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Local News
9:53 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Audit faults teacher preparation programs

Legislative auditors say New Mexico's colleges of education should toughen their admission standards to provide more qualified teachers and potentially improve student performance.

A Legislative Finance Committee audit on Wednesday said none of the colleges with teacher preparation programs require minimum ACT scores by students for admission.

Auditors recommended the Public Education Department increase the passing scores on competency tests required for a teaching license.

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Local News
9:52 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Pearce, Lujan push for uranium mine cleanup

Two members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are pushing for a House vote on legislation that would free up federal funding to clean up abandoned uranium mines.

U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., and Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., say House approval is needed to get the bill to the president's desk. Pearce and Lujan spelled out their request in a letter to House leaders on Wednesday.

The legislation was introduced by U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. The Senate has already voted unanimously in favor of the bill.

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Local News
8:38 am
Tue December 4, 2012

APD stun gun probe, two officers won't face charges

A still image from the officer lapel camera video released by APD.
Credit The Albuquerque Police Department

Prosecutors say two of three Albuquerque police officers who were investigated for their conduct during a May arrest at a park will not be criminally charged in the incident.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Officers Ronald Surran and Shad Solis will not be charged in the May 31 incident, but misdemeanor battery and aggravated battery charges are pending in state District Court against officer Connor Rice.

The officers were responding to reports about suspected drug activity.

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Local News
8:36 am
Tue December 4, 2012

State Securities Division: NMFA "Culture of Complacency"

New Mexico's securities regulator says in a new report the New Mexico Finance Authority's former controller was able to forge a financial audit because of management and oversight failures at the agency.

The Securities Division said Monday those problems were aggravated by a "culture of complacency" at the authority that played down the importance of the audit to investors and placed too much of an emphasis on obtaining high credit ratings for agency bonds.

Former authority CEO Rick May disputed the report's conclusions.

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Local News
2:19 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Wolf Pups On Their Own After NM Pack Separates

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists say the survival of two six-month old Mexican gray wolf pups is in question now that the animals have become separated from what's left of their troubled pack.

Tracking shows members of the Fox Mountain pack have separated since the alpha female, the pups' mother, was captured and removed from the wild.

Federal wildlife managers ordered her removal following a string of cattle kills in southwestern New Mexico.

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Local News
4:12 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Stink Bugs, Flea Beetles Found in Shipments of Red Peppers

  COLUMBUS, N.M. (AP) — Inspectors working border crossings in southern New Mexico and West Texas have discovered two types of agricultural pests in separate shipments of red peppers from Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say last week stink bugs were found during an inspection at the Columbus, N.M., port of entry and flea beetles were found by inspectors working in Presidio, Texas.

Agricultural specialists say stink bugs can ruin entire crops and the beetles can damage crops in a number of ways.

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Local News
1:53 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Officials Say No Drought Relief in Sight for New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Weather forecasters and state and federal water managers are painting a grim picture of the chances of drought-stricken New Mexico making up any ground this winter.

It's early, but officials say the state is already starting off with half of the average snowpack for this time of year and weather models aren't offering any hope for more snow.

Drought has a lock on nearly three-quarters of the West, including much of New Mexico.

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Local News
2:47 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

7,000 New Mexicans May Lose Unemployment Benefits

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State officials say about 7,000 jobless New Mexico will lose unemployment benefits at the end of the year if Congress and the president don't agree to extend the payments.

Workforce Solutions Secretary Celina Bussey told a legislative committee on Friday there will be no federal extended unemployment benefits starting in January unless the program is continued.

The state provides jobless benefits for 26 weeks, and the federal government pays for up to 28 additional weeks of assistance because of high unemployment.

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Local News
2:24 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Sipapu To Bring In NM Ski Season

Sipapu Ski Area

VADITO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico will be kicking off the start of the ski season Saturday with the opening of the Sipapu resort.

Snowmaking has started at some ski areas around New Mexico, but Sipapu will be the first to open. The resort is reporting an 18-inch base.

Ski resorts in New Mexico and around the West had an unusual season last year. Early on, the snow was relatively good in New Mexico, but resorts in other Western states were forced to close early thanks to lackluster snow.

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Local News
1:55 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Fort Sill Apache Reservation Celebrates One Year Anniversary

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — One year after being granted reservation status in New Mexico, the Fort Sill Apache Friday raised their flag on their 30-acre plot of land in the Akela Flats of southern New Mexico. But tribal Chairman Jeff Haozous says it will likely take generations to re-establish a true presence on the tribe's homelands.

Key to the plans is resolution of the tribe's long-standing battle to build a casino on the reservation, an area where the tribe has made little progress in the last year.

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Local News
4:08 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

U.S. Attorney Gonzales Nominated For Federal Court

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — President Barack Obama has nominated U.S. Attorney Ken Gonzales to a federal district court judgeship in New Mexico.

Gonzales' nomination was among seven announced by the White House on Wednesday. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Gonzales will replace retiring federal Judge Bruce Black of Santa Fe.

Gonzales was one of five candidates recommended to the president in September by New Mexico's two U.S. senators.

Gonzales has served as U.S. attorney since 2010. Before that, he spent 11 years working as an assistant U.S. attorney.

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Local News
5:25 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Albuquerque Police Chief Gets Low Marks in Police Survey

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Only 20 percent of Albuquerque officers approved of the job by the city's police chief, and close to a fifth believe bringing in the U.S. Justice Department will improve the department.

Those were the finds from a survey of 450 officers — around half the department's workforce — released Tuesday by the Albuquerque Police Officers Association.

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Local News
6:36 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Chuck Franco, First Gentleman, takes job in Santa Fe

The husband of Governor Susana Martinez, who turned in his sheriff's badge when his wife was elected governor of New Mexico, has gone back to work.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a Martinez spokesman confirmed First Gentleman Chuck Franco started a new job last week as a security officer at the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Santa Fe.

Franco, former Dona County undersheriff, is working roughly 20 hours a week for a private security company that is under contract with the U.S. Marshals Service.

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Local News
9:51 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Cost Overruns, Construction Delays Cited at Los Alamos

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Work on a new security system at a nuclear weapons manufacturing site at Los Alamos National Laboratory is being delayed after cost overruns and construction problems.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/Rntens ) a preliminary lab estimate contained in a National Nuclear Security Administration issue summary puts cost overruns at up to $25 million. The lab has spent seven years and $213 million on the project.

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Local News
8:00 am
Wed October 24, 2012

NM AG Creates New "Exoneration" Unit

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico's Attorney General's office has created a new unit aimed at addressing challenges to homicide and sexual assault convictions.

The office said Tuesday that the new Just Conviction & Exoneration Unit was created last month and will look at cases where DNA evidence could possibly overturn convictions like 1st degree murder.

Margaret McLean, who heads the new unit, says Attorney General Gary King has received a number of inquiries about DNA testing in connection to appeals of some convictions.

Local News
3:59 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

State Records on Grey Wolf Pack Criticized

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists are accusing federal wildlife managers of keeping secret details about management of a Mexican gray wolf pack in southwestern New Mexico.

The criticism comes after a public records request netted hundreds of pages of blacked-out documents.

The group WildEarth Guardians says nearly 80 percent of the 870 pages released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services were redacted.

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Local News
3:59 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

NM Voter Registration Up 5% from 2008

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New voter registration figures show the number of New Mexicans eligible to vote has increased about 5 percent since the last presidential election and independent voters grew the fastest.

The secretary of state's office reported Monday that nearly 1.3 million people are registered to vote in the Nov. 6 general election.

The numbers of voters who are unaffiliated with a political party — so-called independents — increased by 22 percent since Oct. 31, 2008.

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Local News
3:51 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

NM Supreme Court Reinstates Convictions of Religious Leader

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's highest court has reinstated the convictions of religious group leader Wayne Bent for sexual misconduct with teenage followers. The state Supreme Court today reversed the Court of Appeals, which had tossed out Bent's convictions because the term of a grand jury had expired before it indicted Bent. The case goes back to the appeals court to deal with other pending legal questions in the 71-year-old Bent's case.

Local News
8:32 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Sandia Lab Extends Agreement to Assist Navajo Energy Ventures

FARMINGTON, N.M. (Farmington Daily Times) — Sandia National Laboratories extended an agreement with the Navajo Nation to provide technical assistance as the tribe develops its energy resources.

The Farmington Daily Times reports (http://bit.ly/RgxftQ) that the agreement announced Friday extends the cooperative relationship between the federal lab and the tribe another five years.

The agreement comes as the tribe is forging an energy policy to take advantage of the coal, natural gas, wind and solar resources on Navajo land.

The tribe has rich energy resources.

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Local News
8:18 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Fish and Wildlife Service Wants More Room for Jaguars

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An environmental group is pressing federal officials to set aside millions of acres in Arizona and New Mexico for jaguars.

Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity recently told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that jaguars need more than the 1,300 square miles the agency proposed in August. Robinson says a jaguar reintroduction program, similar to the one for Mexican gray wolves, also is needed.

