Column: Thanks for an interesting year, Taos

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You usually plan to be at a new job more than a year, but life happens and circumstances change.

So as I move on from a year as the editor of The Taos News, I want to offer a few observations and give a short introduction of your new editor, who has arrived.

For a kid who grew up in Albuquerque, Taos was always a minivacation. It remained that way in adulthood, and it’s been that way for the past year. What an amazing place to live in and explore. No matter how many hours are in the workday or how tough any particular day ends up being, living here is always a little bit like being on vacation.

And I now understand more clearly the intense connection Taoseños have with their environment — the powerful relationship residents have with the landscape, mountains, acequias and rivers. It was on display recently as hundreds of you attended meetings that were many hours long on the Abeyta Settlement agreement — a complex water rights issue that has been much debated.

I understand more fully how involved Taoseños are in politics. Taos County went big for Bernie Sanders in the primary last year and turned out for Hillary Clinton in the general, too. Your letters concerning the election and about specific concerns of the Trump administration have never slowed. And you’re very tied in to politics at the local level.

Taos has an abundance of people who care about the community, whether in the public, private, for-profit or nonprofit sectors. Some people I got to know this past year include Mary McPhail Gray of Nonviolence Works, Malinda Williams of Community Against Violence, Ted Wiard of Golden Willow Retreat, the crew at the Taos Community Foundation, the leadership and staff at University of New Mexico-Taos, law enforcement officials both elected and not, town councilors, county commissioners and the great (and small) staff at the Taos County Chamber of Commerce. There are many more not mentioned here.

Speaking of the Chamber of Commerce, the small business owners in Taos are some of the hardest working I’ve seen. Whether it’s boutique retail, galleries, restaurateurs, owners, operators, general managers or employees, all are doing their best to earn some money and survive still-rough economic waters. (Job seekers, don’t miss the chamber’s job fair March 23 at KTAOS, by the way.)

The Río Grande Gorge Bridge continues to be a source of pride and of concern for Taos County residents. Suicides have been all too common, and funds for changes to its infrastructure have not come easy. The community has responded to the challenges of suicide and mental health issues in the face of scarce services, however. Such a bright spot has been the national recognition of the “See Something. Say Something” app that was developed by a group of Taos students. It’s designed to give teens the tools to help prevent further youth suicide.

There were many more observations along the way.

But now to introduce Staci Matlock, your new editor. Staci previously worked for The Taos News, but it’s been a while. She’s been a reporter at The Santa Fe New Mexican for several years and is a seasoned journalist with a keen editor’s mind. Staci will introduce herself to you more formally next week. The Taos News is lucky to have her at the helm.

Thanks for the interesting year, Taos. I experienced so much in a short time.

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