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Local News
5:18 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Air Force Grounds C-130 Fire Fighting Fleet After Fatal Crash

A MAFFS C-130 drops its payload over the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado.
Credit The National Guard / Flickr - Creative Commons

AP UPDATE 7/3/12, 11:46 AM:

The military says six Air Force tankers are resuming firefighting flights after a deadly crash of one tanker over the weekend.

U.S. Northern Command says the flights will resume Tuesday.

The entire fleet of eight planes was grounded after a C-130 crashed Sunday while fighting a wildfire in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The C-130 was from an Air National Guard wing based in Charlotte, N.C., and was carrying a crew of six. The crash killed at least two crew members and injured others.

--

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Local News
1:35 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Environmental groups oppose SF Forest road plan

The majority of roads in the Santa Fe National Forest will now be closed to motorized travel, according to the Albuquerque Journal. But two environmental groups say the plan still leaves too much of the forest open to vehicle traffic.

The Record of Decision came after nearly six years of analysis and public comment. The Forest Service evaluated more than 7,000 miles of roads and trails and designated about 2,400 miles where motorized travel will be allowed. It also prohibited off-road motorized travel.

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Local News
9:15 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Wildfire near Carlsbad Caverns up to 5,000 acres

A wildfire burning on the western border of Carlsbad Caverns National Park has grown to 5,000 acres.

Fire officials said Sunday that the blaze was sparked Friday by lightning in the Lincoln National Forest around the New Mexico-Texas state line.

A helicopter battling the declining Little Bear Fire was diverted Saturday to the new fire, which is at 15 percent containment.

The Horse Canyon Fire is near the area burned in the Last Chance Fire in spring in 2011.

Local News
12:39 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Little Bear Fire 95 Percent Contained

A New Mexico wildfire that destroyed 242 homes and businesses is now 95 percent contained as crews finish mopping up around the fire's perimeter.

Crews demobilized some equipment Friday as they restored containment lines around the 69-square-mile Little Bear fire to a more natural state. Firefighters were also able to take advantage of rain on the blaze's southern end.

The lightning-caused fire is burning near Ruidoso and started June 4.

Businesses in Ruidoso are open despite some road closures due to fire operations.

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Local News
7:18 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Schott to close 'flagship' solar plant

Schott Solar will be closing its 200,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Albuquerque.

The company once billed the plant as its flagship facility in North America. It produces photovoltaic panels and thermal receivers for large-scale solar power plants.

More than 200 people work there. They were told Thursday about the closure.

Schott spokesman Matthew Kraft declined to immediately provide details about why the company was ending operations in Albuquerque.

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Local News
7:15 am
Fri June 29, 2012

'War room' type effort places firefighting assets

From sites on the fringes of wildfires burning around the West, incident commanders spend nearly every waking hour huddled around maps, looking at computer screens or glued to the radio, trying to plot their next move.

Their decisions come after pouring over intelligence that's flooding in from crew leaders, weather forecasters and fuels analysts.

Elsewhere, teams of specialists smooth out the logistics of shuffling firefighters and equipment around the country.

Tom Harbour is the director of fire and aviation management for the U.S. Forest Service.

Local News
6:41 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Court limits executive privilege in IPRA case

The New Mexico Supreme Court has significantly limited the ability of government officials to use executive privilege when denying access to records under the Inspection of Public Records Act. 

The court's ruling comes in a case that stemmed from a request by the Republican Party for public records from former Gov. Bill Richardson's administration. The information was sought as part of an investigation into whether people were using New Mexico drivers' licenses to unlawfully register to vote.

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Local News
6:33 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Tribal group lauds high court's health care ruling

A national tribal advocacy group is praising the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that essentially upholds President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The National Congress of American Indians says Thursday's ruling affirms the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act that passed with Obama's Affordable Care Act.

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Local News
6:32 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Court leaves states with decision on Medicaid

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the federal health care law leaves Gov. Susana Martinez and the Legislature with a critical policy decision of whether to proceed with an expansion of Medicaid to provide medical services to 170,000 uninsured people.

A spokesman for the governor said the Martinez administration needed to analyze Thursday's court's ruling and long-term costs to the state before deciding on the Medicaid expansion called for in federal law.

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Local News
6:29 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Internal investigation clears prison official

A former New Mexico warden accused in a lawsuit of thwarting an FBI inquiry into an alleged rape of an inmate by a guard is returning back to work.

