German rocket scientists and technicians to White Sands Testing Range under Operation Paperclip. Some would say this “Operation Paperclip” is what put Alamogordo on the world map and brought about a period of peak prosperity. From the 1940’s to the 1970’s Alamogordo was a prosperous city with a lively nightlife full of nightclubs, cultural arts, live theater, and a robust retail environment. The school system at that time was ranked in the top 10 in the nation and it paid its teachers better than almost any school system in the country. Science, education and prosperity reigned on the city of Alamogordo and it loved its relationship with the scientist and the military. However, there was temporary fear in the air due to an incident in 1947. But a little history before we get there…

 Following Hitler’s fall in 1945, the United States brought 177 German rocket scientists and technicians to White Sands Testing Range under Operation Paperclip. White Sands Missile Range is the largest overland military test range in the United States, occupying some 3,200 square miles of southern New Mexico. With more than 80 years’ experience in rocket and weapons system test and development, it has earned the title “Birthplace of America’s Missile and Space Activity.”

First known as White Sands Proving Ground (renamed White Sands Missile Range in 1958), this installation was established on July 9, 1945, as the place to test rocket technology emerging from World War II.

The first atomic bomb (code named Trinity) was test detonated at Trinity Site near the northern boundary of the range on 16 July 1945, seven days after the White Sands Proving Ground was established.

After the conclusion of World War II, 100 long-range German V-2 rockets that were captured by U.S. military troops were brought to White Sand Proving Ground. Of these, 67 were test-fired between 1946 and 1951 from the White Sands V-2 Launching Site. (This was followed by the testing of American rockets, which continues to this day, along with testing other technologies.)

A launch complex, now known as Launch Complex 33, was built in the desert sand dunes six miles east of the post. It featured a concrete blockhouse with 10-foot-thick walls and a 27- foot-thick roof. A WAC Corporal launch tower was also erected. A year later, a gantry was added.

The first rockets crafted by Americans to blast off from the launch complex, the nation’s first large-scale launch facility, were WAC Corporals. Built by the fledging Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the 16-foot, 660- pound rockets were designed to carry a 25-pound weather package to an altitude of 20 miles. Since the WAC Corporal was under-powered, JPL engineers used a solid-fueled rocket booster dubbed “Tiny Tim” to get the rocket out of its launch tower and up to speed. The booster generated 50,000 pounds of thrust for a half second. By the time, the WAC Corporal was out of the 100-foot tower it was going almost 275 mph. During a series of tests in 1945 and 1946, the WAC Corporal was phenomenally successful, ultimately attaining an altitude of 43 miles. However, there were incidents. Documents in the New Mexico Museum of Space History archives detail the classified project, and how the military also sent 300 railroad boxcars crammed with V-2 parts into southern New Mexico and as the Germans began building the United States Army’s rocket program many early launches either blew up on the pad or crashed on base.

After multiple successful tests one with over 100 Newspaper reporters present and news around the world floating of US gaining in rocket research a series of crashes occurred. The first crashed May 15, 1947 in the city of Alamogordo. The crash occurred on the site of what is now New Mexico State University and the Space Hall of Fame.

After the May 15 disaster, the May 22 Alamogordo News reported “the people of Alamogordo got a thrill and incipiently a scare as some sort of body flew over the town in erratic flight and exploded at least once before dropping to earth.”

The book “We Develop Missiles, Not Air!” by Mattson and Martyn Tagg, (Air Combat Command, USAF/Cultural Resources Publication No. 2/June 1995) said the launch took place at 4:08 p.m. from Launch Complex 33. The liquid fuel was programmed to burn for 63.6 seconds and thrust the 9,827-pound rocket to 4,696 feet per second or 3,202 mph, attaining 76 miles in altitude. However, technicians noted “steering was a trouble from liftoff,” and “We Develop Missiles, Not Air!” said the V-2 “began tumbling end over end through the atmosphere. The pressure broke the missile apart.” Pieces fell near 13th Street and Cuba Avenue, and along the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks.

