By Chris Edwards, CEO 2nd Life Media/Roadrunner Emporium, Alamogordo reprint from New Mexico Influence Magazine – April May Edition
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley’
John Wesley was an English cleric, theologian, and evangelist, who was a leader of a revival movement within the Church of England known as Methodism. The societies he founded became the dominant form of the independent Methodist movement that continues to this day.
While researching this article on the “influence” of the Black Church in Alamogordo, we reached to the leadership of several of Alamogordo’s Black churches. I was surprised that the Reverend Warren Robinson of Alamogordo’s Owen’s AME Church provided me the quote above from a Caucasian theologian born in 1703 as the starting point of my journey of exploration. But in reading into the quote and speaking with the various pastors and theologians the path Reverend Robinson was sending me down was to understand the meaning of “service,” and that service expands well beyond the confines of a “Black Church” or any church for that matter.
When one researches the American Black experience, the fights for social justice and American society, it becomes clear that no pillar of the African American community has been more central to history, identity, and social justice than the “Black Church. Reverend Robinson made it very clear to me that in Alamogordo, “there is no single voice speaking as the Black Church”, just as there is no Black religion.
Pastor Mark Anthony Phillips of Alamogordo’s Holy Temple Church of God in Christ emphasized that the church is about” traditions and faith”, and that laws and societal norms may change, “but the foundation of faith is still and will always remain consistent in scripture.” Pastor Phillips served in the US Airforce for 24 years and then was called to serve as a pastor. In 2000 he was ordained and in 2018 became head pastor of his congregation.
Pastor Johnnie L Walker leader of Alamogordo’s New Covenant Worship Center concurs that the “foundation of the church and the teachings of God and Jesus are the foundation but that the approach to spread the word is much different than times of the past.” Pastor Walker as the newest pastor of Alamogordo’s Black Church community is viewed by many in the Black faith community as representing the “next generation of pastoral leadership for Alamogordo.” Pastor Walker’s outreach is more technologically progressive than the church of the past. He says some sermons over half of his participants are online, yet a challenge is they are not as engaged as an in-person service. Pastor Phillips emphasis was, “that there is no true substitution, to an in-person worship service”, but admits for the church, Black or otherwise, “to stay relevant, we must all evolve in approach, all the while sticking to the fundamentals of faith.”
The Black Church This is Our Story, This is Our Song; a book by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. tells the reader that “the traditions and faiths that fall under the umbrella of African American religion, particularly Christianity, constitute two stories; one of a people defining themselves in the presence of a higher power and the other of their journey for freedom and equality in a land where power itself-and even humanity-for so long was (and still is) denied them.”
“Collectively, these churches make up the oldest institution created and controlled by African Americans and as such they are more than simply places of worship. In the centuries since its birth in the time of slavery, the Black Church has stood as the foundation of Black religious, political, economic, and social life. For those who lived through slavery followed by Jim Crow racism, the church provided a refuge: a place of racial and individual self-affirmation, of teaching and learning, of psychological and spiritual sustenance, of faith and a symbolic space where black people, enslaved and free, could nurture the hope for a better today and a much better tomorrow.”
As a white male that grew up in the south, I witnessed the aftereffects of the implementation of the civil rights act. I was bussed, had one of the first black teachers in a white school in Memphis, and I saw firsthand, racism in action. I witnessed the influence on my classmates, my peers, and my generation in the aftermath of Jim Crow, my generation would refer to this period as a “cleanup phase”, cleaning up the mistakes of past generations. This was the generation that was supposed to bridge racism, that was to rebuild a community that did not see color, race nor creed and our generation was the transitional generation. However, in many ways it seems we have failed in that aspiration, thus the evolution of Black Lives Matters.
The influence of the Black Church has always been one of a “safe-house” for people of color. But its mission today has moved well beyond that, to one of “service to a broader community.” Interestingly, all these years later, when I attend a church service, I seek the “Black Church” as my refuge. I find the “Black Church” to be more welcoming, less judgmental, and more spiritually enlightening to my void in faith, and that is why this story is important to me.
Alamogordo’s Black Church community has a history that followed a parallel path to the rest of the country. The Black community upon the founding of Alamogordo was a segregated community. The schools were segregated with Corinth also referred to as the Delaware School, created for Black youth, and the Dudley School for Hispanic youth. Alamogordo well ahead of most school systems nationwide and began desegregation early, 1946 for Hispanic youth and 1950 for Black Youth.
The building that once housed the Black Children, as Corinth School is now part of the structure that makes up Corinth Baptist Church which is under the leadership of Reverend James E. Forney. The property on which the present church stands was purchased from the school system after desegregation. Today, 94 years since its founding in 1928, Corinth is a symbol of the “city that sits on a hill” with “the light of her various ministries shedding rays throughout this community, state, nation and even in foreign fields-a beacon beckoning to all who have a need of her love and protection” according to its pastor.
Owen Chapel AME Church was established in 1939 in Alamogordo. The church started in the homes of faithful member who were determined to establish an African Methodist Episcopal presence in this area. The history of that gathering was strong enough for the African Methodist Episcopal church to supply a pastor and a relationship with the greater church organization. The history and the activities of Owen Chapel AME church are rich and varied. Pastor Warren Robinson leads the church with a mission of service to the community and one of inclusion and diversity. Though Robinson leads a predominately black congregation with an emphasis on the historical importance of the history of the church to the black experience, his preaching style is one of inclusion of ALL people and a celebration of diversity within the Alamogordo community. His experience in building bridges of understanding between diverse groups is his trademark. Owen A.M.E is the most diverse congregation in Alamogordo. Robinson has received the President George Bush’s Call to Service Award/USA Freedom Corps. He was awarded the Alamogordo Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Award and was given the Office of African American Affairs Everyday Hero Award in 2019. He lives service in his daily actions.
My question to the pastors of Alamogordo’s Black Church community revolves around the “Influence of the Black Church” in modern society. Is the Black Church relevant as we move forward decade’s past slavery, Jim Crow, the marches on Selma and the implementation of the civil rights act and the new youth empowerment by groups such as Black Lives Matter?
The response from all of Alamogordo’s pastors was that yes indeed the “Black Church” is relevant and does indeed still have “influence.” “That influence is as a servant to the community, we as pastors must be more community involved, listen more, talk less we must go where God is and where God is needed,” explained Pastor Phillps. He continued, “it used to be that the women wore beautiful hats and men wore their Sunday best, now we dress down, dress comfortable, welcome and we listen.” Pastor Johnnie Walker explained, “we must get outside our church walls, hit the streets and remind folks there is still an answer there it is hope to solve needs.”
Alamogordo’s Black Pastoral leadership has taken service to heart and each leader is moving their mission forward in a variety of ways.
Pastor Walker has a newly acquired church building that will soon host a new school. The Phoenix Learning Academy team will provide an intensive academic program with a focal point and emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). This STEM model will call for Project/Problem Based Learning lessons, capstone projects, and enrichment learning programs with student activity periods. PLTW (Project Lead the Way) Launch curriculum will also be implemented at the elementary grades, providing strategies for students to adopt a design-thinking mindset through compelling activities, projects, and problems that bring learning to life. This is certainly meeting a community need with thinking outside the box and leadership in implementation by the “Black Church.”
The Joy Center Alamogordo recently hosted a groundbreaking for an expanded 12,000 square foot campus with childcare facilities and more to better serve the greater needs of Alamogordo.
