AlamogordoTownNews.com Welcome Home Honor Flight & Reception Saturday Oct 1, 2022, 8 pm New York Avenue

Alamogordo – 8:00 PM – The Van will come up White Sands Boulevard and turn right on 10th street then left on New York Ave and pass Otero County Courthouse. – Reception at the Gardens of New York 1120 New York Avenue 8 pm Saturday, October 1st.

We will have a police escort through Alamogordo and will bring the Veterans back to The Gardens of New York 1120 New York Avenue past the county courthouse around 8 pm. Reception from about 8-10pm.

The two local veterans returning from the honor flight are David Hatcher, he retired as an E-7 (Master Sargent) and was a helicopter maintenance tech. His AFSC was 43150D, and he worked on air rescue helicopters during his time in Vietnam. He served in Vietnam from ’70-’71 and then retired in 1993 as a Master Sergeant with 23 years of service. He lives in Alamogordo with his wife June who will be traveling with us on Saturday to welcome him at the airport.

Roger Bredy and his wife Cathy, live in Alamogordo as well. Roger retired here in Alamogordo after 25 years of service as an E-9. He was an A/A missile weapons troop who moved here from Florida in 1984 and then retired here in 1989.

We would like to see the sidewalks lined with well-wishers holding signs and US flags. This one small gesture helps bring healing to these Veterans.

“You have no idea what wounds it healed having people cheer and clap and be proud of you. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” Vietnam Veteran

Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico and El Paso transports America’s World War II, Korean and Vietnam War Veterans to Washington DC to visit the memorials built to honor and remember those who served. This trip of a lifetime provides closure, healing and the welcome home these heroes deserve. Every Veteran is taken on the flight at no cost to themselves.

This Alamogordo Flight was funded by Alamogordo 100 Women that Care and celebration coordination and veteran sponsorship for the Honor Flight by the US Veterans Motorcycle Club New Mexico Chapter. 

 The US Veterans Motorcycle Club New Mexico Chapter received the grant from the 100 Women that Care Alamogordo Chapter and opted to use the funds to support local veterans on the Honor Flight. The US Veterans Motorcycle Club New Mexico Chapter consists of members who are all honorably discharged, and their mission statement is “Veterans Helping Veterans.” The club says that when they heard that the Honor Flight was looking for sponsorship of a couple of local veterans it was a “natural fit to support the local veterans given the clubs mission.”

So, show your appreciation for these older veterans as they return home from a trip to DC for their honor flight. Join us and the New York Avenue business community as we honor these returning veterans with a celebration and meet and greet. 

Location is at the New York Art and Music’s Gardens of New York at 1120 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico, Time 8 pm October 1st – 1120 New York Avenue.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Community Spotlight: Debra & Joe Lewandowski “Getting it Done”, in Historic Preservation

When one looks at a small-town community like Alamogordo, Otero County, New Mexico or any town for that matter; there are those that stand back and point to what needs to be done, there are those that criticize but never add value to the community, there are those that work discretely behind the scenes to fund and work the cogs of the bureaucracy to get things done, and then there are those that are “doers” that work daily, each and every day with passion, conviction and purpose in “getting it done.” 

When one looks at every major historical preservation project in Alamogordo over the last decade plus, Debra & Joe Lewandowski are “Getting it Done” in Historic Preservation. Taking a drive around the community, one sees the fingerprints of a passionate conviction and the “get it done” commitment of Debra & Joe Lewandowski.

George Bernard Shaw once said, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” Mr. Shaw would be impressed by the conviction to historic preservation of Debra and Joe Lewandowski. 

When one looks at the Tularosa Basin Historical Society; it is backed by a volunteer board of directors, that are passionate about preserving the stories, and the structures, that make up the history of Alamogordo, and of Otero County. This platform has allowed Debra & Joe Lewandowski to find their passions and to shine.

These two individuals daily do the legwork or grunt work to bring about results in historic preservation. Long hours of mental and physical hard work, from research to actually building walls, nailing, painting, garbage removal, leading volunteers, interfacing with government officials, bureaucrats and the business community, building bridges and partnerships and doing it daily – is all in a day’s work for Debra and Joe Lewandowski.

A bit about Deb and Joe:

Joe and Deb Lewandowski were Alamogordo Mid-High School sweethearts. After graduating in 1974 and 1975, Joe joined the U.S. Army starting their adventure of moving around the world. This opportunity allowed for them to visit historical locations in the areas they served. After 6 1/2 years, they returned to Alamogordo, starting their first business in the solid waste collection business in 1981. 

Over the years, they started other businesses and continuing their involvement in solid waste consulting and management. Both have always had a love and curiosity of the true history story not the way it may have been portrayed. As Joe says, “Hollywood History”. 

In 2012, they started their involvement with the Tularosa Basin Historical Society. Working with great volunteers, they have been honored to be involved with the renovation of the “Plaza” and the La Luz Pottery Factory, two significant projects that put the Tula Basin Historic Society on the map, preserving two iconic buildings that otherwise could be derelict. 

The two are aggressively working on two more very visible projects in partnership with the Tularosa Basin Historic Society, the city of Alamogordo and the business community of the New York Avenue Business District. 

The first project is evolving, as previously reported by AlamogordoTownNews.com, on the corner of 10th Street and White Sands Blvd, as the Alamogordo Railroad History Park. The evolving park that will have artifacts and photographs from the early days of Alamogordo as a railroad town dating to the early 1900’s. The planning for the city and its roots date to 1898. 

Background on the importance of the railroad to Alamogordo, thus the park.

In 1912, incorporated Alamogordo, was founded as a company town, to support the building of the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, a part of the transcontinental railway that was being constructed in the late 19th century.

Initially its main industry was timbering for railroad ties. The railroad founders were also eager to find a major town that would persist after the railroad was completed; they formed the Alamogordo Improvement Company to develop the area, making Alamogordo an early example of a planned community. The Alamogordo Improvement Company owned all the land, platted the streets, built the first houses and commercial buildings, donated land for a college. The early days of Alamogordo was driven by commerce around the railroad.

A modern park evolves under a partnered approach.

This walking park will showcase the influence of the railroad, across from the Tularosa Basin Museum and Walgreens. The park upgrades and preservation work are a joint historical preservation project between Alamogordo MainStreet (which secured a $20,000 grant from Union Pacific), the city of Alamogordo, and the design, implementation and oversite of the building project is being done by Joe and Debra under the umbrella of the Tularosa Basin Historic Society, and Operational Consultants.

Debra is tasked with creating the photo essay on the walking path that will tell the story of Alamogordo as the railroad town it once was. Joe is tasked with managing the buildout. Together the new park is evolving, and they are “getting it done via community partnerships.”

Dudley School Preservation Project:

The next project, the duo of Debra and Joe, recently kicked off, was a well-attended public meeting seeking volunteers is the Dudley School Preservation Project. Since kickoff there have been two volunteer days where a large amount of cleanout has begun. The work is ongoing and will need volunteers again in the upcoming weeks.

