Lydia Emmanual Productions Inc and 2nd Life Media Inc announced a partnership with the non-profit Southwestern Trails Cultural Heritage Association, owner of KALH Radio 95.1 and streaming at https://kalh.org/.
Founded by Kenneth Bass the station has a reputation for excellence in music and hard-hitting community coverage via Spectrum New via Radio Personality Anthony Lucero. KALH was named Country Station of the Year (2012) by New Music Weekly Magazine (Nashville). However, the station while country focused plays more than Country. KALH plays New Country, Hot Country, Old Country, R&R Classic Oldies, R&B, MOR, Bluegrass, Western Swing, Big Band Jazz AND MORE. The biggest variety of music available on the radio, on the web or personal digital device live from Alamogordo.
The station, while nonprofit will be operated under a management agreement with 2nd Life Media and Emmanual Lydia Productions Inc. Chris Edwards CEO of 2nd Life Media will assume the role of General Manager with the programing support of Anthony Lucero, and contributors to programming Lydia Aspen Renteria and Emmanual Renteria and a focus on sports and fitness in partnership with Rene Sepulveda. Chris Rollerson will continue the focus on Tularosa High School Football and Basketball broadcasts.
Under the new leadership the success and family traditions of the Bass family will continue to be honored front and center as a community focused nonprofit organization committed to the local community news and information along with quality music and entertainment. Tularosa High School Sports will remain a cornerstone to the sports lineup.
No major changes are expected at this time, excepting for an investment in some infrastructure to ensure long term sustainability and new equipment to sustain the 95.1 radio broadcast as well as live streaming.
Longer term the station will place a professional studio within the Sands Theater at 1017 New York Avenue in Alamogordo’s Historic Cultural Arts District with live streaming of music and special events “live from the Sands.”
With this upgrade the station will be partnering with local students at area High Schools, New Mexico State University and Seniors Organizations; creating opportunities for student and senior created shows focused on art, culture, history, music and the stories of the Tularosa Basin and the Heritage of Southwestern New Mexico. Spectrum News is being rebranded Alamogordo Town News and will continue with radio personality Anthony Lucero at the helm or programming and content.
KALH-LP’s mission is to continue the almost 2 decade tradition as a public non-profit radio station that will entertain, inform, challenge, inspire and engage our listeners through an eclectic mix of musical, cultural, educational and community affairs programming and related activities in collaboration with Alamogordo non-profit organizations, local news sources and small business partnerships.
The vision of KALH-LP, a main street, New York Avenue focused Community Radio station is for a truly local radio station that reflects the diversity of views, news, and talent in our community. Our goal is to have as much local programming as possible, including talk and call-in shows; public and community affairs; writers, and a wide range of voices and perspectives as well as continue to provide the finest variety of Country and a variety of other music platforms. The broadcast schedule aims to:
Provide information, news, and dialogue in partnership with AlamogordoTownNews.com
Address critical local concerns, such as education, the economy, and the environment
Profile local culture and diversity of talent
Remember, preserve, and tell the stories of local history
Recognize the rich natural beauty and resources of the region
Highlight live programs and remote broadcasts as a community radio station
In 2003, under the Direction and leadership of Ken Bass the station was incorporated and applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a low-powered, FM, community radio station. The station has operated continuously since. He passed on March 27th, 2021, and he is missed everyday by his family, friends, community, and everyone at KALH Radio. The Bass family has operated the station since his death with a pride and a commitment to the community.
The Bass family made the difficult decision to resign from the board and hand leadership of the non-profit Southwestern Trails Cultural Heritage Association, owner of KALH Radio 95.1 to the Renteria’s and the Sepulveda’s to ensure its long-term sustainability as a community focused organization.
Chris Edwards spokesperson for the new board leadership said, “with the revitalization efforts of Alamogordo’s New York Avenue, the Bass family has been very supportive of our efforts to renovate downtown buildings, tell the history and KALH had a very strong relationship with our operating businesses. We feel it an honor to carry the mission of Ken Bass forward of telling the stories preserving history and restoration efforts and ensuring local news coverage. KALH-LP is another tool for us to further tell the stories of history and what makes Alamogordo the greatest community in New Mexico.”
For questions, sponsorship information or to volunteer or program ideas contact Chris Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference KALH in the email header.
KALH-LP has a new transmitter that will be installed in the next few weeks in the meantime the station is streaming online and can be heard anywhere with a computer or smartphone at https://kalh.org/
It’s said that individuals go through various phases or stages of life and are different people at various periods of one’s life. The life of my mother, Stella M Edwards, would be just such a life.
The person I knew and grew up with was a much different mother than the one my middle brother, Michael, who is 9 years younger than me experienced. Then again, my youngest brother, Steven, is 18 years younger than me, thus the mother he knows and experienced, was a totally different woman, than the mother that my middle brother or I had. When one is put into the position of reflection and one writes of the memories of someone’s life or an obituary, the perspectives, viewpoints, and sense of who that person is will not always jive, with the memories or perspectives of another person’s recollections of that same person.