Pastor Robinson has served on a variety of non-profit boards across the community, as the police and hospital chaplain and has now thrown his name into contention as a candidate for Magistrate Judge.
Each pastor is expanding their use of technology, reaching an audience through expanded offerings of service to the Alamogordo community and are reminded daily that the traditions and the stability of the church ultimately bring people home to the church. People still get married, people still die and need funerals for closure and solace, the traditions and rituals of familiarity are there when the people need them. For Maya Angelou, like the other members of her generation, the words of the King James Bible, the power of the Negro Spirituals, and the sermonic tradition of the Black church were the vernacular language and soundtrack of black life and a safe home. As the crosses carried by the civil rights generation are past to the shoulders of the Black Lives Matter generation, churches and their leaders must evolve with the faithful. The evolution of the Black Church is quietly on display in Alamogordo for those enlightened or informed enough to see it and its “understatedinfluence through service.”
May 1st through 7th is the official week of Small Business designated by the Small Business Administration as Small Business Week.
Sherwin Williams Paint Store, GloBug, Elite Memories Boutique, Blush Hair Salon, Showcase Carpets and Tile, New,Mexico Influence Magazine, Renefit Southeast New Mexico Influence Magazine, Fitness, AlamogordoTownNews.com, 2nd Life Media, Emanuel Lydia Productions, Our Little Country Store at Roadrunner Emporium, the Local Bodega, Del Ora Goldsmith, Rocket City Game Lounge, Mission Billiards, MoniCakes, Barbies New York Avenue Salon, D & H Stamp and Sign Company, Capped, Flickinger Center, Country Corner Kitchen, Believe It Nutrition, StrangeLove Tattoo, Alamo Jump, Picacho Peak Brewing, Good News Thrift Store, and new shops coming – this is the New York Avenue business district and this is Alamogordo MainStreet and that is Small Business.
Alamogordo’s Main Street Business District of New York Avenue represents the largest concentration of small businesses in Alamogordo.
From the cultural arts, classes, live music and antiques of Roadrunner Emporium, to fine entertainment at the Flickinger Center, to a higher end Fine Art experience at New York Art and Music, to finest in fashions at Elite Memories Boutique, beauty and fashion at Blush Salon, Fine speciality gifts at Victoria Alamogordo, finest in quilting supplies and fabrics at Pins and Needles, excellence in locally procured selections at the Local Bodega, trivia and beer at Picacho Peak Brewing Company, late night gaming at Rocket City Game Shop, billiards play at Mission Billiards, tile and flooring, paint supplies, nutrition needs or a hot breakfast each can be found in the New York Avenue business district of Alamogordo’s MainStreet.
The Alamogordo MainStreet organization is concentrated on revitalization and partnerships to reinvent this important corridor and in community partnership with the Alamogordo Center of Commerce, the city of Alamogordo and New Mexico MainStreet; it celebrates Small Business Week with a reminder of this important corridor to the economic vitality of Alamogordo, Otero County and Southern New Mexico.
Alamogordo MainStreet Executive Director Nolan Ojeda via a press statement concerning Small Business Week reminds Alamogordo citizens; “Alamogordo MainStreet is Small Business. The partnership businesses of Alamogordo MainStreet are the heartbeat of Alamogordo and is exactly what the SBA seeks to highlight with Small Business Week May 1st thru 7th. As the Executive Director of Alamogordo MainStreet, I’d like to personally invite you to our district, this week and (of course every week), as we celebrate Small Business Week and cap it off with our Downtown Nights Celebration this Friday with most stores open till 8 pm. This Friday night we will have a live radio remote from KALH radio at Roadrunner Emporium, a DJ spinning music in front of Victoria some special street vendors and special pricing and events at most of the stores till 8 pm.”
Nolan continued, “We also welcome all of those coming in this weekend for the Holloman Air Show and invite them to see what makes Alamogordo’s MainStreet the New York Avenue district so unique.”
Rene Sepulveda partner in Roadrunner Emporium explained that the partnership between him and Chris Edwards, is so excited with the momentum of Alamogordo MainStreet and the New York Avenue business partnerships; “that we deepening our partnership with Emmanuel Renteria and Lydia Aspen and their New York Art and Music Studio and investing into the district idea of creating a cultural arts sub-district. The first example of that investment partnership was our joint Evening Under the Stars Event this past weekend. That event was the tip of the iceberg in showing the potential of arts on New York Avenue. This event resulted in several thousands of dollars worth of art to be purchased by collectors and showcased musical talent with multiple performances throughout the evening.”
The small businesses of New York Avenue have two events scheduled for May Downtown Nights is Friday May 6th with merchants open till 8 pm and Atomicon is Saturday the 14th with a full array of costumed fun similar to a traditional ComiCon event with the street closed off from 8th Avenue to 12th and to include a Hobbit Village at Patrons Hall that evening.
Alice Weinman the owner of Victoria Alamogordo and the veteran business owner of the district says of Small Business Week, “we’ve been in Historic Downtown Alamogordo for 37 years, still here and still moving onward.” Alamogordo Small Business is moving forward which is evident every day with the renewed energy of Alamogordo MainStreet and New York Avenue. Come on down and join the multiple small businesses for Small Business Week!
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At the Alamogordo City Commission meeting of 8/24/2021, the cowboy of the County Commission, Couy Griffin, rode in on his white horse to present the city a letter that the County Commission had drafted asking that the road going to the detention center be renamed. Mr. Grifin made several comments that raised questions about the roads name and the optics around the road leading to the County detention center.
By Mr. Griffins own admission when asked by AlamogordoTownNews.com if the commission asked him to speak to the Alamogordo City Commission in public comments, about the road or to deliver the letter, he admitted “I took it upon myself to hand deliver the letter and to express my personal feelings as to why I believe the road should be rededicated.”
If one were to listen to Mr. Griffin’s statements last evening it would appear the road leads to the County jail and there was malice in the naming. Thus the AlamogordoTownNews.com site decided to call the power brokers of Alamogordo and get the story and the history.
Factual History of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Drive
Up until 2005 there was no consideration for an MLK Drive in Alamogordo but “a group of about 50 to 60 concerned citizens made it a priority for consideration of naming a road after Dr. King” according to the Reverend Warren L Robinson, Pastor of Owen Chapel A.M.E. Church and past president of the Alamogordo Chapter of the NAACP.
Around 2004 according to City Manager, Brian Ceasar; “the city was looking at the option of creating a bypass that would run from Scenic Drive, through South Florida, around parts of the city and eventually connecting to Highway 70 near Holloman”. As a result of that proposed bypass at least one public meeting was held in 2005 and consideration was made and presented to call the Bypass Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.
As a result of that proposed bypass there are now unintentionally TWO Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Drives within the city limits of Alamogordo. One is by the golf course, and another is the one Mr. Griffin referenced which leads to the County Jail.
The original intent was not for this to be two separate roads, but one long continuous road that would be the large bypass road connecting Highway 54 to Highway 70.
Commissioner Matherly Takes Proactive Action in 2020
Obviously, the optics of a MLK Drive leading to the County Jail does not look good for the city nor to Otero County. As such a group of concerned citizens brought this concern to County Commissioner Gerald Matherly last year. Around October of last year Commissioner Matherly placed discussion of the roadway onto the County Agenda. It was then discussed and debated and decided by the Otero County Commission in 2020, that they would ask the city of Alamogordo, to rename the roadway leading to the jail, due to the poor optics of MLK Drive leading there. As such, the issue had been raised by concerned citizens and a proposal for resolution made.
