2019 turns into 2020: basketball, lowriders and weeds (not weed)

Santa Fe High’s Fedonta “JB” White, center, passes to teammate Cruz Martinez, left, while being guarded by Pecos High School’s Xavier Padilla, number 21, and Ismael Villegas, right, during a battle between two of the state’s top teams in December. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

A few days late, here are a few thoughts on the change to a new year.

Good things to remember about 2019:

• Both the Santa Fe Demons and the Capital Jaguars became great boys high school basketball teams, and the Demons have the best player in the state – Fedonta “JB” White. All of which makes Santa Fe, for now, the hoops capital of New Mexico. Even an injury to White didn’t keep the Demons from making the state tourney’s final game last March.

• So much progress has been made toward opening the Lowrider Museum in Española that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham paid a visit and the New Mexico True team produced a video. According to the Rio Grande Sun, here’s what Española Mayor Javier Sanchez told the crowd when the planned museum hosted the governor: “You’ve been told you don’t count, but guess what, you count and best of all you’re making yourselves count on your own; that’s what this means.”

• Restorer extraordinaire Allen Affeldt got the long-closed Castaneda Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico, once part of the Harvey House chain, re-opened after an impressive restoration. Affeldt then did the same thing for the historic Legal Tender Saloon in Lamy.

• A “war on weeds” was declared by Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber’s administration, justifiable combat in a town where free-roaming Siberian elm saplings and Russian thistle on its way to tumbleweed status pass for landscaping along streets and on road medians. City Hall has vowed to solve the weed problem once and for all.

• Roger Montoya, a longtime local hero, got his due when he was named one of 10 finalists for CNN’s annual Hero of the Year award. Montoya is co-founder of Moving Arts Española, an after-school arts program that has transformed the lives of many at-risk youth during its 12-year existence.

• Santa Fe city government made progress in its effort to redevelop the city-owned Midtown Campus, which was vacated after the demise of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design in the spring of 2018. Affeldt and a host of community leaders have submitted a impressive plan for the site off St. Michael’s Drive and Siringo Road that includes a huge housing component, an amphitheater, a tech center and a film-related program by the University of New Mexico. A major Dallas-based developer has also submitted a so-far-undisclosed plan.

• The Fiesta de Santa Fe’s multicultural event that replaced the Entrada – which for decades had commemorated the Spanish re-occupation of Santa Fe 12 years after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and which had drawn increasingly large protests from Native Americans – went off without a hitch, or protest from any side, in 2019.

• Meow Wolf continued its march toward world domination, adding Phoenix to its list of future sites.

Things to hope for in 2020: • Visible progress on providing more support for Santa Fe’s homeless population, after another group of homeless people died here in 2019. Various ideas, including the creation of a campus that provides housing and assistance programs, have been floated before.

• A win for humans in the Santa Fe-versus-weeds war.

• Seeing the Española Lowrider Museum actually open for visitors as a celebration of local culture and a welcome sign for visitors to join in.

• A transparent process as Santa Fe officials pare down the proposals for the Midtown Campus that gives everyone a voice in the outcome.

• Meow Wolf opens its first out-of-state installation in Las Vegas (Nevada, that is), as expected, and can somehow find a way to resolve the troublesome series of workplace lawsuits filed against it in a positive fashion.

• And, to top things off, a Jaguars versus Demons state tournament final.

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