UP — The 3 Rivers Bass Team Trail hosted its first fishing tournament last weekend at Morgan Lake. And despite the windy, cold weather, 30 participants boarded 15 boats to see who could catch the biggest (heaviest) bass. Congratulations to Steve and Skyler Hammond of Farmington for winning with a 13.4 pound fish. We think tournaments such as this show off this area's bountiful outdoor diversions and will serve to increase Four Corners tourism. The next competition will be April 5, also at Morgan Lake. If you enjoy the peace and quiet of floating on a lake while trying to outsmart a big fish, sign up and see how you do.


UP — Financial audits are dry material for editorials, but Farmington's recent independent audit of the 2013 fiscal year books deserves some positive recognition. When it comes to accounting for $618 million in assets, $210 million in revenue and $188 million in expenses, the city did an excellent job, according to Brandon Valentini, a certified public accountant who reviewed the audit. He determined that the city is "pretty healthy." Even though the local economy has been in a slump, the document details the city's efforts to navigate those rough waters without adding to tax burdens or creating significant service disruptions. That's no small accomplishment.


DOWN — A squabble between Gallup-McKinley County Schools and the Central Consolidated School District over busing of students managed to involve the state's highest public official — Gov. Susana Martinez. Some students inside the CCSD district boundaries apparently chose to attend schools in the Gallup-McKinley district, which was sending buses over district lines to pick them up and drop them off. CCSD officials objected and those buses stopped rolling. The districts were unable to work it out, which punted the issue to New Mexico Public Education Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera. She told them to solve it in a way consistent with state laws and policies. Then, in the most recent legislative session, state Sen. George Munoz, D-Cibola, McKinley and San Juan, sponsored a bill that would have put the issue before tribal leadership. Somehow the bill made it to the governor's desk. Martinez noted that the bill would have created a bizarre double standard that likely would violate both the state and U.S. constitutions. As far as we know, there are no emergencies regarding space availability in CCSD schools in that area or other problems that would deny students access. It's absurd that this fight has consumed the time and effort of so many state and local officials. This should be the end of it.


UP — We got a little more good news regarding the region's economy. A recent analysis by Four Corners Economic Development indicates 2,241 more people were employed in November 2013 compared to July 2010. A total of 51,939 people were working in the Farmington area in November 2013, according to the study. Four Corners Economic Development CEO Ray Hagerman says the jobs likely were created in the manufacturing sector. It appears those businesses are producing equipment used in oil fields outside the area. Plans to expand exploration in the San Juan Basin's Gallup and Mancos oil shale plays have the potential to create more local jobs, both in the oil fields and at those Farmington-area manufacturing businesses.