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Dry Conditions Prompt Forest Restrictions, US Border Agency Testing Body Cams

May 1, 2018

Dryness Prompts New Mexico Forests To Impose Restrictions – Associated Press

The Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico will soon be implementing fire restrictions due to increasingly dry conditions.

Forest officials in announcing the restrictions pointed to forecasts that are expected to include little moisture as nearly all parts of the state are dealing with some level of drought.

The restrictions will take effect Monday and will remain in place until rescinded.

Under the restrictions, campfires, charcoal grills and coal and wood stoves are allowed only in developed campsites or picnic areas where fire rings or grills are provided.

On the Cibola National Forest, officials will be imposing tougher restrictions over the next several days to reduce the risk of human-caused fires. Those restrictions will prohibit all campfires as well as the use of charcoal, coal or wood stoves.

US Border Agency Tests Body Cams On Agents In 9 LocationsThe Associated Press

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is starting tests of body-worn cameras for employees at nine locations, potentially leading to a broad rollout that would make it the first federal law enforcement agency to use them on a large scale.

The nation's largest law enforcement agency concluded in November 2015 under President Barack Obama's administration that body cameras were not suitable for widespread use due to hurdles including cost, technological challenges and need for labor union approval.

Customers and Border Protection officials say the technology has evolved since the 2015 tests.

The tests will be done at land crossings in Detroit and Eagle Pass, Texas, and Atlanta's Hartfield-Jackson International Airport and the sea port at Long Beach, California. There will be additional testing in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

Hopi Tribe, Others Sue Over Power Purchases For Coal PlantThe Associated Press

The Hopi Tribe and coal mining groups are suing an Arizona aqueduct system's operator to try to keep a coal-fired power plant alive beyond 2019.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court contends the Central Arizona Water Conservation District legally is obligated to buy power from Navajo Generating Station near Page. The district's Central Arizona Project canals deliver water to Arizona cities and farmers.

The plant's owners plan to close it and use cheaper energy from natural gas as various groups search for a new owner.

District spokeswoman DeEtte Person said officials are reviewing the lawsuit and considered its impact. Person has said previously said the CAP is not required to take power from the plant and has other revenue sources to pay canal system's construction debt.

Officials Defend Jail Staff After Man's Apparent SuicideThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

Officials have come to the defense of the Santa Fe County jail in the wake of an apparent suicide of a jailed man accused of torturing and killing a child.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a county spokeswoman says staff at the facility addresses mental health issues and suicide prevention as it oversees the approximately 8,000 inmates who pass through the facility each year.

But officials conceded the staff's efforts do not guarantee inmates will not try to harm themselves.

Thomas Wayne Ferguson was found dead Friday night in his cell after apparently hanging himself with a sheet. Ferguson was awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge in the brutal torture and beating death of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia.

Ferguson had pleaded not guilty to 17 felony counts and one misdemeanor charge in the case.

Student Promotes Walkouts To Support Gun RightsThe Associated Press

A high school senior in New Mexico is urging counter-protests this week in favor of the constitutional right to bear arms and says youths at more than 100 schools may join the demonstrations.

Will Riley of Carlsbad said walkout-style protests are being scheduled for Wednesday to provide a platform for expression by students who support gun rights and the Second Amendment.

He says the "stand for the second" protests are designed to counter many sentiments expressed March 14 during student walkouts at schools across the country to demand action on gun violence and school safety.

In those protests, students left class for at least 17 minutes — one minute for each of the dead in the February massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Arizona Utility Tries To End Multi-State Colorado River FeudThe Associated Press

Arizona's largest water provider is trying to defuse a dispute over how it manages its share of the Colorado River, a critical but over-used waterway that serves 40 million people in seven U.S. states and Mexico.

The Central Arizona Project said Tuesday it "regrets using language" that angered other river users. The utility pledged to be more respectful.

Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming accused the Arizona utility last month of manipulating a major Colorado River reservoir to keep its own supplies high but potentially requiring others to cut back.

Colorado's representative on Colorado River issues, James Eklund, described the utility's new statement as an apology. He said was encouraged but is waiting to see how the utility follows through.

The Central Arizona Project serves about 5 million people.

Justice Joins New Mexico Supreme CourtAssociated Press

A new justice has joined the state's highest court.

Justice Gary Clingman was sworn in on Monday in Santa Fe to temporarily fill a seat vacated by Justice Edward L. Chavez.

Chavez retired in March, and Clingman recently was appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court by Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican.

Clingman is from Hobbs, and has been a district judge since 1997.

He's a graduate of the University of Texas and Texas Tech Law School. Martinez says he also is a former law enforcement officer.

New Mexico voters will choose a candidate in the general election to permanently fill the seat.

Historic New Mexico Amtrak Station Closing Ticket WindowAssociated Press

A historic Amtrak station outside of Santa Fe will no longer have a ticket window to sell tickets.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Amtrak announced last week the sales window at the century-old Mission Revival-style station in Lamy, New Mexico will close.

Amtrak says it's a casualty of changing ticket-purchasing habits as more passengers buy tickets online.