My mother, like many mothers could be considered a complicated anomaly. She like her mother before her had secrets. Mom like my grandmother sometimes would spill pieces of family secrets to their grandkids, but never, the story in whole. As such, much like my grandmother Maynard before her, there are family stories and gaps in our heritage that are secrets carried to the grave. The intention of those secrets was never malice but was to protect her me and her other children. Was she protecting us from perceived scandal, from hurt feelings, from feelings of inadequacy? Was the carrying of secrets meant to avoid conversations or questions that could be uncomfortable? When secrets fall to the grave do they die? Time always brings questions, and the wisdom of time brings about answers.
Mom over the years battled with depression and that depression caused health issues. Later in life those health issues were complicated by weight issues. Those weight and health concerns I’m convinced were a result of the demons of depression she covered up and never fully addressed throughout her life. Mom was an avid reader and had read enough books to fill a public library from a lifetime of reading. The invention of kindle probably saved a forest of trees in the books that she would have purchased and read in the later years of her life. Mom loved a good mystery from the complete works of Agatha Christie to the wonders of Stephen King. Mom loved more classical styles like O’ Henry and published poetry of her own winning several regional awards around South Carolina.
Mom in her younger years was athletic and would challenge my dad to many games of back yard badminton, swimming, bowling and loved to play card games and Scrabble. Every time I would come home, I could count on a good and very competitive game of Scrabble with mom, dad and myself competitive for the title.
Tuesday 11/2/22, Stella Maynard Edwards, age 74, wife of John Melvin Edwards, 423 Indian Trails, Taylors (Greenville) South Carolina passed away peacefully in her home, after battling a stroke with son Steven Edwards at her side. Stella is survived by her husband, John M. Edwards; sons: Christopher Edwards (Rene), Michael Edwards (Cheryl), and Steven Edwards (Ashley); grandchildren: Christy Anderson (Quintin), Alicia Raines, Lori Edwards, Charles Edwards, Alaina Stewart, and Joshua Edwards; great-grandchildren, Mariah Gray and Tristan Anderson; sister, Judy Maynard; niece, Katie Grant (Chris); and beloved pets: Buddy, Minnie, and Penny. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers Jackie L. Maynard and John Robinson, sisters Joyce Ann Maynard and Janet Clayton; and fur baby, Sadie.
Stella Edwards was born and raised in Shawneetown, Illinois, where she was a cheerleader and active in the community during her high school years. She married John M Edwards of Cave-N-Rock, Illinois and traveled the country, living in multiple states in support of her husband’s career in retail for Woolworth, TG&Y and AutoZone.
Stella was passionate about education and community service. Mom took us to every museum possible and we spent many hours at the Field Museum in Chicago and the Smithsonian in DC. She was an avid supporter of being involved in her children’s education. She judged multiple high school and collegiate level speech and debate classes for her elder son, Chris. She homeschooled her youngest son, Steven who outperformed the educational system of South Carolina. Through volunteer service in her younger years, she instilled that passion of service to her children. Stella served as a community volunteer and chaired several activities and non-profit events in Florence, Alabama and in Clarksville, Tennessee. Events she led for charity included the local Mothers March of Dimes Walk, Danny Thomas St Jude Hospital Bike-a-thon, A Walk-a-thon for Childhood Leukemia and sponsored phone teams to assist with the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.
She became interested in the medicine because of her volunteering work with the various health related charities. Her visits to St Jude’s Hospital made a lifetime impact upon her and her volunteer service through her sorority, at a women’s clinic, operated by Planned Parenthood, that assisted with health screenings and Pap Smears in Florence Alabama was impactful on her ultimate career choice.
In her younger years she would have been deemed a progressive; a woman that demanded women’s rights and pay equity, had no tolerance for racial discrimination and supported marriage equality for the LBGTQ community, she supported President Carter and New Deal policies. In her later years she drifted more conservative becoming disillusioned with the political process. She leaned toward Trump’s shake it up and break it up philosophies due to frustration with public health policies in the US. She could never embrace the health plans of Hillary Clinton or Obama but respected their passion though she traveled to the beat of a different path. Mom was never terribly religious but felt a connection with a spirit beyond this place and time.
Stella and John Edwards had three boys as children: the eldest, Chris Edwards, middle, Michael Edwards and youngest, Steven Edwards. Stella went back to the university system later in life and attended during the same years her son, Chris was attending to his higher education and beginning a career, all the while having her third son Steven late in life and while seeking a secondary degree.
Stella was a graduate of Austin Peay State University, in Clarksville Tennessee ascertaining her nursing degree. She practiced medicine for several decades, beginning her career at the Clarksville Regional Medical Center and ultimately at Mary Black Medical Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina as head nurse. Her responsibilities included oversight of the critical care nursery. Her passion was such that many premature babies would spend months in the nursery, she produced a video diary for hundreds of patients, ensuring the mothers and fathers, didn’t miss a day of the baby’s growth from an at-risk birth to check-out as a functioning healthy infant.
