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Celebrating Our Differences

Diabetic Squid Opposites Attract A True Champion When We Open Our Eyes Chamber News & More!

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Marko Farion DDS

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inside this issue SPRING 2017

04 06 08




14 15 18 22 23 25 28 30




34 36 38









Pictured (FROM LEFT) Ryder Champion, Duke Harper and Sydney Zuniga. Their stories highlight the fact that being “different” is something to be celebrated! Photo by Jessica Addington Lajuana Martinez, Publisher - Staci Guy, Associate Publisher Adrian Martinez, Director of Business Development Staci Guy, Editorial Director - Daniel Zamarron, Sales Consultant Photography by Staci Guy , Jessica Addington, Kyle Marksteiner & Submitted Photos Special Contributors: Kyle Marksteiner, Haley Harper, Kandice Barley and Nora White FOCUS ON ARTESIA IS PUBLISHED QUARTERLY BY AD VENTURE MARKETING

Ad Venture Marketing, Ltd. Co. • 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.



from the editor Looking back, one of the best things I have ever

done—besides marrying my husband and having children, of course—was moving away for college. It forced me out of my safe little bubble and into the real world.


Editorial Director


Until 1997, I lived in a conservative, two-parent, Christian home with one sibling. I loved to play sports, had good friends, made good grades and did well in school. I had no idea that life could look any different, and I took for granted that my normal life was exactly that, my normal. Little did the naive, young Staci know, people in my very own community were living very different lives than me—not necessarily “good” or “bad” different, just different. I lived in Albuquerque, Lubbock and San Antonio, and at every stop along the way I encountered people that changed my life and, essentially, my perspective on life. Some of the people I met had similar viewpoints to mine while others were opposed. I met people whose lifestyles I did not understand and whose belief systems did not line up with my own. My experiences in college and in the workforce have not permitted me to surround myself with only like-minded individuals, and for that I am thankful. I love meeting new people. I believe God places all people in our lives for a reason, and some just for a season. Sometimes I know right away that a person will be in my life forever. Other times, it is apparent that a person’s presence in my life is likely just for a season—for a period of time, determined by God, to teach me something, force change or even

expose something to me, in me or for me. Here’s the point I’m trying to make: In meeting different types of people, it has forced me to examine my own beliefs and viewpoints. Why do I believe what I believe? At times I might make some alterations and then reevaluate; other times my evaluations solidify what I had already believed. I read an article once in Ministry Magazine that said nations, tribes, cities, villages, churches and families have often learned the hard way that the manner in which we deal with our differences determines the quality, peace, prosperity and progress of life in a community. This is especially true of our more intimate relationships. You see, it’s easy to get along and play nice when it comes to people with whom we agree. The challenge comes in dealing with our differences. How well do we handle co-workers who have different political views? Family members with different societal views? Friends with different religious views? How well do we handle individuals in the community with special needs or children that don’t live up to our expectations? The intent of this issue of Focus on Artesia is simply to celebrate the things that make us different. Imagine what the world would look like if everyone in it thought and acted exactly like you. In a world full of Stacis, there would be no mathematicians or scientists,

no doctors or mechanics. It would be a world full of writers and aspiring artists, a world full of over-analyzers and avid readers. There would be no music because Stacis can’t sing and no movies because Stacis can’t act. What a mess—a boring, unhealthy mess! I hope you will take the time to read through this issue and learn about some amazing individuals, families, companies and organizations in our community. I have to say that in five years of putting this magazine together, this was probably the most difficult one I’ve done. People were hesitant to participate and some even opted not to. On the other hand, it has also been my most rewarding and eye-opening issue to date. I put many hours and buckets of tears into listening to, reading, writing and editing the stories in these pages. My takeaway is that different doesn’t have to be scary and it’s more than okay. It’s beautiful. My sincerest hope is that we, as a society and a community, can learn to look past our differences and begin to see one another for the beautiful children of God we are. And if we do happen to disagree with one another, I hope we can learn to do so in a respectful manner. We don’t have to look alike to respect one another, we don’t have to like what everyone else likes and we don’t have to agree with one another to be kind to one another. Just be you. You’re bea-YOU-tiful just the way you are! Best Regards, - Staci Guy, Editorial Director A B O U T T H E E D IT O R

Staci Guy is the editorial director of Focus on Artesia. She can be reached at PHOTO: The hands of Ryder Champion, his mother,

Janis Champion, Sydney Zuniga and her mother, Tejay Zuniga. Photo by Jessica Addington



Tickets or information, contact: 5 7 5 . 74 6 . 4 2 1 2 Artesia Arts Council’s O C OT I L LO P E R F O R M I N G A RT S C E N T E R A BAND CALLED HONALEE APRIL 13, 2017 • 7PM

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Become a Member - Join the Arts Council! Be a Show Sponsor or Volunteer to Help... W E N E E D V O L U N T E E R U S H E R S , A R T I S T H O S P I TA L I T Y , B OX O F F I C E & M A R K E T I N G A N G E L S !

The Bulletin Board


Calendar of Events







First Friday Downtown Market Downtown Roswell Every first Friday of the month 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Free Admission first-downtown-market/


Carlsbad Community Focus IHOP 2529 S. Canal St. Every Friday 7 a.m. • Speaker begins at 8 a.m.


Stand Up Comedy Live Inn of the Mountain Gods 287 Carrizo Canyon Road Mescalero Every Wednesday 6:30 p.m. 575-464-7089

JAN 26 - MAY 14

Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas Western Heritage Museum 1 Thunderbird Circle Hobbs Tue-Sat: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun: 1 p.m.-5 p.m.


Jack Maddox Distinguished Lecture Series Malcolm Gladwell Tydings Auditorium 800 N. Jefferson Hobbs 7 p.m. 575-492-2108 or


Southwest Symphony First United Methodist Church 200 E. Snyder Hobbs 3 p.m.


Free Enterprise Dinner & Auction Lea County Event Center 5101 N. Lovington Highway Hobbs 6 p.m. 575-392-6561 or


ARTesia Art Walk Main Street merchants Downtown Artesia 10 a.m.-4 p.m.




Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Fundraiser Center City Lanes 3905 SE Main 11 a.m.-7 p.m. #chaves-county-bfks/vslna

Guadalupe Ridge Trail Dedication McKittrick Canyon Visitor’s Center 10 a.m.-1 p.m. 915-828-3251 or

MAY 13


11th Annual Celebrate the Arts Day Roswell Covention & Civic Center 912 N Main St. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free Admission 575-637-3301


Relay for Life Parade Parade begins at Skeen Furniture & ends at the Carlsbad Beach Starts at 9 a.m. 575-361-4023

MAY 19 - 22

AspenCash Motorcycle Rally Inn of the Mountain Gods 287 Carrizo Canyon Road Mescalero Patric Pearson: 575-973-4977

MAY 26

Ruidoso Downs Opening Weekend 26225 U.S. Highway 70 East Ruidoso Downs 12 p.m.


Relay for Life Carlsbad Carlsbad Beach Area Starts at 6 a.m. 505-262-6022


Carlsbad’s 4th Annual Microbrew Festival Pecos River Village Conference Center 711 Muscatel Avenue 3 p.m.-8 p.m.

MAY 27

Spa Day for Single Moms Sunset Church of Christ 1308 W. Blodgett 2 p.m.-4 p.m. 575-887-1278

Carlsbad Water Park Opening Carlsbad Beach Area 708 Park Drive TBD


Call Daniel at 575.703.5659 email:

Please visit for additional events and up-to-date info. MAY 27

United Way Color Dash Carlsbad Beach Area 904 E. Riverside Drive Carlsbad Race starts 10 a.m. 575-887-3504

MAY 29 - JUNE 30 LCCA Summer Art Camps Center for the Arts 122 W. Broadway Hobbs 9 a.m.-4 p.m.


PVT 4th Annual Cruz’n For Vets From Artesia to Roswell TBD 575-308-3987 or


Cavernfest Downtown Carlsbad 102 S. Canyon St. Carlsbad 8 a.m.-11 p.m. 575-628-3768

Borscht, or red beet soup, is a traditional Ukrainian staple. It is thick and hearty, rich in vitamins, full of root vegetables and meat and often served with a side of bread.

JUNE 10 - SEPTEMBER 23 2017 New Media Show/ Hobbs Outdoors Vision Fest Shipp Street Plaza 122 W. Broadway Hobbs 8 p.m.


