AlamogordoTownNews.com: Spotlight on Author Rochelle Williams’ New Release of “Acts of Love & Ruin” Jan 21st at Otero Artspace

AlamogordoTownNews.com Author Spotlight Rochelle Williams

Rochelle Williams is a familiar face to those in the arts community of Alamogordo, as she sits on the board of Otero Arts and has been involved in arts and other activities in the area since arriving to Alamogordo almost 2 decades ago.

Some folks have seen her photography at various venues such as the recent online showing at Otero Arts Winter show. Other’s have read a few of her short stories and snippets that have been published in various periodicals dating back to 1995 such as the story, Intaglio which won second place in Southwest Writers Workshop literary short story contest in 1995. The judge was Elizabeth Gaffney of Paris Review. It was subsequently published in The Eldorado Sun fiction issue.

The following short stories by Rochelle Williams were published or accepted for publication in 2020 – 2022:

  • · Phoenix in Menacing Hedge
  • Trouble with the Painters in The MacGuffin
  • That Day in WOW Women on Writing
    and won first place for flash fiction
  • Shoeboxes is forthcoming in April 2022 in Mom Egg Review

But now, Rochelle Williams has taken the next step in her literary journey, with the release of her first published works in a book format that being Acts of Love & Ruin, a collection of short stories and snippets by the author as her first paperback and hardback book release.

The book launch is scheduled for the initial book signing at Otero Artspace – “The Historic Women’s Building” – on Indiana Avenue, January 21st at 6 pm.

She will follow that launch event with a Champagne and Book Signing event January 29th 4 pm to 6 pm at Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo. 

Her book will then also be available the next several months at Roadrunner Emporium and online via Amazon thereafter.

AlamogordoTownNews.com met up with Rochelle Williams to discuss her upcoming book launch and to better get to know this local author and what motivated her to go to print…

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: What inspired your interest into writing short stories and snippets?

Author Rochelle Williams Response“I’ve been writing since I was about eighteen. I started with fragments, which still appeal to me as a form, and eventually moved to short stories. In the 1990s, I began a novel, “Bodies of Water.” As happens with a lot of writers, life got in the way, and I did not finish it. I’ve reshaped some of the material of the novel into short stories, and now some flash fiction pieces. But much of it remains in the form of fragments and scenes. I call those fragmentary pieces snippets.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: Your short stories and snippets feel very personal when reading the pain, views, or feelings of your characters, are your characters inspired by personal events or individuals you’ve encountered in your past?

Author Rochelle Williams Response“Yes, many of my characters and the situations they find themselves in are drawn from my life and what I observe around me. That is not quite the same as being autobiographical. For example, the protagonist in my second novel-in-progress, “The Eye of Desire: Letters to a Dead Painter,” studies painters and painting and is especially taken with Pierre Bonnard, a painter I love madly. But the character, Patience, is a painter herself, and I’ve never picked up a paintbrush. My characters are drawn in a general way from my experiences, but the role of imagination in creating a character or a story always adds its own mystery to the process.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: Do you feel a connection to your characters and what is your path to character development?

Author Rochelle Williams Response: “Yes, I feel strongly connected to my characters. I sometimes laugh out loud, or cry while I’m writing. They really get under my skin! I don’t work from outlines or have a plan when I start writing. A story or scene usually begins with a line I hear going through my head, or something I see. Characters often do unexpected things. I just kind of follow them around and take notes.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: Rumor is you are also a prolific photographer, what subject matter do you like to photograph most and why?

Author Rochelle Williams Response: “I love to photograph the most ordinary things—the streets of Tularosa where I walk in the mornings, the beautiful sky, clouds, the changing light on trees, buildings. I used to use an old Nikon and shoot black and white film that I developed and printed myself. I miss having a darkroom and that process of watching an image come up in the developing tray. But now I shoot everything with the camera in my iphone. I find photography so relaxing and pleasurable, whereas writing is mostly hard work!”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: Tell us about your connection to Otero Arts Inc, what inspired you to join, and what is your role and the organizations path forward in 2022?

Author Rochelle Williams Response: “Otero Arts, Inc., is the realization of a long-held dream. A group of artists got together way back around 2003 and launched the Otero Arts Council. It didn’t really get off the ground, but we never stopped thinking about the potential for an arts organization to serve Otero County. Being able to lease the Woman’s Club building to house Otero Arts is also a dream come true—because of this we are a facility-based organization and that creates a wonderful foundation for developing the organization. I joined the board when I retired last year, and I’ve been working on getting our literary arts reading series organized. We’ve already had two wonderful readers, and have booked JJ Amaworo Wilson, writer in residence at Western NM University in Silver City and organizer of the biannual Southwest Word Fiesta, to read in April. We want to tap into the rich literary resources in Southern New Mexico and bring many kinds of writers here to share their work with us.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com Question: What is the one thing that you would like people to know about you?

Author Rochelle Williams Response“I’m very interested in people. My son calls me nosy, but I am just kind of insatiably curious about other people’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings. I guess it’s the writer in me. I want to know everyone’s story.”

A component to Ms. Williams’ story that is even more interesting and inspirational to us, is that Rochelle Williams is a survivor of a brain injury. So, it is with great admiration we see her so active in Otero Arts, doing photography, writing, and bringing her first book to life as a published work of art.

For many individuals it is often difficult to express what one may have experienced, witnessed, heard, or sensed in a verbal dialog. To many writers the true expression of oneself is through their writing and through her writing we witness character development by New Mexico’s Rochelle Williams that makes us take notice.

At AlamogordoTownNews.com we believe that to be the case of Mrs. Williams she is very expressive via her writing yet shy in person. Through Rochelle Williams writing, we experience the characters joy and pain felt from the authors expansive imagery in words. We can clearly visualize the characters through the prose she presents to us, the reader.

Mark Conking, Author of Prairie Dog Blues and Killer Whale Blues says of Rochelle Williams; and of her newly released book, Acts of Love & Ruin, “Rochelle Williams is a writer with remarkable talent. She weaves the emotional lives of her characters with a palette of words that results in a true literary art form. Her stories range over life in the way a painter would range over a canvas–brilliant and colorful with striking designs. Here is an author everyone should read. A fine collection of stories.”

We indeed agree with Mr. Conking’s assessment of Rochelle Williams prose and as such encourage the public to meet the author at two local book signing events. The first will be her official book launch reading and signing at the Otero Artspace at the historic 1936 Women’s Building on Indiana Avenue, January 21st at 6 pm. The 2nd event is a book signing and champagne at the Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo on January 29th at 4 pm. The public is urged to come out and support this talented local author at these two artistic venues.

Ms. Williams’ followed up our interview, by providing us a short story that she wrote from 2013 that she has titled Accidental Gifts.

While we can’t speak to the question, of if this is her story or a fictionalized version of the events that did transpire around her accident; what we do know, is we felt this character’s experience, as we did in every short story and snippet in her newly released book.

Below AlamogordoTownNews.com is proud to present the short story titled:

                                                        Accidental Gift – Author, Rochelle Williams

“The moment my life split irrevocably into “before” and “after” came on a calm, almost unbearably beautiful winter morning. The sun was out bright and strong, turning the previous night’s blizzard into a wonderland of iced houses and trees, knee-deep snow, shimmering ultramarine sea. I had pulled on my boots and set off for a walk in the brisk air, feeling so alive, drinking in the brilliant light, the gorgeous contrast of sea and snow.

I had arrived the night before, just ahead of the big storm, at my sister-in-law’s house perched on a tiny spit of land on the coast of Maine. It was two days after Christmas. I was stopping in for a visit on my way from New Mexico, where I live, to Vermont, where I was enrolled in a low-residency graduate program. Embarking on my third semester, I couldn’t have been more excited. It seemed to me those great vistas of possibility were opening up before me, and this walk in the sun and snow was a celebration of impending change. The change that was actually in store for me, I never could have imagined, nor voluntarily welcomed into my life.

The road hadn’t been cleared, but some intrepid souls had already been out on it; there were wheel tracks in the snow and that was where I walked, heading downhill toward the tall pines on the next curve of land jutting out into the sea. I remember looking up, marveling at the lovely robin’s-egg blue of the sky, and then, without understanding how, I was flat on the icy pavement. My feet had gone out from under me and the back of my head had slammed the pavement so hard I couldn’t comprehend at first what had happened. Time turned sticky; everything slowed down. I lay there, unable to move. I had no thoughts. There was only a sort of slow-motion sensing of being flat on my back on the ground, seeing the tree branches overhead, smelling the snow. Then very slowly, as if my mind was moving through something thick, it began to roam around my body: Am I bleeding? Is anything broken? Can I move my legs? These were not thoughts, but a kind of primitive awareness scanning my body. Finally, there was a thought, accompanied by a deep sense of foreboding, and it went something like this: You have really hurt yourself. And indeed, I had.

