City Officials Want To Collect Old Debt

Unpaid utility bills have left the city of Española’s utility services short $1.5 million — about 15 percent of the city’s annual budget.

However, officials have a plan they hope will recover some of that money. A proposal reviewed by the city’s Finance Committee, Aug. 18, would hire The Advantage Group, LLC, an Albuquerque-based debt collection agency, to find customers who are delinquent on their utility bills and collect the money from them.

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City assistant resigns, blames clerk’s office

Employment didn’t last long for the assistant to Española’s city manager and mayor. Lora Lamas resigned, June 15, saying she could not work with the City Clerk’s Department.

“The Clerk’s Office is on a power trip, they’re pretty much power mongers,” Lamas, the former executive assistant, said just 30 days after she started.

“They used to be in control before. They were used to being the right hand to the mayor and the city manager. When I got hired, they created difficulties, they have this type of possessiveness, jealousy and insecurity. They acted it out and it was uncomfortable.”

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Board Mulls Union Busting Case

(SUNfoto by Austin Fisher) Española Police Chief Richard Gallegos testifies in June during the prohibited practice case against his department. The police officer’s union accuses Gallegos and his former deputy chief of trying to dismantle the union.

Months of strife within the Española Police Department will soon reach a tipping point.

Lawyers for the police officer’s union and the city of Española will try to convince the state Public Employee Labor Relations Board of their versions of events, which led to a mass pulling of dues by the rank and file and the firing of Union officers.

Thomas Griego, executive director of the Board and the hearing officer in the case, is weighing final arguments turned in, June 16, by attorneys from both sides in the union’s prohibited practice case against the city police department. Griego’s decision could determine the future of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 18 Local 923 Labor Union’s leadership, and its relationship to Department management.

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Hydroponic farm’s tomatoes found throughout New Mexico

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Steve and Kim Martin have been growing tomatoes and cucumbers for nearly 18 years using hydroponic techniques. They say the process requires attention to detail and constant upkeep, but the rewards include more flavor, a better appearance and a longer shelf life.

Steve was a fourth-generation dairy farmer in Madison County, New York, outside of Syracuse, for most of his life up until the 1990s, before turning to the type of farming he does today.

“I was running around in the barn with diapers,” Steve said. “Farming was ingrained in my blood, so I wanted to stay with farming and have a home-based business, which this creates for us.”

Today, the Martins raise English cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, 10 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes and mint and watercress on their seven-and-a-half acre property in Los Luceros on the east bank of the Rio Grande.

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