International Day of the Cowboy Ocotillo Performing Arts Center & Bennie’s Western Wear

JUNE 24 - JULY 29

2017 Downtown Concert Series Center for the Arts 122 W. Broadway Hobbs


Taken from


• 4 quarts water • 1½ lbs beef chuck • 6 medium sized yellow potatoes, peeled, diced into ½ inch cubes • 1 large onion, peeled, diced • 1 large carrot, peeled, grated • 2-3 medium sized beets, peeled, grated • 1 can peeled tomatoes, chopped • 1 can beans (black eyed peas) • 1 bell pepper, seeded, diced • Oil for frying • Salt & pepper, to taste • 4 Tbsp flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped • 2 Tbsp dill, chopped

Directions: Place meat into the pot with water and cook over medium heat, until fork tender, 2-3 hours. Throughout the cooking process, skim off the impurities that float to the top. Once the meat is tender, remove and shred into small pieces, but leave the remaining broth. Salt the broth. Add diced potatoes and cook on medium heat until fork tender. Meanwhile, in a large skillet with 2-3 Tbsp oil, saute onions until slightly golden over medium high heat. Add carrots and bell pepper and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add grated beets and chopped tomatoes. Stir, cover with lid and turn heat to low. Allow to cook, adding broth as needed, until beets are soft, about 7-8 minutes. Once the potatoes are cooked, add shredded meat and beans. Bring to boil. Add the beet mixture to the pot, bring to boil and immediately remove from heat. Add more salt if needed. Add parsley, dill and ground black pepper For optimal flavor, let sit for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream.

High School freshman Sydney Zuniga was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of four, but she has not let her diagnosis slow her down. Photo by Jessica Addington


Diabetic Squid by Kandice Barley

“Call me Squid.” Sydney Zuniga might not technically be a living, breathing squid, but she is a teenage girl who goes by “Squid” or “Squidney,” a nickname given to her by her parents. She is about as unique as a person comes: smart, talented, quirky, beautiful…and a type 1 diabetic. Diagnosed at the age of four, it is now her mission to educate those around her about the disease that has, in part, made her unique.



On June 7, 2007 Sydney was staying with her grandparents while her parents, Jarod and Tejay Zuniga, prepared to move the family cross country to Florida. Her grandmother started to notice something wasn’t quite right. Sydney had been wetting the bed, was unusually thirsty and insatiably hungry and had been uncharacteristically cranky. She assumed Sydney had a bladder infection and called Tejay to let her know she was taking her to the doctor. Hours later, Tejay’s phone rang once more with the news that Sydney’s blood sugar was over 1,000, and she was being taken to Lubbock. She was diabetic.

Diabetes may be

the extensive ins and outs of their new lifestyle. And it is definitely a lifestyle. It doesn’t just affect Sydney, but all those around her. Tejay said, “We deal with it as a family, friends, teachers; it really does take a village.”

a part of who Squid is, but it certainly does Since being diagnosed, things not define her. have changed drastically for

Over the next few days, Jarod and Tejay learned just what they would need to do to keep Sydney healthy and, frankly, alive. The nurses had them practice giving shots on themselves. “Jarod was terrified of needles then, but the nurse in Lubbock pointed that syringe at him and said, ‘This needle will keep your daughter alive,’ so Jarod took that needle and put it into his thigh,” Tejay shared. Their family was forever changed. From carb counting to insulin shots and more, they learned

Sydney. In the beginning, they did insulin shots, followed by pens, then by the Medtronic pump. As technology has improved, living with diabetes has gotten easier, and Sydney now has an Omnipod, an insulin management system that is an all-in-one tubeless insulin pump. With her new pump, she never has to worry about a kink in the cord or getting it wet while in the shower or the pool. The system checks her sugar and pumps the insulin on its own. As a teacher I have heard and seen first-hand her pump in action. Occasionally, while sitting in class her pump will beep. Most of the kids are now accustomed to it. Often, her friends sitting next to her in class will even hand her a snack and keep working. Her friends and teachers are informed about what makes her “different,” but her mission is to educate others.

PHOTOS ABOVE (LEFT): In this 2009 photo, Sydney Zuniga had been hospitalized to treat ketoacidosis. (CENTER): This photo of Sydney was taken less than a week after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Visible signs of her health crisis can be seen in the dark circles under her eyes and a dramatic weight loss of more than 8 pounds in less than two weeks, an astonishing number for a four-year-old child. (RIGHT): While at Camp Sweeney for the first time at age 9, Sydney wore a Medtronic mini med pump.

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When asked what bothers her about having diabetes, the overwhelming response is other people’s obliviousness when it comes to diabetes. “There are certain things people always assume: if you’d just eat better and exercise you could get rid of it, or that it is only a condition for elderly people or the obese,” Sydney explained, also adding, “...when kids used to pull the cord on my pump to ask what it was or to be mean, or when people say ‘You have diabetes…you shouldn’t eat that.’” What Sydney wants us to know is that there are various types of diabetes, and no day is ever the same for those living with it. Ultimately, she wishes she could take every person she knows to her favorite place, Camp Sweeney, which she attends every summer. It isn’t a camp just for kids with diabetes, it is also for friends and loved ones of those living with diabetes. According to Sydney, “Nonies, as non-diabetics are affectionately called, are educated by having to do everything that their loved ones have to do on a daily basis. They must count their carbs for every meal and even prick their fingers. They go to classes to learn all kinds of things about diabetes.” Those living with diabetes also go to seminars and learn things that are suited to their age. This year Sydney will learn about driving with diabetes.

Horchata is a beverage made from ground rice, almonds or seeds and is typically associated with Latin American cuisine. In the U.S., the kind of horchata usually found in restaurants and grocery stores is rice-based.

Perhaps what is most important to remember is that Sydney celebrates her difference. Her parents taught her to never use her disease as an excuse. Tejay expressed, “Jarod and I wanted to teach her to live with it, not to battle it. To let it be her platform.” And Sydney has done just that. She says we all have our quirks, and diabetes is simply one of hers. She hopes that when you look at her, you see a young lady who is incredibly smart and in many honors classes at school, a student who enjoys STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) class and a Science Olympiad member who recently won first place in Anatomy, third in Fast Facts and third in Crime Facts for Artesia Junior High School (AJHS). She wants you to see a girl who loves to sing in the AJHS choir, a firearms enthusiast who participates in Scholastic Shooting Sports and a teen who is excited about the prospect of driving the SUV her parents recently bought for her. She is a friend who giggles at silly jokes with her peers whenever possible, a reader who always has a book in her hand and a list of others waiting to be read and a believer who has a mighty faith and passion for God. Diabetes may be a part of who Squid is, but it certainly does not define her.

Perfect Horchata Taken from


• 7 c water • 1½ c white rice (uncooked) • 1 cinnamon stick • 1½ c milk • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract • 1 c sugar • ice for serving

Directions: Put water, rice and a cinnamon stick in a blender and blend for at least one minute. Let this rice mixture sit out at room temperature for at least three hours or as long as overnight (preferable). After the rice mixture has had a chance to sit, strain the mixture through a fine mesh colander or cheesecloth. Get all the rice and cinnamon stick pieces out, leaving just the rice water mixture. Add milk, vanilla extract and sugar to the rice water. Stir well. Serve over ice and enjoy!



Once an Obstacle,

y n o m i t s e T Now a by Staci Guy

Ruby Parker is smart, educated, compassionate and business-savvy. She is also very up front about addressing what quite often can be the proverbial elephant in the room. “I don’t mind talking about my stuttering,” she quickly offered up. “It’s definitely something different about me, but I have learned how to use it as a testimony rather than something to be ashamed of. God gave me a lot of abilities in spite of it,” she shared. Parker spoke clearly and without a stutter until she was about six years old. “Because of that, everyone in the world thought they could fix me,” she expressed. “I never was able to get fixed.” Though no one is certain as to the exact cause of her stutter, she does have a supposition. When she was young, she ran full-force into a metal pole sticking out of the ground, which left a knot on her head that is still visible today. Some doctors believed

the incident might have caused nerve damage that in turn affected her speech. Still other doctors over the years have wanted to psychoanalyze her, thinking her stutter was the result of suppressed trauma, while others wanted to hypnotize her, assuming she would reveal information that would point them to a cause. Those notions never appealed to her. As one could imagine, the relentless taunting and teasing she endured from

PHOTOS (LEFT): Ruby Parker was a trailblazer in the world of accounting in Artesia. Here she is hard at work in 1970, having worked to overcome stigmas concerning her gender and a stutter. (RIGHT): After more than 55 years in the business, Ruby Parker is finally ready to retire. She persevered over the past five decades to overcome stigmas attached to her due to her gender—being a female working in a male-dominated industry—and contending with a stutter in her speech. She operated a highly successful accounting firm from which she will retire after the current tax season.

