KUNM

Former Advocate For Elderly Sues State Over Firing, Mine Spill Declared A Superfund Site

Sep 7, 2016

State Advocate For Elderly Fired Over Public Records Release Albuquerque Journal

The former top advocate in the state for elderly in long-term care facilities is suing over her firing after she released information in response to a public records request.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Sondra Everhart served as the long-term care ombudsman with the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services for over a decade. She responded to a request by the Journal for records regarding boarding homes in Las Vegas.

The state contends such reports are exempt from the state Inspection of Public Records Act. Everhart’s suit argues the documents followed protocols to protect the identities of residents in the boarding homes.

Everhart claims she was also targeted for seeking more independence for the ombudsman role. She seeks damages under the state Whistleblower Protection Act and the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.

A spokesman for the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services called Everhart a disgruntled former employee.

US Clears Way For Cleanup Of Colorado Mine After Huge SpillThe Associated Press

A Colorado mine that spilled 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater into rivers in three Western states has been designated a Superfund site.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's action Wednesday clears the way for a multimillion-dollar federal cleanup of the Gold King Mine and 47 other nearby mining-related sites.

The EPA also added nine other sites in eight states and Puerto Rico to the Superfund list.

A federal crew inadvertently triggered the Colorado spill during preliminary cleanup work at the inactive mine in August 2015, tainting rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The spill released metals including arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc.

The Superfund designation comes after months of negotiations with southwestern Colorado residents, who feared it could dampen the region's vital tourism industry.

Hundreds Gather To Remember Alamogordo OfficerThe Associated Press 

Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil to remember a police officer killed in the New Mexico city of Alamogordo.

The Tuesday ceremony was in honor of 33-year-old Officer Clint Corvinus, who was killed during a shootout with a convicted felon Friday evening. Residents joined the Alamogordo Police Department, the New Mexico State Police and Border Patrol to pay tribute to Corvinus.

Police Chief Daron Syling became emotional while addressing the crowd, asking, "How did we get here?"

New Mexico State Police say their preliminary investigation shows that Corvinus was shot by wanted fugitive Joseph Moreno as Moreno ran away. Police say Officer Christopher Welch fatally shot Moreno.

Corvinus was pronounced dead at the hospital. Moreno, 38, was pronounced dead at the scene.

About 800 people attended the vigil.

Officials Quiet On Whether Facebook Data Project Still AliveThe Associated Press 

Gov. Gary Herbert says a Salt Lake City suburb's efforts to entice a new Facebook data center with millions of dollars in tax breaks may be over and local officials are keeping quiet on whether the project is still alive.

An initial plan to offer about $240 million in tax breaks over fell apart late last month after local leaders said the offer was too generous.

After state and county officials rejected the offer, the city of West Jordan said on Aug. 23 it would end negotiations. The city then reversed course the next day, saying it was still interested and would restart talks with the company.

Herbert said Wednesday that the issue seems "dormant at best and maybe lost."

West Jordan city spokeswoman Kim Wells said in a statement that the city hasn't started new negotiations.

Video Shows Encounter That Wounded New Mexico Officer – The Associated Press

Police have released video of the minutes leading up to a shooting that wounded a New Mexico police officer and the frantic moments that followed.

Clovis Police Officer Chris Caron's lapel video begins soon after he pulls over Anthony Baca and makes small talk while authorities run a background check on the suspect.

When the officer learns there's an active warrant for Baca's arrest, he tells Baca he's going to take him into custody. That's when the suspect runs to a dark driveway where gunfire erupts and the suspect runs away.

Caron is heard panting as he radios for help. Officers arrive within seconds and begin searching for Baca.

Authorities say he turned himself in two days after the Aug. 29 encounter.

Police say a bullet grazed Caron's thigh. He has returned to work.

New Mexico Senator Returns From Trip To Mideast, AfricaThe Associated Press 

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich has returned to the United States after making a weeklong trip to the Middle East and a nearby part of Africa.

A statement issued Wednesday by Heinrich's office says the New Mexico Democrat met with top U.S. military officials and visited with troops from New Mexico during his trip that included visits to Iraq, Kuwait and the Horn of Africa.

According to Heinrich's office, the discussions with military officials centered on operations against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations.

Heinrich is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Storm Loses Steam Over Southwest - The Associated Press

Tropical storm Newton appears to be packing less of a punch upon its arrival in the American Southwest from Mexico.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque says western-central New Mexico is not getting the 3-4 inches of rain that forecasters initially said would come today.

Meteorologist Kerry Jones says between 2-3 inches have fallen in Kat-Rin County's more mountainous areas.

Jones says flash-flood warnings could be dropped late tonight.

Gov. Susana Martinez, however, activated the state's Emergency Operations Center in case of more severe storms.

Southern portions of the state were hit with heavy rains in the past two weeks.

Highlands University Professional Staff Has A New UnionThe Associated Press & The Las Vegas Optic

The Las Vegas Optic reports that the new unit, which represents roughly 80 professional staff, was officially certified by the state labor last week. Those employees are now part of the New Mexico Highlands University Faculty and Staff.