After retirement mom and dad, refurbished their home together one room at a time. From there they traveled the country and drove thousands of miles exploring route 66 and every stop on the way. They traveled to California, and we have fond memories of viewing the salmon spawning near Tahoe to sharing experiences of the wine country, the missions of California and San Francisco. Mom met and engaged with my friends without judgement over the decades. Through my ups and downs, even with distance between us I could count on her and my dad’s support. At times I’d be frustrated by questions and what I felt were intrusions but in retrospect I know that her intentions were meant as support.
The mom of the last few decades was not the mom I grew up with, by no fault of either of us, the fault was distance and time. The trips to the mall, Books-a-Million, museums and battlefields, late night movies, card games of rummy or Scrabble with her and my aunt, the history we experience together is a far-off memory. Those memories are to be cherished and I would not trade them for the world. For the times you were there, and I ignored you, our years of silence, and the reunification, the ups and the downs thanks for the patience and the love. Time, distance, personal relationships, and ones chosen and immediate family in real life, takes precedent. Should we regret that, no, what we do is cherish the relationships of our chosen family but thank our birth family for the foundation they provided us. I am the person I am today because of the foundation I received. The good came from the guidance, care and love of my mother and father. The bad and errors in judgement I have made in life, I own those mistakes, they are no reflection of the family foundation of love and mutual respect I had as a youngster.
The gaps of my absence by distance were filled over the years with the love and constant companionship of my father, who was there for so many decades, through to the end. Together they always enjoyed their grandchildren. Charlie (Nathan), their eldest grandson who they helped provide homecare for in his most formative early years, to the many others, each always brought mom a smile and much joy. Her niece Katie Hill was the “daughter to her that she never had.” Her Granddaughter Lori she spoke of often, proud that she was also going into the medical field and following her grandmothers’ footsteps of care.
Mom, Stella Edwards, you are gone physically to that next plain of existence, but you will forever live in my heart and the hearts of those that knew you. May you find peace happiness in the next life that you sought in this life.
In a very productive meeting of the Alamogordo City Commission tonight the Commission passed the first publication of the City Ordinance that places a Code of Conduct Policy and a social media ordinance into action for the City Commissioners.
Under the leadership of Mayor Susan Payne, the city moved forward with a 6 to 0 vote based on a strong recommendation from the City Manager and the Municiple League to add a local layer of accountability and protection for the citizens of Alamogordo and to commissioners themselves.
There was light debate led by Commissioner Josh Rardin on semantics of language as related to the city charter on one point. Once the language was verified and the city charter was consulted to by the city attorney and the city manager all seemed pleased with the policy mechanics and the ordinance as proposed. A motion was made by Commissioner Sharon McDonald and Seconded by Commissioner Burnet and the vote was called. Without further debate and a roll call vote the motion for the Code of Conduct passed 6-0.
Commissioner Melton was not present and made comments in a previous meeting opposing the ordinance. In a text dialog with AlamogordoTownNews.com on October 4th at 7:59 pm Mr. Melton said, ” I made the comment during the last commission meeting about why I OPPOSE the draft code of conduct, in its current form.” He continued, “if changes are made, I will happily vote for it.”
The Code of Conduct lays out a process for conduct and a process for complaints by staff or the citizens of Alamogordo for a breach of such conduct. A chairperson with legal experience would be convened to weigh the complaint and if legitimate they would assemble a review panel to review the compliant. After the review then a recommendation of a fine or censorship or escalation to the state level would then occur. Or if found not guilty of the charge then all would go back to status quo. Citizens abusing the policy would be barred from future complaints via the process in the ordinance.
A second complimentary ordinance was also passed related to use of social media. The ordinance passed without debate with Commissioner Rardin calling the vote and Commissioner McDonald seconding the vote. It also passed 6-0 with Melton being absent.
The other topic that actually had the most dialog was the streamlining of the way business licenses are issued. The new process requires a streamlined application, an inspection by fire first and ensuring zoning is correct then a quick approval by the city clerk. The process spreads renewals across the year to the business application anniversary date verses all 1500 or so of them coming due the `1st of January. There was debate on the fees for missing the renewal and dialog around some verbiage and cannabis but overall was civil and mature dialog. Mayor Payne again explained the importance of the process, there was dialog around public safety and food trucks, but this was another very pro-business approach to streamlining the process and ensuring it was affordable to register in Alamogordo to do business.
Mayor Susan Payne has made it a priority of her administration to show Alamogordo is “Open for Business and Business Growth.”
Excellent job and dialog by all commissioners that were present at tonight’s meeting. The 10/11/22 City of Alamogordo Commission Meeting was an example of bi-partisan collaboration, driving transparency and business, by the 6 Commissioners that were present. Job well done!
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Ex-Commissioner Couy Griffin Snug with Candidate John Block Coupled in Demagoguery
A demagogue, a popular leader, a leader of a mob, people, populace, the commons or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who gains popularity by arousing the common people against elites or those that differ in thought, especially through oratory and written dialog that whips up the passions of crowds, appealing to emotion by scapegoating groups and individuals, exaggerating dangers to stoke fears, lying for emotional effect, or other rhetoric that tends to drown out reasoned deliberation and encourage fanatical popularity. Demagogues overturn established norms of political conduct or promise or threaten to do so by attacking those that question their thinking.