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other children, combined with simple ignorance on the part of many adults only served to make matters worse. “I had therapists that said had I never been told I stuttered, I might have overcome it,” she confessed. “Many therapists told me that.” She recalled an incident in elementary school in which one of her favorite teachers, Mrs. Lee, inadvertently added to her troubles. Parker had a love of learning and would eagerly raise her hand in this particular class when she knew the answer to Mrs. Lee’s questions. Mrs. Lee, in turn, would tell her that she could only answer the question if she could do so without stuttering. “I would work so hard at not stuttering in that class that I would leave there and be a complete wreck for the rest of the day,” she divulged. It was not malice, but rather a lack of knowledge on the part of Mrs. Lee. She would see how hard Parker had worked and that she did, in fact, speak without

stuttering, and thereby believed she was actually helping her. Since that time in her life, however, Parker has researched the topic of stuttering. Combined with her own experiences, she has learned that factors such as being tired, stressed or anxious exasperate her condition. What Mrs. Lee believed was helping her overcome her stutter in fact only made it worse. As the years progressed and she grew more comfortable with herself, she learned that her stutter was only a small part of what made Ruby Ruby. “For a long time I would say God wanted me to have this and chose not to take this away, but then I realized I was limiting God in what He can do,” she revealed. “Now I say because of what God has done for me I’ve been able to be a testimony for others. Some people have a lot harder things to overcome than I have.” She recalled a time a number of years ago when a local school teacher, Sue

Kizer, asked Parker to speak to her class. A student in Kizer’s class also spoke with a stutter and Parker, figured Kizer, could show the student as well as the rest of the class that success is attainable in spite of a speech impediment. “She told them not to point out someone’s stutter, which is exactly right, and she had them write me notes about my visit,” Parker remembered. “The student in her class that stuttered completed high school, was a standout on the football field and went on to college. That’s what a good teacher does! I’m just glad I was able to share my story with them and show them that you can do things in spite of it.” Parker, now 80, has been in the accounting business for more than 50 years now. As a youth, she would have never imagined that owning her own successful accounting business was something she could attain. Back then, she thought her stutter would prevent her from having a successful career. “When I first married I thought I would


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2616 West Main Street • Artesia, NM 88210

never work because I stuttered,” she admitted. “My husband and two of his brothers bought a service station, and I was the educated one (she studied accounting at Eastern New Mexico University), so I handled the books. Their accounting system came with a cash register, and I couldn’t make it balance one day.” They called in an accountant and he made it balance. “It was [simply]...a single entry, and I had never worked with single entry.” In other words, it was nothing Parker had done wrong. In a delightful twist of fate, the accountant called the next day to offer her a job, where she worked for seven years before opening her own office. She has been on her own since 1962. Not only was she contending with a stutter, but in the early ‘60s and even ‘70s, she was also just about the only female accountant around. It took time, but eventually she was able to convince her clients that she was capable of doing more than just “keeping their books” and could file their taxes and perform

other accounting work for them as well. She recalled one incident in which she had to go to an IRS audit with one of her clients who was in some trouble. “The agent was not too nice to me. He said they were going to estimate the report, and I said, ‘No you’re not. I’m going to file the report for them.’ I asked to see the report so I could fix it for them, but he said I wouldn’t be able to read it. He pulled it out, and I read it and told him what it meant! My client laughed when we left and said he [the agent] didn’t like a woman being in the business.” She was not about to be intimidated. For the past 55 years she has continued proving herself to skeptics and working hard for her clients. By the time this article is published, she will have completely retired from the profession she has loved for nearly six decades. “After tax season I’m closing the doors. I’ve been here long enough,” she said with a smile. “I’m 80 years old, and I feel like at this age maybe I’m not quite as alert as I should be (though I

really think I am). I want to go to my grandkids’ stuff and be there when they need me, pick up some of the load for Danny and Susie (Parker, her son and daughter-in-law). I want to go to Florida and stay with Lynn (her other son) for longer than a week. I’m ready to spend more time with my family.” She concluded, “God has really blessed me. He has given me so much; I can’t give Him enough credit for it. Artesia has been good.” When asked what she will miss the most after closing her decades-old business, she simply replied, “Coming to work! I really love what I do, and I know that what I do really helps people, so I will miss that.”

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business spotlight

J&J Home Care, Inc. (Joyce M. Munoz, RN, BSN, CEO, answering questions) How long have you been in business? Since May 1995

What makes this business so special?

People. Our staff and our patients are what make J&J Home Care. We are a homegrown agency providing healthcare to Artesia and the surrounding areas. Our services are provided by a professional staff of nurses, therapists and home health aides. This year 26 members of our staff will have been with us for over a decade! I wish I had room to list all my staff and recognize all of them individually, because our staff is what makes J&J Home Care so special. And of course, without our patients we wouldn’t exist, so thank you to the thousands we have served over the last 22 years!

What are you best known for and why?

Providing high-quality, compassionate healthcare in the comfort of the home. Our clinicians work closely with physicians and other healthcare providers from all over the region to develop a care plan individually designed for each patient’s specific needs. Specifically, our nurses specialize in wound care and IV infusion. J&J is also known for our case management services, being one of the largest case management providers in our area of the state with offices in Artesia, Roswell, Clovis and Hobbs. Additionally, our personal care attendants and companion care givers are highly trained and individually selected for each specific patient’s individualized needs.

What is the history or background of this business?

Jo Lynn Hope, RN, and I (Joyce Munoz) were co-workers at Artesia General Hospital (AGH) and have been friends since 1976. We both did several different nursing jobs during our time at AGH, and in 1990 I helped start the home health department in the hospital, which was under the management of Presbyterian Health Services at that time. Due to various factors, Jo Lynn and I got together and made a plan to start our own home health agency. We saw it as a way to service our friends and family in our community. We started J&J in May of 1995 with only Jo Lynn in the office as the administrator, me as the field nurse, Mary Lou Thomas, CNA, as our home health aide, and one patient. Since then we have grown immensely. Today we serve over 450 individuals and have over 130 employees.



What aspect of this business are you most passionate about?

Serving our community of friends and family by helping people manage their health care at home and being part of their healing process. I believe our company is God-centered and exists to help people in need. We are also a wonderful company to work for and provide employment in the community.

Why should a customer choose your business?

We are a hometown company with hometown employees, and we are here to loyally serve and help our community.

What notable awards have you won?

I was NMAHHC’s (New Mexico Association for Home and Hospice Care) Member of the Year in 1998. Linda Romero, HHA, received the 2016 Joie Award for Home Health Aide of the Year from NMAHHC. J&J Home Care is CHAP accredited (Community Health Accreditation Partner).

Are there any tips you would tell customers to improve their experience when they visit your place of business or conduct business with you?

We always encourage our customers to verbalize their expectations of what they need and want from their home health care experience.

What makes your company stand out in the healthcare industry?

What makes us stand out is our longevity in the community and our outstanding, caring staff.

Additional Comments: The statistics are overwhelming that people heal and recover better at home, so when it comes to your healthcare and rehabilitative needs, you have the right to choose to receive your healthcare at home when it is appropriate. So when you do, please choose J&J Home Care. We look forward to serving you!

Opposites ATTRACT

John Michael and Danielle Brady share a mutual respect for one another’s beliefs and viewpoints and have found that they can love one another not only in spite of, but because of their differences.

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by Staci Guy

Every morning when John Michael Brady heads out the door for work, his wife bids him farewell with a kiss and a reminder: “I love you. Have a good day and make good choices.” For a self-admitted rebel who hates being told what to do, his warm acceptance of her daily reminders is an indication that perhaps opposites really do attract.

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According to a report in Psychology Today, humans are drawn to others out of needs and desires that are unfulfilled in our lives, such as a desire to experience greater connection, security, love, support and comfort. On the other hand some of those unfulfilled longings have to do with their polar opposites, such as adventure, freedom, risk, challenge and intensity. If you think about it, a fulfilling relationship is one in which we feel secure, safe, loved and comfortable, but we need to be able to balance those feelings with excitement, passion, a degree of risk and even some separation. If not, psychologists say (and many couples agree) that security becomes boredom, dependability becomes indifference, intimacy becomes claustrophobia and comfort becomes stagnation. The Bradys view this paradox not as a problem but as something to celebrate.

love—deep love—and she formed a strong bond with her mother that today remains unshakable. Anyone who knows Danielle knows about their close-knit relationship.

The differences between John Michael and Danielle surfaced immediately upon meeting. Everything from politics to religion separated the two. “When we first started dating he said it was a deal breaker because I was Catholic,” Danielle shared. “That was the first obstacle we had to overcome.” For John Michael, his Church of Christ roots made it seemingly impossible to see a future with someone of such a different religious affiliation from his. Eventually they worked through their religious differences, but that would prove to be only the tip of the iceberg.

“Well, that’s what makes me who I am, really,” Danielle interjected. “My mom is the reason I think and believe the way I do.”

Danielle grew up as the only child of a single mother, Hilda Moreno. They lived with Moreno’s parents on a farm south of town; her mom worked two jobs to provide for them and her grandparents, who were helping raise her. She felt and knew

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John Michael, on the other hand, was the eldest of four children. Toys, food, drinks—anything that the four children wanted or needed—became a source of contention. “I guess that’s why I’m so particular about things like my food and drinks. I don’t like my things being touched because they’re mine. I grew up having to fight for those things with my siblings!” He admitted he’s not very close to most of his immediate family, but he understands and even appreciates that Danielle’s situation is different. “Her relationship with her mom was never an issue with me at all,” he stressed. “She was very up front about it from the beginning.”

