Associated Press

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University may use a search firm to hire the next school president.

The board of regents chairman Mike Cheney told the Las Cruces Sun-News that the board has put out a request and received proposals from firms interested in taking on the search but may not use them.

The board aims to make a decision on whether to use a firm by Jan. 1.

Cheney says the interview process would likely run through the first half of the semester, in hopes of announcing a president by spring graduation.

State officials say the influenza season is off to an early start and are warning that it may be more severe than in recent years.

The New Mexico Department of Health says flu is circulating throughout the state. Health officials say anyone six months of age and older, particularly pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions, should get vaccinated.

The department says many of the influenza cases seen so far are a more severe type that has led to higher number of hospitalizations and deaths in previous flu seasons than other types.

A labor board has ruled against the Aztec teachers' union negotiating with the school district on a collective bargaining agreement.

The Farmington Daily Times ( says the Labor Management Relations Board found that the union violated negotiating practices and failed to follow rules agreed upon by the two parties. The board said the union also had submitted proposals that conflicting with state statutes and the state constitution.

New Mexico's largest school district plans to spend millions of dollars to adopt new testing standards and move to computer-based testing.

Albuquerque Public Schools administrators say the district estimates it will spend $39 million in capital money to upgrade 17,000 computers and computer equipment, and another $15 million annually to maintain the system.

State officials are trying to wrap up the final results of the November general election.

The state Canvassing Board meets Friday and a top official in the secretary of state's office says winners are expected to be certified in all but one race.

There's a pending recount in a state House of Representatives race between Republican Paul Pacheco of Albuquerque and Democrat Marci Blaze of Corrales. Before the recount, Pacheco was leading by 66 votes.

The latest campaign finance reports show that two outside political groups spent nearly $4 million to influence legislative races, which ended up with Democrats retaining control of the House and Senate.

A political committee with ties to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez reported on Thursday spending $2.4 million. It was involved in 31 House and Senate races, including several Democratic primary contests.


A group of New Mexico inmates are helping clear up a patch of Bosque in Pena Blanca, an area devastated by the Los Conchas fire last year.

KQRE-TV reports ( that winter inmate crews are working to clear out that fuel as fast as possible and helping the state save money.

Inmate crews cost $300 a day, a fraction of what a private company would charge.

A dry winter and severe drought conditions are making forests vulnerable for future wildfires.

The Legislature and Gov. Susana Martinez will have slightly more than $280 million to cover budget increases and tax cuts next year under a new revenue forecast outlined to lawmakers.

The revenue estimates released Monday will serve as the financial backdrop for lawmakers when they convene next month for a 60-day legislative session.

Students at the University of New Mexico may soon be required to take at least one class on diversity.

The Albuquerque Journal reports ( that a draft proposal by the Provost's Diversity Council calls for a three-credit-hour diversity requirement that could go into effect in fall 2014. The class will be required for all students before graduation.

Los Alamos National Laboratory

The Los Alamos National Laboratory is expected to conclude its probe into former employees who allowed visitors to operate weapons at the lab's shooting range.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports ( that the law says four unauthorized visitors were given access the range and were allowed to "operate a variety of firearms." The lab says participants also took photos of their time on the range and posted them on Facebook. Those photos have since been taken down.

The U.S. Department of Education says New Mexico has one of the worst four-year high school graduation rates in the nation.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports ( that new federal numbers from2010-2011 preliminary data showed that New Mexico also falls at the bottom of the pack when analyzing rates across nearly every demographic.

Nevada had the lowest graduation rate, with 62 percent graduation, just ahead of New Mexico's 63 percent rate.

Iowa had the nation's highest with about 88 percent of students graduating.

Governor Susana Martinez is in Mexico to attend a meeting with officials from New Mexico and the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

The two day meeting of the New Mexico-Chihuahua Commission concludes on Friday.

The governor's office said Chihuahua Governor Cesar Duarte attended meetings that started Thursday.

The commission is to talk about border crossings, trade, tourism, water as well as education and public safety.

New Mexico State University is set to host more than 50 Ecuadorean teachers who are seeking to learn English.

NMSU announced Thursday that the Ecuadorean teachers are scheduled to take part is a two-semester English language program funded by the Ecuadorean government. The "Go Teacher" program is aimed at improving English education in that country's schools.

School officials say the first group of teachers will study at NMSU between Jan. 15 and Aug. 15, and will likely to be followed by additional groups in later semesters.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding New Mexico nearly $1 million to reduce deaths and injuries on the state's highways.

The annual grant funding was made available through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says states can use the money for initiatives to increase seatbelt use, for anti-drunken driving campaigns and other programs aimed at making the roads safer.

Western New Mexico University

Officials at Western New Mexico University say the school's nursing program has earned accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education for 10 years.

The commission found that the program met all accreditation standards. The commission's review included a visit to the Silver City campus and interviews with university officials, program faculty, students and others.

The nursing program began in the fall of 2005. It was developed so that licensed nurses could earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing.


New Mexico is launching a public awareness campaign to curb the growing number of whooping cough cases in the state.

