KUNM News

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June 4 Funeral Set For Fallen Rio Rancho Police Officer - The Associated Press

A funeral is scheduled next week for a Rio Rancho police officer who was fatally shot during a traffic stop.

Officer Gregg Benner was gunned down Monday evening after stopping a vehicle in the Albuquerque suburb and later died at a hospital.

The man suspected of shooting Benner was arrested Tuesday.

Authorities say visitation will be held on June 3 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Daniels Family Sara Road Chapel in Rio Rancho.

Rio Rancho Police Department

DA To Move Quickly Against Suspects In Officer's KillingThe Associated Press

District Attorney Lemuel Martinez says he plans to seek the maximum punishment against a known gang member suspected of shooting and killing a Rio Rancho police officer during a traffic stop.

Martinez acknowledged Thursday that the criminal proceedings against Andrew Romero have just begun, but he says he plans to move as expeditiously as possible and avoid any delays in the case.

Kevin Dooley via Flickr

More Moisture In New Mexico A Boon For Farmers, Fish - The Associated Press

Some parts of New Mexico are still drying out from last weekend's rain, but residents of the drought-stricken state have little to complain about since conditions haven't looked this good in years.

Extreme drought is gone from New Mexico and nearly one-third of the state is drought-free.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said Tuesday it's been nearly five years since conditions were this favorable.

Curtis Gregory Perry via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Rio Rancho Police Officer Shot, Killed, Suspect In CustodyThe Associated Press and KOB-TV

A suspect has been arrested in the shooting of a Rio Rancho police officer on Southern Boulevard near the public library.

KOB-TV reports the 49-year-old, 4-year veteran was shot Monday night and died at the University of New Mexico hospital.

Police say the officer pulled over a man and woman at an Arby's. The suspect fled.

Courtney "Coco" Mault / Creative Commons License

  Man, Boy Dead In Cherry Picker Accident –KOB-TV, The Associated Press

Albuquerque police say a man and a 12-year-old boy are dead and three other boys are injured after the cherry picker they were in was thrown by a gust of wind.

Police were called around 1:45 p.m. Sunday about a report of an equipment failure and several children injured, according to a report by KOB-TV.

Phil Darnell via Flickr / Creative Commons License

May Showers Do Little For Severe Drought In Four Corners - The Daily Times, The Associated Press

Forecasters and officials say recent storms have made little dent in the drought affecting the Four Corners region.

The Daily Times in Farmington reported Friday that a series of storms earlier this month brought about an inch of rain to San Juan County in a 10-day period that ended last week.

Courtesy San Juan's Citizen Alliance

Business Leaders Throw Support Behind Coal Plant Proposal - The Associated Press

Business leaders are throwing their support behind a utility's plan for dealing with a decades-old coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico that provides power to more than 2 million customers in the Southwest.

The Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, Four Corners Economic Development and other groups gathered Thursday in Albuquerque. They warned of economic turmoil if a settlement regarding the plant's future falls through.

Jared via Flickr

May Storms Helping To Fight Wildfire Season - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

May has been an unusual month for drought-stricken New Mexico, with cool and wet storms throughout the state keeping wildfire season in check.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a combination of factors are contributing to the latest weather trend. Experts say the arrival of El Nino and the early winter melting of snowpacks have brought some relief and increased hopes for a wet summer.

Cm0rris0n

Ted Turner Ranch In New Mexico Caught In Wolf Debate - The Associated Press, The Santa Fe New Mexican

A sprawling ranch in southern New Mexico owned by media mogul Ted Turner is caught in the middle of a dispute between the state and federal wildlife officials over management of the Mexican gray wolf.

A bid by the Ladder Ranch to renew its permit for holding wolves in captivity on the private property was recently denied by the state Game Commission.

Paige Murphy

Albuquerque City Council President To Retire At End Of Term - The Associated Press

The Albuquerque City Council's president plans to step down at the end of his current term.

Council President Rey Garduno was elected to the council in 2007.

The Democrat represents a district that includes much of the Southeast Heights, including the University of New Mexico campus, Nob Hill and the International District.

Nightscream / Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico Campuses Seeing Drop In Student Enrollment - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

College campuses across New Mexico have had the sharpest decline in enrollment compared to other states in the past year, according to a new study.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a nonprofit focused on research and education policy, has ranked New Mexico with the largest enrollment drop nationwide.

USGS

Feds To Help Farmers, Ranchers In Ogallala Aquifer Region The Associated Press

Federal officials say farmers and ranchers who depend on the Ogallala Aquifer will benefit from $6.5 million in funding.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week that it would be investing in projects in a handful of states with the goal of conserving billions of gallons of water to extend the life of the aquifer.

Rita Daniels

AG: Insufficient Evidence To Charge Bernalillo County DA - The Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says there's insufficient evidence to prosecute the district attorney of the most populous county in the state for bribery or intimidation of witnesses.

But Balderas is criticizing Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg and the Albuquerque Police Department for their actions in connection with two pending investigations of Brandenburg's son.

NMFO

Health Department Facing Projected Deficit Of $6 Million - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

The state health department is facing a project deficit of nearly $6 million.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the department had a $27 million surplus only two years ago and its practice of contracting with private nursing services may have contributed to budget problems.

pascalk via Flickr / Creative Commons License

New Mexico Attorney General To Review Police Training Goals - The Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has announced he will review the much-debated curriculum of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy.

Balderas said Tuesday as chair of the board that oversees the academy he also will examine if the academy is following state transparency laws and wants to make sure officer discipline is handled appropriately.

