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Local News
6:39 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Secretary of state to serve as acting NM governor

Secretary of State Dianna Duran will serve as acting governor when Gov. Susana Martinez and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez are in Florida attending the Republican National Convention.

A spokesman says Duran expects to assume the chief executive's duties and powers Sunday afternoon and will continue as acting governor through part of next Friday.

The GOP convention is scheduled Aug. 27-30 in Tampa.

Duran spokesman Ken Ortiz said the secretary of state will be in frequent contact with Martinez during the week.

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Local News
6:38 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Jim Wilson to return to NM for '50 to 1' film

The producer of "Dances with Wolves," ''The Bodyguard" and "Wyatt Earp" will be in New Mexico this fall to work on a new independent feature film.

Jim Wilson will be producing and directing "50 to 1," the story of New Mexico's long-shot Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird. The gelding won the Derby in 2009 and went on to finish second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont that year.

Production will start in early September and run through October.

Local News
6:37 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Court rules in uranium mine cleanup dispute

The state Supreme Court has ruled a uranium company's insurance policies may cover costs of cleaning up contamination at a former mine in northwestern New Mexico.

The ruling on Thursday sends the dispute back to a district court to determine what insurers must pay for, if anything, involving a cleanup by United Nuclear Corp. at the Northeast Church Rock mine near Gallup. The site is adjacent to the Navajo Nation.

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Local News
6:35 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Feds release report on proposed NM uranium plant

Federal regulators have released a final environmental review of a proposed uranium deconversion plant in southeastern New Mexico.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says there are no environmental effects that would preclude licensing the plant that International Isotopes Inc. plans to build near Hobbs.

The Idaho-based company plans to deconvert the tons of depleted uranium tails produced each year by Louisiana Energy Services' National Enrichment Facility in nearby Eunice.

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Local News
6:34 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Audit faults NM for failing to assess tax breaks

Legislative auditors say New Mexico fails to properly evaluate its economic development efforts to determine whether the state's tax breaks and other financial incentives for businesses are justified.

A report released Thursday by the Legislative Finance Committee estimates it's costing New Mexico $31,000 to attract a job with a $43,000 average salary. However, the head of the Economic Development Department called that figure "wildly inaccurate."

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Local News
6:33 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Romney says US energy independence is achievable

Republican Mitt Romney says his pledge to make the U.S. energy independent by 2020 is not "some pie in the sky" idea.

The GOP presidential candidate says his plans for reaching that goal include increased offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina. He also wants to give states the power to start energy production on federal lands.

Boosting U.S. energy production is a key aspect of Romney's economic proposals. He says his energy plans would create more than 3 million Americans jobs.

Local News
5:01 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Las Cruces opens new facility to treat toxic water

By Randy Son of Robert, via Flickr

A new water treatment facility opened in Las Cruces on Aug. 23 and is supposed to clean up water from a toxic Superfund site. The pollution was detected in the city’s water wells years ago, but a specific source for the contaminants remains elusive.

Federal, state and local officials were on hand to open the new facility, which will remove the chemical perchloroethylene from groundwater. PCE is a widely used in dry cleaning fabrics and for metal degreasing operations.

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Local News
9:45 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Weather Service warns of storms headed to New Mexico

Credit Jared via Flickr

The National Weather Service says a strong weather system is expected to bring heavy thunderstorms to western New Mexico and flash flooding is possible.

The system is moving into the state after hammering much of Arizona early Thursday. It is expected to reach the state Thursday afternoon and bring the heaviest rain to western parts of the state. Up to 3 inches of rain could fall per hour from some of the heaviest storm cells.

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Local News
9:43 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Oil production boosts state revenue

State officials say oil production in New Mexico rose by 13 percent last year, but natural gas production declined.

Top budget and tax officials in Gov. Susana Martinez's administration told the Legislative Finance Committee on Wednesday in Angel Fire that oil production reached 78 million barrels in the fiscal year ending in June. Economists expect production to gradually grow to about 86 million barrels in the next few years.

Higher oil prices have spurred production and are providing a revenue boost to the state.

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Local News
9:42 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Dispute lingers over potential US Senate candidate

 The state Supreme Court is asking the secretary of state's office to try to resolve a dispute over whether an Albuquerque man should be on the general election ballot as the Independent American Party's U.S. Senate candidate.

The secretary of state's office determined that Jon Ross Barrie didn't submit enough voter signatures in nominating petitions to become a candidate, but Barrie contends that elections officials wrongly invalidated some signatures.