The Alamogordo News reported residents “got into cars and hastened to the vicinity” of the crash above Indian Wells Road, about 35 miles from LC 33. Citizens also “guarded a portion of the apparatus the rocket was carrying” that had plummeted down to First Street.

Bob Callaway, a high school freshman in 1947, said in a 1995 NMMSH oral history that he and a friend were tossing a ball at Michigan Avenue and 15th Street when the power lines “started shaking violently. About that time, we got the sound wave from the explosion of the V-2.” Callaway and four friends rushed to the scene in a truck and watched personnel load wreckage onto a trailer. He said security permitted them to take non-hazardous material, and they carted off a “bonanza” of wiring and steel tanks. They used the wires to build model airplanes, and the tanks to make “portable welding units,” he said.

Callaway knew of one person who found cameras. That night “OSI started knocking on doors, and believe it or not, by midnight had recovered all five cameras,” Callaway said.

An Army release stated the payload was benign: “scientific equipment” for the Naval Research Laboratory, “two spectrographs and four 16mm gunsight aiming point cameras a cosmic ray count recorder camera and two other aircraft cameras.” Also aboard was “a quantity of rye seed, which will be tested for effect on fertility of exposure to the upper atmosphere.”

An international incident nearly occurred when the V-2 plowed into a cemetery south of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The El Paso Times reported the incident:

V-2 Rocket, Off Course, Falls Near Juarez May 30, 1947

El Paso and Juarez were rocked Thursday night when a runaway German V-2 rocket fired from the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico crashed and exploded on top of a rocky knoll three and a half miles south of the Juarez business district.

The giant missile burst in a desolate area of jagged hill, gullies and bondock.

No one was injured.

Lt. Col. Harold R. Turner, White Sands commanding officer, said failure of the rocket’s German-made gyroscope caused it to swerve from its set northerly course.

He said there was an error in judgment on the part of the safety control department in not shutting off the rocket motors as soon as it was determined the missile had swerved off course.

The violent blast, which shook virtually every building in both El Paso and Juarez, startled citizens of the two cities, who swamped newspaper offices, police headquarters and radio stations with anxious telephone inquiries.

The missile, of the type which terrorized wartime England, landed about a half-mile south of Tepeyac Cemetery.

CRATER 50 FEET

WIDE, 24 FEET DEEP

The terrific impact of the rocket, which contained only telemetering equipment, scooped out a perfectly rounded crater, about 50 feet in diameter and 24 feet deep. Only a few scraps of metal were around the crater when nearby residents reached the scene.

Army authorities form White Sands and Fort Bliss rushed to the spot as soon as they learned of the rocket’s fall and expressed to Mexican officials their regret at the rocket falling on Mexican soil.

Colonel Turner said the missile was fired at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. He said the rocket reached an altitude of 40 miles and was in flight five minutes.

He said the V-2 was being used to test certain component parts in American-made rockets.

Colonel Turner explained that the explosion actually was concussion caused by the force of the four and a half ton V-2 ramming the earth at 12 miles per minute.

The alcohol and liquid oxygen with which the rocket is fueled would only burn and would not explode, the colonel explained.

Mexican soldiers were ordered in the rater to mount guard. They were stationed on the rim, aiding American Military policemen to keep sight-seers and souvenir hunters from the area.

The site is half a mile from Buena Vista airport, where 13 planes were shaken by the blast, and a mile and a half from an oil plant. Many Juarez citizens at first believed the oil plant had exploded.

Wild rumors circulated in El Paso before cause of the blast was ascertained. One man said a “box car full of dynamite” had exploded in South El Paso, devastating the section, while another was certain “an underground gasoline storage dump” had blown up.

Many El Pasoans spotted the rocket’s vapor trail after the missile was fired at White Sands, about 500 airline miles north of El Paso, and a few minutes later heard a terrific explosion and smoke rising in the direction of Juarez.

Lt. Col. John Carroll, former R.O.T.C. commander of El Paso schools was just leaving Fort Bliss when he saw both the vapor trail and the blast.