Alamogordo’s Hispanic History, A Story Getting Representation Through Preservation:

Dudley School was the historically Hispanic School. Dudley School was built in 1914 and had four classrooms. Dudley School was set up as part of a segregation plan at the time and specialized in children that did not speak English being educated in a separate school facility. Hispanics could not go north of 10th Street or into the “plaza” at the time. The city of Alamogordo, New Mexico with its proximity to Texas was a racially divided city until the 1950’s. The Dudley School project is important in that it is a historic structure from the early 1900’s, and it was one of the two schools that served students of color during the years of segregation. The project will bring the building back to its origins of 4 rooms and will be a community center as well as a museum telling firsthand family stories of students that attended the Dudley School. The revitalized school will also have playground equipment and will be available to the public for rentals. This is another community partnership effort led by the duo in working the process of partnerships between the city, the Tularosa Basin Historic Society and the public in volunteering to assist in the grunt work of preservation.

According to Joe and Debra, “helping with the setup and planning of these projects, supporting the history, gathering and educating public on the stories of the Basin has been and continues to be very rewarding.”

Both have served at different times on the TBHS Board of Directors.  Debra serves as the TBHS Manager which oversees the daily operations of the museum on White Sands and 10th Street, schedules with Joe the tours and preservation of the Pottery Factory and of course these other multiple projects. 

Passion, Commitment, Heart:

As one drives around the city of Alamogordo and Otero County from the La Luz Pottery Factory to the Plaza, the Dudley School and beyond; the commitment, passion and hard work ethic of Debra & Joe Lewandowski can be felt. Steve Jobs the founder of Apple said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

It is apparent, in each interaction with Debra & Joe Lewandowski, they are creating a legacy of historic preservation. Each puts the elbow grease and hard work into the projects, and they have found the work “they love.” 

We as a community in Alamogordo, and Otero County are fortunate to have them as leaders in our community. From our hearts on New York Avenue and beyond, Thank you!

Byline Chris Edwards, AlamogordoTownNews.com, Influence Magazine

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Day Two Recap of Trial to Remove Cowboys for Trump Founder/Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin

Day two of the trail to remove Cowboys for Trump Founder and Otero County New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin from office proceeded today into a second day of expert testimony on why he qualifies for removal as per Section 3 of the 14th amendment and participation in a rebellion or insurrection against the government of the United States and the peaceful transition of power of the presidency.

Text of the amendment:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Interpretation is that no person can be a Senator, Representative, Elector or officer of the United States — or United States military officer, or member of a State Legislature, or a Governor, or a judge of any State — if they took an oath to support the Constitution and then took part in a rebellion against the United States or gave aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. But Congress can change this with two ­thirds vote.

A History Lesson of how Republicans enacted the 14th Amendment Section 3:

This is a section of the constitution that dealt directly with the aftermath of the Civil War, section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits those who had “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same [United States] or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” from serving in the government. It was designed to keep the governments free of those who had broken the country apart. However, its effect wound up being relatively minor, that is until this trial. 

Due to the obscure cases around the use of this amendment this may make an interesting case that could go all the way to the US Supreme Court as a precedent setting case. 

Section 3 of the 14th amendment has been called “the most forgotten provision of the forgotten Fourteenth Amendment.” Congress last used Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1919 to refuse to seat a socialist Congressman accused of having given aid and comfort to Germany during the First World War, irrespective of the Amnesty Act.

Interesting fact is the amendment was drafted by Republican members of the Thirty-Ninth Congress.

Republicans when setting out the conditions for restoring former confederate states to the Union demanded, in rough order of priority, a constitutional change in the basis of apportionment (Section 2), constitutional provisions respecting the state and federal debt (Section 4), constitutional or statutory provisions limiting confederate participation in politics (Section 3), constitutional or statutory provisions protecting the rights of former slaves and white Unionists (Section 1), and a constitutional ban on secession that did not become part of the final Fourteenth Amendment.

The first version of Section 3 was born in chaos. On Wednesday, April 25, 1866, the Joint Committee on Reconstruction reached agreement on an omnibus Fourteenth Amendment. The centerpiece of that text was the provision mandating black suffrage by 1876. The Republicans on that committee immediately learned from their peers that this provision would not fly. Desperate to produce an amendment by Monday, April 30 the Joint Committee hastily cobbled together a new omnibus draft on Saturday, April 28. The centerpiece of that text was Section 2, which the Republican members of the committee thought would induce former confederate states to accept black suffrage by reducing state representation in the House of Representatives and Electoral College in proportion to disenfranchised males over 21. Section 2 of the new omnibus text could not be implemented until after the next census. To ensure loyal control of state governments until that time, the Joint Committee added Section 3, which disenfranchised until July 4, 1870, all persons who gave “aid and comfort” to the rebellion.

The second version of Section 3 was reared in secret. The Joint Committee’s Section 3 engendered substantial debate among Republicans in Congress. Republicans disputed how that provision would be implemented and whether that provision would be effective. In mid-May Republican Senators held a three-day caucus to resolve disputes over Section 3 (and Section 2). We know the subjects of that caucus (largely Section 3), but not the details of what was said. No one leaked then or later in memoirs. 

When that caucus ended, Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan proposed, with a few tweaks, the Section 3 we have today.

That Section 3 replaced temporary disenfranchisement with a permanent officeholding ban (both federal and state) while limiting the subjects of the ban to persons who, holding certain offices, had previously taken an oath to support the Constitution. Republicans fell in line immediately. Party members responded to Democratic criticisms but did not discuss the meaning of the Republican Senate Caucus’s Section 3 or how to best implement that provision.

Republicans assumed the constitutional problems the Fourteenth Amendment was meant to solve would largely vanish once either white Unionists or a biracial coalition of white Unionists and former slaves controlled southern governments and sent loyal representatives to Congress. Section 3 would, of course, apply to any future insurrection. Nevertheless, Republicans were focused almost exclusively on preventing confederates from regaining power. They did not concern themselves with what might constitute a future insurrection once the slave power had been permanently interred.

Yet here we are today…

Yet here we are today, in a court case that’s roots are spun from the American Civil War, in a battle to define what is an act of rebellion or insurrection and to answer the question of should a local county commissioner from a small poor county in New Mexico be removed from office for participation in what most have defined as an act of rebellion against the transition of power from former President Trump to President Biden. 

Should Couy Griffin, an Otero County Commissioner be removed from office and barred from ever holding office again per article 14 Section 3?

The plaintiffs today, called law professor and expert on the 14th amendment, Dr. Mark Graber, to the stand to outline the definition of treason and an insurrection under the amendment, and how Griffin’s actions play into that.

Griffin: In your own opinion, is that a violation of my oath?

Dr. Graber: “Yes. Again, let’s go through the elements. You were acting in concert with other people, you marched with them, that’s what the tapes clearly show. You had a purpose, to prevent the certification of Joe Biden to be president.”

Dr. Graber investigated the insurrection and Griffin’s role in it. Under oath, he shared his three big findings: January 6, 2021 was an insurrection, people responsible for writing Section Three of the 14th amendment back in the 1800s would say it applies to county commissioners, and that they would view Griffin’s actions on July 6th as participating in insurrection.