John Michael doesn’t just support his wife’s relationship with her mother, though; he also gets it. “I’m really close to her as well. In fact, I call her ‘Mom,’” he chuckled. As a child, Danielle learned love and acceptance by watching the way her mother lived her life. “Growing up, my mom accepted everyone, and she has always had all different kinds of people in her life, gay people and such,” she revealed. “I guess that’s why I tend to have more liberal viewpoints about a lot of things.” John Michael, on the other hand, leans more toward the

conservative side of the spectrum. “I am either hot or cold; it’s black or white. No gray areas,” he explained. “I do see gray areas,” Danielle countered. “I can dispute a hundred different things a hundred different ways.” Politically speaking the Bradys tend to differ in their viewpoints, but somehow they have managed to find a way to respect one another and abide in love rather than focusing on their differences in opinion. She noted, “We don’t talk politics a lot, but we know where one another stands.” Their differences even extend to a more superficial level. He has many tattoos, she has none. He loves guns and hunting, she had never even held one until a few years ago and loves animals too much to shoot one. He is a free-spirited, go with the flow artist; she is structured and likes to have a plan in place. He loves the outdoors, she prefers a spa. But despite their differences, the key to their marriage is that they do not take themselves too seriously, and they have learned how to pick their battles wisely. Their personalities have a way of balancing things out. In fact, as their relationship matured, they realized they had more in common than they had even realized. Both of them had participated in choir and show choir in high school (though several years apart), and both were on the swim team. They are equally competitive and enjoy playing games together, anything that pits them in competition. He needs personal time to create art, and she needs personal time to contribute to charity. They are each mindful and respectful of the need for time apart from one another. “He is supportive of me doing the things I love,” Danielle acknowledged. “He has always supported any of my charity work, work I do for my church...My mom and I do a 12 Days of Christmas thing every year, I have a girl that I do things for that’s like a little sister to me—things like that. Things that take time and money away from him, he still supports me.” In return, she nurtures him artistically and is his biggest

cheerleader, fan and advocate. “She has always encouraged me with my art. She’s very support of it. Always has been,” he said. The experts at Psychology Today say the process of finding balance in a marriage involving opposites is simple yet not necessarily easy. They say when your operating system has been wired from birth (or perhaps even before) to have certain tendencies and inclinations, influencing the system is possible, but it does take a willingness on the part of both people to risk moving into their partner’s world and accommodating their needs and values without compromising their own. Perhaps that’s easier said than done, but the Bradys seem to have found a way to accomplish it. PHOTOS ABOVE (TOP): Danielle Brady admits

her more liberal viewpoints tend to land her in a minority group of thinkers in this part of the country. At times her viewpoints differ from from those of her more conservative-leaning husband, but they have managed to find a way to make their marriage work by “picking their battles wisely.” (BOTTOM): John Michael Brady is at peace when he is creating art, something his wife of six years, Danielle, promotes and encourages.

In Memory of Danielle Moreno Brady In February, I sat down with John Michael and Danielle Brady in what turned out to be a lengthy, insightful, heartwarming interview. We talked about their personal lives, their families and friends, occupations and even hobbies. Our conversation led us all over the place, often bouncing around from one topic to another. I incorporated some of the things we discussed in the story I wrote, but a lot of it was just friendly banter between a lovely couple and a writer who had known both of the Bradys for quite some time. I had no way of knowing our conversation that February night would be my last one with Danielle—in person anyway. When I received news of her passing, my heart sank. How can this be? I was just texting her; she just dropped off a flash drive with photos she wanted to use in the story. I was at my daughter’s softball practice and she was on her way to belly dancing, so we arranged for her to

February 1, 1982 - March 20, 2017

leave the flash drive in my mailbox. I didn’t even get to see her, hug her neck and thank her for dropping it off… It was all so sudden. She was gone just like that.

Her passing came after I had written the story and the graphic artist had put it in the magazine but before we had finished our final proofs and sent it to the printer. We had a slight delay in printing due to unforeseen circumstances, and I can’t help but think God knew I would want to pay tribute to Danielle in the very issue in which she and her husband shared their story with the world (or our readers anyway!). So here it is. Here is my tribute to Danielle Moreno Brady, an intelligent woman with a servant’s heart and a deep love for others. If you were a friend, you were a friend and she’d do anything for you. Her friends knew it and they loved that about her. She adored her husband and lit up when she would talk about his artwork and the seamless way in which he incorporated himself into her family after the two of them married. She accepted the fact that he did not share all of her political and philosophical views, and she loved him enough to not try to

change him. It was a quality she inherited from her mother, whom she credits with shaping her into the woman she became. Their mother/daughter bond was unshakable. It was strong and beautiful and it radiated love. In our community Danielle was known for her acting in local plays, the volunteer hours she put in with various organizations, and for working hard to make sure her employer, the Artesia Fire Department, was well-represented and received their due credit. She even contributed to Focus on Artesia as a freelance writer. Dealing with loss is never easy. Our human minds want to “make sense of things,” but more often than not, it’s simply impossible. Such is the case with the death of Danielle Brady. It doesn’t make any sense to us right now, and might not ever, but the fact remains that her life on earth greatly impacted countless others. I, for one, am grateful to have met Danielle many years ago and had the opportunity to get to know her better in the last couple of years. I will miss her contributions to our publication, but more importantly, I will miss her contributions to our world. It was a better place because of her.

A True

CHAMPION by Kyle Marksteiner

Ryder Champion (photo by Jessica Addington)

When the Artesia Bulldogs plot their lineup for the upcoming year, there’s one position they know is not going to change. That’s because there is a 100% chance that local Bulldog superfan Ryder Champion will be back, helping provide water to the athletes battling for the Bulldogs.

“Ryder has been one of the most enjoyable young men that has worked with us, because he is very dependable and very loyal,” declared Artesia High School Athletic Director Cooper Henderson. “I’d also have to rate him among the top of Bulldog fans.” Ryder, who has Down Syndrome, has supported the Bulldogs by working as their water boy since he was nine years old. His brother, J.D., was a sophomore advancing his way through the Artesia sports circuit as a team standout when Ryder was first recruited to help the program. “My brother was playing football, and they asked me if I wanted to do it, to help give water out to the guys and take care of them,” recalled Ryder, moments before getting back to work at an Artesia basketball game. “I said, ‘Yes.’”

“Ryder always loved being with people, and he was really into sports,” remembered J.D., who now lives in Lubbock with his family. “We thought this would be a good way for him to be involved, and it ended up being a lifetime.”

They keep asking me if I want to keep doing it, and I said, ‘Yes, sir!’

Since then, Ryder, now 34, has helped refresh the local team at thousands of football, basketball and baseball games. He is also a huge fan of the Lady Bulldogs and attends as many games as he is able. Ryder’s role as water boy changed a little bit after he finished high school in 1995. He no longer assists with practices, but he has continued to work the water cooler at nearly every game for the past 25 years. He positions himself on one end of the Bulldog bench and makes sure each new crop of thirsty athletes are being provided for. “They keep asking me if I want to keep doing it, and I said, ‘Yes, sir!’” he proclaimed. “I plan on doing this for the rest of my life!” When he isn’t assisting at Bulldog games, Ryder is active through the Aspire Developmental Services program, which provides community outings Monday through Friday.

The agency now has an office at 1211 W. Main Street in Artesia. The organization’s mission statement is to “support and assist individuals challenged with developmental disabilities in a manner that is dignified, respectful and compassionate.” Ryder said he enjoys the trips to McDonald’s and Walmart.

On weekends, Ryder enjoys visiting his parents and watching television, and he is particularly a fan of professional wrestling. He recently attended a wrestling event in Hobbs and was awed by the fact that the participants towered over him. Facebook reveals him to also be an avid Denver Broncos fan. Ryder’s parents, local business owners Richard and Janis Champion, added that they are very appreciative of all the positive attention he receives every year, including a special honor during the Bulldogs’ seasonal athletics banquets. “The community is very supportive of him,” affirmed Richard. “Everybody in town knows him and talks to him.” Janis noted that her son takes his job very seriously. Woe to the Artesia athlete who attempts to bypass Ryder’s policies.

PHOTOS BELOW (LEFT): Ryder Champion, middle, poses with family members from left, J.D. Champion, Amy Champion, Janis Champion and Richard Champion. (RIGHT): Ryder, pictured here at a recent Bulldog basketball game, has devoted his time to Artesia High School athletics for the past 25 years.

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“He’s very particular about how he does it,” she remarked. Henderson, Artesia’s longtime head football coach, stressed that being a water boy is something to be proud of. “For me, it’s kind of a serving position. It’s a sense of helping others,” he mused. While Ryder takes his duties extremely seriously, J.D. said the relationships he has developed over the years are the most important part of the service. “He saw the Bulldogs as his own,” he observed. “It’s been very positive for him, but I think he has been just as positive for other people.”

J.D. has coached and taught over the years and emphasized that his family very much appreciates the community for being such a good friend to Ryder. “He always had someone giving him a ride home if he didn’t have a ride or buying him dinner. It’s multi-generational. He has worked with kids who were my age and now a lot of their kids. I think he’s been a part of 15 or 16 state championships now.” Even in a City of Champions, Ryder Champion stands out.

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A delicious, comforting and healthy baked oatmeal chock full of nutrients and flavor and topped with a healthy, sticky cinnamon glaze. This Healthy Sticky Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal is quick, easy and delicious and is gluten-free, vegan and comes with a high protein option.