SAW ROCKET FLIGHT,

WATCHED CRASH

Morris J. Boretz, who was en route to Southwestern General Hospital to visit his daughter, said he was at Brown street and Rim Road when he saw the rocket leaving White Sands and saw the crash south of the Rio Grand, looking like a miniature atomic bomb explosion.

Others who saw the spectacle were R.E. Nelson, 5801 Auburn street; Frank Moltans of the Times circulation staff; Wencis Tovar, 3703 Pera Street; Mrs. S.C. Cox, 3660 Douglas Street.

Lt. Col. George F. Pindar, commanding officer, First Guided Missile Battalion, White Sands, made the first official investigation into the rocket crash. He sped to the scene at about 8 p.m.under orders of Major Gen. John L. Homer, Fort Bliss commander.

Colonel Pindar was in El Paso at the time of the firing. He said he watched the rocket rise with a long tail of flame. Then the rocket appeared to hesitate and almost fade from view. Colonel Pindar looked away for a moment and when he next looked at the rocket it was moving overhead at a high rate of speed, traveling south toward El Paso. A moment later he heard the explosion that rocked the city.

Meanwhile Thursday night an emergency squad of eight Fort Bliss soldiers were searching the western slope of Mount Franklin for evidence of a second explosion reported seen by General Homer.

He told Colonel Pindar that he Saw a smaller explosion just prior to the Juarez blast several miles over the crest of Mount Franklin on the west side. Colonel Pindar said it was possible that a portion of the rocket had sheared off and dropped on Mont Franklin.

SHOCK FELT IN ANTHONY, FABENS

Detective W.D. White of El Paso Police Department, another eyewitness to the explosion, was at the corner of Mesa Avenue and Ninth Street looking in the direction of Juarez when the rocket landed.

“Flames shot into the air like a mushroom,” White said. “It looked just like a haystack on fire.”

Victor Robinson, 3907 Fort Boulevard said, “I saw the rocket go right over our house. It looked like it was going to land in the middle of town.”

Three windows were broken in Fire Chief Joe Boone’s office by the concussion. An electric clock in the Sheriff’s was stopped at exactly 7:32 p.m. by the shock.

Sheriff’s Deputy William Stoddard reported that the shock was felt as far west as Anthon, N.M. and south to Fabens.

The May 29 disaster was never listed in “the official White Sands firing summary,” What occurred with the second crash was it launched from LC 33, the rocket was supposed to fly north, but instead turned south. “The missile ultimately arced over El Paso and landed” (impacted) south of Juarez near a cemetery. “A few hours after the wayward missile landed (impacted), the U.S. Army showed up and found that enterprising Mexicans were selling any old piece of scrap metal they could find and claiming it was V-2 debris. The United States ultimately apologized to Mexico for the incident and paid for all damages incurred.

Subsequently, V-2 launches resumed in July 1947 after safety procedures had been developed to prevent the rockets from endangering civilian populations again.

Article Sources: Wikipedia, White Sands Military Archives, Department of Defense Records, University of New Mexico, US Space Hall of Fame, Alamogordo Town News, El Paso Times, Oral Accounts of Bob Calloway per the Space Hall of Fame and the Alamogordo Daily News.

Who was the fastest man on earth, was responsible for the Murphy’s Law “whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and championed the seatbelt you wear daily?

A resident of Alamogordo, who worked at Alamogordo New Mexico’s Holloman Air Force Base, made history in the U.S. space program and history for travel at a speed faster than a .45-caliber bullet in an experiment to test the limits of human endurance.

That same Alamogordo resident was known as the “fastest man on Earth” during the research phase of the US space program to the moon. He accelerated in five seconds from a standstill to 632 m.p.h. The New York Herald Tribune called this Alamogordo resident “a gentleman who can stop on a dime and give you 10 cents change.”

He won what will perhaps be even more lasting fame in a test five years earlier, when he suffered injuries owing to a mistake by a US Airforce Captain Murphy. The result was the phrase “Murphy’s Law, Whatever Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong .”