The central feature of demagoguery is persuasion by means of passion, shutting down reasoned deliberation and consideration of alternatives. While many politicians in a democracy make occasional small sacrifices of truth, subtlety, or long-term concerns to maintain popular support, demagogues do these things relentlessly and without self-restraint. Demagogues “pander to passion, prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance, rather than reason.
Otero County and Alamogordo is a city divided along ideological political lines in a perceived battle with the liberals of Northern New Mexico and the federal government in ongoing battles over ranching and grazing rights, timber rights and directives from the BLM.
There is an independent streak and a great deal of conservatism running in the veins of a majority of Alamogordo and Otero Counties citizens. There is an underlying distrust of “outsiders” and a definitive distrust of state and federal directives.
The irony, Otero is the 3rd largest county in terms of land area in the state, with 6,613.21 square miles. The population of Otero County in 2018 was 66,781, 3.19 percent of the state total, and ranked 9th in the state in terms of population. Only 10% of the land area is privately owned; the Federal government via the military and BLM, the Mescalero Apache Tribe, and the State Land Office own the remaining 90% of the land.
Alamogordo, with a population of 31,230 in 2018, represented 46.76 percent of the total population of the county.
Per capita income for Otero County during the last administration was $34,636. Per capita income for Otero County was 83.24 percent of the state average ($41,609) and 63.62 percent of the national average ($54,446)
The percent growth of per capita income in Otero County between 2014 and 2018 of 8.61 percent was less than the state (11.91 percent) and the nation (15.70 percent).
Given that a majority of the land mass is outside of reach of the local government officials and given that incomes in the county significantly lag the state and national averages; then it is easy to understand the political culture of the area, and how extremist with demagogue tendencies rise to fill the void in leadership.
The most prolific of local leaders to gain national attention is Couy Griffin, Otero County Commissioner who raised his profile to the national stage in creating “Cowboys of Trump” and a fire and brimstone style of ideological propaganda that the masses embraced at the local level, at least at first.
From his pulpit on the Otero County Commission, he led a variety of conversations and debate from participation in the alleged insurrection to being an election denier. Mr. Griffin gained national notoriety and took that notoriety onto the speaking circuits. His supporters used the pulpit and he fundraised against his trials and tribulations to the toon of thousands of dollars. Not bad for a County Commissioner whose stipend for service is less than $20,000 a year. There is a fundraiser now online of which his goal is $50,000 and the plea is his removal from office $15556 has been raised the last 30 days. Not bad for a month’s work.
Mr. Griffin, possibly seeing the writing on the wall to his legal issues, or possibly just tired of the scrutiny he was under, opted not to run for re-election. Amy Barrela is the favored candidate to win his commission seat this November verses candidate, Stephanie Dubois.
That leads up to the duo of Karl Melton, appointed City Commissioner for Alamogordo, and his domestic partner, John Block, candidate for NM State Representative District 51.
With Griffin exiting stage left, and his influence waning, that created another opening for a new opportunistic demagogue.
The irony: this time, it’s not a rugged cowboy actor garnering for attention, fame and fortune on the backs of Otero County citizens, this time it is a young, educated, alleged conservative, LBGTQ duo, registered Republican, who profess Marjorie Taylor Green as a role model while professing fundamentalist Christian beliefs.
The irony of Melton/Block an out LBGTQ+ couple professing fundamentalist Christianity and Marjorie Taylor Green as a role model can’t be over-emphasized.
Per Multi-million-dollar Republican donor and American Capitalist Steve Forbes who supports the traditional Republican Party policies such as downsizing government agencies to balance the budget, tough crime laws, gun rights, rehabilitative justice, and support for the death penalty. He is editor and chief of Forbes Magazine and not a member of the perceived left-wing media influences. Thus, when Forbes Magazine of which he is editor and chief warns and highlights the demagogue rhetoric and antics of Marjorie Taylor Green, people should pay attention.
Per Forbes Magazine, “Greene baselessly claimedearlier this week that she believes straight people face extinction within 150 years during a segment on her streaming broadcast that airs on her social media accounts.” “Probably in about four or five generations, no one will be straight anymore,”Greene said. “Everyone will be either gay or trans or nonconforming or whatever the list of 50 or 60 different options there are.”
In other reporting by ultra-conservative Forbes Magazine, it highlighted the demagoguery of Marjorie Taylor Green and her conspiracy theories to include “that a devastating wildfire that ravaged California was started by “a laser” beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family. House minority whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) in June said some of Greene’s past comments were “disgusting” and racist, endorsing her Republican primary opponent along with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).”
Yet, Marjorie Taylor Green is who the Melton/Block duo represent as arole model. Interesting since their role model spouts antisemitic propaganda and certainly propaganda counter to the lifestyle of the Melton/Block duo.