Creative Commons

Report Details Problems Impacting Teacher Retention Santa Fe New Mexican, Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico is struggling to retain teachers and one reason is low pay.

steev hise via Flickr

Hatch Valley Farmers Strive To Protect Chile Brand - The Las Cruces Sun-News, The Associated Press

Hatch Valley farmers are banding together to protect their brand, which to them represents a long heritage of local, home-grown food.

Rusty Blazenhoff via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Officials Buzzed Over Proposed Marijuana Farm Near Roswell The Associated Press

A proposal to turn a former dairy processing plant near Roswell into a place to grow plants, specifically marijuana, isn't getting high praise from local officials.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that a joint city-county commission will meet next week to consider Pecos Valley Pharmaceuticals' request to rezone the facility as a "pharmaceutical manufacturing site."

Kevin Dooley via Flickr

UNM Researchers Challenge Gila River Studies - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Two University of New Mexico researchers say state water managers based their decision to pursue a multimillion-dollar diversion and storage project along the Gila River based on studies that lacked credibility.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the researchers outlined their concerns in a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Albuquerque Police Department

Prosecutor In NM Police Shooting Wants More Ballistics Tests - The Associated Press

A special prosecutor reviewing the case of two Albuquerque police officers who have been charged with murder in the shooting death of a homeless man wants more ballistics testing to be done.

Randi McGinn says the scientific testing is to address defense attorneys' question about which of the two officers fired the most immediate fatal third shot into the man's back.

AllenS / Wikimedia Commons

Albuquerque Releases Internal Audit Of Taser Contract - The Associated Press

City auditors say personnel at Albuquerque's troubled police department bypassed purchasing regulations and compromised the integrity of the city's procurement process when purchasing body cameras from Taser International in 2013.

The city's Office of Internal Audit released the findings Tuesday.

They follow an equally scathing report by New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller, which uncovered a cozy relationship involving Taser and former police chief Ray Schultz.

BCSO

Man Dies After Being Shot By Bernalillo County DeputyThe Associated Press

A Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy is on paid administrative leave following a south valley shooting that left one man dead.

The Albuquerque Journal reports deputies responded to a neighbor's call that an argument was taking place in a parked car. Deputies talked to the woman and tried to talk to the man, who then produced a weapon.

Environmental Protection Agency

US To Pay $13.2M For Navajo Nation Uranium Mine Evaluation The Associated Press

Navajo Nation officials say the U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to provide $13.2 million for a cleanup evaluation of 16 abandoned uranium mines across the vast reservation.

Tribal officials say the investigation of the sites is a necessary step before final cleanup decisions can be made.

The Navajo Nation encompasses more than 27,000 square miles within Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

MoDOT Photos via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Review: No-Bid Deal For Police Body Cameras Was 'Greased' - The Associated Press

A New Mexico review has found that Albuquerque's former police chief potentially violated ethics rules by influencing a $1.95 million contract to purchase body cameras and then going to work as a consultant for the supplier.

State Auditor Timothy Keller released a report Thursday that says former Chief Ray Schultz and his subordinates gave Taser International an unfair advantage for the 2013 contact.

Skarz via Wikimedia Commons

Shake-Up Hits Albuquerque Police Records DepartmentThe Associated Press

An internal investigation has prompted a shake-up within the public records unit of the embattled Albuquerque Police Department.

Three employees have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Department spokeswoman Celina Espinoza says investigators are looking at allegations of unprofessional conduct, workplace safety and inadequate supervision.

Senate Democrats via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Jon Jones Stripped Of UFC Title, SuspendedThe Associated Press

Jon Jones has been stripped of his UFC light heavyweight title and suspended indefinitely following his arrest in New Mexico on a hit-and-run that police say left a pregnant woman with a broken arm.

The UFC announced the penalties Tuesday night for violations of its athlete code of conduct policy.

Jones was scheduled to face No. 1 contender Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 in Las Vegas on May 23. Instead, No. 3 contender Daniel Cormier will face Johnson for the title.

New Mexico In Depth

NM Senator Wants Answers From Mental Health Care Officials - The Associated Press

A key Democratic state senator is asking Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration for answers as a mental health provider prepares to pull out of southern New Mexico.

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen says she's concerned about the thousands of people who currently receive care from Arizona-based La Frontera. The provider is set to stop services June 1.

National Nuclear Security Administration / Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico Lobbying To Be Storage Site For Nuclear Waste - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

A rural area of southeastern New Mexico is being touted as an interim storage site for the country's high-level nuclear waste.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Gov. Susana Martinez reached out to the Obama administration earlier this month to consider the 1,000-acre parcel as a place for storing spent radioactive fuel rods from power plants.

Smithsonian Institution via flickr.com

New Mexico Democrats Choose Haaland As New Party Chair - The Associated Press 

A Democratic activist and tribal administrator from Albuquerque is the new leader of New Mexico's Democratic Party.

Debra Haaland became the first Native American to lead a state party in New Mexico on Saturday following a Democratic State Central Committee meeting at a high school gym in Albuquerque.

The 54-year-old, who ran for lieutenant governor last year, beat Santa Fe County party chairman Richard Ellenberg by a vote of 214 to 168.

Meredith Nierman / WGBH News

Boston Marathon Winner Rotich To Get Santa Fe Parade - The Associated Press

The city of Santa Fe is holding a parade for a Santa Fe resident who won the Boston Marathon.

Officials announced this week the city and other groups will sponsor a parade on Monday in honor of Caroline Rotich.

Rotich, who has lived and trained in Santa Fe for about five years, used a late kick to bust through the tape first among the women runners in the 119th running of the prestigious event.

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