Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 9, 2008 · Page 36
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Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico · Page 36

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Issue Date:
Monday, June 9, 2008
Page 36
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B O OO MO DAY, J 9, 2008 6 first,” she said. “It went up so fast and so much,” she said, as she drew “Out of Gasoline” on a poster-size sheet of paper. “If we’d had rain …” She took the poster outside and taped it to one of the two pumps in the gravel lot next to N.M. 24. She pointed out that the pumps could register prices up to only $3.99. Memorial Day weekend is usually the start of the summer travel season. Hunters and campers usually flow to this east- central part of the forest in the mountains east of Alamogordo. Last year, there was a steady trickle into the store, she said. This year, only well-wishers from the area and a visitor with a special forest permit wandered in. One passer-by, Tom Minor, from nearby Mayhill, talked about how the price of gas and long drives to larger towns were affecting him. “By the time I drive to the grocery store, I don’t have any more money,” Minor said. Bernard Cleve, Suzy’s husband, said the sudden spike in gas prices created two problems—the cost of gas to him and the cost to visitors. He said the store bought about 8,500 gallons of gas at a time, but it could take months to sell that much. He said he paid $26,200 for gas on March 12, but when it was time to refill in late May, the price was $34,200. Gas sales in the meantime made it tough to cover the new cost. He estimated that 70 percent of his gas sales went to visitors, and with gas prices jumping toward $4 a gallon, people hesitate to travel. “What’s the first thing people cut out of their budget? People are cutting recreation,” Bernard Cleve said. The store had been in operation for about 20 years. The Cleves had run the store for about three years. Two years ago, they put in a new, up-to-code, gas storage tank, which cost $10,000, he said. In May, as a favor to nearby residents, the store sold its last gas at cost: $3.55 a gallon. The couple also run a ranch near Elk, northeast of Weed, and Bernard Cleve said he found that running a ranch was different from running a store. He said perhaps someone with more retail experience could make the store go and has talked to a potential buyer from the area. No deal was in the works, though, he said. The Weed Cafe is down the road a bit from the store. It shares a building with the post office and had a genuine working phone booth out front. It’s a place where the locals amble in and sit at a common, eight-place table in one corner, and chat over breakfast and coffee. Visitors usually sit at a booth or smaller tables nearby, but the line between visitor and regular soon fades. Regulars will offer a visitor a coffee refill when fetching their own from a carafe on a warmer near the kitchen, and before long, they invite an out-of-towner over to the community table. Some there chatted about the difficulties of getting ready-to-pour concrete up the mountains from Alamogordo for projects near Weed, but talk soon turns to the closing of the Weed store. The nearest gas station now will be an automatic, credit-card pump at Mayhill, a dozen miles away. It will be the only station between Cloudcroft and Artesia, Dulaney Barrett said. “I hate to see them go under,” Barrett said. “When you live in a remote place like this, you still need things. Having the store up here was always a big relief, to know it was there.” The station at Pi ñ on, 20 miles away, shut in 2004. The gas station in Sacramento died in the 1980s, some locals said, while the station in Hope faded out a few years ago. Queen is the only village in the Guadalupe district, which stretches to the Texas line, and locals said there’s no gas in Queen, either. “I don’t ever let my tank get below half-full up here,” John Dollahan said. Several people mentioned worries for those on fixed incomes, such as retirees. “You’d have to go all the way to Cloudcroft for milk and bread, and there’s a lot of folks who can’t afford that,” Ken Stewart said. People up here often coordinate trips to town to save gas, several people said. There is also a store in Mayhill, but many people head to Cloudcroft or Alamogordo for other errands, too. There are two stores and gas stations in Timberon, on the far southern edge of the Sacramento part of the forest, but the shortest routes would be over rough and unreliable forest roads. Barrett, who used to run the Sacramento Methodist Assembly church camp a few miles away, said he worries about visitors who may not realize there is no more gas in the area. The Cleves said they hope to sell the store, and if not, plan to rent the building out as a cabin. Meanwhile, visitors might do well to keep an eye on their gas gauges, and if visiting the forest in the Guadalupe Mountains, take extra gas cans. V HO P/FOR H JO R A The Cleves, who owned the only gas station and general store in Weed, penned this apologetic note to customers when they closed down last month. High food, gas prices force store to close from PAGE 1 By Dan Boyd Journal Staff Writer SANTA FE — A plan to levy a tax on high-end Santa Fe real estate transactions moved forward last week, despite concerns over a hasty process and an unclear destination for generated revenue. Members of the City Council’s Finance Committee approved the controversial proposal with several minor amendments, meaning the plan is one step closer to being voted on by Santa Feans on Aug. 19. But Councilor Matthew Ortiz, the committee’s chairman, expressed distaste for a perceived anxiousness to address the issue before state lawmakers convene next January. “I don’t believe that this should be done in a quick, let’s-beat-the-rush approach,” Ortiz said. The current plan, which would levy a 1 percent tax on all portions of a real estate transaction that exceed the $650,000 mark, is the latest version of an ongoing municipal flirtation with the idea of high-end real estate sales helping to pay for affordable housing options. If approved by voters, the so-called Workforce Housing Initiative would generate about $1.6 million per year. More than 30 states have some form of real estate transfer tax in place, but New Mexico isn’t one of them. Though Santa Fe has led the way on such controversial issues as a new mandatory minimum wage law and a ban on hand-held cell phones for drivers, Ortiz pointed out that such pioneering often provokes resistance and, in many cases, lawsuits. “When we do something that’s never been before, it comes with a cost,” he said. City figures show that 44 percent of Santa Fe’s work force commutes from outside the city due in part to astronomical housing costs. SF’s proposed real estate transfer tax clears hurdle

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