In the instant after that thought formed, a black curtain started to descend over my eyes. I knew I had to get up, that I needed help, and fast. Looking back, it seems as if some force outside of me lifted me up and propelled me back up the hill, the hundred yards or so to my sister-in-law Susan’s door. As soon as I was upright, a battle began against intense, burning nausea and an equally intense desire to simply lie down right where I was and go to sleep. I had spent much of my working life as a nurse; the symptoms of closed head injury were familiar to me. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had of being split in two—one part of my brain trying to control the symptoms that another part of my brain was cataloguing with increasing panic. I stepped through Susan’s door and said something like: I fell and hit my head. I need help. She queried me, saw that I was in trouble and dialed 911. Bile burned hot in my throat and I was taking short, fast sips of air to keep it down. The paramedics arrived quickly and began to “talk me down”—something I also knew from my experience as a nurse—head injury patients can be combative and wildly irrational. I was trying to cooperate but was seized by intense panic at the thought of lying down flat on the backboard they had pushed into the cramped living room. I knew with unshakeable certainty that I would die if they put me on that backboard. One of them moved in beside me, spoke in a soothing voice, assured me repeatedly that they would let me sit up if I needed to. I knew he was lying, and that he had to; his job was to get me safely onto the backboard. I knew that once I surrendered and let them enclose me in what turned out to be full-body immobilization, there was no getting out. Fear blazed on top of the burning panic. I remember asking what they would do if I started vomiting; he said they would turn me on my side, suction my airway and make sure I was breathing; they would take good care of me—he must have said it a dozen times while they gently pried my fingers from the arms of the chair where I sat rigid and unable to move, placed the brace around my neck and maneuvered me onto the backboard, strapping me in place. His voice was kind, but nothing could soothe the panic that made me resist everything they were trying to do for me. In the ambulance, a woman put an oxygen cannula in my nose and started an IV. I remember squeezing her hand so hard, the thought that I might be injuring her flashed through my mind, but I could not loosen my grip. She leaned close and talked to me all the way to the hospital, telling me we were going to go around a curve now, it would be this many more minutes, I was doing fine, remember to breathe. I thought, I have fallen among angels. And still the panic roared in me every second, leaped and gnawed and burned like flame at the base of my skull, in my throat and chest, and I felt trapped in a cage that might never open.

In the emergency room I was given a powerful anti-nausea drug, wheeled from X-ray to CT. The lights above me blared like interrogation instruments. There was no escaping them, or the noise—the crash and clang of equipment, the scrape of chairs on the floor, the voices around me—all seemed amplified beyond endurance. The backboard dug into my flesh. Tears ran down the sides of my face, into my ears. I remember bellowing, “My head hurts!” A nurse spoke to me in that gentle, reasonable way they all had, told me they needed to make sure there was no bleeding in my brain before they could give me anything for pain. Susan sat by me, her face tense with worry.

After many hours, many tests, all the information was assembled. No bones were broken. No blood was seeping. There was no visible swelling in my brain. Prescriptions were written for pain and nausea medications; instructions were given about returning for worsening symptoms. And with that I was released from the imprisonment of the backboard and brace, into a life that was simply unimaginable to me hours before.

Traumatic brain injury is a malady that confounds medicine. The day before the accident, I was running my own company, managing a million-dollar annual budget and sixteen employees; the day after the accident, I could not walk or talk normally, I stuttered badly, slurred words, my right foot dragged. I could not take care of basic tasks of daily life independently, could not stay awake for more than a few hours. How could something you couldn’t see on an X-ray or CT scan cause so much damage? On a deep, almost inexpressible level, I felt unsouled, as if my soul had left my body and what was left was an empty shell, an automaton. I felt emptied of anything I recognized as self. Who are we when we are not “ourselves”? What creates that sense of “I”, of recognition? These are questions I had ample opportunity to ponder in the weeks and months that followed.

Medicine, I discovered, has little to offer for the physical symptoms of brain injury: hypersensitivity to light and sound, debilitating fatigue and weakness, persistent headache, problems with attention, memory and language processing, and, often, severe posttraumatic stress symptoms. There are painkillers and antidepressants, but they all have risks and side-effects, and they only marginally reduce the suffering these symptoms bring. And Western medicine has virtually nothing in its toolbox to address the profound shifts in self-concept that can accompany such an injury—the loss of a sense of self, the damage to the delicate mechanism that knits together memory, experience and imagination to create meaning and identity. I found myself turning more and more to alternative medicine, and ultimately to depth psychology and to a deepening spiritual practice in my search for healing.

For many months, I was unable to drive, shop for groceries, read, or work. I spent most of my time in a dark room, with a towel wrapped tightly around my head. Pressure seemed to quiet the constant ringing and buzzing in my brain and lessen the pain. The flood of adrenalin that had allowed me to stay conscious and get help, turned out to be my worst enemy in recovery. Like a stuck throttle, it wouldn’t shut off. Panic erupted randomly, and also as a fatigue marker—a signal I had done too much, stayed up too long; but it never failed to accompany the act of lying down, especially on my back; my heart would race and pound like it was going to leap out of my chest.

The previous spring, I had learned a simple meditation technique to help me deal with the stresses of my business and graduate program: sit quietly and follow the breath. It was useful, but I didn’t settle into a regular practice. After the accident, I found myself clinging to it the way a drowning person clings to a life-preserver. It was the only way I could calm the heart-racing, the pounding pressure in my head, the panic and pain that had, in an instant, become my world.

This simple technique not only calmed me; over time it began to work a subtle change in me. I found myself slowly letting go of the idea that my worth was based on what I accomplished in the world. I suddenly couldn’t do anything. Did that mean I was worthless? Or worth less than I had been in my former condition? I began working with a Jungian therapist who helped me explore these questions and to dismantle what was revealed in our work to be a harshly self-critical belief system and build a more loving and compassionate one.

Almost two years have passed since the great divide. I’m not entirely well yet. I still stutter and slur when I’m tired. My right foot still drags. I long to hike, ride a bicycle, do many things I used to take for granted. For a long time, I kept wondering when I would “get back to normal.” I don’t remember exactly when I realized that would never happen. The person I was before the accident is gone, unrecoverable. In her place is someone I don’t know very well yet.

I no longer manage my company. It took some time, but that’s okay with me now. The part of my brain that generates ideas is alive and well, and I’ve found new ways to contribute to the business. I look forward to one day returning to school. Understanding speech, formulating and articulating a response—ordinary conversation, in other words—is taxing, but written language has become fluent, even joyful. A loss, and a gift in its place. There are other gifts, poking up like flowers among the ruins as I inhabit this unexpected life. Calm acceptance of the past. Freedom from fear of the future. But the sweetest one is the gift of the timeless present moment, which I used to hurry right past, and now choose to live in as much as I can.“

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AlamogordoTownNews.com – Thoughts and Reflections on 2022 by members of the Alamogordo Community

AlamogordoTownNews.com asked a few of Alamogordo’s movers and shakers for their thoughts of wisdom or reflection as we move into 2022.

From Mayor Payne and Sherrif Black with his wife Lorie Black, to those in the business and cultural arts community 2021, was a year of survival. 2022 promises to be a year of rebuilding, reconnecting and renewal.

We begin with words of inspiration and hope from the honorable Mayor Susan Payne, Mayor Elect of Alamogordo – Make 2022 an intentional year of kindness. Make it a point to take a moment to thank a small business owner or a server, cashier, laborer, law enforcement, military, or other workers. Tell them how much you appreciate them.

Look for the blessings in any situation. They are there if we will just pay attention. Let’s not dwell on what we cannot change but rather let’s be the change. Find an area of service and get involved in making our community the best it can be.

I want to wish all of our citizens a Happy New Year and I look forward to serving you in 2022!” –Susan Payne

We then progress to…

David & Lori Black – Otero County Sherrif and the Executive Director, Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts– “Live life in 2022 with no fear and a lot of faith! Hold friends and family close and treat them with kindness and respect that they deserve! And last if you are bored or lonely, connect with your community and give of yourself. We need you.”

and expand with thoughts and reflections of those from the non-profit community, the creative arts community, small business leaders and more…

Pam Gordner – Otero Hunger Coalition- “It is in the joy of giving that we are truly blessed.”

Peggy Pennington – Owner of Surplus and Stuff, Alamogordo –“Wisdom for the new year comes from ups and downs, success and failure falling down and crawling back up…for 2022 for many it is the year of crawling back up.”

Claudia Laya & Trent Shelton – Elite Memories Boutique, New York Avenue, Alamogordo – You don’t have to be perfect to help people. All you have to do is be real.”

