YOUR DAILY UPDATE FOR TUESDAY MARCH 31, 2015
County raising GRT
In a 4-1 vote, the Doña Ana County Commission passed a three eighths of a percent increase in the gross receipts (GRT) tax to pay for raising salaries in the sheriff’s department, detention center and roads department, as well as for improved radio communications for sheriff deputies, vehicle replacements, capital improvements for economic development and public safety, money to start up a modest countywide public transportation system and $200,000 a year to the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance.
Commissioner Ben Rawson, the lone vote against the increase, said that once it is in place July 1, the GRT in Las Cruces – where the City Council also had increased GRT by three-eighths of a percent – will be at 8.31 percent, making it higher than the GRT rate in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, as well as the El Paso sales tax rate.
The GRT increase of one, two or three eighths of a percent without a public vote was an option given by the Legislature to phase out state hold harmless payments to large municipal and county governments after removing food and medical expenses from GRT. Three other counties have raised their GRT by the full three eighths and five counties by two eights, said commission Chairman Billy Garrett.
Commissioner David Garcia of Chaparral said the increase of $3.70 on a $1,000 purchase wasn’t that much. Commissioner Wayne Hancock of Las Cruces said those who were opposed to the increase – primarily the business community – were the ones who could afford it the most, whereas those who could afford it the least – low-income residents – were demanding improved services from the county.
Rawson said voters in three previous GRT elections had rejected more modest increases and this action amounted to the largest tax increase in Doña Ana County history.
Los Altos (Pro's Ranch) closing
Los Altos Ranch Market, formerly Pro’s Ranch Market at 320 E. Wyatt Drive, is apparently going out of business. On its website today (Thursday, March 19) the “in store events” listed are “Store Closing Liquidation Sale!”
It also sent out a text message announcing 50 percent off on all store items, confirming the closing.
The website link is https://www.losaltosranchmarket.com/en-us/our-stores/store-page/?locID=9.
Ag men, women play Friday in WAC tournament
New Mexico State University men's and women's basketball teams each need to win just two games at the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas Nev. to snare the championship and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Aggie women play at 1 p.m. (MT) Friday against the winner of Wednesday's Seattle-Utah Valley game.
The Aggie men also play Friday, at 7 p.m., against the victor in Thursday's Bakersfield-Utah Valley game. The women's WAC title game is 2 p.m. Saturday and the men's title game is 9 p.m. Saturday. Both championship games will be on ESPNU.
J. Paul Taylor Symposium celebrates 11th year at NMSU with films, guest speakers
Justice for Migrant Children and Youth is the focus of the 11th annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium beginning Saturday, March 14, followed by events on March 17-18.
The three-day symposium, hosted by New Mexico State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, will include films, poets, panel discussions, and question-and-answer sessions with human rights advocates. The symposium is held each year to honor J. Paul Taylor for his lifelong commitment to the people of New Mexico as an educator, legislator and community leader.
“J. Paul Taylor’s life of service and dedication to social justice serves to frame this symposium by focusing on human rights,” said Christa Slaton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Through listening with compassion to the stories of struggle and hope of those whose lives are impacted, we as a community can more broadly address immigration and other social justice issues.”
Guest speakers include international experts, analysts and advocates from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and across the U.S.
This year’s symposium topic was inspired by last summer’s wave of unaccompanied immigrant minors crossing the border, explained symposium co-chairs Neil Harvey, NMSU professor and department chair of government, and Camilo Perez Bustillo, visiting criminal justice assistant professor.
“We knew this was a topic the local community was responding to in a very humane way and we wanted to highlight that,” Harvey said. “We wanted to look at factors that caused the migration and bring in experts and advocates to have that discussion.
The symposium begins with the provocative film “Who is Dayani Cristal?” at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 14, in the Good Samaritan Village Auditorium, followed by a talk by Robin Reinke, co-founder and executive director of the Colibri Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit organization committed to assisting relatives of missing migrants last seen crossing. The public is invited to attend the film and discuss the topic.
The events continue Tuesday, March 17, at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts. Harvey will present the Social Justice Award during a reception that begins at 5:30 p.m.
“The Social Justice Award was established in 2002 by an alumna of the Department of Government. The goal of the award is to honor NMSU students, staff and faculty who give their time and energy to help create a more just society,” Harvey said. “This year’s recipients are Dr. Chris Burnham, Regents Professor of English, for his Borderland Writing Project with youth in the Segundo Barrio neighborhood of El Paso, and Michelle Corella, ICT Senior Systems Developer, for her efforts to promote the humane treatment of animals through the Feral Cat Management Program and a new cat adoption facility.”
