The Sandoval County Online Reporting Enterprise, established in 2007 in Rio Ra
ncho, N.M.
New Mexico's first totally online community newspaper was updated Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 at 1 a.m.

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Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016

NAIOP charges $10 fee for council candidate event


You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning – and pay10 bucks -- if you want to find out about Rio Rancho’s city council candidates.

Or at least you had to Thursday morning.

Eight of the 10 candidates appeared at was billed as a “forum” hosted by the local chapter by NAIOP, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, a self-described “commercial real es0tate association.”

Traditional forums have been in the evening, open to the public at no cost and hosted by groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, media outlets and neighborhood associations.

Thursday’s restriction on access bring to mind events of two years ago when the now-defunct Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation attempted to keep out the media under the assertion it was simply preventing information to candidates about its organization. After a protest by, that RREDC relented and allowed free media and public access.

In the interest of full disclosure attended only after NAIOP board member John Black, owner-broker of West Wood Realty, paid the $10 fee. Black said he was unaware of the event organizer’s decision to impose a fee on the media and pledged to discuss it with the NAIOP board before future events hosted by the organization.

It was not immediately clear if a reporter from another media outlet was charged the access fee. Rocky Hays, publisher of the Rio Rancho Observer, served as moderator of the 7:30 a.m. event.

Each candidate was allowed to offer their opinion on five different in random order. Everyone worked hard to come up with unique language to differentiate themselves from the other candidates, especially the opponents within their own districted races, but largely ended up sounding like each other on the actual issues with few exceptions.

One race where the candidates did differ some was District 4. Ryan Parra, a Rio Rancho school board member who is seeking the seat being vacated by Mark Scott, said he would support the road bond issue also on the ballot but would not support a recurring bond cycle.

Former Utilities Commission chairman Ron Hensley expressed concern over government providing too much consideration to for-profit businesses through public-private partnerships, preferring that the free market should be the determining factor whether those companies are successful. The third candidate in the race, former Waste Management executive Marlene Feuer, offered a directly opposite view, saying her former employer made a public-private agreement work for the benefit of Rio Rancho residents.

A question on the widely-held view that the current council has become dysfunctional,  largely because of personality clashes, evoked interesting responses for two of the candidates in District 1. Both former Mayor Jim Owen and Joshua Hernandez stressed their experience, albeit in different ways.

Owen, mayor from 2002-2006, talked of his time as a site manager at Intel and ability to work bureaucrats of all levels of government. Hernandez, making his first run at elective office after successfully managing Gregg Hull’s mayoral campaign two years ago, said his current position supervising a Rio Rancho company with more than 100 employees and nine department heads prove his ability to work with others.

Hernandez chose not to identify his employer, Club Rio Rancho, which has been enveloped in city politics during a recent policy decision on reuse water rates. It also is now attempting to sell its “North Nine” golf holes to a real estate developer, a move that will require review by the Planning and Zoning Board.

Former two-term councilor and Sandoval County Commissioner Dave Bency highlighted some of his accomplishments, including the Gross Receipts Investment Policy (GRIP) where the city waives certain fees required of developers who pay for necessary infrastructure up front. He said that policy gave a financial incentive for Lowe’s, the Enchanted Hills Retail Center and Premiere Cinema, the site of Thursday’s event, to come to Rio Rancho.

After initially greeting everyone at the 7:30 a.m. gathering with “good evening,” incumbent Lonnie Clayton, the only candidate seeking reelection, defended his record and the current council. He said he has worked as part of a majority on both sides of the current schism and has served as a moderating influence on the council.
A third candidate in District 6, Chris Balzano, repeatedly cited his work overseas as a representative for the U.S. State Department as what the city needs from its representatives in the 21st century.

Two candidates, JoAnne Dudley in District 1 and Chris Vanden-Heuvel in District 6, were invited but did not attend.

Early voting begins Wednesday at two sites – City Hall and the Loma Colorado Library. A free evening forum is set for the night, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Rio Rancho High School Performing Arts Center.

A series of one-on-one interviews with the candidates will begin in next week.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016

UP FOR TWO: Rio Rancho's Dakota Carrasco (30) shoots over Cleveland's Marcus Gibson (4) in the first quarter of Tuesdays  game at Rio Rancho High. Derek Rees (31), Marcus Williams (10), Gabe Ortega (11) and Nick Little (11, in background) look on. The Rams prevailed 79-72 to take sole possession of second place in District 1-6A.

Friday, Jan. 29, 2016

DUNK YOU VERY MUCH: Cleveland guard Marcus Hill (22) slams home a basket after a first-quarter steal. (BELOW) Hill hits a three-pointer in  the final six seconds to force the game into overtime ...

