New Rio Arriba County Fire Marshall, Carlos Esquibel, Introduced At Velarde Town Hall
By ROBERT A. NARANJO
VELARDE – This is the second story in the Valley Daily Post relative to the Velarde Town Hall Meeting at the new Velarde Community Center held by County Commissioner Barney Trujillo on 9/29. Commissioner Trujillo was joined by other elected officials and County staff. For those who missed the first story, it covered the proposal for lunch to be served to Velarde seniors at the Center. That should start mid-October sometime and is slated for a test trial of 90 days. If 20-30 seniors on average use the lunch service daily, which is required, it will continue. Also covered in the first story was the proposal to make Velarde’s existing baseball fields into a park. Much discussion from the public whom attended was generated on those two topics alone.
There were other issues brought up by Velarde residents. Rodney Sanchez, whom lives in Velarde, mentioned that “meter caps and bell boxes” could be damaged by County employees doing weed control along roads. This comment was referred to Lucia F. Sanchez, County Director of Planning and Zoning (P&Z) who said that more care would be excercised by weed abatement crews, but residents could assist by marking as well as they can where these meter caps are located. Unusually high rainfall has exacerbated the problem of weeds hiding the water meters and bell caps. P&Z Director Sanchez also took the opportunity to advise residents that placing rocks in front of their fence lines is not allowed and County staff will remove them. She also mentioned planning projects the County is moving forward on and mentioned a Waste Water Preliminary Report, from Velarde to Alcalde, which will be ready soon. A “Water Policy Board” that Commissioner Alex Naranjo has initiated will be “transparent” and will be part of preventing things like “different points of diversion when transfers are done within the Rio Grande and Chama River” and done “sometimes across the rivers,” Sanchez said.
Every issue brought up brought lively discussion and that included the new Fire Station, the rental to a local business by the County of the old Fire Department building, and the land it sits on which was to revert to the family whom donated it if not used for a fire department, a new Heritage and Culture Board, remediation for the hillsides damaged by mining and semi-trucks speeding through Velarde roads were also mentioned as a danger to the community.
County Commissioner Trujillo then introduced Carlos Esquibel as the new Fire Marshal for Rio Arriba County. Commissioner Trujillo mentioned that he has seen three fire marshals come and go in the five years as a commissioner and that the “County is (always) in court because of Velarde (Fire Department).” Trujillo also said that Fire Marshal Esquibel is the interim Chief of the Velarde Fire Department when that seat is vacant as per County policy. Fire Chief Esquibel addressed the crowd and said he wants help Velarde have the best Fire Department possible. Chief Esquibel mentioned his experience as a fire fighter and said he is looking forward to creating stability, lines of communication, and professionalism in the many County Fire Departments. He added that many are already doing a very good job for the citizens of Rio Arriba, but all departments in the County, not just the Fire Department can always seek to do a better more efficient job for the citizens.
Sheriff James Lujan commented to the Velarde residents that the Velarde Fire Department has been very reliable in public safety situations like accidents, fires, etc. where traffic control and safety is paramount. The Sheriff recommended that Velarde residents help each other by creating Neighborhood Watch programs and touted Alcalde’s as one of the best in the County. A representative from the Alcalde Neighborhood Watch addressed the crowd and offered their services to establish one in Velarde. The Sheriff mentioned that the backlog at the District Attorney’s office makes it difficult for law enforcement as many times cases drag on for a year or more.