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Chuck Link

Artist Profile: Leaving Behind Much More Than Just Memories

PLUS Burnt Well Guest Ranch

Orange Barrel Bonanza NMSU’s Digital Media Program The Zumba Life and much more!

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Associate Brokers

575-885-6664 575-361-0207

Denise Griffith Broker/Owner

Multi-Million Dollar Producer


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LaVern Johnston

Multi-Million Dollar Producer

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Associate Broker


Associate Broker



Focus on the Chamber Focus Community Events From the Editor

04 07 08

Focus on the arts


Focus on the Road




Focus on your city


Focus on business

18 21

Chuck’s Links

How the West Was Wonderful Helping Children in Need Orange Barrel Bonanza Convenience Stores Carlsbad MainStreet Focus on a carlsbad character


Focus on technology


Focus on education


Focus on sports


Focus on Fitness


Focus on food

32 34

Petty Cache: Tom Kirby

NMSU-C Digital Media Program CHS Choir: Back in Business From Cavegirl to College Star Zumba... a Way of Life for Many Raspberry Cookies Focus Business Directory

Editorial Content by Kyle Marksteiner Photography by Kyle Marksteiner - along with submitted photos Special Contributors: Jeff Keller, Margaret Sage Bemis & John Safin Focus on Carlsbad is published quarterly by Ad Venture Marketing. Ad Venture Marketing, Ltd. Co. toll free: 866.207.0821 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission of the publisher is prohibited. Every effort was made to ensure accuracy of the information provided. The publisher assumes no responsibility or liability for errors, changes or omissions.

on the chamber


Recreation and community development are a vital component in developing and maintaining a community’s well-being. This includes maintaining physical and mental health, building a sense of place and belonging, breaking down social barriers, and improving quality of life. Carlsbad and Eddy County offer an active lifestyle without a huge price tag. Anyone who loves the outdoors will want to take advantage of the Carlsbad weather and spend time in the Lincoln National Forest and the Guadalupe Mountain areas. We have abundant recreational facilities for tennis, baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball. The Lake Carlsbad Tennis Complex has nine lighted courts, and three handball/racquetball courts that are open to the public. If your game is golf – enjoy the two regulation 18-hole golf courses as well as the nine-hole, par-three course. Carlsbad is well-recognized for supporting more recreational facilities than any other city in the state. North Mesa and San Jose Senior Recreation Centers offer games, arts, crafts and quilting lessons. The arts foster community pride and make a positive contribution to Carlsbad. Fairs attract artists and craftsmen from across the region . This was evidenced by the many artists displaying their work recently at the Calico Christmas. Many local artists share their talents by teaching. A visit to the Old Pecos Gallery, the Artist Gallery, Carlsbad Museum, and Living Desert State Park reveals the variety of talents of Carlsbad’s artistic community.


NMSU - Carlsbad offers twenty-one associate degree programs and sixteen certificate programs. Senior citizens (persons aged 65 years or older) who are New Mexico residents are eligible for reduced tuition, under the Senior Citizens Reduced Tuition Act. The cost is $5 tuition plus a $3 administrative fee for a total of $8 per credit hour. Additional fees such as course or lab fees may apply. Senior citizens may register for a maximum of six credits per semester at the reduced rate, on a space available basis.


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011


Carlsbad’s many and diverse residential neighborhoods provide attractive housing choices for every taste and budget, from affordable apartments, townhouses and starter homes to executive and retirement homes.


Carlsbad is fortunate to have two continuing care retirement communities: Lakeview Christian Home and Landsun Homes. These facilities support various living arrangements which offer every degree of cordial amenities and quality health care.


The City of Carlsbad is now offering a new fixed route bus service. Beginning December 7, 2010 passengers have the opportunity to ride free of charge for the first three months. After that date, fares for the fixed route will be $1.00 and a pass may be purchased for 10 rides at a cost of $10. The Transit will continue its curb-to-curb service with a 24 hour reservation.


Letter from the chairman

Happy New Year fellow Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce members, community constituents, prospective retirees, and visitors. It’s hard to believe that it is already January 2011. It seems like only yesterday I was beginning my term as Chairman of the Board and now that term is already halfway gone. I guess time flies when you’re having fun! Although 2010 was a good year for Carlsbad businesses in general, I am convinced that 2011 will be even better. Considering the amount of construction that is occurring in the area, Carlsbad appears to be growing and thriving. Throughout this coming year we will hold grand opening events on several new businesses and buildings including two new hotels, a big-box home improvement store, a records storage center, and a new allied health training facility. In addition to these exciting projects, there are rumors that several new eating establishments are coming to Carlsbad as well. Economically speaking, Carlsbad seems to be progressing well ahead of many of our sister communities. In talking with business and community leaders, the oil & gas and potash industries appear to be strengthening and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has received a renewal of their waste handling permit – all good news for our community. I’m proud to announce that your Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce is growing as well. Of course, none of this growth would be possible without the efforts of our hardworking and dedicated staff and volunteers Therefore, on behalf of the Board, I would like to thank our staff and Chamber volunteers for all that they do to make our Chamber a success. In addition, I would like to thank our business owners and operators for their continued support of the Chamber too, for without the support of our members, our efforts would be futile at best. Last, but not least, I would like to thank the homeowners, the volunteers, and the sponsoring businesses who helped make this year’s Christmas on the Pecos event a huge success. Although we are still crunching the numbers, it appears that attendance at this year’s event was right on track with last year’s event, even though we had fewer days in the Christmas on the Pecos season. In closing, I appreciate the support that I’ve received during my term as Board Chairman and am looking forward to another fun-filled and exciting year that will most certainly bring new opportunities and prosperity to us all. Sincerely,

Russell Hardy

Wanda Durham,

Russell Hardy,

Tourism Chairperson Best Western Stevens Inn

Susan Crockett,

Incoming Chairman of the Board Springtime Cleaning & Janitorial

Judi Waters

Treasurer First United Methodist Church

Matt Leroch,

Past Chairman of the Board URS Washington Division

Ambassador Co-Chairperson Durham & Associates

Bobby Forrest,

Chris Bird, Board Member

Brenda Suggs, Board Member

Carlsbad Mental Health

Western Commerce Bank

Carlsbad National Bank

Rudy Dominguez, Board Member

Debe Wagner, Board Member

Robert Young, Board Member Walter Gerrells Performing Arts Center

Bob Yeager,

Tom Hollis, Board Member Carlsbad National Bank

Honorary Board Members

Ken Britt,

Todd Hyden, Board Member Ross Hyden Motors

Ambassador Co-Chairperson Simply Enchanted / Little Tea Pot Retirement Council Chairperson Century 21 Assoc. Professionals Lodger’s Tax Representative Living Desert State Park

Mayor Dale Janway,

Young Business League Chairperson Carlsbad Dept. of Development

Johnna Stephens, Board Member

Carlsbad Mental Health

Jim Harrison, Board Member

Jerri McTaggart,

Mike Calvani,

Jeff Campbell,

Kirstin Carlson, Board Member

Pioneer Bank

Wes Carter,

Christmas on the Pecos Chairperson Calvani’s Carpets

American Eagle Airlines Animal Care Center Blaine Industrial Supply C & T Donuts Cavern City Security Democratic Party of Eddy County Elite Detailing, LLC James Hamilton Construction Company Jill’s Fabric & Design JS Ward & Son, Inc. Lucky Duck Printing Michelle’s Gift Boutique Noevir, USA Norman Oilfield Services & Bradley Electric Relay for Life Scott Sankey Storage Solutions TLC Home Health Care, LLC True Beauty Photography Tupperware Unique Screen Media/Preflix Wendy’s Workers Compensation Association of Southern NM Yellow Brix Coffeehouse & Rosteria

Intrepid Potash NMLLC

Bonnie Bakal,

Governmental Affairs Chairperson Individual

New Members

................................................................. Contact the Chamber at (575) 887-6516

2010-2011 Board of Directors Chairman of the Board NMSU-Carlsbad


City Council Representative City Council City of Carlsbad Mayor City of Carlsbad

Tina Britain, Board Member Curves International

Carlsbad Community Foundation

Ben Jaime, Board Member

XCEL Energy

Susan Owen, Board Member Lakeview Christian Home Dave Rogers, Board Member

CARC, Inc.

Jerry Rogers, Board Member

SE Readi-Mix

Mark Schinnerer, Board Member


Amy Barnhart John Benjamin Alison Bryant Larry Coalson Dr. Ned Elkins Roxanne Lara John Lujan Ernie Mendoza Jim Stovall Dr. George Veni John Waters Dr. Sheri Williams

Your Chamber Staff Robert P Defer, Chief Executive Officer

Janell Whitlock, Director of Retirement

Brenda Whiteaker, Director of Operations

Roland Caudill, Director of Facilities Maint. Gilbert John Gonzalez, Facilities Maintenance

Lisa Boeke, Director of Marketing & Tourism

Donna Cass, Administrative Assistant

Albert Elizondo, Administrative Assistant

Albert “Dewey” Griffith, Facilities Maintenance

Spring 2011 | A Community Magazine


Grand Openings ribbon cuttings ground breakings

Pioneer Bank recently broke ground for the $2 million expansion and remodeling of their facilities at 111 N. Canal.

Robert Defer, Chief Executive Officer and Susan Crockett, Incoming Chairman of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce accepted a check for $1,500 from Devon Energy Corporation representatives Danny Nolen and Tracy Kidd. Devon Energy was a corporate sponsor of the 2010 Christmas on the Pecos.

Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, employees, friends, and family help Ellis Law celebrate the relocation of their offices to 107 S. Main.

Little Miss Everythang celebrated their move to the Carlsbad Mall – 2302 W. Pierce – in October.

Michelle’ Gift Boutique – located at 318 W Mermod – opened in early December. The boutique offers one of a kind jewelry, candles, bear-necessities, and more!

Employees and Ambassadors from the Chamber of Commerce help in opening Murphy Oil Express – located next to Wal-Mart at 2301 S. Canal Street.

The 13th Annual Chamber of Commerce Business Fair was held on, October 23, 2010 at the Pecos River Village with approximately 3,500 in attendance. Susan Crockett, Chairperson for Positively Carlsbad, said that 85plus businesses and organizations participated in the 2010 event. The Chamber’s Small Business of the Year – Albertsons, Large Business of the Year – URS Washington TRU Solutions, and New Business of the Year – Hutchins Electric all shared in the days activities. United Blood Services was available for blood donations. There were job postings, giveaways and great food – including the debut of Java Dave’s coffee. Mrs. Crockett said that the Chamber was excited about the number of returning businesses and the many new participants including Relay for Life. The Carlsbad High School’s Business Professionals of America (BPA) were also available to assist the public in locating businesses.


