CVCS student journalists take on the isues of the day

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Your best friend is waiting

By Olivia Deters, Maya Cordova and Setayesh Fakhimi
Cottonwood Valley Charter School

Walking into the animal shelter, I see so many dogs and puppies wagging their tails in excitement. Dogs are looking at me with their puppy eyes.
I look from side to side and can’t decide which animal to get. I can only have one, but I want to have all of them. My mom is letting me get a dog for my birthday and there are just too many to decide.
Then I meet my perfect dog. He is a white, fluffy, cute, happy dog. I tell my mom, “I want this dog!” She says, “Are you sure?” And I shout, “Yes!”
When asked how many stray animals are in Socorro County, Alfred Jojola Jr., the director of the Socorro Animal Shelter said, “In Socorro County, to be quite honest with you, there is no way I can give you an approximate number. Numerous, several, in the hundreds, I am sure.”
Jojola said the Socorro Animal Shelter encourages people that find strays to call the shelter so the animal will get picked up and taken in to the shelter. By making that call, you could help that animal get a home.
The Socorro Animal Shelter strongly advises you to get your pets neutered and spayed. They would like you to do this because there are more and more puppies and this is causing the stray population to increase.
This means that more and more animals are on the way to being put down at the shelter because the large numbers are too hard to handle and no one wants them. They all need a home, someone to take good care of them, and someone to love.
Jojola said that spaying and neutering is important, “To eliminate or control population.”
The Socorro Animal Shelter is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
If you want to adopt an animal go to the animal shelter and see the animals. If you find an animal you like, they will give you an application and you fill it out.
“In an average week we collect 17 big dogs and 20-24 puppies,” Jojola said.
The cost to adopt a male is $80 and for a female it is $100. Technically, the pet is free. The cost of the adoption pays for the spaying or neutering of your pet.
“He’s all yours!” said the worker at the shelter.
Maya looked at Murry’s eyes, his innocent brown eyes, she opened the cage eagerly, and hugged him. While he was licking Maya’s cheeks, she whispered, “You’re going to be my best dog friend, forever.”
That was when Maya was introduced to man’s best friend.
Your best friend is waiting for you at the Socorro Animal Shelter.

 

Child abuse, neglect in Socorro County

By Anah Farmer
Cottonwood Valley Charter School

Child Abuse and neglect are major problems in Socorro County. There are six children in the Socorro County system and possibly many more unopened cases. These cases can be caused by many factors, including single parents, domestic violence, and families in poverty. However, the leading cause of these situations in Socorro County is substance abuse, which can cause the parent or guardian to either forget about their child’s needs or to violently injure their child.
“Our ultimate goal is to keep the child safe and to make sure they are never abused and neglected again,” said Child Protective Service Investigator Dustin Sowell.
Abuse and neglect impacts the child emotionally, mentally, and physically.
“Some signs that a child is abused or neglected are bruises or marks,” Sowell said. “The child will act negatively, withdrawn, and depressed.”
Because of these issues, counseling is available to those in need of it and encouraged. So if you know someone who is abused or neglected let people know. Tell your parents, teachers, local CYFD (Children, Youth, and Family Department) office, police, or call SAFE.
To enter a child into the CYFD system the police take custody of the child and then place them in CYFD care. After they have custody of the child they try and find an appropriate relative that the child can stay with. If none can be found, as a last resort, they place the child in a foster home.
“While the child’s case is being solved, we try not to have them stay in more than three foster homes. The child’s comfort and safety is our top priority,” Sowell said.
Child abuse and neglect is no longer believed to be perpetrated mainly by men and strangers. It is now recognized as being perpetrated by anyone. Stricter guidelines and more education classes for becoming a foster parent are now being enforced in order to ensure that the child is not being taken from one unsafe environment to another. Programs have been funded and put into place so that older foster children (ages 14 to 17) can learn daily living skills so they can care for themselves if they choose to not be adopted.
However, though they now have these extra precautions to ensure the abused or neglected children’s safety it is still not enough and it won’t be enough not without your help.
“The major change in abuse and neglect I have seen is an increase of education and awareness about situations like these,” Sowell said.
As more people start to understand what Child Protective Service does, they receive more reports nationwide. Abuse and neglect is no longer seen as something that only affects the poor world. Child abuse and neglect can be found in all cultures and social statuses. The lack of knowledge on these subjects also affects the case workers.
“People’s perception is always negative about CYFD. They think we just want to take their kids when all we want is to make sure the kids are safe,” said Sowell.

