‘Scared at the cavalier attitude of people’

A “word to the wise.” In the coming weeks I fully expect an explosion of this COVID-19 Virus in the East Mountain area. The fact is that people in the area are not covering their faces. I have observed only about 50% of store employees and 10% of the customers in Moriarty stores wearing any kind of masks. I have two autoimmune conditions, so I’m concerned for my health. As my mask protects them, I’d like it to go both ways. To be honest, I’m getting scared at the cavalier attitude of people in this area. I also doubt that the Governor is aware of how well, or not well, her recommendations are being followed. It seems like folks out here think they are immune, or believe it won’t show up out here in the countryside. But I have followed the spread of this and it seems insidious. It will show up here. I just wish I could stay home and hide for the next few months.

Daniel Nordstrom, Torrance County



On Torrance County economic development

As mentioned previously, as county commissioner representing Torrance County’s District 3, I would like to take the opportunity to briefly inform the public regarding various issues that are of importance and interest. The third issue I would like to reference is economic development. I plan to address renewable energy, water, and agriculture in a subsequent letter and wish to focus here upon planning efforts in our urban economies, namely our municipalities and land grants. I will elaborate on two separate projects that local government has engaged in to support economic development planning in southern Torrance County.

Early on, I realized that before any projects could get underway or coordinated, goals and strategic milestones needed to be identified. Having brought the matter to the attention of the governing bodies of the communities involved, an ad hoc regional coalition was formed with the intent of building a strategic vision for southern Torrance County. Having an educational background in community and regional planning, it is necessary that communities identify goals for themselves and that any plan be a self-empowering document that allows communities the opportunity to buy-in and the basic freedom to choose their priorities. Therefore, I felt that the County could act as a facilitator and work with a contractor to build plans for each of the municipal and land grant communities in southern Torrance County, namely, Estancia, Willard, Mountainair, Encino, Tajique, Torreón, Manzano, and a special section about the Torrance County Fairgrounds. After lengthy discussions and a rigorous and time-consuming application and procurement process, the County received a state grant for $50,000 to complete the plan and contracted with a planner to carry out the scope of work, which is available for public view on the County website. I am pleased to report that the County continues to work on the plan and looks forward to its completion during 2020. Overall, the final version should account for public and private partnerships and investment, land use, commercial and industry stock, as well as social, recreational, arts, and cultural development.

The second County effort regarding economic development is the formation of the Estancia Valley Heritage Center Committee and the allocation of state and local funding to begin a feasibility study and layout plan. The County Commission has appointed a committee made up of municipal and land grant representatives to work on this regional economic development stratagem. It is important to note that the municipalities and land grant representatives were each nominated by their respective governing bodies so that regional buy-in is ensured and each community’s voice is respected and given maximum opportunity to participate. Also of interest is that the project features a wide-ranging regional partnership with regards to funding in that the County has dedicated $10,000 from Wind PILT funds and the State Legislature has contributed capital outlay funds in the amount of $55,000 by way of an appropriation made to the Manzano Land Grant, who generously requested the funds on behalf of the committee upon which they have a representative member. We hope to begin the planning effort during the latter half of 2020. In a nutshell, the Estancia Valley is well-situated to be the hub of an expanding valley-wide tourism industry that would capitalize on the historical and cultural resources of the Valley and integrate a regional economic system that maximizes the geographic and economic capabilities of the communities involved. The net result of the effort would be a fusion of regional assets into a system that would allow communities to specialize in capabilities of their own determination and result in high rates of return throughout the calendar year by attracting visitors to a wide range of activities over a large geographic area. It is intended that the Estancia Valley Heritage Center be used as the cornerstone of an Estancia Valley-wide regional marketing system that is promoted and offered to visitors as a multi-day experience. Furthermore, the level of immersion of communities in the project is to be self-determined and the idea is for communities to influence how visitors visit the Estancia Valley. Those wishing to learn more can visit the county website soon, as updates and details are soon to come in anticipation of the beginning of a feasibility study and concept plan.

Javier Sanchez, Torrance County