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

Representatives from Eddy County, the City of Carlsbad, Chamber of Commerce, Carlsbad Department of Development, New Mexico Department of Transportation, Representative John Heaton, Senator Vernon Asbill, Senator Carroll Leavell, and excited citizens of Carlsbad celebrate the long awaited ground breaking of the Canal Street Reconstruction Project.

community events February 18

Community Concert

7:30-9 p.m. The Carlsbad Community Concert Association presents: Greg Giannascoli at the P.R. Leyva Middle School Auditorium. For more information please call 302-6843

March 1

Community Concert

7:30-9 p.m. The Carlsbad Community Concert Association presents: Pianafiddle the P.R. Leyva Middle School Auditorium. For more information please call 302-6843.

by the Apache War Dances and Dance of the Mountain Spirits. The event concludes Sunday morning with the Mescal Pit Opening at 11 a.m. and the Mescal Tasting Ceremony. Tickets for the Dinner and Dances are limited to 300 each night and are $15 each. For more information, call Kathryn Law at 575-887-5516.

June 10-12

7 p.m. The Carlsbad High School Mummers present “Looking Glass Land” at the CHS Little Theatre. For more information, call 234-3319.

March 4

Community Concert

7 p.m. The Carlsbad High School choir variety show will be held at the Walter Gerrells Center. For more information, call 234-3319.

April 8-9

Community Concert

6 p.m. The Carlsbad High School Mummers present Cyrano de Bergerac at the P.R. Leyva Auditorium. For more information, call 234-3319.

Help us celebrate 40 years of family fun at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park! Events are developing. For more information, call Kathryn Law at 575-887-5516.

Other Events Friday Focus

Fridays (7:30-9:30 a.m.) Friday Focus is a great opportunity to market your business and network with other Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce members at the Stevens Inn. Place a business card in the basket and when called on introduce yourself and your business. Distribute business and promotional material on tables (collect before leaving). Networking opportunities are endless. Call the Chamber for more information at 575-8876516.

Preschool Story Time

The Carlsbad Community Theater presents “A Talent for Murder” at 7:30 p.m. April 8,9 15 and 16 and 2 p.m. April 17. For more information, contact 887-3157.

Fridays (9:30-10:30 a.m.) Story time takes place every Friday morning when school is in session at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park Visitor’s Center. Songs, a story, a short walk in the park (weather permitting), and crafts are offered for preschool children and accompanying adults. Free. For more information, call Kathryn Law at the park at 575-887-5516.

April 16

Full Moon Walk

April 8-17

Community Play

March for Parks Earth Day Event

9 a.m. – 2 p.m. This event at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park will combine Earth Day exhibits and programs with a march that raises funds for local park improvements. There will also be door prizes, giveaways, a silent auction, solar viewing, and Party for the Planet special children’s activities. Free. Regular fees apply to enter the park. For more information, call Kathryn Law at the park at 575-887-5516.

May 3

Community Concert

7 p.m. The Carlsbad High School choir variety show will be held at the P.R. Leyva Auditorium. For more information, call 234-3319.

Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce • 575-887-6516

Living Desert’s 40th Anniversary

March 4

Community Concert


Visitors can stroll through Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park by the light of a full moon. This is a beautiful time to experience the park. Regular entrance fees apply. For more information, call Kathryn Law at the park at 575-887-5516.

Star Parties

Look at the wonders of the night sky through large telescopes at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and Brantley Lake state parks. Programs at Living Desert are free; regular fees apply to enter Brantley Lake State Park. For more information, call Kathryn Law at Living Desert at 575-887-5516.

Carlsbad Department of Development • 575-887-6562

City of Carlsbad • 575-887-1191

City of Carlsbad Police Department • 575-885-2111

Eddy County • 575-887-9511

Eddy County Sheriff’s Department 887-7551

Carlsbad Municipal Schools • 575-234-3300

New Mexico State University • 575-234-9250

Carlsbad Medical Center • 575-887-4100

WIPP • 575-234-7200

Carlsbad Caverns National Park • 575-785-2232

May 5- 8

Mescal Roast

This year marks the 25th Annual Mescal Roast and Mountain Spirit Dances at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. This inspiring Mescalero Apache interpretive and ceremonial event begins on Thursday at 10 a.m. with the Mescal Pit Blessing. Friday and Saturday feature a Native American Arts and Crafts show and sale all day, an Interpretive Roundtable at 2 p.m., the Apache Feast Dinner at 6 p.m., followed

Send us your events!

We welcome submissions to the community events page. Please e-mail upcoming activities to

Spring 2011 | A Community Magazine


from the editor

My Shampoo Story The search has become increasingly more difficult. My goal? To find a shampoo on the shelves at the store that isn’t, (and I’m using the official terminology here) “too girly.” Visit the shampoo aisle. You’ll see row upon row of shampoos that sound more like smoothies or Strawberry Shortcake’s sidekicks–banana berry nut crunch, guava citrus twist, chocolate mountain estrogen zest. Hair washing is apparently a girl’s activity. If you are like me, you get overwhelmed by the sea of girly-girl shampoos when you are trying to find something acceptable. Now I’m not saying that I want a “manly” shampoo– one that smells like motor oil and bacon. In fact, I’d say such an aggressive show of being “a man’s product” might, by its very nature, qualify it as not being a man’s product. Let’s say you had a shampoo you called “Gridiron Grenade” that you sold in a football helmet shape in an attempt to make it the manliest man shampoo ever. No guy would buy it because we’d all feel that it was trying too hard. Such are the complicated rules of our gender-based stubborn indifference. We’re terrible consumers, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves for the fact that the market understandably feels no need to market to us. What most guys are looking for is a gender neutral shampoo–one that exudes a certain level of casual apathy and fulfills its sole function of hair cleaning without promising any zest, spring, bounce or raspberry smell. What are other men doing out there? Have they given up and just started using the girly stuff? Is the most “manly” alternative truly to care so little that you just use what’s available? If so, will that set you down a path that leads to also using body wash instead of soap and watching “The View?” Are men just not washing their hair now? Or are they battling each other for the few gender neutral products that remain on the market? That’s just it. Men don’t need many options because, we don’t want very many options, but the handful of shampoos we are willing to purchase are almost impossible to find amidst a sea of girly products. We need shampoo segregation. Move the small cluster of non-girly shampoos together into one easy-to-find place at the store. Then, we can make our purchase quickly and move on to being indifferent toward other things.


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

Bonding over Facebook

When our last edition came out, a huge group of Carlsbad and former Carlsbad residents visited our Facebook page to contribute their own stories of President’s Park. Readers shared stories about working at the park or about going on their first date with their husband there. It was truly wonderful to see such a community bonding moment take place online.

In This Issue

This edition, one of our lead articles is about artist Chuck Link, who died last year after a three year battle with cancer. Link left behind a legacy of artwork that will stay with us for a long time, and it was my goal to touch on his contributions to the community. After talking to friends and family members, I think what really stands out in my mind is just what an incredibly diverse group of people were friends with Link. If you put all of Link’s friends into one room, they really wouldn’t have that much in common except for the fact that they all really liked Chuck Link–and the fact that they were, then, all in the same room. Another story that I’m proud of is our coverage of Zumba, which I can’t figure out if I need to capitalize or not. Zumba is the nation’s latest and greatest fitness dance craze. There are people who get up before 5 a.m. to go Zumba! I’d always thought that you only got up before 5 a.m. if you needed so to flee across the Alps to get your musically-inclined family from Austria into Switzerland. Is Zumba going to be the Lambada of 2011, and will everyone move on to some different culture’s fitness technique in a few years? Or will it withstand the test of time and become a mainstay exercise routine? Another question: Will men ever learn to Zumba? And if so, will they do so after using girly shampoo? Finally, I was asked to remind you that Carlsbad's Class Act is looking for volunteers. The main tasks are party set construction, contacting past donors, finding new donors, and helping with some of the event committees. Donations can be money or materials. Willing to help? Visit to find out more. Kyle Marksteiner is the editor of Focus Magazine. He can be reached at

on the arts

Chuck’s Links Local Artist Leaves Behind Much More Than Just Memories

or most people, one or two hobbies are enough to get them through life. Maybe they’ll enjoy fishing and bowling or perhaps pottery and dance. Just maybe they are one of the fortunate few who display a true talent. And then there are the extremely rare individuals who exude so much positive energy in life that they manage to make their mark not just in one or two fields, but in almost everything they touch. Such was the nature of Chuck Link, martial artist, graphic artist, poet, teacher, free spirit and friend. Link’s lifetime of versatility defined his artistic soul.

Born in Japan, Link spent eight years of his childhood in an orphanage before being adopted at the age of 10. His family moved to New York and ultimately Alamogordo. In 1979, he was the North American judo champion; he taught judo and Tai Chi throughout his life. A graphic specialist and photographer with the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for years, Link later became a certified massage therapist in 2007. First and foremost, however, Link was an artist. “Chuck arrived from Japan with scant English,” observed Michael Bromka, a longtime friend of Link’s. “He rarely spoke. Even as an adult, he was taciturn. Chuck’s teachers encouraged him to draw. To this skill, he eventually added martial arts and guitar, but his prime modes

Above: Artist Chuck Link poses with his daughter Janay Clair Link. Link died of cancer last year, but his artistic legacy lives on in Carlsbad. Right: One of Chuck Link’s final works of art was a painting depicting the fourth chapter of Revelation, which describes a vision of heaven.

of creative expression were drawing, painting and sculpting.” Link passed away in August 2010 after a three year battle with cancer, but his legacy remains strong throughout Carlsbad. His artwork is on display locally in elementary schools, senior centers, coffee houses, the Carlsbad airport and in the homes of countless friends, all of whom miss him dearly. “The main thing is that he was so

on the arts versatile,” said Helen Gwinn, another Carlsbad artist who collaborated with Link on several local projects. “He was game for almost any kind of project. He liked to create and help create. He was interested in lots of ways of expression.” While most people around town know of Link’s drawings and murals, he was also a talented sculptor, Gwinn said. “Chuck was one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met in my life,” noted Dr. William Baggs, another longtime friend of Link’s. “I think his artwork also had a similar idealistic viewpoint.” Baggs said Link lived at his residence for several years, and the artist had as many as thirty angel pictures he was working on. “He kept perfecting them and perfecting them,” Baggs noted. “We also have a picture he painted of the Pecos River looking down toward the Flume with the sunset.” Link was seldom satisfied with his work, Baggs noted. Even when everyone else was satisfied, he kept looking for a way to make an improvement. “He did a portrait of my wife,” Baggs said. “It was very, very well done, but he kept revamping it.” Another one of Link’s pieces in Carlsbad

is designed, literally, for people with their head in the clouds.

for the celebration, he finished enough to make for a good presentation.

