Peter Nieto, who has been the mayor of Mountainair for about a year, said the town has added to its police force, is working to start an ambulance service, and has a new gazebo in the works. 

The town’s police department now has five members, Nieto said, the most in “quite a while.”

Coming May 4 is the dedication of the police station to Stephen A. Sandlin, a Mountainair police officer who was murdered at the station in 1988, a crime that is yet unsolved, Nieto said.

Town Clerk Dennis Fulfer said, “The naming of the station was the right thing to do.”

Nieto added, “Honoring Stephen’s legacy is very important. This man gave his life to this town and we want to make sure he will always be remembered for that.”

“Our biggest struggle continues to be the ambulance service,” he said. “We need to get people trained to be EMTs,” he said, adding, “My goal is to get an ambulance service here in Mountainair. We would be the prime location … in Torrance County.”

He explained the state requires a trained driver as well as an EMT, so the town wants to cross-train its personnel to do either, including police officers.

For now, Mountainair recently entered into a mutual aid agreement with American Medical Response of Belen, Nieto said. The town is requesting capital outlay funds from the state to purchase a new ambulance.

After seeing the gazebo, Nieto said he was “just stunned. It’s huge. It’s massive.” He added, “The detail was beyond anything I thought was possible.”

He said LeRoy Simmons, a local blacksmith, has been working on it. Nieto said Simmons had been donating his work, but the town council thought it was right to pay him about $8,000.

Mike Kilkenny, Leroy Simmons and Mike Hays working on the Three Sisters Gazebo for Mountainair. Photo by Carole Glade.

“It’s going to be put up in our Monte Alto Plaza,” Nieto said. It’s part of the town’s renovation of a burn scar from a fire about a year ago in the center of town, part of its efforts to attract tourists.

“We have the National Park Service here,” he said, “Salinas National [Monument]. They operate three different ruins, Gran Quivira, Abó and Quarai ruins.”

A partially excavated archeological site, according to the National Park Service, “Gran Quivira was a vast city with multiple pueblos, and kivas” dating back over 700 years.

Abó was similarly a “a thriving community” in 1581 when the Spanish first arrived there, according to the National Park Service.

Nieto said, “That’s where we get our ‘Gateway to Ancient Cities,’” referring to the town’s slogan. He then added that there are often weddings held at Quarai.

The town also created a new position of Public Works Administrator, which will be on the town council’s Feb. 19 agenda for approval, according to Nieto. It will make the department more efficient and ensure compliance with regulations, he said.

council’s Feb. 19 agenda for approval, according to Nieto.