YOUR DAILY UPDATE FOR TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 2, 2014
Maria Vasquez assumes new role with Habitat for Humanity
Mornings are hectic at the Vasquez household as Maria Vasquez, Habitat for Humanity’s new executive director, gets three daughters off to school and herself to the office.
The action starts at 6 a.m., Vasquez said.
Her very full life includes pursuing pre-business studies at Doña Ana Community College, where she is Crimson Scholar. When she completes the program in 2015, she plans to go on for a bachelor’s in business at New Mexico State University.
“Education is really important,” she said. “I’m fortunate enough to have Habitat support my educational goals. If it hadn’t been for the support, I’m not sure I would have gone back to school.”
The way she sees it, hectic morning are a small price to pay for educational experiences she and her daughters are taking part in.
While the two older girls attend Las Cruces Public Schools, Aneli, 4, has started an advanced learners pre-k program at NMSU, a collaboration of the university and the school system.
“We’ve all been very excited for her,” Vasquez said.
Growing with Habitat
A native of Albuquerque, Vasquez has found a home at Habitat. The local affiliate of Habitat International serves the southern New Mexico community, where it has built 88 homes with the help of sponsors, contributors and volunteers.
Vasquez joined Habitat in 2009 at the ReStore, which brings in 40 percent of the local affiliate’s revenue.
“Time passed and I noticed families doing sweat equity in order to prepare to get into a home,” she said. “Meanwhile, I was learning at ReStore. When an operations position became available, it seemed like a great opportunity to develop my skills in community participation.”
Vasquez said she stepped into the operations coordinator position without much previous experience with grant writing and fund raising.
Putting OJT to work
Vasquez said she brought more on-the-job experience than formal education to the position.
“When I started working on the operations side of Habitat, it motivated me to better myself, so I went back to school to be able to give more of myself to this affiliate.”
Meanwhile, she continued to learn on the job.
“We have a team approach at our affiliate. Our former executive director Marie Schwartz was the development officer when I started at the office. I got to see what she did. When she became executive director, I took on some of her responsibilities while still in family services.”
Affiliate puts families first
Vasquez praised the cohesiveness of the Las Cruces affiliate’s staff of 11, including those at ReStore. Operations staff includes the executive director, an accountant, construction supervisor, operations coordinator and part time business manager who oversees community liaison with the city.
“In my training I heard how sometimes it’s not as easy for some affiliates as it is for us to communicate among all employees,” she said.
The cohesiveness of the Las Cruces office comes in part from the fact that “we’re all from here,” Vasquez said.
“Our heart is in our mission that’s why we communicate well. Putting families into their homes is our motivation.”
“Another thing that makes it work is the community.”
The community supports Habitat through both financial giving and volunteering on home building projects.
Vasquez said groups from New Mexico State University work on building, while United Way is a big supporter both with funds and homeowner education for Habitat families. Many local businesses support Habitat builds with cash and in-kind donations.
Although families currently are receiving homeowner education through the United Way, one of Vasquez’s goals is to offer education to its families through a home buyer education course she’s developing.
The curriculum will include financial literacy, budgeting, property taxes, homeowners insurance and home maintenance all the tings a first-time home buyer needs to know.
“We don’t want to set them up to fail,” Vasquez said. “Classes are an effort to help them succeed once they own their first home.”
Community service starts at home
While Vasquez describes her family as “adventurous bunch” that frequently visits the Albuquerque zoo and goes on mountain hikes in Ruidoso, they also value their quiet times at home and their time participating in community activities.
They attend community fairs, where the girls get acquainted with other nonprofit organizations.
“I think it’s very important to be award of the needs in the community and the resources the community provides,” she said.
Her oldest daughter, Destiny, started a Cans for Homes program at Lynn Middle School, because the school wanted to help Habitat.
The students launched a program and started collecting cans at school through the Builders Club,” Vasquez said.
“I’d like to mention that’s my favorite,” she said of the students’ charitable projects.
“The cans amount to a front door for a house.”
