Disappointment but determination to not be closed was the reaction of the county’s Cooperative Extension Service personnel to the defeat of the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District’s half-mill levy.

Property owners in Valencia County cast their votes on Tuesday then waited for the tally on Friday.

After the 1,894 voters were verified as property owners, the poll officials counted the ballots in Judge John Pope’s chambers.

The result — 1,403 against and 491 for — was disappointing to Dale Jones, conservation district board member.

“I am so sad, I can hardly talk,” Jones said. “I feel sorry for the residents of Valencia County. I think they made a mistake.”

When the Valencia County Commission found itself in financial difficulties, it stopped providing $67,000 for the extension service and $12,000 for the conservation district.

“We thought this would be a way we could help keep the Extension Service open and give the District funds to support natural resource conservation projects by county landowners,” he said.

Extension agent Frank Holguin was also disappointed, “but not surprised. After what happened in Albuquerque last week, we knew it was going to be a tough fight.”

Holguin is looking to the future.

“One of our possible funding sources has not worked out, now we have to find another way,” he said.

“New Mexico State University will help us get through the program year, which ends Sept. 30. They will be closing this year’s budget and seeing how much of the $22,500, the private funds raised by our community, will be left to get us through the first half of next year.”

Finally, Holguin will be returning to the leaders of the three municipalities in Valencia County to see if they can help out by contributing.

“When we gave our presentations to the councilors of Bosque Farms, Los Lunas and Belen, they were friendly, but didn’t commite,” he said.

“We’re hoping they will extend a helping hand.”

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Jane Moorman