...only to have Cibola's Desmond Carpenter seal the game in double overtime with a free throw ...

... as Hill's desperation shot launched just inside of half-court was off the mark.

Cougars shoot down Cleveland,
takes lead in District 1-6A race


Memo to the Cibola and Cleveland boys high school basketball teams: The game is only supposed to last 32 minutes.

For the second time in less than a month, the two teams battled into overtime to decide a winner. Friday night it was the Cougars who earned a 74-71 double overtime decision, and first place in District 1-6A with it.

It was a rematch of the Albuquerque Public schools championship game on Jan. 9, which Cleveland won 66-54 on a neutral court at Atrisco Heritage.

It was just the second loss by Cleveland to a New Mexico team this year. The Storm (16-5 overall, 2-1 in District 1-6A) lost at Albuquerque Valley 57-52 on Dec. 18 only a few days after several players arrived from the state championship football team. Cleveland avenged that loss to the Vikings with a solid 58-39 win in the APS semifinals the night before beating Cibola for the title.

This time it was the No. 3 Cougars (16-2, 3-0 in district) that got the revenge, though it was an uphill battle for most of the night.

The game wasn’t decided until Desmond Carpenter made one of two free throws with 4.4 seconds left. A desperation attempt from just inside half court by Cleveland’s Marcus Hill that could have tied teh game was off to the right, concluding another emotional, dramatic matchup between these two teams that left everybody feeling a little drained.

"You're telling me," Cibola coach Ray Rodriguez said. "We've got anotehr game tomorrow night (non-district at home against LaCueva.

"It was almost like 'who had the ball last (is going  to win)," he said. "I thought our kids buckled down and played some defense in the second half. We just said don't gamble, we weren't going to trap, we're just going to go at it hard (on offense) and get our tails back on defense, and get on the glass.

"And that's what we did. I thought our kids were executing the game plan pretty well for the most part."

Smith was baffled at what happened after his team raced to a double-digit lead in the first quarter.

"We just ... I don't know," Smith said. "They got  some open shots, and we tried to push it up the floor a little bit. We had some different guys in, we had some shots that were missed and some that were made, but nothing really specific."

Cibola did an especially good job in defending Cleveland center Marcus Williams, who was held to 10 points and is normally a focal point  of the Storm offense.

"He was double and triple teameda lot, andthere were times he could not get the ball out cleanly to the other guys. And we had some guys standing around and watching him instead of  moving to get open," Smith said. "Credit them for the pressure they put on us."

It was fitting that the game came down to the two guards. Carpenter had 21 points to lead the Cougars; Hill had 17 to top all Storm scorers.

Cleveland opened up the game by scoring the first eight points, and built the advantage to 12 points by the end of the quarter at 21-9. But Cibola’s shooters got hot in the next period, hitting four three-pointers in the second quarter to pull within 36-28 at halftime.

Cleveland stretched the margin back to 11 points at 41-30 with 5:57 left in the third quarter, but the Cougars rallied. When Matt Wood put in a rebound basket at the buzzer to end the period, Cibola had tied the game at 46.

Cibola took its first lead at 52-50 with 5:24 left on a basket by Isaac Maldonado, who finished with 14 points. The lead see-sawed down the stretch, with the Cougars holding a 59-58 advantage with 49.7 seconds left, though the Storm had the ball.

Jayden Phillips’ shot rolled off the rim for the Storm, and Cibola gained the ball on jump ball alternate possession. When , Carpenter sank two free throws after being fouled, it appeared the Cougars would win in regulation.

But Hill had other ideas, sinking a clutch trey with six seconds left to tie the game again.

"Actually we had it drawn up for Justin but he switched with Marcus, Justin got a good pass to him, I think it was Gibby (Marcus Gibson) who set a good screen and Marcus (Hill) hit it. I'm glad it worked out in our favor, but we should have taken care of business  in overtime."

Carpenter’s drive and desperation shot were cut off short at the buzzer, forcing the extra play.

The teams initially traded baskets to start the first overtime, but Cleveland pulled ahead 67-63 on a rebound basket by Marcus Williams with 2:26 left in overtime. Then the Storm went cold, being shut out for the rest of the period as Cibola rallied yet again to forge the second overtime.

"I thought we had  a chacne to win it (in the first overtime)," Smith said. "We came out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. But about  midway through the overtime we had some letdowns defensively and made some mistakes. We have to correct those errors."

Three-pointers by Carlos Barela and Zach Baca on consecutive possessions were too much for the Storm to overcome in the second overtime.
Cleveland actually made morefield goals (30) than Cibola (25), but the Cougars finished with 10 three pointers in the game compared to four for the Storm.

"We've made more in a game thisyear, but I don'tthink they've been bigger," Rodriguez said. "They helped us get back in the game in the second quarter and  they won it for us in the  second overtime."

