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Damien Willis
Works at Las Cruces Sun-News
Lives in Las Cruces, NM
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Damien Willis

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‪#‎MyLatest‬: "Deebo met his match," said 'Tiny' Lister, upon meeting 9-year-old Dasani Clarke of Las Cruces. He told me this is the first time the character actor and retired professional wrestler has ever been to Las Cruces.

"The people are really nice, and so many of them know the characters that I've played in movies — 'The Dark Knight,' 'The Fifth Element,' and most of all, everyone has been talking about Deebo from 'Friday,'" he said.

Read my story about today's Las Cruces Comic Con here:

(Photo: Jett Loe — Las Cruces Sun-News)

#TinyLister   #Deebo   #Actors   #Friday   #ComicCon   #LasCruces   #AngelBatista   #DavidZayas   #ComicCulture   #ComicBooks   #Cosplay  
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Great shot from Raton, NM...
The story behind the photo:  A glowing sunrise coming up over this mountain range near Raton, New Mexico caused Dad to slam on the breaks and scramble to get his camera out in time to take this picture.  He knew he had the beginnings of a great Old West photo.

When he got home, Dad located the other “part” of the photo.  He’d photographed Red Wolverton’s stagecoach as a silhouette near Tucson, Arizona.  He smoothly blended the mountains and the stagecoach to create a new eye-catching piece of Old West art.

#sunrise   #stagecoach   #newmexico   #oldwest   #westernphotography   #arizona   #photoshop   #horses  
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Damien Willis

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From today's front page: +Robin Zielinski and I have spent a month keeping up with +Patricia Campos as she prepared to leave for L.A. to audition for "The Voice." Saturday morning, she got on that airplane. You've heard Patricia on the radio for years, but there's a big part of her story you may not know--how she's motivated by the memory of her father, who was murdered in Las Cruces when she was only eight. This one was a pleasure to write, and Robin did a spectacular job telling Patty's story in video. I hope you'll spend a little time with this story.

Full story:

#TheVoice   #NBCUniversal   #ItsAllGoodEP   #KissFM   #ElPaso   #LasCruces   #LCNM  +Las Cruces Sun-News 
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Damien Willis

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The High Cost of Being Transgendered... For many in Las Cruces, the struggle goes beyond the financial difficulties. A few brave transgender residents share their stories with me... #Transgender   #LCNM   #LasCruces   #LGBTQ   #TransIssues   #CaitlynJenner  
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Damien Willis

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In today's paper, I have four stories. Here's one of the big ones, which I've spent nearly two weeks reporting. LCPS is facing some critical budget problems. (Being unable to make July's payroll is not entirely far-fetched.) Some sizable staffing cuts are coming soon, as the district looks to "right-size" the bloated system. The second part of this two-part examination of the budget will run on tomorrow's front page.
LAS CRUCES >> Las Cruces Public Schools is spending $27 million less on compensation this school year than last as the district works to "right-size" the system.
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Damien Willis

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Check out my latest column, out today, on why I believe Jay-Z's new subscription streaming service, Tidal, may not make the waves that some are expecting.
They'd have you believe it's going to be the next big thing. I'm more than a little reluctant to buy into the hype.
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Damien Willis

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Chef Thierry Marceaux owns Le Rendez-vous Cafe in Las Cruces. Ten years ago, however, he was the executive pastry chef at the legendary Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans, a block off Bourbon Street.

I sat down and visited with Thierry yesterday for more than an hour, exactly ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. We talked about the looting, the week he was stranded in the hotel, and the death and destruction he witnessed as he prepared three meals a day for the hotel's 200 guests who had no place to go. (Some of the wealthier ones used their cell phones to call private helicopter companies to evacuate them.)

We also talked about how he ended up buying a restaurant in Las Cruces, which is frequently described as a "hidden gem," or a "local treasure."

His is a tremendous story, and conveys a degree of chaos, lawlessness and panic that America hasn't seen in recent history. "The city was out of control," he told me. "Jewelry stores, Gucci stores, French designers — they were all looted. A policeman was shot outside the hotel. It was very dangerous. People were wading through the streets, holding huge flat-screen TVs above their heads."

I hope you'll read the story. #HurricaneKatrina   #TenYearsLater   #Reporting   #Journalism   #NewOrleans   #LasCruces   #NewMexico   #NMTrue  
LAS CRUCES >> It's been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina — but don't call it an anniversary, because it's nothing to celebrate.
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Damien Willis

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Yesterday, I was up before dawn. I hiked up Tortugas Mountain to become one of the first journalists ever to witness a 500-year-tradition. It was an honor to be welcomed as the Tortugas Pueblo anointed a new Cacique — the tribe's Chief and spiritual leader. Henry Narvaez, who has held the position for more than twenty years, passed it down to his 39-year-old son, Patrick, in an emotional ceremony atop Tortugas Mountain.

This was the first time in the tribe's history that a reporter has been invited to the event, and it was truly a privilege to be asked to participate. As the leaves of a creosote bush burned in a sacred, ceremonial fire nearby, we witnessed the passing of the torch — and the future of the tribe. Both father and son described the moment as "bittersweet." Both wept.

