RIO COMMUNITIESIt’s been 10 years since the city of Rio Communities incorporated into the county’s newest municipality.  

The occasion will be marked with a two-day celebration full of fanfare, food, music and more on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21, at Rio Communities City Hall, 360 Rio Communities Blvd.  

Mayor Joshua Ramsell is excited about the celebration, saying it’s a way to show appreciation to those who worked to incorporated the city as well as those who live here.  

“I think this is amazing,” Ramsell said of marking the city’s 10th anniversary. “I think early on, a lot of people thought the city wouldn’t succeed, that we would end up faltering or disincorporating due to difficulties in the beginning. 

“It’s quite an achievement that we are where we are today,” he said. “We still have a long ways to go, obviously, but we’re moving forward with expanding our emergency services, expanding the capital projects we’re doing, our infrastructure and the groundwork for future growth of the city.” 

Ramsell said it’s an exciting time for the city and is looking forward to celebrating the city’s milestone with the residents.  

The celebration will kick off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Oct. 20, and then a invitation-only appreciation luncheon for those who have played a significant role in establishing and growing the city.  

The celebration will roll on at 1 p.m. with an open house at city hall and live music with Daniel Solis Band and food vendors from 6-8 p.m.  

Saturday’s activities include a car show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., arts and crafts vendors from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the kids’ zone open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and an apple pie contect at 6:30 p.m. There will also be a food truck contest. 

The day’s music will begin at 3 p.m. with Luna Upfront, and Black Pearl playing at 4:30 p.m. The headliner, Micky Cruz, will take the stage at 6 p.m.  

The celebration has been in the planning stages for months with contracted help from Zia Sports Academy, and volunteer organizations such as the Rio Communities Optimist Club, the Rio Communities Founders Group, Rio Communities Health Council, business owners and private citizens as well.  

“We’ll have something for everyone,” Moore said. 

While Ramsell wasn’t part of the Founders Group that helped to incorporate Rio Communities, he does remember the effort and that he voted in favor of incorporation.  

“I’ve lived within the city pretty much my entire life, so I was there and I voted for it,” the mayor said. “For me, I always saw how things weren’t changing or moving forward. We had to decide whether to stay how we were or strike out on our own.” 

Rio Communities City Manager Marty Moore was appointed in January 2020, having had worked in small communities before.  

“I’ve worked in a community with 3,000 people before, but it was a city that was over 100 years old,” Moore said. “This one is by far the newest, especially on the commercial side, with the smallest amount of commercial opportunity.” 

When Moore started in Rio Communities, he called himself and the staff the “gang of six,” because that was the total number of employees. Today, the city has 20 full-time employees.  

Both Moore and Ramsell said they were amazed at how much the city’s first administration got things accomplished because it was all on a volunteer basis.  

“There were so many people who helped,” Moore said. “They helped to remodel the first set of offices to making sure someone was keeping the minutes at the council meetings. It was incredible. It has come a long way!” 

Moore said he has spoken to former mayor Mark Gwinn’s family, who told him they were happy with what the city has accomplished. Gwinn had to step away from his duties with the city in October 2019 with his health was failing.  

Ramsell said, as a resident, seeing how the city has grown, having its own library, the first police chief, its own fire department and a city hall complex to be proud of, he’s elated that Rio Communities has flourished.  

“This all belongs to the citizens,” Ramsell said. “Our No. 1 goal for the city hall complex is to utilize the least amount of space for the staff and utilize as much as the building for the community …  

“We’ve really been focusing on everything because we’re so new,” he said. “We’re focusing on parks, on roads, the police department. It’s exciting for people to read and hear about it, but for them to actually see it and go there, they’ll be thrilled.” 

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.