The duo seems to be taking their lessons of demagoguery from the Marjorie Taylor Green playbook and preying upon Otero’s citizens via demagoguery, attacking those who differ with them in opinion or thought, inciting their followers to attack small business owners, and even the mayor, when they express a differing opinion to their own.
Conservative Republicans, to include the House Minority Leader, the Minority Whip and the Forbes family which are huge Republican donors, all speak against Marjorie Taylor Green’s style of conspiracy leadership within the Republican Party. The Melton/Block duo reference her as a role model. That role model should give us all as citizens whom this duo represents pause and alert us to the road ahead.
This admission explains exactly what we can expect from this duo – demagoguery.
Thus, with Couy Griffins exit and wanning media attention, this opportunistic duo launched their first act in the saga of Melton/Block duplicity. Then they went on the offensive via an old-fashioned style of demagoguery, attacking the mayor, those that challenge their first act, a young lady battling cancer, and of course alternative media and business owners that don’t fall in line with their theology.
The propaganda and misinformation of a right-wing radicalized blogger, running as a candidate for a State Assembly District 51 from Otero County, New Mexico, John Block, and his domestic partner Karl Melton, has had Alamogordo, and Otero County up in arms and in a teether over a “resolution” that is a mere, opinion piece, and carries NO WEIGHT of LAW.
Mr. Block’s radical falsehoods and accusations against those whose opinions differ from his, continues with untruths and attacks. The aggression in their demagoguery MAY have even pushed them and a few of their followers to the edge, and in possible violations of election law “the Block/Melton – Big Lie.”
The lawful petition activity in an attempt to counter the “the Block/Melton – Big Lie” brought out enemies, including a partisan official who publicly encouraged a deceptive tactic, an error in judgement on his part.
Typical in fashion of demagoguery, those that follow the demagogue often get hurt.
“Go sign their petition using the name of your favorite founding father. Creative belligerence is an amazing tactic to defeat your opponent,” wrote Joshua Beasley, chairman of the Republican Party of Otero County, where Alamogordo is the seat of government.
Mr. Beasley later apologized. Beasley, in a county party email dated Sept. 2, said his inexperience as a party leader led him to the mistake when lobbying against the petition.
“I would like to take a moment of your time and apologize for my recent statement concerning the collection of petition signatures,” Beasley said on the email. “My sarcasm was a juvenile mistake. As I obtain more experience in this newly acquired position, I cannot promise a perfect performance, but I can promise I have the best of intentions for our county when representing and defending its constituents. I appreciate the feedback I have received from many of you and look forward to continuing to build a strong Otero County.”
Alamogordo resident, Jeff Swanson, filed a complaint against Beasley with the Secretary of State’s Office. Swanson cited a state statute outlawing forgery on election petitions or knowingly causing false information to be listed. Violating the law is a fourth-degree felony.
John Block, a blogger and the Republican nominee for state representative in Otero County’s District 51 furthered thedemagoguery in his statements…
“A radical group of scammers calling themselves New Voices Otero is trying to trick pro-lifers into signing their bogus petition by claiming it will give the voters a choice to vote on the resolution, but they are not telling them that Alamogordo is already a sanctuary city for the unborn,” Block wrote.
It is NOT- legally the opinion piece or resolution passed has NO WEIGHT of LAW, thus Alamogordo IS NOT a “sanctuary city for the unborn” – more demagoguery and further evidence of “the Block/Melton – Big Lie.”
Myers, Swanson and others exercised their right to petition the government. In response, Block accused them of engaging in a fraudulent scheme, even as his Republican chairman urged people to sign the petitions with phony names.
Mr. Block then petitioned the city of Alamogordo under a request for public records for ANY communications to the City Clerk’s Office from Ashlie Myers or Jeff Swanson on September 1st.
Block labels himself as an “America First Republican,” though his version of a free country doesn’t seem to tolerate dissent.
Karl Melton, who is Block’s partner, is an appointed city commissioner. Melton sponsored the resolution to label Alamogordo as a sanctuary for the unborn. He cried poverty in hopes of shutting down constituents who hope to overturn his resolution.
“There is no money budgeted this year for municipal elections, so if this petition receives enough signatures, the city would be forced to take away funding from important city-funded services,” Melton wrote on his Facebook page as a co-conspirator of more demagoguery and further evidence of “the Block/Melton – Big Lie”
Melton’s anti-abortion resolution had nothing to do with any city service, but he made it a public issue anyway. His next move was to use self-incrimination in hopes of silencing those who disagree with him. Melton told residents the city government he helps oversee “is so poorly run it doesn’t have a contingency fund.”
John Block, and his domestic partner, Karl Melton, appointed, crafted a fight within the city of Alamogordo, misleading local followers to believe by implying this is the first step in a fight to ensure abortions cannot happen, Planned Parenthood and other providers cannot come, and that Alamogordo is a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn.”
In stirring that pot, this, gay duo, with their own slant to fundamentalist Christian values, duped their followers and rallied the public to believe facts that are not true or are pure propaganda.
What does the radicalized demagogue duo gain from this propaganda and attack on those that historically supported them?
