NM Nuclear Activists Gather to Mark WIPP Explosion Anniversary

Today: Nuclear activists mark WIPP explosion anniversary

Nuclear activists are scheduled to gather at the Roundhouse this afternoon, where they intend to deliver Valentine’s roses to the governor’s office from the neighborhoods along the WIPP route in commemoration of the 2014 WIPP explosion. The action comes amidst opposition to expansion plans for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Yesterday, the environment department approved an extension for the comment period on that expansion. The US Department of Energy “has been working methodically since the 2014 explosion to double the size of the waste site located 2,150 feet below ground surface, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico,” a news release from Santa Fe’s Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety notes. “It’s time for the governor to use the existing agreements that require waste repositories in other states.” State lawmakers yesterday also debated New Mexico’s central role in the federal government’s ongoing quest to dispose of nuclear waste. The state Senate discussed (starting right around the 2 pm mark) and ultimately approved—primarily along partisan lines—Senate Bill 53 —which mandates the state’s consent for nuclear waste disposal here. As the Albuquerque Journal notes, the bill comes as the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers licensing Holtec International for an interim nuclear waste storage facility on land between Carlsbad and Hobbs.

Motel 6 conversion underway

Work to transform a Motel 6 on Cerrillos Road to affordable apartments is underway. As the Santa Fe New Mexican reports, Mountain Classic Real Estate in Salt Lake City in May purchased both the Motel 6 and nearby Quality Inn with plans to convert both into studio apartments. Work began in January on the Motel 6 property (3470 Cerrillos Road), which ultimately will have 80 studio apartments priced at about $950 per month. Pre-leasing is expected in about five months for the newly named “Oslo Santa Fe,” with the apartments ready sometime this fall. Mountain Classic Director of Acquisitions Brandon Smith tells the paper the $950 per month rent is considered affordable because tenants do not have to meet income restrictions the way they do with government affordable housing programs. “Our ideal is to provide an affordable unit,” he says. “We’re affordable but not part of government affordable programs.” Renovations on the Quality Inn, now known as Hotel Inn Santa Fe, could start in the next few months.

Federal delegation addresses NM Legislature

Three members of New Mexico’s all-Democratic congressional delegation: US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, US Rep. Gabe Vasquez and US Sen. Martin Heinrich addressed a joint session of the state Legislature yesterday. In his remarks, Heinrich underscored the importance of the constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 1—approved by voters last November—which allows the state to shift funding from the Land Grant Permanent Fund into early childhood programs and public schools. Congress provided the final authorization for that bill last December. Heinrich encouraged lawmakers to remain focused on future generations. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift from surviving to thriving—as a state and as a community. We cannot let a scarcity mentality or incremental approach dictate our policy choices,” he said. “We must be creative. We must be bold. We must be brave. We must be all in.” Heinrich began his address yesterday by paying tribute to longtime educator and former state Rep. J. Paul Taylor, who died at his home in Mesilla on Sunday at the age of 102, calling his leadership “inspiring...His love of our state and its culture was unmatched. And his legacy will live on in every corner of New Mexico.” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday ordered all flags in the state of New Mexico to half-staff from Feb. 13 to 15 in Taylor’s honor. The House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene at 10:30 am and 11 am today, respectively.

Feds award millions to two rural NM water systems

The US Interior Department yesterday announced two rural water projects in New Mexico will be receiving federal funds through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System will receive $62.11 million for the construction of approximately 26 miles of raw water transmission pipeline. The Jicarilla Apache Rural Water System will receive $12 million to support progress toward water treatment plant upgrades. The projects are two of seven authorized rural water projects under construction in New Mexico, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, totaling $278 million, building on a $420 million allocation for rural water construction activities in fiscal year 2022. “We are investing historic resources through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to provide clean, reliable drinking water to rural and Tribal communities, protect the stability and sustainability of the Colorado River System, and increase water efficiency across the West,” US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. Also in Interior news, earlier this week, the department announced that former New Mexico Indian Affairs Department Cabinet Secretary Lynn Trujillo—who resigned from the state in November, has been appointed as its senior counsel.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Feb. 13New cases: 196; 666,640 total cases. Deaths: three; Santa Fe County has had 396 total deaths; 9,004 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 71. Patients on ventilators: nine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Feb. 9 “community levels” map shows one county—Guadalupe County—at “yellow”—medium risk—for COVID-19 as last week (down from four the week prior). The rest of the state—including Santa Fe County—is green, aka has low risk. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: Receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household via COVIDTests.gov; Check availability for additional free COVID-19 tests through Project ACT; CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. DOH encourages residents to download the NM Notify app and to report positive COVID-19 home tests on the app.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