Becky Botsford Hournbuckle -Artist/Educator Alamogordo/Cloudcroft– Don’t be afraid to experiment with the creative ideas in your head. After all, you are just practicing, so nothing is a disaster, just step toward a beautiful creation.”

Alice Weineman -Owner Victoria, 913 New York Avenue– “Simply, be kind!’

Brenda Barber – Pins and Needles, New York Avenue, Alamogordo – “Those who sleep under a quilt, sleep under a blanket of love. Be patient.”

Rosa Miranda – Seamstress Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo – “2021 was a rough year for many people. My hope is that 2022 is a year of health and happiness.”

Musician and Retired Teacher – Don Thorpe – “What I have missed during the pandemic is to be able to see smiles and do hugs. My wish for 2022 is a return to a healthier world so we can see smiles and do hugs.”

Maggie Nowell – Owner, Blush Beauty Bar, 10th
Street, Alamogordo – 
“Stay hopeful. Re-center often. Aim to finish better this year but be compassionate and forgiving of yourself anytime you miss “the shot,” and extend to others the same grace.”

Couy Griffin, Otero County Commissioner – “It is better to trust in God than to have confidence in man. I pray your New Year is blessed.”

David Quinlan, Owner Fatwood BBQ, Alamogordo – “In 2021 we lost two people we were very close to. We lost my father-in-law due to Covid and a few weeks before that a close friend and employee of ours at Fatwood BBQ was in a tragic car accident. It made us pause and think, a lot.

In 2021, we were able to take that extra trip, spend an extra day with family and do quick trips to see the in-laws and it was so comforting to know that when our father-in-law passed pretty quickly, that we saw each other 7 times last year.

So going into 2022, we’ve made a specific commitment to spend more time with the people we love, visit family, and not get so consumed with owning businesses that we forget to live life and make memories. The length of life is not promised so we have to spend more time with family and friends so we have no regrets when it’s too late.”

Cindy Strong, Board President of the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts -“The staff and volunteers at the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts are looking forward to a positive and exciting 2022. We so enjoy seeing the look of delight on the faces of our patrons at our shows. We especially enjoyed the enthusiasm of the children who were able to attend a special showing of Mariachi Christmas. We have 5 more shows scheduled January thru April. We love sharing the history and enjoyment of this Alamogordo treasure with our patrons, Happy New Year.”

Chez Sanchez- “With all that last two years have brought to us all, try to do this in 2022; do one kind thing for someone who you just don’t know each month. Give blood, donate to a charity. Just one thing, then maybe we can learn that we are all in this together.

Anthony Lucero, Radio Personality for KALH Radio provided us some levity in his response to a look forward to 2022 with his personal 2022 New Year’s Resolution:” Wake up half an hour earlier so I can hate you more.” (Meant in jest, we are sure.)

And finally, Rene Sepulveda and I, Chris Edwards, as co-owners of Roadrunner Emporium and the AlamogordoTownNews.com via 2nd Life Media; we want to thank our community partnership of over 72 artisans and entrepreneurs that we mentor and work with daily. We appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your lives and are privileged to be allowed to partner and to be a part of your lives.

To the many community partnerships in the business and arts community we have met along this journey, we are humbled daily, by your support, and are proud to be members of the creative class of Alamogordo.

2022 is a year of rebuilding. Rebuilding, repairing, and building bridges of understanding across a diverse range of people and beliefs. If we can play some small part of building Alamogordo forward, we are humbled to be a part of that journey and the year 2022 is a chance for renewal and further steps forward.

We look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead! You can count on us being here to help tell the story of Alamogordo’s past, present and future. Happy New Year 2022!

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Couy Griffin Roadshow From Montana to QANON Rally & HBO Movie Couy Griffin Makes The Rounds…

As Otero County voters are aware  Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin has prevailed against efforts to recall him from office as a county commissioner in southern New Mexico.

Recall committee spokesman Scott Fredrick confirmed the end of September that a petition drive collected 1,229 signatures from registered voters and that it wasn’t enough to trigger a recall election by state law.

Amid the recall effort having survived, Griffin has been burnishing his image as a God-fearing “peaceful patriot” who stands in solidarity with about 70 jailed defendants and 100’s of indicted defendants linked to the Capitol siege. 

Under the direction and guidance of former president Trumps former lawyer Sidney Powell, and funded by a fundraising campaign that shows a fundraising total to date of $41,567 created by the controversial alleged Proud Boys affiliate Ben Bergquam; Couy Griffin has been traveling around the country. 

On his tour he is lecturing on his vision of America and continuing the message of a stolen election. Recently on tour in Dillon Montana, Couy Griffin mined his preaching background when he proclaimed to the pro-Trump crowd that he believes the former president is anointed by God.

Griffin founded Cowboys for Trump and faces misdemeanor charges for his alleged presence in a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol building during the riot of Jan. 6 in Washington D.C.

A former pastor, Griffin acknowledged that Trump is a flawed man. But he reminded the crowd that King David of the Old Testament was a sinner. Those sins included adultery and soliciting murder, according to the Bible.

About 90 people in the Frontier Event Center heard the onetime preacher emphasize that God is sovereign.

If God wanted Donald J. Trump to be in that office right now you can bet your boots he would be,” he said. However in a confusing contradiction to the belief that if God had wanted Trump in office he would be there then Griffin went on to say that, “I believe with all my heart that the election was stolen.” (If God wanted Trump in office how could it be stolen? This writer has yet to comprehend how one can trump God’s will so to say, but we digress.)

“[Trump] was fighting the good fight for those of us who have been left behind by the government,” Griffin said, noting that he has met Trump and had conversations with him. “I know his heart. His heart is for the people.”

Specific to the insurrection Griffin has said he believes the federal government has been reluctant to move forward with trials of defendants charged with alleged crimes tied to the Jan. 6 riot. He said authorities are pushing instead for guilty pleas or plea bargains. Griffin himself was offered a sealed plea bargain agreement but as of yet there is no word of an agreement between Griffin and the Feds on agreement to the plea bargain that was proposed.

Griffin has said he believes trials would compel the government to disclose to defense lawyers video evidence that would be both exculpatory and revelatory.

While in Montana he was accompanied by two other Montana residents facing conviction from the capital related activities. One, Henry “Hank” Muntzer told the Montana Standard that, “Trump will be back before the end of the year after the fraud is exposed.”  

That myth continues to be perpetuated on obscure websites sites and via QANON with constant date changes, when this alleged reset of the US government with Trump reasserting his rightful role in the White House will take place.

Couy Griffin continued his conservative tour this weekend with a trip to Las Vegas to a QANON conference however his speech concerning President Trump was not as rosy and upbeat in support of the former president as his speech in Montana a few weeks prior.

At the conference this weekend, C owboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, who continues facing charges in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot, turned his rhetoric on the former president in a conference speech for abandoning January 6 rioters and failing to deliver on a campaign promise.

We supported President Trump because of his fight for justice as well. And for four years we cried, ‘Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up.’ We know she’s a criminal. What did the president tell us? ‘If I was in charge of the law, you’d be in jail,'” Griffin said Sunday at a QAnon conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Mr. President, you’ve been in charge of the law for four years,” he added. “At the end of your four year time, the only ones locked up were men like me, and others like me, that have stood by the president the strongest.”

The AlamogordoTownNews.com reached out to Couy Griffin via text to his private number for a comment for this article or context of the statements but as of publication time of this article has had no comment or response. If we get a response or comment we will amend the article with comments from Mr. Griffin or context to his statement.

In the ongoing saga of the capitol riots to date 670 individuals have now been charged by the Department of Justice with crimes against the United States of America. 

A detailed movie produced by the BBC is being released for television called; Four Hours at the Capitol: a meticulous, chronological account of how 6 January unfolded, executive produced by Dan Reed and directed by Jamie Roberts. If the violence that day seemed sudden and explosive even to those of us following it from afar, the film shows the agonizing push-and-pull between protesters and police on the threshold, the tension building and finally boiling over.

The abundance of material of nearly every minute allowed them to stitch together the sequence of events, while witnesses tell the story. There’s the Capitol police caught on the back foot, the Washington DC police brought in to do battle, the politicians and staff readying themselves for fight or flight and the reporters struggling to keep pace.

The most striking testimony is from the protestors themselves: a broad church ranging from rubberneckers to those clearly intent on doing harm. Many belong to the Proud Boys, the far-right group (now synonymous with alt-right extremism) which led the attack on the Capitol. Some subscribe to conspiracies associated with QAnon.

It can be unsettling to hear some of the participants describe that day in their own words, and to see the pleasure some evidently derive from them.

