UP -- BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, followed through on an expensive promise. About a year ago, the company pledged $4 million to help create San Juan College's School of Energy, a $15 million project. They promised to provide an additional $1 million if the San Juan College Foundation could raise $3 million. It did and Tuesday, BP presented a check at the San Juan College board meeting. The school provides an entryway into an industry with jobs with good pay. We appreciate BP's support of an institution that has the power to improve the lives of the region's residents.
DOWN -- A man convicted of ripping off a family hospitalized after a propane tank exploded at their home is forcing prosecutors to prove he committed previous crimes that could lengthen his sentence. Eric John Bernard and two co-defendants broke into the home in Colorado after reading about the family's plight in a newspaper, showing what could be described as sociopathic opportunism. Bernard's record includes six felony charges stretching back to 2000. That dismal history could result in an enhanced sentence of up to 38 years in prison for his last conviction. No wonder he's working the system.
UP -- Devonne Blackhorse is raising her voice -- in song. The Farmington High School student was one of three New Mexico students chosen by the National Association for Music Education to perform with the All-National Honors Ensembles. She will join about 370 other mixed-choir standouts in a performance scheduled for the end of October in Nashville, Tenn. She said she was nervous about applying for the honor. She overcame that fear and succeeded, which provides an example for everyone -- young and old -- wondering whether to take a chance at doing something great.
DOWN -- The San Juan County Commission and the Farmington City Council are going opposite directions on a proposal to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements intended to control power-plant generated haze in the Four Corners. We believe this is not so much a disagreement as just taking different angles on a bad situation. The EPA's original plan would have cost as much as $1 billion and could have shuttered the San Juan Generating Station. The revised plan local officials were voting on (county officials supported it and city officials opposed it) is less expensive and will close only a part of the plant. Both plans are expected to result in the loss of jobs and more damage to the local economy.
UP -- The Totah Festival was full of color, mesmerizing rhythms and beautiful works of art -- much of it emanating from deep cultural and religious traditions. Celebrations of the Navajo and other Native American culture were there for anyone to share. Farmington's relations with the Navajo Nation have been strained at times, but that was not in evidence Saturday during the dancing, dining and interaction over tables filled with some exquisite and, in some cases, spiritual art. We see this as a high point in the region's event calendar.
DOWN -- A San Juan County man with six drunken driving convictions is challenging a seventh conviction for a 2009 accident that killed a motorcyclist. The state Court of Appeals last year reversed the conviction -- which led to a 25-year prison sentence -- on a what some might say is a technicality. Now the case goes to the New Mexico Supreme Court. Calvin Finch did not deny he was driving. But Sheriff's deputies allowed Finch's girlfriend to drive him to the hospital for a blood-alcohol test. Finch says his girlfriend stopped by her house where he drank enough peppermint schnapps to result in a 0.13 reading. This kind of incident just proves that New Mexico has a long way to go in dealing with its drunk driving problem.