New Mexico Corrections Department Secretary Gregg Marcantel announced Thursday that an internal investigation found that Anthony Romero acted appropriately as warden of the Central New Mexico Corrections Facility in Los Lunas during a federal investigation into the alleged rape.

Marcantel said Romero, who was temporarily reassigned, immediately will return to his position as adult prison's deputy director.

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Local News
6:27 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Dry conditions prompt tougher restrictions

Federal officials say continued dry conditions and high fire danger have prompted them to toughen up fire restrictions for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in parts of central and western New Mexico.

The agency announced the new restrictions Thursday. They prohibit all off-road travel through BLM lands in Bernalillo, Catron, Cibola, McKinley, Sandoval, Socorro and Valencia counties.

The restrictions will take effect Friday morning. Campfires, fireworks and smoking outdoors are already prohibited.

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Local News
7:27 am
Thu June 28, 2012

New Mexico Board to Consider Emergency Wildfire Aid

A state board led by Governor Susana Martinez is being asked for emergency funding to help in wildfire recovery in southern New Mexico and prepare for expected flooding in fire-scarred areas.

The Board of Finance is scheduled Thursday to consider loan requests from the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the village of Ruidoso and Lincoln County.

The department wants $452,000 for a flood warning network, machines for filling sandbags and equipment for rescuing people caught in flood waters.

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Local News
7:23 am
Thu June 28, 2012

UNM Eyes Medical School Expansion Amid Lack of Space

The University of New Mexico is seeking funding to expand its medical school to battle the university's well-documented lack of space.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that school officials are seeking a $30 million expansion and will ask lawmaker for more funding next year. The university also is hoping to procure a private donor and get voters to approve bonds.

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Local News
7:18 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Ruidoso Downs Increasing Drug Tests

Ruidoso Downs officials are increasing drug testing at the track.

Track officials say they upped the number of horses tested during opening weekend, and they are proposing additional testing for next week's Rainbow Futurity and Rainbow Derby trials.

Track officials say the increased testing on opening weekend that began May 25 resulted in positive illegal drug tests on several horses that were saddled by a small number of trainers.

Local News
7:15 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Governor Orders Planning System for Capital Projects

Governor Susana Martinez is continuing her push to overhaul how New Mexico handles capital improvements and is ordering state agencies to develop five-year master plans for setting priorities for the financing of projects.

Martinez has issued an executive order requiring the new planning process for capital improvements by agencies under the governor's control.

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Local News
6:36 am
Thu June 28, 2012

NM board to consider emergency wildfire aid

A state board led by Gov. Susana Martinez is being asked for emergency funding to help in wildfire recovery in southern New Mexico and prepare for expected flooding in fire-scarred areas.

The Board of Finance is scheduled Thursday to consider loan requests from the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the village of Ruidoso and Lincoln County.

The department wants $452,000 for a flood warning network, machines for filling sandbags and equipment for rescuing people caught in flood waters.

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Local News
1:45 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

TorC moves to halt well drilling

City commissioners in the southern New Mexico town of Truth or Consequences are proposing a moratorium on well drilling in the city.

Officials took the unusual step Tuesday night to enable a study of whether the number of wells tapping into the town's famed hot springs is harming the resource, considered by some to be sacred and medicinal. The thermal springs are the lifeblood of the town and its eclectic mix of inns and spas.

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Local News
8:07 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Governor Martinez, tribes clash over Medicaid proposal

 

Governor Susana Martinez's administration and American Indian officials are at odds on a proposal to redesign Medicaid. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that both sides sparred Monday over how thoroughly the state consulted with New Mexico's 22 Indian tribes on possible changes.

One criticism of the proposal tribal officials raised is that the state would discontinue the payment of medical bills in the three months prior to an individual's enrollment in Medicaid, as is currently done.

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Local News
7:36 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Recounts ordered in 2 state legislative races

UPDATE 6/27:

The state Canvassing Board has ordered recounts in razor-close primary election races for two state Senate seats. The board on Tuesday certified election results for the June 5 primary election, except for the races requiring recounts.

State law requires automatic recounts when the difference between the top two candidates is less than one-half of 1 percent.

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Local News
7:31 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Open government group unhappy with settlement secrecy

UPDATE 6/27:

A state board has approved a policy requiring financial settlements with investment firms to be subject to New Mexico's public records law but there still could be some limits on disclosure.

The State Investment Council agreed to the policy Tuesday, but New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Gwyneth Doland said it doesn't go far enough.

