Public Safety is Priority One for BernCo’s Winter Roads

Public safety is Bernalillo County’s first priority when it comes to maintenance of our winter roads. The snowstorm and winter weather over the Thanksgiving holiday was a challenge for all of us – both the county and the community.

The BernCo road crews did work over the holiday and weekend, in both the South Valley and East Mountain area. Their road priorities were: 1) hilled and winding roads, 2) collector roads, and 3) residential roads.

Here is a detailed roads priority list for the East Mountain Area:

· North Mountain

· Hilled roads: Ridge Sangre de Cristo, Forest Park

· Frost Road, Vallecitos Meadow and Mountain Valley loop, Sedillo Hill Road

· All other residential roads with focus on main accesses to state roads (NM14, 536)

· South Mountain

· Canyon roads off Old Route 66 (NM 333)

· Main accesses to state roads (337, 217)

Because it was actively snowing on Thanksgiving and the following day, the crews began plowing at 1:30 a.m. and had to plow and salt roads two to three times just to keep them open. Saturday had icy conditions that needed to be addressed. Over the entire weekend, and even with working long hours, the road crews were not able to get to the third priority residential roads as fast as they would usually do. Here’s an interesting fact related to the third road priority – there are just over 300 miles of county-maintained roads in the East Mountain area alone. The average speed of a snowplow truck or grader is 25-30 miles per hour. 

The New Mexico Department of Transportation has its own roads and highways to maintain in the East Mountains:

· I-40 from Carnuel to Bernalillo County line

· Old Route 66 (NM 333) from Clovis Lane (mile post 3.2) to Junction NM 217

· NM 14 from Old Route 66 (NM 333) to Santa Fe County line

· NM 337 from Bernalillo/Torrance County line to Old Route 66 (NM 333)

· NM 217 from Camino Yrisarri to I-40 center lane (mile post 10.6)

· NM 536 from NM 14 to Sandia Crest (mile post 13.3)

While the county is a governmental agency, it is important to remember that it is the people who make everything work. During the Thanksgiving snowstorm, the county’s mountain area senior road foreman was away on active duty serving overseas in the National Guard Reserves. His absence had an impact on snow removal efforts. Fortunately, his fellow road crew team members are stepping up in his absence. The road crews are making the necessary adjustments to ensure that we all keep moving forward to get the job done.

You might be interested in knowing that the county’s Public Works Operations and Maintenance Department is in the process of developing a new interactive map to highlight designated roads that are prioritized for snow removal. Constituents will be able to zoom in to specific areas of interest. Keep an eye out for future updates on this important new tool.

As we all prepare for the winter season, I humbly ask for your patience and consideration when the snowstorms arrive in the East Mountains. Remember, the BernCo road crews are prepared for the worst that Mother Nature has to offer and are willing to do what it takes to ensure that the roads are safe for travel so that we all can arrive home to our families.

Charlene E. Pyskoty, Bernalillo County Commissioner, District 5

‘Mayor Bassett I implore you to listen’

Another contentious council meeting in Edgewood, another tirade from our mayor. After his profanity and porn reference during the Nov. 20 meeting I didn’t think I could be more offended. I was wrong.

It is incumbent on public servants to take criticism from citizens gracefully and without retort. If they try to lash out at citizens, especially from the dais, it is an abuse of the power and influence that comes with their position. 

I have begun to face the “Comments from the Mayor” section of the meeting with dread. The hostility, unnecessary meanness and disrespect makes me break into a nervous sweat. Shortly after Mayor Bassett banged his gavel to resume the meeting following a short break, the tongue lashing began. After insulting his colleagues he then turned his ire to the public. One by two I listened as he attacked my friends and neighbors on a personal level. This began roughly 2.25 hours into the meeting. I found the conduct unbecoming our mayor, but would have chalked it up to another wild Wednesday night in Edgewood until he made a comment so out of line I was compelled to write this letter.

“Mr. Scrunch His Eyes.” This odd phrase was directed at a friend of mine. My friend has poor vision so he perhaps does occasionally scrunch his eyes. I have never noticed it. Not a comment that should come from the mouth of any adult or child, but I want the mayor and the public to know the back story. 

“Mr. Scrunch His Eyes” lost his vision while fighting for our freedom in the Viet Nam War. He is a courageous and decorated veteran, not to mention a brilliant, successful and kind man. He received a Purple Heart. Through the grace of God and medical intervention some of his vision was restored. I’m not sure how Mayor Bassett has served our country, but I am guessing he has no Purple Heart. He owes this gentleman and all of us a profound and humble apology. He needs to do better, learn from his mistakes and control his temper. We did not elect a bully; we expect a leader. I realize we are not likely to get a hero like my friend.

Equally disturbing is the mayor’s ability to literally pretend as though he does not hear that which he does not want to answer. Again, we are all adults, this is a public meeting, they are elected officials sitting up there on the dais to govern. Not ignore, not bully. The mayor’s lack of hearing seems to be selective, it only occurs when councilors Audrey Jaramillo or Sherry Abraham ask a question. In the last moments of December 4th’s long meeting Councilor Abraham asked a legitimate question I think we all want an answer to. She asked the mayor how much money has been spent thus far on the condemnation of Epcor? The Epcor issue where according the the mayor “no decision has been made.” How much of the town’s money has been spent on this non-decision? I’d ballpark it’s close to $200K. Mayor Bassett said nothing, not a yes or no, not even a “we’ll see,” acting as if the question had not been asked. Councilor Abraham was 100 percent ignored. “Anything else?” the Mayor asked before he sought a motion to adjourn. Granted the hour was late, but how can the Council govern with such a profound lack of civility and respect. Mayor Bassett I implore you to listen, to your colleagues, to your town, not only until the meeting is adjourned, but well beyond. 

Karen Kiser, Edgewood

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]