Two keynote speakers will follow at 7 p.m. – Laurie Ann Guerrero, Poet Laureate of San Antonio and Maria Eugenia Ponce Sevilla, one of the youths who call themselves Dreamers, who won protection from deportation. She is also co-founder of “Los Otros Dreamers,” those who have been deported or left the country yet continue to seek a path to U.S. citizenship.
On Wednesday, March 18, a full day of speakers and panel discussions begins at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts at 8:30 a.m. Speakers include Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborers Organizing Network based in Los Angeles.
Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, founder of a shelter for people migrating from Central and South America, Asia and Africa will be the keynote speaker at 1:30 p.m. The priest who has endured numerous death threats was recognized in 2012 with Mexico’s National Human Rights Award.
“Father Solalinde’s participation as keynote speaker will highlight the plight of Central Americans and other migrants in transit through Mexico on their way towards the U.S, who are the victims of serious human rights violations on both sides of the border,” Perez Bustillo said. “He will also explore the connection between these issues and Mexico´s deepening human rights crisis. Solalinde has become an internationally recognized voice for justice in Mexico and beyond, who has repeatedly risked his life in defense of the rights of those who are most vulnerable.”
In addition to the programs, a photo exhibit titled “Those Who Stay/Those Who Leave” by Karla Hernandez Marez will be on display in the ASNMSU Center for the Arts lobby. Marez is a photographer and human rights defender based in Mexico City who has been engaged with Amnesty International’s work regarding the rights of indigenous peoples in Mexico since 2009.
A closing reception will be held in the CFTA lobby at 7 p.m. in honor of Azadeh Shahshahani, hosted by the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Women Studies Program. Shahshahani is president of the National Lawyers´ Guild and Director of the National Security/Immigrants Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in Atlanta.
“The issue of immigration will come and go on the news, but it remains very important for the country and for our region,” Harvey said. “What struck me was the more compassionate, understanding response from people here. This symposium is an effort to complement that. This is an opportunity to connect with advocates from Central America, Mexico and across the U.S. It is meant to connect the campus and community in positive ways.”
The J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium is designed to build upon existing university and community partnerships through reciprocal education, outreach and strategizing as part of NMSU’s land-grant mission. Each year scholars, students, community stakeholders and policy makers gather from across the state and region to explore, learn and work together on strategies for reform and justice.
The events are made possible in part by a grant from the New Mexico Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The symposium will be presented in both English and Spanish, with simultaneous interpretation provided throughout.
The events are free and open to the public. For more information visit the J. Paul Taylor Symposium website at http://jpts.nmsu.edu.
Spaghetti dinner raises funds for poor families
The Hope and Care Ministry of Sonoma Springs Church will be holding our annual Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at the church located at 3940 Sonoma Springs Ave. Cost for the tickets is $7 for adults and $3 for children 10 and younger. This year, gluten-free pasta will be offered in addition to regular spaghetti. Dinners to go will be available. At the same time as the dinner, there will be a baked goods sale and a 50/50 drawing with tickets for $1 each or a book of 6 for $5.
The proceeds from this event will be used to help purchase food for 50 families in need in the community. These families are chosen through the church’s work with partner schools in Las Cruces.
For more information or to purchase dinner or drawing tickets, contact Judy at 649-0039 or 523-6528, Roxanne at 373-0138 or the church office at 526-4907.
2015 Tour of the Gila faces possible cancellation
GFor the past 28 years, Silver City, New Mexico has hosted the Tour of the Gila (TOG), one of the most iconic bicycle stage races in the United States. The TOG is one of America’s great stage races. It’s the American road cycling stage race where “Champions are Discovered™.”
Over the past three decades, the TOG has grown into an international road cycling race; equally important to major pro teams as it is to many, many domestic amateur clubs. With this mix of participants and the authentic, small-town Southwestern community backdrop, the TOG offers a very unique, global engagement opportunity.
The TOG is one of the only cycling stage races in America that’s both attainable and aspirational at the same time. Riders of all categories share the roads with the pro teams over the five-day stage race. The town of Silver City is intimate, offering the pros and amateurs to be able to converse and swap stories throughout the course of the race.
