UP -- The Farmington Chamber of Commerce is asking for your help. And we believe it's a good time to get involved. Chamber President and CEO Audra Winters says the chamber's last strategic planning session was in 2008. As the local economy continues to slump, now is the time to reevaluate the area's priorities and what role the chamber should play. Board chairwoman Mary Rogers says the chamber must find its "niche" in an economic development landscape that includes the Convention and Visitors Bureau and other groups. Ensuring a cooperative and efficient relationship among those groups is important, but determining a direction is vital. We hope this will open up a discussion about diversifying the area's economy. Very few industries are as lucrative as oil and gas, but it is time to consider our options.
DOWN -- In the flap between the Gallup-McKinley and Central Consolidated school districts, we hope officials are not forgetting the most important thing -- student safety. We understand that there are rules about children attending schools out of their districts and reasons for those rules that include school funding. But, as we understand it, one of the problems was that parents had concerns about student safety as they walked along roads to get to pickup spots. It looks like the districts are on their way to working out their differences. That's good. We urge officials to ensure that students are not exposed to unnecessary risk as this turf war plays out.
UP -- We'll take any opportunity to mention one of our favorite foods -- the New Mexico green chile. Sutherland Farms celebrated the long green vegetable with its 10th annual Green Chile Festival last weekend. The family-owned farm in Aztec picks the peak of the harvest to invite the public in. Owner D'rese Sutherland said it provides participants a chance to "come out and enjoy a day in the country." And if you bought some of those chiles -- freshly roasted -- and froze them, you'll be enjoying this area's spicy bounty through the winter.
DOWN -- Now we know why a company went bankrupt after it was paid millions of dollars to build a development with 91 homes on the Navajo Nation. Building contractor William Aubrey was found guilty by a federal judge in Nevada earlier this week of taking money from the Navajo Housing Authority and spending it on gambling, furs, jewelry and thoroughbred horse training. It was a rich life for one individual that impoverished the lives of some reservation residents. Those homes -- mostly unfinished -- were left to vandals and the elements and now must be razed. A housing authority spokesman says the agency will address the Nation's housing needs in that area after working through the wreckage left by Aubrey. We'd say Aubrey should serve his prison sentence -- a little more than four years -- in one of his unfinished homes, but that would be cruel and unusual.
UP -- Rivers of rain water at McGee Park didn't stop a crew of volunteer dentists and assistants from providing much needed dental care last weekend during the Mission of Mercy event. One three-year-old boy visited a dentist for the first time in his life. Last minute donations of water, ice and portable toilets allowed the mission to continue despite the weather. Those acts of kindness were part of a giving spirit that made the entire event possible. More than a thousand volunteers participated and hundreds of local residents received free dental care. Our thanks to the people who made it possible.