Healthy Sticky Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal Author: Arman at

Dry Ingredients:

• 2 c gluten-free rolled oats • 1 c gluten-free quick oats • 1 scoop protein powder (optional) • 1/2 c-1 c granulated sweetener of choice • 2 tsp baking powder • 1 Tbsp cinnamon • 1 tsp allspice

Wet Ingredients:

• 2 eggs (for vegan version, substitute 2 flax eggs) • 1 c unsweetened almond milk • Dash vanilla extract • 1/2 c + 2 Tbsp cashew butter (can substitute any nut butter, coconut oil or butter)

Basic Cinnamon Roll Glaze:

• 2-3 Tbsp coconut butter, melted • 1 Tbsp granulated sweetener of choice • almond milk to thin out • cinnamon for dusting

Protein Packed Cinnamon Roll Glaze:

• 1-2 scoops of vanilla or cinnamon protein powder • almond milk to thin out • cinnamon for dusting

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a deep baking tray with parchment paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and melted nut butter, mixing until fully incorporated. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until fully combined. If mixture is crumbly, add a dash more milk until a thick batter is formed. Transfer to the lined baking dish and form into a rectangular shape. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden and cooked through. While the oatmeal is baking, prepare one of the glazes by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl. Remove baked oatmeal from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing into pieces and covering with the glaze.

teacher feature


In this new segment profiling educators, allow us to introduce you to Cody Hanagan, director of special education for the Artesia Public School District. Hanagan earned a master’s degree from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Having grown up in western New Mexico, she admitted she was not thrilled with the idea of moving to the opposite side of the state in 1994 after her husband accepted a position teaching high school agriculture. “I tell people that I did not come willingly, but it was by far the best decision we ever made! I grew up on the west side of the state surrounded by mountains. The east side of the state was just so different from where I grew up, but Artesia has been our home since day one,” she shared. Hanagan started teaching special education in 1985 in Des Moines, New Mexico, and was the only special education teacher in the Photo by Jessica Addington school district. “I taught students from preschool age through high school. I had 10 students, so I had 10 individualized lesson plans,” she revealed. In 1987, they moved to Socorro, where she also taught kindergarten through third grade special education, and she had between 15 and 19 students in the program. “I was responsible for meeting all of their academic needs, so we worked on reading, math, science and social studies. I worked with students from different backgrounds with different disabilities. That was before I had children of my own, so they were my kids, and we were a family!” Having always been intrigued by the way in which people learn and why some students struggle to learn what comes so easy for others, she decided to go back to school and obtain a master’s degree in educational diagnostics in 1993. After moving to Artesia in 1994, she began working as the Preschool Transition Coordinator and diagnostician for the school district. “I had never imagined working with that age group, but I quickly learned that was where I needed to be,” she confessed. She became an “early interventionist” at heart after seeing what a difference early intervention makes. In the spring of 2007, she was hired as Artesia’s special education director. “It has been a journey that has taken me from teaching in the classroom to completing evaluations and meetings to set up services for students to overseeing the department that is responsible for providing the services offered through special education. It has been an awesome experience to learn and grow and change with each position as well as all of the changes that have taken place in the field of special education.” When she first moved to Artesia, Hanagan recalled the district’s motto, “Children first,” which is still the motto and philosophy of the district today. “Artesia Public Schools are one of a kind!” she boasted. “Every decision that is made, regardless of what the question is, starts with What is best for kids? As I have met and talked with people from other places,



I have gained even more appreciation for this. We wake up in the morning with our daily goal to do what is best for kids. I personally have not experienced that any place else.” Something she wants people to understand about her department, however, is that special education is heavily regulated by both the federal government and the state through laws, policies and procedure, and everything the teachers and therapists do is individualized for each child. “We are working with children starting at three years of age into adulthood with a variety of learning disabilities, physical disabilities, emotional disabilities as well as those who are in our enrichment classes,” she explained. “We don’t have an unlimited amount of money, and we can’t always do everything that we would like to do, but we try to put the needs of each child first and treat them as we would treat our own child with the resources we are given. I know it can be frustrating at times when we can’t provide something that a family would really like for their child, but we try to be equitable in how we allocate our resources across the district to meet those individual needs. It is our passion that every child will use their strengths and talents to be successful in school and in life.” So what is it that she finds so rewarding about her job that it has become her passion? She’ll tell you with no shortage of words that it all boils down to the people. “I am blessed to work with the most caring group of teachers, therapists, diagnosticians and other support providers. They work so hard every day for students. They never give up, and they are always trying to find a better way or a more successful way of teaching students new skills or helping them to achieve at a higher level. Every time we are given a new directive or a new requirement, the special education staff pulls together to make it happen. Students are learning, growing and achieving every day because of the hard work of so many dedicated people and the relationships and trust so many families place in us every day.” In addition to the “Children first” motto, another phrase that she tries to teach as well as live by is “treat others as you would like to be treated.” She explained, “I try to approach every aspect of my job from the standpoint of how would I want my child to be treated? How would I want someone to help my child? And if I were in their shoes, what would my expectation be? I feel blessed to have been placed in a profession where it is possible to turn struggles into triumphs and watch young children grow and develop into adulthood.” Outside the realm of education, Hanagan manages to squeeze in time for traveling and spending time with her family; however, she admitted her passion for her work is such that it can also be classified as her hobby. “I am in the process of trying to rediscover my hobbies and interests since my husband and I have become ‘empty nesters!’ I suppose I am one of those people that my career choice is such a passion of mine that my job is also my hobby. I am continually reading, dreaming and scheming about ways to provide better services for our students and how to support our teachers and therapists who are providing the services.”

When We

Open Our Eyes by Haley Harper

“He will open his eyes when he is ready.” After the fourth doctor told me this about my son Duke, I began to have my doubts. When I asked why my son’s eyes were not opening, the most frequent response I received was, “He isn’t ready.” I could not wrap my mind around why my child would refuse to open his eyes for a week straight after birth. My first thought was, “Is he able to see?” Every doctor assured me he was able to see. Every day of our week-long stay in the hospital I would ask why and what I could do to convince him to open his eyes. The answer was to wait and let him open them when he is ready. We left the hospital without having seen his eyes. I had wished for dark blue eyes throughout my pregnancy, but little did I know it would be another four weeks before I would truly see them.

He is a happy, healthy spitfire of a child with a wild spirit.

Duke Harper



Duke’s pediatrician did not know what was causing his inability to open his eyes either. She spent 45 minutes of his two-week appointment researching possible reasons. Her search turned out as unsuccessful as mine. She ultimately referred us to another doctor at a nearby eye clinic. It was there I was told he most likely had ptosis, also known as “lid lag.” Ptosis is a condition in which the upper eyelid droops, impairing vision and in some cases even causing blindness. The specialist informed us that surgery was the best way to manage it, but what he said next left me so humbled and appreciative. He said, “I am able to do this procedure, but I know someone who is the best.” To see not one but two different medical professionals admit they have room to learn and grow inspired me to continue to learn every day. Daily until the appointment with the second specialist, I wondered what the future would hold for my beautiful baby boy. I experienced a feeling I had only heard about when working in the education field. It could only be described as the “death of your ‘perfect’ child.” That’s when I realized his life will be different. His experiences will not be like those of others his age. He will see the world differently, and even more frightening is realizing the world will see him differently. I was overcome with worry and guilt: worry that he would be looked at with pity, worry that the world would be cruel to him, guilt that I caused this condition in some way. With time these feelings transformed to pride and understanding. The next doctor we saw, like the ones before him, was excellent about communicating and making sure I understood everything. It was here Duke was given his formal diagnosis. He was born with a genetic condition known as blepharophimosis, ptosis and epicanthus inversus syndrome (BPES). In addition to the “lid lag,” Duke’s eyes are much more narrow than average and his lower eyelid is fused to the corner of his eye. It was not until later that I found out how rare his condition actually is. I listened to the doctor, trying to understand these huge words I had never heard before. As my mind spun I looked down at my nursing baby and was overcome with a sense of calm. That’s when the worry started to lessen and transform just a bit.

Next came the prognosis. Like all genetic diseases, there is no cure for BPES, but it is treatable. The first step in treatment was to monitor his light reflexes, which indicated his ability to see. Thankfully his vision was determined to be completely normal. His doctor scheduled a surgery called frontalis sling. Duke was placed under anesthesia while the surgeon implanted three silicone cords to attach each of Duke’s upper eyelids to the muscles in each of his eyebrows. Prior to the procedure I was told there was a chance this same procedure would need to be repeated. When the doctor returned to inform me of the outcome, he made it clear this would not the last time Duke would have surgery. My heart sank once again. As I walked to his room the worry returned. It only worsened when I was with him, his puffy face screaming to be fed. As he began to eat, my feelings were bittersweet. For the first time I was able to see the slate blue eyes of my grandfather looking back at me, but I knew this would not be the last time I would comfort him through this hardship. Over the next several days his dad and I would apply antibiotics to his eyes three times a day. Each time I was astounded by the strength of a baby only five weeks old. As I watched him heal, the worry was changing to pride again, but it was different this time. It was more solid, more secure and growing every day. Every now and then a rude comment, “What’s wrong with his eyes?” or “Why does he look like that?” will try to put little cracks in the once ugly place which pride restored, but all I have to do is look at Duke’s smile and all those cracks are sealed. While worry had become pride, the guilt was still there. I carried guilt that I somehow had caused Duke’s condition. At this point I decided he should see a geneticist. I needed to know what to expect and if it would affect his life in ways other than his facial features. It was here guilt turned to understanding. We learned that when a gene mutates, it is unavoidable and has no exact cause. The gene is just made a bit different, and there is nothing wrong with different. I was relieved to learn that BPES does not affect males in any location other than the eye muscles. Duke sees his optometrist regularly at this point but has not been scheduled for his next surgery as of yet. He is a happy, healthy spitfire of a child with a wild spirit. My heart swells with pride when I look at him and consider the journey his has made. Two years later, he is all boy. He loves to run, jump and play outside. He has not suffered any developmental delays, and he has an ornery streak that forces you shake your head and laugh. He is a loving, intelligent boy. I know he is destined to do great things regardless of the shape of his eyes.