In the film, often the footage speaks for itself, such as when our Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump founder; Couy Griffin describes “thousands of peaceful patriots standing around” while the viewer is shown a bloody, baying mob – and Griffin is actually seen on video stirring them up further. “It was very violent: this was an out-and-out physical attack on the Capitol and the people defending it,” says movie producer Reed. “We don’t hold back on that, and that’s got to tell you a lot … The fact that members of the Proud Boys are allowed to speak is entirely as it should be, because that’s how we’re going to understand.

America teetered on the brink of martial law, Reed says. When an officer is dragged into the mob, “you can see that there are different impulses within the crowd: one is to smash his face in and kill him – and the other is to save him.

Had the House of Commons been in comparable jeopardy, he says, “ there would have been massive bloodshed – with that level of threat, I think police would have definitely opened fire. It’s just astonishing that the Capitol police didn’t.”

Instead, as an officer says in the film– and as the footage shows to be miraculous – huge loss of life was averted on both sides. The squall passes when, after four hours, Trump finally tells his adoring, warring supporters to go home.

There’s a certain amount of despair in America that you can see in the high suicide rate among the post-industrial white working class, in the rates of opiate addiction and family breakdowns. There’s a large constituency of people who feel that they are not at the center of the American story any more.

Membership to right-wing militia groups was recently found to have surged since 6 January. That unprecedented violence,  was spearheaded by just few dozen determined individuals – and then that opened the way to events that changed the world in ways we have yet to understand and may not even know or realize for decades.

Four Hours at the Capitol can be seen on HBO. A trailer of the movie can be seen via the link below..

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Mayoral Candidate Susan Payne Responds to 26 Questions

Susan Payne candidate for Mayor of Alamogordo has politely responded to our request to answer 26 questions as compiled from polling of our readers.

The race is down to two candidates as the 3rd withdrew thus the silence in response. Early voting begins tomorrow, in a race that has had no public forums other than a few meet and greets, no published position papers and no candidate websites to see a detailed plan of what a Sikes or Payne administration would mean to the city of Alamogordo and it’s citizens.

What Alamogordo is in for, is a cat fight between Nadia Sikes and Susan Payne, in what one hopes will remain a non-partisan and polite race. Will the newcomers purchasing homes and investing into Alamogordo make a difference in this race or will the machine that some say runs Alamogordo select the candidate due to voter complacency?

The next 30 days will tell the tale.

Below are the 26 questions submitted to the candidates from AlamogordoTownNews.com and Susan Payne’s responses…

AlamogordoTownNews.com

1. Provide a brief biography of your governing and business experience.


Susan Payne Response:
 “Six years as a city commissioner, 2 years on the community development advisory board. Over 30 years of corporate and small business experience including an accountant for Mazda Motor of America Corporate Headquarters, Bramalea Corporation, United Way of Otero County and more recently for the past 12 years I have built a successful non-profit whose mission is to assist those less fortunate and take people from dependence to independence. 

I hold a BS in Criminal Justice and a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Management. I have been recognized with several awards including the Community Hero Award given by the NM Coalition to End Domestic Violence, The “Pursuing Excellence” award given by Love INC National and the Community Service Award given by ITA International. 

Although often asked, I do not sit on allot of boards as I take it very seriously and I just don’t believe I can be effective and still balance my personal time. I also think that
because I operate a non profit it would inappropriate to focus too much energy on raising money for other non-profits although there are a couple that my husband and I personally support.”

2. 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...

Susan Payne Response: “The city does not specifically have any ordinances that would fall into either of these categories. HOWEVER I was heavily involved in reworking our LEDA ordinance which focuses on job creation. In addition, I sit on the Otero County Economic Development Board and focus allot of time on Job and business creation.”

3. AlamogordoTownNews.com What piece of legislation or ordinance have you passed that you are proudest off?

Susan Payne Response: When I was first elected to office, the police union had been working without a contract for 18 months. I’m honored to have really pushed for reasonable negotiations as part of my first few months in office and extremely proud that we were able to find resolution after all those months. Allot of what I’ve pushed for over my years on the commission is really “cleaning up” and clarifying many outdated ordinances.”

4. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Why are you running for office?

Susan Payne Response: “Before I ran for office I would spend each commission meeting literally watch commissioners argue with each other. Often the meetings would go on until midnight. I never believed that it was the way things should be done as it showed absolutely no decorum. Since my time on the commission things have changed drastically and, while we don’t always agree, we also don’t allow that to get in the way of doing what is best for our community. I believe I have allot to offer and running for Mayor will simply give me greater opportunity to do what I’ve been doing in terms of improving our city. I am passionate about economic growth and believe Alamogordo has allot of potential. I have allot of support and I can only attribute that to my work so far on the commission.”

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

Susan Payne Response:  “My vision is to see our city grow while still maintaining that home town feel that most citizens enjoy. The Mayor is only one vote and part of the commission as a whole. Our current Mayor was a large and visible presence before the pandemic and really helped to change the tone of city hall. I would like to continue that as I work with administration and the citizens to be a leader that our community can count on to represent our city in a positive way. Alamogordo really is the total package and as Mayor I want to ensure that the rest of the state recognizes that.”

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

Susan Payne Response: I will demonstrate the economic growth that we will have undertaken. I will be able to show a growing work force and I will also show off the arts and cultural district that I think we all have an interest in seeing enhanced.”

7. 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? Specifically what shops and when?

Susan Payne Response: “I am not a big shopper however I believe it was about a month or so ago. I purchased a gift certificate from Victoria’s (one of my favorite downtown stores) and spent about 45 minutes speaking with Alice and her employees. I enjoy our downtown businesses and try to shop there first as the need arises.”

8. 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?

Susan Payne Response: “I try to stay involved in Alamogordo Main Street and actually attended a meeting last week with state and local leadership of that organization. Before the pandemic, Mainstreet and the downtown merchants association were really beginning to thrive. There was the evening art walk once a month and I, along with MANY citizens was a regular attender. I see these types of events as truly the backbone of our community. It is a great way to not just help our merchants but to bring our community together.”

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

Susan Payne Response: “I attend them all the time. My son-in-law is a football coach (Go Tigers!) and our family loves going to support our team. In addition, my grand daughter runs track and is a varsity basketball player and we are proud and devoted grandparents. Finally, Love INC (the non profit I run) is a financial sponsor of girls basketball.”

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

Susan Payne Response: “I have been a judge for several spelling bees, again, our grand daughter is a National Honor Society and Golden Scholar inductee, I attend high school graduations and have also been involved with Junior Leadership Otero. This year my grandson is involved with the Chaparral Choir so I’m sure I will be attending concerts and finally I’m a huge supporter of STEM.”

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


Susan Payne Response: “By participating I’m going to guess you mean attended? I attend most all of the Alamogordo Music theatre productions as I really enjoy musicals of any kind. I really wanted to go to the last summer series but unfortunately due to illness I missed that one. I’m looking forward to the November production of “A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.”

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

Susan Payne Response: “I’ve devoted my entire time in office to both. Alamogordo does not lack jobs but we do lack a workforce. One of my grandkids is actually a local entrepreneur and we are incredibly proud of how hard she has worked and how successful her business has been in such a short time. My high school grandchild is actually a baker and bakes beautiful cakes. My husband and I are looking at what we can do to assist her with a facility that perhaps she can rent space in when she is baking as she gets numerous requests for her cakes. Finally, after 27 years of working for a local business in town, my husband just retired and now is a small business owner himself.”

13. 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?

Susan Payne Response: “I would say half of the calls I receive from constituents are for code enforcement issues. This is something I take seriously as I recognize that our citizens do not want to look at unsightly properties. Having said that, I also recognize the rights of our property owners so always feel it is better to try to work with them to come to some kind of resolution. Perhaps the most notable property that the commission was finally able to demolish was the Sahara Apartments. Tinsley trailer park is finally getting cleaned up. There is a property in my district which ahs literally been a health hazard, that is finally being demolished after many years and much effort. There was a business on White Sands that I was able to get cleaned up. Many of the properties in my district we have seen drastic improvements on. I have participated in many “Keep Alamogordo Beautiful events” including painting and cleaning up balloon park.”

14. AlamogordoTownNews.com -Where do you stand on the Recall of Couy Griffin and why?


Susan Payne Response: “It would highly inappropriate and incredibly unprofessional of me to comment on this issue as Couy is a fellow county commissioner and we will continue to have many occasions where we possibly have to work together. Also, it has nothing to do with my ability to be Mayor.”

15. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Where do you stand on the exposed broken sewer line issues and amending the law so the city would be responsible from the sidewalk to the street?

Susan Payne Response: “This is an ordinance that has been enacted since the 90s. After much research I see no way to change this without doubling water and sewer rates which would cause an undue burden on our low income residence including those living in public housing. I’m open to viable suggestions.”