Commissioner Matherly did the correct thing in placing it on the county agenda and taking the lead to get the name changed of the portion of the roadway separate from the other and leading to the jail.
The reality is the road was already named Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, well before the County committed to placing the jail there. The intention of the city and the county was for the road to be a bypass and for the jail NOT to be the only building on the long-designated roadway.
As history would prove, the bypass fell by the wayside, funding never came forward, there are now residential houses in part of its pathway. The result of time and no funding and the net result is city now has two roads named after MLK one of which is poor optics leading to the county jail.
Commissioner Matherly attempting to fix a wrong and championed the fix in October of 2020.
Paperwork and Fate
As fate would have it, the issue of changing the portion of MLK Drive that went to the jail, languished for quite some time. Covid-19 hit, roles within the county attorney’s office changed and the paperwork never got to the city as a complete package to move the issue forward.
Brian Ceasar the City Manager said, “the city was awaiting the completion of the paperwork and the payment of $150.00 per city code in order for the city’s process of renaming the street to move forward.”
Couy Griffin had the issue placed back on the last County Commission agenda to send a letter to the city at last month’s commission meeting. Commissioner Matherly reminded Mr. Griffin that the issue was already in the works and that he would personally see what the hold up was to move it forward.
Last Monday, Commissioner Matherly went to the City Planning Department to see what the holdup was, and he was told the paperwork had been filed to rename the road to the jail from MLK Drive to an alternative name but that the fee had never beenpaid, thus the issue could not move forward. At 10:04 am on Monday, Commissioner Matherly, then went to the City Cashier and personally paid the $150.00 to move the project forward.
Once the payment was made by Commissioner Matherly, then that moved the wheels within the city into action.
Next Steps thanks to Commissioner Matherly
AlamogordoTownNews.com spoke to Planning Commissioner Eddie Kemp who said, “that as soon as the item is placed on the planning commissions agenda it is ready to move forward as per the rules of the city code.”
After more research from AlamogordoTownNews.com it was learned that the item is now on the agenda for the City Planning Commission to consider on October 7th.
The process is that they will more than likely approve the renaming for the street by the jail and send the item to the City Commission for consideration as per City Ordinance. The City Commissioners will then vote on renaming the road by the jail from MLK Drive to the alternative name. Once that is done the city will then rededicate the street a new name.
The commentary from Commissioner Couy Griffin at the City Commission meeting last night, was probably unnecessary, as the wheels of the process were already moving forward thanks to the payment by Commissioner Matherly.
The comments by County Commissioner Griffin, did not reference the complete history, nor how the city and the county got into the pickle it is in, so to speak. His comments did leave one with an uneasy feeling, as to why the road to the jail was named after the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, thus our investigation and multiple phone calls to the powers that be to get the real story and understand the history to present to, you, our readers.
The outcome anticipated, is that there will soon be one Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Road and that will be the one near the golf course. The road to the county jail will be named a new name and hopefully one of hope and inspiration.
The longer-term desire of many and confirmed in a discussion with the Rev. Warren L Robinson, Pastor would be, “eventually for MLK Drive to be repositioned to the city center like it is in most cities.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com concurs with that thought.
We believe that the city should indeed continue the path as proposed by the County to rename the street by the jail.
But we propose that the City Commission and the power structure of Alamogordo should consider the history and contributions of the African American and Hispanic Communities and their neighborhoods within the city center of Alamogordo and name two streets in honor of civic leaders.
We propose that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive be the name placed on the street where the old Corinth School is located. Prior to 1950 Corinth School was the segregated Black School in Alamogordo. It would be appropriate to name that downtown street after Dr. King and to place an educational placard on that street explaining the history of desegregation that took place on that street led by Coach Rolla Buck and others of the time.
We also propose that the street where the Dudley School was located be named after Ceasar Chavez Drive. Until 1946 the Dudley School was the segregated school for Hispanic Students. Again, under the leadership of Coach Rolla Buck at the time the Hispanic School was closed, and the Alamogordo High School was integrated with Hispanic students. As such Ceasar Chavez Drive would be an appropriate naming of the street where Dudley School was locate and an educational placard placed on that street as well explaining the history of the street, the school, and the significance of the street naming.
The issue that Couy Griffin spoke about at last nights city commission meeting was not a nefarious issue as one might have been left to wonder, as MLK Drive was supposed to be a major bypass. The White Knight concerning the issue is Gerald Matherly in leading the dialog beginning in 2020 to fix the issue.
Now let’s have other white knights within the city of Alamogordo move forward not only with changing the name of the street by the jail but giving an honest dedication to history and naming appropriate streets after historical figures of our diverse community.
The bigger issue however before the city of Alamogordo is to embrace the diversity within the city, name the appropriate streets in the appropriate neighborhoods after those of historical significance. Who will be the champion within the city to go a step further and place educational placards on the streets in question, to explain the naming and the significance of those streets, and those neighborhoods, to the city’s rich diverse and multicultural history?
It is an election year for mayor, do any of the candidates for mayor have the wherewithal and the leadership ability to demonstrate an honest embracing of the diversity of the city of Alamogordo and placing proper honor to that diversity in the naming of city streets?
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AlamogordoTownNews.com The Couy Griffin Interview…
AlamogordoTownNews.com as a community citizen-based publication is actively engaged in digging deeper into stories, business interests and the movers and shakers of the Alamogordo community via in depth researched coverage and dialog rather than the lightweight coverage of the local corporate owned news entities.
AlamogordoTownNews.com attempts to hear and publish different sides of issues and to ensure a diverse population of voices are heard. As such we will report a variety of viewpoints, some we agree with, some we find distasteful. We will always attempt to present facts and we will limit perceived propaganda and if facts are in question, we will question them. Individuals in the public domain of politics and entertainment that live a very public life have a higher standard of what is perceived as slanderous against them and many times at the local political level that is a lesson not at first understood nor recognized.
Fact based; science-based reality checked dialog is the foundation of our reporting on hard stories. Political stories can at times get shaded with opinion of those being interviewed. In this interview we have attempted to be unbiased and fair in allowing Mr. Griffin an open platform and quoting him verbatim without edit excepting for a few grammatical edits in punctuation.
We have published many articles related to the recall effort of Couy Griffin that have been presented by the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin and others via its variety of spokespersons, directly affiliated and not affiliated with the effort.
As such the editorial board of the AlamogordoTownNews.com site felt it appropriate to reach out to Mr. Griffin and get his thoughts concerning the recall, but equally important we have presented the question to many local political leaders of, what they have done while in office to improve the lives of the people they represent?
As we enter the municipal elections period, we will press those elected and those seeking elected office on what, if anything, they have accomplished to better the lives of their constituents. We want hard concrete facts not talking points to present to the electorate. We will not always get them as that is the nature of political dialog.
What have they achieved that benefits the citizens, the business community, the level of education and poverty in the area? Those are the hard questions each voter should ask prior to casting a vote. Few elected leaders like these questions when pressed. Accountability of local political leaders seems to be lacking by a complacent citizenry within Alamogordo and Otero County when looking at low voter turnout in relation to local elections.
One gets the government one deserves by participation, and one does indeed get the government one deserves by a lack of participation. Those at the table do indeed decide, as Chez Sanchez reminds Otero County Citizens in his blog posts, and that principle we do indeed, agree.