Who was this remarkable Alamogordo resident? Seven years before the US sent the other famous Alamogordo resident Ham, (the three-year-old chimpanzee) into space aboard the Mercury Capsule Number 5, this Alamogordo resident, was himself a live monkey, in many speed and endurance tests that tested the limits of man verses speed and gravity.

This individual of remarkable endurance was John Paul Stapp. Dr. Stapp was a flight surgeon in the U.S. Army Air Forces at the end of World War II, continued in the field of aviation medicine after the war, and transferred to the U.S. Air Force when it was established in 1947, to continue his work on the human response to flight.

His interests from the beginning were in the limits of the human body, when subjected to the increasing forces provided by faster and faster aircraft. In the early 1950s, no one knew what humans could withstand when it came for g-forces, rapid spins, oxygen deprivation, and exposure to cosmic rays.  Stapp began a program of human testing to determine those limits, becoming chief of the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and living in Alamogordo.

Dr. Stapp made history aboard the Sonic Wind I rocket sled on December 10, 1954, when he set a land speed record of 632 mph in five seconds, subjecting him to 20 Gs of force during acceleration.

Although he had many individuals, available from a group of volunteers for this dangerous test ride, Dr. Stobb chose himself for the mission. He claimed he did not want to place another person into such a potentially hazardous position.

When the sled stopped in just 1.4 seconds, Dr. Stapp was hit with a force equivalent to 46.2 Gs, more than anyone had yet endured voluntarily on the planet to that point. He set a speed record and was a man of much scientific study. Upon ending the ride, he managed half a smile, as he was pulled from the sled. Dr. Stapp was in significant pain, and his eyes flooded with blood from the bursting of almost all of capillaries in his eyes. As Dr.  Stapp was rushed to the hospital, his aids, doctors, scientist and he all worried that one or both of his retinas had detached, leaving him blind. Thanks to a studious medical team ready with treatment on the standby, by the next day, he had regained enough of his normal vision to be released by his doctors. His eyesight would never fully recover back to the status prior to the tests but he felt the test was well worth the risk and was happy that he did it verses sending one of the volunteers due to the risk. A less strong man might not have survived the test intact.

Acclaimed by the world press as “The Fastest Man on Earth,” Dr. Stapp became an international sensation, appearing on magazine covers, television, and as the subject of an episode of “This is Your Life!” He appeared on the cover of Time Magazine…

Dr. Stapp was a modest man, in person and was approachable. He lived in Alamogordo after leaving the Air Forece and till the end of his life. He used his public acclaim not for personal gain but to pursue his dream of improving automobile safety. As a proponent for public safety, he felt that the safety measures he and his teams were developing for military aircraft should also be used for civilian automobiles.

Dr. Stapp understood the power of celebrity. As such he used his celebrity status to push for the installation of seat belts in American cars. He understood how to politic, navigate the government bureaucracy and use his public persona to push the Department of Transportation to review and eventually implement many now standard safety features. The success of his campaign efforts for public safety is measured in thousands of lives saved and injuries lessened every year by the safety precautions he championed during his lifetime not only in the US but around the world as his measures were adopted as standard world-wide.

In those early years of the mid 1950’s Dr. Stapp had hoped to make more runs on the Sonic Wind, with a goal of surpassing 1000 mph, however in June 1956, the sled flew off its track during an unmanned run and was severely damaged beyond appropriate repair.

Dr. Stapp would later ride an air-powered sled known as the “Daisy Track” at Holloman, but never again would he be subjected to the rigors of rocket-powered travel.

Dr. Stapp as an Airforce Colonel next planned and directed the Man-High Project, three manned high-altitude balloon flights to test human endurance at the edge of space. Conducted in June and August 1957, the project’s highlight was the second mission, during which Lieutenant David G. Simons reached an altitude of almost 102,000 feet. Project Man-High was a tremendous scientific success and helped prepare for America’s initial manned space which of course did not happen until after Alamogordo’s other famous resident “Ham” the three-year-old chimpanzee had successfully been launched and returned safely.

Dr. Stapp retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1970. He went on to become a professor at the University of California’s Safety and Systems Management Center, then a consultant to the Surgeon General and NASA.