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

Susan Payne Response: “I am a member of the board of Otero County Economic Development, the chamber of commerce and I am the vice chair of Maingate United and as such I work diligently to create ways to attract new business to Alamogordo.”

17. 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.

Susan Payne Response: “I support all of our businesses and would never pick just 5″

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

Susan Payne Response: “Absolutely. This is something Alamogordo Main Street is currently working on. I attended their latest meeting and listened to their ideas and I’m very excited to see their vision come to fruition.”

19. 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?

Susan Payne Response: “Hmmm??? I haven’t specifically done outreach in this arena however, working in the field that I do, I have many occasions to work with many diverse groups of individuals. As Mayor I will continue to work with everyone for the betterment of our community.”

20. AlamogordoTownNews.com – How are you funding your campaign?


Susan Payne Response: “My campaign is being funded by friends and supporters.”

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


Susan Payne Response: “We already have one, so yes, I suppose, I would, since I have nothing to hide.”


22. 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 in mid-October?

Susan Payne Response: “Possibly, if my schedule permits.”

23. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Given the job is a part time job and one of public service, would you be willing to accept the position if elected for NO pay and dedicate the public check each month to a local community organization rotating the donation monthly?

Susan Payne Response: “This question is full of presumptions. I assure you I don’t really get a paycheck for this position but I am grateful for the medical and dental insurance that my paycheck goes toward even if its not enough to cover all of it.”

24. AlamogordoTownNews.com  – Would you support moving the farmers market to New York Avenue and amending city ordinances to allow weekly events and street fairs?

Susan Payne Response: Of course. At one time it was downtown however a couple of business owners were not happy about this and because of the way the ordinance was written, the event was moved to Alameda Park. One of those business owners has since closed shop but one is still there. I am personally not opposed to bringing this back before commission and actually talked about that at the Mainstreet meeting last week.”

25. 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?

Susan Payne Response: “I will continue to support Alamogordo Mainstreet and their efforts including the funding that they currently receive for these types of projects. Simply put, the city already has begun this process and I support efforts made to that end.”

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

Susan Payne Response:  “There are lots of things about our community that excite me. The multitude of events and activities. Driving around and seeing our young people playing in our parks and green spaces. Friday night football games at tiger stadium. Early morning listening to the Tiger band practice. Enjoying a meal at a local restaurant and inevitably running into several other people I know. Working with other agencies and non-profits to assist those in need. Seeing and hearing the excitement when new businesses come to town. Maintaining our small town feel while seeing economic growth. Showing our unwavering support and pride for all things military, first responder and law enforcement related. Seeing our town come together for various parades and special events.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com thanks candidate and sitting Commissioner Susan Payne for taking the time to process the questions, with well thought out and honest answers. 

Running for political office is never easy and one’s life is put under a microscope of which some wonder, is it worth it? It takes a lot of ego and self confidence to be able to withstand the scrutiny of the voting public, social media and the press. 

Any candidate for office is to be commended, for opening themselves up to this scrutiny while running for office, and years after, as the public spotlight always follows those who were once public.  

With any set of questions, responses bring more questions for specifics in details, examples of progress and a need for more information. We hope the voters engage in dialog and follow-up with both candidates and actually get out become active and vote.

We hope this race, and whoever the winner of the race is, stays committed to the principles of non-partisan behaviors, shows compassion and empathy, is timely and accepts the role as their primary focus to truly represent the broad diversity of Alamogordo with tact and diplomacy and always puts their constituents above their personal interest or agenda.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com Politics: Mayoral Candidate from District Two/ Mayor-Pro tempore Nadia Sikes Resume

Mayoral Candidate, District 2 Commissioner and presently the Mayor Pro tempore, Nadia Sikes was the first of the mayoral candidates to provide a resume and answer the candidate questionnaire sent to the mayoral candidates for the upcoming Alamogordo Municipal election.

Alamogordo Mayor Pro Tempore and District 2 Commissioner Nadia Sikes runs for Mayor of Alamogordo 2021

The Latin term “pro tempore” means “for the time being,” so the title of mayor pro tempore which is the secondary title of District 2 Commissioner Nadia Sikes wears on occasion. Basically, if the Mayor is out of town, sick, or simply unavailable or unable to preside and run the city commission meetings or appear on behalf of the city Nadia Sikes serves as the Mayor Pro tempore or as the “place-holder” in Mayor Boss’s absence.

Ballots for this upcoming municipal election will be mailed out soon and early voting begins on October 5th, 2021 for the November election. 

Getting to know the candidates is the responsibility of every able bodies citizen. Patriotism includes informed decision making and active participation in the election process. 

AlamogordoTownNews.com has sent questions to the candidates and invited the candidates to host a meet and greet during the month of October. Nadia Sikes has been the first of the candidates for mayor to complete our request. 

This article is an outline of her resume as presented by her as her qualifications for the position of Mayor of Alamogordo. 

Nadia Sikes moved to Alamogordo 17 years ago when her husband, Aaron, was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base. Her career included marketing and sales with IBM, marketing for skilled nursing facilities and working for the National Public Radio stations in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Wichita Falls, Texas.

Community involvement is important to her and she says her involvement enables her to ‘keep my finger on the pulse of the community’ and better understand the needs of Alamogordo.

Her Community involvement per her and outlined in her public profile includes…

  • Alamogordo City Commission, District 2, since 2012
  • Member, Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee
  • Member, GCRMC Community Advisory Committee
  • Member, LULAC Council 8095
  • Member, NAACP
  • Member, Otero County Community Health Council
  • Member, Prescription Drug Overdose Committee
  • Member, Southern NM Public Lands Alliance
  • Member, ZIA Board
  • Member, Secretary, COPE (Center of Protective Environment) Board
  • Patron Board Member, KRWG Public Radio/TV
  • President, Friends of the Library
  • Voting Member, Otero County Juvenile Justice Board
  • Voting Member, Southeast Regional Transportation Planning Organization (SERTPO)
  • Voting Member, Southeastern NM Economic Development District
  • Transportation Lead with 100% Otero
  • Food Insecurity Co-Lead with 100% Otero
  • Volunteer each Wednesday with the Otero Hunger Coalition for the curbside meal

She suggests that “Our community is full of dynamic, talented, busy people – people involved in community projects, non-profit organizations, companies, agencies, and institutions – people who make our community such an interesting and great place to live. Every Monday I host a two-hour radio show “Community Corner” on KRSY AM 1230, in which I get to highlight the personalities and events in and around our community. On Wednesday, I host “The Wednesday Show” on KRSY AM 1230 as well. I enjoy our beautiful mountain scenery, working in my yard, keeping up with politics and news and spending time with my husband and our two dogs, Max, and Jaxson.”

 Mayor Pro tempore Sikes responses to the multiple candidate questions will be released in a separate article.

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AlamogordoTownNews.com It’s Free Enterprise – Insurance Companies Protect Shareholders and Dividends by Increasing Rates on Anti-Vaxers, Amend Triage Rules It’s A Free Country All Business & Doctors Freedom of Choice

Location Gerald Chapman Hospital Alamogordo, individuals with heart conditions, blood clots, serious ailments and in need of ICU space are being denied the level of care because there is limited space available, and those in need of care are seeking Medi-vac options to hospitals in other states where care is available. The reason?  Most beds locally and across the nation are going to Covid-19 patients who did not get shots, and thus are sicker than those that did, and they are selfishly taking the critical care spaced needed by those otherwise healthy individuals.

What is the option? Sure, you have the option not to get the shot. If you feel that way don’t but we those that followed the health guidelines have rights to. The rights of those that did follow guidelines and yours should not infringe upon one another.

Thus, we have the right as a stockholders in an insurance company to ensure that the insurance company optimizes profits so I get the highest payout in dividends possible. Insurance companies give incentives and discounts to those that don’t smoke, that exercise regularly and who live health lifestyles. When we make healthy choices, we get rewarded with lower premiums and higher levels of protect and services than the at-risk individual that is insured. It’s a choice you know.  

Thus, as stockholders that believe, in free enterprise and limited government interference, we embrace the insurance companies that charge higher premiums to those that don’t get the vaccinated. This isn’t about politics this is purely about profits and the dividends payouts we expect from our investment in stock. We have the right as stockholders to demand maximum profits and maximum payout to us the stockholders and owners of the insurance companies. Stockholders in oil companies demand mitigated risks and the highest possible return on our investment, we demand the same of the insurance companies of which we are invested in.

It’s free enterprise baby! The company of which is a corporation by its charter as a corporation per Business 101, it has one goal, per its mission as a corporation; that is to optimize profits and revenue for its owners the stockholders.