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Local News
7:18 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Ex-senator files runs for NM Senate as independent

 

A former state senator from Albuquerque is trying for a political comeback as an independent candidate for the Legislature. Former Republican Sen. Joseph Carraro filed Tuesday to run against Republican Sen. John Ryan of Albuquerque in the November general election.

Carraro said he switched from being a Republican in 2008 after losing the party's nomination for the 1st Congressional District. Ryan drew no Democratic opponent this year and would have been unopposed in the general election if Carraro hadn't filed as a candidate.

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Local News
6:48 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Albuquerque locks public access TV provider out of studios

videocrab via Flickr

A dispute over who should run Albuquerque's public access cable TV channels resulted in a lock out this week.

Members of Quote... Unquote, Inc., the company that has run two of the city's channels for decades, were locked out of the station's studios on Tuesday as they prepared to remove the company's equipment.  The City recently awarded the contract to run the stations to a new company, but Quote... Unquote's contract wasn't set to expire until the end of the month.

From The Albuquerque Journal: 

 

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Local News
6:47 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Officials to close bosque in three counties

Rooth Dragon via Flickr

High fire danger has prompted officials to close the wooded area along the Rio Grande in Sandoval, Valencia and Socorro counties.

The closure will take effect Friday morning. The area will remain closed until further notice.

With a full closure, all paths and ditch roads near the bosque will be off limits.

Officials with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District say law enforcement and fire agencies in the three counties will be working to enforce the closure order.

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Local News
1:10 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

DOE proposes storing tons of mercury near WIPP site

The U.S. Department of Energy is eying two sites in Eddy County to store 10,000 metric tons of mercury (about 22 million pounds). A site in West Texas was DOE’s preferred storage spot, according to the Carlsbad Current-Argus. But now the federal agency is exploring two locations near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

Jody Knox, president of the Carlsbad Department of Development, said her board supports the proposal.

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Local News
12:40 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Industry plans for uranium deconversion plant near Hobbs

On Thursday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will be hosting a public meeting about a proposed uranium deconversion plant near Hobbs, N.M.

In 2009, International Isotopes submitted an application to the NRC, which oversees the nation’s nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities. At the proposed Fluorine Extraction Process and Depleted Uranium Deconversion Plant, depleted uranium hexafluoride will be “deconverted” into fluorine products for commercial sale.

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Local News
6:34 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Governor Martinez says she never supported Arizona-style law in New Mexico

Governor Susana Martinez says she never supported an Arizona-style crackdown on undocumented immigrants in New Mexico but understands the "frustration felt by Arizonans" due to the lack of federal action on immigration reform. Martinez issued the statement Monday in response to the Supreme Court decision throwing out provisions of the Arizona law.

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Local News
6:32 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Governor: Anti-prostitution laws need updating

Governor Susana Martinez says state laws aimed at fighting prostitution are outdated and need to be fixed to help authorities go after online sites that promote prostitution. Martinez told The Associated Press on Monday that she will ask state lawmakers to pass new legislation making online sites linked to prostitution illegal.

Her comments come just days after a state judge ruled that a website linked to a former University of New Mexico president accused of helping run an online prostitution ring was legal.

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Local News
8:56 am
Mon June 25, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Most Provisions in Arizona's Immigration Law

If you missed live analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Arizona's SB1070 immigration law on Monday, check out our two-week archive to stream the program again.  The special was produced by the Fronteras Changing America Desk public media collaborative and included reactions from Arizona officials and a look at national impacts. 

The US Supreme Court issued its decision Monday, striking down most of its provisions but upholding immigration status checks. 

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Local News
7:57 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Santa Fe renews deal with costlier security firm

Santa Fe has extended an agreement with a security company for its city buildings despite the firm's higher cost. The Albuquerque Journal reports the Santa Fe City Council recently voted 5-1 to renew a contract with Chavez Security for a second year even though the deal will cost half a million dollars more than bids from other companies.

Chavez Security is charging the city about $517,000 per year, a rate of $136,000 more than another competitor offered. That amounts to at least $540,000 over the course of the four-year contract.

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Local News
7:27 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Plutonium Shipping to New Mexico

Plutonium from a former nuclear weapons complex in South Carolina is leaving for a federal storage site in New Mexico. The Augusta Chronicle reports that a shipment of plutonium from old nuclear weapons is leaving the Savannah River Site this week for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

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