August 24, 2023

Special Presentation: Project LIGHT (Lessening the Impact of Grief, Harm, and Trauma)

Alison Stoner and Michael Torres of the Las Cruces Fire Department gave us an overview of Project LIGHT, a mobile crisis response program that was begun in March 2023. Project LIGHT is a pilot project with two teams, each consisting of a licensed master social worker and a firefighter/paramedic. Their goal is to respond effectively to behavioral issues such as overdoses, suicide attempts, and mental health crises. They are trained in crisis de-escalation and can connect a person to appropriate community resources.

For more information call 575-541-2352 and email

Cassie McClure is a candidate for City Council, District 1

Cassie proposed that collaboration (along with persistence) is the key to being an effective city councilor. To illustrate the point, she walked us through all the steps it took to get one water fountain at Apodaca Park repaired.

For more information email Cassie and visit her campaign website.

It’s time for Empty Bowls

Kendall Sorenson Clark, member of the Empty Bowls steering committee, announced their annual fundraiser for El Caldito, our soup kitchen that feeds any hungry person in Doña Ana County. They feed an average of more than 300 people a day.

Empty Bowls
Friday, October 13, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 225 W.Griggs Ave.

Kendall explained that tickets will go on sale soon. Ticket holders are entitled to select a one-of-a-kind bowl made by a local potter plus soup from many local restaurants. Ticket holders can bid in the silent auction and even more.

For more information and to volunteer email Kendall.

More ways you can support Empty Bowls and El Caldito

Marna Gasperino listed a few of the many ways of supporting Empty Bowls. Businesses and individuals can be sponsors. (Sponsorships start at $100 and go up to $2500.) For the first time this year there will be a wine and dine event.

For more information email Marna.

Volunteers are needed for Banned Book Week, October 1 to 7

Jon Hill announced that he is looking for volunteers to help him plan and carry out events during Banned Book Week. He also noted that school board elections this year are critical. “There’s all kinds of ways things can go sideways,” he said. Jon said that he has “tons of resources” that can be helpful for school board candidates and he will happily share those.

For more information email Jon and call him at 831-737-2374.

Patrick Nolan is running for Las Cruces School Board, and he said it here first

Patrick Nolan, who was appointed to the School Board in April, said, “I had told myself I would never run for office. I was fairly firm on that.” He went on to say that he is running for Las Cruces School Board, District 1. He is optimistic about the newly hired superintendent and wants to support him; he wants to strengthen school-community partnerships, get the word out about the “amazing things that are happening in our schools every day,” and “do better by our bus drivers.”

For more information email Patrick.

Tularosa Basin Downwinders Update

Mary Martinez White announced that Princeton scientists have released a new study of atmospheric conditions at the time of the Trinity test. The research shows how drastically the effects of the bomb were underestimated. [The Princeton announcement is here; the New York Times report is here.] The studies show the intensity of the fallout for the 46 states plus Mexico and Canada that were affected.

Mary said that this is the 13th year that the Tularosa Downwinders have submitted legislation to include New Mexico in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. “We are as close as we’ve ever been to getting legislation to cover New Mexico under the RECA that was first passed in 1990.” 

Mary reminded us to be sure to see the Trinity exhibit.

Trinity: Legacies of Nuclear Testing–A People’s Perspective
Branigan Cultural Center
Until September 23, 2023

For more information email Mary and call her at 505-629-8516.

Candidate needed for Soil and Water Conservation District

Kurt Anderson, currently a supervisor with the Dońa Ana Soil and Water Conservation District, announced that he is not running for reelection in November. He asked us to help him find a good candidate to run for his seat. He noted that DASWCD is no longer focused on conspiracy theories and is doing some seriously good work.

For more information email Kurt.

Brute for punishment or model citizen? Model citizen!

Ed Frank announced that he will be running for a position on the Las Cruces School Board. He has served before on the board and knows what he is getting into. Ed explained that there are five positions on the School Board and three are up for grabs. “That means there could be a takeover by candidates who want to ban books and falsify our history.”

For more information email Ed.

Volunteers wanted for easy, effective, research-based work

Gayle Eads announced an opportunity to do a bit of writing for Gabe Vasquez, our CD2 Congressman. There will be three mailers supporting Gabe and targeting “reluctant voters.” Gayle said that research shows that receiving mail improved the chance that reluctant voters made it to the polls.

For more information email Gayle.

J. Paul Taylor Celebration

Shirley Baca announced special activities to honor J. Paul Taylor who was born August 24, 1920. The celebration will feature family-friendly activities highlighting the history and culture of the Mesilla Valley.

Mesilla Plaza
Saturday, August 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information email Shirley.

Daniel Buck is a candidate for City Council, District 1

Daniel explained that he lives in the Mesquite Historic District and is committed to community improvements including roadway maintenance and public transportation. He’s been knocking on doors every evening and talking with constituents in order to learn their concerns and priorities.

