Smell causes stink

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At the City Council meeting Tuesday night, in the public forum, concerned Socorro citizen Robert Lopez said his neighbor uses dead animals mixed in with his manure to fertilize his land.

“I live right next to it and I can’t take it anymore,” Lopez said. “I need your help. Please do something about it.”

He told the mayor and council members he spoke to the environmental protection supervisor about air quality control. He was told they have dealt with this issue before and they can’t do anything about it because it is agriculture. Lopez said he also spoke with an attorney because it is a public nuisance; the attorney told him to sue his neighbor. Lopez said he doesn’t have the money.

His neighbor is from Belen and bought land in Socorro where he is bringing in manure, and Lopez said he can smell dead animals in it and said his neighbor isn’t spreading it evenly on his land, but piling it. Lopez said the air settles and is pungent inside his house, and that nobody should do that to their neighbors.

Mayor Ravi Bhasker said in a phone call Wednesday morning that he spoke with the neighbor, who is a farmer, and he is willing to work with the city. He told the mayor he will spread the manure in late March.

For the discussion part of the meeting, Festival of the Cranes coordinator Michael Hanauer gave the mayor and council members an update about the Festival of the Cranes and its impact on Socorro and the community. He said for the whole of 2011 there were 165,000 visitors to the refuge, spending more than $5 million during their stay in Socorro. This number is estimated by the Fish and Wildlife Service, he said. In 2012, Festival of the Cranes celebrated its 25th anniversary and Hanauer estimated more than 5,000 visitors attended the event.

Hanauer said they doubled the free weekend of wildlife zone activities for families with a focus on Socorro children during the event. A flier was put together and was given to students in grades kindergarten through sixth to encourage them to come out and learn about the refuge, and participate in educational activities, he said. Hanauer said over 40 percent of festival activities support Socorro businesses, museums, art museums, art galleries, restaurants, schools, organizations and churches.

“Socorro has no other tourism activity that compares to the festival or the refuge,” Hanauer said. “Friends of the Bosque is asking for your support. We are asking you continue with your support for the festival by increasing the lodgers tax commitment to $25,000 in the year 2013.”

During department reports, Socorro Public Library director Paula Mertz said in February the library was busy. The Friends of the Library had their annual meeting where new officers were elected. Their program was very successful, she said, with 51 people who attended. The program had buffalo soldier re-enactors from Albuquerque who represented 5th, 9th and 10th cavalries and brought in over 50 original authentic artifacts, such as uniforms, rifles and ammunition, she said. One man was Lt. Fred Hampton, and Ken Dofs was sergeant. Mertz also said for the library, there are five staff members engaged in online seminars on how to use Kindles, iPads, iPods and Nooks. In the near future they will teach the public how they work, she said.