Otero County seems to have one party that is driving the dialog and much of that dialog seems to be driven from extreme positions within that party, from the mask mandate in public schools to overall public health and immigration; the alternative parties and independent point of view is missing in much public dialog and debate within Otero County. Are there other voices and other active parties? If so lets hear from them on the many issues before the city and county.
The silent majority of Alamogordo and Otero County voters are just that, mostly silent, and as such the evolution and election of individuals such as Congresswoman Yvette Herrell and the election of the commissioner Couy Griffin is the result of that silence and complacency by those in the silent middle or those more moderate in thinking within all parties.
The perception by the public of extremist positions, controversial rants, and allegations of mishandling the public trust is what appears to have led to the recall effort of Couy Griffin.
Mr. Griffin has been controversial at best, some would say damaging to the reputation of the county at worst.
That is not for us to decide within the context of this article. The context of this article is to hear from Couy Griffin himself and then as the recall effort proceeds, you, the educated and informed voter within his district will decide his outcome and the outcome of the future of the Otero County politics of the future.
This recall effort is historic for the county and eyes all over New Mexico and the nation are watching this effort. Mr. Griffin is certainly feeling pressure based upon our dialog with him. What proceeds is a series of questions and his response to each.
We offer no opinion but just present the dialog and you the reader can consider the responses…
The Couy Griffin Interview of August 7, 2021…
We began the dialog with Mr. Griffin in wanting to know a bit about his past and his time in France. How did he end up there and did he enjoy his life there, and then we proceeded into his role as an elected official, Cowboys for Trump, and the recall?
AlamogordTownNews.com – How long did you live in France and how did you end up there?
Couy Griffin Response – “I attended Cochise College in Douglas Arizona. I won the region in bull riding competition as a freshman and competed at the college national finals at Bozeman, Montana. I moved to Paris in 98’ and returned to the states in 2003.
AlamogordoTownNews.com – It sounds exotic for a cowboy from New Mexico to end up in France. Tell us about your history and how you ended up in France working at Disney?
Couy Griffin Response – “I attended college on a rodeo scholarship where I competed as a bull rider. I went to school with a friend who grew up on the Navajo Reservation and saw an ad where they were looking for Native American Indians to perform in the show. He responded, was hired, and plugged me to the casting director to play the role of a cowboy in the show.
It was an amazing experience and truly a world class show. It was a scripted show that starred Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull and Cowboys and Indians from across the states. My roles were trick riding, trick roping, driving the stagecoach and a little bit of acting.
The show was very well received by the European guests. There were two shows a night that seated around 1.200 people a show where the guests enjoyed a full BBQ Menu and all the beer they cared to drink. It was a world class show on every front.
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Did you enjoy the life overseas?
Couy Griffin Response – “I truly enjoyed living in Paris. I bought a condo just near the golf course and had a wonderful group of the most diverse friends a person could have. Friends from all over the world. I was able to travel to most of the Western European countries and was truly blessed to see more of the world. During the end of my stay, it got a little harder to live in France with the political tension between France, the US, and the mess in Iraq. All the French media could do is talk about “the cowboy” George W. Bush. And with me being an actual cowboy living in Paris you could imagine the negative attention and environment I sometimes landed in. “
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you do it again?
Couy Griffin Response – “I would absolutely love to be involved in another type of Wild West show again one day. I created and produced a few shows after moving back to the states. One of which was here in Alamogordo at the Otero County Fair. I have tremendous confidence in my ability to produce a show, but I lack in the financial backing and organizational ability to actually put one on. There is so much that goes into production but Lord willing and by God’s grace I hope that one day it will happen. To answer your question “if I’d go back” I’d say no. I’d rather take my talent and the learned experience and move forward but I’d definitely love to be involved again one day.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – How are you personally impacted by the recall effort?
Couy Griffin Response – “This recall effort has been by far one of the most difficult seasons in my life. The reason being is because I have fallen victim to the lies and slander propagated by those involved as well as the local media who give them their platform. When I drive thru town with my 6-year-old son and see the signs and booths set up promoting this recall it just makes me feel horrible. With my social media being shut down I now have no platform to defend myself against these lies. In today’s world you can be tried, convicted, and sentenced thru social media and local media without being given any kind of right to respond.
When my hearing was scheduled to address the allegations in this recall the state of NM scheduled this hearing on the same day of my monthly commission meeting. I was faced with either attending the commission meeting and upholding my oath to office or going to defend myself against the recall. I filed a motion of continuance stating that my right to due process was being infringed upon and the District Judge Manuel Arrieta (a Bill Richardson appointed judge) denied that motion. Therefore, they had this hearing to decide my fate without me being present. The allegations for recall and my defense are such:
Fails to properly attend meetings. This accusation stems from me attending 4 county commission meetings telephonically. This is a common practice in Otero County and has been accepted for years. Out of the 4 meetings I telephonically attended 2 of them were because of the quarantine restrictions which disallowed me to attend. So technically I only attended 2 meetings which I could have been physically present for but due to being out of town I called in and attended. The previous District 2 Commissioner Susan Flores telephonically called into 8 commission meetings during her last 4-year tenure in office. That is over twice as many even with the meetings I couldn’t attend because of quarantine restrictions.
Banishment from the Mescalero Apache Reservation. This happened because I traveled onto the Mescalero Apache Reservation and met with a tribal member named Chris Valdez who couldn’t get the tribe to help him with medical treatment from a work-related accident. While meeting with Chris we spoke about the recent Covid money the tribe had received and where that money had been spent. Upon publicly requesting an audit to make sure that money was getting to the people of Mescalero it wasn’t long after that tribal president Gabe Aquilar banished me from the reservation. All the while he is driving a brand-new Ford Expedition while many of the people he is elected to represent are living in very destitute conditions.
Use of County Resources for Cowboys for Trump. This stems from using my office to record videos. All I did was record videos with my phone while in my office. Since being elected to this office I have spent less of the county money in reimbursements than any of my fellow commissioners. To date I have spent $397 in travel expenses. My fellow commissioner Gerald Matherley has spent over twice as much as I have, and we took office at the same time. Previous District 2 Commissioner Susan Flores spent over $8,600 dollars in travel expenses during her last term as county commissioner in this same office. I have been extremely careful and frugal while being in office. Yet I have been to Washington DC countless times fighting against the federal overreach on the citizens of Otero County. All the way to the Oval Office with a personal, one on one meeting with the President. And President Trump has never recognized Cowboys for Trump or me being a part of Cowboys for Trump. Every time I have spoken to the President, Vice President, or heads of the United Sates Agricultural Dept they have always and only recognized me as Commissioner Griffin.
Filing improper travel voucher, failing to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility. I filled this travel voucher out under the direct advisement of the county secretary Sylvia Tilbrook as well as County Manager Pamela Heltner. I had never filled a travel voucher out before and they are the ones that got me the paperwork and stepped me thru how to fill it out. This voucher was then approved by the finance director Julliane Hall as well as County Manager Pamela Heltner. I had absolutely no idea there was any problem with this voucher nor did my fellow commissioners when former commissioner Lori Bies as well as Gerald Matherley both voted to approve this voucher in a regularly scheduled meeting. The amount of the voucher turned out to be more than my budget would allow so both commissioners voted to raise my budget allowance to cover this “improper voucher” which now I’m the one taking the heat on.