He next served as the president of the New Mexico Research Institute in Alamogordo, New Mexico, as well as chairman of the annual “Dr. Stapp International Car Crash Conference.”

 In 1991, Stapp received the National Medal of Technology, “for his research on the effects of mechanical force on living tissues leading to safety developments in crash protection technology.” He was also honorary chairman of the Stapp Foundation, underwritten by General Motors to provide scholarships for automotive engineering students.

Dr. Stapp was a well-regarded Alamogordo resident and spoke often at the public high school, in lectures at NMSU Alamogordo and as a guest lecturer at the Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo.  He was always open to talking with young impressionable individuals encouraging the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Colonel Dr. John Stapp died in Alamogordo on November 13, 1999, at the age of eighty-nine. His many honors and awards included enrollment in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Air Force Cheney Award for Valor and the Lovelace Award from NASA for aerospace medical research.

Alamogordo, New Mexico has been called the cradle of America’s space program and offers a museum that applauds our exploration of the heavens with a mix of high-tech entertainment and dramatic exhibits. The United Space Hall of Fame and Space Museum in Alamogordo, New Mexico continues to honor Dr. John P. Stapp naming the Air & Space Park after him. Named after International Space Hall of Fame Inductee and aeromedical pioneer Dr. John P. Stapp, the Air and Space Park consists of large space-related artifacts documenting mankind’s exploration of space. Examples of exhibits include the Sonic Wind I rocket sled ridden by Dr. Stapp and the Little Joe II rocket which tested the Apollo Launch Escape System. At 86 feet tall, Little Joe II is the largest rocket ever launched from New Mexico. Many major breakthroughs in technology occurred in the Alamogordo area, and the museum offers a variety of exhibitions to showcase those milestones. Other features showcased are a tribute to the Delta Clipper Experimental; and the Clyde W. Tombaugh Theater and Planetarium, featuring a giant dome-screen and state-of-the-art surround sound to fully immerse the audience. If in the Alamogordo area or in Southern New Mexico this is a do not miss stop for anyone with an interest in space or the history of space exploration.

New Mexico Museum of Space History

LOCATION: Next to the New Mexico State University, Alamogordo at the Top of NM 2001, Alamogordo, NM

PHONE:(575) 437-2840

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, closed on Monday and Tuesday

ADMISSION: Adults are $8, Senior/Military/NM Resident $7, Children (4-12) $6, Tots (3 & Under) Free. New Mexico foster families are admitted free. Additional fees for theater and planetarium.

On the Web: www.NMSpaceMuseum.org

Article Author Chris Edwards, Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media.

Excerpts and Source of Information: New Mexico Museum of Space History, The History Channel, Time Magazine September 12, 1955, The Discovery Channel, “Space Men: They were the first to brave the unknown (Transcript)”. American Experience. PBS. March 1, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2019. “Building 29: Aero Medical Laboratory”. Historic Buildings & Sites at Wright-Patterson AFB. United States Air Force. August 12, 2002. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2008. Spark, Nick T. “The Story of John Paul Stapp”. The Ejection Site. Stapp JP (August 1948). “Problems of human engineering in regard to sudden declarative forces on man”. Mil Surg. 103 (2): 99–102. PMID 18876408.  Aviation Week for 3 January 1955 says he accelerated to 632 mph in five seconds and 2800 feet, then coasted for half a second, then slowed to a stop in 1.4 seconds. It says the track was 3500 feet long. Spark, Nick T. (2006). “

A resident of Alamogordo, who worked at Alamogordo New Mexico’s Holloman Air Force Base, made history in the U.S. space program and history for travel at a speed faster than a .45-caliber bullet in an experiment to test the limits of human endurance.

That same Alamogordo resident was known as the “fastest man on Earth” during the research phase of the US space program to the moon. He accelerated in five seconds from a standstill to 632 m.p.h. The New York Herald Tribune called this Alamogordo resident “a gentleman who can stop on a dime and give you 10 cents change.”

