October 20, 2014    A Manager Who Plays Slow Ball

Scott Berry, Raton City Manager 2014Scott Berry, Raton City Manager 2014

This week The Chronicle-News, Raton Comet, and Sangre de Cristo Chronicle will all publish my 1500-word profile of new Raton City Manager Scott Berry, a fourth-generation Johnson Mesa rancher whose great grandfather came to Raton 120 years ago from Ireland by way of Scotland. There are a whole passel of Berrys up Yankee Canyon and the mesa; Scott is one of them. He's also my neighbor here against Bartlett Mesa on the north edge of town, 17 miles downhill from his family homestead.

Scott Berry, Raton City Manager 2014

The feature was born out of the Comet needing content after it fired its Raton reporter before it hired a replacement. I told them I'd turn in as much material as I could. As I brainstormed story ideas, Scott came up real fast. He helped right the city as temporary city manager back when it had hit bottom in 2011. Now he'd returned, on the first of this month, as a long-term manager. I make the point that ranchers, and engineers, know the experience of "one step backward, two steps forward."

Scott Berry, Raton City Manager 2014

Scott put it different terms. It took me some effort to get him to admit that he had a hobby or two other than fixing fence. I discovered that he's a "parrot head," i.e., a Jimmy Buffett fan. And he's a baseball fan. He used a baseball metaphor to explain his vision for Raton:

“It’s going to take time to revitalize Raton. We’re probably not going to hit a home run. We’re going to string together some singles, some walks. It’s called ‘small ball.’ We’re going to build on a long string of small successes.”

I like that. I wanted to portray Scott as a person, not just a "suit" or a government official, so I followed him up to Johnson Mesa Saturday morning to take some pictures of him with his horses. The feature turned out to be what I call "a magazine story in a newspaper." They're the ones that keep me awake the night before I write, plotting the narrative. They're fun. Scott's story was like that.




October 11, 2014    Patchwork Phoenix Rises

Patchwork Phoenix in Raton, NM

My friends (and next-door neighbors) Laura and Hal Brewer have opened their boutique shop, Patchwork Phoenix ("Where variety encourages creativity"), on Raton's Historic First Street just down from the Santa Fe train station. They offer a quilting and art center that includes classes, demonstrations, and displays. They sell Big Bend just-roasted organic free-trade coffee beans, hard scoop ice cream, books and music by local artists, and framed art that lines the north wall. In this photo from their website homepage, you can see my photographs near the front door. My book My Confession and my CD Little Miracles are both kept in stock. The artwork changes every two months, but the books, music, coffee and ice cream are forever. Watch for events like live music coming soon.




October 5, 2014    Raton Roars

Raton Roar staff 2014, Raton High School

A week or two before returning for the new school year in late August, I was told that I'd be teaching a journalism class and that "maybe eventually you can put out a monthly newsletter." Once I got there, I told the bosses that there'd be no lesson plans because there's no curriculum: I'd be winging it all the way. Then I set about building a team and teaching them the basics. I was blessed with some great talent, including a perfect editor and several others who were eager beavers ready to learn and roll. I recruited two more students to fill critical roles as webmaster and sports reporter. Five weeks into the school year, The Raton Roar is up and running and impressive, a lively school community that's also been contributing stories to the Raton Comet.

Raton Roar staff, Raton High School 2014

Every student is a reporter and photographer. Pictured at right with additional roles noted, front row from left, are Calendar editor and Facebook editor Jami Lopez, DawnRae Arguello; Weekly Wonders editor Tristan Perez; Saphire Encinias, and editor-in-chief Kate Little, who's doing an amazing job. In the back row at top are Caylene Romero, Raeanne Fissel, Sports Editor Dylan Query, Webmaster Noah Schoonover, and Assistant Editor Juan Prieto-Archuleta. Noah has built the website from scratch. Kate and Juan were recruited last week to begin doing paid freelance reporting for the Raton Comet. Meantime, all of the students are busy growing The Raton Roar. Keep an eye on it as it grows!




September 20, 2014    A Game of Catch (Up)

American Cowboy magazine

I've just set a new record, but not a good one. Almost six years after launching my twin blogs, today I'm one day short of four weeks since my last pair of blog posts. Over those years, I've succeeded at averaging one post per week at TKP and here at TKA. For the times I got a week behind, I more than made up for it in summers when I had lots of projects to share and lots of time to do it, posting two or three blogs per week.

My first blog was on the TKP photography side, November 28, 2008, exactly one year after I'd bought my first camera, the Nikon D300, and everything changed. I'd become a photographer. A month later I'd landed my first magazine feature, in Western Horseman, and I posted my first blog here on the TKA arts side (writing, poetry, music), on December 27, 2008, celebrating the birthday of my grandfather, George Keller -- still one of my favorite blog posts.

Pinon Canyon ranches Not for Sale

When I posted my last blogs August 24, I'd reported back to a new school year teaching junior and senior English at Raton High School. Students were three days from their return. I have five "preps" this year -- five separate courses to prepare, include junior and senior honors courses and a new course, Journalism. Not only did my newspaper and magazine work not slack off when I started school, but it picked up. I reached a time two winters ago when I didn't have enough to write blogs about, but this time my problem has been having too much to write about. I've been so busy on projects and in school that I haven't had a moment in which to blog.

Raton High School students by DawnRae Arguello

Among the stories I've been reporting, photographing, and writing, some favorites include a 1500-word feature for both The Chronicle-News (front page) and Raton Comet on the Pinon Canyon ranchers that went to war with the U.S. government and won, now featured in American Cowboy; a profile for the September 2015 issue of New Mexico Magazine on favorite son singer-songwriter Michael Hearne and his annual Big Barndance music festival at Taos, which I covered two weeks ago; and the second Masters of the Mountain (M.O.M.) race which I covered last weekend, again for both The Chronicle-News and Raton Comet (front page) and for which I'm about to create a narrative photo page on the TKP side.

Within the first two weeks of Raton High School's first journalism/school newspaper course within anyone's memory, my students had seen their bylines and photo credits in the Raton Comet and launched a new online newspaper, The Raton Roar. I coached new photographer DawnRae Arguello to get closer to her subjects for the photo above, named Kate Little editor, and recruited freshman Noah Schoonover as our webmaster. I couldn't be prouder of my nine-student team. Oh, the places they'll go!

I'm at least as busy as they are. I hope they're having as much fun as I am.







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