For more information email Daniel.

Nancy Shahmirazadi spoke in support of her neighbor and friend

Nancy noted that Daniel Buck, candidate for City Council, is a neighbor and a friend. She said she appreciates his “dynamic interest in improving not just the issues but going beyond that to improving the city.”

For more information email Nancy.

Really, El Paso Electric? Really?

Allen Downs explained his current beef with El Paso Electric. Allen has an EPE deal called the Whole House EV Rate Rider. Therefore, EPE must pay him 4.74 cents for every kilowatt-hour he uses between midnight and 8 a.m. As a result, EPE owes Allen money. They’re not happy about it, so they created a new charge called “Adjustment to meet $7.33 minimum.” Allen thinks this new charge is illegal, and he has entered a formal complaint with the Public Regulation Commission. Allen’s final advice: “The Whole House EV Rider is still a good deal–just not as good as it used to be.”

For more information email Allen.

Johana Bencomo for City Council, District 4

Johana announced that she’s running for a second term as District 4 City Councilor. She invited everyone to join her campaign by volunteering, donating, and/or attending the campaign launch party on Saturday, August 25. She spoke of her conviction that “we can build and already are building a better, stronger, and safer Las Cruces for everyone….We can address the challenges facing our city [housing, Fentanyl, climate, poverty, and violence] without turning on each other.” Johana read a brief excerpt from Chicago’s new mayor, Brandon Johnson: “We don’t have to choose between toughness and compassion. We don’t have to choose between the care of our neighbors and keeping our community safe.”

For more information email Johana.

¿Qué tal, KTAL?

Peter Goodman noted that virtually everyone who has spoken tonight has recently been, or will soon be, a guest on his radio show. He reminded us of the importance of community radio, especially in these times when local newspaper and radio coverage continues to shrink. Peter invited everyone to donate to the station, volunteer to help, propose a show you’d like to do or see someone else do. Peter invited everyone to the KTAL Community Radio Open House.

KTAL Open House
Sunday, August 27, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
KTAL Studio on Wyatt Drive

For more information email Peter and call him at 575-489-7090.

Thoughts about education, now that New Mexico has some money to work with

Brandon Robinson noted that New Mexico has a chance to “revamp and do something new and bold” in our approach to education. He suggested two changes: 1) give students the tools so they can teach each other, and 2) replace the property tax model for funding education with an endowment fund for schools.

For more information email Brandon.

Mayor Pro Tem Gandara is running for mayor

Kasandra Gandara described herself: “I’m a hard working, energetic, effective leader who delivers community-guided results.” She told us about one of those results–a survivors of suicide training for city staff that was provided by the STAR-Center in Pittsburgh, a nationally recognized center for the prevention and treatment of suicide. She spoke of the responsibility that city government has to address mental health issues.

Kasandra invited everyone to the campaign launch party.

Filing Day Celebration
Red Hawk Golf Club
August 29, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information email Kasandra and call her at 575-640-6344.

More information about the J. Paul Taylor Celebration

Sherry Hulsey added a note concerning the J. Paul Taylor celebration. The Taylor home will not be open on August 26 as planned because the installation of a new heating and cooling system is not complete. However, the home will be open in December for the annual Nacimiento Open House. 

If you would like to support the Taylor Family Monument, you can become a friend. Friend memberships start at $10. The work of the organization includes funding for educational materials and for buses so school children can tour the historic home.

For more information email Sherry and call her at 575-621-1122.

Mark O’Neill is a candidate for City Council, District 1

Mark O’Neill announced that he is running for Las Cruces City Council, District 1. He spoke of his experience in California including as a high school coach and a small business owner. Mark said he has been in Las Cruces for 18 years and has served on a variety of public boards here including Parks and Recreation and the Capital Improvement Board, which advises the City Council.

For more information email Mark.

Round Two

PVA Rules: After everyone who wishes to speak has had a chance to speak once, everyone who wishes to speak a second time may do so.

Daniel Buck said that local police officers will be at Nessa’s Cafe on Picacho Ave. tomorrow morning. You can have a cup of coffee and chat with an officer. Johana Bencomo mentioned that Project LIGHT was the vision of two social workers on the City Council who started working on a plan for crisis intervention in 2020 after the death of Tony Valenzuela. She expressed how deeply proud she is of the project. Mary Martinez White said that Governor Lujan Grisham recently invited the Tularosa Basin Downwinders to the governor’s mansion to meet with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and other dignitaries. There was a lot of support for including New Mexico in RECA. Mark O’Neill expressed apprehension about the storage and transportation of nuclear waste in New Mexico. Allen Downs gave us a commentary on the story of Little Bo Peep. (He stole it from Johnny Standley’s 1952 recording “It’s in the Book” available on YouTube). And with that we called it a night.

If you have questions, comments, or corrections to the recap, please email Judy Zimmerman.

PVA meets again:

Thursday, September 28, 2023, 7 pm
Munson Center

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