Tuesday, February 08, 2011

2/10: NM Congressional Delegation/Fed Agencies to Host Espanola Public Forum on Post-Storm Aid

The New Mexico congressional delegation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency will host a public forum this week in Española that will bring together federal agencies and nonprofits to discuss assistance available to eligible New Mexicans whose homes and businesses were affected by last week’s storm.

The public forum will take place from 10 AM-Noon on Thursday, February 10, at Mission Museum, 1 Calle de los Españoles, Española. A variety of federal agencies and New Mexico nonprofits have been invited, including:

  • USDA-Rural Development
  • USDA-Farm Services Agency
  • U.S. Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Housing Assistance Council

Please pass this info on to folks in need and urge them to do the same.

February 8, 2011 at 06:50 PM in Energy, Events, NM Congressional Delegation, Rural Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sen. Carlos Cisneros Requests Immediate Investigation Into Gas Outage by AG

SCISN Questa Senator Carlos Cisneros (D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, Taos-6) has hand-delivered a letter to New Mexico Attorney General, Gary King, asking him to conduct an immediate and full investigation into the natural gas outage that has left thousands of New Mexicans in the cold. Senator Cisneros called the outage, “a heartbreaking and dangerous crisis.”

Sen. Cisneros wants an immediate investigation into what led up to the outage that hit statewide. The Senator said Northern New Mexico was hit particularly hard, especially Taos County and Rio Arriba County. He said people in communities statewide including Bernalillo, Santa Ana Pueblo, Placitas, Alamogordo, Silver City, Tularosa, La Luz, Espanola, Santa Clara Pueblo, Okawy Owingeh Pueblo and San Ildefonso Pueblo have suffered.

“Families have been left in the cold and their water lines are frozen,” said Cisneros, who wants the AG to investigate how the Gas Company is going to reimburse citizens for their losses. “It is horrifying New Mexicans have endured bitterly cold nights without heat due to the outage,” Cisneros declared. The Senator also indicated he is just as concerned about the fairness and transparency of the New Mexico Gas Company’s suggested claims process, which he calls “lacking.” “I want to know what the New Mexico Gas Company is going to do to make the citizens of the affected areas whole again,” said Cisneros.

The Senator wants the AG to immediately assemble a task force of assistant attorneys general and investigators to make sure the claims process is fair. He also wants the AG to look into how New Mexico Gas Company determined the priority for relighting homes and commercial buildings, and what emergency preparations New Mexico Natural Gas Company took prior to the outage.

Today, Sen. Cisneros introduced Senate Memorial 30 requesting a task force to investigate how and why the natural gas outage happened and how to prevent it in the future. The Senate Corporations and Conservation Committees will hold a joint meeting to listen to citizens concerns and look into the outage and what’s being done.

February 8, 2011 at 03:23 PM in Energy, NM Legislature 2011, Rural Issues, Transparency | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Terry Brunner Guest Blog: New Mexico Poised to Benefit from Biofuels Efforts

TerryBrunner This is a guest blog by Terry Brunner, who serves as State Director of USDA Rural Development New Mexico.

The recent announcement that the Abenegoa ethanol plant will reopen in Portales, NM is a positive indicator that New Mexico is expanding its role in the production of biofuels. Abenegoa will use sorghum grown in the Eastern New Mexico region to produce ethanol fuel.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development-New Mexico shares the President’s vision for a revitalized rural economy that creates real opportunity for growth and prosperity that centers on our ability to add innovative technologies, open new markets for crops, and better utilize our natural resources. Our New Mexico rural communities, like Portales, are on the forefront of addressing their economic development by pursuing the potential of the biofuels industry.

Why Biofuels?
Why is there so much emphasis on biofuels production and how exactly does New Mexico fit into the picture?

Today’s energy markets can be volatile and our dependence on imported oil has increased. The United States Energy Information Administration estimates that by 2035, U.S. Energy consumption will have increased by another 50%. Thirty years ago, imports comprised 28% of our oil consumption -- now imports have risen to approximately 60%.

Congress recognized the risks associated with our dependency on imported oil and in 2007 enhanced our nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard with a goal of producing 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022 with 21 billion of those gallons generated from advanced biofuels. Today the United States produces approximately 12 billion gallons of ethanol biofuels and around 800 million gallons of biodiesel.