About five years ago, members of Carlsbad’s EAA chapter, along with a group of female pilots from Santa Fe, designed a compass rose at the Carlsbad Municipal Airport. Link spruced up the compass by adding a Zia symbol and a blue pattern around what had previously been a basic design.

“He would still come in after that a couple of times a week to work on one or two little details,” Suggs noted. “He was great to work with.”

One of Link’s final public works of art was a Mediterranean mural he painted at the Carlsbad Medical Center’s Senior Circle building. Melissa Suggs, marketing director for Carlsbad Medical Center, said Link was commissioned to finish the mural for the Senior Circle’s first anniversary celebration in 2009. Janet Carbary, CEO of the hospital at the time, came up with the idea to have a mural printed on one of the building’s interior walls. “The idea was that you are sitting in a café,” Suggs said. “Chuck came up with some sketches, and she approved them. He worked on it through the spring and summer. He really battled to get it as complete as possible by the grand opening because he was not well.” Link taught a Tai Chi class at the Senior Circle building at the time, so he’d often stay late to work on the mural. Although he didn’t fully complete the project in time

Link was also one of the artists who helped put together the community mural located on the south side of the Foster’s Sheet Metal building. “It came out of a MainStreet design committee project that identified different sites through the streetscape plan,” Suggs said. “Helen Gwinn and Bonnie Nelson worked out the idea for it, and Chuck put everything together.” Link did a lot of the work by using a projector at night. In fact, a local grocery store, La Tienda, assisted with the project. “They would turn their light on so he would have the right light,” Suggs noted. Another of Link’s final works of art was a pencil drawing he was working on of his friend, Keith Autry, and Keith’s wife, Cindy Thillippi. Link worked on the piece on and off while he was sick. “He didn’t quite finish,” Autry recalled. “He always thought his artwork was never finished.”

Ginny Gregory, owner of the Blue House Bakery & Café, stands in front of one of the signs designed by Link.


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

Autry said Link finished drawing the couple but had always planned to add a dog or cat to the picture. Autry said he was always impressed by Link’s versatility as an artist and he was most impressed by his humility. Ginny Gregory, owner of the Blue House Bakery & Café, first met Link when he worked with her husband as a graphic artist at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. “He was a tremendous artist for WIPP,” she recalled. “He did a coloring book for kids with all of the desert animals.” Link was no longer working for WIPP when Gregory opened the Blue House about ten years ago. “He was a customer here all the time,” she said. “He’d do Tai Chi out on the lot and then come in here and mingle.” One day, Gregory offered Link a job as a barista. He accepted the job but decided after two days that it wasn’t for him. “He was just too much of a free spirit,” Gregory said. But it turns out Link was willing to sing for his supper, or, more accurately, paint for his panini. “I said, ‘OK, Chuck, why don’t you do my artwork for me? I won’t pay you in

money, but I’ll pay you in food,’” Gregory recalled. Link would put together various colorful boards at the restaurant informing the viewer of a daily special or an upcoming art event. In return, Gregory provided him with coffee and the occasional breakfast burrito or sandwich. Link never took advantage of the deal, Gregory said. Gregory also commissioned Link to create a decoration in her kitchen. Link wasn’t sure what to do, so he perused numerous cookbooks for ideas. “Over my doorway, he put little vines and Mexican flowers,” she said. After Link died, Gregory noticed something new in the design. Link had been using hearts as his special symbol, and someone mentioned that all of the flowers at the Senior Circle building had hearts. Gregory checked her kitchen, and, sure enough, all of the flowers had hearts inside of them as well.

final project. “My favorite piece that my brother was working on was the last painting he painted,” Thompson said. “It was the scene from Revelation (Chapter) 4. They found my brother sitting in front of this painting when he passed.” The chapter describes the Apostle John’s vision of heaven. It was a difficult topic, but Link was up to the challenge. “When I first saw his rendering, it looked almost finished,” recalled Link’s friend, Michael Bromka. “’Chuck, it’s great! Color it in, and you’re done.’” Link didn’t agree. “Over the months, he changed kings, creatures, God’s throne, water and clouds,” Bromka said. “Each new version was better. But when he died, Chuck left the canvas unfinished. Now perhaps he paints on clouds with rainbows.”

Link’s sister, Carla Thompson, said her favorite piece of her brother’s artwork was his

Link’s final community piece was a mural he did for the Carlsbad Medical Center at the center’s Senior Circle building.

Chuck Link was also one of the designers of the airport’s Compass Rose. Pictured is George West.

Spring 2011 | A Community Magazine


on the road

How the

West Was

Wonderful Really, really want to get away from it all Try the Burnt Well Guest Ranch If you are looking for a home, home on the range, but just for a short while, the Burnt Well Guest Ranch just might be the ideal location to check up on the roaming buffalo and playing deer and antelope. The ranch, located on 15,000 acres to the northwest of Artesia, is an authentic working cattle and sheep ranch owned by Kim and Patricia Chesser. The ranch offers two different packages for guests: the bunkhouse for visitors wanting to get the full ranching experience and the Casita Retreat for visitors just wanting to get away. Kim has lived on the ranch for his entire life. His wife, Patricia, comes from nearby Hagerman. Their dogs, named “Biscuit” and “Gravy,” offer a friendly welcome to any visitors to the isolated location. And visit they do. The Chessers are now averaging about 60 six-day long dude ranch visits a year. Some families come to stay, but many of the guests are individuals eager to experience the romantic life of a cowboy. A large percentage of the visitors come from Europe. That was the case during a visit to the ranch in early December, when a British gentleman was relaxing in the bunkhouse in preparation for a busy week. He’d been to


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

other ranches, he said, but the Burnt Well’s location in Southeastern New Mexico was perfect for a December visit.

Preparing for Guests

About seven years ago, when the economy was struggling, the Chessers decided to start taking in guests. “We had a long drought and we sold a lot of our livestock,” Kim said. “I was leasing several other ranches around, trying to keep a bunch of cows together. We decided that if we were going broke, we might as well do it faster.” The Chessers built a bunkhouse and quietly started passing the word around that they were inviting people to pay to visit the ranch as guests. “Dude ranches” are popular among men and women from Europe and the East Coast, eager to get a feel for Western life. The Burnt Well is much more of a working ranch than a dude ranch because the focus is still on taking care of the ranch. “We wanted to see if people would actually come out here to vacation, and they have,”

said Patricia. “It’s been amazing. We’ve had families come from the Caribbean and the Swiss Alps.” The customers get to decide a little bit of what they want to do during their visit. Some total newcomers can request to only do horseback riding and just get a feel for life on the range. Many, however, want to get the full experience of what actually is a working ranch. In other words, they’re put to work. “We’ve had guests who wanted to ride for an hour or two and then sit on the porch and read a book,” Kim noted. “We’ve also had people who wanted to learn to rope.” In fact, a couple of female hockey players were quick learners on the roping front. “They didn’t ride that well, but they didn’t have any fear,” Kim pointed out. “Another time, we had someone from Denmark who was a walking, talking Billy the Kid Encyclopedia.” The British visitor in December was going to help prepare for a livestock auction. There would be some time for riding, but the guest was also interested in helping brand several calves that were being weaned late in the year. During the visit, the Chessers offer a one-day

road trip to any location in Southeastern New Mexico, provided that it doesn’t interfere with their ranching duties. Many pick Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a visit to the mountains or even the alien museum in Roswell. “But a good percentage of the people don’t want to go anywhere,” Kim noted. Some people will come out to the Burnt Well just to get away from it all. The Chessers’ preacher took a sabbatical out at the ranch once, and the Flying J Wranglers, musicians who perform in Ruidoso, have spent time at the ranch so that they can practice their routines away from cell phones and other distractions.

Culture Shock

There’s “getting away from it all,” and then there’s “getting away from it all,” and the Burnt Well level of getting away has taken some people a little getting used to. Visitors from Europe or the East Coast likely have never been anywhere so remote before. “We’ve had people who have come out here before and were crying,” Kim noted. “They were scared because they were in the middle of nowhere.” But even the skittish guests come to enjoy their visit, and the Chessers enjoy meeting their guests just as much. “It’s nice because we feel like we’ve travelled the world,” said Kim, who also happens to be a member of the Chaves County Commission. “We’ve met some really neat people.” The Chessers are even considering taking a trip to Europe. Some of the people who have been their guests will throw parties for them, so they’ll get a chance to do a little recruiting. “That’s how people used to market, long ago before the internet,” Patricia noted. “They say that’s making a comeback. We’re going to go over there when it’s really bad so we can say ‘you know it’s 70 degrees back home right now!’” The Chessers also take part in several cattle drives each year, and visitors do participate. In fact, it has been some glowing magazine accounts of these trail rides that really kept business going during some economic downturns. Patricia does all of the cooking, both on the trail and back home at the ranch, and the fare is usually of the hearty ranch variety. It was an interesting challenge once when one of the guests on a cattle drive was a vegan. Rates vary depending on the length of stay, but the Chessers recommend that ranch visitors stay for six days. The ranch consists of about 350 cows, 180 sheep and 20 horses.

“The ranching business is still our business,” Kim noted. “This (the guest ranch) has been really good for the cash flow that we

get from our guests.” “The thing about ranching is that you get one check a year,” Patricia pointed out. “So this has been really nice.”

Plenty of room

The roomy, western bunkhouse includes a fireplace, a pool table, access to a hot tub and enough space to house a small army of visitors. Two large bedrooms are decorated in cowboy and Indian themes. “We wanted this to be big enough so that if four families were here they wouldn’t feel like they were thrown on top of each other,” Patricia said. Decorations include items that belonged to Kim’s father before he passed away: a horse trough in the bathroom, a gift shop and quite a few cowboy items the neighbors donated. “When we started doing this, the other ranchers all thought we were crazy,” Patricia said. “But we became everyone’s best friend when they had things they wanted to donate.” The Chessers run the only guest ranch in this part of the state, though there are a few in the southwestern part of New Mexico. “When we started doing this, they (other ranchers) said they had always thought about doing it,” Patricia said, noting that her husband’s charisma really makes their ranch work. “He loves showing his world to people and asking them about their world.” Kim said there are a couple different stories about the origins of the name, Burnt Well. The one that is likely true, he noted, involved cowboys from a large ranch burning a wooden tower that belonged to smaller homesteaders they were trying to run out of the area. The Casita Retreat, a 600-square-foot cabin adjacent to the bunkhouse, is the ranch’s recent addition. It’s for people who are looking to get away who may not want the full ranch experience. “While at the dude ranch (staying in the bunkhouse) we’re at their beck and call, this (the casita) is just for people who want to get away,” Patricia said. Patricia said they built the casita because they’d had a lot of requests from people who just wanted to stay one or two days. Guests to the casita have to take care of themselves for meals, though the cabin comes equipped with a full kitchen. Riding is available for an additional fee. Guests have access to a barbecue grill, a picnic table, a full bath, a washer and a dryer and can utilize the hot tub. “About two years ago, I got six calls through the winter of people who just didn’t want to stay in a motel,” Patricia said. “This is brand new. This will be great for people who just want to get away for a few days.”