Violation of the Gift Act by soliciting and accepting $3,500 from a restricted donor. I’m not sure if it was $3,500 or $3,400 but I know that G.B. Oliver from the Chamber of Commerce “passed the hat” to local business owners to help me raise this money. The money was only raised to help pay the county back for the illegal travel voucher that they issued. This money that was raised was raised for Otero County. As soon as the full amount was raised, I took this cash money in an envelope, got a money order from Well Fargo, and paid the county back the full amount for the travel voucher. Only trying to do the right thing. That is to make a wrong a right. I also first checked with our County Attorney Michael Eshelman who advised me there was no problem in raising this money to pay the county back.
That is in a nutshell my response to these allegations. A response that the state of NM and District Judge Manuel Arrietta did not allow me the opportunity. If I would have been able to attend this hearing, I don’t believe the recall would have been allowed to move forward and I wouldn’t be going thru what I’m going thru right now.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – What 3 accomplishments have you done as a commissioner that you are proudest of?
Couy Griffin Response – “This is a tough question because the so many issues I have fought for have been such huge battles.
1. I was able to address the serious conditions of our local forests directly with the President. On my first conversation with the President, I asked him if he knew where Cloudcroft New Mexico is. He replied no and I told him that he would know exactly where it was if the forest surrounding it were to catch on fire. The President then networked me with Undersecretary of Agriculture Jim Hubbard who oversees all the national forests across America. I had a commitment from Undersecretary Hubbard to bring his whole staff to Otero County and while we were organizing the trip Covid hit. This completely shut his office down and hampered his efforts.
2. I stood alongside our local sheriff David Black as well as the N.M. Sheriffs Association in defending against the red flag gun laws. I travelled the state and spoke strongly inside our county to push back against these unconstitutional laws.
3. I was the only elected official to question the Governor in Santa Teresa NM when she said there was no crisis on our southern border. I advocated strongly for our local border patrol and fought hard to get our secondary checkpoints back open when the crisis on the border forced them to close.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done as a commissioner to bring jobs to the district?
Couy Griffin Response – “Bringing jobs to Otero County was one of my main focusses while entering into this office and is still a focus today. The jobs that I fought for are the jobs that have always sustained our local economy. That is logging and sawmilling, oil and gas, and the ranching industry. That is why I spent so much time in Washington and focused so heavily on creating a strong relationship with President Trump. These jobs which include natural resources on federal land could only be fought for on the federal level. I fought and attained a verbal commitment from President Trump that in his words he was going to “fix my problem”. I truly felt that our problems were going to be fixed during his second tenure in office but with the outcome of the speculative election it has been a great defeat.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you done to lower the poverty rates and improve the graduation and literacy rates in your district since elected?
Couy Griffin Response – “I believe I have fought for those problems non-stop over the last 3 years while being in office. The reason being is because with a stronger private sector and less dependance on the government those problems will fix themselves. When you have a society that is solely dependent on federal money you have destitution on every front. If we could have gotten our logging and sawmilling industries on their feet, it would have provided jobs in the private sector and given people a hope for growth and prosperity moving forward into the future.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you personally done to attack the blight of abandoned properties and properties that are eyesores of junk in your district?
Couy Griffin Response – “I just received a call and drove by one of these properties yesterday. It is so hard to get these types of properties cleaned up with current state laws that are on the books. I have encouraged our state representative Rachel Black to investigate getting whatever legislation we need thru the state house to address this horrible problem. I have also visited with the property manager of Eileen Acres as well as brainstormed with property owners from this development about what options may be available. I have expressed a commitment to do anything in my power as a commissioner to clean up abandon buildings and trailer houses throughout the county, but we really need cooperation from the state and that is still to be determined.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Have you officially announced a run for sheriff in the other county?
Couy Griffin Response – “No I have not. But I have entertained the thought and have spoken about it publicly. With the current political state in our country, I feel the office of Sheriff is the most important and powerful political position in the county. If we must make a strong stand one day in our country, it will need to be done thru the office of Sheriff and I feel I have the intestinal fortitude and would be willing to lead that charge.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – If you are running for sheriff why are you holding on to the commission position as it would appear your heart is more into the role of a sheriff?
Couy Griffin Response – “I’m not running for sheriff, at this time anyway.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Can a sheriff hold office if you were elected while having a federal indictment pending?
Couy Griffin Response – “I am currently facing a misdemeanor trespass charge and one that I don’t believe is fair or just. So, we will just see where that ball lands. I did nothing violent or anything that I have any conviction over that was wrong on Jan 6th. I simply stood alongside fellow Americans to protest what I believe were fraudulent elections. And did so under the guise that we were still a free country and still had a Constitutional Right to do so.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you believe former president Trump turned on you when he distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump?
Couy Griffin Response – “Former President Trump never distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump. That was a “Fake News” headline. If you believe he distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump, where did you come to that conclusion from? President Trump has never even publicly recognized Cowboys for Trump. The different times President Trump recognized me, Couy Griffin, was only as an Otero County Commissioner. That is the representation that I brought Otero County.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – What benefit did the association of Cowboys for Trump bring to Otero County?
Couy Griffin Response – “It helped me to build a relationship with the former President. By me starting and operating Cowboys for Trump it allowed me the opportunity to speak to him about issues directly affecting the great people of Otero County. You could view Cowboys for Trump as a type of “non-paid” lobbying group for Otero County that worked itself all the way into the Oval Office and gained direct attention from the President of the United States. That was an accomplishment. And all my reward has been an unjust and uncalled for recall election with my name smeared daily on social media and mainstream media. But the reward that I work for is not of this world but a world to come. And the only one that matters at the end of the day is God and praise be to Jesus God knows my heart and knows why I do what I do.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you feel the political establishment in Otero County, the state or the Republican Party has turned or distanced themselves from you?
Couy Griffin Response – “I have been very let down not necessarily by the state party but by the chairman Steve Pearce. Only days after the event of January 6th Steve issued an official public statement off the state party platform that said “Couy Griffin travelled to Washington DC to lead the protests and riots”. This was a flat out lie and a very slanderous attack. Steve to this day has not retracted that statement nor apologized for it. So, in saying that I have absolutely no respect for Steve Pearce. And to this day wonder how you can lose the Governor’s race and when you do you are rewarded with the position of chair of the Republican Party?? Steve is a multi-millionaire that knows his way all too well around Washington DC.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Why do you think a bipartisan recall committee was formed and any feelings towards those individuals or party officials?
Couy Griffin Response – “In my opinion “bi-partisan” has really lost its edge and its meaning. I say that because many Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats and vice versa. Most are just bar certified attorneys who pick an R or D to fight for but at the end of the day they sleep in the same bed of corruption. All the legislation coming out of our state and federal houses only give more grounds for attorneys to sue. Alas creating more work for most of these agenda driven scum bags. Take Brian Egolf for example. He is the ringleader and one of the biggest reasons New Mexico is so oppressed. You put attorneys like Egolf and Jacob Candelaria in office and you are going to have a dysfunctional and self-serving government like we currently have in NM. Civil Rights, Equal Rights, Transgender Rights………all this legislation does is provide more ground/standing for attorneys to sue but does nothing to help NM become more prosperous or successful.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com went back and forth with multiple emails for clarification and in dialog with Mr. Griffin. We concluded letting him know we were considering running two stories one as a more of a human interest and one of the more political Couy Griffin. He responded to that feedback requesting that we do one “story and that the man he was before he entered office is the man he is today.”
