Sylvia Armijo cuts the red ribbon at the Sabinal Community Center grand opening Saturday. Armijo donated the land that the center is built on in 2007. Residents can rent the space for events like baptisms, graduations or community meetings.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain photos


Residents from Sabinal and neighboring Abeytas gathered Saturday to celebrate the opening of the Sabinal Community Center.

Construction on the Ben and Sylvia Armijo—Sabinal Community Center was completed in September 2020, but the building was not open for events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The completed building has a 100 person capacity and includes two bathrooms, a commercial kitchen, the main room and a large porch. Now applications are available for using the event space at the Socorro County manager’s office.

Kenneth Armijo talks about the importance of a community center for the vibrant community in northern Socorro County.

“It’s finally here. Took about 20 years, a lot of waits, stops and starts, and we had to do a lot of negotiating,” said Kenneth Armijo, a Sabinal resident who has been involved with the project since the start.

The building took approximately $1.2 million in state funds to complete and is owned and managed by Socorro County. The facility can be used by the county or for local events put on by area residents, like quinceañeras, farmers markets, baptisms or community meetings.

“It’s through the community effort that we kept this on the front burner,” said County Manager Michael Hawkes.

Difficulty securing funding caused the project to stop and start many times through the years. Due to the project’s many stops and starts, after phase two of the construction was completed, it sat empty long enough to become infested by mice. The partially built community center had to be gutted and rebuilt.

Hawkes encouraged attendees to make use of the new facility.

“This can’t stay running and look like it does unless we get people to use it,” he said.

Armijo’s mother 95-year-old Sylvia Armijo donated the land the center is built on in 2007. Sylvia Armijo was at the opening to cut the red ribbon before community members gathered inside for a tour of the facility and refreshments. Sylvia Armijo and her husband Ben Armijo have deep roots in the Sabinal community. Ben Armijo was originally from the community and the couple met at a dance in the area. Ben Armijo passed away in 2003.

“We’re excited about this project that has been going on for a while,” said Abeytas resident Helen Griego, who attended Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We hope it’s going to help the community.”

The Ben and Sylvia Armijo — Sabinal Community Center is located at 753 Highway 116.


Cathy Cook, El Defensor Chieftain