Griffin, who is representing himself, argued he went to Washington D.C. that day as a private citizen and not in an official capacity. 

Like Monday, Judge Francis Mathew had to step in to keep proceedings on track.

Griffin: Your honor…the witness doesn’t need to be trying to put what I was thinking and what I was doing, this is my time with the witness and what I was doing there.

Judge Mathew: He’s answering your question.

Griffin: He’s making accusations all the same.

Next on the stand was Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld, an expert on political violence who also helped the select House committee investigate the insurrection. She testified that Griffin was an insurrectionist.

In cross-examination, Griffin said that was her opinion.

Toward the end of the day the dialog would make Griffin appear defeated. He mentioned maybe he should have had witnesses for his side. In the end the judge will decide. Today marked the end of testimony. Hundreds of pages of expert witness findings and cross examination that were humorous at time considering the seriousness of the charges and the potential precedent of this trial.

The closing arguments are not verbal but are to be submitted to the judge by August 29th. The judge is said he will rule within 10 days of receipt of those closing arguments.

Prologue:

The most bizarre twist of this whole affair is that an alleged staunch Republican, Commissioner Couy Griffin, has the potential of being removed from office, by an obscure piece of the constitution, that dates back to the civil war, sponsored by Republicans, to protect the United States Government from Confederate leaning elected officials from serving in office. 

The joke on us, in poor, played, Otero County, New Mexico is that the average Joe American is footing much expense with this whole judicial affair; it is game of brinksmanship on constitutional theory, that could impact the lowest to highest levels of power in this nation.  

Mr. Griffin and those that filed the lawsuit are all pawns in a game of constitutional theory being played out in what could evolve into a big-league US Supreme Court, precedent setting case that could impact the political landscape of this nation for decades at every level – city, county, state and national. 

This case getting national attention and being defended by a lone commissioner without an attorney is the big leagues, playing the little guy, into shaping the Republican Party to Retake Republicanism or to allow it to continue its present course, thus allowing an evolution, of power to fill the vacuum of discontent in a way we nor our founding fathers ever would have imagined.

Some say pray for America, others say Retake Republicanism, I suggest being diligent, vote, participate and educate oneself with constitutional facts verses the false narratives, get back to civics education, actually read and understand the constitution, then diligently look at those elected and ask yourself, “does he or she actually represent the values and intent of the founding fathers and that of the constitution for which we are all sworn?” 

Let’s put ego aside and reengage in the art of compromise and citizenship and respect for one another. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Railroad History Park Evolving on White Sands and 10th Street

The Tularosa Basin Museum in partnership with the merchants and partnership of Alamogordo MainStreet and the City of Alamogordo have come together to create a new park at the corner of 10th Street and White Sands. Just across from the Tularosa Basin Museum and Walgreen’s within eyeshot of the New York Avenue Cultural Arts and History District is the corner lot owned by the City of Alamogordo. 

Thanks to the leadership of Joe Lewandoski of the Tularosa Basin Historic Society in the leadership role of this project, working in collaboration with Brian Cesar, the City Manager for the City of Alamogordo, a dream of a City of Alamogordo Railroad Park is coming to life. A $20,000 grant facilitated by Alamogordo MainStreet granted by the Union Pacific Foundation was a kickstart for the new city park.

The park design at the Southeast corner of Alameda Park is in the near location of the water tower, view of the tracks but a safe distance and has the advantage of parking within the zoo parking so no need to cross street or railroad tracks. This portion of the park is historical, going all the way back to the founding of Alamogordo by the Eddy brothers.  This property is adjacent to the zoo which is the oldest continuing operating zoo in the southwest.

As people enter the park on the newly created concrete walkways, they will first view a semaphore (track switch/signal.) The signal to be on display was located at Alamogordo’s second railway depot. The unit was donated to the Tularosa Basin Museum from a donor from Belen who had acquired it. The unit is complete with all parts for installation. 

A park visitor to their right will eventually observe an excursion car similar to what was used on the rails going to Cloudcroft. The plan is to acquire one from the salvage yard of Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. It is an 80% replica of what once ran on this line but not an exact. The plan is to modify it replicate the photo below…

Continuing on the newly created pathways of the park will be historical pillars with photographs and story boards telling the history of the railroad and photographs of the buildings and support history of the railroad areas of Alamogordo as seen in the early 1900s. Each pillar along the pathway will take the park goer back in time with a photo and history lesson of the past specific to the railroad.

During the years of the early railroad another historic structure that no longer exists is a water fountain that was an attraction for passengers in the early 1900’s that had a layover. The fountain of the early 1900’s represented an oasis in the desert and passengers in the early 1900’s saw Alamogordo as a modern and bustling oasis in the middle of the city. A replica of that fountain will be part of the new park.

Another feature of the park is a beautiful piece of metal work created by Larry Berry, a local business owner (Basin Pipe and Metal.) In the work are components and events from the Tularosa Basin, the railroad, the Mexican Trestle, the Avis Building etc. It is 16 feet long and 9 feet high and will serve as a beautiful display of public art on the site.

Landscaping and benches will enhance the park. The park is under construction under the leadership and project management of Joe Lewandowski with great assistance from Debra Lewandowski and a host of community partners.

Alamogordo is fortunate to have the talents of these individuals that can bring together a variety of community interest in the name of community to tell the history of Alamogordo and to further enhance the quest of developing the New York Avenue 10th Street corridor into the New York Avenue Cultural Arts and History District. 

Stay turned for a story later in the week on the Tularosa Basin Museum, an update on the Dudley restoration project also under the leadership of the Lewandowski’s and to learn more about these two passionate individuals that are driving the preservation of Alamogordo’s history forward with concrete action. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com: New York Avenue Plans an Active 1st Week of July – Alamogordo’s Cultural Arts & History District

The merchants of New York Avenue in partnership with Alamogordo Main Street are planning a very active first week of July as Alamogordo kicks into the Summer Months ahead!

July 1st – Alamogordo’s New York Avenue Merchants celebrate the Downtown Nights First Friday New York Avenue – the First Friday of every month all merchants along the New York Avenue Arts, History and Commerce District stay open late till at least 8 pm and most are offering specials to include live music, spun DJ music, refreshments, special prices, meet the artisans or vendors and more. From food trucks to live performance artists you never know what you will find on Alamogordo’s New York Avenue for the first Friday events. 

Participating stores include Victoria Alamogordo, Roadrunner Emporium, Pins & Needles, Elite Memories Boutique, Globug, Mia’s Collectibles, Good News Thrift Store, The Local Bodega, Blush Beauty Bar, Desert Threads, Mission Billiards, New York Avenue Art and Music, Rocket City Gaming and more!

