People & Places

Time has never flown by faster than it has during my first year here at the News-Bulletin — whew!  

Felina Martinez News-Bulletin Writer

Felina Martinez
News-Bulletin staff writer

I take that as a good sign though, as time tends to fly by when you’re having a good time, right? That’s not to say it’s been sunshine and rainbows all the time, but it sure is engaging. In fact, whenever someone asks me what I think of my job or what I enjoy about it, my answer is usually the same: it’s very interesting and I learn something new every day!  

A curious cat myself, I’ve always loved learning and understanding the “why” behind how things work. Even though I’m not in school anymore, I firmly believe we are never done learning.  

With that being said, I wanted to share a few interesting and impactful things I’ve learned during my first year here because wow, it has been a lot! 

I thought I’d start with sharing some wisdom I learned from residents I’ve interviewed who certainly gave me some new food for thought. It’s the people of Valencia County who bring life to the area and give the county its distinct personality after all.  

In April 2023, I wrote a story about Alison Lopez, a Los Lunas resident living with multiple sclerosis who, with the help of her teenage son, are on a mission to bring more awareness to the disease that affects many. 

She shared that when she was initially diagnosed, she had it in her head that her life was over; however, her mom told her this wasn’t an end, rather a new beginning. 

“She told me this is just the beginning of my new life, like my second birthday,” Alison said.  

I left the interview with a new perspective on endings and beginnings that day, and I was so moved by how Allison embraced this concept as she continues to live a full, productive and amazing life. 

In June 2023, I had the pleasure of writing a story on the Belen Moose Riders, a recreational motorcycling activity group that uses motorcycling as a way to provide a positive community service outlet.  

Marcos Jaramillo, currently the president of the chapter, introduced me to the phrase “iron sharpens iron,” meaning when you surround yourself with good people, you all bring out the best in each other and good things follow.  

I’ve heard this idea before, but to see it in action at that scale was inspiring and really did send home the message to me about how important it is to choose who and what you surround yourself with.  

I also learned a lot through covering local government. One of the main lessons being that things are never as simple as they may seem.  

The much-anticipated I-25 interchange/corridor project is a good example. It’s easy to say, “We need this. Why is it taking this long?” But when it comes to building something as large as that, there are countless hoops that need to be jumped through and more than $200 million that need to be acquired.  

Looking at the timeline, which spanned from 2003-24, there are about 90 bullet points of painstaking, long-term work that needs to be done to actually realize the vision. This includes several large studies, area and transportation plans, presenting the project to legislative committees, applying for grants and so much more.  

I also learned a lot of fun, random facts, which I love to collect! A prime example of this stems from a visit to Carrasco Family Farm in Los Chavez for a story I wrote on the New Mexico Grown program.  

While touring their farm, we made a stop by their blooming artichoke plants and there were several bumblebees nesting in the flowers, acting super sluggish.  

Rhonda and Raymond Carrasco assured me it’s a regular occurrence on their artichoke flowers in particular. I heard other people online report similar scenarios, though I still haven’t found a definite reason as to the bee’s bizarre behavior around artichoke flowers. It sure was interesting though!  

I still chuckle when looking back at the video hearing Raymond in the background saying, “I think they’re drunk!” 

Anyway, this is all just a teeny-tiny snippet of what I’ve learned here in my first year, and I look forward to meeting and connecting with more of our residents because if this job has shown me anything, it’s that we all have a story to tell and something to learn from one another. 

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.