KUNM

Budget Cuts Loom As Governor Signs Solvency Bills, NM Announces Latest Segment Of Rio Grande Trail

Oct 20, 2016

New Mexico Governor Signs Solvency BillsAssociated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation that would help address a major state budget shortfall by closing tax loopholes and tapping into reserves from a tobacco settlement fund.

Martinez announced Wednesday her approval of two bills passed by the Legislature in a special session to help address a nearly $600 million operating budget deficit.

New Mexico's budget shortfall is linked to a downturn in energy markets that has taken a bite out of taxes and royalties from oil and natural gas and sent shock waves through the economy.

The bill to close tax loopholes will should save the state $10 million this year and $27 million the next. Transfers from the $220 million tobacco settlement fund will help shore up the state general fund temporarily.

New Mexico Announces Latest Segment Of Rio Grande TrailThe Associated Press

The newest segment of a 500-mile recreation trail that will one day stretch the length of New Mexico from Colorado to Texas is being dedicated in southern New Mexico.

Gov. Susana Martinez visited Las Cruces' La Llorona Park on Thursday to celebrate the addition of more than 4 miles to the Rio Grande Trail.

The governor in 2015 signed legislation creating a commission charged with defining the best routes and reaching the necessary agreements with local governments and property owners to build the statewide trail.

Officials envision the Rio Grande Trail as something similar to the Appalachian Trail or the Continental Divide Trail, an attraction for visitors from around the world.

The trail system already consists of more than 20 miles spanning six state parks.

Feds To Launch Expanded Review Of Drilling In Chaco RegionThe Associated Press

The federal government is planning an expanded review of public lands management in northwestern New Mexico to address concerns about oil and gas development surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

A World Heritage site, Chaco includes the remnants of an ancient civilization whose monumental architecture and cultural influences have been a source of mystery for years.

Native American groups, archaeologists and environmentalists have been pushing for years for the Bureau of Land Management to consider the historical and cultural significance of the area as it develops a new resource management plan for the region.

U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor announced Thursday that the agency and the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Navajo Regional Office are joining forces for the first time to look at management across federal and tribal lands.

Public meetings are planned next month.

Edgewood To Appeal Ruling In Shooting Information LawsuitThe Associated Press 

The town of Edgewood and other defendants are appealing a ruling that they must pay the widow of man killed by police for not giving her documents she requested quickly enough.

Erin Noll, filed a civil complaint in Santa Fe District Court in November 2015 asking a judge to force the town, the Department of Public Safety and the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office to release records related to the shooting death of her husband, Ethan Noll. The sheriff's office was later dropped from the lawsuit.

Ethan Noll was shot and killed by State Police in April 2015.

A Santa Fe District Court judge last week ordered the defendants to pay more than $22,000 in court costs and legal fees to Erin Noll because they violated the Inspection of Public Records Act by not promptly releasing the records.

Group Eyes Recall Of 1st Elected Female Las Vegas MayorThe Associated Press & The Las Vegas Optic

A group of Las Vegas citizens are seeking to recall the city's first elected female mayor over allegations of broken campaign promises and refusal to protect animals.

The Las Vegas Optic reports a group led by a former campaign volunteer of Las Vegas Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron is gathering signatures to force a recall election.

Manuel "Manny" Martinez says Gurule-Giron also is responsible for losing more than $4 million from stopped water projects and for terminating employees without providing explanations.

Gurule-Giron says the recall campaign is self-serving and not in the city's best interest.

She beat out former city councilor Joseph "Joey" Herrera in a runoff election in April by 20 votes.

The recall petition needs to be signed by at least 25 percent of those who voted in the March regular city election.

Albuquerque Rapid Transit Construction Slows TrafficAssociated Press

Just one day into construction for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, drivers are already frustrated with traffic it is creating.

During evening rush hour Tuesday traffic on Central Avenue near the University of New Mexico was backed up and crawling along.

A city spokesman said Tuesday that the back-up is to be expected in the first few weeks of heavy construction.

Pre-construction work began over the summer, but full construction began this week along 9 miles of Central Ave.

Rapid Transit spokeswoman Joanie Griffin says the traffic isn't ideal, but that drivers should figure how to avoid the area as construction progresses.

Group Eyes Recall Of 1st Elected Female Las Vegas MayorLas Vegas Optic, Associated Press

A group of Las Vegas citizens are seeking to recall the city's first elected female mayor over allegations of broken campaign promises and refusal to protect animals.

The Las Vegas Optic reports a group led by a former campaign volunteer of Las Vegas Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron is gathering signatures to force a recall election.

Manuel "Manny" Martinez says Gurule-Giron also is responsible for losing more than $4 million from stopped water projects and for terminating employees without providing explanations.

Gurule-Giron says the recall campaign is self-serving and not in the city's best interest.

She beat out former city councilor Joseph "Joey" Herrera in a runoff election in April by 20 votes.

The recall petition needs to be signed by at least 25 percent of those who voted in the March regular city election.

Latest Trump Yard Sign Theft In Roswell Caught On VideoRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Roswell Republicans say hundreds of yard signs in support of Donald Trump have been stolen or vandalized in recent weeks, and the latest incident was caught on camera.

The head of the Republican Party of Chaves County, Jason Perry, says surveillance video shows a woman getting out of a vehicle and struggling to dismantle a large Trump-Pence sign in front of a home early Tuesday before taking off with the sign.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that the surveillance video has been turned over to police.

Perry says about 85 percent of the Trump signs placed in Roswell have been destroyed, costing the state and local parties thousands of dollars.

Chaves County Democratic Party chair Michael Trujillo says he thinks kids are playing around and that three Democrat signs were either stolen or vandalized in recent weeks.

Officials Celebrate Elephant Butte CentennialAssociated Press

Standing at the foot of one of New Mexico's most important pieces of water infrastructure, Gov. Susana Martinez and a crowd of state and federal officials marked the 100th birthday of Elephant Butte Dam.

The construction of the dam and the ability to store water in the reservoir has allowed for a century of irrigation in southern New Mexico, West Texas and Mexico.

The towering concrete structure provides flood control for the lower Rio Grande and irrigation water to 178,000 acres of farmland. It also created the state's largest lake.

Wednesday's celebration was followed by guided tours of the dam.

Congress authorized construction of Elephant Butte Dam in February 1905. The Bureau of Reclamation oversaw construction over a five-year period.

When completed in 1916, it was the second-largest dam in the world, surpassed only by the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

New Mexico Crisis Center Remains Empty, Its Future UncertainLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

It's been more than three years since construction was completed on a mental health facility in southern New Mexico, but it's still not operational.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the Doña Ana Board of Commissioners on Tuesday looked into ways to finance the county's vacant $2 million Crisis Triage Center. It was built to house adults with mental health issues as an alternative to the county detention center.

Doña Ana County and the city of Las Cruces have discussed the possibility of using the center as a public mental health hospital, but they have not made any formal decisions.

County Health and Human Services Director Jamie Michael says data from the New Mexico Behavior Health Institute shows that operating such a facility could cost millions each year.

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