He won what will perhaps be even more lasting fame in a test five years earlier, when he suffered injuries owing to a mistake by a US Airforce Captain Murphy. The result was the phrase “Murphy’s Law.”

Who was this remarkable Alamogordo resident? Seven years before the US sent the other famous Alamogordo resident Ham, (the three-year-old chimpanzee) into space aboard the Mercury Capsule Number 5, this Alamogordo resident, was himself a live monkey, in many speed and endurance tests that tested the limits of man verses speed and gravity.

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This individual of remarkable endurance was John Paul Stapp. Dr. Stapp was a flight surgeon in the U.S. Army Air Forces at the end of World War II, continued in the field of aviation medicine after the war, and transferred to the U.S. Air Force when it was established in 1947, to continue his work on the human response to flight.

A picture containing outdoor, transport, aircraft, old

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His interests from the beginning were in the limits of the human body, when subjected to the increasing forces provided by faster and faster aircraft. In the early 1950s, no one knew what humans could withstand when it came for g-forces, rapid spins, oxygen deprivation, and exposure to cosmic rays.  Stapp began a program of human testing to determine those limits, becoming chief of the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and living in Alamogordo.

Dr. Stapp made history aboard the Sonic Wind I rocket sled on December 10, 1954, when he set a land speed record of 632 mph in five seconds, subjecting him to 20 Gs of force during acceleration.

Although he had many individuals, available from a group of volunteers for this dangerous test ride, Dr. Stobb chose himself for the mission. He claimed he did not want to place another person into such a potentially hazardous position.

When the sled stopped in just 1.4 seconds, Dr. Stapp was hit with a force equivalent to 46.2 Gs, more than anyone had yet endured voluntarily on the planet to that point. He set a speed record and was a man of much scientific study. Upon ending the ride, he managed half a smile, as he was pulled from the sled. Dr. Stapp was in significant pain, and his eyes flooded with blood from the bursting of almost all of capillaries in his eyes. As Dr.  Stapp was rushed to the hospital, his aids, doctors, scientist and he all worried that one or both of his retinas had detached, leaving him blind. Thanks to a studious medical team ready with treatment on the standby, by the next day, he had regained enough of his normal vision to be released by his doctors. His eyesight would never fully recover back to the status prior to the tests but he felt the test was well worth the risk and was happy that he did it verses sending one of the volunteers due to the risk. A less strong man might not have survived the test intact.

Acclaimed by the world press as “The Fastest Man on Earth,” Dr. Stapp became an international sensation, appearing on magazine covers, television, and as the subject of an episode of “This is Your Life!” He appeared on the cover of Time Magazine…

A magazine with a person's face on it

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Dr. Stapp was a modest man, in person and was approachable. He lived in Alamogordo after leaving the Air Forece and till the end of his life. He used his public acclaim not for personal gain but to pursue his dream of improving automobile safety. As a proponent for public safety, he felt that the safety measures he and his teams were developing for military aircraft should also be used for civilian automobiles.

Dr. Stapp understood the power of celebrity. As such he used his celebrity status to push for the installation of seat belts in American cars. He understood how to politic, navigate the government bureaucracy and use his public persona to push the Department of Transportation to review and eventually implement many now standard safety features. The success of his campaign efforts for public safety is measured in thousands of lives saved and injuries lessened every year by the safety precautions he championed during his lifetime not only in the US but around the world as his measures were adopted as standard world-wide.

In those early years of the mid 1950’s Dr. Stapp had hoped to make more runs on the Sonic Wind, with a goal of surpassing 1000 mph, however in June 1956, the sled flew off its track during an unmanned run and was severely damaged beyond appropriate repair.

Dr. Stapp would later ride an air-powered sled known as the “Daisy Track” at Holloman, but never again would he be subjected to the rigors of rocket-powered travel.

Dr. Stapp as an Airforce Colonel next planned and directed the Man-High Project, three manned high-altitude balloon flights to test human endurance at the edge of space. Conducted in June and August 1957, the project’s highlight was the second mission, during which Lieutenant David G. Simons reached an altitude of almost 102,000 feet. Project Man-High was a tremendous scientific success and helped prepare for America’s initial manned space which of course did not happen until after Alamogordo’s other famous resident “Ham” the three-year-old chimpanzee had successfully been launched and returned safely.

