In the Rearview

Looking back: 10, 25, 50 years ago – January 3

Barrone named Taos County chair, Taos Ski Valley gets hit with huge crowds and a tragedy, Taos faces big changes in 1969

By Mary Beth Libbey
forum@taosnews.com
Posted 1/3/19

- 10 YEARS AGO - 'County commission taps Barrone as chairman', By Matt van Buren, Jan. 8, 2009. The story reported that in a unanimous vote...

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In the Rearview

Looking back: 10, 25, 50 years ago – January 3

Barrone named Taos County chair, Taos Ski Valley gets hit with huge crowds and a tragedy, Taos faces big changes in 1969

Posted

- 10 YEARS AGO - 'County commission taps Barrone as chairman', By Matt van Buren, Jan. 8, 2009.

The front page banner headline was all about Darren Cordova getting elected Taos mayor, but on page A5, a story ran that may have set the stage for Taos' current mayor, Dan Barrone.

The story reported that in a unanimous vote, the Taos County Commission elected District 1 Commissioner Barrone as chairman for the year 2009. It was the commission's "annual changing of the guard," reported van Buren. The previous chair had been Charlie Gonzales and commissioner Joe Duran was also unanimously selected to be Barrone's vice chair.

Barrone said his goal was to "get the county, the town and the schools to work closer and better together." It was the beginning of Barrone's third year on the commission.

- 25 YEARS AGO - 'Crowds fill slopes at TSV; Teen hits tree, dies at TSV', By Bob Mentzinger,Jan. 6, 1994

It was the first time in recent memory that the skier limit set by the Forest Service had to be invoked at Taos Ski Valley because so many wanted to strap on the boards and challenge the Sangre de Cristos. It was also the week that the ski valley recorded its second skier death of the season.

On Dec. 28, during a particularly hectic week after Christmas, ski valley-bound cars were turned away at at the intersection of State Roads 150 and 230 west of Arroyo Seco because the ski area had hit its 4,800 skier limit. Taos Ski Valley spokesperson Betsy Adler said about 85 carloads of skiers were stopped. A notice given to the disappointed read that while the limit is rarely invoked, "in previous years, has only occurred on Dec. 28, 29 and 30."

The limit was lifted in the afternoon, however, and half-day tickets were sold. Many tourists also chose to simply travel to the resort, shop and hang out rather than ski, Adler said. The TSV administration fielded "few if any" complaints from tourists.

Meanwhile, on New Year's Day the same week, a 14-year-old skier from Albuquerque died after hitting a tree on one of the flat return trails near the bottom of the ski valley. The ski valley's Adler said the ski patrol got the call about the accident shortly after the lifts opened at a time when nearly all its members were at the top of the mountain after just opening it up for the day.

Greg Felser's death was the second skiing-related death recorded at Taos Ski Valley that year. Ed Keyser, 27, of Mesquite, Texas died after hitting a tree earlier that month on Dec. 11.

- 50 YEARS AGO - 'New challenges face Taos in '69: Already planned projects mean changes for people', By Keith Green, Jan. 2, 1969

This front-page story summarized changes in the state, county and town governments that would affect almost every "Taos Countian." That's what Green called us.

Anyway, the changes were wide-ranging, starting with the state:

• State officials and legislators had announced a state constitutional convention for 1969 that would rewrite the constitution for the first time since statehood in 1912. (By the way, the 107th anniversary of New Mexico's statehood is Monday (Jan. 6).)

Then the county had some big changes in store for the "countians":

• Reappraised property values and thus new property taxes were due to take effect, "a once-delayed and now demanded operation, almost certain to stir controversy right down to the final extraction of tax dollar from screaming pocketbook," as Green put it.

• Construction of a new $750,000 county courthouse on Santa Fe Road.

• A new county magistrate system "which--with all its newness--promises greater justice to all people involved with the law."

Then the "combo" projects, which included multiple agencies and governments:

• The paving of Twining Road to the Taos Ski Valley.

• The second opening of bids to build a road from Red River to the ski valley that would also access a yet-to-be-built new ski area. (This one did not happen.)

• The expansion of the Community Action Program, which had started as a federal program as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society anti-poverty initiative. The hope was that such an agency would raise the standard of living for low-income families, and it had already sponsored something called Taos' El Mercado, which marketed native crafts.

And, finally, a big change in town governance:

• The employment of a town manager for the first time. The idea had unanimous support from then Taos Mayor Rumaldo Garcia and the full town council.

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