PHOTOS (TOP): Haley Harper was determined to find the cause of her son’s rare eye condition that prevented him from opening his eyes. Today, after an extensive surgery and countless doctor’s visits, he is able to open his eyes and, more importantly, see! (photo by Jessica Addington) (SECOND): Until his life-changing operation, Duke Harper was not able to open his eyes due to a rare genetic disorder. Pictured here, he is wide awake but appears to be sleeping because his eyes are closed. (THIRD): Duke underwent a surgery in which doctors implanted a frontalis sling. He was placed under anesthesia while the surgeon implanted three silicone cords to attach each of Duke’s upper eyelids to the muscles in each of his eyebrows. (BOTTOM):

Duke is now a “happy, healthy spitfire of a child.”

Like Father,

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Artesia, after all, and how many emergencies would take place on a Tuesday morning in our small town? But I blocked off the morning anyway, just in case. It was a good thing I did because my assumptions were wrong. Very wrong. Not long after I arrived in the break room and set up my laptop, Julie Gibson, director of business development at Artesia General Hospital, joined me and we chatted for a bit over a cup of coffee about Doctors Baca Jr. and Baca Sr. in preparation for the interview. Baca Jr. finally resurfaced, and rather than joining us in the break room for the interview, he requested we join him up front where he could answer my questions without having to put his work on hold. Careful not to violate any HIPPA laws, I was then able to do my work by watching his.

Dr. Marshall Baca Jr. If you ever want to see someone multitask, look no further than an emergency room doctor. One Tuesday morning in February I showed up for my meeting with Dr. Marshall G. Baca, Jr., or “Baby Baca” as his staff of nurses jokingly refer to him, and set up shop in the ER’s break room. There was a sense of urgency in the atmosphere, but not panic. The emergency room was busy, but not chaotic. And everyone on staff was in full work mode but still friendly. I knew going into the interview that I needed to block off a couple of hours in my schedule due to the unpredictability of emergency room activity, which is what I did. Admittedly, I assumed it would be rather slow since it is

I observed for some time as he went room to room, assessing patients and answering their questions, dictating notes and interacting with nurses and other emergency personnel. One particular instance showed me a broader view of his bedside manner. The caring and sincere yet tactfully informative way in which he dealt with a woman who had brought a sick family member into the ER was notable. I was impressed by the manner in which he handled such a complicated and emotional situation. One person on staff described him as having a way of “making each patient feel like they are the only patient he has,” regardless of the countless others waiting their turn to see him. In between treating patients and dictating notes, he filled me in on parts of his life that eventually led him to Artesia General Hospital to practice emergency room medicine. As a child, his view of medicine differed from most of his peers because his father, Dr. Marshall Baca Sr., was immersed in medical school and

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eventually in building his own orthopedic practice in Carlsbad. “My parents had me at a young age; he was in college. There was no way at that time that I had any desire to go into the medical field,” he admitted. “I saw how much my dad worked, and I didn’t think I wanted that for me and my family.” For that reason, he studied business in college and became somewhat of an entrepreneur, dabbling in the wine industry in California before going to work for a medical supply company called Stryker. “That’s what switched me to go into a different profession,” he declared. He soon realized his passion for the medical field was perhaps deeper than he had initially realized, and he decided to go back to school to study medicine, and back on his word of “never becoming a doctor.” Having majored in business, he first had to complete two more years of undergrad studies in science before even beginning medical school. His wife, Annie, was working toward her master’s degree at the time as well. “It was a discussion we had to have before I even started medical school. It fit our life plan, but we knew it would mean we had to make a lot of sacrifices; she‘s always been very support of me though.” Baca Jr. graduated from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso in June 2016 and by July was working full time as an emergency room physician at Artesia General Hospital, an employer he shares with his father, Marshall Baca Sr., M.D., an orthopedic surgeon. “I had my reservations about coming to a small town; I was afraid it might be too slow, but we see tons of trauma and sick people here,” he expressed. “It was surprising.” In order to help

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trajectory of his career by asking him what he wanted to do with his life. He knew then, just like he knew as a child, that he was meant to study medicine, so with the help of the advisor, he shifted gears and set out on the proper path to becoming a doctor.

pay off medical school loans and hone his skills even further, he continues to work parttime at a level one trauma center in El Paso. For all the similarities between the dynamic Baca duo, they will both tell you there are certainly a number differences as well. “I’m probably a little bit more uptight than him. I’m more of a planner,” Baca Jr. contended. “I feel like I have my life mapped out, and he is more of a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type.” And perhaps it’s a generational thing, but the junior Baca admits to being a more “direct” communicator than his father, who tends to lean on “implication” to get his points across. Outside the workplace, both men love the outdoors, but Baca Jr. prefers hiking or playing golf while Sr. is an avid hunter. “That’s something he shares with my brother; they both love hunting,” Jr. acknowledged. If you ask Baca Sr. about the differences between his son and him, he tends to agree with his son’s assessment, adding, “I see him as more regimented. Maybe I’m just loosening up the older I get, but I very much see him that way.” In terms of their careers, the elder Baca commends his son on his work ethic and dedication to the field of emergency medicine, but he acknowledges it’s not a field for him. “I couldn’t handle that much adrenaline on a daily basis,” he reckoned. “I like predictability, and the ER is anything but. Marshall likes the unknown. It’s a good fit for him.”

Dr. Marshall Baca Sr. Unlike his son, who had no interest in medicine as a child, Dr. Marshall Baca Sr. knew from a very early age that he wanted to become a doctor. He admitted to not having much information back then about what becoming a doctor entailed, but that never deterred him. “I know we were dearly close to our pediatrician at the time, but I didn’t have anyone in my family in medicine. We had a number of business owners, but no doctors. But I knew it was something I wanted to do.” The Baca family were early settlers in the Socorro area of New Mexico and can trace their roots back generations, to the 1600s, before the United States was even the United States. During World War I, most of the family moved out west to California, where the men went to fight in the war and the women entered the workforce. Baca Sr. was born in California and then promptly moved with his family to Mexico until the age of three. Having lived in Mexico from age three to 12, he returned to the States with his family and attended middle school, high school and college in El Paso. After a rocky start to his college years—he confessed he initially majored in foosball and having fun—an advisor interceded and changed the

Deciding to become a doctor was step one; step two was deciding on a specialty. “Marshall was a seven-weeks-early preemie and was in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for weeks. That’s part of the reason I went into pediatrics,” he shared. “As you go through medical school you’re exposed to a lot of primary care, but as you experience things you find a niche.” So how did the talented surgeon at Artesia General Hospital go from treating babies to replacing knees? “I worked with my mentor, who was the chief of pediatric surgery at the hospital I worked at in Houston at the time. He ended up moving, and with [his departure] came a new department head,” Baca Sr. explained. He and his mentor’s predecessor butted heads, and the experience “turned him off ” from pediatrics. “All of the sudden I had an orthopedic rotation, and it was eyeopening.” He realized orthopedics provided him an opportunity to become somewhat of an engineer for the human body. “I love orthopedics. I could do this until I’m 90,” he quipped. “I don’t think I will, but I could!” Once he settled on making a career in orthopedics, serendipity led him to New Mexico. “I looked at other places, but coming out of medical school and having student debt, the best opportunity was in Carlsbad,” he confided of the decision he made nearly 22 years ago. “We had three kids by then, and we felt like it was a good place to raise them and start my practice.” So for the next 16 years, Baca Sr. owned a successful private orthopedic practice in Carlsbad; until, that is, the folks at Artesia General Hospital came calling. Today, six years into his stint at AGH, patients travel from all over the region seeking his expertise. Much like his son, Baca Sr. is known for being patient-focused, pleasant to work with and dedicated to his profession. They might differ in many aspects of their personal lives, but Drs. Marshall Baca Sr. and Marshall Baca Jr. share the most important qualities when it comes to their careers: They treat their patients, co-workers and other staff with respect, and they manage to find joy and purpose inside the walls of the hospital.