Dr. Stapp retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1970. He went on to become a professor at the University of California’s Safety and Systems Management Center, then a consultant to the Surgeon General and NASA.

He next served as the president of the New Mexico Research Institute in Alamogordo, New Mexico, as well as chairman of the annual “Dr. Stapp International Car Crash Conference.”

 In 1991, Stapp received the National Medal of Technology, “for his research on the effects of mechanical force on living tissues leading to safety developments in crash protection technology.” He was also honorary chairman of the Stapp Foundation, underwritten by General Motors to provide scholarships for automotive engineering students.

Dr. Stapp was a well-regarded Alamogordo resident and spoke often at the public high school, in lectures at NMSU Alamogordo and as a guest lecturer at the Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo.  He was always open to talking with young impressionable individuals encouraging the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Colonel Dr. John Stapp died in Alamogordo on November 13, 1999, at the age of eighty-nine. His many honors and awards included enrollment in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Air Force Cheney Award for Valor and the Lovelace Award from NASA for aerospace medical research.

Alamogordo, New Mexico has been called the cradle of America’s space program and offers a museum that applauds our exploration of the heavens with a mix of high-tech entertainment and dramatic exhibits. The United Space Hall of Fame and Space Museum in Alamogordo, New Mexico continues to honor Dr. John P. Stapp naming the Air & Space Park after him. Named after International Space Hall of Fame Inductee and aeromedical pioneer Dr. John P. Stapp, the Air and Space Park consists of large space-related artifacts documenting mankind’s exploration of space. Examples of exhibits include the Sonic Wind I rocket sled ridden by Dr. Stapp and the Little Joe II rocket which tested the Apollo Launch Escape System. At 86 feet tall, Little Joe II is the largest rocket ever launched from New Mexico. Many major breakthroughs in technology occurred in the Alamogordo area, and the museum offers a variety of exhibitions to showcase those milestones. Other features showcased are a tribute to the Delta Clipper Experimental; and the Clyde W. Tombaugh Theater and Planetarium, featuring a giant dome-screen and state-of-the-art surround sound to fully immerse the audience. If in the Alamogordo area or in Southern New Mexico this is a do not miss stop for anyone with an interest in space or the history of space exploration.

New Mexico Museum of Space History

LOCATION: Next to the New Mexico State University, Alamogordo at the Top of NM 2001, Alamogordo, NM

PHONE:(575) 437-2840

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, closed on Monday and Tuesday

ADMISSION: Adults are $8, Senior/Military/NM Resident $7, Children (4-12) $6, Tots (3 & Under) Free. New Mexico foster families are admitted free. Additional fees for theater and planetarium.

On the Web: www.NMSpaceMuseum.org

Article Author Chris Edwards, Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media.

Excerpts and Source of Information: New Mexico Museum of Space History, The History Channel, Time Magazine September 12, 1955, The Discovery Channel, “Space Men: They were the first to brave the unknown (Transcript)”. American Experience. PBS. March 1, 2016. Retrieved January 2, 2019. “Building 29: Aero Medical Laboratory”. Historic Buildings & Sites at Wright-Patterson AFB. United States Air Force. August 12, 2002. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2008. Spark, Nick T. “The Story of John Paul Stapp”. The Ejection Site. Stapp JP (August 1948). “Problems of human engineering in regard to sudden declarative forces on man”. Mil Surg. 103 (2): 99–102. PMID 18876408.  Aviation Week for 3 January 1955 says he accelerated to 632 mph in five seconds and 2800 feet, then coasted for half a second, then slowed to a stop in 1.4 seconds. It says the track was 3500 feet long. Spark, Nick T. (2006). “Whatever Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong”: A History of Murphy’s Law. Periscope Film. ISBN 9780978638894. OCLC 80015522″: A History of Murphy’s Law. Periscope Film. ISBN 9780978638894. OCLC 80015522