UP -- We support the efforts to make the pedestrian crosswalk on Aztec's Main Street safer. Our story detailed the heavy use that crosswalk gets, from adults going to the supermarket to young ones attending school. That stretch of highway is part of Aztec's historic downtown. But it's also part of U.S. 550, which is a major connector between Albuquerque and the Four Corners area. It carries commercial and tourist traffic, which includes people who are just trying to get somewhere as fast as they can. We like the solar-powered flashing lights, maybe that will grab the attention of distracted drivers and save them from a deadly tragedy.

 

DOWN -- Property taxes are rising for homeowners in the Bloomfield and Aztec school districts. We understand the need. Oil and gas tax revenue has dropped precipitously as production slows and the districts have debt obligations that must be met. We're happy that officials in both districts held back from spending all the money voters authorized. If they hadn't the hit would have been worse. But, if the economic trend continues, what this portends is a withering educational system. That isn't good for anybody. It seems the schools can handle the short-term hit, but not without some pain. Unless the economy picks up, there will be some hard decisions to made that will have a long-term impact on area youth and their competitiveness in the broader economy.

 

UP -- Navajo Nation officials and business representatives gathered on an expanse of land near the Bisti Wilderness Area this week to scope out a solar-power generation project. In oil and gas country the debate sometimes gets overheated about what team you're on. But we think there is a role for alternative energy in the nation's future. Not to mention the project could provide jobs and other benefits. The "Paragon-Bisti Renewable Energy Ranch," would use 2008 grants from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and land provided as part of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act. Deadlines are approaching for the project and there are a variety of important issues, including establishing tranmission lines, that need to be worked out. We hope it comes to fruition.

 

DOWN -- We'll also take a stand in support of coal-fired energy production. The Obama administration this week moved forward with strict requirements designed to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. As we understand it those regs would not further impact the area power plants that depend on coal from our regional mines. But those power plants already are shutting down coal-fired units and making plans to convert some energy production to natural gas. We understand the value of clean air, both in health benefits and for tourism, but we want these kinds of regulations to make sense. Hundreds of jobs are at stake and the cost of anti-pollution equipment is high for what appears, in some cases, to be relatively small gains.

 

UP -- We like the "Safety City" operation in Kirtland. This 44-acre training center offers advanced opportunities for local law enforcement that include a driving track, a police-canine training facility and training areas where crime scenarios can be simulated that hone the quick-thinking skills required in emergency situations. In the past, law enforcement officials have had to travel to get some of this specialized training, with all the associated costs. Now, with the same budget, more officers and deputies can get high quality training. That should benefit public safety in the region.