February 4, 2004
A SIX-MONTH DRUG OPERATION resulted in 25 arrests, Socorro Police Chief Joel Haley said. Haley told city councilors Monday the just-completed joint operation conducted by city police and New Mexico State Police had been very successful. “Rather than trying to make big busts where we might get 10 or 20 people,” Haley said, the investigation focused on specific situations and individuals. As a result, he said, the operation netted 25 arrests on distribution charges. He characterized all as significant arrests and good cases. Names of those arrested and the charges against each were not immediately available. Haley said they would be released as soon as all the cases had been processed. Councilor Ernest Pargas, who had been critical of some of the department’s anti-drug efforts and has been pushing the concept of a regional drug task force, offered praise for this operation. “I want to commend you and your department, “Pargas told Haley. Pargas said the results of the operation show the Socorro Police Department can be effective in the fight against illegal drugs. Haley said a similar joint operation with State Police would begin soon. He said one factor that has helped is that the operations have received some federal drug-fighting funding.

FEBRUARY 14, 2004
JAYANTA MAJUMDAR certainly knows how to “traverse” the county Spelling Bee. For the second year in a row, Majumdar walked away with the first-place trophy as the top student speller in the county schools and earned the right to move on to state competition. It took 28 rounds for Majumdar, an eighth grader at Cottonwood Valley Charter school, to eliminate the other 33 contestants in competition Friday in the main courtroom at the county courthouse. Seven of those rounds were one-on-one against the runner-up, Sarracino Middle School eighth-grader Jeffrey Hertz, who stumbled on the word “consecrate.” Majumdar then had to spell “gaseous to win the round, followed by “traverse” to win the title. Hedan Zeng was the third-place finisher. She is a seventh grader at Sarracino.

FEBRUARY 18, 2004
MEMBERS OF THE SOCORRO AMATEUR RADIO ASSOCIATION honored one of their members, Agnes Halls, on her 90th birthday, Jan. 31. Halls, a licensed amateur radio operator since 1976, has been active in SARA since she and her late husband, Ray, also a ham, came to Socorro in 1993. Halls holds the callsign KA5KIE and continues to participate in SARA activities. She is a regular on the weekly on-air emergency-network drill, always participates in the annual Field Day in June, and attends SARA’s monthly meetings. In the late 1990s, she served as Secretary of the organization. On her birthday, SARA members surprised Halls at her home, bringing refreshments for a celebration. In addition to offering congratulations, the members, including at least four past presidents, thanked Halls for her steadfast support of the organization and her example of community service through amateur radio.

FEBRUARY 25, 2004
THE OLD SOCORRO HOSPITAL on Neel Avenue has been cleared of asbestos and may be getting a new life as a schoolhouse. The building has been empty since the 1980s. With its steel covered windows, the building, which is owned by Socorro County, has been an eyesore and a constant topic of discussion at county meetings. Because the building had asbestos in some of its pipes and floor tiles, it was unable to be used for anything- until now. The old hospital building is located right on the doorstep of the Cottonwood Valley Charter school. M&E Engineering out of Santa Fe was hired for the job, but they then contracted Keers Remediation, a national company that specializes in asbestos removal. The job took two weeks. Because hospital rooms are too small for classrooms, the building would need extensive renovations inside. Cottonwood administrator said a number of architects have looked at the property but the school hasn’t proceeded with a serious plan yet because they are still waiting to assume ownership of the property. The school will also have to seek grant money to renovate or rebuild, but Nutt doesn’t seem to worried about the funding.