In search of Torrance County residents alive for Trinity test

Were you alive in 1945 and living in eastern or southern Torrance County? If so, do you remember the Trinity atomic bomb test in July of that year?

Have you, or any members of your family, suffered health problems that may have been caused by radioactive fallout from the Trinity test?

If so, I would like to hear your story.

I am an author and former geography professor at the University of New Hampshire. I have written three books. I am researching a book about the long-term health consequences of the Trinity test on area residents, including residents of Torrance County.

Residents were not warned about the test or told afterward about its dangers. Nobody was evacuated. Studies have found that radioactive fallout from the Trinity test likely increased rates of cancer, particularly cancer of the thyroid, in areas downwind from the test. Torrance County was downwind from the test.

A key issue I plan to explore is why residents of central New Mexico have been left out of U.S. government compensation programs for people whose health may have been affected by nuclear testing and uranium production. People living downwind from Nevada nuclear tests, for example, can receive compensation, but people who lived near the Trinity test cannot.

I would like to interview people who lived within 100 miles or so of the Trinity test site (34 miles west of Carrizozo) in 1945, remember the test, and feel their health or the health of family members may have been harmed by it. I am especially interested in interviewing people who lived in southern and eastern Torrance County (in and around Cedarvale, Duran, Encino, Progresso, or Willard), where radiation levels recorded after the test were unusually high.

If you are willing to speak with me about your experiences, or know people who might, please telephone me at 940-386-4143, email me at, or write me at 1005 Monte Vista Drive, Socorro, NM 87801.

Blake Gumprecht, Socorro


Against Constitutional Amendment No. 1

If you want to pay more on your utility bills, support NM Constitutional Amendment No. 1 in the upcoming election. If you want to retain the ability to appoint a Public Regulation Commission (PRC), that will represent your interests (i.e. retain lower gas and electric rates) then vote no on Constitutional Amendment No. 1.

The same New Mexico legislators and governor that passed the only law in the entire country which allows a utility to charge its customers for expenses that were not made in good faith (i.e., “imprudent expenditures”) are now trying to convince us that we should trust the governor (with legislative consultation) to appoint commissioners to the PRC.

They argue that we should not have politicians making regulatory decisions, but rather we should trust governmental politicians to appoint “qualified experts” to make those decisions. Would the governmental politicians appoint industry insiders as pay back for the campaign contributions that helped them get into office, or, will they appoint commissioners who will look out for your interests?

Don’t give up the right to look out for your own interests. Don’t give up the right to elect PRC commissioners who are accountable to you, commissioners who will ensure that your utility rates are just and reasonable.

This election vote to keep your money in your own pocket; vote no on Constitutional Amendment No. 1.

Tom Manning, Director

Citizens for Fair Rates and the Environment


Publication is ‘Libelous mud-slinging on steroids’

I am no stranger to the mud-slinging that goes on during an election year, but I am absolutely flabbergasted at the depths one candidate in particular has stooped to to smear not only his opponent, but a candidate who’s not even running against him. Gregg Schmedes, a GOP incumbent who is running for the State Senate in District 19 against Democrat Claudia Risner, a 29-year US Navy Veteran with considerable leadership experience, has definitely stooped to a record low point. His campaign published a “newspaper” masquerading as “news,” but which in reality is libelous mud-slinging on steroids.

In particular is an article showing a photo of Jessica Velasquez, Democratic State House candidate for District 22, posing with a volunteer. The photo is captioned, “Velasquez expresses comradeship with her campaign volunteer, wearing a Communist Party hat.” The Schmedes campaign suggests that Jessica Velasquez is a dreaded “communist sympathizer,” when in fact the volunteer happens to be a retiree of the U.S. State Department, and just happened to buy that hat as a souvenir in St. Petersburg, Russia, while serving on a diplomatic mission with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. It’s not unusual for U.S. State Department employees to travel to other countries in service of our country, and that particular volunteer has served several U.S. Presidents and Ambassadors alike.

For Mr. Schmedes to assume that the volunteer, a woman who has served our country for many years, is a “communist,” and that Jessica Velasquez is a communist sympathizer, is preposterous. This is an out-and-out lie, and yet another attempt by Schmedes to smear his opponents, to make up stories, to use scare tactics, and to spread misinformation, all for his personal political gain.

This isn’t the first time Schmedes has spread lies and misinformation, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The question we must ask ourselves is: Is this the kind of representation that we want in our State Senate? Do we want a person who attacks civil servants for serving their country and trying to make our community a better place? Do we want a Senator who prints a publication that consists of false claims and blatant lies about his political opponents? I sure don’t. More than anything we need honesty, transparency and adult leadership in New Mexico, not lies and deceit.

Carol Young, Edgewood


Candidate ‘created a fake newspaper’

As part of his campaign outreach literature, NM House District 22 State Representative Gregg Schmedes recently created a fake “newspaper.” Among the numerous and all too obviously desperate smears of his and Stephani Lord’s political opponents in that publication, especially defamatory is a photo he used of his former opponent (Jessica Velasquez) and her friend Darlene. Schmedes implied that a hat worn by Darlene defines her as a “Communist.”

Jessica’s friend just happened to be wearing a warm winter hat with a red star on it. To set the record straight, the wearer of said hat is an illustrious retiree of the U.S. Department of State, having served the United States of America at several posts in numerous foreign countries, sometimes even in life-threatening situations.

Darlene lived in a world where professionals worked to make our country a voice for justice and reason. She served with U.S. Presidents, Ambassadors, and other government officials on diplomatic missions all over the world. She happened to get the souvenir hat in St. Petersburg, Russia while serving on a diplomatic mission with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

It was probably not a wise choice for Representative Schmedes to defame this government servant. His public apology to Ms. Darlene would be an appropriate course of action at this time.

E. Vinogradov, Edgewood

W. Singer, Cedar Crest


Another view on hunting and trapping

Regarding The Independent’s article about the little boy who likes to hunt and trap, (“8-year-old boy passionate about hunting, conservation, all things outdoors,” Oct. 23-29).

Doesn’t it ever dawn on the trapper that the bobcat who is trapped just because it’s “a fun thing to do” may be a mother with hungry babies waiting for her return? Imagine the fear and stress of that defenseless animal trying to free herself.

For an animal who is shot but not killed outright, imagine what it must be like for a bullet to penetrate deep into its flesh with the animal having to live with the pain and infection until it eventually dies.

If people want to go out into the woods and enjoy hiking, bonding, nature, and the fresh air, etc., maybe they could think up a game among themselves that wouldn’t involve hurting animals or anyone else. They could think up a game that would be fun and wouldn’t cause harm to anyone. They could still enjoy the bonding, the hiking, nature, and the fresh air, etc.

Judy Crane, Tijeras