"They shot a lot of them, and when they're on they're tough to defend," Smith said. "We just have to get ready for them the next time we play them."

Rodriguez was happy to be in first place after three of eight district games, but ...

"It's goingto be a dog fight. There's still going to be some otehr people involedm," hesaid. "It's going to be tough. But I would much rather be on top of the standings looking down than at the bottom and looking up."

The Cougars  had three other   players in double figures in addition to Carpenter:Barela(15), Issac Maldonado 14 and Cameron Dixon 13. Cleveland had a total of five players reach 10 or more points: Hill, Phillips (13), Adam Cook (12), and Gibson and Williams and (10 each).

The Storm return to action Tuesday at archrival Rio Rancho High in a game where the winner will have sole possession of second place in the district. The Rams were idle on Friday.

"It's always a battle when we go there. We just have to rebound and play better," Smith said. "We have to play hard on Tuesday, and then we get a week off before our next district game."

Elsewhere in the district, Santa Fe High stunned Volcano Vista 53-34 for its first win in two years in District 1-6A. The Demons are 1-2; Volcano Vista dropped to 0-4.
NOTE: Cleveland's home game on Feb. 12 against Volcano Vista has been moved to the Santa Ana Star Center. The school was given the opportunity to play in the 6,500 seat arena because a basketball floor is being installed for a Harlem Globetrotters game the next night. Game times remain the same: 4 p.m. for the C-team, followed by a junior varsity game. The varsity is set to play at 7 p.m.

Carlos Barela 6 2-4 15; Desmond Carpenter 7 4-6 21; Zach Baca 1 0-0 2; Cameron Dixon 4 0-2 13;
Kolby Gipson 0 0-0 0; Isaac Brito 2 0-0 5; Ricardo Zambrano 0 0-0 0; Isaac Maldonado 5 2-4 14; Matt Wood 2 0-0 4. Totals: 26 8-16 74.

Justin Davis 2 0-0 5; Marcus Gibson 4 2-2 10; Jayden Phillips 5 1-1 13; Marcus Williams 5 0-2 10;Gabe Ortega 1 2-2 4; Andrew Garcia 0 0-0 0; Malachi Bennett 0 0-0 0; Marcus Hill 7 2-3 17; Damian Banks 0 0-0 0; Elias Neru 0 0-0 0; Adam Cook 6 0-0 12; Henry Hattis 0 0-0 0. Totals 30 7-10 71.

Cibola           9...19....15....18....6....7 - 74
Cleveland   21...15....10....18....6....4 - 71

Three-point goals: Cibola 10 (Barela, Carpenter 3, Dixon 4, Brito,  Maldonado); Cleveland 4 (Davis, Phillips 2, Hill.) Total fouls: Cibola 10, Cleveland 19. Records: Cibola 16-2, 3-0 in District 1-6A; Cleveland 16-5, 3-1.


Cibola           3-0    16-2
Cleveland      2-1    16-5
Rio Rancho    2-1    14-7
Santa Fe       1-2     8-12 
Volcano Vista 0-4    7-12

Friday's Results
Cibola 74, Cleveland 71
Santa Fe 53, Volcano Vista 34

Saturday's Schedule
La Cueva at Cibola, 7 p.m.

Tuesday's Schedule
Cleveland @ Rio Rancho, 7 p.m.
Santa Fe @ Cibola, 7 p.m.


Wednesday, Jan 27, 2016
Council approves reuse rate,
controversial zoning change

Monday, Jan. 25, 2016

School board updating strategic plan

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016

District puts plan s for
new elementary on hold

Bond money to be used to finish other projects

The Rio Rancho school board has decided to reallocate more than $9 million originally designated to build in elementary school, using the money to complete other projects instead.


At its regular meeting on Jan. 11, then again in a special board meeting Wednesday night, Joe Harris Elementary School was put on the back burner in favor of other improvements.

Money designated in the 2012 bond issue for the elementary school was rededicated to renovations at Lincoln Middle School, Vista Grande Elementary School and the construction of a new district transportation facility.

The district does not have enough money to complete Joe Harris Elementary. Voters agreed to fund $10 million toward construction of the elementary school, to be named after the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department sergeant who was shot and killed in the line of duty on July 16, 2009.

Estimates are that the district would need $24 million to build the school. At the time of the bond issue the district placed it as part of the package with the understanding that it would not construct the school unless matching funds from other sources was obtained.

In the intervening time four other projects on the same bond issue changed in scope and costs, in part because of rising prices for materials and labor.  Original plans to renovate Lincoln Middle School, one of the oldest buildings in Rio Rancho, did not include improved facilities for the state-mandated PAARC tests, for example, because that program did not exist at the time. As a result, plans were changed, and with the changes came additional costs.