The U.S. is not alone in pursuing biofuels. Many nations see an increase in mandates for biofuels usage as a method to insulate their economies from volatile oil markets and to use cleaner energy. Some may doubt our capacity to meet the challenges of incorporating biofuels into our energy portfolio but it’s a challenge worth pursuing which could result in diversifying transportation energy sources, enhancing agricultural producers and reinvigorating our rural economies.

To meet our biofuels requirements we must strengthen the links in the production chain of organic matter into fuel. That entails increasing the number of biorefineries and expanding the cultivation of biofuel feed stocks, such as: corn, sorghum, wood and algae. Designing the highest quality fuel for the market requires constant technological innovation. As well, establishing distribution points and fueling stations are essential links in the chain.

Rural Development Biofuel Support in NM
USDA Rural Development is prepared to support the production of biofuels in a variety of ways. We offer incentives for new construction of biorefineries or conversion of traditional refineries into biorefineries. We offer payments to the biofuels producer and much-needed research and development funding into biofuels technologies. USDA Rural Development offers financial assistance to businesses for the installation of blender fuel pumps at local service stations.

New Mexico could contribute substantially to our Nation’s production of biofuels. From a resources standpoint, New Mexico offers piñon and juniper trees that have been removed as part of forest health efforts that could be used as a biofuels feedstock. Sorghum is the third largest crop produced by New Mexico farmers and can be converted to ethanol.

Our vast underground reserves of brackish water provide the potential medium for the cultivation of algae for conversion into fuel. USDA Rural Development recently provided a $50 million loan guarantee to Sapphire Energy for the creation of an algae-based biofuels plant in Columbus, NM.

Much of the transportation of biofuels from the Midwest to the West Coast travels directly through New Mexico by rail or on Interstate 40. That puts our state in the position of tapping directly into the biofuels distribution routes.

Finally, we are all well aware of our state’s historical capacity to offer groundbreaking research in developing state-of-the-art technology. The creation of biofuels for tomorrow’s markets requires advanced technical research and development. Our National Laboratories, higher education institutions and private sector certainly can offer their resources to the development of advanced biofuels.

New Mexico’s combination of natural resources, transportation infrastructure and technological know-how puts our State in a great strategic position to pursue the development of a biofuels economy. Whether we are talking about communities like Columbus or Portales; our rural communities stand to benefit from an emerging biofuels and renewable energy economy and USDA Rural Development is certainly ready to support their efforts.

President Barack Obama appointed Terry Brunner New Mexico State Director for USDA Rural Development on September 9, 2009.

If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

January 24, 2011 at 05:25 PM in Agriculture, Energy, Environment, Rural Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Poll: Rural New Mexicans Strongly Support Environmental Protections

New Mexico voters strongly support environmental safeguards that protect public health, land, air and water -- according to a poll and analysis released today. The poll, conducted by Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund (CVNMEF), found that 7 out of 10 rural New Mexico voters polled support stronger environmental safeguards. Furthermore, the majority of voters polled support efforts to reduce carbon pollution.

“All New Mexicans have a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water, said Sandy Buffett, Executive Director of CVNM Education Fund, in a written statement. “It is clear that voters in rural New Mexico support common-sense environmental safeguards to protect our families for generations to come.”

Here's a list of key findings from the 700-person survey of seven rural counties conducted September 13 – 19, 2010.

  • 77% of voters polled support adopting stronger regulations to protect our drinking water and soil from contamination.
  • 76% of voters polled support increasing penalties on polluters for contaminating our air or water.
  • 75% of voters polled support allowing the state to deny or revoke permits for polluters with bad environmental records.
  • 59% of voters polled support having the United States reduce carbon pollution. Additionally, the majority of voters polled support regional (53%) and state-level (51%) efforts to reduce carbon pollution. 61% of those polled agreed with the following statement: “I believe New Mexico can reduce global warming pollution and expand jobs and economic prosperity at the same time.”
  • When asked what conservation or environmental concerns voters were most concerned about, drought (69%), drinking water pollution (59%), and contamination of soil and water (57%) topped the list.

The poll was conducted from September 13th, 2010 to September 19th, 2010 by Third Eye Strategies of 700 registered voters in the following counties in New Mexico: McKinley, Mora, Cibola, San Miguel, Rio Arriba, Grant and Luna. The survey has a margin of error of ± 3.7 percent. To view the full poll and the poll analysis, visit www.CVNMEF.org.