On the second episode of SFR’s new Leaf Brief podcast, host and cannabis reporter Andy Lyman spends time with the folks behind Southside cannabis dispensary Endo, specifically father and son Ian and Stephan Aarons, who talk about the genesis of their nearly year-old family business, including the personal tragedy that spurred Ian to follow his dreams.

Isn’t it romantic

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” So begins Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma, in which a heroine’s ill-conceived attempts at matchmaking lead, nonetheless, to finding true love for herself. If that plot sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also the plot for Amy Heckerling’s 1995 movie Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, the late Brittany Murphy, Stacey Dash and more (here’s the Buzz Feed cheat sheet if you want to see how Austen’s characters line up with Heckerling’s). Clueless is definitely one of our top two Austen adaptations (along with Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld), and it’s got a fun soundtrack to boot. And whom besides Austen could supply better rom-com source material on Valentine’s Day? Catch Clueless on the big screen at 7 pm tonight at The Lensic for a free (but reserve your tickets) holiday screening. If you like a little more sex and violence with your heteronormative relationships, the Jean Cocteau will be screening Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers for the holiday with shows at 7 pm and 9:30 pm ($13, except for the orchestra double-love seat, which is $26 and only available for the later show). Lastly, if you’d rather heckle than snuggle, be sure to snag tickets to the Love Sucks standup comedy show at 7 pm and 8:30 pm tonight at the Santa Fe Playhouse.

Not-quite spring break

Traveling Lifestyle includes Santa Fe in its roster of 13 spots worth visiting in February, largely for all the same reasons folks recommend visiting here the rest of the year (art, nature etc), along with the added bonus of the Santa Fe Film Festival, which runs Feb. 17-26. Moreover, the magazine says, February is the time of year in Santa Fe “when the city is more tranquil” (here’s hoping). Tranquility may await, however, for high-end travelers such as those who read Luxury Travel Magazine, which rounds up spring spots across the US for “romance, family and adventure getaways.” In Santa Fe, the magazine points visitors to Bishop’s Lodge where, in addition to enjoying its luxe surroundings, Stream Dance Spa treatments and SkyFire cuisine, guests this spring can experience Alchemy of Breath, a “transformative breath and sound experience that coincides with the full moon.” Speaking of the great outdoors, former park ranger Pat Pilcher lists his six favorite national parks (he’s worked in seven) for Travel Awaits, a list that includes New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park, where Pilcher started his career. “Scattered along a wide, shallow canyon are the remains of well-designed and carefully constructed stone structures called Great Houses that reveal the creativity of the industrious people who lived here,” Pilcher writes. “These sites remain a mystery when it comes to why they were constructed, how they were used, and why they were abandoned. When you visit the park, challenge yourself to find your own answers to these questions.”

Many can brook the weather that love not the wind

Happy snowy Valentine’s Day. All Santa Fe Public Schools are closed for the day, due to the weather. And speaking of weather, the National Weather Service forecasts scattered snow showers today before 8 am and after 11 am, alongside a cloudy day with a high temperature near 37 degrees, breezy with a west wind 20 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. We have a 50% chance for precipitation today, rising to 80% tonight, with possible new snow accumulation of less than half an inch (with more potentially on the way tomorrow).As of press time, City of Santa Fe facilities were slated to open at 10 am.

Thanks for reading! Belated RIP David Jolicoeur, aka Trugoy the Dove. The Word is grateful she got to see De La Soul perform circa 2004 (at Paolo Soleri, no less).