Join Roadrunner Emporium July 1st for a live musical event that will showcase Freddie Duran “El Troubador” from 5 pm to 8 pm. Come and join the fun of live music in Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo

Freddie Duran is an American born singer/songwriter/entertainer hailing from Alamogordo, New Mexico and now residing and performing throughout the Phoenix area. His vast repertoire consists of both original and cover songs sung in English and Spanish. Once awarded Arizona Songwriter of the Year, he is working on his next two music videos directed by longtime band member/guitarist Carole Pellatt. They’re looking at mid to late June premiers and releases for his singles, “Questions For God” and “New Mexico Midnights”.

Freddie’s two music videos “La Llorona” & “Where the Birds Sing in Spanish” can be seen here and were directed by John Koop.

Winner of the “TEMPE SONGWRITING CONTEST”, FREDDIE DURAN has been performing and recording in and around the desert southwest for most of his life (other than three years in the L.A. area.) Back when STAR SEARCH was having local tryouts in Phoenix, he got 2nd place to none other than David Spade.

Originally from Alamogordo, New Mexico – he draws upon the beauty and culture of the southwest for much of his inspiration. Thus the label “Adobe Rock” describing his musical style. He also likes to write about the “politics of love and life”, creatively blending his musical and verbal vocabulary skills to construct a number of intriguing situations and thought provoking themes. And Freddie’s dynamic voice is the ultimate messenger to deliver all of this information to your ears.

Freddie was invited to perform the National Anthem at the Arizona Cardinal’s – Kansas City Chiefs game as part of their Hispanic Heritage Celebration during their inaugural season.

Come in shop, browse and listen to live musical performances, meet the artisans and more on Alamogordo’s Main Street New York Avenue 5 pm to 8 pm July 1st.

July 4th come hang out on 10th street to New York Avenue for the Alamogordo Center of Commerce hosted July 4th Independence Day Parade. The corner of 10th and New York is the turn in point where the floats slow down for photos and complete the route from Oregon Street down 1oth ending on New York Avenue. Come celebrate with national and New Mexico pride July 4th at 10 am with the parade and then shopping at New York Avenue local businesses after the parade.

July 6th New York Avenue Merchants, Alamogordo Main Street and local farmers and vendors partner to bring back the New York Avenue Summer Seasonal Farmers Market. This farmers market event will be hosted on New York Avenue every Wednesday in July and August from 5 PM to 7 PM. So come to New York Avenue Wednesday night and visit the participating merchants that will be open late and of course support the local farmers and curators of local products available only on Wednesdays in Alamogordo’s Cultural Arts and History District – New York Avenue.

While visiting the local merchants check out the other upcoming classes, ghost and history tours and other events that will be happening this summer. 

In August, save the date for Saturday August 20th when Flickinger Center will be closing off the street and hosting the Otero County Heritage Festival and Street Dance from 4 pm to 10 pm.

Save the date of October 8th, 2022 when Alamogordo Main Street, New York Avenue merchants and other partner under the vision of the legendary. Claudia Powell to bring Rockabilly Alamogordo 2022. This event will include vendors, artists, crafters, food, live music, tattooing, contests, and talent not seen in Alamogordo for several years. This event is sure to entertain and inspire.

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New Mexico Influence Magazine Article Reprint: The Understated Influence of Alamogordo’s Black Churches

By Chris Edwards, CEO 2nd Life Media/Roadrunner Emporium, Alamogordo reprint from New Mexico Influence Magazine – April May Edition

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley’

John Wesley was an English cleric, theologian, and evangelist, who was a leader of a revival movement within the Church of England known as Methodism. The societies he founded became the dominant form of the independent Methodist movement that continues to this day.

While researching this article on the “influence” of the Black Church in Alamogordo, we reached to the leadership of several of Alamogordo’s Black churches. I was surprised that the Reverend Warren Robinson of Alamogordo’s Owen’s AME Church provided me the quote above from a Caucasian theologian born in 1703 as the starting point of my journey of exploration. But in reading into the quote and speaking with the various pastors and theologians the path Reverend Robinson was sending me down was to understand the meaning of “service,” and that service expands well beyond the confines of a “Black Church” or any church for that matter.

When one researches the American Black experience, the fights for social justice and American society, it becomes clear that no pillar of the African American community has been more central to history, identity, and social justice than the “Black Church. Reverend Robinson made it very clear to me that in Alamogordo, “there is no single voice speaking as the Black Church”, just as there is no Black religion.

Pastor Mark Anthony Phillips of Alamogordo’s Holy Temple Church of God in Christ emphasized that the church is about” traditions and faith”, and that laws and societal norms may change, “but the foundation of faith is still and will always remain consistent in scripture.” Pastor Phillips served in the US Airforce for 24 years and then was called to serve as a pastor. In 2000 he was ordained and in 2018 became head pastor of his congregation.

Pastor Johnnie L Walker leader of Alamogordo’s New Covenant Worship Center concurs that the “foundation of the church and the teachings of God and Jesus are the foundation but that the approach to spread the word is much different than times of the past.” Pastor Walker as the newest pastor of Alamogordo’s Black Church community is viewed by many in the Black faith community as representing the “next generation of pastoral leadership for Alamogordo.” Pastor Walker’s outreach is more technologically progressive than the church of the past. He says some sermons over half of his participants are online, yet a challenge is they are not as engaged as an in-person service. Pastor Phillips emphasis was, “that there is no true substitution, to an in-person worship service”, but admits for the church, Black or otherwise, “to stay relevant, we must all evolve in approachall the while sticking to the fundamentals of faith.”

The Black Church This is Our Story, This is Our Song; a book by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. tells the reader that “the traditions and faiths that fall under the umbrella of African American religion, particularly Christianity, constitute two stories; one of a people defining themselves in the presence of a higher power and the other of their journey for freedom and equality in a land where power itself-and even humanity-for so long was (and still is) denied them.”

“Collectively, these churches make up the oldest institution created and controlled by African Americans and as such they are more than simply places of worship. In the centuries since its birth in the time of slavery, the Black Church has stood as the foundation of Black religious, political, economic, and social life. For those who lived through slavery followed by Jim Crow racism, the church provided a refuge: a place of racial and individual self-affirmation, of teaching and learning, of psychological and spiritual sustenance, of faith and a symbolic space where black people, enslaved and free, could nurture the hope for a better today and a much better tomorrow.”

As a white male that grew up in the south, I witnessed the aftereffects of the implementation of the civil rights act. I was bussed, had one of the first black teachers in a white school in Memphis, and I saw firsthand, racism in action. I witnessed the influence on my classmates, my peers, and my generation in the aftermath of Jim Crow, my generation would refer to this period as a “cleanup phase”, cleaning up the mistakes of past generations. This was the generation that was supposed to bridge racism, that was to rebuild a community that did not see color, race nor creed and our generation was the transitional generation. However, in many ways it seems we have failed in that aspiration, thus the evolution of Black Lives Matters.

The influence of the Black Church has always been one of a “safe-house” for people of color. But its mission today has moved well beyond that, to one of “service to a broader community.” Interestingly, all these years later, when I attend a church service, I seek the “Black Church” as my refuge. I find the “Black Church” to be more welcoming, less judgmental, and more spiritually enlightening to my void in faith, and that is why this story is important to me.