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on everyday heroes

Helping Children in Need Your Everyday Heroes

Ladies Auxiliary VFW

Dozens of Carlsbad children are walking a lot taller this school year, thanks to the volunteer efforts of the local Ladies Auxiliary VFW.

keeps the program afloat by working on it every week. The group includes Francis Greer, Lillia Santana, Barbara Robertson, Nancy Porter, Jerry Byrd and Angie Ramirez.

too,” she said.

“A year ago, we started a program called Clothes for Children,” said Anna Vernicek, president of the Ladies Auxiliary VFW 8703. “We started with two bags of donated clothes and have grown into a program that clothes not only children but also adults in our community. We don’t turn anyone away, and if we don’t have what someone needs, we try to find someone who does.”

“I am very proud of them and proud to see how a vision has turned into reality,” Vernicek noted. “We really appreciate their dedication and services.”

“We let the school make the decision for us,” Porter explained. “But we also help when emergencies come in around the communities.”

Porter said the program grew out of another volunteer activity.

The men of the VFW helped turn an old storage room into the program’s base of operations.

Vernicek said the entire program is run out of a renovated backroom at Carlsbad’s Veterans Of Foreign Wars Post, located at 1916 San Jose Boulevard. Members of the Ladies Auxiliary all have a military member of their family who was involved in a foreign war. While the program has a number of volunteers, Vernicek said a core group

Volunteer Lilia Santana hangs up some clothing items for younger children.


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

“We had this program called Christmas for Children where we adopted six families. We’d buy gifts for children and meals for the family,” she said. But members of the auxiliary became aware of what Porter called a big need for children to receive clothing. The auxiliary began putting together a program to supply clothing to needy children. “It started for younger children, but we find when you have younger children that need clothes, the older ones do,

The program began in August 2010, with the school district’s counselors providing referrals for families in need.

Lillia Santana, who joined the VFW through her son’s participation in a foreign war, said Porter talked her into helping out with the program. She said they spend quite a bit of time getting their clothing room ready for their visitors. “We’ll take clothes home and wash them. We sort them out. We make sure they are suitable for the kids to wear,” she said. “We try really hard to keep everything

Volunteer Nancy Porter shows off some of the items that the Ladies Auxiliary VFW has for giveaway.

Fordtown neat and clean,” Porter said. “This is a very fulfilling program. We’ve had little children come in who were wearing hand-me-downs that were so big they were stumbling over them.” “I remember this one little girl who was just so excited trying on her shoes,” Santana said. “She was just running around all happy because she had a brand new pair of shoes. They were her own shoes. She didn’t have to go without shoes or use someone else’s shoes. That is a moment of fulfillment of what we’re trying to do, especially for the children.”

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While most of the clothing is donated, the Auxiliary purchased socks, shoes and underwear for the children. The VFW holds a bingo fundraiser throughout the year. Some of the money raised through that fundraiser helps support the purchase of children’s items. Adults who visit are allowed to pick up clothing as well, but everyone is asked to make an appointment as space is limited. There’s no charge, and children often will pick out as many as three or four outfits. “I would say that we’ve come close to shoeing about 75 children so far,” Porter estimated. “We’ve had as many as five families in here at one time.” The program is similar to The Assistance League of Carlsbad’s Operation School Bell, which gives away a pair of new outfits to children at the start of the school year, but Porter noted that there is enough need for both programs.

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“Children are so sweet,” she added. “You can see their little eyes light up. They’ll plop right down in the middle of the floor, and once they put their shoes on you can’t get them off.” Porter recalled one little girl who wore a dress during her visit to the room. “She picked out one scarf and one top and then she kept telling her mother, ‘That’s enough for me. Leave some for the rest of the kids.’ They are so sensitive.” “Parents will get excited when they come in, too,” Santana noted. “They feel like somebody cares. Somebody was there for them. This is the best thing that’s happened to them.” Porter asks that, rather than leaving clothes at the door, people contact her at 885-6436 or drop off items while she is there. The group works with other organizations in town to make sure that no clothing is wasted, she said. Future goals are simply to expand, in terms of preparing more clothes, raising more money for shoes and reaching out to more children. “It’s going good,” Santana said. “As you can see, we’ve been busy. We just want to help children in need.” “And don’t throw away your hangers because we could use them, too,” she added. Spring 2011 | A Community Magazine


on your city water lines, and we wanted to do that first. Although that extended the time with orange barrels, we didn’t want to have to tear up newly-constructed roadways at some later date.” There are additional construction projects going on along the North Canal Bridge and eventually on the Bataan Bridge. “Also, at the same time, we’ve spent about $3.6 million on city streets, and there’s a remainder of about $900,000 for additional residential streets,” Burgess added.


hile Carlsbad residents may be enjoying the labyrinth feature down by the beach area, they may not be quite as thrilled about navigating the larger labyrinth of orange barrels and construction projects around town. The payoff, notes City of Carlsbad Administrator Harry Burgess, is that, when what is perhaps the biggest town road construction project in decades is complete, it will drastically improve the condition of Carlsbad’s main thoroughfare and even add storm drains to boot. “We’re doing a number of projects right now that all just seemed to come to a head together,” said Burgess. “I’d like for residents to understand that some of them are projects funded by a 2008 gross receipts tax increase and some of them are funded by the State of New Mexico.” The major state project going on right now is the $16 million revamping of a 1.9 mile stretch of Canal Street. It’s actually the third segment of a broader one aimed at redoing Carlsbad’s entire main drag— Pierce and Canal Streets and National Parks Highway. The City of Carlsbad managed the two previous segments, but the state is managing the more expensive and complicated middle segment, which extends from Alameda down to Pompa Street. “As part of this project, one important thing is that we’re installing storm sewer drains across four main roads and down the middle of Canal,” Burgess said. “The project also involves a new road surface, curb,


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

gutter, sidewalk, medians and lighting.” In the past, summer storms have flooded Carlsbad’s entire downtown commercial area and road system. Burgess said the City contributed $1.5 million so that the state could put in the storm drains. While there are some minor storm drains along the railroad, this will be Carlsbad’s first major storm drain project. The short-term downside is that the storm drain installation involves tearing up major intersections. The City is also having culverts installed at other points along Canal Street so expanding the storm drain system will be easier in the future, Burgess noted. Another major aspect of the Canal Street project has involved the decision of what to do with the road when it passes through businesses in the downtown area. A citizens group was put in charge of examining different possibilities to look for the most motorist, pedestrian and business friendly option. “We originally had seven scenarios,” Burgess said. “The final decision was for the medians to remain. There will be lefthand turn cutouts at every intersection, two lanes in each direction but no onstreet parking. The street lighting will be moved out of the center.” The entire contract for the turnkey project is for 300 days, so don’t expect to see the orange barrels vanishing any time soon. “People have probably noticed that prior to this there were crews doing work on Canal Street,” Burgess said. “That was a stimulus project funded grant to replace

With smaller construction projects going on at other locations, Burgess said the City is also looking for ways to improve its communication on what roads are open at any given time. “We have had several meetings this week with the contractors and state officials. While they sent out notices of intent ahead of time, we’re trying to be more effective with that information.” A web page will soon exist with detailed information about Carlsbad’s ongoing construction. The City of Carlsbad will provide a link to the web site. Another major ongoing City of Carlsbad project includes pursuing the bidding process for a $16 million renovation to the city’s wastewater treatment facility. Also, the City has just finished its preliminary engineering report and is preparing to bid out for a major $30 million engineering and construction project for the Double Eagle water system. Funding for the project comes from a gross receipts tax hike, the Department of Energy, and the State of New Mexico. The Carlsbad Youth Sports Complex, Burgess said, is mostly complete, though the City did recently receive $190,000 in additional federal funding. “Our next step is to complete the entrance to that facility,” he said. “We’re also making various improvements including wind breaks, shade structures and adding playground features.” So, the next time you are maneuvering through all the orange barrels in Carlsbad to get to your destination, be sure to drive extra carefully, but put a smile on your face and remember that a year from now you will be very grateful for today’s inconvenience.

Thanks for your patience‌ while we work to improve our city. - Mayor Dale Janway

on business

Convenience Stores

Taking Life One Fountain Soda at a Time by John Safin You drive past them all the time.

They’re waiting for you on street corners, trying to get your attention with bright colors, specials, quick service, and being clean. Most people have one or two favorites and will stop whenever possible—feeling much livelier afterward. On the surface, your neighborhood convenience store is a refreshing oasis in a concrete jungle. However, there is much more to life in a convenience store than kidney-busting sized soft drinks and jumbo bags of pork rinds. Stand inside any store for a while (without getting arrested for loitering) and you’ll discover each one has its own ambiance and culture. Your senses will become immediately overloaded when you walk through the doors. The aromas of rightoff-the-grill foods, freshly brewed coffee, and sugar from the soda fountains seem to compete for air superiority. Rows and rows of brightly colored bags holding snacks of all flavors, shapes, and sizes entice your eyes as much as your taste buds. Ice falling into a 44-ounce plastic cup, bubbling from coffee brewing, and the whirring of the slushy machine create a symphony fitting for the setting. Of course, it’s the people working in the store and their customers that make each location unique.

Let’s play “Convenience Store Eye-Spy,” a fun game for the entire family created for this article. Score one point when you’re the first to find all the convenience store shoppers on the list: Gassers - Only there to put gas in their

car, truck, or motorcycle and get back on the road. Bonus points for finding anyone who squeegees their windshield.

Itchies - Enjoy playing the Scratcher

lottery tickets. It’s like a slot machine without the lights.


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

Pac-Man or Mrs. Pac-Man - Ready to gobble sandwiches, chips, beef jerky, candy, or anything that’s not moving.

on the corner of Canal and Church Streets. “My staff is very happy and friendly and that brings out the best in our customers.”

Gulpers - Thirsty people with the biggest

As you might expect, coffee is the dominant beverage sold in the morning. Shannon said her Brewer is the only one that opens at 5am every morning, even on the weekends, and the fun begins even before the doors open. “We know most of our customers by their first name. We know when they’ll come in, what they’ll get, and know how to make them laugh.” One customer, we’ll call him “Vern,” is there every morning as soon as the doors open for his cup o’joe. “Sometimes, he’ll even help make coffee if the pots are running low,” noted Shannon. “There are a lot of guys who grab Double Black coffees or Monster drinks and are ready to rock and roll the rest of the day.”

drinking cups found on the face of the Earth. Gain double points when you see anyone with a cup bigger than 50 ounces.

