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Gov. Martinez Visits National Guard Troops At Border, NM Town Chief Gave Police Badges To Friends

Apr 27, 2018

Gov. Martinez Visits National Guard Troops At BorderThe Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez visited National Guard troops deployed to the U.S-Mexico border, praising their work with the Border Patrol as bolstering security for the state.

The Republican governor toured the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station for several hours Thursday, getting a firsthand look at operations in southern New Mexico.

Martinez says the 61 National Guard troops deployed to the station near El Paso, Texas, volunteered for the border duty. She says the number could rise to about 150.

The troops were deployed earlier this month after President Donald Trump called for up to 4,000 National Guard troops to be deployed along the border.

Martinez says the troops will serve in a supporting role to Border Patrol agents but will not be enforcing federal laws.

Town Chief Gave Police Badges To Pals, CelebritiesThe Associated Press & KRQE

A tiny, southeastern New Mexico town is facing questions after it amassed a police force with more than 100 gun-toting officers — most who don't live in the state.

KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reports the village of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, is under investigation over claims its former volunteer Police Chief Will Norwood passed out authentic looking police credentials to his friends and celebrities who had little or no police training.

The station reported that Norwood gave friends full police powers with statewide authority in exchange for a $400 annual fee paid to the private Lake Arthur Reserve Police Officer Association.

Under New Mexico law, reservists don't have law enforcement powers to act on their own and can't make arrests.

Norwood did not return phone calls.

Arguments End In Trial Over New Mexico Public Land AccessThe Associated Press

A New Mexico judge is weighing arguments over public access to prime hunting territory after a several weeklong bench trial in Taos.

White Peak has been the source of legal and administrative fights for decades, as hunters and others have sought access to public land amid an area of wilderness that often requires crossing through private property to access state trust land.

At issue in state district court is whether roads used to access the White Peak area are considered historic roads open to the public or private ranching roads.

Property owner and rancher David Stanley has argued that hunters and other members of the public have trespassed on private property for years to reach trust lands.

Arguments in the trial ended Thursday. Judge Sarah Backus in Taos District Court heard the case.

2 Sentenced In Scheme To Arrange Fraudulent MarriagesThe Associated Press

Two New Mexico residents have been sentenced on convictions stemming from a scheme to arrange fraudulent marriages to provide foreign nationals with obtain legal immigration status.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 44-year-old Yi Lee was sentenced to six months in prison and six months of home confinement and fined $10,000 while 31-year-old Santiago Aveles of Las Cruces was sentenced to three years of probation and fined $2,500.

They were sentenced Thursday in federal court in Las Cruces.

According to a 2017 indictment, Lee, Aveles and four co-defendants conspired to obtain immigration status for foreign nationals by having U.S. citizens enter into fraudulent marriages with foreign nationals in exchange for money.

Lee plead guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud while Aveles pleaded guilty to conspiracy and marriage fraud.

BLM Adds $1,000 Adoption Checks To Controversial Horse PlansThe Associated Press

Federal land managers are again seeking congressional backing to sterilize, euthanize or sell for slaughter tens of thousands of wild horses roaming public lands across the West.

But the Bureau of Land Management has added a new idea for culling overpopulated herds: $1,000 paychecks for those who adopt one.

Overwhelmed by what it calls a $1 billion problem, the agency trotted out the novel approach in a suite of options presented to Congress on Thursday to address the challenges it admits are both "controversial and politically sensitive."

Horse advocates condemned the package of alternatives as "a roadmap for destruction of America's wild free-roaming horses."

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association praised the agency for trying to end a decade-long stalemate in Congress it says has resulted in unhealthy horses, degraded rangeland and program costs that are spiraling out of control.

Report Finds National Parks Boost Spending In New MexicoAssociated Press

A new report says the more than 2 million people who visited New Mexico's national parks, monuments and wilderness preserves in 2017 spent $116 million in the state.

The National Park Service released the report Thursday.

In a statement, officials say a park service economist and U.S. Geological Survey economist conducted the analysis.

Nationwide, the park service says, 330 million people who visited towns within 60 miles of a park spent roughly $18.2 billion last year, helping to support hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Some of New Mexico's best-known national park sites include Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico, Bandelier National Monument outside Los Alamos, and the White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo.

There are 15 total sites statewide.

Town Chief Gave Police Badges To Pals, CelebritiesKRQE-TV, Associated Press

A tiny, southeastern New Mexico town is facing questions after it amassed a police force with more than 100 gun-toting officers — most who don't live in the state.