The petition to form the new bargaining unit was filed less than three months after Highlands facilities, clerical and maintenance staff workers voted overwhelmingly to organize. The northern New Mexico college's faculty formed a collective bargaining unit years ago.

The new bargaining unit includes the university's professional staff but excludes several categories of employees, including supervisory, managerial and confidential employees.

Navajo Code Talker Dies In ArizonaAssociated Press

Another Navajo Code Talker has died in Arizona.

Navajo Nation officials announced Tuesday that Joe Hosteen Kellwood died Monday at age 95.

Kellwood was a Navajo Code Talker in the 1st Marine Division who served in World War II.

He was trained at Navajo Code Talker's School at Camp Elliott in San Diego, California and was the recipient of the Congressional Silver Medal for his service.

The code talkers used the Navajo language to outsmart the Japanese in World War II.

In a statement, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey noted that more than 430 code talkers "answered the call of duty following the Pearl Harbor attacks."

There was no immediate word on funeral plans for Kellwood or a list of his survivors.

Oil Downturn Ripples Through City Finances In New MexicoAssociated Press

Hard times are turning more worrisome for cities and small towns in the heart of New Mexico oil and natural gas territory as state officials contemplate reclaiming dollars pledged to local construction projects to fill a budget gap.

New Mexico lawmakers are confronting a $458 million budget shortfall this fiscal year and may try to reel in money from public works projects before they're built.

Efforts by the state to sweep together idle cash worry Phillip Burch, the mayor of Artesia.

The southeastern New Mexico community already has cut its wages by 10 percent in an effort to close its own revenue shortfall, and Burch fears state budget remedies could freeze local projects that include plans for a new municipal water tower.

Texas Company To Purchase Yates Petroleum In $2.5B DealAssociated Press

One of the largest oil producers in the U.S. is purchasing a privately held New Mexico company and some of its subsidiaries in a $2.5 billion deal that will expand its footprint in major energy-producing basins in the West.

Officials with Houston-based EOG Resources Inc. say the transaction with Artesia-based Yates Petroleum will clear the way for the development of premium wells at low cost in the Delaware Basin, which spans parts of West Texas and southern New Mexico and the Powder Basin in Montana and Wyoming.

EOG says it welcomes Yates' 300 employees and will continue the company's decades-long presence in southeastern New Mexico.

Yates drilled its first commercial oil well on state trust land in 1924 and now produces nearly 30,000 barrels a day.

Highlands University Professional Staff Gets New Union Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

Highlands University professional staff has a new union.

The Las Vegas Optic reports that the new unit, which represents roughly 80 professional staff, was officially certified by the state labor last week. Those employees are now part of the New Mexico Highlands University Faculty and Staff.

The petition to form the new bargaining unit was filed less than three months after Highlands facilities, clerical and maintenance staff workers voted overwhelmingly to organize. The northern New Mexico college's faculty formed a collective bargaining unit years ago.

The new bargaining unit includes the university's professional staff but excludes several categories of employees, including supervisory, managerial and confidential employees.

Texas Man Accused Of Threatening Lives Of Las Cruces PoliceAssociated Press

A Texas man is facing a federal charge of using interstate communications to threaten the lives of Las Cruces police officers in New Mexico.

Federal prosecutors say 32-year-old Sean Stinson of El Paso made his initial court appearance Tuesday.

He remains in custody pending a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing, which haven't been scheduled yet.

Stinson was arrested last Friday for making telephone calls to some Las Cruces residents and allegedly threatening Las Cruces police.

According to the criminal complaint, some of the telephone conversations were recorded and Stinson allegedly threatened fatally shoot or injure specific officers.

If convicted of the charges, prosecutors say Stinson faces up to five years in prison.

OSBI Says Human Remains Found Near Interstate 40 IdentifiedAssociated Press

A 40-year-old Arizona man has been arrested in connection with human remains that were found alongside Interstate 40 in Oklahoma more than a year ago.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday that Juan Gonzalez of Glendale, Arizona, was arrested at his apartment last week. Gonzalez is awaiting extradition in Oklahoma on a warrant for unlawful disposal of a human body.

The OSBI says that the remains of 24-year-old Veneranda Flores were discovered near Hinton on April 7, 2015. She was reported missing from New Mexico in December 2014. Gonzalez was working as a long-haul truck driver at the time.

The Medical Examiner's Office provided a sample of the victim's DNA to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, and Flores' DNA matched samples taken from her family.

Ex-Curry County Jail Officer Is Accused Of Sexual AssaultAssociated Press

New Mexico State Police say a former Curry County Detention Center officer is accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate last month.

They say 27-year-old Christopher Riviers is being held on suspicion of two counts of sexual criminal penetration and voyeurism.

Police say the inmate told authorities that a corrections officer fondled and raped her while she was jailed from Aug. 11 to 17.

The detention center fired Riviers when police started their investigation and the inmate was moved to another detention facility.

Police say their investigation found that Riviers pursued the female inmate for voyeurism and committing unlawful sexual assault.

They also say Riviers passed notes to the inmate expressing interest in a relationship after her release from jail.

It was unclear Tuesday if Riviers has a lawyer yet.

Tags: