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Local News
7:59 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Gila fire prompts rescue of threatened fish

Biologists are trying to save a threatened trout species in southwestern New Mexico, even as crews around the West struggle to contain blazes that have charred hundreds of square miles of forested countryside.

The concern is that after the fires, summer rains could choke waterways with ash, soil and charred debris. A team is using electroshocking devices to temporarily stun the Gila (HEE'-luh) trout. The fish are then scooped up and ferried to a hatchery in northern New Mexico for safe keeping.

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Conservation Beat
7:47 am
Mon June 18, 2012

EPA sets tighter standards for soot pollution

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new air quality standards to lower the amount of soot allowed from diesel trucks, buses, power plants and other sources.

The long-delayed rule responds to a court order that required the Obama administration to update air quality standards under the Clean Air Act.

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Local News
7:36 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Decisions Loom on Tribal Water Rights Settlement

Navajo and Hopi lawmakers soon are expected to decide the fate of a water rights settlement that could end years of litigation or send the tribes back to court. The settlement recognizes the rights of the tribes to groundwater within the Little Colorado River basin. The Navajo Nation also would get nearly three-fourths of surface water from the river.

Both tribes would waive further claims to the river system in exchange for groundwater delivery projects paid for by the federal government.

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Local News
7:34 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Bear Scratches Girl Camping at Bandelier

A campground at the Bandelier National Monument will remain closed for up to 10 days while authorities try to capture a black bear that scratched a young girl. New Mexico Game and Fish spokesman Dan Williams says the back of the girl's neck was grazed when the bear swatted the tent where she and her mother were sleeping Wednesday morning.

The bear ran off after the two came out with flashlights. But Williams says the bear will likely be euthanized if caught. 

Local News
7:30 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Senators Propose Manhattan Project Parks

Senator Jeff Bingaman is sponsoring legislation to establish national historical parks in Los Alamos and the two other key sites where the atomic bomb was developed.

The legislation stems from the recommendations of a report from the National Park Service and the Department of Energy. The proposal would create the parks at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Hanford, Wash.

The $2.2 billion Manhattan project operated from December 1942 until September 1945. At its peak it employed 130,000 workers, but was kept largely secret and out of public view.

Local News
9:41 am
Thu June 14, 2012

Fallout from Education Department Email Lists Continues

UPDATE 6/15 7:00 AM:

Lawmakers are calling for the state Attorney General to investigate whether a list of non-union teacher email addresses that was compiled by public employees and sent to Governor Susana Martinez's political director constitutes a violation of the law. 

From The Albuquerque Journal

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Local News
7:32 am
Thu June 14, 2012

New Mexico Investment Funds Gain $2 Billion During Quarter

New Mexico's investment funds grew by more than $2 billion during the first three months of the year because of strong investment returns.

The Legislative Finance Committee reports state permanent funds and the pension funds of the Public Employees Retirement Association and the Educational Retirement Board had combined asset values of nearly $36.6 billion at the end of March. That's up about $279 million from a year ago.

The PERA had a quarterly return of 8 percent and assets of $12 billion.

The ERB had a return of 7 percent and assets of nearly $9.6 billion.

Local News
7:28 am
Thu June 14, 2012

Two More Arrested in New Mexico Driver's License Fraud Ring

Portales police have arrest two people involved in what authorities call a sophisticated ring that specialized in helping illegal immigrants obtain fraudulent New Mexico driver's licenses.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler announced Wednesday that Veronica Diaz and Jose-Luis Tirado were arrested this weekend for their roles in the scheme. Both are being held on $10,000 cash only bond.

Authorities believe hundreds of licenses have been fraudulently obtained through the ring over the last couple of years for illegal immigrants living outside of New Mexico.

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Local News
7:24 am
Thu June 14, 2012

US Wildfires Fuel Urgency for Forest Restoration

As firefighters continue to battle massive blazes in New Mexico and Colorado, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell is renewing his call to restore forests to a more natural state.

He says a combination of decades of vigorous fire suppression and the waning of the timber industry over environmental concerns has left many forests subject to the kind of super-fires that are now regularly consuming hundreds of homes and millions of acres.

Local News
7:18 am
Thu June 14, 2012

New Online Journalism Outlet Formed in New Mexico

A new online journalism organization called New Mexico In Depth has been established to publish investigative reports and articles on issues ranging from education and health care to politics and poverty.

