Click photo to enlarge
Some of the students, artists and community elders whose stories inspired the mural on the new Gila Valley Library. From l to r: Logan Eggleston, Miguel Martinez, Diana Ingalls Leyba, Jasmine Williams, Beth Menczer, Riley Olsen, Marley Williams, Damie Nelson, and Pat Gutierrez.

SILVER CITY — Dozens of folks turned out for the new Gila Valley Library's celebration, volunteer recognition and mural dedication on Sunday.

The group filled the Senior Center in the tiny town (pop. 314, according to the 2010 Census) and listened to a brief business meeting conducted by Library Board President Dale Marcy and other board members, as they rattled off some impressive numbers for the tiny library.

Now under a new roof, the library collection includes 5,638 books and DVDs, and a total of 8,889 items, valued at more than $100,000. The library also recorded a total of 4,507 visits and 979 computer sign ups for the 2012 calendar year.

After the business meeting, board members showed the group a dvd that recorded the library's history - set the song "Teach the Children," by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The DVD showed the beginnings of the new library, from its home in the old building, to the fundraising auction the library board held last March that raised $5,500, to the new building, donated by Hidalgo Medical Services for the paltry sum of $1 per year, and then new library filled with books and children, and the crowning jewel, the fantastic mural created by students in the Youth Mural Program and in Cliff High School teacher Damie Nelson's New Mexico History class that graces the outside wall next to the library's entrance.

After the DVD showing, Marcy talked a little bit about the volunteers who helped bring the project to fruition.

"Volunteers have no time but they have heart," Marcy said.


"Our budget was small and our dream was big and each new volunteer stepped up and helped us fulfill that dream," she said.

The board first recognized library Director Phyllis Reiche, who was unable to attend due a medical emergency, but a volunteer was filming the entire celebration for her so she could view it later. A artwork clock was presented to be given to Reiche in recognition of all the time she has given to the library. The board also recognized board president Dale Marcy with a lovely gift of a necklace. Then volunteer Howard Smith read the names of many of the volunteers who helped make the library dream a reality, and each was given a baseball cap with the words Gila Valley Library embroidered on it - green for the guys and purple for the ladies. Smith singled out Dorothy Pine, whom he said has been running the library every Saturday for the past six years. Someone delivered Pine a cap as she sat in the audience, which she promptly and proudly put on.

The Board also publicly recognized Hidalgo Medical Services, former County Commissioner Christy Miller for helping put the deal together by setting up a meeting with HMS CEO Charlie Alfero, and Rep. Rudy Martinez, and Senator Howie Morales for their support over the many years the project was in the making, and event sponsor, Lawley Toyota, and owner Paul Leetmae, for a generous donation to the furnishing fund and donating a service appointment to be raffled off to one lucky winner. Two Kindles were also to be raffled off but the raffle drawing was postponed for a week so that others could buy tickets. Tickets are available at the Gila Valley Library or by calling Marcy.

Lastly, the group headed outdoors and across the parking lot of the Senior Center to the entrance to the new library, where local artists and head of the Mimbres Region Arts Council's Youth Mural Program, Diana Ingalls Leyba talked a little bit about the mural and the students and artists who helped create it.

The mural is titled "Gila Stories" and features a giant horse rearing up, its mane a blaze of red and orange, and its interior filled with the history of the Gila Valley, from the produce grown there, and with a nod to its Old West history with a six-shooter and several playing cards. Students in Nelson's freshmen New Mexico History class interviewed local residents Harry Bright, Leroy Chappell, Tom Drummond, Pat Gutierrez, Helen Monge and Florence Norris, and used those oral histories - which were recorded and will be available on DVD at the library - to create "a rich natural and human history of the Gila River Valley," read Logan Eggleston, one of the students who participated.

The students worked under lead artist Beth Menczer and assisting artist Riley Olsen.

The new mural will also hold another prominent place as it is set to be featured on the cover of a book of local student writing, "Young Voices of New Mexico," set to be published later this year. Sharleen Daugherty co-founder of Literacy Alive, with Karen Dunn, saw the mural and felt it would be the perfect complement to the winning student writing and artwork that will be featured in the book.

The new Gila Valley Library more than doubles the size of the old library, which opened in July 2004 in a former storeroom in the back of the Gila Community Center. Over the years, the little library outgrew the cramped 400-square-foot space - by 2010, the yearly circulation was over 10,000, and the collection was approaching 6,000 volumes.

The library serves families in the greater Gila, Cliff, and Buckhorn areas.

For more information, contact Gila Valley Board President, Dale Marcy at


Gila Valley Library Volunteers:

Judy Bowen

Barrett Brewer

JJ Dabbs

Amy Duncan and Eric Leahy

Keith and Claudia Duerinck

Lori Eggleston

Carol and Mike Fugagli

Mary Giardini

Wyatt Graves

Jeralyn Hath and Bruce Lee

Merritt Helfferich

Andy Hood

Ethel Hooker

Sarah Johnson

Bill Kaderly

Eddie Kartchner

Cassady Lewis

Bradlee Lindauer

Jim Lindsey - contractor

Steve MacDonald

Bill and Dale Marcy

Guy Mc Pherson and Sheila Merrigan

Jan and Bill Mower

John Naughton

Dorothy Pine

John and Phyllis Reiche

Mark Rinsler

Ama Rivers

Steve Roethle

Jay Slavec

Madge Slavec

Cedar Smith

Howard Smith

Emanuel Stamler

Lucy Tully

Scott Victor

Wayne Welburn

Anna Zacharias

Peter Russell

And others who came and worked, and went, without fanfare or notice.

Students who participated in the project include:

Karter Bearup

Kenyon Bearup

Logan Eggleston

Astraea Glastetter

Katherine Gutierrez

Paulynna Gutierrez

Bethanie Moore

Matthew Gutierrez

Miguel Martinez

AJ Pierce

Lauryn Robertson

Teryn Brown

Whitney Chitwood

Madeline Medina

Kindra Gutierrez-Williams

Bailey Freeman

Josh Neil

Kasey Brown

Sarah Wolf

Cassidy Lewis

Jesse Oliver

Blue Ray Gutierrez

Soren Palmer

Cristian Casillas

Cameron Clark

Zach Ore

Gabe Zacharias

Joseph Tarazon

Marley Williams

Jasmine Williams

Kaweah Yarbrough

Christine Steele can be reached at 575-538-5893 ext. 5802.