PHOTOS: While the similarities are obvious between Dr. Marshall Baca Sr. and his son, Dr. Marshall Baca Jr.—their name, workplace, love of medicine—there is more to each doctor than meets the eye. In fact, if you look a little closer, you will see plenty of differences between the dynamic father/son duo! Photos by Jennifer Coats



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business spotlight

Aspire Developmental Services, LLC Business Name:

Aspire Developmental Services, LLC (David Rodriguez, CEO answering questions)

How long have you been in business?

Our agency has been in business since 2014.

What makes this business so special?

We are in the business of caring for people, so that alone makes it very different from your average business. We believe in providing care with dignity, respect and lots of love. We exist to try and enrich the lives of the individuals we serve, but more often than not, they enrich our lives.

What are you best known for and why?

I believe that our agency is known for the care, respect and love we provide to each individual we serve.

What is the history or background of this business? The agency has four owners. We all work on a daily basis in the agency with different assignments. All of us are from the Southeastern New Mexico area.

What aspect of this business are you most passionate about?

I am all about the quality of service we provide. People entrust us with their lives or the lives of their loved ones, so it is of the utmost importance to me that we are first and foremost passionate about truly caring for the individuals we serve.



Why should a customer choose your business?

I always ask myself if I had a loved one who needed our services, would I feel good about my loved one being cared for by this agency? My answer has always been yes, because we have people who truly love the people they serve. We have employees who do this job because they love it. This is what they want to do, and it shows in the level of care they provide.

Are there any tips you would tell customers to improve their experience when they visit your place of business or conduct business with you?

The only tip would be to ask to speak to us. We as owners are always available for anyone who would like to visit with us about our services or for any other reason. We own the business and we work here too, because it is what we love to do.

What is one thing that makes your business stand out?

What makes us stand out is our commitment to the quality of services we provide. We may not be the largest or oldest agency that provides these services, but we love what we do and we love those we serve, and that shows in everything we do. Aspire is new to the Artesia area. Our agency started in Roswell, and now we have expanded to Artesia. I am the managing owner and CEO. I was born in Artesia, and I consider this to be my hometown. I am very happy to be back here in my hometown with our agency able to provide the developmental services that are needed in the community. We have found the people of Artesia to be very helpful and very supportive of the developmentally disabled individuals we serve. We are located at 1211 W. Main in the eastern part of the building that was once Terry’s Electronics for many years, and we are very grateful for all the help we received from Terry Maupin in getting our offices located here. We hope to be here for many years and truly become a part of this wonderful town. GO BULLDOGS!!

by Nora White

Artesia has an active and vibrant homeschool community. While the notion of homeschooling is old, the practice has been gaining popularity in recent years. The reasons homeschool families choose to homeschool are as varied as the people. For some families the freedom in their schedule that homeschooling their children allows draws them to the movement, while others are drawn to presenting a Christian worldview. Some simply find that the bonding time with the children is integral to their healing or development, while others are seeking to ditch the pressure of high stakes testing, bullies or other peer pressures. Curriculum options abound, and the choices are as varied as the reasons families choose to homeschool. Stephen and Aleja Thatcher have been homeschooling their seven children for many years and have enjoyed the freedom of being able to choose the curriculum that works best for the individual needs of each of their children. They can pick the program that suits their family’s needs in math and science, for instance, and choose another program from a different publisher for English. Aleja explained that homeschool parents have to register with the state every year, but they do not have to provide records. The Thatchers choose to keep detailed records of grades and courses to provide to the state as proof that the student met the requirements to graduate and take college entrance exams. To date, two of their children have graduated, one of whom, their daughter Harley, is currently a freshman at Texas Tech University. Alan and Ashley Brooks have also chosen to homeschool their children. While they started out in public schools, they chose to switch to homeschooling after their son, who has high-functioning autism, experienced some difficulties with bullies. Ashley mentioned that once they made the transition, they were able to see some benefits

for their children, such as the freedom of play in their school work and being “allowed to be kids.” She also feels their focus has improved without the distractions of transitions and lining up times that happen in traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Another advantage they have enjoyed is having the ability to go in-depth into subjects that really hold interest for her children. She feels like the home/work/life balance is much better, helping them not feel as rushed. Her children are able to participate in many activities such as plays at church, dance, piano and sports. She is fond of the Charlotte Mason Method style of education as well as the Apologia Science program, which presents science with a biblical worldview. Another homeschooling option is to go through a private school program. Micha and Brooke Foster’s children have all attended public school during their elementary years but have opted to be homeschooled as they enter middle school. Brooke was originally resistant to the idea since she wasn’t sure about being her child’s teacher. The Fosters use the curriculum provided from Faith Christian Academy in Carlsbad. She likes that her children have access to some instruction through the school, and as an added bonus, the school keeps the records

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for them. She admits that her only regret is not trying it sooner. She enjoys having a better home/life balance with her children and feels less stressed. The children still have plenty of opportunities to be social through sports, church and other activities; both of her older boys participate in sports through Artesia Public Schools. Dan and Marissa Phelps have also chosen to school their children at home. Marissa stated that homeschooling appeals to families who have children with disabilities, military families, missionary families, international families or families with children that are not thriving in the public school environment. Dan is the pastor at First Evangelical Presbyterian Church, located at Fourth Street and Grand Avenue, where the homeschool group Classical Conversations meets on Tuesdays. Shirley Bailey is a local tutor for the program and has experience working in public, private and residential schools. She likes that the program encourages accountability and critical thinking skills and that the strands (subjects) are complimentary to one another. When students meet on Tuesdays they often play learning games, debate and teach what they learn to one another. Parent Riann Holder said she has really enjoyed making the leap to homeschooling and noted that even inside the Classical Conversation program that her family uses are numerous opportunities to individualize the program to suit her children’s needs. Having a Christian curriculum and the influence of Christian peers is important to her family, and she is pleased with what she has found in Classical Conversations. The group also hosts social events, such as a recent get-together on Valentine’s night in which the students invited community members to help them practice the art of conversation and etiquette. Another option for parents who want to homeschool their children but want to stay connected to public school standards and curricula is through Pecos Connections Academy in Carlsbad, which offers a K-8 public online school. Students have access to experienced teachers via telephone and online group lessons. Some of the school staff are located in Carlsbad, but other teachers are located around the state in other cities such as Las Cruces and Lovington. The school offers clubs and groups and hosts get togethers around the state as well. The school bills itself as a good option for students who want to spend more time devoted to activities like dance, gymnastics and rodeo that may take the student away from a traditional school setting and allow the student to complete work on his or her own time. High school students can attend New Mexico Connections Academy, which serves students in grades 4-12.

Some of the local homeschool moms have turned to Facebook to help organize social activities for their students. A Facebook group called Home Schoolers of Artesia helps get the varied students together for activities. Some of them meet for a joint science lesson once a week, and others help organize holiday parties such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Recent posts highlight a pottery class being offered to homeschoolers. Marissa Phelps mentioned they have had a running group in the past and are looking for volunteers to help in the areas of physical education, music and art. Many of the students in the group participate in a sewing class taught by Susie McCaw on Monday evenings that is open to any student. Local homeschool students also participate in the classes provided by the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center. Amanda Lamb, who homeschools her kindergarten daughter, says the group meets to plan out a calendar for the year, and she enjoys being able to share information with other parents at the meeting. One drawback to homeschooling can be the cost. It is not funded by public education, which means parents must foot the bill for the curriculum they choose to use. Costs range in price from a few hundred dollars a year up to $1,200 a year. One benefit of buying the materials is that they can often be handed down to use for a younger student, and used copies are sometimes available for purchase. Connections Academy is free to U.S. students and does provide some equipment needed for school. Making the choice to homeschool will also require a devoted parent who either has a flexible work environment or is able to stay at home with the students. To connect with the Facebook group Home Schoolers of Artesia, visit or search Home Schoolers of Artesia on Facebook. For more information about Classical Conversations, Shirley Bailey may be reached at 575-626-9165 or you may find out more at Pecos Connections Academy can be reached at or by calling 844-227-0920.

PHOTO ABOVE: The practice of homeschooling has increased significantly in recent years, with homeschool groups, such as this one, popping up in various forms all over the country. PHOTOS BELOW (LEFT - RIGHT): Some local homeschool groups meet once a week to participate in science experiments, such as the ones pictured, and host holiday parties; Much like

in public schools, local homeschool students take pride in graduating from various grades and celebrate with graduation ceremonies.





W E L CO M E S Jessica Addington to our staf f !

P r i n t & Web D e s i g n S t rat eg i c M a rke t i n g S o c i a l M e d i a M a n age m e n t P ro m o t i o n a l P ro d u c t s


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The Keeping the Dream Alive Organization hosted their 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance on January 16 at the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center. The theme of the event was “What Are You Doing to Serve Humanity?”


1 | High school student Jharyss Granger led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and the salute to the New Mexico state flag. He then wowed the audience with his vocal abilities by singing the national anthem. 2 | Members of the Bethel Baptist Church choir performed two songs during the ceremony. 3 | Bethel Baptist Church choir 4 | Mayor Phillip Burch proclaimed Monday, January 16, 2017 as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Artesia. 5 | Members of the Pilgrim Baptist Church of Carlsbad perform. 6 | Student members of MAD (Making a Difference) with Artesia Intermediate School render the audience speechless with signs depicting sobering statistics about bullying. 7 | Audrey Sanchez talks about the organization’s scholarship program and provides an update on last year’s recipients.



