Blogs by Russell Page, fearless intern
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Party down with your cylindrical fountains

And keep a hose nearby

We are in yet another extremely dry and dangerous fire season here in New Mexico. Because of this, Bernalillo County and Albuquerque officials restricted the use of fireworks. But they can’t ban them completely. Read about why in this week’s NewsCity.

The Albuquerque Fire Department announced that the sale and use of aerial fireworks and ground audible devices are prohibited within city limits. It is illegal to use any fireworks in the Bosque or any Open Space area. AFD advises that fireworks should only be used on paved or barren areas and with a readily available water source.

The only permissible fireworks are ground and handheld sparkling devices, cone fountains, crackling devices, cylindrical fountains, flitter sparklers, ground spinners, illuminating torches and wheels.

In 2011, AFD responded to more than 945 illegal fireworks calls during the Fourth of July weekend. Albuquerque Fire Chief James Breen says, “Any one of these incidents could have turned into a deadly fire just because somebody was acting carelessly.”

Bernalillo County issued fireworks restrictions for all unincorporated parts of the county. Bernalillo banned the sale and use of fireworks that shoot sparks or pieces higher than 10 feet or further than a 6-foot radius, or are louder than a cap gun.

Last year, both Gov. Martinez and Mayor Richard Berry became frustrated with their inability to ban fireworks completely. They both lobbied the Legislature unsuccessfully to pass a bill that would allow local authorities to completely ban fireworks during extreme fire danger.

Two major wildfires have already destroyed large areas of the state. The Whitewater-Baldy Complex in the Gila Wilderness is the largest fire in size in state history. The Little Bear fire in Lincoln County near Ruidoso destroyed hundreds of homes.

Stay updated about blazes in the state at NMfireinfo.

lyzadanger / CC BY-SA 2.0


More details on the coming Downtown grocery store

Mayor Richard Berry held a press conference this afternoon to announce plans for a Downtown grocery. He stood on the property where the store will be built, a 1-acre vacant lot on Silver between 2nd and 3rd Streets.

There’s not yet a national chain or local grocer selected to move in. Instead, the city will put out a request for proposals on Friday. Developers will have 120 days to respond. The mayor said he is confident there will be plenty of proposals.

Berry says he hopes this will be another successful Downtown public-private partnership like the Lofts at Albuquerque High and the Alvarado Transportation Center.

The city purchased the land in 2000 for $575,000. In 2003, the city removed six underground storage tanks so the property could be certified as free of any contamination. The mayor characterizes the parcel, which is flat and contains nothing but dirt and asphalt, as “a very buildable site.”

“Downtown needs a grocery store,” says Berry. “I’ve been hearing that since I took over as mayor. We’ve been hearing about this for years.”

This will come as welcome news to Downtown’s 10,000 residents and 30,000 workers. Once the lofts are completed across the street from the site, Berry speculates there will be 500 people living there who will make regular use of the grocery store.

There has not been a full-service grocery store in Downtown since the ’30s. The nearest option right now is a Lowe’s on 11th Street and Lomas.

Russell Page


Edgewood’s international blacksmith contest

Sparks flew, fire burned and metal clanked on metal. In a mere hour and 10 minutes, farriers—equine hoof care specialists—from around the country and the world transformed pieces of steel into working horseshoes.

Over the weekend, 70 farriers gathered at Wildlife West Nature Park in Edgewood, N.M. to test heir skills. Craig Trnka, who founded the World Championship Blacksmiths, said folks had come from England, Wales, Canada, and Mexico.

“And Arkansas,” he joked, “We have a few foreigners from Arkansas.”

After competing in horseshoeing competitions for many years, Trnka, an Edgewood resident, decided that farrier contests should be used to teach, too. He created the World Championship Blacksmiths in 2006 with the goal of showing the public the value of well-educated farriers.

“There are six go-arounds, but you’re only competitive in one,” Trnka said. “You’re watching way more than you’re actually competing. This is my ideal dream of how a competition should be formatted.”

During their off rounds, competitors watched others and studied other techniques. Swapping tips and tricks, all participants benefitted. “There’s very little education for farriers in this country,” said Trnka, “So this is a continuing education process.”

Although the organization has expanded and holds contests countrywide, Edgewood is still a favorite destination for competitors. Trey Green, a member of the WCB national team, fondly remembered early versions in New Mexico happening at Trnka’s house. “This was the original one,” Green said.

But the move to Wildlife West was a nice change for both the competitors and for the park, he said. Half of the proceeds from the 2012 Championships went to the wildlife rescue zoo, which protects animals native to New Mexican and Southwest ecosystems.

The Edgewood competition drew international star in horseshoe-making Mark Evans of Wales. A master of the craft, Evans has been shoeing horses for 30 years, competed throughout Europe, America and Britain, and taken on 10 apprentices. While evaluating each of the competitors, Evans meticulously followed each stage of their shoemaking process. He gave marks for the shape of the shoes, their fit and how they were nailed into hooves.

From the master farriers down to the onlookers, all who attended the World Blacksmith Championships came away more knowledgeable about the craft.