The station itself, which functions as the Santa Fe stop on the Southwest Chief route between Chicago and Los Angeles, will remain on the line.

Lamy is one of five stations on the line in New Mexico; the Southwest Chief also services Raton, Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Gallup.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built the Lamy station in 1909.

Announcement Expected About Future Of Power Plant Near PageAssociated Press

The chairman of the Hopi Tribe is expected to make an announcement about the future of a coal-fired power plant in northern Arizona.

The Navajo Generating Station near Page is set to close in December 2019 unless a new owner is found, costing hundreds of good-paying jobs on the Navajo and Hopi reservations.

A news conference was scheduled for Tuesday morning in downtown Phoenix with Hopi chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma along with Peabody Energy officials and leadership representing the United Mine Workers of America.

Peabody's Kayenta Mine supplies the coal for the plant.

Last month, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation exempting coal used in a power plant on the Navajo Nation from the state's sales tax to help make it more attractive for a new buyer.

US States, Arizona Utility Try To Settle Colorado River FeudAssociated Press

Major users of the Colorado River are trying to resolve a dispute over how to conserve the vital waterway amid a prolonged drought.

Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming met with the Central Arizona Project in Salt Lake City Monday. There was no immediate word on the outcome.

The states have accused the Arizona utility of trying to avoid a reduction in its share of the river while others are conserving.

The states said that threatens to wreck years of cooperation aimed at protecting the river, which serves 40 million people in seven U.S. states and Mexico.

The utility denied the allegations. It serves about 5 million people.

James Eklund, Colorado's representative at the meeting, declined to discuss specifics. Central Arizona Project spokeswoman DeEtte Person had no immediate comment.

New Mexico Seeks Changes To Job Training SubsidiesAssociated Press

New Mexico is considering a proposal to rein in job training subsidies to customer-support call centers, as the state expands overall funding for classroom and on-the-job training for expanding businesses.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department is accepting public comments ahead of a May 10 hearing about proposed rule changes to the Job Training Incentive Program.

At the same time, lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez have boosted funding to the program that offers to reimburse more than half of wages for new employees at businesses that expand or relocate to New Mexico.

Other possible rule changes would eliminate extra wage reimbursements for military veterans and local college graduates. Officials say the added incentive has not spurred much additional hiring.

New Mexico has the second-highest unemployment rate among states after Alaska.

Facebook Plans Digital Training Partnership In New MexicoAssociated Press

Facebook says it is partnering with Central New Mexico Community College to establish a certificate program in digital marketing.

Marne Levine — who is the chief operating officer for Instagram, a social media platform owned by Facebook — announced the partnership Monday at an Albuquerque event meant to boost small businesses and build digital skills.

Thirty cities will be visited as part of the program, and Albuquerque is among the initial stops.

Facebook also plans to fund scholarships for more people to attend a coding boot camp at CNM.

Facebook's event in Albuquerque comes amid a privacy scandal that has shaken the social media giant, although the platform still remains intertwined in the social lives of its user and economic survival of entrepreneurs.

Investigation Into Man Found Hanging In Cell 'Ongoing'Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Authorities are investigating the death of a man who was found hanging in a New Mexico jail cell.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Santa Fe County Sheriff spokesman Juan Rios said Sunday the investigation into the death of Thomas Wayne Ferguson is "ongoing."

Ferguson was found dead Friday night in the Santa Fe County Jail.

Ferguson was awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge in the torture and killing of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia, the son of Ferguson's girlfriend, Tracy Ann Pena.

Ferguson had pleaded not guilty to 17 felony counts and one misdemeanor charge in the Valencia case.

Ferguson's death came shortly before he was to be transferred to a state-run prison to serve a nearly six-year sentence in a separate case.

Facebook Plans Digital Training Partnership In New MexicoAssociated Press

Facebook says it is partnering with Central New Mexico Community College to establish a certificate program in digital marketing.

Marne Levine — who is the chief operating officer for Instagram, a social media platform owned by Facebook — announced the partnership Monday at an Albuquerque event meant to boost small businesses and build digital skills.

Thirty cities will be visited as part of the program, and Albuquerque is among the initial stops.

Facebook also plans to fund scholarships for more people to attend a coding boot camp at CNM.

Facebook's event in Albuquerque comes amid a privacy scandal that has shaken the social media giant, although the platform still remains intertwined in the social lives of its user and economic survival of entrepreneurs.

US May Day Immigration Protests Target Trump, Fall ElectionsAssociated Press

Immigrants rallying around the U.S. on May Day say President Donald Trump's administration has been almost everything they had feared.

Coast-to-coast demonstrations Tuesday are planned on International Workers' Day and come amid similar actions worldwide.

They're showing concerns about policy changes under Trump, including a country-specific travel ban and the end of a program that allowed some young immigrants to avoid deportation.

Trump and his supporters say the changes were overdue.

Some of the policies have gotten tangled up in court. And Trump hasn't secured funding for his coveted border wall with Mexico.

But immigrant rights groups say they'll resist him at every turn. And they say the demonstrations aren't just about targeting the president but are also aimed at driving turnout in the November elections.

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