Sampling a week of small town news

And they say nothing ever happens in small towns.

Take a look at some of the goings-on just last week around New Mexico, gleaned from small-town newspapers across the state.

Down the in southwestern corner of the state, the Silver City Daily Press reported on how Gary Johnson came riding through town on his bicycle. He was participating in the Tour Divide race, which started in Alberta, Canada and ended at Antelope Wells in New Mexico’s Bootheel. The former governor and two-time presidential wannabe stopped at a Silver City bike shop after 34 days cycling a trail that roughly follows the Continental Divide.

Soon enough, he was back in the race, en route to the finish line 130 miles away.

Interestingly, that same day, a baby bobcat was found in the middle of a Silver City street. “I got him by the neck, the way momma cats do with their babies, and put him in a cloth grocery bag I had in the car,” human mama and animal lover Roxann Muñoz told the Daily Press.

A wildlife rescue official said she did the right thing, since it could have been run over in the busy intersection, and that fortunately the kitten didn’t bite or scratch anyone, since “bobcats are prone to both rabies and parvo.”

Good thing, also, that Gary Johnson didn’t run it over in his ride through town.

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Meanwhile, the Rio Grande Sun in Española took some of its front page space to recognize an unusual honor being bestowed on Patricia Lopez, who grew up in this northern New Mexico town. Lopez was one of four women who have been chosen by Brawny to represent strong women on the cover of its paper towel packages.

It’s part of a “Strength Has No Gender” campaign to celebrate accomplished women.

Lopez, a platform applications engineer at Intel Corp., has seven patents and more than 50 products under her belt. She lives in Colorado these days but grew up in the Española area, as the sixth of seven siblings.

Touting her “geek” accomplishments is part of a push by Brawny and its parent company, Georgia-Pacific, to encourage more girls in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields of study.

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Of course, not all small-town news is fun and uplifting. Some of it is tragic and disturbing, like the accident last week in Lincoln, where a 46-year-old woman, Margaret Cano-Sammis, who lives in nearby Capitan, was charged with vehicular homicide after she hit a pedestrian, a 78-year-old Texas woman, Beverly Bradburry Cline, on the side of Highway 380 as it goes through town.

According to a report in the Roswell Daily Record, state police say Cano-Sammis admitted to using medical marijuana and methadone earlier in the day, hence the charge of vehicular homicide.

I suppose that’s a cautionary tale for those who might use drugs, legally or no, before getting behind the wheel of a car—just as another nightmare, which occurred in Lovington, is for electricity and bathtubs.

It was a Saturday night when 14-year-old Madison Coe decided to relax in a nice bath and either plugged her cellphone in or simply grabbed her phone when it was already plugged in. Either way, the Lovington Leader reported, the result was fatal. Madison’s stepmother checked on her shortly after midnight and found the girl under water, with burn marks on her hand and the phone submerged.

How many times will that story be passed from parents to their kids, especially those who insist on taking their electronics into the bathroom with them? What a sad, sad story.

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A report out of Tijeras sheds a little brighter light on our electronic gadgets. It’s a story of how “Alexa” called 911.

The Independent, based in Edgewood, reported that it was during a domestic dispute when Amazon’s voice-activated device contacted the police. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office responded and eventually arrested Eduardo Barros, 28, who had allegedly been hitting and kicking his girlfriend. When deputies showed up, Barros barricaded himself inside the residence, with a gun, and a 6-hour standoff ensued.

The girlfriend and her child got out safely. Officers finally used a low-tech weapon in their arsenal—a police dog—to get the suspect into policy custody.

Alexa might be a true-blue hero of this tale if “she” were human. Nevertheless, the story went national, which just goes to show how small communities can still make big news.

And they say nothing ever happens in small towns.

Tom McDonald is founder and editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. He can be reached at tmcdonald@gazettemediaservices.com.