Again AlamogordoTownNews.com is not issuing an opinion on the recall or of Mr. Griffins feedback from this interview process. We will leave that for the readers to determine. We do have some unanswered questions and will follow-up with Steve Pierce and others referenced via his comments in future stories of follow-up.
We will conclude this article with Mr. Griffin’s final statement to the AlamogordoTownNews.com site…
“I’d rather not have the story laid out in a way on how such a nice guy could now be such a horrible domestic terrorist. Of course, not accusing you of that’s the way it would be presented but I can promise you one thing. I’m the same guy today as I was before if not more loving and more sacrificial today.
Since entering office, I have done everything for the greater good and made huge sacrifices. After my first trip to Washington when Cowboys for Trump was founded and branded and all the guys, I rode with came back to families awaiting their arrivals at the airport I came back to divorce papers on my kitchen table.
I had to get completely out of the restaurant business because after the Alamogordo Daily News began their slanderous attacks my business was in the tank. I have given all my personal time, finances, and energy to this cause.
I’ve made some emotionally driven statements a couple times, only good Democrat…and black NFL football players who want to disrespect our flag and play something as RACIST as a “black national anthem” to go to Africa and play their football. Both statements taken entirely out of context.
The first statement I was only speaking figuratively and the second as a red blooded American. If you don’t love it leave it. But the media will only cherry pick those two sound bites out of hundreds of speeches I’ve made.
I’ve ONLY ever wanted to put America and the American People first. I’ve wanted to protect our second amendment and protect the unborn. And it’s too bad Democrats don’t care as much about dead babies as they do dead Democrats!!
I’ve written you candidly and honestly as I would a friend. In trusting that you are decent though I’ve never met you. That is the way I treat everyone. With love and respect. As I have learned to do as I work out my faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.
You can use anything I’ve told you to date. Even this message right here. All I ask is that you don’t twist my words or try to present me as someone I’m not. I’m tired of the media. I’m tired of the liars and slanderers like Paul Sanchez, Scott Fredericks, and the rest of the recall committee.
I have a little over a year left on my oath to the people who elected me and after that I will have done my service.
Politics is the most dirty, corrupt, and hateful world I have ever looked into. And the only reason I fight the way I do is to try and do my part to protect our country and freedoms from those who want to destroy both. I am financially broke and hang in the balance of an uncertain future. But by God’s grace I will not be threatened, intimidated, and I damn sure won’t back down.
AlamogordoTownNew.com is publishing the interview notes directly as written by Mr. Griffin. We offer no commentary at this time but will allow comments, guest commentaries or feedback from any of our readers if they remain professional, stick to facts and do not engage in propaganda and distortions of facts nor personal attacks.
The comments from Mr. Griffin are his and his alone and he owns the commentary of which is published as a response to questions posed.
Now the readers and the voters of his district will decide his fate and that of the political agenda of Otero County as the recall effort moves forward. Mr. Griffin has approximately 1 year left in his term if the recall effort fails before he would face re-election if he so chose to run.
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.
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.
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.
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
We met the Alamogordo based artist Marty H. Torres recently after viewing her expanded works of art now showcased at Roadrunner Emporium Fine Arts Gallery, Antiques and more, 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo, New Mexico. Mrs. Torres showcases her collection of eclectic paintings and fine art pieces in an incredibly unique and well executed corner of Roadrunner Emporium. Her works stand out as many of her works begin with an acrylic base, but she adds other media to give a three-dimensional look. Some of her works are quite whimsical such as her Wizard of Oz inspired collection of paintings or the Charlie Chaplin inspired painting. Other are much more serious such as a few of her paintings highlighting Native Americans and her Sailor and Woman painting which is compelling yet sensual.
We began our interview asking about her upbringing and her history of how she got into the world of the creative arts…
Marty H Torres was born and raised in El Paso Texas, and her appreciation for art began in the 6th grade. Her teachers saw her work and told her to continue her art studies in High School. She was strongly encouraged and supported by her in high school and college. Upon their recommendation she continued her studies with a focus on arts. Throughout her artistic career she has studied interior decorating, fashion design, art, visual merchandising, small business management, sales, and makeup artistry in El Paso.
She explains that she loved the arts but as a youngster she was also a tomboy, so her dad sent her off to charm or finishing school at an El Paso institution called Mannequin Manor. The school made famous as Model and Actress Susan Blakely of El Paso was a graduate in the 70s of the same school prior to her successful modeling and acting career.
Most of her post-secondary studies were of Art Institute of El Paso but upon moving to Alamogordo she studied at New Mexico State University NMSU where she studied art, ceramics, and theater and did backstage makeup artistry as well.
In addition to her passion for painting and works on canvas she also has a passion for dance. While in El Paso she performed dance for Viva El Paso, where she danced tap, ballet, modern dance, Spanish dancing, and dancing w/ castanets.
Most of her professional career was as a visual merchandiser of which she did for 33 years. In addition, she was a Makeup Artist for Estee Lauder and Clinique and Elizabeth Arden for 14 years.
She says her life has always been about art, “really in my life was a lot of Art. I love every minute of it. I love to talk to people and hear about their life and what they love in life. If you have a talent, your talent is God gift to you. What you do with it, is your gift back to GOD,” she explained.
We concluded our interview with 5 questions for the artist…
How would you describe the work you create?
Marty H Torres: “I would suggest my art comes from my heart. Sometimes I have dreams about my art and will stretch it out and paint it onto canvas. So many times, what is on the canvas reflects a dream I have had or another world I crossed into in my dreams.”
What message do you want to get across with your artistic work?
Marty H Torres: “I want to let everyone know that anyone can do art. Even if you can only draw a stick person it can be beautiful so someone. Art is beauty. I sometimes paint nude people; some people think that is bad but its not. The human form as an artistic form is beauty and God’s creation. Where one’s mind is, is what one sees when they interpret art. What one sees from their perspective may not be the message the artist is trying to convey. My art is about happiness and beauty from within. Some artist paint sadness. The point is an artist should express themselves and paint what they feel. My artistic expression is to paint what I feel and in doing so I thank God every day for giving me the ability and the talent to express myself via art.”
How did you come to mixing textures, media, and colorful designs into your paintings? What is your favorite media or canvas?
Marty H Torres: “I love acrylics, charcoal, pastels and oils. My favorite is charcoal and oil. When you paint with oils, you can always go back the next day and change the painting or add to it, because oils take an awfully long time to dry. Charcoal is also incredibly fun to use and allows you to easily blend colors. I love bright colors as well as exclusively black and white paintings. I love to wear black all the time as Black is Beautiful.”
Do specific colors, forms or subjects have specific meaning to your works?
Marty H Torres: “Depending upon what I am going to paint, and my mood is, at the time, is what defines my works. Sometimes it could be a person, other times a flower or animals. Sometimes I want an abstract or Picaso tyle looks it all depends on what I am feeling at the moment. Each work has special meaning to me, and I pour my heart onto the canvas in an expression of love.”
Did the goals of your artistic work change during Covid-19 and do you have advised for any aspiring artists?
Marty H Torres: “No, I really think the lock down period helped me paint more and do more at home and to think more positively about life and the future. I worked more at home doing more paintings, decorating, working on my yard and a mural for my house. Life is too short not to make the best of every moment and do what you enjoy doing regardless of what is happening around you.