December 22, 2010 at 11:42 AM in Environment, Polling, Rural Issues, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

USDA Awards Funds to Close the Gap in Rural Food Distribution in New Mexico

Yesterday, USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner was in El Morro, New Mexico to present a certificate of funding obligation to the Farm to Table non-profit organization of Santa Fe. The funding will be used by Farm to Table to help develop a better strategy to improve the delivery of food to small rural communities in New Mexico. The ceremony was held in El Moro to showcase the problem of food delivery to small rural communities in the state.

The $142,382 Rural Community Development Grant (RCDG) will be used by Farm to Table develop a training curriculum on cooperative development and management of food by cooperatives and stores around the state. The end result will see a better delivery of food to the smallest of communities in New Mexico.

During the presentation Brunner said, “Many people in New Mexico do not realize that the access to food in small communities is a major issue. It’s reported that one third of the counties in this state have low food access and New Mexico is the second most food insecure state in the nation.” Brunner added, “This funding from USDA will help Farm to Table work with local communities to address their food access issues.”

Farm to Table will develop guidelines to address three crucial challenges facing the delivery of food to small rural communities. The main challenges that face these communities include meat processing infrastructure, food safety and food storage/transportation.

The grant money will be used to contract professional services, including legal services to address specific needs and also on-site trainings tailored to the needs of each individual cooperative/mutually-owned business’s board of directors and management.

USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development, and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at any local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov.

November 23, 2010 at 10:24 AM in Agriculture, Food and Drink, Rural Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 08, 2010

11/16: Public Hearing in Albuquerque with FCC Comissioner Copps on Future of the Internet

The Internet’s future will be debated on November 16 in Albuquerque at a public hearing featuring Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Michael Copps and community leaders. The hearing coincides with the National Congress of American Indians' Annual Convention and is a valuable opportunity for Native Americans, Latinos and people from all of New Mexico’s diverse communities to share their ideas, experiences and concerns about Internet access and freedom. It's a rare chance for members of the public to participate in this important debate and to make their voices heard.

  • WHAT: Public Hearing on the Future of the Internet
  • DATE: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
  • TIME: 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
  • LOCATION: National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th Street SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

The free event is co-hosted by Free Press, the Center for Media Justice and the Media Literacy Project. For more information visit www.savetheinternet.com/ABQhearing. Click to RSVP. Everyone interested in expanding Internet access as well as ensuring that the Internet continues to serve the public and not just big media conglomerates is encourage to attend and participate.

This is a critical time in the debate over the future of the Internet in America. Nearly 24 million Americans -- and 50.3 percent of New Mexico households -- lack access to broadband.

“The Internet is an essential tool for participating in society and politics,” said Andrea Quijada, executive director of the Media Literacy Project. “No community should be left behind. American Indians and Latinos, especially those who live in rural areas, need the Internet to advocate for themselves, access government services and get important educational and health information. The Internet means opportunity, and we can’t deny opportunity to people because they can’t afford the Internet or don’t have access to it.”

Not only do communities need affordable broadband service, but they need to be able to choose where they go and what they see on the Web without interference from online gatekeepers.

“The location and timing could not be more perfect for this public hearing,” said Amalia Deloney, grassroots policy director for the Center for Media Justice. “We've heard from many Native and Latino communities about the challenges they face with access, and the vital role an open Internet plays in their lives. Holding this meeting during NCAI's annual conference ensures that these voices can be part of the conversation and that the FCC hears from community members, not just corporate lobbyists.”

The FCC is currently crafting the rules and regulations that will shape the future of the Internet. Phone and cable companies are flooding Washington with money and lobbyists, but the general public has been largely excluded from the debate.

“Decisions are being made inside the Beltway that affect people outside it, in the real world, and it is crucial that the FCC hears from people about the importance of protecting the open Internet,” said Misty Perez Truedson of Free Press. “As more and more people are getting online, we need the FCC to make sure that everyone has access to the same open Internet.”

Senator Tom Udall Weighs In
Last month, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) wrote an article for Politico urging the FCC to preserve an open Internet and reassert its authority over broadband access by "partially reclassifying Internet communications as a 'telecommunications service' under Title II of the Communications Act." He said, in part:

This openness to a constant stream of innovations and new services is a defining feature of the Internet. At its core, the principle of “network neutrality” is freedom to access any legal, online content without restrictions from Internet service providers. In our country, we have had the luxury to take this virtually limitless power for granted — despite the fact that it is not guaranteed by law.