KRQE-TV reports the village of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, is under investigation over claims its former volunteer Police Chief Will Norwood passed out authentic looking police credentials to his friends and celebrities who had little or no police training.

The station reported that Norwood gave friends full police powers with statewide authority in exchange for a $400 annual fee paid to the private Lake Arthur Reserve Police Officer Association.

Under New Mexico law, reservists don't have law enforcement powers to act on their own and can't make arrests.

Norwood did not return phone calls.

Black Bear Captured After Roaming In Albuquerque Suburb Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico wildlife officials say a 200-pound black bear found wandering in an Albuquerque suburb had to be tranquilized and captured.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the exploring bear was spotted Thursday morning in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, before state Game and Fish officers caught the young animal in a residential area.

Rick Winslow, a state bear and cougar biologist, says current drought conditions may have caused the bear to travel into the populated area in search of additional food sources.

Black bears are known to eat green grasses and other plants that rely on moisture to survive, especially during this time of year.

Winslow says he believes this summer could yield more human and bear interactions than usual.

Officials say the bear will be released into the wild.

Albuquerque Man Sentenced In Thanksgiving 2016 Arson CaseAssociated Press

An Albuquerque man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for setting a string of fires in the days leading up to and during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend two years ago that damaged multiple establishments in New Mexico's largest city.

The locations authorities say 29-year-old David Hickman targeted in 2016 included an Old Navy, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and chapel of a local anti-abortion organization.

There were no reported injuries that resulted from the instances of arson, which occurred overnight or in the early morning hours when most businesses in the city are closed.

David Hickman was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Albuquerque after pleading guilty to five counts of arson last year.

He also was ordered to pay $406,348 in restitution.

New Mexico Regulators Order Utility To Explain Silo FailureSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico regulators have given the operator of a coal-fired power plant nearly two weeks to explain the cause of the structural failure of a coal silo last month.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission issued the order Wednesday to the Public Service Co. of New Mexico after the failure at its San Juan Generating Station resulted in a fire and some damage.

The order requires the utility to explain what repairs it intends to make and to provide a timeline for them.

Utility spokesman Dan Ware says the utility will comply with the order. He says the unit is expected to be operational by mid-June.

The utility has plans to close the plant in northwest New Mexico within the next few years.

Post Office Installing Temporary Boxes To Serve CommunityAssociated Press

The Postal Service is installing temporary mailboxes in Pie Town to allow residents of the tiny western New Mexico community to keep getting mail while the agency continues trying to identify a location for a replacement post office.

The Postal Service recently suspended operations at its current location because of a "loss of lease."

Spokesman Peter Hass says the mailboxes are being installed Thursday at 17 Frontage Road outside the current facility and are expected to be available for use starting Friday.

Pie Town is 100 miles southwest of Albuquerque.

Federal Agency Says It Lost Track Of Migrant KidsAssociated Press

A Senate subcommittee has found that federal officials lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children last year after a government agency placed the minors in the custody of adult sponsors in communities nationwide.

The Health and Human Services Department says it uses its limited funds to track the safety of at-risk children, and could not determine where 1,475 missing minors had gone.

The Health and Human Services Department came under fire two years ago for rolling back child welfare policies meant to protect unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America. An Associated Press investigation found that more than two dozen were placed in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations says federal agencies need to take full responsibility for the children's care.

Gov. Martinez Visits National Guard Troops At BorderKOB-TV

Gov. Susana Martinez visited the Mexican border near Santa Teresa Thursday to meet with National Guard troops deployed to the area.

KOB-TV reported this was Martinez’s first visit since she activated the Guard at the request of President Donald Trump.

There are about 60 troops onsite and Martinez says that will probably increase to 150. New Mexico National Guard Brig. Gen. Thomas Bump says service is voluntary.

Martinez called the situation at the border a crisis and says the National Guard troops will focus on routine tasks that free up Border Patrol agents to enforce federal immigration laws.

The governor exempted 71 guard members who are officers in the Albuquerque Police Department from serving because of low staffing in the department.

Santa Fe School District Reconsiders Security ApproachAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The Santa Fe school district is backing away from a plan to place police officers on campuses among its efforts to improve school safety.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the city told Santa Fe Public Schools that its police department does not have enough officers to assign three to school campuses.

The city and district were talks about splitting the estimated $200,000 cost of the action.

School board members at a budget session Tuesday supported adding $500,000 next year to fund school safety and prevention. Some of that amount would pay for three full-time social workers.

Superintendent Veronica Garcia says the district is taking a multifaceted approach to addressing security. The district has already implemented a new a visitor check-in system and is planning to install a door barricading system.

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