The news outlet announced Wednesday it's receiving $525,000 over two years from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and plans to start publishing later this year.

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Local News
8:30 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Governor Urges Emergency Firework Ban Hearings

Governor Susana Martinez said in a letter Tuesday that restrictions on fireworks are needed because of the state's drought and high winds. The state also is fighting two raging wildfires caused by lightning.

State law allows local jurisdictions the power to restrict the use of fireworks and to ban certain fireworks during droughts. However, local officials must hold a public hearing and issue a proclamation for a ban at least 20 days before a holiday for which fireworks can be sold.

Local News
6:26 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Santa Fe County Under Partial Fireworks Ban

The Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners has voted to ban certain fireworks in parts of Santa Fe County. The recent vote means unincorporated portions of Santa Fe County cannot sale or use missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, stick-type rockets and ground audible devices.

In addition, all fireworks within the wildlands in Santa Fe County are banned as July 4th approaches. The move comes as the county continues to suffer from severe drought conditions.

Local News
6:25 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Court Affirms Loss of Gaming License for Raton Race Track

A New Mexico court has ruled that a regulatory board acted properly in invalidating a gambling license for a Canadian investor's planned $50 million horse racing track and casino in the state.

The Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the New Mexico Gaming Control Board's 2010 decision to nullify a license for electronic slot machines at a track casino that never opened.

The board revoked the license for La Mesa Racetrack and Casino in Raton because developers failed to open the casino by May 2010 and didn't show they had adequate financing to complete the racetrack.

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Local News
6:23 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Revenue Outlook Improves

A legislative committee reports that New Mexico's revenue outlook is better than expected.

The Legislative Finance Committee says that revenues are on a path to be about $205 million or 3.7 percent higher than what was forecast in December.

The latest revenue tracking report is based on actual collections through March. The current fiscal year ends this month and the LFC expects about $5.7 billion to flow into the state's general budget account.

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Local News
12:42 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

UNM to Build New Adult-Care Hospital

The University of New Mexico is planning to start construction on a $146 million adult-care hospital west of its current hospital. The Albuquerque Journal reports that plans for the construction this fall is slated to go before regents for approval Tuesday.

UNM hospitals chief executive officer Steve McKernan says if all goes according to plan, the six-story, 96-bed hospital will open in July 2014.

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Local News
12:37 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Albuquerque Emergency Shelter to Expand

The Albuquerque-based Joy Junction is scheduled to announce plans to build a new dormitory, chapel and women's center on Wednesday. The move comes as Joy Junction founder and CEO Jeremy Reynolds says the homeless crisis in the state is the worst he's seen in decades due to the economy.

Officials say every night, the shelter is forced to turn away a dozen people or more because of a lack of space in a facility that can hold 300 people. On Facebook, Joy Junction gives daily updates on numbers turned away and asked followers to pray for them.

Local News
12:30 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

State Agency Provides Info on Non-Union Teachers to Governor's PAC

State employees compiled information about non-union teachers and provided a list to Governor Susana Martinez's political action committee.  

From The Santa Fe New Mexican

 

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Local News
10:59 am
Tue June 12, 2012

West's Most-Publicized Reptile To Learn Fate

The Obama administration is expected to announce this week if the dunes sagebrush lizard will be listed as an endangered species. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Tom Buckley, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, says a decision may come as early as Thursday in Washington.

Local News
4:49 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Study: Repeat DWI Offenders Are A Growing Problem

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration says a new analysis finds repeat drunken driving offenders responsible for a growing share of traffic deaths in New Mexico.

The Traffic Safety Bureau reports that nearly 60% of alcohol-related traffic deaths last year involved a driver with more than one arrest or conviction for drunken driving. That's up from 35% in 2009 and 47% in 2010.

Local News
4:44 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Santa Fe Seeing Rise in Burglaries

Santa Fe police say the city has seen a large spike in burglaries in the past year. KRQE-TV reports police say burglaries in Santa Fe have gone up by 53%, compared to a year ago.

Capt. Aric Wheeler says the police department plans to deploy more unmarked police units and officers on bike to neighborhoods that are considered hot spots. Authorities say many burglaries may also be tied to narcotic users breaking into homes to sustain their drug habits.

Local News
4:39 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

First Mobile Summer Meal Program

Federal agriculture officials and the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger have announced a new mobile summer meal program aimed at reaching underserved children in rural areas.