November 8, 2010 at 09:43 AM in Broadband, Events, Hispanic Issues, Native Americans, Regulation, Rural Issues, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Leaders from Small Communities Around New Mexico Endorse Diane Denish

Denish a recent event with her two youngest phone bankers

Impressive: Nearly 100 local community leaders at the city, town and county level from around New Mexico have endorsed Diane Denish for governor. Why? Obviously because they have faith in Diane's understanding of New Mexico's diverse communities, the needs of folks who live, work and own small businesses around the state and her proven abilities to bring people together in collaboration to get problems solved with practical, common-sense solutions.

"I am honored to have received so much support from around the state," Denish said in a statement. "People in smaller communities want a governor who is on their side -- someone who understands the needs of rural New Mexico and will fight for small towns every day. While Susana Martinez has been traveling the country attending fancy events with the rich and powerful in New York and Texas, I have had my feet firmly planted in New Mexico."

The shocking fact is that in the final weeks of the campaign, Martinez has been hiding from New Mexicans -- going more than a week without a single public appearance in the state! Susana knows that the less ordinary people see of her, the better. Cardboard candidates like Martinez, propped up by outside money and repetitive right-wing talking points, are always in danger of folks seeing who they really are. They can win only if their masks stay intact.

Diane, on the other hand, has spent her time crisscrossing the state, visiting towns and villages in the north and the south, and making herself available to questions and comments all along the way.

“Diane shows care and concern for all parts of the state including rural areas. She's always ready and willing to listen,” said Bayard Mayor Charles Kelly.

Here's a list of current and former small-community officials who endorsed Diane for Governor:

  • Darren DeYapp, Chama City Councilor, Rio Arriba County
  • Helen Kain-Salazar, Española City Councilor, Rio Arriba County
  • Diane Moore, Las Vegas City Councilor, San Miguel County
  • Heather E. Velasquez, Española City Clerk, Rio Arriba County
  • Amy Quintana, Taos City Councilor, Taos County
  • Rosemary Romero, Santa Fe City Councilor, Santa Fe County
  • Denis Tim-Salazar, Española City Councilor, Rio Arriba County
  • Angela K. Romero, Mora County Assessor, Mora County
  • Joanne E. Padilla-Salas, Mora County Clerk, Mora County
  • Mike Anaya, Santa Fe County Commissioner, Santa Fe County
  • Daniel Barrone, Taos County Commissioner, Taos County
  • Andrew D. Chavez, Taos County Commissioner, Taos County
  • Kathy Holian, Santa Fe County Commissioner, Santa Fe
  • Harry Montoya, Santa Fe County Commissioner, Santa Fe
  • Alfredo Montoya, Rio Arriba County Commissioner, Rio Arriba County
  • Albert Padilla, Mora County Commissioner, Mora County
  • Liz Stefanics, Santa Fe County Commissioner, Santa Fe County
  • Virginia Vigil, Santa Fe County Commissioner, Santa Fe County
  • Larry Sanchez, Taos County Commissioner, Taos County
  • Ida E. Mora, Mora County Treasurer, Mora County
  • Hugh H. Ley, Former San Miguel County Commissioner, San Miguel County
  • Debbie Jaramillo, Former Mayor Santa Fe, Santa Fe County
  • Joseph Maestas, Former Mayor Espanola, Rio Arriba County
  • Stephanie V. Gonzales, Former Secretary of State Santa Fe, Santa Fe County
  • Mayor Arthur Arguello, Wagon Mound, Mora County
  • Mayor Linda Calhoun, Red River, Taos County
  • Mayor Richard Cordova, Eagle Nest, Colfax County
  • Mayor Darren Cordova, Taos, Taos County
  • -Mayor David Coss, Santa Fe, Santa Fe County
  • Mayor Danny Cruz, Springer, Colfax County
  • Mayor Jesse James Johnson, Raton, Colfax County
  • Mayor Neal King, Taos Ski Valley, Taos County
  • Mayor Alice Lucero, Española, Rio Arriba County
  • Mayor Karla Kay Pinkston, Maxwell, Colfax County
  • Mayor Tony J. Roybal, Pecos, San Miguel County
  • Mayor Archie J. Vigil, Chama, Rio Arriba County
  • Mayor Pro-Tem/City Councilor Rebecca Wurtzburger, Santa Fe, Santa Fe County
  • Paula Garcia, Mora County Chairperson/County Commissioner Elect District 1, Mora, Mora County
  • John Olivas, Mora County Commission Elect District 2, Mora, Mora County
  • Margaret Tapia, President, Pojoaque Valley School Board of Education, Pojoaque, Santa Fe County
  • Linda Siegle, Santa Fe Community College Board Trustee, Santa Fe, Santa Fe County
  • Sheriff Joe Mascarenas, Española, Rio Arriba County
  • Joe Ferguson, Alamogordo City Commissioner, Otero County
  • Nathan Small, Las Cruces City Councilor, Doña Ana County
  • Scott A. Krahling, County Commissioner, Doña Ana County
  • Karen Perez, Doña Ana County Commissioner, Doña Ana County
  • Former Mayor Steve Brockett, Alamogordo, Otero County
  • Mayor Nora Barraza, Mesilla, Doña Ana County
  • Mayor Ravi Bhasker, Socorro, Socorro County
  • Mayor Ray. S. Cordova, Tularosa, Otero County
  • Mayor Edward Encinas, Hurley, Grant County
  • Mayor Eddie S. Espinoza, Columbus, Luna County
  • Mayor Ramon Gonzales, Anthony, Doña Ana County
  • Mayor Sammy Hammons, Capitan, Lincoln County
  • Mayor Charles L. Kelly, Bayard, Grant County
  • Mayor Eunice Kent, Elephant Butte, Sierra County
  • Mayor James Marshall, Silver City, Grant County
  • Mayor Ken Miyagishima, Las Cruces, Doña Ana County
  • Mayor Lori Montgomery, Truth or Consequences, Sierra County
  • Mayor Judd L. Nordyke, Hatch, Doña Ana County
  • Mayor Martin Resendiz, Sunland Park, Doña Ana County
  • Mayor Ysidro Salazar, Lake Arthur, Chaves County
  • Mayor Pro Tem/City Councilor Sharon Thomas, Las Cruces, Doña Ana County
  • Trustee Betty Gonzales, Anthony, Doña Ana County
  • Trustee Diana Murillo, Anthony, Doña Ana County
  • Trustee Jim Scott, Anthony, Doña Ana County
  • Robert "Bobby" Ortiz, Moriarty City Councilor, Torrance County
  • John E. Padilla, Deputy Fire Marshal, Bernalillo County
  • Mel Eisenstadt, Ph.D, Former Corrales Municipal Judge, Sandoval County
  • Ely Daymon, Former County Commissioner, Sandoval County
  • Pauline Eisenstadt, Former state representative and senator, Sandoval County
  • Kandy Cordova, Former Representative, Valencia County
  • Mayor Wayne Ake, Bosque Farms, Valencia County
  • Mayor Ted Hart, Moriarty, Torrance County
  • Mayor Rudy Jaramillo, Belen, Valencia County
  • Mayor Thomas E. Swisstack, Rio Rancho, Sandoval County
  • Mayor Jack Torres, Bernalillo, Sandoval County
  • R. David Pederson, Former State Representative - District 5/City Manager and City Attorney for Gallup
  • Mayor Gayla Brumfield, Clovis, Curry County
  • Mayor Albert E. Campos, Jr., Santa Rosa, Guadalupe County
  • Mayor Kris King, Causey, Roosevelt County
  • Mayor Sharon King, Portales, Roosevelt County
  • Mayor Paul R. Madrid, Vaughn, Guadalupe County
  • Mayor Harry H. Mendoza, Gallup, McKinley County
  • Mayor Joe Murrietta, Grants, Cibola County
  • Mayor Tom Ortega, Milan, Cibola County
  • Patty Bushee, Santa Fe City Councilor, Santa Fe County
  • Chris Calvert, Santa Fe City Councilor, Santa Fe County

Click to see a list of the organizations and groups that have endorsed Diane Denish.

October 21, 2010 at 01:19 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Diane Denish, Rural Issues, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Terry Brunner Guest Blog: 2010 Saw Record Funding for USDA Rural Development Projects

TerryBrunner This is a guest blog by Terry Brunner, who is the State Director for USDA Rural Development New Mexico.

Many facets of our nation’s economy need strengthening as we make our way through the economic recovery -- one of them is infrastructure. Improvements to our public systems, services, and facilities play a vital role in increasing economic activity.

During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development New Mexico office provided $384 million in infrastructure and business investments across New Mexico through our programs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) played a large role in tripling our funding over previous years.