Melton claimed, as reported in his domestic partners propaganda piece, that “I have brought forward Resolution 2022-38 because my constituents are worried Alamogordo has no resolution or ordinance on the books protecting unborn life. This measure not only affirms life from conception to natural death, but it declares Alamogordo a Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” said Melton.
Fact: Alamogordo is NOT “a sanctuary city for the unborn.” It may desire to be one, but legallyit is NOT.
Mr. Melton is splitting hairs and misleading constituents, when he says there is no resolution or ordinance on the books protecting unborn life.
Legally, New Mexico state law governs health related issues, local law cannot, therefore no local city ordinance nor resolution with the “power of law” can legally be on the books to protect the unborn life from abortion, as Mr. Melton insinuates.
When Melton claims the resolution “declares Alamogordo a Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” he fails to educate the average citizen that the declaration has NO Power of Law and is meaningless.
The resolution carries the same weight of law as this writer declaring, “Alamogordo is a sanctuary city for invading aliens from the planet of Mars.” The implication is that Martians are welcome and safe in Alamogordo. When I declare, “Alamogordo is a Sanctuary City to those from Mars,” it would be laughed at as just hyperbole, however when a government body passes a resolution and a seated commissioner goes on a propaganda tour, people want to believe that Alamogordo is truly a sanctuary city that protects the unborn via the power of local law – it is NOT!
Melton’s partner, John Block, said, “By boldly declaring our city a sanctuary for the unborn, you are not just making an important and necessary statement; you are declaring that those who wish to shed innocent blood are not welcome in our city and do not stand with the values our fervently pro-life community believes in.”
While again, this is nice rhetoric and speaks well for Mr. Blocks fundraising efforts, (especially out of the area) as a talking point, it is absolutely not a statement of fact. The resolution is nothing but an opinion.
Mr. Block and Mr. Melton it appears collaborated in an effort to place the Sanctuary City for the Unborn resolution on the ballot. Mr. Melton expressed at a commission meeting that a large number of his constituents demanded action.
(AlamogordoTownNews.com has a public records act request into the city to verify. We have a request with date and time stamps of the actual number of requests for action on this issue that was submitted to the city prior to it being placed on the agenda. Stay tuned.)
What is a fact is that Mr. Melton’s domestic partner, Mr. Block has worked for a non-profitWashington DC based advocacy group called Americans United for Life. It is a corporation, that received $3.2 million in income per its form 990 that states the company “advances the human right to life in culture, law and policy.” Per the filing it spent $810,610 “on litigation and legal affairs, through the courts to defend life and to protect first amendment conscience. AUL has a combined litigation and legislation strategy, drafting, advising and providing model pro-life legislation to legislators, working to help get it passed, then assisting attorneys in defending prolife laws.”
Is Mr. Melton and Mr. Blocks intent to have Americans United for Life assist with attorney’s in defending this resolution or using it as a springboard for furthering their agenda?
Mr. Block has used his propaganda blog heavily, to endorse the resolution his partner set forth. He then went on the offense to attack and defame those against it, including a young lady receiving treatment for cancer, the mayor a business leader and this new source and its leadership.
Mr. Block and Mr. Melton are partners, thus this past financial family connection to this pro-life advocacy group and the timing of his election campaign, raises the question of did Mr. Melton indeed receive, “so many requests from constituents to sponsor this resolution?”
(AlamogordoTownNews.com has requested copies via an open records request with date and time stamps of all constituent communications requesting this be placed on the agenda. We are awaiting full details from the city of Alamogordo. Since Mr. Melton is opposed to the Alamogordo City Code of Conduct, and all such communications may not be in the city database, this request may lead to further questions concerning ethics and integrity of the complete record of official city correspondence with the commissioner and his partner related to this issue and the integrity of said correspondence.)
A question the citizens of Alamogordo should be asking is rather this effort to facilitate this resolution is part of a bigger plot at a potential legislation and used as a test balloon using the tools, learnings and support of the Washington DC Based Americans for Life, Mr. Blocks former employer?
Given Mr. Block, Mr. Melton’s domestic partner was employed with Americans United for Life, was there coordination, assistance, financial support or guidance in this effort from Mr. Blocks past employer? Why didn’t Mr. Melton disclose the past family connection to Americans United for Life and the capacity in which his partner served at the time of sponsorship of this resolution?
Should Mr. Melton have recused himself from sponsorship of this resolution and from debate and voting given his family tie and family financial gain, in the past, by affiliation with this pro-life advocacy group? Have Mr. Melton or Mr. Block had any contact with this corporation or any of its employees leading up to the sponsorship of the resolution?
At a minimum, in the spirit of transparency, Mr. Melton should have gone on the record and disclosed that his family had financially gained in the past by a relationship and of his partners past employment with Americans United for Life. There should have been a full disclosure of the relationship that existed and rather the advocacy group had been in any consultation or referenced in any manner with the proposed resolution. Mr. Melton with the disclosure should have recused himself from participating in the resolution vote.