So, we that are stockholders of several insurance companies that get dividends say yes optimize that revenue revenue, protect my dividends payouts, stamp out government interference, it’s a free country and charge higher rates to the unvaccinated. It’s free enterprise, exercise your free enterprise rights to optimize revenues and protect shareholder dividends.

Amend Triage Rules. This is a call out to the American Medical Association and state and national lawmakers to get out of the way of doctor’s decision making, allow the doctors and nurses freedom to amend the triage rules and provide ICU space and care for those who have other ailments and those who got vaccinations over those that did not. The Triage rules say sickest gets priority and doctors work on that theory for fear of being sued. It’s freedom of choice throw those rules away. Let doctors make choices based on what they believe is right not some damn government mandate to care for the sickest as the priority. Get the government out of health care. Get the government out of triage decision making. Get out of the litigation rules that allow doctors to be sued. Repeal medical malpractice rules and repeal all rules that take a doctor’s right to make free and clear decisions based on who he wants to give care to and at his priority of care. Give the doctors and nurses the right to lower the priority of care of Covid patients.

Trust God? Then let nature run its course and let the doctors care for those that care for themselves. Freedom to make triage decisions should not be dictated by government interference. Freedom to profit by the insurance companies is a God given right per the constitution. Let’s freedom ring but freedom from all the government interference. Let’s not pick and choose.

Well why not, it’s a free country isn’t it?

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Alamogordo Town News Artist Showcase: Meet the “Milk and Honey” Creations of Kathryn Cecava

Roadrunner Emporium Fine Arts Gallery, Antiques and More, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico is proud to showcase craft persons and artists that are #ExclusivelyAlamogordo –

Meet the “Milk and Honey” Creations of Kathryn Cecava. She is one of our exclusively showcased crafters who experienced the adventure of living in Alamogordo since 1957, except for the four years spent in Nebraska pursuing a Masters degree.

Kathryn’s showcased business is named “Milk & Honey,” because her creations are designed for use in the kitchen where the milk and honey flow.

She loves to create new things from old things. She repurposes the vintage beauty of hand embroidered items by combining them with the usefulness of a kitchen towel.

The artistic outcome becomes a warm and beautiful focal point in the kitchen – a true work of practical and functional ART.

Roadrunner Emporium is open 10 am and NOW at NIGHT till 7 pm Monday thru Thursday and 10 am until 8 pm Friday and Saturday.

Kathryn’s Milk & Honey creations are exclusively at the Roadrunner Emporium Fine Arts Gallery, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo and are showcased with many choices of colors and patterns.

Come and select one from a variety of choices showcased that are crafted as #ExclusivelyAlamogordo.

See the video of Kathryn’s creations:

#Alamogordoarts #AlamogordoMainStreet #LocalCrafts #AlamogordoArtist #AlamogordoRise #NewYorkAvenueAfter5 #2ndLifeMedia #RoadrunnerEmporium

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July is Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month. Help is Out There! Reach for It!

This month was originally designated by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 to honor the legacy of prolific author, teacher, and advocate Bebe Moore Campbell. 

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month serves as an opportunity for us all to raise awareness of the unique mental health needs of people of color.

What happens at the intersection of mental health and one’s experience as a member of the BIPOC community? While the experience of being BIPOC in America varies tremendously, there are shared cultural factors that play a role in helping define mental health and supporting well-being, resiliency and healing.

Part of this shared cultural experience — family connections, values, expression through spirituality or music, reliance on community and religious networks — are enriching and can be great sources of strength and support.

However, another part of this shared experience is facing racism, discrimination and inequity that can significantly affect a person’s mental health. Being treated or perceived as “less than” because of the color of your skin can be stressful and even traumatizing. Additionally, members of the BIPOC community face structural challenges accessing the care and treatment they need.

According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, BIPOC adults in the U.S. are more likely than white adults to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress, such as sadness, hopelessness and feeling like everything is an effort. BIPOC adults living below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those with more financial security.

Despite the needs, only one in three BIPOC adults who need mental health care receive it. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Mental Health Facts for African Americans guide, they are also:

  • Less likely to receive guideline-consistent care
  • Less frequently included in research
  • More likely to use emergency rooms or primary care (rather than mental health specialists)

Barriers To Mental Health Care 

Socioeconomic Disparities
Socioeconomic factors can make treatment options less available. In 2018, 11.5% of BIPOC adults in the U.S. had no form of health insurance.

The BIPOC community, like other communities of color, are more likely to experience socioeconomic disparities such as exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources. These disparities may contribute to worse mental health outcomes.

Stigma
Negative attitudes and beliefs towards people who live with mental health conditions is pervasive within the U.S. and can be particularly strong within the BIPOC community. One study showed that 63% of BIPOC people believe that a mental health condition is a sign of personal weakness. As a result, people may experience shame about having a mental illness and worry that they may be discriminated against due to their condition.

For many in the BIPOC community, it can be incredibly challenging to discuss the topic of mental health due to this concern about how they may be perceived by others. This fear could prevent people from seeking mental health care when they really need it.

Additionally, many people choose to seek support from their faith community rather than seeking a medical diagnosis. In many BIPOC communities in the U.S., the church, mosque or other faith institution can play a central role as a meeting place and source of strength.

Faith and spirituality can help in the recovery process and be an important part of a treatment plan. For example, spiritual leaders and faith communities can provide support and reduce isolation. However, they should not be the only option for people whose daily functioning is impaired by mental health symptoms.

Provider Bias and Inequality of Care
BIPOC people have historically been negatively affected by prejudice and discrimination in the health care system in the US. And, unfortunately, many BIPOC people still have these negative experiences when they attempt to seek treatment. Provider bias, both conscious and unconscious, and a lack of cultural competency can result in misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment. This ultimately can lead to mistrust of mental health professionals and create a barrier for many to engage in treatment.

BIPOC people may also be more likely to identify and describe physical symptoms related to mental health problems. For example, they may describe bodily aches and pains when talking about depression. A health care provider who is not culturally competent might not recognize these as symptoms of a mental health condition. Additionally, BIPOC men are more likely to receive a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia when expressing symptoms related to mood disorders or PTSD.

How To Seek Culturally Competent Care

When a person is experiencing challenges with their mental health, it is essential for them to receive quality care as soon as the symptoms are recognized. It is equally important that the care they receive is provided by culturally competent health care professionals.

While we recommend seeking help from a mental health professional, a primary care professional is also a great place to start. A primary care professional might be able to provide an initial mental health assessment and referral to a mental health professional if needed. Community and faith organizations may also have a list of available mental health providers in your area.

When meeting with a provider, it can be helpful to ask questions to get a sense of their level of cultural awareness. Providers expect and welcome questions from their patients or clients, since this helps them better understand what is important in their treatment. Here are some sample questions:

  • Have you treated other BIPOC people or received training in cultural competence for BIPOC mental health? If not, how do you plan to provide me with culturally sensitive, patient-centered care?
  • How do you see our cultural backgrounds influencing our communication and my treatment?
  • Do you use a different approach in your treatment when working with patients from different cultural backgrounds?
  • What is your current understanding of differences in health outcomes for BIPOC patients?

Whether you seek help from a primary care professional or a mental health professional, you should finish your sessions with the health care professional feeling heard and respected. You may want to ask yourself:

  • Did my provider communicate effectively with me?
  • Is my provider willing to integrate my beliefs, practices, identity and cultural background into my treatment plan?
  • Did I feel like I was treated with respect and dignity?
  • Do I feel like my provider understands and relates well with me?

The relationship and communication between a person and their mental health provider is a key aspect of treatment. It’s very important for a person to feel that their identity is understood by their provider in order to receive the best possible support and care.

More Information

  • If finances are preventing you from finding help, contact a local health or mental health clinic or your local government to see what services you qualify for. You can find contact information online at findtreatment.samhsa.gov or by calling the National Treatment Referral Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).

In collaboration and permission of the Trevor Project we share some thoughts…

This BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month, the Trevor Project collaborated with several individuals who are LGBTQ people of color to offer advice to youth on how to navigate the intersections of their identities and protect their mental health. HRC Foundation and the University of Connecticut released the largest-of-its-kind survey ever of more than 12,000 LGBTQ teenagers across the nation, revealing in distressing detail the persistent challenges so many of them face going about their daily lives at home, at school and in their communities.

