UP -- Businesses in Aztec took two steps toward organizing and working together. An ad-hoc community group is examining whether to go for a Main Street Association through the State of New Mexico's subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A Main Street designation would formalize the efforts of the Aztec Community Event Sessions, or ACES. In separate action a new board of directors was appointed to revitalize the Aztec Chamber of Commerce. We feel both of these efforts will benefit member businesses that look for strength in numbers.

UP -- Much work has gone on behind the scenes for some time, and that work may now be on track to deliver an economic shot in the arm. The Thoreau Industrial Park , a joint project including the Navajo Nation and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, is expected to be operational by June 2015. Local development officials hope this project will eventually lead to a freight rail line extending to the Farmington area. The proposed freight line would provide an efficient and cost effect mode of transport for agricultural products, coal, oil and gas out of the Four Corners area. While not a sure thing, we encourage continued work toward making a freight rail line in the Four Corners a top priority.

UP -- The Christmas spirit is alive and well in the Four Corners. Many of the signs are clearly visible as colorful lights brightly shine in area communities. Businesses, community groups and individuals hosted fund raisers, sang carols and donated toys and food to those in need. We give a big DOWN to the fact that so many area residents are in need of assistance, but the efforts of so many, giving so much, earn this as an UP for the community. However, the need does not fade after the holidays. As long as there is a need in our communities we know those who can give will continue to do so all year.

UP -- Learning in the Four Corners received two gifts of good news this week. Libraries across the state got a boost in state aid for this fiscal year. The Aztec library is set to receive more than $6,800 or twice their normal state allocation. The funds will be used to upgrade technology and add more books and ebooks to better serve patrons. In Shiprock, Dream Dine has been approved and will be the first Charter School on the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Nation. Offering more educational choices is a good thing.

DOWN -- Methamphetamine and other illegal drug abuse in the area continues to be a major problem. Drug abuse often leads to increased crime and harmful behavior. Recently it appears to have played a role in the brutal death of a local woman. Several residents have been arrested for allegedly binding, beating and stabbing to death a young mother after being with the woman at a drug party. Several of the people accused in the crime allegedly were involved in other recent crimes. We encourage law enforcement agencies to do all in their power to investigate, arrest and prosecute guilty parties in these horrible crimes.