USDA investments made in wastewater treatment facilities, libraries, broadband and electric infrastructure (among other projects) provided immediate jobs in construction and some permanent positions. In addition to creating jobs, these investments help ensure the long-term sustainability of New Mexico communities by providing the infrastructure needed to improve our economy. Federal funding becomes increasingly more important as state and local governments contend with tight budgets.

Water and Wastewater
This fiscal year, USDA provided $54 million in funding for 28 clean drinking water systems and wastewater treatment projects in New Mexico. Some of these projects were small projects like the $56,000 grant provided to the Duranes y Gavilan water system in Rio Arriba County. Some were much larger, like the $26 million grant and loan provided to the Pueblo of Laguna. Imagine how life will change for Laguna Pueblo residents who lack water service for days or weeks and watch their water system’s pipes burst an average of four times every day.

Broadband infrastructure is crucial to the survival of our communities. USDA Rural Development provided a $9.6 million ARRA loan and grant to Penasco Valley Telecom in Artesia, NM. With these funds, broadband service will be extended to farms, ranches and small businesses in rural Southeast New Mexico that currently do not have service. Farming and ranching are more than ever high tech activities and access to the latest information on prices, transportation, weather and other important data provided through the internet is crucial to the success of the agricultural community and their efforts to remain competitive internationally.

Home Loans
Three and a half years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Yokom and their two young sons moved into a motor home after Mr. Yokom suffered a workplace injury which cost him his job in California. As they drove around the Southwest looking for a place to call home, they settled in Los Lunas, NM. The Yokoms qualified for and received a home loan from USDA to purchase a three bedroom home and 1/4 acre of land in Los Lunas. Since moving in, they’ve quickly become part of the fabric of that community -- the boys are involved in Cub Scouts and the family is getting to know their new neighbors. In FY ’10, USDA Rural Development helped more than 11,000 New Mexico families like the Yokoms find a place to call home and make a living.

Investments in NM Businesses
USDA Rural Development also funds investments in New Mexico businesses. For example, we provided a $12,500 grant to Milk and Honey, LLC in Santa Fe, NM. They used the funds to improve the marketing and packaging of their soaps and lotions. The owner of this local business, Daven Lee, received strong responses to her growing product line from local and regional retailers. She hopes that with an increase in orders, she will be adding staff as soon as this winter.

Economic Recovery
These are just a few examples of USDA Rural Development’s efforts in New Mexico during 2010. We not only helped foster individual businesses and helped people find a place to live, but we made critical infrastructure investments that hopefully lay the foundation for the future success and economic recovery of New Mexico’s communities.

President Barack Obama appointed Terry Brunner New Mexico State Director for USDA Rural Development on September 9, 2009.

This is a guest blog by Terry Brunner. We've previously posted a number of stories about the activities of USDA Rural Development. You can see most of them here.

If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

October 20, 2010 at 02:42 PM in Agriculture, Broadband, Business, Economy, Populism, Energy, Guest Blogger, Housing, Native Americans, Obama Administration, Rural Issues, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Acoma Pueblo Community Center Funded by ARRA-Rural Development Now Open

TerryBrunner USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner (right) joined Acoma Pueblo Governor Chandler Sanchez and Congressman Harry Teague in dedicating Acoma’s new $13.1-million community building yesterday. The $12,609,600 loan and $500,000 grant to construct the new facility were made possible through funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

According to a statement released by Rural Development, the project is one of the largest ARRA-funded community facilities projects in the State of New Mexico. The funding is administered by USDA Rural Development’s Community Facility Program, which provides rural communities financing for these types of community buildings.

The 50,000-square-foot single story facility will house the Acoma Pueblo tribal administration offices and a new council chamber. The remainder of the building will include a health office and wellness facilities, a much needed gymnasium and a gathering place for community-wide functions. The new community center will serve the 5,000 Acoma Pueblo residents as well as surrounding tribes, communities and small villages covering many square miles of sparsely populated area.

During the dedication ceremonies, Brunner said, “USDA Rural Development is proud to be a partner in the construction of this facility. Recovery Act funds helped make this necessary project a reality. The new community center will provide a central location for a wide range of services needed by the residents of the Pueblo of Acoma.”

During a tour of the building, Brunner was shown the new health offices and wellness center. It was explained that this portion of the new facility is especially important to the residents of Acoma Pueblo because of the high incidence of diabetes and other ailments. The residents will now be able to visit one location for medical treatment which will lead to a healthier way of life.

USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development, and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at any local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site.