LGBTQ youth of color and transgender teenagers experience unique challenges and elevated stress — only 11 percent of youth of color surveyed believe their racial or ethnic group is regarded positively in the U.S.,

and over 50 percent of trans and gender expansive youth said they can never use school restrooms that align with their gender identity;

More than 70 percent report feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week;

Only 26 percent say they always feel safe in their school classrooms — and just five percent say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people;

Sixty-seven percent report that they’ve heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people
But there is help in the thoughts of others:

“Healing begins with you, and it is quite a journey as well, but it is worth it. You are worthy of so much. Always remember that.”
“I have learned that I do not need to find an exact mirror of myself in order to be valid or to find kinship and community. I can find resonance within myself, and I can find pieces of myself within others.”
“There is space for who you are and who you identify as. And that space that you probably know and want to explore is exactly where you will begin to flourish.
“Being honest with who you are and how you feel is a big step into being confident in who you are and how you feel.”
“I wish someone told me that it’s okay to not be perfect all the time. I wish someone would’ve said to me, ‘go live your life unapologetically. You MATTER.”
“I believe that while life saving organizations like The Trevor Project fill gaps in mental health infrastructure, we can all do our part to destigmatize mental health conversations in our own context.”
In Alamogordo there are options for help:
Crisis And Access Line Call for support and resources1-855-NMCRISIS (662-7474) Toll Free 24/7/365 

NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DOH
Address: 1207 8th Street Alamogordo, NM 88310Phone: 575-437-9340Fax: 575-434-6629


Alamogordo Mental Health Associates · Mental health service 2474 Indian Wells Rd A · (575) 682-5270

PMS- Alamogordo Family Health Center – Behavioral Health  Mental health clinic 1900 E 10th St · (575) 437-7404

The Counseling Center Inc· Mental health service501 24th St · (575) 488-2500

There is no shame in mental health assistance. If you are depressed or at risk seek help!

Sourced: The Trevor Project,  Department of Public Health New Mexico, Otero County Department of Public Health, National Institute of Mental Health, Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health

STAY CONNECTED! SUBSCRIBE TO FREE EMAIL UPDATES FROM 2ND LIFE MEDIA ALAMOGORDO

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New Mexico’s Couy Griffin Slaps at the Legitimacy of Native Americans Voting and their Struggles and History

“I think the Recall for Couy Committee should look at the legal side of it because those signatures they get on the Mescalero Reservation, I don’t see how they could be used in a recall if I’m already been banished,” Griffin told a local radio station during an interview on July 13 that he questions the legality of the signatures gathered on the Mescalero Reservation since he was banned last fall.

Griffin apparently has forgotten or is unaware of the plight to vote for Native Americans or that there is even precedent for elected officials to be banished from stepping foot onto a reservation, but the Native American Voters still have the right to vote for or against that individual, even if the individual is banished from tribal lands represented.

Native Americans see themselves as patriots. They’re the demographic with the nation’s highest participation in military service. Yet profound differences separate some of their values from those of mainstream America. Many Indigenous people do not support the dominant society’s fiercely maintained system of racial and financial privilege of which Griffins comments allude to. Platforms with health- and community-focused planks are what interest most Native American voters per polling and Mr. Griffins absences from the district, focus on Cowboys for Trump and infatuation with the Trumpian theology don’t bold well for most Native American voters within the district.

The banishment of Couy Griffin from the Mezcalero Apache Reservation was an act, by the tribe, to get his attention. The banishment was to let him know of their displeasure in his actions as a representative in local government. Though driven by his rhetoric, the tribe’s stance of banishment is statement of his ineffectiveness as a leader of the community. The tribe clearly understands the recall is based upon his actions and potential ethics violations and not his rhetoric and as such allowed the signature drive for recall to proceed on their tribal lands.

Leaders build bridges between diverse groups and advocate for their needs. An act of banishment is a statement that he has been ineffective in representing their voice within county government if even at all.

The banishment of a political leader by a Native American tribe is not to be taken lightly and there is precedent for such actions. Couy is NOT the first politician to face a banishment and not the first to question voting rights of Native American citizens.

A most recent example of a tribal banishment is by the Oglala Sioux tribe in South Dakota, Via banishment they told the state’s governor that she was no longer welcome to access the Pine Ridge Reservation, one of the largest in the country, because she signed bills that allegedly target Keystone XL pipeline protesters. The tribe’s president, Julian Bear Runner, informed Gov. Kristi Noem of the council’s unanimous decision in an open letter.

Tribal banishment is a permanent ban from the reservation, and violations are punishable by law with fines or even jail time on their lands. Tribes have sovereign rights over their lands per Federal treaties however they also participate in county and state elections. Federal law allows for what one might deem as dual citizenship the right to participate in tribal elections as per the tribes constitution and the right to participate in local, state and federal elections via rights granted to all citizens within the US constitution.

Voting Rights of New Mexico’s Native American Population:

Miguel Trujillo Sr. had been a Marine sergeant in World War II and was in the middle of getting his master’s degree from the University of New Mexico. But there was one thing he still could not do. Trujillo could not vote. In 1948, the state’s constitution barred American Indians living on reservations from participating in elections. So, that summer, the Isleta Pueblo educator waged a legal battle that culminated in a court ruling 74 years ago that won Native Americans the right to vote in New Mexico.

Even though the federal government had granted citizenship to Native Americans back in 1924, the New Mexico Constitution still barred them from voting. The state’s constitution expressly prohibited from voting “idiots, insane persons, persons convicted of felonious or infamous crime unless restored to political rights, and Indians not taxed.”

That last part referred to Indians living on reservations because they did not pay property taxes on their land. It is unclear whether Native Americans could have registered to vote if they lived outside reservations.

But the provision disenfranchised many and prompted condemnation from the President’s Committee on Civil Rights in its 1947 report. The provision did not make any sense, the committee said. That line in the constitution was written before American Indians were granted citizenship, but they were paying taxes to the state and federal government like other citizens.

Protests against this ban, the report noted, had only gained force as American Indian veterans returned to civilian life after World War II.

It was amid all of this that Trujillo went to the Valencia County Clerk’s Office in June 1948. Family have said Trujillo had grown up with the county clerk, Eloy Garley, but knew he would not be allowed to vote in any event. Sure enough, he was turned away. In turn, Trujillo went to court with the help of Felix Cohen, a former federal official who had become a prominent civil rights lawyer and was working with tribes in New Mexico.

They filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court focusing on that one strange qualifier in the state constitution. For one thing, Trujillo’s lawsuit argued, he paid plenty of taxes. No, he did not pay taxes on his land. But he paid income taxes and sales taxes. There are other voters who don’t pay property taxes, too, such as renters. But no other group has been barred from voting on the basis that they do not pay property taxes.

On Aug. 3, 1948, a panel of three judges in Santa Fe sided with Trujillo granting Native American voting in New Mexico.

“We are unable to escape the conclusion that under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments; this constitutes discrimination on the ground of race,” the court said in its ruling. The cruel irony that Trujillo had just served in the military but was denied the right to vote was not lost on the court, either. Native Americans, the court said, “have responded to the need of the country in time of war in a patriotic wholehearted way, both in furnishing manpower in the military forces and in the purchase of war bonds and patriotic contributions of that character.” “Why should they be deprived their rights to not now because they are favored by the federal government in exempting lands from taxation?” the court asked.

With that, American Indians had the right to vote and petition in New Mexico in any election for any candidate like other citizens.

And vote they do. In the most recent election voters elected a record-breaking six Native American congressional candidates to serve in the US House of Representatives. Native candidates also won dozens of races in state and local elections across the country.

In New Mexico at the state level 9 candidates ran…

  1. WON: Anthony Allison, Navajo Nation, State House 4, Democrat
  2. UNOPPOSED: Doreen Wonda Johnson, Navajo Nation, State House 5, Democrat
  3. WON: Derrick Lente, Sandia & Isleta Pueblo, State House 65, Democrat
  4. UNOPPOSED: Georgene Louis, Acoma Pueblo, State House 26, Democrat
  5. WON: Patricia Roybal Caballero, Piro Manso Tiwa, State House 13, Democrat
  6. WON: Shannon Pinto, Navajo Nation, State Senate 3, Democrat
  7. WON: Benny Shendo Jr., Jemez Pueblo, State Senate 22, Democrat
  8. WON: Brenda McKenna, Nambe Pueblo, State Senate 9, Democrat
  9. LOST: Gertrude Lee, Navajo Nation, New Mexico Court of Appeals, Position 2, Republican

There are almost 3600 members of the Mescalero Apache tribe of which a large percentage live on the reservation and are located within Couy Griffins District. By law each have the right to sign the petition if a registered voter in the county the tribe’s people like ANYONE registered to vote in Otero County District 2 can sign the recall petition, including those registered voters on the Mescalero Reservation.

If Griffin is removed from office, the New Mexico Constitution states that Lujan Grisham may appoint a person from any political party to the seat. The appointee must be from Otero County District 2, Governor’s Office Spokeswoman Nora Sackett said.

The New Mexico Constitution is not as specific as the statement from the Governor’s spokesperson however there is precedent in appointments, and it would be politically prudent for the Governor to appoint within the district thus the statement from her spokesperson.

