KUNM

AG Sends Investigatory Letter To Epipen Maker, Deceased Treasure Hunter's Family Seeks Answers

Sep 22, 2016

New Mexico's AG Sends Investigatory Letter To Epipen MakerAssociated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas' office has sent an investigatory letter requesting information from the manufacturer of life-saving EpiPen.

That's the brand name of an auto-injector of synthetic adrenaline that treats severe allergic reactions to insect bites and stings and foods like nuts and eggs.

People usually keep multiple EpiPens handy at home, school or work. But the syringes prefilled with the hormone epinephrine expire after one year.

The list price of EpiPens has grown to $608 for a two-pack, an increase of more than 500 percent since 2007.

Families who rely on multiple EpiPens have lashed out at the pharmaceutical company Mylan.

In a statement Wednesday, Balderas says his office is doing everything in its power to make sure New Mexico children and families can afford life-saving medications.

Treasure Hunter's Family Searching For AnswersThe Associated Press

The family of a man who went missing while searching for a $2 million hidden treasure in northern New Mexico has no plans to give up looking for answers to what may have led to his death.

Autopsy results show Randy Bilyeu had no broken bones or other injuries, but medical investigators were unable to determine what caused his death due to the few clues gleaned from his skeletal remains.

Bilyeu's ex-wife, Linda Bilyeu of Orlando, Florida, said Thursday that the 55-year-old father and grandfather was brave enough to face the odds in an endeavor that he felt confident about and that some kind of unfortunate event cost him his life.

She says Bilyeu's mishap should serve as a reminder that accidents can happen no matter how prepared a person might be.

Vets Puzzled By Dozens Of Dog Deaths In AlbuquerqueThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal 

Dozens of dogs in Albuquerque have been sickened and died of a mysterious illness.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that veterinarian and Journal columnist Dr. Jeff Nichol says it is unclear what illness could be sickening the 50 dogs that have recently died.

Nichol says typically that many dog deaths would not be remarkable, as pets often develop cancer, kidney failure or heart failure as they age, but that the symptoms many dogs have been suffering do not link to those illnesses.

The pattern of illnesses was discovered by Amy Neel, whose 8-year-old service dog Joe, a border collie mix, died Aug. 6. An informal online survey she conducted found about 50 dogs in Albuquerque's west side had sick or dead dogs all suffering from similar illnesses.

The symptoms included lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting and a loss of appetite. When tested, the affected dogs had elevated liver enzymes.

Ex-Mora School Chief Facing New Criminal Charges On FraudThe Associated Press  & The Las Vegas Optic

A former northern New Mexico superintendent who resigned in disgrace over allegations of faking credentials is facing more criminal charges.

The Las Vegas Optic reports state police last week filed a new case against former Mora Independent School District Superintendent Charles Trujillo.

Court documents in San Miguel County Magistrate Court accuse Trujillo of forgery and attempt to commit fraud in connection with a Luna Community College job application.

Trujillo resigned following an October investigation by the Optic that Trujillo faked his credentials to obtain his administrative license.

Two days after the Optic story was published, Trujillo surrendered his education licenses to the state Public Education Department.

He was arrested last month on forgery and fraud charges connected to his Mora position.

Trujillo's attorney, Sam Bregman, says his client looks forward to fighting the charges.

Ex-Public Education Sec Now Permanent Santa Fe School ChiefThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican 

Former New Mexico Public Education Secretary Veronica Garcia is now the permanent superintendent for Santa Fe Public Schools.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Santa Fe school board voted this week to extend Garcia's contract by another school year and change her title from "interim" to "permanent."

The unanimous vote keeps Garcia at the helm of the 13,000-student school district under a contract that runs through June 30, 2018. Her annual salary is $180,000.

The board hired Garcia in July to replace Joel Boyd, who led the district over the last four years before leaving this summer.

Garcia served as the state public education secretary under former Gov. Bill Richardson before leading the advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children.

The Latest: Navajos Ask Judge To Restore Polling PlacesAssociated Press

A judge is questioning why she needs to order a southern Utah county to restore polling places for the November election when government officials there already plan to open three locations for in-person voting on the Navajo Nation to supplement all-mail voting.