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Local News
9:33 am
Thu August 23, 2012

Grand jury probe urged in Albuquerque shootings

Two families of men shot by Albuquerque police officers want a grand jury to look into police shootings.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the families and their lawyers have started a citizens' petition drive to empanel a grand jury and want a special prosecutor appointed.

Attorney Joe Kennedy, who is representing the family of Iraq war veteran Kenneth Ellis in a wrongful death lawsuit against Albuquerque police, said the families plan to ask a judge to disqualify Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg from the cases.

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Local News
4:30 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Drought dries New Mexico's largest rivers

Pecos bluntnose shiner
US Bureau of Reclamation

UPDATED 08-22-12, 8:00 PM:

Additional rains have reconnected flows within the stretch of the Pecos River that includes habitat for the Pecos bluntnose shiner. Biologists do not plan to conduct salvage work this week. About 30 miles of the river still remain dry.

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This has been a dry year in New Mexico. Statewide, we’ve received only half the precipitation of average, and most of eastern New Mexico is experiencing what the National Weather Service calls “extreme drought.” 

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Local News
7:24 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Public hearing held on nuke fuel disposal

Anti-nuclear activists are questioning a proposal to ship more plutonium to New Mexico.

Several activists lined up Tuesday evening in Los Alamos for the first in a series of public hearings on how best to dispose of surplus plutonium from the nation's nuclear weapons program.

One plan being studied by the Department of Energy calls for the shipment of 7 metric tons to Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina for processing into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.

Local News
7:15 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Higher insurance premiums proposed for state workers

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is proposing a 15 percent increase in premiums for health insurance covering about 73,000 state and local government workers and their dependents.

General Services Department spokesman Tim Korte said Tuesday the agency will ask the Legislature for $10 million next year to cover higher rates proposed for government agencies. Worker premiums will go up about $3 million if the rate increase is implemented in the fiscal year starting July 2013.

Korte said the proposal is contingent upon legislative approval of the $10 million.

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Local News
7:15 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Higher insurance premiums proposed for state workers

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is proposing a 15 percent increase in premiums for health insurance covering about 73,000 state and local government workers and their dependents.

General Services Department spokesman Tim Korte said Tuesday the agency will ask the Legislature for $10 million next year to cover higher rates proposed for government agencies. Worker premiums will go up about $3 million if the rate increase is implemented in the fiscal year starting July 2013.

Korte said the proposal is contingent upon legislative approval of the $10 million.

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Local News
7:14 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Martinez gets primetime role for GOP convention

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez will make a primetime speech next week at the Republican National Convention.

Republican officials announced Tuesday that Martinez will deliver her remarks right before the keynote speaker on the convention's second day.

Martinez appears before a video and the keynote address next Tuesday night by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Republicans are holding their presidential nominating convention Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla.

Local News
11:08 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

The legacy of uranium on the Navajo reservation

Northeast Church Rock Mine
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

In 1979, a dam at a uranium mine collapsed. More than 90 million gallons of radioactive waste shot down the Rio Puerco.

It was the largest release of radioactive material in United States history. And it happened in Church Rock, on the Navajo reservation in northwestern New Mexico.

No comprehensive health studies were done to learn how the spill might have affected people living nearby.

Now, Reps. Ben Ray Luján, Edward J. Markey, Henry A. Waxman, and Frank Pallone are asking for a formal update on a study that Congress authorized four years ago.

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Local News
7:15 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Student art on display in nation's capital

The artwork of dozens of New Mexico students is on display at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., as part of a special exhibition.

"New Mexico: Best of the Best" will run through the end of the month. It includes photographs, paintings and drawings featuring everything from crayons and markers to chalk, oil paints and computer graphics.

State education officials say the exhibition features 66 works from students in Albuquerque, Bloomfield, Hobbs, Gadsden, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and Tucumcari. The work of some charter school students is also included.

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Local News
7:14 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Albuquerque Police 'Use of Force' Investigation Expands

Another member of the Albuquerque Police Department is under investigation as a result of two incidents in May, when APD officers used Tasers.

The Albuquerque Journal reports APD Internal Affairs is examining Commander Mike Geier's actions when he learned of the tasing incidents.

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KUNM Call In Show
12:03 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

We're NASA and we know it!: What has Curiosity found on the Red Planet?

An artist's rendition of the Mars Rover Curiousity on Mars.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 8/23 8a: The Mars Rover Curiosity is exploring the Martian landscape as we speak! What has the ChemCam laser discovered so far about the planet?  What surprises are in store?  We'll speak with Roger Wiens and Horton Newsom from the Mars Science Laboratory mission's ChemCam team.  We'll also hear from Robert Edmonds, a graduate student in Las Cruces who recently received funding to study dust storms on Mars.  We'd like to hear from you!