 

Drugs: My problem, your problem, our problem

By Ian Shin, Zia Dhawan and Casper Huang
Cottonwood Valley Charter School

With more than $750 billion used to combat drugs, drugs are one of the  biggest problems in the United States. It is a growing epidemic that grows with each generation. Just in Socorro county, more than half the teenage population have already tried drugs.
Not just illegal drugs are dangerous. Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine are all drugs that can harm and kill you. They are the most commonly abused legal drugs in the United States. All drugs — legal, illegal, and prescription — can be dangerous.
Charlene Alfero, counselor at the Socorro County Community Alternatives Program said, “Because of the escalating numbers of teen drug users in Socorro County, parents should talk to their children.”
Alfero also said over half of the students at Socorro High School have at least tried drugs, including alcohol, while underage.
“Prescription medication and caffeine are also highly abused legal drugs,” Alfero said.
As a parent, it is important to know that there are other activities that can lead to problems for children and teens.
“Games, shopping, etc. release an addictive chemical in your head that will still harm your brain a bit,” said Alfero. Alfero went on to say that when you are addicted, regardless of what it is, your brain will release a biological stimulant that can harmfully change your neural pathways, although less harmfully than if you were addicted to actual drugs. That means you can get addicted to video games, food, Internet and gambling.
Drugs do not only affect you but your family as well. Your children, your spouse, your parent — they can all be affected by your drug use or addiction.
It is important to seek help if you are having trouble with drug use or addiction or if you know someone having trouble with drug use or addiction. There are several counseling services located in Socorro County.
Although drug use and addiction can be isolating, you are not alone.

 

DWI: A problem for the entire community

By Brett Anaya, Matthew Frail and Jordan Silva
Cottonwood Valley Charter School

In 2011, there were 12 alcohol related crashes in Socorro County. Since 1997, there have been 29 deaths related to DWI crashes. That means that there are 29 family members — sisters, brothers, moms, dads, and children — who have died because someone decided to drive after they had been drinking.
DWI takes innocent lives. Everyone in our community needs to become involved and help prevent another person from dying just because someone wanted to drive while drunk.
Theresa Rivera Rosales, coordinator for the Socorro County DWI program said that to be considered driving under the influence your blood must have 0.08 parts of alcohol to blood if you are over 21, and 0.02 if you are under 21. She also said that there are many ways that officers can tell if you are driving while intoxicated.
For example, if you are swinging extremely wide turns, or straddling the center lane or lane marker, you might get pulled over. And of course, if the officer smells alcohol, sees bloodshot or watery eyes, or your speech is slurred, you will be suspected of DWI.
What can Socorro County residents do to help? If you see a driver not following the road rules, call the DWI Hotline at 394 for cellphones or 877- DWI HALT (877-394-4258) so an officer can catch the driver.
Rosales said that during festivals, parties or big events, police set up road blocks late at night to early in the morning. Road blocks give officers an opportunity to check many drivers easily.
What can Socorro County residents do to help? If you know a friend or family member is going to a party where there will be alcohol, offer to pick them up. If you have a party at your house and you are serving alcohol, never let anyone who has been drinking drive home. Take away their car keys.
Rosales said DWIs are very serious criminal charges that effect every aspect of your personal life. In addition to a $7,000 fine, you lose your driver’s license and your privilege to drive. But it doesn’t end there. You must serve community service and jail time. This can affect your job, and your family. DWIs are very serious.
“They stay on your record forever,” said Rosales. “Once it’s on there, it’s not coming off.”
As a parent, you can make sure your children don’t drink and drive by setting and enforcing rules and making consequences for them if they break them. Parents should make sure their child is comfortable leaving parties when alcohol is involved. Parents should also keep in contact with their child’s friends’ parents.
Rosales said there is a DWI awareness program at Socorro High School educating teens about alcohol abuse. They’re not only educating teens that are at risk for alcohol abuse, they are also educating teens who are already abusing alcohol.
This effort to stop DWI is going to take every member of our community including law enforcement officers, counselors, parents and teenagers.

 

Hunger in Socorro

By Kade Miranda, Nick Hawkinson and Leland Caldwell
Cottonwood Valley Charter School

A woman and a small child walked across the street. It was one of the coldest nights in winter. The child cried in hunger. The mother was hungry too. She did her best to comfort the child.
Hunger in Socorro county is a community issue. We’re all responsible.
Valerie Key, of the Socorro Storehouse said that New Mexico is No. 1 in food insecurity. New Mexico is also number six in hunger.
Did you know that 39.2 percent of children under the age of 18 live in poverty in Socorro County? There are also 50-70 families in Socorro that go to the Socorro Storehouse to get food each week.
The Socorro Storehouse is located at 519 South Highway 80 and is open from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the winter, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the summer. Key said the Socorro Storehouse typically serves people who make less than $3,000 a year.
Volunteers are needed to pack food boxes on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Volunteers are also needed to assist with food drives at local grocery stores on Saturday.
Key said the Socorro Storehouse relies on tax deductible monetary donations.
To volunteer, contact Valerie Key at 575-517-7194 or visit the Socorro Storehouse.
“Every little donation helps a family,” Key said.
Luckily, the woman and her small child made it to the Socorro Storehouse where they got the food they so desperately needed. Today, the child is smiling with a full belly.
The community can do a lot to make sure that hunger is not a problem for anyone in Socorro County. If each member of the community donated money or non-perishables, Socorro Storehouse would not run low on food.

