In Angel Fire, we have had only 4 positive Covid-19 cases. None of them were community spread, all of them have recovered. Our essential workers and many other employees and residents have been tested, all, to date, with negative results. Angel Fire has been committed to doing our part to protect the public health and preserve and strengthen the economic health of our community by putting a plan into action to open in a safe and responsible manner. We are confident the Angel Fire small businesses are committed to operate within the spirit, intent and safety practices of the New Mexico Health Orders. Our main priority is the health and safety of our residents, our workforce and visitors alike. We emphasis wearing masks in all public places and in business establishments, and follow the social distancing protocol to maintain six-foot social distancing from other individuals.
Some may be offended by what I am going to say, but believe me it is not meant to be offensive. What we need as a community is for every one of you to put aside your differences, (on both sides of the issue) for a minute and think calmly. I hear from people, all hours of the day and night, seven days a week. The COVID issue with the Public Health Order is only one of the issues people want to discuss, but it is the main issue. Every single person I have heard from feels extremely strong about their convictions… and each is convinced and believes with all of their being, they are right. Half of you tell me I am not doing enough to enforce the state mandates to keep Angel Fire safe and the other half tells me I am overly enforcing state mandates that are against their rights as an American and against basic democracy. Both sides believe the other side is wrong and the other side must adhere to their beliefs.
Please take a moment to truly think about what I just said and what I am going to say, whether you are local, part-time, or visiting… our businesses are struggling at this time to serve you and to reopen according to the COVID Safe Practices the state of New Mexico’s Public Health Order mandates. They do not want to be fined or to lose their business license because you choose not to wear a mask into their establishments. If you chose not to adhere to the state mandates, that is your right, but please respect their choices and refrain from entering a business that is complying with the state mandates without a mask because YOU will put them at risk of being fined by the state! This is something they just cannot afford at this time. Have a heart! Most of them have been without income since March. That being said, their bills did not stop piling up even though their income, by no choice of their own, ceased! Please, for the sake of our community, adhere to the restrictions for the time being. We all want things to go back to normal. None of us like the mandates. And most of us don’t understand the contradictory changes happening every day. And, I for one, care about the negative economic impact this global pandemic has caused for our small rural community and believe we, you and I, care enough about each other’s livelihoods, to temporarily tolerate a few uncomfortable restrictions, so our village can open up and get back to normal as quickly as possible. And please do not start a disturbance, either verbal or physical or be abusive in any way to another customer or employee who is only doing their job, trying to earn a living! SIMPLY DO NOT GO INTO THE BUSINESS if you choose not to comply by their policies, order online if you must, but give them a break.
And the same thought process goes in the opposite direction too. We want Angel Fire to be safe. I do not want any of our residents dying from this disease! Each of us are responsible for ourselves. If a business or its clients are not following the CSP’s and it makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t start a disturbance, either verbal or physical or by taking photos in a business (you could be in violation for harassment)… JUST DO NOT GO INTO THEIR BUSINESS, plain and simple. I am not a fan of those who turn others in for not following the mandates. The employees are not at fault if their customers are not wearing masks. It is not your place to address that customer or to bring it to an employees attention. Many of them have been told by their corporate employers, not to address the customer who is out of compliance. Again, the employees are just doing their job, trying to earn a living. Do we want you to shop local, absolutely! But during this time, you do what is best for you.
And, as answer to the calls and emails I receive to take a stand one way or the other, as Mayor, I, nor your village council, nor the local police department have the authority to enforce any of these mandates. Only the state police has that authority. We ask that people follow the restrictions, we do and have asked our businesses to comply. We require our employees to follow the mandates. And yes, it is currently a state mandate but each business, by law, sets their own policies. Those who choose to comply, are doing so. Those who choose not to comply, run the risk of losing their license and being fined. But it is still their choice. Those of you who have watched the Governor’s Face Book live broadcasts, have heard her say that several times.
Also, for those who may not understand, the Chamber of Commerce certainly has no authority to police anyone. It is sad there is so much misunderstanding and confusion going around. I recently, as well as several other Board Members and Councilors, received an email complaint saying the Village and the Chamber should take a tougher stance for people to wear masks and the Chamber and the Village have been weak on helping the businesses stay safe. This is a total misconception from someone who is completely entitled to their opinion, but has not been involved in any of the actions taking place behind the scenes over the past 3 1/2 months. In explanation, the Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit membership organization, governed by strict by-laws, to serve it’s membership.
Our mission statement as a non-profit is:
“To strengthen the local economy through the promotion, support, and encouragement of positive business growth and to represent and advocate for our membership in community and state affairs.”
The Chamber has been following our mission statement closely during this entire Shut Down Pandemic, serving the needs of our membership, to the best of our ability. We have worked countless hours researching available resources for loans, grants, PPP and all other help possible, to keep our businesses afloat. We have put this information out in this blast, sometimes on a daily basis. We formed the Recovery Task Force, made up of business owners and Angel Fire leadership to solve and resolve best practices. We then presented this information to the Governor with confidence that our businesses could re-open in a safe manner. We’ve held virtual Town Hall meetings, sent out surveys, partnered with local banks to host webinars and listened to our businesses needs while doing the best we can to represent and advocate for our membership and all of the businesses in the Angel Fire area at state level. We are proud of the work we are doing and of the businesses who are putting safe practices in place. We’ve cried with many of them who may not be able to stay in business, we’ve prayed with them, we’ve rallied together to make it through 2020 with hope for a thriving future. But policing and forcing them to adhere to the Safe COVID Practices, is not within the Chamber’s guidelines.
At this point in time, life in general has become harder and harder. Making wise decisions for the entire community is not easy, especially when we are divided in our belief systems more now than ever. The division this is causing in our community is unhealthy. Each of us must take responsibility for our own actions, no matter which side you are on. But I implore you to think about the other person, your neighbor, your friend, your local business employees and make your actions toward one another that of kindness. We are not actors in a childhood ploy, engaging in tug-of-war or dodge ball on the playground. Don’t throw the first stone, insult, or evil look. We all love this place or we would not choose to be here. The person you disagree with, loves this place too. Just Be Nice to one another, stay safe, stay distanced and respect each other. We really can make it out of this stronger, even if you disagree.
Mayor of the Village of Angel Fire
President and CEO of the Angel Fire Chamber of Commerce