I know for many Covid-19 was scary and is scary and dangerous to many. But do not let it take over your life and prevent you from doing what you want to do to express yourself or expand your inner self. Learn to enjoy life regardless of circumstances, be happy and live life.
I am a candle lighter. I pray often for those around me that I know and those I do not know. Be good, be nice, be happy. If you are not an artist, just try something artistic, you might actually like it and find out how much fun any form of artistic expression can actually be.”
With that that concluded our interview with Marty H Torres. It was a pleasure and a joy to see how passionate she was and the beauty she sees in everything around her. A portion of her collection of works are on exhibition and for sale daily downstairs of Roadrunner Emporium Fine Arts Gallery, Antiques and More, 928 New York Avenue Alamogordo, New Mexico. Drop on by and see her fine works of art and that of several other artist, sculptured artists, photographers, antiques dealers, jewelers and more.
$1.5 billion annually, that’s how much college football’s 25 most valuable teams earn in combined profit in an average year, according to Forbes‘ most recent “College Football’s Most Valuable Teams” list.
College sports generates a tremendous amount of money for universities, but college athletes have long been given little more than a scholarship in return.
Polling has consistently shown a majority of Americans believe college athletes should be paid more though, and NCAA officials have started showing support for allowing players to profit off the use of name, image and likeness, until today.
New Mexico Led The Nation
New Mexico SB 94. Titled STUDENT ATHLETE ENDORSEMENT ACT, Sponsored by Mark Moores, Bill B. O’Neill, and Antonio “Moe” Maestas passed the New Mexico Senate with 39 yes votes and 0 no votes on 2/19/21. The bill then passed the New Mexico House of Representatives with 43, yes votes and 21, no votes. The governor signed the bill into law on 4/7/21 to take effect July 1st, 2021.
The text of the actually bill signed by the governor is available to read via the text:
The law goes into effect on July 1st, the same day that a similar law will go into effect in the state of Florida, becoming the first two states that will have the laws in effect.
“The NCAA model is not working for the athletes who drive the product,” Lujan Grisham’s press secretary told the Albuquerque Journal following the pass of the bill on Wednesday.
New Mexico’s law includes that athletes can receive food, shelter, having medical expenses paid for by a third party, or making money based off the use of their name, image, and likeness. Meaning that athletes featured on billboards, in commercials, or in video games can now begin to make money without fear of being declared ineligible. Athletes can also hire agents to set up endorsement deals but cannot hire them to represent them in contact with professional teams.
A total of 10 state have similar laws taking effect in July based on the New Mexico model. The NCAA wants to have federal laws or its own permanent rules regarding the issue known as NIL, but was forced to seek a temporary solution rather than have athletes in some states eligible for compensation while others were not.
Without NCAA action, athletes in some states could be making money without putting their college eligibility in jeopardy while their counterparts in other states could be in danger of breaking NCAA rules.
The NCAA’s stopgap measure comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the association in a case involving education-related benefits. That 9-0 ruling is expected to impact issues related to compensation for athletes.
The expected approval from the NCAA Board of Directors came a few days after a recommendation from the Division I Council to allow athletes in every state to pursue compensation for their name, image and likeness without jeopardizing their college eligibility.
The NCAA’s stunning reversal came after California passed a Fair Pay to Play Act, which would go into effect in 2023. Other states are looking at possible legislation. The California law would allow athletes to sign endorsement deals and licensing contracts, something NCAA rule makers will address.
NCAA officials said they were aiming to have a nationwide rollout of the recommendations made among their 1,100 members.
Figuring out all the details of it, it’s going to be a challenge. It’s a much more complex issue than most people see it as. I think schools are going to be able to work through this process and come up with rules that makes great sense for the student athletes and allow universities to continue their collegiate model of athletics, NCAA Officials have said.
NCAA officials said the working group will continue to get feedback on how to deal with state legislation and that will help guide future recommendations.
A very interesting argument in favor of athlete pay was made by the New Mexico Law Review and can be found in the link below…
New Mexico Law Review -Let’s Get Serious – The Clear Case for Compensating the Student Athlete – By the Numbers Neal Newman Texas A&M University – School of Law
This move follows compliance to a New Mexico state law that takes effect July 1st.
The New Mexico legislature found itself on the cutting edge beating out typical states such as New York, California or Washington State on a progressive approach to student athlete compensation. What is even more impressive is the bi-partisan support this bill got in the New Mexico legislature with unanimous approval by all New Mexico Senate Republicans and Democrats and example of true bi-partisanship.
The fallout to this new regulation will become a true headache for college coaches and compliance officers creating a whole new set of pressure on those professional staffs. It is conceivable with a superstar collegiate athlete whose likeness is used often could be high paid than the millions of dollars paid to college football coaches. That in itself will ultimately create an interesting dynamic that social scientist and college administrators will be studying for decades into the future.
When it comes to sports we indeed do live in interesting times in the 21st Century.
As we remind our readers, podcast listeners and partners daily concerning our affirmations; a habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” Habits become a lifestyle a “glass half full” mindset becomes a lifestyle and that leads to permanent results. Science and real-world experience tell us that it actually takes a minimum of 28 days to begin to form a habit, but on average its really between 60 to 90 days. For most of us 90 days is a much more effective and realistic timeframe to incorporate a new behavior into our life, thus 90 Days To A Glass Half Full Lifestyle.
Our Daily Action Steps Are To:
Commit to taking 5 minutes each morning as you begin your day to read the daily quote.
If you are moved or inspired by the quote; share it in an email, phone call, conversation, text, tweet or on your social media network or platform. When we share something, it becomes more real to us.
In your own words write in a journal how the quote or thought applies to you or your circumstances, today. If it doesn’t write on your page the first thing that comes into your mind after reading the quote.
The end of the day, prior to bed, take 5 more minutes for yourself. Re-read the quote again and write or think of how you applied or took an action today with a person, situation or referenced the daily quote in mind. Reflect on the day, was there any event in the day where your thinking was impacted differently because of the quote or the affirmation.
Let’s have fun with the system and commit.
Now, Let’s begin with today’s affirmation:
“YOU ARE THE ARTIST OF YOUR OWN LIFE. DON’T HAND THE PAINTBRUSH TO ANYONE ELSE.”
Beginning of Day: How’s the above quote apply to me or what comes to mind when reading the quote above?
End of day: Re-read the quote. Did I share the quote or apply any of its meaning into any part of my day? What issue or situation made me think of or refer to the quote above? Did it help me bridge a positive outcome or mindset?
We encourage you to write or journal your thoughts or reflections on today’s quote.
“You are the artist of your own life. Don’t hand the paintbrush to anyone else.”
It’s your life, express yourself as your true and honest self and let’s work together for self improvement and a Glass Half Full mindset.
Author Chris Edwards lectures, has his podcast and writes. His book series 90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle is 3 part series that garnered much acclaim from many coming out of rehab and those coming out of incarceration and beginning anew. His other book series, book 1 Coach Bob Sepulveda The Early Days is an inspirational sport history of interscholastic sports in New Mexico. All of his books are found at fine independent book sellers such as Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico and available via Amazon in 36 countries.
What is reason big oil contributes so much to New Mexico and to the southern Congressional District?
14 Congressional Districts produced roughly 80% of onshore U.S. oil and this district inclusive of Otero county is one of those mighty 14 districts.