Alamogordo’s Black Church community has a history that followed a parallel path to the rest of the country. The Black community upon the founding of Alamogordo was a segregated community. The schools were segregated with Corinth also referred to as the Delaware School, created for Black youth, and the Dudley School for Hispanic youth. Alamogordo well ahead of most school systems nationwide and began desegregation early, 1946 for Hispanic youth and 1950 for Black Youth.

The building that once housed the Black Children, as Corinth School is now part of the structure that makes up Corinth Baptist Church which is under the leadership of Reverend James E. Forney. The property on which the present church stands was purchased from the school system after desegregation. Today, 94 years since its founding in 1928, Corinth is a symbol of the “city that sits on a hill” with “the light of her various ministries shedding rays throughout this community, state, nation and even in foreign fields-a beacon beckoning to all who have a need of her love and protection” according to its pastor.

Owen Chapel AME Church was established in 1939 in Alamogordo. The church started in the homes of faithful member who were determined to establish an African Methodist Episcopal presence in this area. The history of that gathering was strong enough for the African Methodist Episcopal church to supply a pastor and a relationship with the greater church organization. The history and the activities of Owen Chapel AME church are rich and varied. Pastor Warren Robinson leads the church with a mission of service to the community and one of inclusion and diversity. Though Robinson leads a predominately black congregation with an emphasis on the historical importance of the history of the church to the black experience, his preaching style is one of inclusion of ALL people and a celebration of diversity within the Alamogordo community. His experience in building bridges of understanding between diverse groups is his trademark. Owen A.M.E is the most diverse congregation in Alamogordo. Robinson has received the President George Bush’s Call to Service Award/USA Freedom Corps. He was awarded the Alamogordo Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Award and was given the Office of African American Affairs Everyday Hero Award in 2019. He lives service in his daily actions.

My question to the pastors of Alamogordo’s Black Church community revolves around the “Influence of the Black Church” in modern society. Is the Black Church relevant as we move forward decade’s past slavery, Jim Crow, the marches on Selma and the implementation of the civil rights act and the new youth empowerment by groups such as Black Lives Matter?

The response from all of Alamogordo’s pastors was that yes indeed the “Black Church” is relevant and does indeed still have “influence.” “That influence is as a servant to the community, we as pastors must be more community involved, listen more, talk less we must go where God is and where God is needed,” explained Pastor Phillps. He continued, “it used to be that the women wore beautiful hats and men wore their Sunday best, now we dress down, dress comfortable, welcome and we listen.” Pastor Johnnie Walker explained, “we must get outside our church walls, hit the streets and remind folks there is still an answer there it is hope to solve needs.”

Alamogordo’s Black Pastoral leadership has taken service to heart and each leader is moving their mission forward in a variety of ways.

Pastor Walker has a newly acquired church building that will soon host a new school. The Phoenix Learning Academy team will provide an intensive academic program with a focal point and emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). This STEM model will call for Project/Problem Based Learning lessons, capstone projects, and enrichment learning programs with student activity periods. PLTW (Project Lead the Way) Launch curriculum will also be implemented at the elementary grades, providing strategies for students to adopt a design-thinking mindset through compelling activities, projects, and problems that bring learning to life. This is certainly meeting a community need with thinking outside the box and leadership in implementation by the “Black Church.”

The Joy Center Alamogordo recently hosted a groundbreaking for an expanded 12,000 square foot campus with childcare facilities and more to better serve the greater needs of Alamogordo.

Pastor Robinson has served on a variety of non-profit boards across the community, as the police and hospital chaplain and has now thrown his name into contention as a candidate for Magistrate Judge.

Each pastor is expanding their use of technology, reaching an audience through expanded offerings of service to the Alamogordo community and are reminded daily that the traditions and the stability of the church ultimately bring people home to the church. People still get married, people still die and need funerals for closure and solace, the traditions and rituals of familiarity are there when the people need them. For Maya Angelou, like the other members of her generation, the words of the King James Bible, the power of the Negro Spirituals, and the sermonic tradition of the Black church were the vernacular language and soundtrack of black life and a safe home. As the crosses carried by the civil rights generation are past to the shoulders of the Black Lives Matter generation, churches and their leaders must evolve with the faithful. The evolution of the Black Church is quietly on display in Alamogordo for those enlightened or informed enough to see it and its “understated influence through service.”

https://acrobat.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:e604d3e0-ec11-4fc2-88c2-3b67cf357592

AlamogordoTownNews.com Political Candidates GB Oliver & Amy Barela Q & A Responses & Financials

The Republican primary race between GB Oliver and Amy Barela for the 2nd District County Commission primary is the most watched race in the county and appears to have the most buzz from near and far. 

If fundraising were the measure, Mr. Oliver seems to be leading with a campaign war chest to date of $13,963,76 verses $9476.79 for Amy Barela to date.

Links to their most recent filings are below, followed by responses to the Q & A survey of questions from AlamogordoTownNews.com

GB Oliver 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

Largest Cash Contribution: Robert Joe Pattillo $2000, Richard A Boss $1000, Kerry Eaton $1000, Aubrey Dunn $500, James J Klump $500 (All local donors)

Loans to Campaign: GB Oliver $6063

In Kind: Justus Photography 

Total funds raised as of reporting period: $13963.76

Ending Balance as of reporting period: $ 8,977.79

Amy Barela 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

Largest Cash Contribution Self 2,562.38, Committee to Elect James Townsend Barela, Amy A. (Amy For Otero) $1000, Dustin Collins & Michael Collins $1000 each (local donors)

In Kind Justus Photography $100 

Total funds raised as of reporting period: $9,476.79

Ending Balance as of reporting period: $ $2,172.17

In April before the race got heated and in full swing, we submitted questions to all the candidates in the various races. Mr. Oliver and Ms. Barela were thorough in their execution the questions and each are very serious in the campaign for office. Both are very visible to the public and both have very active campaigns with a field of volunteers working on their behalf and with a very active social media presence. Both candidates have a unique offering and a wealth of public service experience. The question for the voters seems to come down to what is the go forward vision for Otero County that best fits the future and which candidate best represents a path forward to securing that future. What follows is the responses to our questions. We appreciate their time and dedication to allowing the public to get to know them better.

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Provide a brief biography of your governing and business experience.

Amy Barela Response:” My name is Amy Barela, and I am running to be your county commissioner in this 2022 primary election. I am a conservative that has served this county in many voluntary capacities for over 12 years. Some things I have been able to do:

  •  Bring the National Day of Prayer back to Alamogordo and for the last 5 years we have done just that.
  •  I have helped to increase our voter turnout and voter registrations in Otero County by 10%.
  •  I stood with businesses to help keep their doors open when unfair mandates jeopardized their livelihoods as well as their employees.
  • Along with a team of dedicated individuals we worked to get the county commission to designate Otero County as a second amendment county. There were 625 people in attendance when the county commission passed this resolution……… unanimously.
  •  I fought the school boards and alerted parents to the indoctrination of their children with curriculum that is fully engulfed with (CRT) critical race theory, sex education and other radical teachings parents were not aware of.
  •  These are just some of the things I have been privileged to work on with many wonderful, energetic people. I would enjoy visiting with you to listen to your concerns about the issues.