Local News
10:47 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Lack of funding prevents canyon from becoming park

New Mexico State Parks Division director Tommy Mutz says there currently isn't enough money to make Pecos Canyon a state park.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that state officials won't consider raising park fees that haven't seen an increase since 1998 and won't ask lawmakers for money out of the state's budget.

Two years ago, lawmakers and then-Gov. Bill Richardson signed off on a proposal to create the park.

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Local News
10:36 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Santa Fe merchants sue city over rules at plaza

blmurch via Flickr

A downtown Santa Fe merchants group that feels city officials have ignored their concerns about events on the Santa Fe Plaza has filed a lawsuit contending that the city hasn't been following its own laws.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the lawsuit filed earlier this month by Santa Fe Downtown Merchants Inc. refers to public safety, access for existing businesses and the expansion of some events beyond the boundaries set in ordinance.

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Local News
10:34 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Owls put a stop to Las Cruces trail project

Alan Vernon via Flickr

The discovery of a nest of protected burrowing owls has brought work on a trail extension in Las Cruces to a screeching halt.

The 4.5 mile extension of the pedestrian and bike path bike was expected to be done by this month but the discovery forced city officials to stop work immediately.

Burrowing owns are considered a protected species in New Mexico and are listed as endangered in Canada.

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Local News
10:23 am
Mon August 20, 2012

State police officer fatally shoots Clovis man

 A New Mexico State Police officer has shot and killed a man at the end of a foot chase in Clovis.

State police spokesman Lt. Robert McDonald says the suspect led the officer on a short vehicle pursuit early Sunday afternoon.

McDonald said the officer began running after the suspect after he left his vehicle and ended up shooting the man.

The dead suspect has been identified as 29-year-old Benjamin Salgado.

Additional details of the circumstances of the shooting and the reason for the original pursuit were not immediately available.

Local News
10:20 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Los Alamos Co. settles with ex-official in firing

A former top Los Alamos County official who claimed she was wrongfully fired because of her gender will receive $800,000 to settle her case.

Diana Stepan was fired from her assistant county administrator job in early 2011 after filing a grievance against the county administrator. 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined earlier this year that she had been treated differently because she was a woman and was fired for complaining about that treatment. Stepan filed a claim against the county last year.

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Local News
3:10 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Bingaman hears New Mexico climate change testimony

2011's Las Conchas fire in the Jemez Mountains
Wikipedia

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, D, was in Santa Fe today, listening to testimony about the impacts of climate change. During a field hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the senator heard what’s happening on the ground in New Mexico.

In his testimony, Governor Walter Dasheno of Santa Clara Pueblo pointed out that climate change contributed to last year’s Las Conchas fire. That fire burned more than 150,000 acres in the Jemez Mountains.

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Local News
1:59 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Proposed horse slaughter plant fined

 The Roswell-area meat processing plant that has made national headlines for its proposal to begin slaughtering horses is being fined for its handling of cattle waste.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Valley Meat Co. is being fined $86,4000 for failing to register a composting facility next to the slaughterhouse and for failing to properly dispose of solid waste. One federal inspector wrote that one pile of rotting cow renderings stood about 15 feet tall.

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Local News
1:56 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

State revises Medicaid overhaul plan

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is seeking federal approval for a revised plan to overhaul a program providing health care for a fourth of New Mexico's population.

The Human Services Department forwarded its Medicaid proposal to the federal government on Friday, nearly six months after initially unveiling a blueprint to improve health care for needy New Mexicans while slowing the growth rate of a program costing nearly $4 billion a year.

The state hopes to implement the Medicaid overhaul in January 2014.

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Local News
1:53 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Forest Service now tries to tamp out every flame

For years, federal land managers in New Mexico have allowed many forest fires to burn to keep the land from growing into a tangled mess. This season is different.

Now firefighters are trekking deep into the Gila National Forest with pack horses and one overriding goal: snuffing out all fires, no matter how small or remote. The U.S. Forest Service says its decision is a temporary move to save money because it's cheaper to put out fires than to spend weeks monitoring them as they burn.

Local News
7:39 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Fake audit raises questions of NMFA oversight

A scandal over a fake audit is raising questions about oversight of the New Mexico Finance Authority, and attendance records for the authority's 11-member governing board show several of Gov. Susana Martinez's cabinet secretaries regularly missed meetings but sent staffers to represent them on the board.

Nearly all of the board is appointed by the governor or serve in her cabinet.

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