The Committee to Recall Couy Griffin is setting precedent in New Mexico history as there is not a record of a recall effort that has garnered this much attention nor seen the successes to date of this effort. To learn more about the recall effort visit:

https://www.facebook.com/RecallCouy/

Signatures at the Reservation are being gathered…

Friday, July 16:

Mescalero, Apache Reservation at the Chiricahua Plaza parking lot from 10 am – 4 pm

Saturday, July 17

Mescalero: Chiricahua Plaza parking lot from 10 am – 4 pm

Note: Story Revised on 7/16/21 at 6:09 pm per request the author has remove the call letters and named interviewer referenced in the story per a call request. While the record of the call is in the public airwaves we respect the request and have done so accordingly. 

To hear audio of the interview with Couy Griffin of New Mexico follow the link https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FSgtChez%2Fposts%2F10219254270935110&show_text=true&width=500

New Mexico’s Couy Griffin Recall Status Update

As we reported on June 28th, 2021 the New Mexico Supreme Court cleared the way to allow the political action committee that is leading the effort to recall Commissioner Couy Griffin could go forward.

In follow-up, about two weeks since the ruling, the committee has begun circulating a petition and gathering signatures within his district to recall Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin from public office as a commissioner in Otero County.

The non-partisan Committee to Recall Couy Griffin consists of an equal number of representatives of both parties with a charter to collaborate for the removal of Griffin for the greater good of the overall county. Partisan politics has been put aside to work together for what the group deems is the common good of Otero County, the district, and Southern New Mexico.

The group is not focused on his removal due to rhetoric and outlandish statements, which are in themselves unappealing and lack dignity. Though the statements are unappealing and show a level of ignorance that does not shine well upon the county for business recruitment, they are not the basis of the recall.

The committee and the Supreme Court ruling affirmed that the focus of the recall effort of Griffin was for using his elected county position for personal gain and a variety of other charges.

The committee assert in their brief before the New Mexico Supreme Court that, Griffin used his office space to solicit contributions to Cowboys for Trump that covered his personal expenses. They also are criticizing Griffin’s pursuit of travel reimbursements from taxpayers for a cross-country trip that culminated in a visit with Trump at the White House. Additional causes for recall argued were Griffin’s attendance of Otero County Commission meetings by phone rather than in person, his banishment from the Mescalero Apache Reservation along with alleged use of Otero County Commissioner offices for personal business.

Griffin has called those allegations” frivolous, baseless and politically motivated” per his many public rebuttals. Griffin says that the Cowboys for Trump is a for-profit endeavor and as such that is not subject to financial disclosure requirements for political organizations. The state of New Mexico ruled against this assertion affirming that Secretary of State may go after him and the organization for failure to comply with New Mexico political reporting laws.

Since the positive ruling signature gathering has moved forward to get the question of recall on the ballot. AlamogordoTownNews.com reached out to the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin to get their assessment of how the effort is going. We presented committee spokesperson Scott Fredrick with questions for an update…

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you have any updates on the recall effort?

Scott Fredrickson – “We had good traffic this weekend at the La Luz and Tularosa locations. Only 2 people came to the locations that did not support our efforts, but they were nice and with discussed our case with them.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – When and where are the next signature drives?

Scott Fredrickson – We have a meeting Monday night to discuss the next weeks efforts. The committee will be at Veterans Park in Tularosa again next Sunday, July 18th from 1 to 4 at a minimum.

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you anticipate meeting the deadline to get the question on the November general election ballot?

Scott Fredrickson – “We have been told that we need to have the signatures to the clerk by August 5th to have them validated in time for the recall to be in the November general election. We are going to do all we can to prevent having a special election at an additional cost to the taxpayers.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is the deadline to qualify for a special election of the August deadline is missed?

Scott Fredrickson – “We have 90 days from July 1st (September 28th) petition initiation date to get them to the clerk.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Has Couy Griffin been in touch with your group in the last week?

Scott Fredrickson – “We have not had any contact with Couy other than one of our committee members briefly spoke with him during a break at the county commission meeting last week.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – Has the group encountered any recent hostility?

Scott Fredrickson – “No.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com – You are now the acting spokesperson for the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin, for what reasons are you involved in this effort and what is your community and political background?

Scott Fredrickson – “I am involved in the effort because I voted for Couy and do not like how he has represented me as a commissioner. I feel he spent too much time in his Cowboys for Trump role to effectively tend to the needs of Otero County. I live in District 2 and I am active in local politics because I want what is best for the local area. I am a registered Republican and ran for the city commission in the last Alamogordo District 2 election. I retired from the US Air Force 5 years ago and stayed here because we like the area and I work for Holloman.

Mr. Fredrickson concluded, “Our committee has 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats, and we are a non-partisan organization. Our goal is to get a commissioner who will work for Otero County and not bring negative press to the local area.”

The recall initiative is moving forward. The committee is in the parks and around County Commission District 2 gathering signatures. Couy Griffin is at present attending Commission meetings but is also embroiled in multiple lawsuits that are a distraction from serving his constituents.

Today, Couy Griffin is divorced, disparaged by family, and confronts a political recall drive, a state corruption investigation, and federal charges. He is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, according to a United States District Court criminal complaint. In Washington, prosecutors unveiled photographs of Griffin climbing a toppled fence and another barrier to access the Capitol steps.

Griffin has been rebuked by many Republicans over his racial invective. He’s also been suspended from Facebook and banished from Native American lands in his district as he contests charges of breaking into the Capitol grounds and disrupting Congress that could carry a one-year sentence. A recall effort is underway, amid a plethora of lawsuits.

The New Mexico Secretary of State says that Cowboys for Trump operated by Couy Griffin qualifies as a political committee, amid its parades on horseback and merchandise sales in support of Trump. The secretary of state’s office prevailed in a June arbitration and appeal to court decision that ordered Cowboys for Trump to register, file expenditure and contribution reports and pay a fine of $7,800.

According tp the Santa Fe New Mexican Jan 18, 2021 “New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said he intends to see Griffin removed from his elected office. Balderas said his office is aiding the federal investigation into Griffin, 47 — who is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority — while also gathering evidence for a criminal probe into Griffin’s time on the Otero County Commission.”

“We’re hopeful the federal prosecution will move rather quickly and the evidence presented there will help make the case for his removal clearer,” Balderas said Monday. “The general public should be outraged about what he’s been able to do while in office.”

The two other County Commissioners; Gerald Matherly and Vickie Marquardt — both Republicans have asked Couy Griffin to please, just resign, so they can focus on the county’s business without distractions and drama.

At a commission meeting in April the drama and debate around Griffin intensified with both Republicans making statements that he needs to leave.

Matherly was clear about his position, “We have gone through many days of drama, with our staff and my office. I’ve received threats myself because of your actions. This is office supposed to be taking care of county business, and I don’t think you should be using county property for Cowboys for Trump business and filming personal videos. Every time we have county meetings, it turns into a meeting about Couy Griffin’s personal life and has nothing to do with county business.”

Marquardt didn’t hold back either, “How many hours do you think you actually spend on county business each week? You generate hate that rains down on this county, and we have to deal with it,” she said.

Griffin said that everything he did under the auspice of Cowboys for Trump was for the good of the county. “It was to represent the conservative values of Otero County.”

Griffin continues in defiance against all odds but now it is up to the voters of District 2 to decide. 

The question each voter should ask themselves…

Is the District better off since Couy Griffin was elected to his position?

What value has he brought to the district?

Has Mr. Griffin enhanced employment opportunities, recruited new businesses personally or via commission directives? What has he done to lower the poverty rates in his district?

Is he a good spokesperson for Otero county to recruit good paying jobs, tourism and new development?

Is he devoting a majority of his time to local constituent concerns?

If not allowed on the reservation, how does he represent their interests within the county and participate in collaborative dialog?

What has he done to improve the lives for our children since being elected?

What has his done that improves the lives of seniors and the middle class in his district since being elected?

The poverty rate for Otero County is 21.2% with the high number of individuals living in poverty, located in District 2, what has he done to help solve the issue of poverty since being elected, and how much time and how many speeches has he given specific to this topic since being elected?

Are you better off now then before he was elected?

If the responses to most of the questions above are positive, then he is your commissioner. If the answers to most of the questions above, are he has not impacted the issue, has not addressed the issue or has not proposed solutions and work towards them in district and on behalf of his constituents then the citizen should sign the petition for his recall.

Those who participate make the decisions. Be informed, participate, make a difference for yourself, family, and friends and for future generations. What we do today impacts tomorrow. The future of your district and of business growth and wealth creation for you, your family and future generation may indeed be impacted by this very recall effort.

Is Couy Griffin worth the gamble for the future of District 2 and Otero County? District 2 registered voters of all parties, that is up to you to decided.