Java Junkies - The “kill me with caffeine” coffee drinkers. (Some of these people might be writers and magazine editors.)

Smokers - Walk out with cigarettes, cigars, or another form of tobacco. Cold Ones - Those who enjoy one or more fermented, cold beverages…also known as beer. Anyone who gets more than one case is affectionately called “McKenzie” after the Strange Brew brothers from the Great White North (Canada, not Santa Fe). Road Trippers - Anyone heading out to the highway for a long drive with more than five pounds of snacks, candy and multiple soft drink bottles.

Nighthawks and Nightingales - Noted

by their purchase of breath mints and/or smokes as they prepare for a fun evening at one of Carlsbad’s fabulous nightclubs. Very few people who shop at a convenience store leave with a frown. Think about it: You know what you want. You walk in, shop, purchase, and walk out. Happy times! It’s the ultimate, immediate gratification shopping experience. The people working at your neighborhood convenience stores are a major reason for the tremendous customer delight. “We’re the first stop in the morning for a lot of people, and we’re the first to start their day with a smile,” said Shannon Bruns, store manager at the Brewer store

Along with some liquid energy, customers gobble-up the wide selection of hot sandwiches and other foods offered at Brewer Church Street, which also has a drive-thru service window. “Burgers are made to order. We sell a lot of burritos and have really good food,” said Shannon. “We have barbeque beef and chicken sandwiches. The green chili pork burrito is a favorite. The chile relleno burritos are really good…especially when I make them.” This statement was followed by laughter, several “no ways,” and other opposing comments from her staff. Shannon, with a background in convenience store and quick service management, has been with Brewer for three years and likes the customer service aspect of the job. “Why work somewhere that’s all stuffy? I’m a happy, friendly person. I hire happy and friendly people. I call the staff ‘my group of kids.’ That makes for a great place to work and a

Shannon Bruns, Brewer Store Mgr., in red with two of her “kids”.

great place for the customers.” The casual conversations between Shannon, her “kids,” and the customers range from serious discussions, such as someone being sick or someone with a lost pet, to whose sports team is the best. (Note: The lovers and haters of the Dallas Cowboys seemed to be an even split.) One of the “kids” at Brewer is Louis Shaw, who works the night shift. He was born in Texas, raised in California, eventually went back to Texas, and moved to Carlsbad about a year ago. “Carlsbad is a great place. People wave in a friendly way.” When he’s not working, Louis is “always into music.” He plays the violin, viola and clarinet, sings at church, writes poetry and lyrics, and has his own CD. The pride in his voice when he talks about his music is equal to the amount of pride Louis puts into his work. “I make sure the store looks good and like making people smile. You know the people who are fun and the ones that are glad to have a friendly person talk to them.” Since he works in the evenings, most of his customers ignore the high-

Food Jet Staff

hamburgers are the best.”

caffeine drinks and grab packs or cases of cold refreshments to celebrate the end of a work day.

This comment was quickly supported by Carla Betancourt, the assistant manager. “Rick and Angie are the best cooks. People love their burritos and the rotisserie chicken is really good.” Carla has been the assistant manager at Food Jet for two years. Like the other people who work there, she has high praise for the owners and very much likes the people who shop there. “I like interacting with our customers. Every day is different because the customers MAKE each day different. Like Fred, one of our regulars. When he comes into the store, you never know what he’s going to say. It’s always something funny and makes everyone feel good.”

Customer wants and needs change with the seasons. During the summer months, people heading to the Pecos River beach stop for cold drinks, ice, and picnic items. Hot beverages dominate the winter months. Just about any convenience store in Carlsbad has a selection of health and beauty aids, school and automotive supplies, and some general retail merchandise. The quantity and availability varies slightly between stores based on customer demands. Go to the south end of town to the Food Jet, and it’s a whole new shopping experience. Located at the corner of National Parks Highway and Kircher Street, Food Jet South is more like a mini grocery store, offering packed beef, chicken and deli meats, an expanded dairy section including the ever-important ice cream, and much more. “Our biggest secret,” said co-owner Cathleen McIntyre, “is that no one knows we have a deli restaurant that makes food to order. The (work) crews that come in know about our deli. Our

Trying to please their customers is the reason Food Jet opens at 4:30am every day. “We used to open at five until our customers asked us to open a half hour earlier. It matched better with their work schedules. The owners thought this was a great idea, and our customers really appreciated it.” Customers, as previously mentioned, help


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create the culture of each convenience store in Carlsbad. The types of vehicles tell a story about the clientele. You’ll see utility and pick-up trucks caked in mud at one store, a different store will have customers with clean pick-ups, and another will have more sedans and SUVs in the parking lot. Walk into a store at the right moment to see manly men heading to the mines, parents with children who remembered on the drive to school they needed a new notebook, and even a few people who wear pajamas with fluffy slippers—and, that’s not just in the morning hours. Not only can you “snap into a Slim Jim” at Food Jet South, but you can get out of town on a Greyhound bus. The store doubles as the terminal and ticket location for the bus line, which offers scheduled service to destinations throughout the United States except Hawaii. Helllooooo…buses don’t float. Valerie Grado, senior supervisor, handles the Greyhound account in addition to routine store operations. “The schedule is posted at the store, or call to get the information. Tickets can be purchased up to a year in advance and no later than an hour before the bus leaves. Weekends for the bus are busiest. People go up to Albuquerque or to El Paso, some for a day and some for

the whole weekend.” Valerie has worked at Food Jet for about three years. “I was a regular customer and needed a new job. The store needed help and here I am.” She also likes talking with the customers. “I joke a lot with everybody. I get to know a lot of them, and they know me. When customers see me elsewhere out of the store and say ‘hi,’ my son thinks I know everybody.” Valerie expressed her coworkers are great and how much fun it is to work at Food Jet. When asked about any specific thing that makes working there fun, Valerie quickly stopped talking after slipping out the words “Carla” and “ice fight.” When asked for a confirmation regarding this event, Carla was glad to talk about the tourists who visit the store. “The visitor center is across the street. Tourists using their GPS for directions to the Carlsbad Caverns end up there instead. You’ll see them stop for a while and quickly drive over here. We’re glad to point them in the right direction.” While Carla and her staff can easily spot a lost tourist, one guy working at the convenience store where Canal and Canyon streets intersect seems to be psychic. A young lady walked no more

than two steps into the store. He pointed toward the back and said, “It’s down the hallway in the corner.” She said nothing, only took off her sunglasses, and yet he gave the correct answer to an unasked question. The demonstration of this amazing talent demanded an explanation! “I can always tell who’s looking for the bathroom,” was his succinct reply. Spooky. Next time your car needs gas or you need Bean-O to get rid of some, remember that your neighborhood convenience store contains a world of delight and wonderful people ready to serve you. It’s a place where you can run into friends, meet someone new, greet a visitor to our wonderful city, AND get a Fudgesicle. What more could you want? About the author:

John Safin has a background in business operations, marketing, event planning, and public relations. Originally from Upstate New York, John moved from Glendale, AZ to Carlsbad, NM, which he now calls “home.”

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Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

Carlsbad MainStreet The Four-Point Approach “Our Main Streets tell us who we are and who we were, and how the past has shaped us. We do not go to bland suburbs or enclosed shopping malls to learn about our past, explore our culture, or discover our identity. Our Main Streets are the places of shared Amy M. Barnhart memory where Carlsbad MainStreet people still come Executive Director together to live, work, and play.” – taken from the web site for the National Trust Main Street Center

and economic restructuring. This approach encourages cooperation and builds leadership in the business community. It stimulates downtown revitalization and historic preservation. It creates a positive image for Carlsbad by promoting the downtown as an exciting place to invest and do business, and it improves the design and infrastructure of downtown Carlsbad. But what does the Four-Point Approach translate to for Carlsbad residents and downtown merchants? It translates to the Fall Festival, which provides a safe place for community children to trick-or-treat. Last year downtown Carlsbad celebrated the 15th annual Fall Festival. It translates to a number of holiday events held Thanksgiving weekend. The Holiday Stroll encourages residents to shop downtown by providing entertainment, discounts, holiday cheer and the chance to win downtown shopping sprees and gift certificates to downtown businesses. The Little Miss Merry Christmas contest gives young girls the opportunity to raise money for the downtown holiday decorations, and the Electric Light Parade, which was once on the verge of extinction, is a thriving annual tradition enjoyed by old and young alike. It translates to façade improvements for downtown businesses that need a little face

There are over 2000 Main Street communities in the United States, 23 in the state of New Mexico. This year, Carlsbad MainStreet celebrates its 15th anniversary. The above quote gives a general sense of WHY these Main Street programs exist. But it is not always so easy to explain to the average person WHAT Main Street does. Carlsbad MainStreet utilizes the National Trust Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach: organization, promotion, design

lift. It also translates to planters, benches and trees which provide the downtown with a more pleasant ambiance. In the near future, a directional signage program will translate to greater ease in locating points of interest for visitors and tourists, promoting area attractions and improving commerce. The signage we have already purchased will be installed after the Canal Street construction. In the meantime, Carlsbad MainStreet will continue to pursue other funding for the remainder of the signage program. The completion and approval of the downtown master plan last month translates to a cohesive blueprint for the downtown area, better enabling Carlsbad MainStreet to apply for grants to continue the process of turning downtown Carlsbad into a powerhouse of commerce, community and fun. Visitors and residents alike should be able to gain a sense of history and community by visiting a well-maintained, historic downtown. It should be able to tell a story with no words. Carlsbad MainStreet exists to strengthen the downtown as the heart of our community. This can be accomplished with a coordinated effort between organizations and individual members of the community. Anyone interested in volunteering with Carlsbad MainStreet, or looking for more information on the organization, can contact Executive Director Amy Barnhart at or 575.628.3768.

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Spring 2011 | A Community Magazine


on a carlsbad character



Local resident’s Norm Petty collection is second to none For Tom Kirby, an autumn Saturday in 1987 was the day the music came to life. That was when Tom first attended the Clovis Music Festival, and the year when he fell in love with the music produced by legendary recording artist Norm Petty and his wife, Vi. That was also when Tom began collecting memorabilia associated with New Mexico’s quintessential contribution to rock and roll history. Petty and Vi, along with guitarist Jack Vaughn, were the founders of the Norman Petty Trio. Though highlyacclaimed as a musician, Petty is most famous for the magic produced in his recording studio in his hometown of Clovis. There, his gifted ear helped start the career of many developing musicians, including rock pioneer and legend Buddy Holly. Norm Petty died in 1984. His wife lived until 1992, and she remained committed to preserving her husband’s musical legacy.