I hope you'll read the story. It's a moment in my journalistic career I won't soon forget. #Tortugas   #TortugasPueblo   #NativeAmerican   #Traditions   #Reporting   #Journalism   #NewMexico   #NMTrue   #LasCruces  
TORTUGAS PUEBLO >> Patrick Narvaez became the cacique (spiritual leader) of La Corporacion de los Indigenes de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in a special blessing ceremony held Saturday on
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Glad I'm not the only one... #Trump   #EnoughAlready  
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Damien Willis

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Rigo Alvarado had just gone for a tackle, and was slow to get up. The 10-year-old was playing for the Crocs, a team in the Nerf League of Las Cruces. Because the league has implemented "Heads Up Football" practices, Rigo couldn't return to the field until he was cleared by a doctor. At the hospital, doctors discovered an arachnoid cyst--roughly one-third the size of his brain. With every hit, he ran the risk of rupturing it--and he was about to take up boxing. Rigo's mom, Crystal Banegas, credits the league's safety measures with saving her son's life.
In my latest story, I share Rigo's. And I look at concussion safety practices around our city, and recent efforts to make improvements at the federal and state levels. Read it here: 
#Concussions   #Sports   #Football   #Youth   #Coaching   #HeadsUpFootball   #USAFootball   #TomUdall   #Legislation   #SaferSports  
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Meet Tim Hand, the guy at #LCPS  responsible for assessment and evaluation. A year ago, very few in the community knew or cared what Tim did. This year has been different for the man in charge of administering #PARCC  exams and handling all of the opt-outs. At the center of all of the controversy, there's a friendly tennis coach. #Schools   #StandardizedTesting   #Tennis   #Centennial   #Evaluation   #Assessment   #Education  
LAS CRUCES >> A year ago, nearly all of Tim Hand's work at Las Cruces Public Schools was behind-the-scenes.
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Damien Willis

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Precious few of us will cure cancer, or carry us into a future that no longer depends on fossil fuels, or discovers something on Mars that revolutionizes life on earth. For young Sophia Sanchez-Maes of Las Cruces, all of those are VERY distinct possibilities. She has INCREDIBLE things in her future. 
Las Cruces >> She calls herself a number artist. Sophia Sánchez-Maes just turned 17, but you'd never guess it by looking at her résumé.
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Award-Winning Newpaper Reporter & Columnist / Former Radio Program Director, Music Director & DJ / Freelance Writer, Copyeditor & Proofreader / Community Organizer

I am a creative person, still searching for a medium. I am a passionate and proficient writer, and am slowly learning photography and design. I'm interested in typography, psychology, and etymology.

Somehow, these passions have led me to a 13-year career "on-the-air," and my writing has found a longtime home in the pages of the Las Cruces Sun-News. I've emceed numerous clubs and concerts, interviewed President Barack Obama (and First Lady Michelle), and scores of celebrities--some of whom I'm fortunate to count as friends. 

Still, I seek more. I'm always looking for ways to add more. I want to write more. I want to voice and produce more commercials for a larger audience. I want to learn everything I can, and put it to good use.

I want to give back to my community more. I want to organize more charity events, and build communities of writers and artists and photographers and musicians. I want to leave behind a dramatically better world for future generations. 

My objective is to stay busy, and to make the world a better place through my efforts, both at work and play. And to never stop learning.

Bragging rights
Former Program Director, 13+ Years On The Same Afternoon Shift, 550+ Consecutive Weekly Columns (Without Missing A Deadline), New Mexico Broadcaster Association DJ Personality Of The Year (2005), Las Cruces Sun-News Reader's Choice Award (Local Newspaper Columnist 2012), Las Cruces Young Professional of the Month (September 2014), Southern New Mexico PRIDE Media Advocate of the Year (2014), Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce - Executive Marketing Committee, Las Cruces Press Women - Secretary
Reporter, Journalist & Columnist - Former Radio Program Director, Music Director & DJ - Freelance Writer & Copyeditor - Community Organizer
Writing - Radio Programming - Music Selection & Scheduling - Commercial Production - Editing - Marketing - Team Building
  • Las Cruces Sun-News
    Education Reporter, 2015 - present
    I am the Education reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. My beat includes Las Cruces Public Schools, the Gadsden Independent School District, Dona Ana Community College and New Mexico State University. I also do Feature reporting from on occasion.
  • #Inspired Mornings: Las Cruces
    Founder, 2013 - present
    Our goal is to bring together CREATIVE TYPES in Las Cruces, NM, across ALL disciplines. Whether you're a writer, graphic/visual artist, director, producer, musician, designer, actor, photographer, fashion designer, etc., we NEED you!
  • GETright Copy
    Owner & Personal Author, 2009 - present
    I am the owner of GETright Copy, a multifaceted service for the music and entertainment industries. Primarily, I write artist bios and provide copyediting services. Recently, however, we have also taken on some radio commercial production projects, as well as television voiceover work.
  • Las Cruces (NM) Sun-News
    Entertainment Columnist, 2004 - present
    Each week, I write a 500-600 word column which appears in "Pulse," the weekly entertainment tabloid in the Las Cruces (NM) Sun-News. Topics are of my choosing, and have ranged from the death of Norman Mailer to the role of the grill in a man's life. I have written about The Game's beef with 50 Cent, have interviewed Marlon Brando's best friend, have interviewed Krayzie Bone and written profile pieces on Buddy Guy, Hunter S. Thompson, Don Imus, Stanley "Tookie" Williams, Ana Castillo, The Imagine Peace Tower and more.
  • KHQT-FM (Hot 103)
    Program Director/Music Director/Afternoon DJ, 2001 - 2014
    I was responsible for all on-air programming for KHQT-FM (Hot 103), from talent development & coaching to brand management and station promotions. I selected and scheduled the music that we played on the station, and maintained the music library. I also hosted the station's afternoon show, weekdays from 3p-7p.
Basic Information
Damien Willis's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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