UP — We are thrilled that officials decided to schedule the Connie Mack World Series and the San Juan County Fair consecutively, removing an overlap that has existed since the 1990s. Fair board member Dorothy Nobis said economics did not play into the decision, but we think there should be some boost, no matter how small, when local participants don't have to make a choice between the two. The change also ensures that the two events, which in different ways define our area, do not have to share the spotlight. To be honest, that can be an issue for us when we are deciding how to deploy reporters and photographers, and how to use the space in the paper. Each event offers some wonderful entertainment — America's pastime with its ageless appeal and the best of the year from our farming and ranching families. We encourage everybody to take full advantage of these two great events.


DOWN — We understand the reasoning behind the decision to restrict fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday even if we don't like it. The Farmington City Council approved a proclamation stating that fireworks may only be ignited on pavement or barren lots near water supplies. We also reported that the council plans to ask the Farmington Municipal Court to hand out the maximum fines for people caught violating the restrictions. That would be $500, with the additional possibility of up to 90 days in jail. The obvious reason is the continuing drought. The restrictions are becoming a way of life as the drought stretches on and they change the character of the July Fourth celebrations. We believe the restrictions are necessary. Areas with the kind of tinder that would sustain a fire generally are well settled and a conflagration could cause loss of life and property. On the bright side, excuse our pun, the large, official displays are expected to go forward and will give residents a chance to see a red-white-and-blue nighttime light show.


UP — New Mexico Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson was in our neighborhood earlier this week to tell us that tourism is on the upswing in the Land of Enchantment. Tourism generated about $5.9 billion in 2012, which is a 7 percent increase from the previous year and Jacobson said she expects that number to increase in 2013. Tonya Stinson, executive director of the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the bureau expects to launch a new ad campaign for this area using the state Tourism Department's "New Mexico True" program. The ad will include two photos from the 41,000-acre Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness with its hoodoos and one of a mountain biker. This area badly needs to diversify its economy and should not lose sight of that fact — even if the highly anticipated shale-oil boom materializes. We have been told — by Jacobson on a past visit — that the area attracts a subset of the tourist crowd, the more athletic recreational visitors and those interested in the wealth of cultural attractions that include Chaco Canyon, Aztec Ruins and Mesa Verde. However, she said, those groups tend to have somewhat deeper pockets. The increasing interest in New Mexico is well deserved, as far as we're concerned, and we hope local officials make a compelling case to explore the Four Corners from a Farmington-area base.