The Health Department says more than 700 cases have been reported so far this year. That's up from 277 the year before.

Two children — a 2-month-old girl from San Miguel County and a 4-year-old boy from Bernalillo County — have died this year as a result of whooping cough.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial illness that attacks the respiratory system.

A former top official of the New Mexico Finance Authority has pleaded guilty to forgery and securities fraud charges for falsifying an agency financial audit that was distributed to bond investors earlier this year.

Under an agreement with prosecutors, ex-controller Greg Campbell had faced up to six years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to two counts of forgery and one count of securities fraud.

State District Judge Stephen Pfeffer placed Campbell on probation for five years.

Wildlife managers at one of the nation's premiere bird-watching spots have a mystery on their hands.

A strange looking bird with dark plumage showed up at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico earlier this month. No one seems to know exactly what it is.

Records show a gun smuggling operation run by former town officials in Columbus, N.M., had a direct link to targets of the bungled "Fast and Furious" operation run by federal officials in Arizona.

Steve Terrell

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez travels to Iowa next week to attend a meeting of the executive committee of the National Lieutenant Governors Association.

Authorities say a southern New Mexico rail line is back open following a train derailment.

Television station KOB-TV reports ( the derailment happened Tuesday night north of Las Cruces. It involved a freight train headed from Belen to El Paso, Texas.

No injuries were reported, and authorities say there were no spills of hazardous material.

A heavy equipment company was able to put the cars back on the track and the line was opened.

The cause of the derailment has not been determined.

A peanut butter plant along the New Mexico-Texas border has laid off a third of its 150 workers after federal authorities shuttered the plant.

A salmonella outbreak traced to the peanut butter has sickened 41 people in 20 states.

Millions of pounds of the regions prized sweet Valencia peanuts sit in barns at the Sunland peanut butter plant.

Farmers are worried about getting paid. And residents wonder what toll the shutdown will have on the region's economy.

New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell and Navajo President Ben Shelly have signed off on a land exchange that officials say will benefit both governments.

The signing ceremony was Tuesday in Santa Fe.

The exchange involves a block of state trust land adjacent to the reservation near the Arizona-New Mexico border and a few acres in Silver City that have commercial development potential.

The Land Office says prior to the exchange, the Navajo Nation had leased more than 85 acres of state trust land for a new Navajo Department of Transportation Center.

New Mexico's largest county jail has announced that it will no longer provide methadone treatment to inmates.

Metropolitan Detention Center officials said Tuesday that all inmates who are currently incarcerated and receiving methadone will undergo a "discontinuation process" during the next several weeks.

Official say the move was made out of health concern for inmates.

The methadone program was initiated at the MDC by the New Mexico Department of Health in 2006.

Officials say pregnant women will continue to receive methadone through their pregnancies.

Bernalillo Metro Court Website

A judicial nominating commission meets next week to consider more than two dozen applicants for vacancies on the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court.

The bipartisan commission will recommend candidates to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez for possible appointment to the court. The panel meets Dec. 6 and the next day in Albuquerque.

Three vacancies will occur because Metro Court judges were elected to the district court in Bernalillo County — Judges Christina Argyres, Benjamin Chavez and Briana Zamora.

A proposed overhaul of Santa Fe County's pet licensing rules would require cat owners to license their pets and people who feed feral cats to get permits.

The draft proposal approved by the county commission on Tuesday also would significantly increase almost all fees and fines associated with owning pets.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the cost of licensing spayed or neutered dogs and cats would increase to $8 from $3 per year, while the cost of licensing an unaltered dog or cat would increase from $10 to $100.

The New Mexico Legislature Website

Republican state Rep. Donald Bratton of Hobbs was picked as minority leader of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

The Albuquerque Journal reports ( that Bratton will replace Tom Taylor of Farmington as the top-ranking Republican in the Democratic-controlled House.

House Republicans also elected several members of the party's younger guard to top-ranking positions.

Rep. Nate Gentry of Albuquerque will serve as the new House GOP whip, while Rep. Alonzo Baldonado will be the Republican caucus chairman.

An independent special audit shows McKinley County made about $240,000 in questionable payments to a business owned by the county commission chairman.

State Auditor Hector Balderas released the finding of the audit Monday. His office says the county violated the state procurement code and its own purchasing policies.

Balderas' office also says there are potential violations of the Governmental Conduct Act related to the county's contracts for plumbing, heating, air conditioning and other services with Dallago Corp. The company is owned by Chairman David Dallago.


The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on a New Mexico peanut butter plant that had repeated food safety violations over several years, using a new authority to halt operations at facilities that may be producing unsafe food.


The Albuquerque Zoo has announced the name of its new baby rhino -- Chopper.

Zoo officials say the name was the overwhelming favorite of Facebook fans. The name was suggested in remembrance of Jimmy "Chopper" Abalos, a softball and little league leader in the community who died in 2010. Abalos sponsored multiple little league teams called the "Rhinos." He was inducted in the United States Specialty Sports Association Hall of Fame in 2003, and his adult softball team, also the Rhinos, was inducted in 2009.