The collaboration and the Moriarty-Edgewood school district plan on increasing access to summer meals for an estimated 100 children a day in some of Torrance County's poorest neighborhoods. A special school bus will be used as the mobile meal site.

Local News
4:31 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Weather conditions helping fight Little Bear Fire

Little Bear Fire map, June 12, 2012.
Lincoln National Forest

UPDATE 6/18 11:00AM: 

 

Firefighters say they are continuing to take advantage of favorable weather conditions to battle a wildfire in southern New Mexico that has destroyed 242 homes and businesses.

Meanwhile, officials said Monday that the ranging blaze in the Gila Wilderness, already the largest wildfire in state history, grew another 1,000 acres and is now 463 square miles. That fire is 80 percent contained.

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Local News
7:17 am
Fri June 8, 2012

Health Insurance Rate to Rise for UNM Students

University of New Mexico students will likely see a rise in the cost of school-sponsored health insurance.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a regents finance committee approved a 22 percent increase in insurance costs Thursday. The proposal would raise premiums from $300 to nearly $1,700 annually starting next year. About 2,000 students, including student employees such as graduate assistants, are covered by the school insurance program.

Local News
6:27 am
Fri June 8, 2012

Casino Proposal Ignites Turf Wars

The Fort Sill Apache Tribe has crossed another hurdle in its ongoing attempt to build a casino on its new reservation.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs recently sent a letter to the governor and other officials in New Mexico saying it has determined the tribe's reservation east of Deming is eligible for gaming, and it has begun the process of reviewing the tribe's request to build a casino on the 30-acre tract along Interstate 10.

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Local News
6:25 am
Fri June 8, 2012

Governor, Tribes Attend Summit

Governor Susana Martinez and Native American leaders are meeting in southern New Mexico for an annual tribal-state summit. Education, water rights and natural resources, and tribal infrastructure and economic development are among the topics for Friday's meeting at a resort hotel and casino operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe.

A banquet was held Thursday evening for the governor and leaders of New Mexico's 22 tribes and pueblos.

Local News
7:43 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Officials Investigate Death of Wolf

Wildlife officials are investigating the death of a female member of the Dark Canyon wolf pack.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the Albuquerque Journal that the body of the Mexican gray wolf was found last month. It has been sent to Oregon for a necropsy to determine cause of death.

The wolf was from one of two packs that wildlife officials have been monitoring in the Gila Wilderness, where the largest fire in state history is burning. They say the blaze has not yet reached the packs, which may have pups.

Local News
7:32 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Voter Turnout at 25% in New Mexico Primary Election

Unofficial election returns show that a fourth of eligible Republican and Democratic voters cast ballots in New Mexico's primary.

About 234,000 registered voters participated in Tuesday's election. That's according to unofficial results from the secretary of state's office.

The preliminary voter participation rate is lower than in the 2008 presidential election year primary when turnout was 31 percent and 274,000 GOP and Democratic registered voters cast ballots.

Turnout has averaged 28 percent in presidential election year primaries in New Mexico since 1996.

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Local News
7:29 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Air Force Low-Level Training Flights Delayed

The Air Force has indefinitely delayed plans to fly low-altitude training missions over parts of New Mexico and Colorado.

Officials at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., said Tuesday they will examine the training requirements for all the base's aircraft and then decide what kind of environmental review process to undergo. 

Officials say they hope to complete the examination by early 2013. The environmental review would begin after that.

Local News
7:21 am
Thu June 7, 2012

New Mexico Busts Interstate Driver's License Fraud Ring

New Mexico authorities detailed what they called a "recipe for fraud" as they announced the bust of a sophisticated ring that specialized in helping illegal immigrants obtain fraudulent driver's licenses.

District Attorney Matt Chandler says the recipe included reams of fraudulent documents that were used as proof of residency to obtain licenses in at least 54 cases. Chandler says the investigation is continuing.

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Local News
7:15 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Governor Martinez Joins Romney Team

Governor Susana Martinez has been appointed to a new Hispanic leadership team announced Wednesday by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Romney, who won the New Mexico primary on Tuesday, said Martinez will be an honorary co-chair of his "Juntos Con Romney" team that will help guide his campaign on Hispanic initiatives and outreach.

The Republican Party has been working hard to woo Hispanic voters, who make up the fastest growing minority voter block but who traditionally have voted Democratic.

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