Local collector Tom Kirby in front of several of his album collections. Many items from Kirby’s collection went on display at the Carlsbad museum.

there,” he said. “They also brought in certain groups, such as the original backup singers for Buddy Holly, and I got to meet all of them. I went to the show and have been hooked ever since. Consequently, I got hooked on collecting their records.” So, while other college kids his age were listening to cassettes of Guns and Roses and Metallica, Tom was keying up his record player to the crooning of artists such as Waylon Jennings, Carolyn Hester and Holly. “The Norman Petty Trio had a particular sound,” Tom said. “It was fascinating to watch her (Vi) play. She was the one trying to preserve his legacy, and that’s what this music festival was all about.”

Tom came into the picture a few months before the Clovis music festival. He was a junior at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

Tom had help with obtaining a list of music to collect. He had a contact who wrote down all of the names of the albums that were on the wall in Petty’s studio, and he got to work acquiring copies. These days, whenever Tom scores a new album, he’ll usually listen to it on vinyl just once.

“I’d always been interested in music and audio production,” he said. “They (the college) had a music talent contest where they invited Vi Petty to be one of the judges.”

“Then I’ll transfer them to CD,” he said. “I don’t like to play the record directly unless I have to, considering the rarity of the records.”

Vi told Tom she was planning on opening up her late husband’s studio for tours. Tom took the tour, and he also attended the music festival in Clovis the following September. “She’d do a performance every year


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

Still, subsequent replays will never quite emulate that first listen. “Vinyl has an intimate sound that surrounds you a lot more than a CD does,” he said, adding, “though CD’s are more convenient.”

Today, Tom’s collection includes about 300 45rpm singles and another 50 to 60 albums. He’s got a few posters and pictures as well, but his focus has always been on the music. “I’m into the audio production part of it,” Tom said. “He (Petty) was a genius when it came to sounds. The best way to experience it is to go to Clovis and go to the studio itself. All of the equipment is still there, and there’s a certain warmth to the building that you can’t really explain unless you’ve been to it.” Tom said Petty used a lot of techniques to put together the distinct “Clovis Sound,” which defined the recording studio and put the community’s music scene on the map. “Sometimes, he’d literally spend five or six hours setting up microphones and getting the sound levels to make sure it was exactly what he and the artists were looking for,” Tom said. Petty also taped all of his rehearsals. “Sometimes, he’d not let the band know he was taping, because they’d be more relaxed for the rehearsal,” Tom added. Tom’s collection came in handy recently. A friend of his passed on information about his collection to the Carlsbad Museum & Art Center’s director, Patsy Jackson-Christopher, and other local collectors, including New Mexico State University’s Mike Cleary, provided impressive collections of their own to what

became the museum’s winter display. Many items from the Petty studio in Clovis were also included. The art exhibit developed a music component on January 8. Over the years, Tom has become friends with quite a few of the musicians, and he was able to bring in members of The Fireballs, one of Petty’s protégés, for a special performance. The Fireballs, which still include original members George Tomsco and Stan Lark, are best known for the 1962 hit “Sugar Shack,” which topped the charts at the time.

Gerrells Performing Arts Center. It was a chance to share old stories about the pioneer days of rock and roll. Carlsbad resident Echo Griffith talked about how she’d dated Buddy Holly for some time, while other residents reminisced about an Elvis visit

through the Cavern City years ago. Tom Kirby already knew many of the old stories that were being shared, but he didn’t seem to mind one bit hearing them again.

They were joined in Carlsbad by Tommy Allsup, the member of Holly’s band most famous for being the loser of a coin flip that kept him off of the 1959 flight that killed Buddy Holly. After participating in a panel discussion at Carlsbad’s museum, Allsup and members of the Fireballs concluded their visit to Carlsbad with a concert and storytelling session at the Walter

From left: George Tomsco (The Fireballs), David Bigham (The Roses) and Tommy Allsup. Tommy Allsup talks about some of the good old days during a presentation at the Carlsbad Museum & Art Center.

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on technology

By Margaret Sage Bemis Getting an education in digital

media used to mean traveling to Dallas or Los Angeles. Now Carlsbad folks who want to break into the world of digital media can do so without ever leaving town. New Mexico State UniversityCarlsbad offers an Associate’s Degree in Digital Technology along with Certificates in Digital Animation, Digital Graphics, Digital Storytelling, Digital Video, Digital Video Game Animation and Digital Video Media Production. In just two years, students can acquire the skills needed to work in one of the fastest growing fields in the country.

Digital Film Program

“This is such a valuable program. Getting into the film industry—cinematography, directing—the more technology expands, there’s more need for people with these skills.” Cynthia Niedland is a believer in the Digital Film program at New Mexico State University-Carlsbad. Now in her second year as an instructor, she enthusiastically pitches the program as a unique opportunity for students at a twoyear college. “We bring something that most schools don’t offer—hands-on your first two years. They [the students] work not only as crew members, but they also get to produce their own projects.” Niedland brings a wealth of experience to the Digital Film program. During her almost 20 years in the film/television


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

industry, she has worked in writing, marketing, pre-production, production and post-production. Her film credits include “From Earth to the Moon,” “The Waterboy,” “Armageddon,” “Contact” and “All Shook Up.” She has produced over eight short films, written two feature length scripts, produced a feature length documentary, and was invited to pitch for Disney I.D.E.A.S. She is currently in preproduction for a webisode series and in research and development for her second feature length documentary. It was a bit of serendipity that brought Niedland to Carlsbad. “I wanted to teach, and it seemed that a lot of the colleges put out their notices in late fall or early spring for the following year. Carlsbad had posted an ad in October and November. I liked everybody when I came out to visit. I liked the school. It was good timing. I interviewed in December, and I was there the end of January.” Niedland was impressed by the equipment NMSU-C offered, made possible by a series of grants from the State. “Not all schools are as prepped and have the facilities that Carlsbad has. For a two-year college, it’s just a wonderful opportunity.” Last year the school was one of only six in the state to share in a grant from then Governor Bill Richardson, providing for the purchase of new high-definition cameras and lighting equipment. Niedland credited Jeff Campbell at the Department of Development for helping to get the grant. The goal of the Digital Film program is to provide training and support to help build a sustainable, qualified workforce for the film industry. Niedland hopes to see

Sam Christiansen explains the required steps in creating and animating a street scene. He teaches Digital Animation at NMSU-C.

the film industry develop in Carlsbad by providing equipment and qualified people to work on crews. “It used to be that you had to go to New York or Hollywood, but now you just have to drive five hours north and there’s a lot of opportunity,” she said. Students going through the Digital Film Program will finish with a working understanding of the entire production process. “I’m providing the tools that are industry standard so that when these students go out they have tools—preproduction, scheduling, budgeting of time and money, project development—and take it all the way through to a finished production where they show their work at the student film festival in May.” Bringing more film production to a town is not only beneficial to the students trained to work on the crews, but to the local businesses as well. A production company requires many services and supplies, so restaurants, hotels, drycleaning companies, lumber yards, nurseries and many other businesses benefit. “Moving image study and practice is one of the best ways to explore and understand the world in which we live,” said Niedland. “Film is like a mirror on society where we can look at and explore who we are and understand that. I believe in this program, I’m passionate about it, and all the kids are great.”

Digital Animation Program

“Tomorrow we’re going to light this thing. We’re going to do some basic camera motion so you’ll have this whole scene done. We’ll set up a camera and we’ll start rendering it out.” Sam Christiansen isn’t talking about setting up live action cameras. Everything he’s showing his class is projected from his computer, and the students are following along on their own computer screens. It’s all part of his Advanced Animation workshop, and the students are captivated. “I was the first teacher for this program back in 2005,” explained Christiansen. “It started with a grant from Bill Richardson. We received just about a million dollars to build this lab, and we have the studios here and in Artesia. That grant bought all the computers and the cameras. Very expensive.” The software is also expensive. Christiansen teaches the students to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and Maya. “There’s two different takes on it. One is you need the best of everything to go high definition. The other is to teach the foundations. My goal is to teach them the foundations. You can take the foundations and learn a camera. If you teach a camera, as soon as that camera is obsolete, their skills are obsolete. I’m teaching them to become fundamentalists— fundamentalists animators. “We teach a video game animation class. We do the artwork. We don’t actually build the games here. The computer science department is offering a class this semester in C++ and Java. The goal is that we can merge the two so that students can develop a game and learn the programming side of things. They are two separate fields. The programmers tend to not like the artists and the artists tend to not like the programmers. Artists want everything to look photo-realistic, and the programmers want everything to work well. Hopefully in the future we’ll have both programs going.” Christiansen proudly showed off the digital media facilities: two computer

labs, a general computer lab, and a film studio. The department also has a mobile studio for filming on location. This year, the mobile studio was taken to Artesia football games for broadcast on the internet. Christiansen pointed to a large poster featuring a rubbery-looking cartoon character he called Jaurge. “Next spring we’ll start animating this little guy. I think we’ll incorporate live animation.” “A few years ago you would have had to go to Dallas or L.A. to do this. Eric Hansen is a top animator, and he does a lot of his work out of High Rolls. He lives in L.A., but he has a relative who lives up there. With the internet and FedEx you can do just about anything.”

Kimberly Davis, 17, a junior at Loving High School, participates in the Dual Enrollment program. She enjoys making her “own little world” on the computer.

Dual Enrollment

With the passage of State Law SB943 students attending a New Mexico public high school, charter school, or statesupported school and who entered that school in the 2009-2010 school year or later are required to participate in a college experience prior to graduation. One way to satisfy that requirement is to participate in an in-person (face-toface) college course while attending high school. NMSU-C’s Digital Media Program is available for dual enrollment. Students can receive high school and college credit for a university course. By participating in the Digital Media program their junior and senior years of high school, they can complete their Associate’s degree at the same time they graduate from high school. “Starting in the spring of 2012,” said Christiansen, “that Associate’s Degree will transfer over, so they’ll need two more years to get their Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media from the NMSU main campus in Las Cruces. Which is pretty amazing—two years out of high school and you’ve got your Bachelor’s Degree.” More information about the Dual Enrollment program can be found at

NMSU Carlsbad is now offering Associate degrees completely online! Talk to an advisor today about the affordability and flexibility of online courses. This is the perfect opportunity for busy individuals who don’t have time for traditional classes.

