Publisher’s Notebook

Looking back, looking ahead

What do the 2020s hold for southern New Mexico?


Five years ago this month, our company published its first edition of Desert Exposure, after we purchased the publication from David and Lisa Fryxell.

I loved Desert Exposure then and I love it now.

A few months later, in April 2015, we were able to bring in Elva Osterreich as the publication’s editor. Elva has spent the past 21 years working at newspapers in southern New Mexico, including stints in Alamogordo, Socorro, Ruidoso and Las Cruces. She has a particular fondness for the arts, as well as a great love for New Mexico. In many ways, she has the ideal background for her role.

A colleague of mine always comments how representative Desert Exposure is of its markets.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a publication that’s more ‘of its place’ than Desert Exposure,” he said.

And that’s basically our mission, to bring old and new readers alike glimpses of the unique flavor, the sights, the smells, the personalities, the history and the future of this very special part of the world.

We may not always agree on what exactly is special, but we all agree there are a lot of special things here in southern New Mexico.

Speaking of smells, a couple of readers, disagreed with the very first column I wrote for Desert Exposure, back in January 2015, when I lamented the demise of the Buffalo Bar, an old tavern in Downtown Silver City.

For those two readers, the closing of the Buff brought on feelings of “good riddance.” They said they were glad to be shed of the smell of urine and the noise of motorcycles outside the bar.

Last year, I got a print of Silver City artist Lois Duffy’s painting of the Buffalo Bar. It’s the same image that hangs in our state capital building, the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. I love the art, and an advantage of a painting is it has no tell-tale aroma.

As we head into a new decade, I wonder what changes might be in store for southern New Mexico.

Here are some scientifically researched (over a green chile burrito) predictions for the 2020s.

  • 15 new microbreweries will open in southern New Mexico.
  • 10 microbreweries will close.
  • White Sands National Monument will become White Sands National Park (I’m really, really confident about this, fingers crossed).
  • Las Cruces, leading with Mayfield High School’s 5A state championship in 2020, will once again be New Mexico’s high school football power center.
  • Hemp will add a powerful dimension to the long tradition of agriculture in our region.
  • The music scene will continue to grow and develop, to the point southern New Mexico will have the feel of Austin in the 1980s.
  • As commercial space companies learn the advantages of southern New Mexico and Spaceport America, we’ll be Ground Zero for the next great wave of space exploration.
  • Another legendary bar will close, probably after it sells its liquor license to a Walmart Neighborhood Market. Some will lament the bar’s passing. Others will say, “Good riddance.”
  • The ramen craze will sweep through the region, as several ramen restaurants will open and, a few years later, close.
  • In 2027, new mining technology will help crews discover a previously hidden gold vein near Silver City, causing men to grow long mustaches and yell “There’s gold in them thar hills.” There will be a countywide controversy, as some citizens want to re-name the town Gold City.
  • There will be six rumors that the Buckhorn Saloon and Pinos Altos Opera House may close, but by the end of the next decade, it will still be going strong.
  • The Cliff Cowboys will win at least two more state basketball championships.
  • Silver City’s own Howie Morales will, at some point during the decade, become governor.
  • Green chile will skyrocket in price, and several new designer flavors will be available, and New Mexicans will happily buy it at any cost.
  • Despite the prevalence of digital technology and hand-held computers, there will still be a place for the printed word on paper, that you can take with you and read as you sip a coffee outside a downtown shop, or grab a sandwich from a local restaurant, or take a hike and sit down under a cottonwood tree at White Sands, or on your back porch under the beautiful New Mexico skies.
  • And we’ll keep exposing you to the best parts of the desert.

Richard Coltharp, publisher of the Las Cruces Bulletin, believes, for all practical purposes, green chile is more valuable than gold. He can be reached at