U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish didn't rule Wednesday on a request from the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission to require San Juan County to open nine polling places. She said she hopes to issue a ruling soon so the issue can be resolved before the election.

The commission filed a lawsuit earlier this year over the county's move to all-mail elections in 2014, saying it disenfranchised tribal voters.

Judge Parrish grilled attorney Arusha Gordon about why her clients don't trust the county to follow through on the plan. Gordon said county officials have failed to come through before, prompting the need for a court-ordered requirement. Gordon warned that there's no way for a redo if Navajos aren't given equal opportunity to cast ballots.

Jesse Trentadue, an attorney for the county, said the county is taking its job seriously of making sure Navajos have equal opportunity to vote as white residents.

Public Regulation Commission To Rule Next Week On PNM RatesAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission plans to rule next week on a rate increase for more than 500,000 customers of the state's largest utility.

Public Service Company of New Mexico is requesting an increase of more than $123 million in annual revenue, under which customers on average would see their bills rise by 14.4 percent.

A PRC hearing examiner's recommendation last month slashed that by two-thirds to about $41 million, which would mean an average increase of 6.4 percent for customers.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that under state law, the commission has until the end of the month to make their ruling.

The commissioners on Wednesday agreed to vote on a final order in the case on Sep. 28.

The Latest: Governor Wants To Expand Child Abuse PunishmentsAssociated Press

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez says not a day goes by that she doesn't think of Baby Brianna, a 5-month-old who died in 2002 after being sexually assaulted and suffering skull fractures and numerous other injuries.

Martinez was a district attorney in Las Cruces at the time of the infant's death. She prosecuted the child's mother, father and an uncle.

The mother, Stephanie Rene Lopez, was released from prison Wednesday on good behavior after serving less than half of her sentence.

The governor said she had sought the full measure of justice at the time but that the laws on the books were too weak.

Public outcry over the case helped lead to a change in state law that gives life imprisonment — a mandatory 30 years in prison — for child abuse resulting in death.

Martinez said Wednesday she will continue to push for state legislators to expand the law to cover every child, regardless of their age.

Feds Seek New Contractor For Cleanup Work At Los Alamos LabAssociated Press

The federal government is making its final call for any contractors interested in continuing the cleanup of hazardous waste at one of the nation's premier nuclear weapon laboratories.

Officials have been struggling for decades to clean up hundreds of contaminated sites and remove thousands of cubic meters of waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory. A recent report indicates the work could take another 20 years and nearly $4 billion.

The current environmental management contract belongs to the lab's troubled manager, Los Alamos National Security LLC. That agreement expires in September 2017.

The request for proposals issued Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Department involves a 10-year contract worth about $1.7 billion. It calls for monitoring the region's aquifer, cleaning up contamination and preparing low-level radioactive waste to be shipped off-site.

Ex-Public Education Sec Now Permanent Santa Fe School ChiefAssociated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

Former New Mexico Public Education Secretary Veronica Garcia is now the permanent superintendent for Santa Fe Public Schools.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Santa Fe school board voted this week to extend Garcia's contract by another school year and change her title from "interim" to "permanent."

The unanimous vote keeps Garcia at the helm of the 13,000-student school district under a contract that runs through June 30, 2018. Her annual salary is $180,000.

The board hired Garcia in July to replace Joel Boyd, who led the district over the last four years before leaving this summer.

Garcia served as the state public education secretary under former Gov. Bill Richardson before leading the advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children.

Jal Hit By Strong Hailstorm, Caused About $4M In DamageAssociated Press, Hobbs News-Sun

A small city in southeastern New Mexico is recovering after being hit with a strong hailstorm.

The Hobbs News-Sun report that Jal was struck this weekend with hailstones bigger than golf balls causing an estimated $4 million in damage.

The storm began late Saturday, leaving broken windows and busted windshields in its path.

Jal City Manager Bob Gallagher said officials in the city of 2,500 residents are looking for a declaration of emergency from the state.

Jal Police Chief Mauricio Valeriano the storm caused lot of damage to the buildings and police cars.

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