While this seems about activism, I do this to educate the community and hope to give the community a voice in all matters and issues. I try to keep the community informed because it is important for everyone to have the facts to make educated decisions. There are many resources available to us. The number one resource being you. I listen and have listened to Otero County citizens for years. The people guide me in their needs now and as your commissioner I will continue to listen to your needs.

  •  Holloman AFB is vital to our community. However, we must not put all our eggs in one basket. We must look at other ways to bring solid businesses to employ citizens in our county.
  • I understand the forestry issues adding the dumping and trash problems.
  •  I will work to protect our mountains and forest through responsible use of the land. I know how to help citizens clean up their neighborhoods caused by illegal dumping.

I am excited to address the opportunity of the American Dream, home ownership, with new laws that have been changed to allow access from counties for funding. I also have a plan to incentivize volunteers at our fire departments to allow our law enforcement to get back to being law enforcement and not first responders. I have a plan. I want the best for our county. I need your prayers in this new venture and am excited to move Otero County forward. I need your support. I humbly ask for your vote June 7th.”

GB Oliver Response: “’I’ve held virtually every position that exists in banking, including sitting as a director on the Board of Western Bank.

I was one of 3 founding members of the Paragon Foundation, an organization that provided funding and attorneys in cases defending Property and Constitutional Issues. I was named the Executive Director of the Foundation and remain in that position. The Paragon Foundation grew to have thousands of members spread across the United States. I published a Nationally syndicated Magazine on behalf of the Foundation, The Cowboy Way, that was provided to membership, as well as sold in Walmart, Barns and Nobel, Hastings, Tractor Supply, and numerous other outlets. The Foundation also carried or was the major funder of three cases heard by the United States Supreme Court, Robbins vs. Willkie, Heller vs. D.C., and McDonald vs. Chicago. Heller and McDonald are considered today to be second amendment landmark cases.

Currently, I am the Executive Director of the Alamogordo Center of Commerce where I have played a key role in solvency of a permanent status of the 3rd and 4th F-16 Squadrons, expansion of hyper-sonic weapon testing at HAFB and bringing in a regional Jet Service. I have also been actively involved in bringing a host of new business, Hotels, and a 252-unit Apartment Complex that we will be announcing shortly.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: If you have held office please provide 3 pieces of legislation, ordinances, or initiatives that you personally sponsored that were focused on jobs or education. Please provide the outcomes to the legislation since passed. If your office is judicial, please explain your judicial policies or view from the bench.

Amy Barela Response: “N/A”

GB Oliver Response: “I have never held an elected office; however, I have been working hand and hand with Holloman leadership, acting as the liaison between Air Force and our elected officials in Washington to fund the expansion of the HAFB test track, expanding air space to assure the solvency of the F-16 mission as well has funding for state-of-the-art facilities for the MQ-9 mission. These endeavors have not only expanded the mission at Holloman but created many civilian jobs for this community.

I have also taken an active role in highlighting the NMDOD Stop Light Report regarding schools and have advocated for expansion of STEM, Career Tech, more school to work opportunities as well as higher standards.

Last year we secured 32 million dollars to be used for the design of the test track, this year we are seeking 138 million to begin construction on that facility. Those dollars will ensure that all hypersonic testing for the United States will be done at Holloman. We will be flying to Washington is the coming month to secure 58 million for the MQ-9 program and an additional 26 million through MILCON for taxi strip expansion.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What piece of legislation or ordinance have you passed that you are proudest off? If Judicial what ruling had the greatest impact on you when making it and why?

Amy Barela Response: “N/A”

GB Oliver Response: “As mentioned previously, the Paragon Foundation had major investments in three cases that were heard by the United States Supreme Court. Those cases were Robin vs. Wilke in 2007, District of Columbia vs Heller in 2008, and McDonald vs Chicago in 2010. I had the privilege of sitting before the Supreme Court during the oral briefs in all three cases. These cases have directly protected Americans 2nd Amendment Rights. 

I also co-authored several pieces of legislations, not only in New Mexico, but Wyoming, Arizona, and South Dakota. The most notable was the Concealed Carry Bill for the State of New Mexico, which required three legislative sessions before passing both houses and being signed by Governor Johnson.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Why are you running for office?

Amy Barela ResponseSee answer #1”

GB Oliver Response: “God has placed me in arenas my whole life that have developed my skill set to ultimately lead our community to a brighter future. My time in DC fighting for the rights of Americans has given me understanding of the intricate landscape of bureaucracy. DC is a terrible place, however learning how to navigate the architecture of the system has given me the edge to propel Otero County to a fighting chance to find prosperity.

Perhaps my greatest skill is being able to bring groups of people together, for a single purpose and vision. Our goal four years ago was to bring the City of Alamogordo, Otero County, the Alamogordo Public Schools and the leadership of Holloman Air Force Base together, meeting in the same room, at the same time, with a single focus. That had never happened in the history of this community and now it happens, here in the Center of Commerce, on a monthly basis.

This is my home and my family’s home for 125 years. It is where we raised our children, owned businesses, and have been allowed to live and associate with the finest people on this earth. It would be my greatest honor, and it is time for me to give back a small part of what this community has given my family.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is your vision for the office you seek?

Amy Barela ResponseSee answer #1”

GB Oliver Response“We must be vigilant and proficient with spending taxpayer funds. A solid budget with growth factors is a must! We must expand and diversify our economic potential to GROW our way to a more fiscally responsible chapter.

Supporting our Sheriff’s Office is of utmost importance as we continue to see an uptick in crime and instability in our Judicial System. A strong emergency plan is a must. The more inflation creeps the more we need to rely on each other as a community to get through the upcoming economic crises. 

Protecting our Forest Land and water sheds with true intent. The Federal Government must be put on notice for the mismanagement of our Public Lands. This incompetence has impacted our water systems, cattle growers’ ability to maintain herds and a serious consequence for wildlife habitats and outdoor enthusiasts. 

Protect our historical and cultural backgrounds and capitalize on our strengths that we demonstrate in our community. We are unique and the rest of the Country can learn from us.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When we sit down 4 years from now what will you tell us you have accomplished while in the office you seek?

Amy Barela Response: “County Cleanup plan, road repair / development schedule, judicial complex issues to be complete or several stages through the implementation of, low-income housing 

development”

GB Oliver Response: “We have brought vision followed by action and accountability. We have brought high paying jobs, growth, educational prowess via alternative learning opportunities, a regional Jet service and now our community has seen the impact of solid leadership.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you visited New York Avenue and shopped or spoke in person with the shop owners of that business district? 

Amy Barela Response: “Last week”

GB Oliver Response: “I met with two business owners on New York Avenue, in their place of businesses on 5/11/2022.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What do you view as the biggest opportunity and how you can assist with that opportunity for business growth in the New York Avenue business corridor?