Mr. Block when making public comment and attacking his opponents should have disclosed his past affiliation. He should have disclosed his past role and financial dealings and rather there was any contact with his former pro-life employer for support, reference, guidance, marketing assistance, legal assistance, verbiage or financial assistance or other contact concerning the resolution his domestic partner brought forth. Mr. Block should have disclosed he had a past financial incentive to move the pro-life agenda forward.
Did Mr. Block or Mr. Melton violate the law? Probably not. Did they leave out information that was relevant to the issue and the debate? Yes, they did. Was their failure to disclose a breach of ethics? Probably, this situation would make an interesting topic for a university level civics class or law class as a dialog on ethics and standards or codes of conduct and disclosure for the public trust. But now we better understand Mr. Melton’s concern with a Code of Conduct for City Commissioners.
Attempts to influence the City Clerk to quash signatures and ultimately a vote?
Mr. Block and Mr. Melton went even further in effort to discredit the democratic process that attempted to bring the resolution to a vote via a petition. On September 8th a Request for Public Records was submitted on behalf of John Block for a copy of the entire petition with signatures, names addresses and phone numbers. Interestingly the signature at the bottom of the request is that or his domestic partner and city commissioner Karl Paul Melton. KPM.
Thus, a collaboration and/or a co-conspiracy by the two to discredit the signatures of the petition begun. See below
With Mr Melton’s signature above Mr. Block received the data did “his analysis” and then submitted “his” analysis to the City Clerk of Alamogordo in an attempt to influence the outcome. He stated: “I am passing this along to help you in your validation process.”
See letter from John Block to the city clerk.
His analysis did not necessarily match the Clerks own analysis.
Mr. Block attempted to suppress this authors vote with false information that “this author is not registered to vote” and included a link to the indictment of the settled court case as alleged evidence of why my vote should not be counted.
New Mexico State laws states: ”If you have been convicted of a felony, you can register to vote once you have completed the court-ordered sentence of imprisonment, including any term of parole or probation for the conviction. This provision includes federal, state and out-of-state convictions.”
Mr. Block has gone on the record that he does not believe in “rehabilitative Justice” thus his attempt to suppress votes but only of those that differ from him.
But the city clerk was a professional and reminded Mr. Block that he cannot be involved in the research to certify rather signatures were acceptable or not…
The city clerk clarified that she cannot even look at his analysis until she completed hers.
The question citizens should ask is did Mr Block really believe his analysis would be considered?
He is allegedly experienced enough in government to know the ins and outs of process and should know of the clerk had considered his research then she would have set the city up for significant litigation exposure.
He was either naive?
Or was he and partner Karl Melton who signed for the information requested, attempting to influence the results of the clerks audit of which places him, the city and his partner Karl Melton in the crosshairs of potential litigation on charges of “voter interference,” “voter suppression” and with other actions, not covered in this story at this time, “voter intimidation.”
In the end, Mr. Block via his propaganda blog released a story that the city was not qualifying the petition and he was rabble-rousing and spinning a story that the petition failed due to not enough qualified signatures…”they failed to get a mere 589 signatures” he claimed thus why it failed.
He released his story prior to the city officially releasing a press release detailing the reason. He ran with the “failed to gain signatures narrative” and still runs with narrative as does his partner the seated Commissioner.
The truth is the petition was disqualified because the “initial steps in the process was not followed correctly to prequalify the petition” from the City Clerk prior to gathering signatures…
Since the resolution was non-binding, it never should have been considered for petition, as the resolution has no meaning, other than an opinion, it has NO bearing of law. A resolution is not law.
The question the community must demand an answer for is what was the real motive behind Mr Melton and Mr. Block to sponsor this resolution that had no power of law?
Who were they in bed with to bring this into the public realm?
What was the real reason for the intensity of the fight by the Block/Melton Duo?
Why the tactics of defamation against the mayor, voter suppression tactics and the fever pitch of demagoguery against those that disagreed with the resolution?
Why was it so important for Mr. Block to ensure his analysis of voters that signed the petition to vote on a meaningless resolution “was on the record”?
The central feature of demagoguery is persuasion by means of passion, shutting down reasoned deliberation and consideration of alternatives. Demagogues “pander to passion, prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance, rather than reason.
Mr. Block and Mr. Melton went all out together for a resolution with no meaning? Mr. Melton sees no sense in a code of conduct for the city commissioners? Was this a trail balloon for something else? What’s next as act 2 in the saga of Melton/Block political duplicity?
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District Court Judge Francis Mathew issued a ruling Tuesday that permanently prohibits Griffin from holding or seeking local or federal office.
In his ruling on the case, Mathews contended that Griffin was not eligible to hold office because of his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots.
“(Griffin) became constitutionally disqualified from federal and state positions specified (under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Section 3) and forfeited his current office as Otero County Commissioner effective Jan. 6, 2021,” Mathew’s ruling states. “Griffin shall be removed from his position as an Otero County Commissioner effective immediately.”