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Local News
10:49 am
Sun October 21, 2012

NM Non-Profit Sued by Clients

 A Clovis-based nonprofit organization dedicated to "enhancing the lives of people with disabilities" is facing a lawsuit from clients for neglect and exploitation.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/Rfhrrq) that a recently filed lawsuit alleges that the organization Eastern New Mexico Rehabilitative Services for the Handicapped unfairly forced five clients with developmentally disabilities to fend for their medical themselves while the agency amassed more than $13 million in assets in recent years.

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Local News
12:17 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Girl First NM Resident Linked to Peanut Salmonella Outbreak

State health officials say a 5-year-old girl from Roosevelt County has been identified as the 36th victim of a salmonella outbreak in peanut butter and other nut products from eastern New Mexico.

The girl is from Roosevelt County, the area where the tainted products were processed. Health officials say the girl was never hospitalized and has recovered.

She is the first person in the state linked to the outbreak, which the Centers for Disease Control says has sickened 35 other people in 19 states.

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Local News
8:49 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Court Rules for Oil Companies in Royalties Dispute

s_falkow

The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled in favor of two oil companies in a multi-million dollar dispute over royalties owed for oil and natural gas production on state land.

At issue in Friday's ruling was how royalty payments should be calculated under decades-old lease provisions.

The high court upheld a district court decision in favor of ConocoPhillips Co. and Burlington Resources Oil and Gas Co.

Local News
7:15 am
Thu August 16, 2012

TorC approves well drilling ban

Truth or Consequences/Sierra Co. Chamber of Commerce

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — City commissioners in the southeastern New Mexico town of Truth or Consequences have approved a year-long moratorium on well drilling while experts study whether an increase in wells is causing the town's famed hot springs to dry up.

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Local News
8:33 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Cibola County added to list of drought disaster areas

Drought and climate change are causing extensive forest dieback in the U.S. West as well as worldwide. This photo shows dead ponderosa pines in the Jemez Mountains killed by a combination of drought stress and attacks by bark beetles on weakened trees.
Craig D. Allen , USGS

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added a New Mexico county to its list of primary natural disaster areas due to drought and excessive heat.

Cibola County joins 39 counties in eight states in the latest designation Wednesday.

In all, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared nearly 1,300 counties in 29 states as disaster areas during the current crop year. Much of New Mexico and the Southwest is already on the list.

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Local News
6:37 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Feds seek comments on flycatcher habitat proposal

Southwestern willow flycatcher
Jim Rorabaugh/USFWS

The public has two months to weigh in on a proposal to revise critical habitat for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher in six states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified more than 2,100 stream miles in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico as part of the habitat proposal.

The agency says about 900 miles are currently being considered for exclusion from the final designation, while two more locations in Arizona could be added.

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Local News
9:15 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Chiricahua frogs released into Ariz. mountains

KUNM

More than 150 Chiricahua leopard frogs have been released into the Galiuros Mountains by Arizona officials.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recently announced that the threatened adult and juvenile frogs were released at the new location where they haven't been seen since the 1990s.

Until the 1970s, Chiricahua leopard frogs lived in ponds and creeks across central and southeastern Arizona, but populations have declined significantly due to drought, disease, habitat loss and threats from other species.

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Local News
7:13 am
Tue July 10, 2012

BLM lifts fire restrictions in NM

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is lifting all fire restrictions in New Mexico.

The lifting of restrictions slated for Tuesday comes after more areas in the state recently received rainfall or saw increased humidity levels.

This summer has been a busy season for firefighters in New Mexico who have battled the state's largest fire in its history in the Gila Wilderness and another massive blaze near Ruidoso.

BLM spokesman Stephen Baker says even though restrictions have been lifted residents should still be cautious on BLM land since the region is still dry.

Local News
12:53 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Officials track fires and prepare for floods

Catron County forests are still recovering from the Wallow Fire
Courtesy of Sen. Tom Udall

The recent rains brought some relief to New Mexico’s parched forests, but they also brought a rash of lightning-caused fires.

Firefighters are responding to several smoke reports in the Questa Ranger District, according to U.S. Forest Service officials. They expect no problems. However, more smoke reports are anticipated as temperatures increase and humidity decreases.

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Local News
8:28 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Corrales, Sandia bosque fire blamed on fake cigarette

A Corrales village employee mistakenly sparked the June 20 blaze in the bosque north of Albuquerque.
Laura Paskus

Corrales officials say a fire that burned more than 350 acres of the wooded area along the Rio Grande last month was most likely sparked by an electronic cigarette.

Village Administrator John Avila says an employee apparently dropped the device while patrolling on June 20. The employee realized the device was gone after ducking under a tree limb. The fire started soon after.

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