Before the interior of Lincoln is worked on, the gymnasium will get an update that will also allow for additional parking and improved access for visitors and student drop-offs. They gymnasium part of Lincoln’s upgrade is listed at a cost of $2,194,094; the subsequent interior design fixes will cost $2,287,660.

The biggest ticket item is the transportation center, which will cost $4,246,408. It was originally scheduled to be built in stages, with the first part funded in the 2012 bond issue, but now will be completed all at once.

It has become a major need for the district in recent years as the district has been operating its own school busses instead of contracting out with a private company. RRPS is currently leasing land for its transportation depot, and the property owners of indicated they may attempt to sell the land in the future.

The project has been scaled back from its original multi-phase plan, but includes parking for the more than 80 vehicles the district operates. The department headquarters will also include more restrooms and lounges for drivers who often work spit shifts to serve the multiple runs busses make each day.

The new facility will be located on property already owned by the district that is adjacent to Ernie Stapleton elementary school, making it more central centrally for the public that often visits transportation department staff to check on scheduling for their students.

The board previously voted on Jan. 11 to allocate $650,000 to upgrade Vista Grande Elementary School, but a review of the project found that design costs were included in the budget twice. As a result those changes will be $353,000 less than first thought.

The bottom line: Of the $10 million set aside for Joe Harris Elementary, all but $914,838 will be spent to complete all of the other projects listed as part of the 2012 bond issue.

The elementary school could be part of the bond package in 2016 or 2020. District officials expect to ask voters for $60 million in each of those two elections.

But it is also possible Joe Harris may not be built, or at least not in its current proposed location at 846 Fifth Street Northeast (west of Unser Boulevard and Idalia Road). Depending on population demographics at the time the bond package is developed, the district could opt to build an elementary school elsewhere, perhaps naming it after Harris. Other more pressing needs, such as another middle school, may also bump another elementary to later bond cycles.

Either way, it appears the district won’t be getting much if any help from the state. A project must be  listed in the top 100 state-wide to even be considered, and revenue for school capital outlay projects has been steadily decreasing in recent years.

The board also tabled an item on the special meeting agenda regarding possible regulations allowing its members to volunteer at schools. Board member Ramon Montano  has come under some scrutiny for helping out the Rio Rancho High boys basketball program, though he says he now only keeps statistics for the team.

The issue was first on the Jan. 11 agenda for discussion only, and was placed on the special meeting agenda but tabled when Montano said he had not been able to complete the research he wanted to present to the board.

In the Jan. 11 meeting board members alluded to an advisory opinion provided by legal counsel in the form of an e-mail document and subsequent follow-up clarification. has requested those documents under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, but board president Don Schlichte said Thursday the district has never shared its legal advice and will not do so.

Susan Boe, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, has told she believes the district is in violation of state law. is working with NMFOG to develop a complaint to the Attorney General, who rules on such matters.
Under a new format adopted in December, the board will have only one business meeting a month, at its first meeting (on the second Monday of the month). The second meeting, on the fourth Monday, will be deidcated to the district's strategic plan.

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016
GOP nominates delegates
to state convention twice

Early finish means process has to be repeated

If at first you don’t succeed …

Sandoval County Republicans filled their slate of delegates to the state pre-primary nominating convention in record time Tuesday night, holy to undo the process.

The county party consolidated three sets of meetings -- central committee, ward and the actual convention -- in one event. In doing so, they were able to complete the entire nominating process in 33 minutes under the all-in-one-night format.

According to the official schedule, however, the actual convention part of the process was not supposed to start until 7:35 p.m. But those assembled initially completed that process at 7:03 p.m.

So when five delegates from Cuba arrived at about 7:30 p.m., it appeared they might be left out of the process even though they had arrived in time according to the official call.

Five veteran party members had been selected as delegates in the original convention by being nominated from the floor even though they were not present and apparently had no knowledge they were being picked. It was done to fill the 60 slots allotted to Sandoval Cody by the state, something that has been done by both Democrats and Republicans in the past.

So the Republicans had to undo what they had done previously, then do it all over again. There were some objections from the floor but all the votes resending the previous actions and/or in selecting the new list of delegates was overwhelmingly approved or unanimous.

The state Republican convention is February 20, the same day county Democrats will meet for their delegate selection process.

Since the county Republican convention was on the opening night of the state Legislature, a special rule was approved reserving spots for six people who could not attend due to duties in Santa Fe. Delegate spots were set aside for state Sen. Craig Brandt, representatives Tim Lewis, Jason Harperand Jane Powdrell-Culbert, and county commissioners Glenn Walters and Don Chapman.

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