Fourth Behavioral Health Provider Leaving State, Salvation Army Donations Down

Dec 24, 2016

Fourth behavioral health provider leaving New Mexico – Associated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

A fourth Arizona-based provider of substance abuse and mental health services is leaving New Mexico.

The New Mexican reports that Valle del Sol is one of five Arizona nonprofits that began contracting with the New Mexico Human Services Department in 2013 to provide treatment for low-income New Mexicans.

Three of the Arizona nonprofits have already left the state, and Valle del Sol's plans to leave have raised questions about how the behavioral health shake-up has affected Medicaid treatment in a state with some of the highest rates of poverty, suicide, drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths.

Valle del Sol's chief development officer says the organization is working with the state Human Services Department to create a smooth transition plan for patients at its seven locations in New Mexico.

Salvation Army Donations Down – Associated Press

Donations for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle program in Arizona, New Mexico and southern Nevada are down this year.

The nonprofit says donations are down from last year, which saw $4.5 million in cash. This year the region has produced about $3.3 million.

Spokeswoman Melany Stroupe says the holiday-time staple of posting a bell-ringer with the collection bucket outside of major stores is in trouble this year because fewer retailers have allowed the program outside their buildings and there are also fewer volunteers.

Stroupe says Red Kettle donations account for up to 60 percent of fundraising for the year. Donations are used for meals, clothing and shelter for those in need, and the money stays in whatever region it was donated in.

Magnitude 4.5 Quake Hits In Northeastern New Mexico – Associated Press

The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting a magnitude 4.5 earthquake in a remote area just south of the New Mexico-Colorado border.

There were no reports of damage from the quake, which occurred around 12:30 p.m. Friday. The epicenter was about 17 miles northwest of Cimarron and about 90 miles northeast of Santa Fe.

The front desk at the famous St. James Hotel in Cimarron did not feel anything, but an employee at Ted Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch further to the north reported a brief shuttering, as if the building had been hit by a very strong gust of wind. There were no guests at the park at the time.

The region has had a couple of less intense quakes reported over the last several months.

Feds Authorize Contractor To Resume Work At Nuke Dump – Associated Press

The U.S. Energy Department is authorizing its contractor to resume the disposal of radioactive waste at the federal government's underground repository in southern New Mexico.

Agency officials said Friday the approval confirms that numerous corrective actions identified during a recent review have been completed. They say the first container of waste is expected to be moved below ground in early January.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been closed since February 2014, when a radiation release contaminated a significant portion of the repository.

The incident forced shipments from around the country to be halted and hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into recovery efforts and policy overhauls.

The corrective actions ranged from paperwork and documentation issues to procedural inadequacies regarding new requirements for accepting waste from national laboratories and other defense sites around the country.

Grand Jury Indicts Man In Albuquerque Officer's Death – Associated Press

A man suspected of fatally shooting an Albuquerque police officer last year has been indicted on murder and other charges.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office says a Bernalillo County grand jury returned the indictment against Davon Lymon on Friday. He's accused of shooting Officer Daniel Webster during a traffic stop in October 2015.

Lymon, who has a lengthy criminal history, was convicted earlier this year in federal court of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Federal prosecutors called more than a dozen witnesses and presented the fallen officer's lapel video as evidence as they sought to prove Lymon possessed the pistol used in Webster's death.

Webster was a highly decorated officer and former Army Ranger. He died from his injuries eight days after the shooting.

Flights Starting To Depart Albuquerque Airport – Associated Press

The sun has started to burn off fog that shut down flight operations Albuquerque's airport for about four hours Friday morning and some flights are beginning to leave.

Albuquerque International Sunport spokesman Daniel Jiron says a total of approximately 30 were affected, nearly all of which were scheduled departures.

Jiron says he knows of two arriving flights -- one passenger and one freight -- that diverted to other airports.

Agents Rescue Immigrants Abandoned In Desert – Associated Press

The Border Patrol says agents rescued 18 migrants abandoned by smugglers in cold and wet weather in the southwestern New Mexico desert near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The agency's El Paso Sector office said the migrants told agents that smugglers who abandoned them Thursday morning said they should find authorities to get help.

According to the Border Patrol, the migrants' clothing was soaked by water and they were rapidly taken to a Border Patrol facility to get them out of cold rain, sleet and strong wind gusts.

The Border Patrol says the migrants were evaluated and that none required further medical assistance before they were processed for immigration proceedings.

The National Weather Service office in El Paso, Texas, doesn't have a monitoring station in the area where the rescue occurred.