 

Illegal dumping along the Rio Grande

By Lee Lewis, Serjio Galaviz and Sergey Magedov
Cottonwood Valley Charter School

Imagine, you are walking along the Rio Grande in Socorro County. You are enjoying the beautiful view of our river. Then you see sickly green material floating in the river. As you continue walking you witness bottles, beer cans, tires and newspapers floating along the river. You are so disgusted you do not wish to see anymore.
Marc Wheeler, law enforcement ranger of Bureau of Land Management said that illegal dumping is a major problem that the public needs to deal with.
The problem of illegal dumping has decreased in the past two to three years but there is still a long way to go to resolve it. Even though the BLM and private businesses try their hardest to help with the problem, it’s not enough. The community needs to take a bigger part in the fight against illegal dumping. But if people are to save the Rio Grande they need to be better educated.
“A lot of it happens because of lack of education,” Wheeler said.
The landfill is located south on the frontage road. The hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. You can take household and yard trash, furniture and appliances, and construction trash. Also, people should call the BLM if they see someone commit illegal dumping.
Because of the stupidity of people dumping along the Rio Grande the wildlife and ecosystem have taken the fall for it. Wheeler said the most harmful waste dumped into the river is motor oil, because it seeps into the ground as well as into the river itself.
Polluting the water is not only harming wildlife, but also people who use the water from the river. People don’t realize that they are only hurting themselves by illegal dumping.
“The area along the city limit has the biggest problem with illegal dumping,” Wheeler said.
But people who dump their trash along the river are playing a very risky game because if they are caught, the penalty can go from $500 to $5,000 depending on the place where they were caught.
It’s a bright sunny day. You and your family have just gotten out of the car and you see the Rio Grande. The water is crystal clear with fish swimming in the river. You can see all the way to the bottom of the river. You decide to go for a swim, and you have the time of your life on this camping trip.
If we, each member of this community, pitch in, we can create a place that all of us will enjoy.

 

River would be cleaner if more people learned landfill rules

By Frankie Carrillo, Sabine Fuierer and Gemma Bejarano
Cottonwood Valley Charter School

The bright orange sun starts fading, getting lower and lower. Beautiful colors like pink, blue and yellow cover the sky. The cottonwood trees with their yellow, orange, and green leaves surround the river. As the leaves on the trees shake the birds start to sing a tune, keeping rhythm with the wind as it whistles.
I start walking forward as the ripples of the river sparkle and flow. Then my foot hits something brown and hard — a beer bottle. Then I see a beer can to my left and another one to my right. A tire lays under a cottonwood tree all raggedy and old. Some trash bags full of weeds and trash lay next to the river bank.
I walk a couple more steps and see oil in the river. I look around and see a container with no lid and oil spilling out making the river water disappear.
Trash is dumped along the Rio Grande all the time. Household trash is commonly dumped but so is construction material, such as cinder blocks.
Marc Wheeler, who works as a Law Enforcement Ranger for the Bureau of Land Management said, “Between the two, I would say household trash is dumped more often than leftover construction trash.”
People also dump car oil into the river when they change their vehicle’s oil. They put the oil in containers that have no lids, so the oil spills into the river, which pollutes the water, affecting the ecosystem.
“People dump trash and other materials because of the lack of education of what they can and can not take to the dump,” Wheeler said. “They think they can’t take it to the dump site or they have to pay for it.”
If people learned about the landfill, it would prevent dumping. The Rio Grande would be cleaner.
Spring is the season when people dump trash and materials the most. The weather starts changing, getting warmer and warmer.
“People start to clean up their yards and houses,” Wheeler said. “They have a whole bunch of trash and don’t know where to take it during the spring season.”
We should take trash to the landfill instead of dumping it in the Rio Grande. The landfill is open Tuesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
You can pretty much take anything to the landfill. You can take televisions, tires, and car oil. They might charge you a dollar or two for the televisions but that is it.
Just like it took a community to destroy the ecosystem, it will take a community to restore it. If the community takes responsibility for our part of the river, we can make a difference.
This means that we can no longer accept illegal dumping. Everyone must use the landfill and report illegal dumping if they see it.
If other communities are inspired by our actions, they might do the same and the whole river will be free of trash.