Uplifting the Spirit using my voice & talent.


Every once in a while, I’ll hear my peers complain about the younger generation…“they’re lazy, distracted, unreliable, and spoiled.” That may describe some young people, but certainly not Brittany Marmion. 25-year-old Brittany is a shining example of a young woman who works hard and plays by the rules.

Brittany graduated from Nursing School at the Santa Fe Community College in December with a 3.7 Grade Point Average. She was chosen to represent her class and speak at the Pinning Ceremony. A month later, she aced her Nursing test and earned her license as a Registered Nurse. Her journey to reach this milestone hasn’t been easy, but Brittany wouldn’t have it any other way. She thrives on challenges.

After graduation from Santa Fe High School, Brittany attended the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. Her brother, J.D., also went to NMMI. The disciplined culture of the military shaped her life and gave her an impeccable work ethic. She went on to join the U.S. Air Force Reserves where she is a Staff Sergeant and has received extensive training as a medic.

In between college and the Reserves, Brittany has worked as a nursing assistant at Christus Saint Vincent and a phlebotomist for Tricore Reference Laboratory in Santa Fe. Now she’s looking for a full time nursing job. Continue reading


March 12, 2010 Posted by | Brittany Marmion, Santa Fe Hometown News | | Leave a comment

Children’s Book Honors Santa Fe Tradition

There is an incredible amount of satisfaction and pride when you actually make your dreams come true. Fifteen years ago, a light bulb went on in my head as I returned from one of my favorite family traditions, the annual Baile de los Cascarones. As the confetti shook free from my hair, I thought I should write a bilingual children’s book about this fun tradition to pass on to future generations.

On March 1, 2010, “Dance of the Eggshells/Baile de los Cascarones” by Carla Aragón was finally released. It is an absolute thrill to see it in a bookstore and to know I reached a lofty goal.

The story is about a young brother and sister who visit their grandparents in Santa Fe for Spring break. Skeptical at first, they join the preparations for the post Easter celebration of the Baile de los Cascarones (Dance of the Eggshells) – a family oriented dance with cascarones or confetti filled eggshells and traditional folk dances. People ask one another to dance by breaking a cascarón over their partner’s head. The conflict and sibling rivalry between the main characters is resolved through the activities of the dance itself. The brother gets carried away with cracking cascarones on people’s heads, but is embarrassed during the Baile de la Escoba or The Broom Dance, in which the only person caught without a partner has to dance with a broom. He is saved from embarrassment by his sister. The grandparents introduce the kids to a cultural tradition that engages them in unexpected and powerful ways. Continue reading

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Baile de los Cascarones, Santa Fe Hometown News | | Leave a comment


Have you ever been moved to tears while listening to a musical performance?  That’s a common occurrence when you hear the celestial voices of the Schola Cantorum of Santa Fe. Perhaps because, according to Dr. Billy Turney, this inspirational music is based on prayer.

Turney founded the Schola Cantorum (Latin for school of singers) in 1990 to perform the masterpieces of the Roman Catholic Church– sacred music that includes Gregorian chant, music of the Renaissance masters, and contemporary sacred music.  Now in his 20th year, Turney has produced the group’s first CD “Echoes of Mary.”  Whether you are Catholic or not–it is truly a gift for the soul.

Turney’s interest in the this music was sparked when he was a young boy attending Vespers at the Loretto Chapel.  He went on to study music at the University of New Mexico and pursue graduate studies at the Vatican’s Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music.  Turney goes back to the Vatican almost every two years to learn more.  He also gives university lectures in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Continue reading

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Billy Turney, Santa Fe Hometown News | | 2 Comments


Most things change, but when the Legislature convenes on January 19, 2010, you’ll see a fixture who’s been around longer than the Roundhouse itself.

Sitting in the middle of the action is a stunning woman with porcelain skin and silvery white hair who is the longest tenured employee of the House of Representatives. Eloisa L. Block has worked in the House for 52 legislative sessions. That’s amazing… considering New Mexico has been a state for 98 years! In fact, 78-year-old Eloisa is a walking history book, filled with stories on how laws were made (or killed) and the politicians who put (or tried to put) them in the books.

Eloisa, who is the Assistant House Chief Clerk, has worked for a list of “Who’s Who” in New Mexico politics. She’s served the most Speakers of the House, including Donald Hallam, Mack Easley, Jack Campbell, Bruce King, David Norvell, Walter Martinez, C.G. Samberson, Raymond Sanchez, and Ben Lujan. She served under three House Chief Clerks, including Floyd Cross, Al Romero, and Steve Arias. When Eloisa worked in the Old Capitol (now the Bataan Memorial Building), Steve Arias ( her current boss) worked in the cloak room. She saw other young children who served as pages grow up to hold public office, including Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, Rep. Ken Martinez, and Rep. Rhonda King. Continue reading

January 1, 2010 Posted by | Eloisa L. Block, Santa Fe Hometown News | | Leave a comment


As a journalist, I have scored hundreds of interviews, but the one I would have loved to tape for posterity “got away.” My precious cousin, George Anthony Gonzales, passed away on October 23, 2009 at the age of 51. He had battled cancer for ten years, but most people didn’t know it. Anthony preferred not to discuss his health problems. He would much rather talk about his family, tell a joke, or find out what was happening in your life. It was good medicine to focus on the positive. Besides… Anthony knew with every fiber in his body that it was all in God’s hands.