New Mexico following a 19th Century Budget process of 21st Century needs…
New Mexico for the long term must look at revenue options to wean itself off oil and gas tax revenues but that is an uphill battle. Republican and Democratic leadership of the state has allowed oil and gas to fund such a large portion of government operations that they are fearful to tackle the industry too much as to disrupt the tax revenues the state has become overly reliant on. Over the years, the state’s budget has become increasingly reliant on oil and gas funds. In the 2020 fiscal year, that share was about $2.6 billion — just over a third of the state’s general fund. Since 2006, the state has used oil and gas revenue for at least 28 percent of its budget and sometimes as much as 37 percent.
New Mexico is following a 19th century tax and business model for 21st Century business and public needs. In the end this is a recipe for failure for failing to adapt the model of income generation for the state. New Mexico’s dependence on natural resources has been a feature of the tax structure since statehood in 1912. As decades passed, the resources being pulled from New Mexican earth changed what was once coal, then became uranium, then natural gas and shale oil but the economic model never changed with them times. Basically, the state is running with the same tax model as it did from 1912 but is facing 21st Century needs.
But how did the state become so reliant upon oil and gas money to fund its budgets? First the history as seen above then big money influence. All one must do is to just follow the money paid to political campaigns. Where political contributions go, so goes public policy, it would seem.
Per New Mexico’s Ethics Watch Report Titled The Continuing Influence of the Oil and Gas Industry in New Mexico in 2020: New Mexico’s Long-Standing Resource Curse…
“In spite of Covid-19 and a state wide shutdown…money from oil and gas interests to New Mexico politicians and political organizations continued to flow, with almost $3.3 million from the industry going to political causes during this past election cycle.”
Between 2017 and 2020 the old and gas industry contributed $11.5 Million to politics in the state of New Mexico.
New Mexico Ethics Watch has documented and researched 98 corporations, 262 individuals, 23 associations, 11 PACs, and almost 100 lobbyists active in New Mexico political campaign fundraising from 2017-2020.
Oil and Gas Political Spending 2017 to 2020
$4.3 MILLION – DIRECT CONTRIBUTIONS $3.75 MILLION – LOBBYIST CONTRIBUTIONS $3.4 MILLION – PAC SPENDING APPROXIMATELY $11.5 MILLION TOTAL
Oil and Gas CONTRIBUTORS to new Mexico Political Circles
As was the case in the previous election cycle, the California-based Chevron corporation overwhelming was the top source of political money for New Mexico politicians in 2020, spending almost $1.8 million last year. Chevron lobbyists alone gave $700,000 during the primary to a PAC called “New Mexico Strong,” which, despite its name, is based in Texas.
Have you ever wondered why our member of congress spends so much time in Texas? Follow the money. Over 70 percent of the oil and gas contributions to politicians last year came from out-of-state companies, individuals and committees.
Top 20 Oil & Gas Contributors, 2020 Amount
1 Chevron $1,786,198.90
2 Jalapeno Corporation $142,462.00
3 Exxon Mobil Corporation $117,550.00
4 Strata Production Company $106,500.00
5 Devon Energy $102,500.00
6 Marathon Oil Company $83,500.00
7 Occidental Petroleum Corporation $76,162.50
8 PNM $61,918.18
9 Concho Resources, Inc. $59,350.00
10 Bowlin Travel Centers $57,975.00
11 John Yates $53,500.00
12 John A. Yates Sr Trust $50,000.00
13 Peyton Yates $47,500.00
14 NGL Water Solutions Permian LLC $47,000.00
15 New Mexico Gas Company $45,750.00
16 Process Equipment and Service Co $45,181.50
17 Conoco Phillips $44,500.00
18 Marathon Petroleum Corp. $40,750.00
19 Charlotte Yates $40,000.00
20 Petro-Yates, Inc. $37,000.00
With a few notable exceptions, the top contributors list is composed of corporations. There’s a reason for that. New Mexico law, unlike federal law, allows for direct contributions to candidates by corporations, associations, PACs and individuals
Grouping the oil and gas industry political contribution numbers by election cycles, we see the following amounts:
• 2015/2016: $1,697,488
• 2017/2018: $3,101,581
• 2019/2020: $3,082,830
The California-based Chevron USA is one of the best-known oil companies in the world. It’s also one of the top oil producers in New Mexico, currently holding more than 1,600 active drill permits, some that have been in use since the 1930s, according to data from the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The company also led the oil and gas sector in terms of political spending in the 2020 election cycle, just as it did two years earlier. In 2020, Chevron reported contributing $1,761,198.90 to candidates and political committees in New Mexico. Last year’s Chevron contributions came during a time in which the corporation was losing money – more than $11 billion in new income loss during the 12-month period ending in September 2020.
The top recipient of Chevron’s contributions in New Mexico last year was the political action committee New Mexico Strong, which received a total of $700,000 during the primary from the oil giant. The PAC used the money to produce ads, mailers, and other services for six conservative incumbent Democratic senators facing challenges from more liberal primary opponents. Four of those incumbents lost their primaries.
Chevron also contributed to several leadership PACs in New Mexico in the 2020 election. The company gave Republican PACs $94,300, with PAC 22, (the Senate GOP PAC) getting $50,000 and the New Mexico House Republican Campaign Committee receiving $44,300. But Chevron did not completely leave out Democrats during last year’s election. Chevron contributed $44,300 to the Brian Egolf Speaker PAC, $25,000 to the New Mexico Senate Democrats, $5,000 to the Senate Majority Leader PAC and $10,000 to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s MLG PAC. (The governor was not up for re-election last year.) The company also contributed to dozens of individual candidates in 2020. Chevron contributed $245,300 to Republican candidates and $108,800 to Democrats.
What is all of this money buying?
The industry’s reach stretches beyond campaign donations. Its power led to the demise of a bill that would’ve outlawed spills of produced water, a toxic byproduct of oil and gas drilling. In committee where the measure died, Cervantes blocked public comment on the measure but did give fossil fuel lobbyists a chance to explain why they opposed it, according to the New Mexico Political Report.
Oil and gas industry leaders have also been intimately involved in shaping the policies meant to regulate it – and even boasts about the number of edits it secures to new rules.
In a February presentation, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association told its board it had secured significant changes to a proposed rule for limiting methane pollution. The state accepted more than 70 of the trade group’s redline edits, NMOGA said, according to records obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute.
The “process has been fruitful,” the group announced.
Among the fruits of NMOGA’s nearly $1 million influence campaign was greater leniency on “emergency” exceptions for venting and flaring – referring to the releasing or burning off of excess methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
With the oil and gas industry providing such a big portion of state government revenues – not to mention providing employment for so many in southeastern and northwestern New Mexico – nobody is predicting the end of fossil fuel production in this state any time in the near future nor should we.
However, what is advocated is that we as citizens need to be wary of where the big money is going. We need to hold our candidates accountable for our wishes not just the wishes of big money contributors. We need to hold candidates accountable to be in their districts in New Mexico and ensure they are representing small business and local interests not just those of big business which is donating millions of dollars to their campaigns. As citizens we need to stay active and vocal and ensure our voice does not get lost in the fray to big money and big corporate political interests.
Attend city commission and county commission meetings, attend congressional and senatorial open houses. The Governor does not make most policy it is made locally and via the legislature. Know what each level of government is up to and hold representatives accountable to represent us, “we the people.”