Alta LeCompte can be reached at 680-1840 or email@example.com
Centennial football dominates Oñate 42-10
The Centennial High Hawks jumped out to an early 14-3 lead against the Oñate High Knights and went on to roll to a 42-10 victory in the cross-town showdown on Friday, Aug. 29.
After Oñate cut the score to 14-10 in the second quarter, Centennial punched the ball into the endzone with 12 seconds left to take a 21-10 lead into the locker rooms at halftime. The Hawks (1-0) outscored the Knights 21-0 in the second half.
Hawks QB Cristian Cedano threw for three touchdown passes, including a 79-yarder in the second quarter to receiver Bryce Rewalt.
Oñate quarterback Fabian Reyes scored his team’s sole touchdown on a keeper.
LCHS football steamrolls El Paso Montwood 44-18
Defending state champion Las Cruces Bulldawgs opened their high school football season with a bang.
The Dawgs scored 37-first-half points on their way to a 44-18 takedown of Montwood High (El Paso). LCHS outscored Montwood 23-0 in the second quarter.
Junshiro Molinar finished the game with three touchdowns for the Dawgs while quarterback Kameron Miller threw two touchdown passes, including a 57 yarder to Cody Murillo on LCHS’ first possession to give the Dawgs a 7-6 advantage and the lead for good.
LCHS rolled to nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half alone.
The Bulldawgs (1-0) next play on Friday, Sept. 5 at home against La Cueva.
Aggie football tops Cal Poly in home opener
In the first half of New Mexico State University’s opening football game against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the Aggie defense had a heck of a time wrangling in the Mustangs’ option offense.
In the second half, though, NMSU stiffened and forced Cal Poly into another option - a few passing attempts – which failed miserably.
The result was a 28-10 victory for the home Aggies.
In front of an announced crowd of 13,772, NMSU gained 315 total yards while allowing Cal-Poly 265 yards. After taking a halftime lead of 14-10 into the locker room, NMSU’s young defense – the team started three freshmen on that side of the ball – stiffened and shutout the Mustangs through the final two quarters.
Making his first start, sophomore quarterback Tyler Rogers went 18-of-27 for 118 yards through the air with two touchdowns and one interception.
Even more impressive, the Aggies chewed up the artificial grass at Aggie Memorial Stadium to the tune of 197 yards on the ground.
Freshman Larry Rose III started his season off with a bang as he led the way with 150 yards on the ground on 30 carries. Rose scored twice, once on the ground and another on a touchdown catch. Redshirt sophomore Teldrick Morgan led the receivers with six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, freshman linebacker Derek Ibekwe pointed the way with 14 tackles and half a sack. Fellow linebacker Rodney Butler also had double-digit tackles, 11, and recorded a sack.
NMSU kicked off the 2014 season with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Rogers to Morgan.
Cal-Poly answered with an 11-play drive of its own, helped by a personal foul penalty. The Mustangs, running the option smoothly, knotted the score.
Front that point on, though, the Aggies outscored their guests 21-3.
In the second quarter, senior cornerback Winston Rose intercepted a pass from Cal-Poly quarterback Chris Brown and returned it 10 yards to the NMSU 37-yard line. The Aggies capitalized on their first takeaway of the season by rattling off a 63-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Las Cruces High product Xavier Hall as NMSU the lead for good.
Hall finished with 22 yards on the ground while Mayfield High alum Brandon Betancourt was NMSU’s second-leading rusher with 42 yards.
In the second half, the Aggies continued to pound the ball and on a 2nd-and-goal, Rose picked up his first touchdown on a pass from Rogers. NMSU capped the scoring in the fourth quarter when Rose again took the ball across the goal line to set the final score at 28-10.
NMSU (1-0) travels to Atlanta next week to face Sun Belt Conference foe Georgia State. The game is set for a noon kickoff (MT) in the Georgia Dome.
Scam: Courts not calling about warrants
At least three Doña Ana County residents – and many others nationwide – have reported receiving phone calls threatening them with arrest for failure to report for jury duty or respond to a court summons, then seeking money and/or personal information to clear the arrest warrant.
Third Judicial District Court Chief Judge Fernando Macias said the phone calls are a scam, and should be reported to authorities immediately.