Amy Barela ResponseALamogordoTownNews.com note: NO RESPONSE ON THE QUESTIONARE to this question from Mrs. Barela

GB Oliver Response: “The attitudes of business owners on New York have improved dramatically over the last three years. That, in itself, opened the doors to the transition we are witnessing in our downtown. Now this community is taking that area seriously, traffic is increasing and that alone will not only bring other businesses and increased property values in that area. My family owned five business at one time on New York in the 1920’s and 30’s. It was the heart and soul of this community then…and has the potential to be that again.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you attended a High School Sports program? Amy 

Amy Barela Response: “Before covid”

GB Oliver Response“2018” 

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you attended a High School Academic or Arts Program? Which event?

Barela Response: “School Board Meetings. Often”

GB Oliver Response“In 2016 I was asked to address the returning teachers and staff for the Alamogordo Public Schools. This community learned a tough lesson regarding the quality of Public Education and its impact on the business community. The quality of our education system was one of the reasons given by the Under Secretary of the Air Force for not permanently bedding down the three F-16 Squadrons at Holloman. His quote was “we will not subject the children of the men and women at Holloman Air Force Base to a substandard education.” That is what brought the changes in our Public Schools and eventually led to a perinate bed down of the three F-16 squadrons.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is the last event you participated in at the Flickinger Center? 

Amy Barela Response“Often”

GB Oliver Response: “It was several months ago when I joined the Holloman Commander’s wives in a tour of the Flickinger.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to support local entrepreneurship and jobs growth the last 4 years?

Amy Barela Response: “Stood beside them during covid shutdowns to keep them open over big box stores. I am a job creator.”

GB Oliver Response“Everyday via the Center of Commerce…It’s what I do.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to improve upon the blight of abandoned homes and derelict businesses in Alamogordo or Otero County in the last 4 years?

Amy Barela Response: “Remove the junk cars”

GB Oliver Response: “The Center of Commerce, for the last year and a half, has made cleaning up this community one of our priorities and to engage with the City and County in that effort. Rodney Eaton led the initiative with several “Trash Pickups,” where 160 individuals gathered on a Saturday at various locations and the results were several tons of trash removed from our highways and streets. That has expanded into Otero County’s involvement, where their personal and equipment has joined these pickups. Our Sherriff participates by patrolling the highways to slow traffic during these pickups. The City of Alamogordo has now joined this movement by condemning and removing several structures in this community each month. In fact, the city has now budgeted money this year to completely rebuild Alameda Park, turning that facility into a beautiful park that we can all enjoy and be proud of. The lesson I take away from what has transpired in the last year and a half is that one man, Rodney Eaton, had a passion to change the optics of this community and because of the close relations we have fostered over the last four years with the City and County, we live in a cleaner environment.

We have several more of these clean ups scheduled and we invite you to participate!”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to welcome new businesses into Alamogordo?

Amy Barela Response: “Attend ribbon cuttings”

GB Oliver Response“Center of Commerce is the first interaction an incoming business has when coming into this community. At the present, I am working with two hotels, two Aerospace companies out of California, both associated with the development of the hypersonic program slated to come to the Test Track. We are entertaining three investment groups looking at apartment complex sites, that also includes the 252-unit complex mentioned previously, three restaurants, a major truck stop, an entertainment venue, and a major box store.

Housing is our highest priority and what is refreshing about the Apartment complex is that for the first time, this project has been made possible by the City of Alamogordo and Otero County working on different facets of this project to make is happen. That is a first!”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Name the top 5 locally owned businesses that you believe best represent the image you would like to see of Alamogordo going forward.

Amy Barela ResponseAlamogordoTownNews.com this was left blank by Mrs. Barela

GB Oliver Response: “Not going there.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Do you support an arts and cultural zone and diversity?

Amy Barela Response: “Yes”

GB Oliver Response: “They would certainly enhance the quality of life for those living here, however there are certainly higher priorities that need to be achieved to ensure their success.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What outreach have you done to build bridges of understanding and collaboration between people of color, the LBGTQ community and local government and the business community? 

Amy Barela Response: “That is everything I do often”

GB Oliver Response: “Most of my life has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for those living in our community. Color, culture, or sexual orientation plays no role in my world. We are all God’s creation, with certain needs, rights, and each deserves an equal opportunity. The rest is left to the courage and determination of the individual. To believe anyone, because of their color, culture, or sexual preference needs special status with government agencies is an insult to that individual’s integrity and God given gifts. I have never seen an individual, when given special status from government, that led a happier, more fulfilled life.” 

AlamogordoTownNews.com: How are you funding your campaign?

Amy Barela Response: “Self and donations”

GB Oliver Response: “The majority is my money with a few local doners”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you support a local city and or county ordinance that requires more detailed annual reporting and transparency of finances on anyone in elected office with annual reports on campaign fundraising?

Amy Barela Response: “I think the county needs to have a reporting form for each newly elected official to report any income that is received from county (ie business transactions). Campaign finance reports are filed with the SOS for anyone to review. I plan on closing my account after the election and do not see the need to fundraise during my term. I will reopen if running for re-election when time.”

GB Oliver Response: “Transparency is the only true method of moving our community forward”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you participate in a public drop in, questions and answers and/or a public forum hosted at Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue?

Amy Barela Response: “Yes”

GB Oliver Response: “Absolutely, Government works best in sunlight.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you support the growth of more bars, restaurants, galleries, and entertainment venues in Alamogordo’s New York Avenue area? What will you do personally to support growth and revitalization of the corridor?

Amy Barela Response: “Support any and all new business.”

GB Oliver Response:” Absolutely! In a healthy community, the original business district is always the heart and soul of activity. It should be the goal of every local governmental body to maintain and foster business there because it identifies not only who we were, but who we are. I have traveled all over the United States and when I see a community downtown business district, it tells me all I need to know about the trajectory of that community.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is the one thing about Alamogordo that excites you the most?

Amy Barela Response: “Building it to be a better place for my family.”

GB Oliver Response: “The economic opportunities that are coming to this community. Make no mistake, there is rough water ahead, but there is no community that I’m aware of, better positioned to recover and excel once we see the other side, than are we.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Can you work in a bi-partisan manner with the majority party to drive more state and federal funding into redevelopment and jobs creation into the district?

Amy Barela Response:” I didn’t realize redevelopment and job creation was partisan?”

GB Oliver Response: “I have demonstrated many times the importance of finding middle ground and promoting our goals in Otero County.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Rather a judicial candidate or other candidate what can you do in your role to help solve the issue of homelessness and mental health patients on the streets of Alamogordo?

Amy Barela Response: “Affordable home ownership, veteran home ownership, jail rehabilitation and work programs, address drug abundance and availability with enforcement.”

GB Oliver Response: “Working collectively with our local agencies to support and find solutions will be our best method of stability for those in need.”

At AlamogordoTownNews.com, we appreciate the candidates that took the time for thoughtful responses to inform and possibly serve the public. 