Call 234-9200 for more information! Or visit us online at

Joshua Navarrete, 20, is working toward his Digital Animation Certificate and Associate’s Degree. He hopes his skills will help him in a career in digital animation. Spring 2011 | A Community Magazine


on education

CHS Choir Back in Business S

By Margaret Sage Bemis

even years ago, Ken Miller walked into the Carlsbad High School choir room and started picking up the pieces. Its numbers depleted after a string of well-qualified but shortterm choir directors, the program was struggling to even stay in existence. Facilities were shabby, performance clothes were ragged, and students were complacent.

Miller tackled each challenge with zeal, determination and grit. Refusing to accept anything less than excellence, he rebuilt the program. With the enhancements of snazzy new choir robes, a state-of-the-art performing arts building and the addition of several new classes, the CHS choirs are once again recognized as some of the best in New Mexico. The Troubadours are consistently among the very top choirs at the State Choral Contest. “My goal for each choir is that they breathe life into whatever piece we are performing so that we can communicate the artist’s intent to our audience,” said Miller. A native of Perryton, Texas, Miller has degrees from Hardin-Simmons University and the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to Carlsbad he served as high school choral director at Abilene and Austin, Texas, and Shattuck, Oklahoma, and on the faculty of McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. He and his wife, Lisa, spent four years teaching at the International School of Düsseldorf, Germany. While in Europe, Miller had the opportunity to study, tour, and perform with several leading conductors and performers. Miller is passionate about the language of music and teaching that language to children. “The joy of teaching these kids is to be a part of the excitement and energy they bring,” he said. “As our skills become more developed, we are exploring complex and challenging choral works, which are rewarding for the kids and for our audiences. I am proud of these kids because they are exploring what it


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

means to understand and think like an artist.” Miller directs three choirs: Choraliers for girls, Troubadours for mixed voices, and Meistersingers, a select group of 17 of his best singers. He also directs several small ensembles. This year he added an Advanced Placement Music Class to give students a deeper understanding of the language of music. “Singing in choir gives students the opportunity to breathe life into ideas so they become alive for an audience,” he explained. “We explore many styles of music and several styles of singing and performing from classical to jazz to pop to folk to barbershop. Each style demands that we understand appropriate ways of singing and performing in order to be successful.” The choirs and ensembles perform at several venues throughout the year. In addition to fall, holiday and spring concerts, they present “Divalicious,” an intimate small group performance and dessert time, and a spring variety show, which showcases soloists and ensembles along with the full choirs. Ensembles and soloists also sing the national anthem before school ballgames and perform at talent shows, basketball game halftimes and other special events. Every other year, the choral and theatre departments team up to present a musical play. Last spring, many of the choir students portrayed leading and company roles in “Once Upon a Mattress,” a musical retelling of “The Princess and the Pea.” Add to all that the various competitions throughout the year, and you have some very busy choral students.


One of the small ensembles, “Chosen,” is an a capella quintet composed of members Philip Rust, Aaron Dockery, Janecia Jones, Javier Lopez, and Colton Hardy. After a practice run-through of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” the five shared their thoughts about music and choir. Colton Hardy, 16 and a junior, is a

versatile musician. Not only does he sing, he also plays guitar, piano, mandolin, drums, bass guitar and harmonica. He enjoys the friendship and camaraderie he gets in choir. Javier Lopez, 18, is a senior who plans to attend Eastern New Mexico University to prepare for a teaching career or a singing career in New York. “Music’s my getaway from the world,” he said. Aaron Dockery, 17, plans to major in voice and sing opera. “I’ve always loved to sing,” he said. The junior treasures the friendships he’s made in choir. Junior Janecia Jones, 17, said music is her hobby and her passion. She also sees it as an escape and plans to continue with her study of the art. She is currently teaching herself to play piano and guitar. Philip Rust, 17, came to choir through a slightly unorthodox route. “I got in here because I failed a class,” he said, “and ended up loving it.” The junior’s experience shows how passion can sometimes be found in unexpected places. After practicing their a cappella number, Javier sang another song with Colton accompanying him on guitar. The two would be entertaining the basketball fans during halftime at that night’s game.

Ken Miller explains rhythmic notation to his AP Music Theory class. His enthusiasm and experience has revitalized the CHS Choir program.

NMMEA All-State Choirs

Each January, the best high school singers in the state gather at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque for three days of workshops and classes with top choral instructors as part of the New Mexico Music Educators Association

All-State Choirs. The event culminates in two concerts at UNM’s Popejoy Hall on Saturday: one by the All-State Treble Choir, with 160 members, and one by the All-State Mixed Choir, with 240 members. This year, Carlsbad High School sent 27 young singers to participate in the AllState Choirs, held January 5 through 11. Students auditioned for the All-State Choirs last October in Portales. However, all choir members must go through a second audition process when they get to Albuquerque. During the second audition, each student sings cuts from three of six rehearsed pieces by memory. They do not know which cut will be asked of them, so they must prepare all six. Failing the second audition means the singer will not be allowed to participate in the choir. Mikayla Twitchell, 17, has made the high school All-State Choirs the past three years. A junior, she enjoys being with the best singers from around the state. “It’s fun to get to know people,” she said. “AllState is the best of everyone. There are really good conductors, classes and choirs. Plus, it’s three days off from school.” First-timer James Thompson, 15, was a bit intimidated by the idea of singing with the best but took comfort in knowing that singers find common ground in music. “Singers have a way of relating to each other,” he observed. The freshman was excited to experience the sound of the 240 choir members filling the auditorium and to perform in Popejoy Hall. Of course, traveling with 27 high school students would be more than a handful for just one teacher, and Miller relies on a cadre of parents and other music teachers to help with the logistics and chaperoning. One of those is Donia McDaniel, a substitute teacher who volunteers as “Choir Mom.” As such she handles the travel logistics—reservations and meals. She makes sure the performance robes are ready. During the trip, she shepherds the students from place to place, as well as carries emergency supplies such as bandages, safety pins “and hugs—lots of Members of the a capella quintet, Chosen, practice “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” Members are, L to R, Janecia Jones, Philip Rust, Aaron Dockery, Javier Lopez and Colton Hardy.

hugs.” McDaniel has accompanied the choir, including her daughter Pauline, to All-State three times. “It’s an incredible experience as an audience member,” she said. “I’m sure it’s ten times as incredible for the performers.”

Corners Theatre Festival in Farmington. She comes from an artistic family, with musical talent going back to her great grandfather, who was a pianist. Her mother is an actress and pianist, and her father is a director.

2011 Mixed Choir Members:

Pauline McDaniel, 16, hopes to become a music teacher. She also plays guitar and composes music in a folk acoustic style. Her eyes sparkled with excitement as she talked about the upcoming trip to New York.

Pranav Athigaman (9) Robin Bindel (11) Abigail Buckholz (11) Charlie Camarena (11) Aaron Dockery (11) Ryann Farris (10) Jordan Fierro (10) Colton Hardy (11) Javier Lopez (12) Aaron Martinez (11)

Pauline McDaniel (11) Josh Miller (9) Chance Najera (10) Robby Oliphant (11) Quinton Schrock (12) Miranda Stroble (12) Joseph Sturdevant (10) James Thompson (9) Mikayla Twitchell (11)

2011 Treble Choir Members: Sierra Hatch (11) Jaycie Henson (9) Brianna Hunt (10) Janecia Jones (11)

Stephanie Kurimski (12) Mariah McClintock (11) Angelica Torres (10) Antoinette West (9)

American High School Honors Choir

As if a full schedule of performance and competition isn’t enough, four choir members applied for, and were accepted into, the American High School Honors Choir. As such, they will travel to New York City in February, where they will work with a world-class conductor in preparation to perform with 121 other talented choir students at Carnegie Hall. Abigail Buckholz, Miranda Stroble, Pauline McDaniel and Aaron Dockery submitted audition tapes last June but didn’t learn they had been chosen to be part of the Honors Choir until October. They are the only four students from New Mexico who will sing in the choir. Abigail Buckholz, 16, is a multitalented musician. Using her own pop arrangements, she accompanies herself on piano and is learning to play guitar and violin. The junior says music is “a way of expressing yourself, even if you don’t sing or play.” Along with qualifying for the Honors Choir, this year Abi was chosen for All-State Choir, and she won first place in Musical Theatre Solo at the Four The All-State Choir members in one of their favorite songs, “Good Old A Capella.”

Miranda Stroble, 17, is the only senior in the group. She plans to attend Lubbock Christian University to major in Youth and Family Ministry. About music, she said, “It’s more than just words. You can express more than words ever can. I’ll always be performing, whether in church or in the shower.” Miranda also sang at the Four Corners Theatre Festival, where she took third place in Musical Theatre Solo. She and Abi won second place in Musical Theatre Duet. Aaron Dockery agreed that music can change your mood and outlook on life. “It can make you happy,” he said. All four students are members of the NMMEA All-State Choirs. The honor of participating in the Honors Choir is limited to select high school performers. In most cases, qualified students are invited to apply after having been nominated by a music teacher familiar with their accomplishments. More information about the American High School Honors Choir can be found at

Upcoming Performances

The Choir Department has two more concerts scheduled for this school year. The Variety Show will be March 4 at 7:00 PM at the Walter Gerrells Performing Arts Center. On May 3, the choirs will present their Spring Concert at 7:00 PM at P. R. Leyva Auditorium. To schedule the choir or an ensemble for a special event, contact Ken Miller at Carlsbad High School (575234-3300). L to R, Pauline McDaniel, Abigail Buckholz, Miranda Stroble and Aaron Dockery will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of the American HS Honors Choir.

on sports

From Cavegirl to College Star Vianca Villegas


by Jeff Keller

fter helping put the Carlsbad Cavegirl basketball program back on the map during her high school career, Vianca Villegas is now helping Cochise College women’s basketball program as a sophomore starter. The 5’ 11” post player helped the Cavegirl basketball squad return to the state tournament for the first time in years in 2009 and she quickly made an impact on her college squad last season. Villegas was able to realize a life-long dream when she accepted an offer to play basketball at Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona. “I have been playing basketball since I was younger and I always had the dream of going to college and playing any sport,” Villegas said. “I was involved in softball also. My senior year came and I just ended up playing basketball. Whenever I had the offer of coming over here to play basketball, I decided I didn’t want to look back and say ‘oh I should have done this, or I should have done that.’” Villegas’ high school coach her senior year was current Cavegirl coach John Lee Zumbrun. Zumbrun said he knew he was inheriting a talented player in Villegas. “I had known about Vianca because before I came here I was an assistant at Hobbs,” Zumbrun said. “We game-planned for Vianca. She kind of came on the scene her sophomore year. I know she played as a freshman too, but she was hard to stop. She was athletic and strong, and she was crafty with the ball down on the block. We really had to game plan for her. I came (to Carlsbad) her senior year, and I knew we really had a good post presence with her.” After the Cavegirls earned a trip to the state playoffs her senior year, Zumbrun said Villegas wanted to keep playing basketball at the collegiate level. “We sent some tape off to Cochise and their coach contacted me and said he was interested. I believe she went down and took a visit down there and played against some of the players that were there. The coach told me that they liked her because she could shoot the three and also go inside and get some rebounds and had a little versatility in that respect.” Zumbrun said a solid work ethic gave


