Happy birthday, Sandoval County.

On March 10, 1903, Sandoval County was founded. Dozens of elected officials, business leaders, first responders and county residents gathered at the Sandoval County Administration Building in Bernalillo for a celebration and a career fair 120 years later.

Sandoval County Manager Wayne Johnson kicked off the festivities by welcoming the crowd and giving a little history of the county.

“Happy anniversary, our 120th. You don’t look a day past 119,” Johnson said. “This is an amazing milestone, I think, for this county. On this day in 1903, we became one of the newer counties that were carved out of Bernalillo County and an old county called Santa Ana. And I think we’ve come a long way as a county and as a bunch of communities. I mean, you look at this. We have five different unincorporated areas. We’ve got 12 different tribal nations within this county. We’re very diverse, and we’re very, very, really just tied to our roots.”

Johnson handed the mic off to County Commission Chair Dave Heil, who gave more history of the county to the crowd.

“This county was created with the town of Bernalillo, a place of about 1,000 people at the time,” Heil said. “As the seat of government, it was situated on the axis of Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. Sandoval County was created nine years before New Mexico statehood. Its name comes from one of the largest land-holding Spanish families in the area. I should note that the original county seat was Corrales, but it was moved to Bernalillo in ’05.”

Heil was then joined by elected officials from across the county, including Bernalillo, Corrales and the Navajo Nation, to cut the cake and sing “Happy Birthday” to Sandoval County.

Since it’s founding in 1903, Sandoval County has grown to 150,000 people across 3,700 square miles.

After the celebration of the county’s rich history, a dozen employers set up shop to meet with job candidates to help keep Sandoval County growing.

Representatives from Sandoval County and Corrales had booths set up at the career fair, as did Rio Rancho Public Schools, Turtle Mountain Brewing Company, Albuquerque Area Indian Health Services, Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel, NM Workforce Solutions, Sandia Resort and Casino, UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, Hyatt Regency Tamaya and Presbyterian Healthcare Services.

“Today in celebrating this 120 years, to keep us going and growing, we are having this career fair,” Heil said. “I certainly hope that people in the community take a great advantage of it and the collection of businesses and public entities that are here.”

Kevin Hendricks/Observer