I had the honor of witnessing that faith and strength throughout his entire life. My Aunt Celine had all boys. My mother had all girls. Officially, we are cousins; but Anthony and the boys are my brothers. We learned how to swim together, ride bikes in Casa Solana, speak proper Spanish (sometimes slang), and recite our prayers. We played in Grandpa John’s chicken coop on Canyon Road, built a fort in the foothills, ate tortilla and bologna sandwiches–and vienna sausage, too. We watched Cantinflas and Elvis Presley movies, rode in Fiesta Parades, danced, sang, and put on skits (with the front porch as our stage). Ok, I know it’s gross– but we lovingly greeted each other by saying, “¡Órale, moco!”(we still do as adults). We did everything together. Continue reading

December 1, 2009 Posted by | Anthony Gonzales, Santa Fe Hometown News | | Leave a comment


America has a fascination with the TV game show “Survivor,” but the courage, sacrifice, and heart of a true survivor is found in the real life story of Vicente Ruelas Ojinaga.  At 91 years old, Ojinaga has overcome a heart attack, cancer, the infamous Bataan Death March, a voyage on a Hell Ship, and years in a POW camp.  He didn’t just manage to live through these unimaginable hardships– with his faith in God, he thrived because of them.

After fellow POW Benjamin Martinez passed away last month, Ojinaga became the only survivor of the Bataan Death March still living in the city of Santa Fe according to the NM Department of Veterans’ Services. He was one of 1800 young men from New Mexico in the 200th Coast Artillery of the NM National Guard Army who were taken Prisoners of War by the Japanese.  Roughly 900 returned home.

That horrifying experience has been a big part of Ojinaga’s life, but it isn’t all that defines this amazing man.  He graduated from UNM, then worked for the IRS and the New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue.  His wife Celia says he has always served the community… as Treasurer of the Knights of Columbus and the Neighborhood Association; he was a member of Toastmasters; and a devout member of his church.  She says his greatest strength is his love of God and family.

Continue reading

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Santa Fe Hometown News, Vicente Ruelas Ojinaga | | Leave a comment


Beautiful gardens in our community don’t just magically appear.  They flourish because of those who tend them with hard work and loving care.  Joseph Lobato is devoted to tending his gardens—the one at his Santa Fe residence and the other more expansive landscape we call New Mexico.

48-year-old Lobato is the Executive Director of New Mexico Clean and Beautiful—a program of the N.M. Tourism Department.  Joe is responsible for coordinating the efforts of 19 affiliates and 31 programs across the state.

He also planted the seed for the highly successful, 11-year Trek for Trash with former Governor Gary Johnson and the “Toss No Mas” program.  Joe has also been extremely active at the national level serving as Chairman and board member of Keep America Beautiful, Inc.

When Joe is not beautifying our environment, he’s enjoying volleyball, playing guitar, exploring genealogy, and most importantly, tending to his family.  Joe has been married to Angela Block Lobato for 22 years.  He has two sons, Matthew and Jared. Continue reading

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Joseph Lobato, Santa Fe Hometown News | | 1 Comment


People who are pioneers don’t often take time to pat themselves on the back.  They just keep focused on their work or passion.  Ruth Ortega of Ortega Insurance Services is one of those people.  She was the first woman in Santa Fe to own an independent insurance company and she was one of the first board members of the Santa Fe Community Foundation.  Her pioneering commitment to the City Different doesn’t stop there.  She belongs to or has been involved with more than a dozen organizations, including her precious La Sociedad Folklórica.

Ruth’s career in insurance started in 1959 when she got a job with the Frank Gomez Agency.  As a mentor, Gomez helped her decipher the complicated world of insurance and become a recognized authority in the insurance industry.  Ruth became his office manager, Vice President of his company; and in 1984, she bought his insurance division.  Ruth says she grew her business by being involved with the community. Continue reading

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Ruth Ortega, Santa Fe Hometown News | | Leave a comment

TAKE 5 with CARLA ARAGÓN featuring George A. Gonzales

He’s a pioneer of New Mexico Spanish language radio, was Santa Fe  Mayor from 1968 to 1972 and the youngest ever (at age 30), was knighted by the Morros de España, is an accomplished singer/song writer/musician, and a well-respected authority of the Spanish language.  These are only a few of George Abran Gonzales’ long string of accomplishments, but the “G”-force behind Que Suave Radio says his greatest success is his God loving family.

71-year-old Gonzales has been married to Celine Vigil Gonzales for 51 years.  They have four sons: Anthony, Patrick, Javier, and Estevan; nine grandchildren and one on the way.  Each has a role in the family owned businesses of Que Suave Radio, the Santa Fe Hometown News, and their various real estate and cell phone tower ventures Continue reading

July 31, 2009 Posted by | George A. Gonzales, Santa Fe Hometown News | | Leave a comment