We reached to Couy Griffin for comment and his response was: “It’s a great example of the type of tyranny in America today. The people in my district have already spoken thru a failed recall waged against me after Jan 6. But since that didn’t work, now I guess they have succeeded thru the civil courts and a liberal judge in a liberal county.” Mr. Griffin in sound bites sounds deflated, understandably, via the intensity of the last year.
The ruling is the first time that an elected official has been removed from office as a result of their participation or support for the January 6, 2021, riot. This is also the first time a judge has formally ruled that the events of January 6 were an “insurrection.”
Judge Francis Mathew gave a multiple page explanation of his ruling basically saying Mr. Griffins defense was inconsistent and that his involvement with Cowboys for Trump in partnership with Stop the Steal played a pivotal role in the ruling because of its “mobilization efforts” leading up to the events of January 6th. The judge claimed that Mr. Griffins “attempts to sanitize the events” of January 6th and his other actions were “without merit and contrary to the evidence produced.”
We have reached to the Republican Chairman of Otero County and the Democratic Chairman for comment and have not received one at this time.
This is a developing story and further updates will be added as more details of the county response come to bare and that of other impacted government bodies.
Mr. Griffins position is up for election in November with favored Republican Amy Barela facing off against Democrat Stephanie DuBois.
This is a developing story and further updates will be added as more details of the county response come to bare and that of other impacted government bodies and a link to live interviews from Anthony Lucero with impacted parties in a special story to be released later today from KALH.
Stay tuned… 12:04 pm update
Republican Chairman Joshua Beasley said he will review the ruling and submit comments later today.
Statement from Democratic Party Chairman of Otero County:
Yes…”We will support and defend the Constitutions of New Mexico and the United States of America ensuring free, fair, and accurate elections for our citizens. Those who disrupt elections, intimidate voters, engage in insurrections and seditious conspiracy behaviors, will be held accountable by Democrats. Americans can count on us!
We look forward to serving with those Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, Declined to State, and other voters who are also true patriots.
We await and encourage any virtuous Republicans to forthrightly take control of their party here, and put forth a far better quality of candidates, who can really work with ALL citizens to better our citizens, lands, and infrastructure.
Otero County is on the cusp of tremendous opportunities for growth and economic thriving. Far too many Republicans here, like Couy Griffin, get elected and prove to be distractions. We need a strong and vibrant Republican party here. We need an overhauled one!
High time for those true patriots and economically savvy Republicans to take charge of their party. Stop the squander!”
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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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A special meeting of the Otero County Commission has been called for July 1st to discuss the possibility of Otero County taxpayers paying to defend Couy Griffin in a lawsuit filed against him for removal from office.
STATE OF NEW MEXICO COUNTY OF SANTA FE FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT STATE OF NEW MEXICO, ex rel., MARCO WHITE, MARK MITCHELL, and LESLIE LAKIND, Plaintiffs, vs.
COUY GRIFFIN, Defendant
The case was file for removal from office: “Plaintiffs Marco White, Mark Mitchell, and Leslie Lakind, by their undersigned counsel, bring this quo warranto complaint to remove Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from office and disqualify him from holding any future public office pursuant to Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and NMSA 1978, Section 44-3- 4(B) (1919), based on his participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol.”
The subject before the Otero County Commission is should Otero County and its taxpayers pay to defend this lawsuit against Couy Griffin. His defenders argue yes this is filed from those outside of Otero County while his detractors argue the county should pick up the expense to defend him.
The question for citizens and public comments may be emailed, called in or made the day of the commission meeting is, “Is spending TAXPAYER money to defend Couy Griffin by the county highest and best use of taxpayer funds or should be fund his case privately?”
The world will be watching, as the Otero County, New Mexico Commission seems to get the attention of the nation’s press.
What is disappointing is that attention given to Otero County by the national press is NOT for business development, quality of life, success in redevelopment, military partnerships, the beauty and attributes of the natural environment around us, but the coverage routinely evolves around political novelty of Couy Griffin and the Otero County Commission.
Let’s hope this is a quick meeting and the commissioners get back to the people’s business of uniting the community as we inch toward the 4th of July, positive growth, business recruitment, jobs, safety and prosperity, and the health and happiness of the citizens of Otero County, New Mexico.
This too shall pass…
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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 approach, all 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 “understatedinfluence through service.”
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 Response: “See 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 Response: “See 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
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 Response: ALamogordoTownNews.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 Response: AlamogordoTownNews.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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Congratulations to the Alamogordo Girls Track and Field Team who won their 2nd consecutive 5A State Championship and arriving home to a police escort in victory… Thank you Mayor Susan Payne for representing Alamogordo from the stands of this state championship and the live feed of victory…
The Alamogordo boys finish 7th overall at the 5A State Championships in Albuquerque.
Congrats to Lady Tigers on bringing home back-to back blue trophies! This program was begun by Coach Marilyn Sepulveda and not since her time in leadership in the 80s has the program seen as much success as the last two years. Living in her legacy she would be proud of these young ladies and of the leadership shown by the present coaching staff under Jason Atkinson, as head coach.
Yvonne Stinson is the high point scorer with 28.5 points!