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La Bajada Visitors Center Now Closed on Weekends

Toni Basler of Incline Village, Nev., left, and Chris Drury of St. Louis check out a map of Santa Fe at the La Bajada rest stop’s visitors center off Interstate 25 earlier this week. The visitors center has been closed on weekends recently because of a staff shortage. Restrooms remain open all week. (Greg SORBER/JOURNAL)

SANTA FE — Travelers stopping at La Bajada rest area on Interstate 25 south of Santa Fe on weekends can stretch their muscles and use the restroom, but if they want information on all the Land of Enchantment has to offer they have to make another stop.

The visitors center on the northbound side of the interstate has been closed for the past several weekends and may be for a few more, due to a personnel shortage.

Toby Martinez, visitor center manager for the New Mexico Department of Tourism, said three people normally staff the visitors center but one recently retired and another is on leave due to health issues. As a result, the center has been temporarily closed on weekends.

“We’ve currently posted the position, and will go through the hiring process as soon as we get the paperwork from the personnel office,” Martinez said. “As soon as we get that list, we can start the process.”

The center is supplied with road maps and dozens, if not hundreds, of brochures highlighting the state’s many attractions. When open, customer service representatives are there to answer questions and assist travelers interested in exploring the state during its centennial year.

Martinez said the visitors center will remain closed on weekends until someone is hired. He expected the process to take another week or two after the department gets a list of eligible candidates from the state personnel office.

Right now, the center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., allowing the supervisor an hour lunch break.

Martinez said the Tourism Department is looking for someone who is knowledgeable about things to do and places to see in New Mexico. He wasn’t sure how much it paid, but expected it to be somewhere close to minimum wage.

Martinez said to his knowledge no one has complained about not having access to the visitors center.

— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal

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