August 25, 2010 at 11:22 AM in Economy, Populism, Healthcare, Obama Administration, Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Rural Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Udall & Bingaman Host NM Broadband Summit; $73M in Grants, Loans Announced

Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman today co-hosted a New Mexico Broadband & Smart Grid Summit in Moriarty that featured the announcement of more than $73 million in grants and awards to expand broadband services to rural, underserved areas of New Mexico.

More than 300 people attended the summit at the Moriarty Civic Center, according to a statement released by the Senators. The summit included panel sessions featuring experts on the challenges and opportunities facing New Mexico as it works to overcome the digital divide and harness broadband technologies to promote economic growth, energy independence and health care delivery. Udall led the first panel session, titled “Wiring New Mexico for the Future;” while Bingaman led the second panel, titled “Bringing Broadband to Energy -- Smart Grid in New Mexico.”

Funding for Taos, Colfax, Rio Arriba Counties
Jonathan Adelstein, administrator of the Rural Electricity Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), also gave a keynote address in which he announced $63.8 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for a broadband infrastructure project that will deliver affordable broadband service to 29 communities in rural, underserved areas of Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba counties. Kit Carson Electric Cooperative will receive a $44 million grant and a $19 million loan – for a total of $63.8 million – to create the 2,400-mile broadband network, which will connect approximately 20,500 households, 3,600 businesses, 183 critical community institutions and two Native American Pueblos.

“This project will give rural New Mexico residents access to the broadband they need to attract new businesses, jobs, health care and educational opportunities,” Adelstein said. “It will enable Kit Carson to deploy cutting edge smart grid technology that will help cut electric bills and permit sustainable energy development. The Obama Administration understands that bringing broadband to rural New Mexico will give families, businesses and key anchor institutions --- such as schools, libraries and first responders --service that is second to none. This project will create immediate jobs building out the network, and the completed system will provide a platform for economic growth in Northern New Mexico for years to come.”

Additional Funding for Northern NM
Also at the summit, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Deputy Administrator Anna M. Gomez announced a separate, $10.6 million ARRA grant to the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District’s REDI Net project, which will make high-quality broadband services more affordable and accessible to residents, businesses, and public institutions in Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties, northern Santa Fe and five Native American tribal communities.

“Today was a big day for New Mexico,” Udall said. “Not only did we bring experts from across the spectrum together to discuss the challenges our state faces in bridging the digital divide, but we also took an important step forward in connecting our rural areas with the announcement of more than $73 million in grants and loans. Broadband creates jobs. Broadband connects communities. That’s what this summit is about today.”

"New Mexico is poised to be a leader in expanding broadband access and the use of ‘smart grid’ technology to reduce consumers' utility bills, and I believe the summit will help make that a reality," Bingaman said. "The grants announced today show that the federal government can be a very important partner in meeting our state's broadband and smart grid needs."

Congressman Ben Ray Luján also lauded today's recovery announcement for expanded broadband into the northern area of his district.

“I am proud to see Recovery funds supporting much-needed broadband in Northern New Mexico. I commend REDI Net for investing in our communities and connecting our families and small businesses to the world,” Luján said.

Governor Bill Richardson issued a statement saying, “This is a tremendous boost for New Mexico, and especially for our rural residents that often lack access to affordable and high-quality broadband services. This project will create jobs and lead to better opportunities in education and economic development.”

Panelists for Udall’s discussion of “Wiring New Mexico for the Future” included: Dr. Dale Alverson, Director of the Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research at the University of New Mexico; John Badal, Chief Executive Officer of Sacred Wind Communications; Sharon Gillett, Wireline Competition Bureau Chief for the Federal Communications Commission; Dr. Susan Oberlander, State Librarian, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, and Jessica Zufolo, Deputy Administrator, Rural Utility Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Panelists for Bingaman’s discussion of “Bringing Broadband to Energy – Smart Grid in New Mexico” included: Dr. Tom Bowles, Science Advisor for Governor Bill Richardson; Suedeen Kelly, Partner at Patton Boggs LLP; Eric Lightner, Director of the Federal Smart Grid Task Force at the U.S. Department of Energy; Dr. Daniel López, President of New Mexico Tech; Dr. Terry Michalske, Director of Energy and Security Systems at Sandia National Laboratories; and Luis Reyes, Chief Executive Officer of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative.