Earlier this week, the race directors of the TOG received word that a title sponsor had to pull investment. Because of this, the 2015 Tour of the Gila, which begins April 29, may not happen.
Today, the race directors are officially putting out the call to action to draw in angel sponsors to help Silver City pull off one of the greatest American road cycling stage races in 2015, offering Union Cycliste International (UCI) sanctioning / points.
To date, with this news, over 600 racers will not be able to experience this bucket-list cycling goal. Of that number, five international teams and six or more domestic men’s pro teams, as well as three international and between five and nine domestic women’s pro teams will not be racing at the TOG this year. This is a tragic loss for competitive cycling, for all levels of riders, in the United States and globally.
What’s more, small business owners and community members in Silver City, New Mexico will go without this major tourism draw that has incredible global reach.
This year was to be the first year for the race to receive UCI sanctioning for the pro women, putting Silver City, New Mexico on the international calendar of professional women’s cycling for the first time. The five-day race is optimally scheduled between Arkansas’ Joe Martin stage race and the AMGEN Tour of California, making it an ideal event for national and international teams to compete in. As a result, the registrations for teams from international and domestic locations are at an all-time high. What’s more, the Tour of the Gila has obtained a pro-bono public relations relationship with Verde Brand Communications, a leading provider of multi-service communications and engagement strategies in the outdoors active lifestyle markets. The partnership ensures that the exposure and amazing storytelling from the 2015 race will have international reach for title sponsors, for the first time.
Some of the teams slated to toe the start lines this year include UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s men’s and women’s teams, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies, Drapac Professional Cycling, Team Venezuela, TWENTY16 p/b, SHO-AIR, Team SmartStop, Silber, H&R Block, Orgullo Antioqueño, along with many others.
The Tour of the Gila has overcome a similar challenge in the past. “We faced race cancellation in 2009,” race director Jack Brennan stated. “Once the word went out, the cycling community rose to the occasion and the race became one of the most successfully-attended races in Gila’s history. This is a grassroots event that relies largely on the unparalleled support of the Silver City community, which is a major feat in a town of 10,000 people.”
This year’s race is already tracking to be the strongest participation globally and internationally of any Gila in the past.
The race still has a chance to continue for amateurs and pro riders.
“While posting this press release was very difficult, we felt that it was important to go forward with this announcement with the goal of saving and furthering the legacy the Gila for 2015,” Brennan continued. “We’ve always been known for being able to pull off a lot for a little and the door is open for a few companies or individuals to obtain a title sponsorship for this year.”
“We encourage entities interested in title sponsorship to call us to have a discussion about the opportunity that has become available. We are committed to making this legendary race a reality and we have given ourselves one week to find the funds,” said Michael Engleman, director of competition for the Tour of the Gila.
For more information on securing title sponsorship of one of America’s classic road bike stage races, please contact Jack Brennan at 575-590-2612.
DACC offers free dental clinic for children
Give Kids a Smile Day to be held at Doña Ana Community College (DACC) Central Campus. The oral health experts and students enrolled in dental programs at DACC are providing a free “Give Kids a Smile Day” at the DACC Dental Health Clinic. The free event for children runs from 8 am to 4 pm Saturday, Feb. 21, at the DACC Central Campus, 3400 South Espina, DAMA Building (Main), Room 80. An appointment can be scheduled by calling 528-7071
Las Cruces Downtown Partnership names Parsons interim director
Downtown Las Cruces Partnership has a new director.
Board President John Hummer has announced Arianna Parsons of Las Cruces was unanimously approved by DLCP's board as the interim executive director effective Tuesday, Dec. 16.
Parsons will hold the position of interim director for 90 days, during which time the organization will conduct a search for a permanent executive director. Parsons will is a candidate for the permanent position.
The director will replace Carrie La Tour, who was executive director for three years, but announced she would step down before the end of December.
“We are extremely pleased and genuinely excited to have someone of Arianna's capabilities and passion for our downtown's continued growth and development as our interim executive director,” Hummer said. “Not only can she relate with business owners working hard to grow their businesses, but she also lives in the immediate area of our downtown.”
Parsons, along with her husband Tyrell Thacker, operate Beck’s Coffee, located in the Downtown district.
“I am extremely excited to take my passion for our Downtown to the next level,” Parson said. “We have great momentum from all of the hard work and enthusiasm of the outgoing director, board and other stakeholders so I feel confident in saying that great things are going to happened”
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