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

Villegas the chance to continue playing basketball at the next level. “Vianca is not the fastest athlete and she is not going to jump the highest, but she is tough. She has a big heart and she plays hard. She is not one to back down from contact. She has the mentality to go down and mix it up in the post. I think her greatest strength is her determination. She has a will to win.” Villegas made an immediate impact on the Cochise program, earning a starting position for the Apaches early in the 2009-2010 season. After suffering an injury in December of 2009, Villegas was able to battle back to regain her starting position by the end of her freshman year. “At first I was nervous because it was a different level of competition,” Villegas said. “Then once I started playing and gaining experience I started proving myself on the court and I just worked to get a starting position.” Villegas said she realized early on in her freshman season that the level of play was much higher than she had faced in high school. “The difference is in the competition,” Villegas said. “In high school you play against teams and some players have a high level of skill and others don’t. In college, everybody is pretty much the top player from whatever high school they came from so it is really nice to play against players that are at the same skill level or maybe even a little bit better. It helps me get better as a player.” Cochise College competes in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference and is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association. As a returning starter for the Apaches, Villegas has put up solid numbers through 16 games this season. According to the NJCAA Website, Villegas is averaging 8.5 points per game and about four rebounds per contest. She is shooting 41 percent from the floor, and 32 percent from three-point range, while shooting 75-percent from the free throw line and earning one steal per contest. The Apaches are coached by Steve Lane and

Villegas said he has helped her to improve her game in the time she has been at Cochise. “In high school you play to have fun and to win, and you have the skills that you have gained from growing up and playing,” she said. “But once I got here, I got better with my fundamentals and my basketball IQ has gone up a lot.” Villegas was also quick to thank both Zumbrun and Ron Egan, who coached Villegas her first three years at CHS. “Coach Egan really showed me a lot of things that I could work on with my game to get better results,” Villegas said. “He showed (the Cavegirl team) a lot and I really appreciate it. He helped me be a better person on and off the court. With coach Zumbrun, he brought in more things to do and a better outlook that helped us get a level higher than what we were. Myself and the Cavegirl team benefited a lot from both coaches all four years.” Villegas is working on general studies and plans to major in Psychology, in hopes of being a middle school or high school counselor. “It is a two year school and I will be graduating this May,” Villegas said of Cochise. “I am trying to get another scholarship from another university hopefully. If not, I plan to go to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.” As for this season, the Apaches are 5-11 midway through the schedule. The team went 11-19 her freshman year. Villegas said the team wants to make a playoff run this year. “We want a better record,” Villegas said. “It wasn’t too great last year, but we have a lot of potential on this team and our goal is to get to the playoffs and to play our hearts out.” Zumbrun said the Cavegirl program is honored to have helped Villegas reach her dreams of competing in college and he hopes she can continue her college playing career. “It is a feather in our cap but more than that I am just proud for Vianca,” Zumbrun said. “We are in this business to help kids, develop kids, and to give them a sense of pride in their community, their sport, and themselves. The Carlsbad basketball community is proud of her and I hope she can continue with it.”

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The Largest Producer of Potash in the U.S. Carlsbad, New Mexico

Spring 2011 | A Community Magazine


on fitness

...a Way of Life for Many


t dance locations across Carlsbad, the party starts at 5 a.m., and it continues all the way through the evening. Each day, hundreds of Carlsbad residents wake up and go to bed to Zumba, a popular dance fitness program that has spread through the community like wildfire. Zumba was first created by Colombian dancer Alberto Perez in the 1990s. It combines Latin and international music in an effort to make exercise fun. “Zumba is supposed to be a party,” explained Cheryl Jenkins, director of Cheryl’s School of Dance. “It’s so popular because it’s a Latin dance, and a lot of us are really into that kind of music. Adults have crazy lives, and it just takes your mind off of your troubles for 45 minutes.”

doesn’t seem like a hassle or burden that you have to do. It’s something you can really enjoy.”

(pictured above) Zumba instructor Jolene Beaty leads a workout at the Just Dance Studio.

Beaty’s day stays busy–she’s a kindergarten teacher who often leads Zumba workouts in the morning and evening.

Cabezuela said her aunt talked her into participating in a Zumba class at the local gym. She attended a few classes, but quit when she couldn’t keep up.

“I found out about it (Zumba) by accident,” she said. “I was eating lunch, and a lady came up and said, ‘Why don’t you do Zumba?”

“Then I started going to someone else’s class,” she said. “I was so sweaty that walking out it was like I’d been playing in a water sprinkler. I started dropping weight and feeling a lot better. Every time I went to class I could do more and more. I liked the way it made me feel.”

Beaty said she went online and found out about training options in Las Cruces. “It has become really popular. I’m so happy I did it. That got Zumba started in Carlsbad.”

Cheryl’s School of Dance offers Zumba classes throughout the week, as does its competitor, the Just Dance! studio.

For local Zumba instructor Amber Cabezuela, the routine was a life changer.

“What I like about it is that it is a combination of dancing with exercising, so it is not so strenuous,” said Jolene Beaty, Just Dance’s Zumba instructor. “It

“In 2009, when I started a workout regiment, I weighed well over 200 pounds,” she said. “I was unhappy, depressed and tired of living like that.”


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

Jenkins said she’s been looking for just the right Zumba instructor and was thrilled when Amber Gregory Silvas, one of her former students, agreed to obtain certification. “For our first free class, we had over 60 women, and a few men,” she said prior to a 5 a.m. session. “We had a big, full class last night, and I’m interested in how this early morning will go.” The point to an early morning class is to cater to people who just don’t have the

time during the rest of the day. There were teachers, restaurant owners and high school students at one of Gregory Silvas’ recent early morning classes. Some of the students had also been working out the night before, Jenkins said. “They have busy lives trying to fit it all in, but they know they are supposed to be physically fit,” she said. Her instructor, Gregory Silvas, drives from 30 minutes away to lead the 5 a.m. class. “It’s just a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s easy to pick up and repeat it, so you can catch on a lot faster. You are constantly moving. You never have a peak, so it’s very good cardio. Some people who haven’t liked exercise came and tried it and loved it, so just give it a try.” A typical Zumba workout will last from 45 minutes to an hour and usually include 12 to 14 dances. Some local Zumba classes also include a toning option. For example, Just Dance! includes Zumba workouts with weighted maracas. “It’s good for all ages,” Beaty said. “I can burn up to 200 more calories an hour (with the toning program). Beaty said she doesn’t have her kindergarten students do Zumba workouts, but she does incorporate some of the concepts. “This has all been very beneficial,” she said about her busy weekly routine. “I’m back down to my high school size, and that’s after having two kids.” Cabezuela and her husband moved to Carlsbad in July. She wasn’t aware of any Zumba classes in Carlsbad at the time, so she obtained her licenses in instruction before moving here. There are separate licenses for Zumba instruction to older adults and to children, she noted. Currently, she teaches classes at the Riverwalk Recreation Center on a regular basis. Her busy schedule

also includes Zumba Fitness Parent Involvement classes in Carlsbad and Loving. All the members of Cabezuela’s public Zumba classes, which she holds in a pay- as-you-go format, are women. “We all share a common goal,” she said. “We’re all there to lose weight and feel better about ourselves.” She also enjoys the family Zumba classes she teaches. “It’s so much fun. You reap healthy benefits from dancing, sweating and burning calories, and the kids follow your lead.” On the first and third Friday of each month, Cabezuela’s evening Zumba classes at the Riverwalk Recreation Center raise funds and gather supplies for local charities such as Grace House and CASA. “If there are any local charities in need of supplies, I’m more than willing to help,” she said. “When you show up, wear tennis shoes, bring water and a towel because I’m going to make you sweat!” There’s no denying Zumba’s present popularity as an exercise routine for women in Carlsbad; however, one question is whether the popularity will withstand the test of time. “I think everyone wonders about how long it will stay,” admitted Jenkins. “I think it will be a good one (long lasting) because of the Latin-based music that is just so high energy and fun.”

Contact information:

Amber Cabezuela: 281-408-9839 Cheryl’s School of Dance: 575-885-0239 Just Dance! Studio: 575-885-1989

(pictured top right) Amber Cabezuela begins her Zumba workout at the Riverwalk Recreation Center. (pictured bottom right) Amber Gregory Silvas, Zumba instructor at Cheryl’s School of Dance, leads a 5 a.m. class.

Spring 2011 | A Community Magazine


on food

Submitted by Adam Troemner


• 2 1/4 c. all purpose flour

(You will need more dry ingredients if you increase the fresh berries to 1 cup )

• 3 tsp. baking powder • 3/4 c. butter, margarine or shortening • 1 c. honey • 1 egg • 1/4 c. fresh raspberries (Can increase to 1/2 or 1 cup ) • 6-10 Raspberry Ghirardelli Squares


• Combine flour and baking powder; set aside. • Chop Raspberry Ghirardelli Squares. • Rinse raspberries and crush in a small bowl. • In a large mixing bowl beat butter, margarine or shortening with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds to soften (or by hand if you like the old fashioned way). Gradually add the 1 cup honey; beat until fluffy. Add egg, raspberry, and Raspberry Ghirardelli Squares and beat well. Stir dry ingredients into beaten mixture. • Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls (1 LARGE tablespoon dough each). Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 1/2 inches apart. (I like to pre-squish the dough drops with the palm of my hand) Bake in a 350 degree oven about 10 minutes or until light brown and still puffed (do not overcook). Let stand for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool. Add frosting. The icing is just raspberry syrup with powdered sugar. Makes 24 three inch cookies. (or One Dozen Adam sized cookies). Alternate version: Set aside half of the chopped Raspberry Ghirardelli Squares and add the other half to the wet ingredients. In the last two minutes of baking pull out the cookies and sprinkle the rest of the Raspberry Ghirardelli Squares on top of the cookies. Return the cookies into the oven. Pull out finished cookies with the toppings melted as desired. Cool and enjoy! Portions of this recipe were modified from,1710,157189-227205,00.html.


Focus on Carlsbad | Spring 2011

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business directory

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Body Shop is direct repair facility for the following insurance companies: Allstate, State Farm, Geico, Hartford, GMAC, and Safeco.


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Spring 2011 | A Community Magazine


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8/11/10 8:18 AM

Focus on Carlsbad Spring 2011  
Focus on Carlsbad Spring 2011