“Courts in the State of New Mexico do not request personal information – such as Social Security numbers, credit-card information, dates of birth, etc. – by telephone,” Macias said. “Our work is done by first-class mail and in person here at the court. Anyone with a question about whether they should report for jury duty or tend to a warrant should call the municipal, magistrate and/or district courts to request clarification. We do not recommend giving out any personal information over the phone.”
Military Service Academy Night is Aug. 28
High school students who may be interested in the military while earning a higher education degree should attend the Military Service Academy Night, sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, Sen. Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Steve Pierce. Open to all high school students, the event will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 28, at Centennial High School, 1950 S. Sonoma Ranch Blvd., in the commons area of Academic Building “A.”
Representatives from the five military academies, the congressional offices and ROTC units will provide students and parents information about service academy nominations, ROTC opportunities, scholarships and more.
The five Service academies include the U.S. Military Academy (Army) in West Point, NY; the U.S. Naval Academy (Navy/Marine Corps) in Annapolis, MD; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO; the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. All offer full four-year scholarships, covering tuition, books, room and board, and medical and dental care paid by the federal government. At the end of their four years, students will graduate with an undergraduate degree (many graduate with multiple minors and double majors) and a commission as an officer in the U.S. Armed Forces.
County adds constituent service person
Doña Ana County Manager Julia T. Brown has announced the formation of a new division of her office to respond in a timely fashion to constituent concerns and complaints, as well as to facilitate community meetings and to assist individual members of the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners in their ongoing outreach efforts.
The Office of Community and Constituent Services will be headed by longtime Doña Ana County employee – and former Undersheriff – Edward Lerma.
The office, Lerma said, will provide an improved pathway to address areas of concern while consistently facilitating clear lines of communication and feedback. The office, he said, will handle issues ranging from road concerns and animal control to expedited service provisions and complaints or concerns related to work done in the field by county personnel.
“Working directly with the county manager, the individual commissioners, the constituents and department heads, the goal of this office will be to identify and resolve issues as they arise in a manner that is as expedited as possible,” Lerma said. “It will be a challenge, but I love a good challenge, and I’m excited to launch this initiative with the confidence of the county manager.”
Brown said creation of the Office of Community and Constituent Services is designed to enhance the ability of the five county commissioners to be responsive to a vast range of needs and concerns as they arise.
“The commission districts are large and diverse,” she said, “and the county’s past efforts to assist the commissioners and their constituents have not gone far enough or been effective enough. It is my vision that by centralizing the response duties, we can improve both response and communication in both directions.”
Downtown plaza deal struck
A public-private effort has forged a deal to create a plaza in Downtown Las Cruces, overcoming obstacles that had stalled the revitalization project previously.
On Tuesday, June 23, the city’s Tax Increment Development District (TIDD) board – which is made up of the City Council – approved spending $5.3 million on the plaza for purchase of the land and construction of the plaza.
The plaza will be located adjacent to the city Municipal Court building between Church Street and Main Street across from the Rio Grande Theatre.
Sheriff warns of phone scam
A tip was called in to the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office Friday, June 20, from a woman who reported that she was the target of a scam that used the sheriff’s office by name.
According to the victim, a man claiming to be a Doña Ana County Sheriff’s deputy called the woman to inform her she had warrants for her arrest. In order to clear the warrants, the victim was reportedly told she had to call a phone number with a 904 area code to pay the so-called fines with either a credit or debit card.
The victim further stated that her caller ID listed the man’s phone number as (575) 525-1911, the same number as the sheriff’s office main headquarters in Las Cruces.
The Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office does not notify anyone by phone if they have a warrant, and would never ask for any type of payment over the phone.
An actual sheriff’s deputy called the 904 number Friday and spoke to a man with a Middle-Eastern accent who said he was with Federal Claims Court.
Research done by the sheriff’s office discovered that Federal Claims Court does not exist, but another government agency – the U.S. Court of Federal Claims – hears monetary claims against the United States.
Investigators with the Criminal Investigations Division warn anyone that it is dangerous to give personal or financial information over the phone to anyone you do not know.
To report any corrections, please contact the Las Cruces Bulletin at