Two beneficial programs 


I was excited to read the letter to the editor from Betty and Rick Follett regarding the Read to Me! Project.   

I’d like to make them and any other interested volunteers aware of the Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program. Oasis is a nationally-based program that is facilitated for New Mexicans in the Albuquerque Public Schools and Belen Consolidated Schools as well. It entails a weekly session for an adult to spend an hour with a student in grades K-3, selected by the classroom teacher to enhance their literacy skills.  

The program provides 12 hours of training for tutors, along with materials, a well-stocked library and payment to the district for background checks. Twice a school year, the tutor is allowed to choose several books that are given to their student to take home. The coordinator works with participating schools to place tutors.   

While the partnership with the APS schools is flourishing, with many tutors and schools, in Belen, there is a pressing need for more volunteer tutors. Currently, I am the only tutor in the district, working at Gil Sanchez Elementary, with only one student benefiting from the weekly sessions. I’ve been welcomed by the school staff and look forward each week to the session I have with my student. 

As a retired kindergarten teacher, I often wished I had an opportunity to spend time one-to-one with a student.  This is a truly enjoyable experience for students and tutors. I love the chance to still be around young children without the responsibility and hard work that a classroom teacher faces!   

Since the program offers training, there is no need to be a former educator in order to participate in the program. 

After seeing the letter about the Read to Me project, I thought this would be a great opportunity for the two programs to learn about each other. The Oasis Program has an incredibly dynamic and hard-working coordinator named Vicki DeVigne, who would love to be contacted by any interested volunteers.  

I would encourage interested volunteers to contact her through any of the following means, 505-884-4529, or [email protected]. 

Melinda (Mindy) Reynolds 



Belen councilor vote 


Crime in Belen dropped 18 percent. Really?  

Robberies and kidnappings up 100 percent to 120 percent. Motor vehicle thefts up 21 percent, and aggravated assaults up 17 percent.  

Police Chief James Harris’ excuses include how several crimes can be grouped together even though they are different, and how people don’t know the difference between robbery and burglary when calling the police.  

This is why I voted against the reappointment of Chief Harris because I am tired of his excuses. I’m a lifelong Hub City resident, public servant for over 45 years, and a city elected official for 14 years. Public servants must be accountable to their community.  

The police department was accredited when Chief Harris took over in January 2020, and it had been accredited several times before under other police chiefs in the same building. Now, four years later, it is not accredited and why? Well there’s plenty of excuses from Chief Harris, such as it’s someone else’s fault that the current police building is too old according to his letter to the council. In that time, we’ve had complaints of officers not showing up to court (failure to appear), the police advisory committee being dissolved and no proactive crime or traffic safety strategies implemented.  

Belen residents have common sense, so saying crimes is down 18 percent when kidnappings, robberies, motor vehicle thefts and aggravated assaults are up is nothing more than a false sense of security.  

Do you feel safer? Are you satisfied with an unaccredited police department? Mayor Robert Noblin stated “consistency” is important, so why isn’t consistent accreditation important? Isn’t “accountability” more important? 

For four years, Chief Harris has promised to get the police department accredited and deploy community safety strategies. The Belen City Council has voted for a 25 percent increase in pay, helping pass a GO bond for the Belen Police Department building, approved a grant through the USDA for 12 new police cars, fully-loaded, funding staff and upgrading the evidence room. Time and time again going toward accreditation.  

Time after time, I was assured that was being done. After two audits, one in May 2019, 2021 at a cost of about $8,000 to give the Belen PD exactly what the chief needed to do for their accreditation. My votes in supporting the police department are clear from officer wage increases to funding a new police building.  

The total budget for public safety is 43 percent for fire and the police department, which comes from the $10 million in the general fund. The police department is getting the bulk of the 43 percent — $3.3 million for personnel, maintenance, training and equipment.  

The fire department gets $1.5 million from the general fund to cover personnel, training and equipment.  

I want the public to be safe as well as officers, so it’s up to our police chief to make sure all rules and regulations, and their (standard operating procedures) are followed. It’s his responsibility to make sure all is done to assure the safety of the public and his officers.  

I’ve made my decision to hold Chief Harris accountable. Now the questions is whether the community wants the same accountability.  

Frank F. Ortega 

Belen City Councilor 


Value of a republic 


I have been trying to understand why the group of people that say they are wanting to save the Democracy are so intense and they never say that they want to save the Republic.  

The Founding Fathers and the state delegates of this country we call America deliberated many days to make sure they created the documents that would stand the test of time to keep it secure and safe for generations to come. It seems that the president and many political leaders are making that their campaign slogan and say that we have to keep the present administration in power to save the country from a dictator being elected.  

Dictators don’t get elected; they get into power and then find ways to convince enough people to support their programs to keep them in office and then write new rules to run a country. Or we have enough legislators that want to change or abolish the Constitution and lose the principles and laws that have kept this country safe for about 250 years. Once that happens, it is a slippery slope to losing our freedoms, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and laws that has kept us free all these years. 

It is important to have schools teach civic courses that emphasize the value of keeping the republic rather than a democracy because if we don’t then the slippery slope is: A republic to democracy to progressive democratic socialist to socialist to communism and then a dictatorship or some form of it. May God keep that from happening. 

Luther Robertson 

Los Lunas 

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