Early voting has begun, get to know your candidate and come on down to the county building and vote early and let your voice be heard.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Alamogordo’s New York Avenue saw Record Crowds at Atomicon

Alamogordo just completed its largest New York Avenue event in the post Covid-19 world with the success of Atomicon 2022.

Street acts from transformers to superhero’s and fire Artist transformed New York Avenue into a center of artistic expression and performance art Saturday night.

“The night was a huge success and lots of fun for everyone, it was great to see so many kids and families on New York Avenue” said Alamogordo MainStreet Executive Director Nolan Ojeda.

The event went off without incident, there were lots of smiles and great fun. We have few learnings about sidewalk spacing and accessibility which will be addressed at future events due to a few vendors placement,” said Roadrunner Emporium merchant co-owners, Rene Sepulveda & Chris Edwards.

The day began under the leadership of business owner of Elite Memories Boutique Claudia Loyla rallying the troops and cleaning the streets with her volunteers beginning the day at 8 am with a commitment to create a safe, fun environment to entertain on New York Avenue for Atomicon.

Around noon vendors began arriving and the street setup began…

Flickinger Center prepared Hobbit Town for the kids…

then the crowds came and the festival was a success 

100s showed up to celebrate Atomicon in front of Roadrunner EmporiumFine Art Antiques and More, 928 New York Avenye the crossroads of art, culture and commerce in Alamogordo's Cultural Arts District

To the 100s that visited Alamogordo Main Street New York Avenue Alamogordo’s Cultural Arts District thank you for joining for a wonderful night celebrating the performance arts, culture and a community of positivity. 

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Art Talk by Artist Chris Ward at Otero Artspace

RT TALK: OIL PAINTING with CHRIS WARD

Alamogordo oil painter Chris Ward will facilitate an artists’ round table at Art Apace in Alamogordo New Mexico.

“Art Talk” will be held every Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. at Otero Artspace on the corner of 12th St. and Indiana Ave. in Alamogordo. and will begin May 19.

Oil painters interested in discussing ideas, techniques and other aspects of painting are welcome.

Ward has been painting in New Mexico for over 10 years. He studied art in New York, Florida and New Mexico, where he was a member of the Las Cruces-based Artist Guild of Southern New Mexico, where he painted with artist Julie Oliver.

His work has been displayed at Phillips Gallery in Las Cruces, LOCO Credit Union in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and can currently be seen at Horse Feathers Gallery in Tularosa NM and El Nicho Folk Art Gallery on Don Gaspar Avenue in Santa Fe. He is a member of Otero Arts Inc. and recently had a show at Otero Artisan’s Gallery on First St. in Alamogordo. Ward will participate in an October show at Art Space.

For information, please contact Chris Ward at 404-934-9160.

AlamogordoTownNews.com Settlement Agreement Executed between EchoMail and Otero County

As thousands of travelers trapse the byways to come enjoy the beauty of Otero County and Alamogordo this weekend, and the spectacle of the Thunderbirds and other awesome displays of military pride at Holloman Airforce Base’s Air Show, the murmurs of spectacle also are running amuck around Couy Griffin and a planned Monday May 9th “Special Meeting” of the Otero County Commission. 

In a news article released by The Paper, Tierna Unruh-Enos is the publisher at The Paper.

In an article Published May 5th, 2022, at 2:27 pm it suggests that “EchoMail has canceled the contract with the county and finds NO Election Fraud.”

“The “audit” of the 2020 general election in Otero County is facing a setback. According to the Otero County Attorney RB Nichols, the software company EchoMail has canceled the contract with the county. EchoMail was given the contract by Otero County at the urging of a volunteer group of citizens called the New Mexico Audit Force. The group is led by former NMSU professor David Clements and his wife Erin Clements.

In January, the Otero County Commission approved an election audit contract of $49,750 with EchoMail. The EchoMail software has been used in other election audits such as the ones in Maricopa County, AZ, led by the Cyber Ninjas. Election officials in Maricopa disputed nearly every claim found in the audit.

Contract for Services Not Rendered

EchoMail received its first payment of $24,875 from Otero County in February per the terms of the contract. On March 17, the House Congressional Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the Otero County audit and the EchoMail contract. That same day, EchoMail demanded that the balance of the contract be paid in full after turning in a 13-page document of charts and graphs with no actual analysis. The County disputed the claim, saying that they didn’t receive the services they paid for. On April 15, EchoMail returned $15,125 to the county and canceled the remainder of the contract.

Legal documents show that EchoMail contended that it had completed its contract and found no election fraud as a result of its services.

County Commissioner Couy Griffin has scheduled a special commission meeting on Monday, May 9 to discuss the audit — and to propose getting rid of voting machines in the county.”

Questionable Donations

Since the cancellation of the contract, New Mexico Audit Force has been left to its own devices to complete the audit and analysis on its own. They are not contracted by the county, nor are they a registered business in the state of New Mexico.

Couy Griffin has already gone on the defensive with a tweet to discredit the story and promising a spectacle at Monday’s Commission meeting.

In the meantime, the commission needs to tread lightly to prevent the county from having to expend taxpayer funds to defend its actions in hearings before the courts and or before Congress. 

As the Santa Fe New Mexican has reported, “Complaints of harassment and intimidation by volunteers going door to door in Otero County as part of a group that says it’s auditing the county’s 2020 presidential election results prompted Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas to issue a voter risk advisory”

Otero County is under investigation after spending $50,000 on election audit by various legal entities and may have to defend its actions in court or via fines.

In the US Congress the House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into a partisan ballot review in Otero County, New Mexico, where an “audit force” is going door to door and questioning voters.

The Committee is investigating whether the company’s audit and canvass in New Mexico illegally interferes with Americans’ right to vote by spreading disinformation about elections and intimidating voters,” House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, N.Y., and Jamie Raskin, Md., the chairman of the subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties, wrote in a letter addressed to V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, the founder of EchoMail.

According to an article released today by Daily Beast; “The audit came under state and federal scrutiny after EchoMail’s CEO and allies were found to have promoted wild election conspiracy theories. But after a financial dispute with the county, EchoMail packed its bags up early.

“EchoMail fulfilled their obligations under the Contract and found No Election Fraud as a result of their services,” EchoMail’s attorney told The Daily Beast via email.”

All the rhetoric aside; the facts are that a Settlement Agreement has been executed between the County of Otero, New Mexico and EchoMail signed by the CEO of EchoMail and the County Chairperson of Otero County.

A Settlement Agreement has been executed by EchoMail and Otero County ending the relationship and with a demand for a refund for failing to deliver services agreed upon. 

A copy of the signed and executed settlement agreement is contained below…

https://agendasuite.org/iip/otero/file/getfile/23035

Let’s hope Monday’s Special Commission Meeting does not become the national news spectacle that it potentially could. 

Let’s hope rhetoric is kept at bay and the real spectacle reported is the results of a successful Air Show this weekend with 1000’s of happy shoppers spending many dollars in Otero County and contributing positively to growth and prosperity of this beautiful community. 

Let’s put our best foot forward daily, for a county that works together for mutual prosperity, and happiness, where positivity prevails, so too comes integrity in governance and in its people. 

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