August 16, 2010 at 05:12 PM in Broadband, Economy, Populism, Gov. Bill Richardson, Obama Administration, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rural Issues, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

8/10: Rural Development, White House Host Fatherhood Forum at UNM-Valencia Campus

Sounds like a fascinating opportunity. On Tuesday, August 10, the U.S. Department of Agriculture New Mexico Office of Rural Development, the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the New Mexico Alliance for Fathers and Families will host a New Mexico Fatherhood Forum. The event is New Mexico’s response to President Obama’s call to create a national movement on the positive engagement of fathers.

The Fatherhood Forum will take place at the University of New Mexico–Valencia Campus located between Los Lunas and Belen from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. See details below.

The event -- Cultivating a Culture of Vibrant Father Engagement: New Perspectives from Rural America -- will feature a series of events including a community forum on fatherhood open to the public, according to a statement released about the event. The newly formed New Mexico Alliance for Fathers and Families is co-hosting the event with the support of the New Mexico Congressional delegation, Governor Bill Richardson, Lt. Governor Diane Denish and a number of leading State officials.

Last year, President Obama launched a national conversation on fatherhood and personal responsibility. Members of his administration reached out across the country to hear from fathers and their families about the challenges they face and the community-based solutions available for managing the issue of absentee fathers and building strong families.

The public forum will feature a panel of seven participants who will speak from their personal and professional experiences about key fatherhood issues -- calling attention to the support systems and policies that have been beneficial to them and to those that are missing and needed.

In keeping with the theme of “new perspectives from rural America,” the forum will also highlight New Mexico’s agrarian-based cultures. Rooted in the traditions of rural life and the reverence for family, these cultures offer vivid, enduring models for engaged fathers and healthy, vital communities that can be replicated in regions throughout the nation.

What: Cultivating a Culture of Vibrant Father Engagement: New Perspectives from Rural America – a community forum on fatherhood and family

When: Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Where: UNM–Valencia Campus, 280 La Entrada Blvd., Los Lunas, New Mexico Student Community Center -- located on the most southeastern part of campus

Cost: Free and open to the public. Registration, light refreshments and Pueblo drumming begin at 3:00 PM. (To expedite check-in, participants may pre-register on-line here)

August 3, 2010 at 12:55 PM in Children and Families, Faith Community, Obama Administration, Rural Issues | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Picuris Pueblo to Replace Outdated Wastewater Treatment System With Funding From USDA Rural Development and IHS

USDA State Dir. Terry Brunner; Amadeo Shije, Vice Chair, All Indian Pueblo Council; Jessica Zufolo, Deputy Administrator Rural Utilities Service (Washington, D.C.); All Indian Pueblo Council Chair Joe Garcia; Picuris Pueblo Gov. Manuel Archuleta; Max Zuni, Lt. Gov. Isleta Pueblo.

USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner was joined yesterday by Jessica Zufolo, Deputy Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service from Washington, D.C., at Picuris Pueblo, New Mexico to celebrate the construction of a new wastewater system for that small northern New Mexico community. This is the kind of government-supported project that provides much-needed improvements for rural residents, but doesn't get enough attention in the media. It's a great example of communities being empowered to solve their problems with targeted government assistance.

The infrastructure project will cost $947,000 to complete, with $864,434 of that amount coming from USDA Rural Development’s Community Program’s Native American set-aside program, according to Rural Development's office. The rest of the financing, in the amount of $82,566, is coming from the Indian Health Service through an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) grant.

To celebrate the replacement of the old wastewater system, Mr. Brunner and Ms. Jessica Zufolo joined Picuris Pueblo Governor Manuel Archuleta in a ceremonial groundbreaking event to celebrate the construction of the new wastewater system. The event was held yesterday afternoon at the “old fishing pond” just outside of the Picuris Pueblo main village.

During the celebration, Brunner told Picuris Pueblo Governor Manuel Archuleta, “This project demonstrates this administration’s commitment to rural communities. The infrastructure enhancement will significantly improve the health and quality of life for the Picuris Pueblo residents."

The actual construction of the waste water system began earlier this week and is expected to take about four months to complete. When finished, the entire village at Picuris Pueblo will have new sewer service, including new lines and containment and treatment facilities.

The USDA Rural Development Community Program provides funds to rural communities of less than 10,000 people for similar water and wastewater projects. The goal of the Community Program and its financing of modern wastewater delivery and treatment systems is to target federal investment to rural communities to ensure there is safe drinking water in their homes and that the water table and supply is clean and healthy.

USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development, and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at any local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov.

July 2, 2010 at 11:28 AM in Environment, Government, Native Americans, Rural Issues, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)