8 | Master of Ceremonies Rev. Thomas E. Ford of Bethel Baptist Church. 9 | Keynote speaker Rev. David McPherson of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Carlsbad addresses the crowd during a passionate invocation about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He addressed the need to “serve humanity” and help our fellow man. 10 | Rev. David McPherson of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Carlsbad 11 | High school student Ali Mauritsen performs for the crowd, bringing everyone to their feet afterward. 12 | The organization treated attendees to refreshments after the ceremony in the Ocotillo lobby. 13 | Esther Earl and Jackson Guy pose for a photo during the celebration. SPRING 2017 | A COMMUNITY MAGAZINE


chamber news


DIRECTOR’S NOTE Spring is in the air!

Springtime signals a lot of activity in our community. Artesia Chamber of Commerce and its partners are working on the slate of events for the year, including the Fourth of July Celebration, Red Dirt Black Gold Festival, Clays Crusher Sporting Clays Fun Shoot, Balloons & Tunes Hot Air Balloon Rally and more. Artesia Public Library and Ocotillo Performing Arts Center have a healthy list of activities that offer a little something for just about any taste and style. Each year, Artesia Chamber of Commerce publishes a Calendar of Events. The 2017 calendar is out now, providing a month-by-month list of events and information about each of our partnering organizations, including website and contact information so you can learn more. While the list is long, it is not necessarily exhaustive. Contact Eddy County Shooting Range, Artesia Public Library, the Ocotillo, Artesia MainStreet or Artesia Chamber of



Commerce to get more details about activities that may not be listed on the calendar. Visit Artesia Chamber of Commerce’s website to find phone numbers, another calendar of activities and other information about our community. Springtime also signals an end to the state’s legislative session and the planning and preparation for our annual trip to Washington, D.C., where we will advocate for the industries and jobs that are so important to our community. It is now more important than ever to become or stay engaged in the decisions being made at every level of government. It is our responsibility as citizens to pay attention, learn and be brave enough to speak up. Look for information coming soon from Artesia Chamber of Commerce to hear from the state legislators who represent our region of the state. You will have

an opportunity to learn the latest from Santa Fe and weigh in on your concerns. Take the opportunity to visit with Hayley or Michael at Artesia Chamber of Commerce about federal issues that are of concern to you, or take advantage of the office hours Rep. Steve Pearce’s deputy district director, Bernadette, keeps at Artesia Chamber from 9-12 every third Thursday of the month. When you need information, whether you are looking to speak to an elected official or looking for something to do, don’t hesitate to call Artesia Chamber of Commerce, visit our offices or find us online or on Facebook. We are happy to help and always pleased to help you become engaged in our community. - Hayley Klein, Executive Director Artesia Chamber of Commerce




Executive Director



VAN DER VEEN- GROUSNICK Events & Marketing EDWARDS Coordinator Director of Administration

KELCEY GEORGE Membership Coordinator


Artesia’s Economic Development Director



The Artesia Chamber of Commerce and Trailblazers celebrated the opening of Godfather’s Washateria. This new laundry has the best in washing machines and dryers and machines for the hardworking oilfield workers with the clothes that are harder to get clean. Unique to Godfather’s Washateria is the drive-up window to drop off your clothes to be laundered for you! Located at 1315 N. 1st St. Call 575-736-2735.


The Artesia Trailblazers and Artesia Chamber of Commerce welcomed the opening of the Artesia Home Center. A second store for Jenkins Home Center, Artesia Home Center carries quality furniture, flooring, granite and home décor at affordable prices. The staff is ready to provide great hometown customer service and help you decorate your home with quality items. Stop by the store at 1213 W. Main or call 575-736-7119.

ELITE MAIDS CLEANING SERVICE 575-513-0215 • CAIN ELECTRICAL SUPPLY CORPORATION 1911 N. Roselawn Ave. • 575-736-0270 R&P RV PARK AND LAUNDRY, LLC 7348 Roswell Hwy. • 575-746-7321 GODFATHER’S WASHATERIA 1315 N. 1st St. • 575-736-2735 PREMIER AUTO HAIL REPAIR 1301 W. Main St. • 575-749-8523


Premier Auto Hail Repair arrived in our community as quickly as the sudden hail storm did. They got to work right away repairing damage to vehicles and creating a permanent business presence in Artesia. The Artesia Chamber and Trailblazers were pleased to welcome Premier Auto Hail Repair at their ribbon cutting. Find them at 1301 W. Main or call 575-749-8523.


Moving to Artesia? In search of a larger home for a growing family? Berkshire Hathaway has many realtors ready to help you find the home that is right for you! Visit their website to learn more about Berkshire Hathaway and the associated realtors at www. Stop by the beautiful newly remodeled office at 801 W. Main or call 575-622-0875.


ARTESIA HOME CENTER 1213 W. Main St. •575-736-7119 COATS PLUMBING & HVAC, LLC 705 N. 1st St. • 575-748-8776 WINGS RESTAURANT 402 N. 1st St. • 575-746-4288 MAVERICK 1510 W. Fairgrounds • 575-420-1952

The Larry Marshall Agency was founded by Larry Marshall himself in neighboring Dexter. Recently expanding with an office in Artesia, the Larry Marshall agents here are invested in helping make your insurance needs simple to understand and to help you make the best insurance decisions for every aspect of your life. Stop by the Farm Bureau-Larry Marshall Agency at 402 W. Main, call 575-734-5414 or visit



artesia mainstreet

dowtown lowdown


Executive Director

Thinking about celebrating our differences caused me to reflect. How can we celebrate the difference that is Artesia? What is it about our community that sets us apart? For me—and I think most would agree—it’s the people. You would be hard-pressed to find any better people than those living in our community. We take care of each other like family, and let’s face it, a lot of us are!


It’s easy to pass through Main Street on your way to work or while taking the highway out of town and only glance at our downtown businesses. I can’t tell you how often I hear, “I didn’t even know we had that type of business in Artesia!” Remember that behind every local business is a hard-working member of our community. These folks are your neighbor, your friend, the person next to you at the grocery store. They are also an essential part of our local economy. Small businesses employ local citizens and are an economic engine for a community’s economy. Successful local businesses allow owners to remain in place and in turn generate more opportunities for additional entrepreneurs. However, the positive effects of small businesses go beyond the obvious benefits such as creating more jobs. Check out these other ways that local businesses are the heroes of their hometowns:

• Local businesses bring necessities to small towns - Residents of small towns are often used to driving many miles for goods and services, so when a business brings the necessities to town, they’re greatly appreciated.

• Small businesses improve the quality of life - People who live in areas with a higher number of locally-owned businesses are healthier, wealthier and safer, among other positive findings, according to researchers at Baylor University and Louisiana State University.

• Local businesses create more prosperity - Studies show that locally-owned, independent businesses re-circulate more money back into their communities than chains or franchises do.


• Local businesses support their community - Our local business owners are huge supporters of area organizations. They support 4-H, Artesia Public Schools sports, AHS Chorus, AHS Band, AHS Yearbook, Altrusa Club of Artesia, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boy Scouts, CASA, city sports leagues, FFA, Girl Scouts, Lion’s Club, Packs of Love, Paws & Claws, PTO, traveling sports teams and that’s just to name a few. FOCUS ON ARTESIA | SPRING 2017

The majority of the businesses within Artesia’s Downtown District are small and locally-owned. Of those, 45% have been in business for 10 years or longer and 40% of those businesses have been in Artesia for over 50 years. That is certainly something to celebrate! Based on research conducted by the International City/County Management Association, communities should focus their efforts on building the local economy through the development of existing locally-owned businesses. What does this mean for you? It’s simple: shop local first. Artesia has a long-standing tradition of homegrown businesses. Let’s continue to support them by shopping locally first. Remember, when you shop local, we all benefit.

& Team we love creating beautiful smiles! Kay Younggren, DDS 575.746.1900 • 2520 W. Hermosa Dr. • Artesia, New Mexico


Welcome to the New You!

If you have a BMI of 30 or higher and diet and exercise alone haven’t helped you lose weight, you may think surgery is your only option. Think again! At AGH, we’re proud to offer another choice to help you meet your weight-loss goals. ORBERA® is a two part weight-loss system that offers hope for adults who want to avoid surgery. PART ONE • The program starts with an outpatient procedure to place a temporary soft gastric balloon in your stomach, which makes you feel fuller and encourages portion control. The gastric balloon is removed after six months. PART TWO • One-on-one coaching and expert nutritional and fitness guidance are offered from the start and continue for up to a year after the procedure is complete. This ongoing support is designed to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. The ONLY team in New Mexico to offer the NEW ORBERA® Intragastric Balloon Weight-Loss System

Shahriar Anoushfar, DO, FACS, FACOS & Terah Maupin Sexton, PA-C


Focus on Artesia Spring 2017  
Focus on Artesia Spring 2017