Headlines: Exclusions To Food Stamp Changes, Navajo High Court To Rule On Language Fluency...

Sep 26, 2014

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Food Stamp Changes Exclude Some Counties, TribesThe Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

A state agency for now is exempting several New Mexico counties and about a dozen Native American tribes and pueblos from new work-related rules for participation in the food stamp nutrition-assistance program.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that counties being excluded from the rules include Luna, McKinley and Mora and that the tribes and pueblos being exempted include the Navajo Nation.

The new rules are scheduled to start taking effect Nov. 1 in three planned phases. Counties in the first phase include Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe and Valencia.

The exemptions from Human Services Department rules to reimpose and broad work requirements are based on high unemployment rates.

Navajo High Court Weighs Case On Language Fluency - The Associated Press

The Navajo Nation Supreme Court is considering whether a presidential candidate satisfies a tribal law's requirement that candidates fluently speak Navajo and understand it.

The tribe's high court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Friday in Tuba City. It's not known how soon the court will rule.

Defeated primary election candidate Dale Tsosie contends that Chris Deschene lied about being fluent when he entered the race to preside over the country's largest American Indian reservation.

Deschene says fluency is a matter of opinion and that his language skills are progressing.

The tribe's Office of Hearings and Appeals dismissed Tsosie's challenge, resulting in an appeal to the high court.

Deschene and former Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. are set to face off in the November general election.

PNM Submits Plan For New Solar Energy Production - The Associated Press

New Mexico's largest electricity provider wants to build new solar centers to produce enough power to serve 40,000 homes.

Albuquerque-based PNM says an agreement it submitted Thursday to state regulators would allow the company to build 40 megawatts of electricity from solar.

The additional solar energy is part of PNM's plan to meet a state requirement that the company's renewable energy portfolio equal 15 percent of customers' needs.

The agreement is subject to regulators' approval. A public hearing will be held next month.

According to PNM, those signing the agreement include PNM, the Public Regulation Commission staff, the state Attorney General's Office and several advocacy groups.

PNM now has eight operating solar centers and three more under construction.

State Official Won't Add County's Ballot Questions - The Associated Press

Secretary of State Dianna Duran is refusing to place advisory questions on the general election ballot in Chaves County.

Duran says the county missed a September 9th deadline for getting questions on the ballot.

The state Supreme Court last week ordered Duran to add ballot questions polling voters in Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties about marijuana penalties. However, Duran says the court wrongly determined that the deadline was Oct. 4.

Duran says the court's ruling applies only to the two counties and "cannot be used for guidance going forward."

Chaves County wanted five nonbinding ballot questions, including ones to ask the county's voters whether they would support local ordinances to require voter identification and ban the release of wolves in the county.

Closings Scheduled In Trial Of New Mexico Sheriff - The Associated Press

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are scheduled to give closing arguments in the trial of Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella today.

He is facing federal charges of deprivation of rights and brandishing a firearm. He pleaded not guilty.

Authorities say Rodella was in plainclothes last March when he pulled over a 26-year-old motorist in a fit of road rage, jumped out of his personal SUV with a gun, and shoved his badge in the driver's face.

But defense lawyers say Rodella did nothing wrong and was merely trying to stop a reckless driver.

Rodella, who has refused to resign since his indictment last month, faces up to 17 years in prison if convicted.

Regional Bus System Routing Available Online - The Associated Press

The state Department of Transportation says New Mexicans can use an online mapping service to get information about routes and schedules for the agency's Park and Ride regional bus system.

The department said Thursday that bus information is now available through Google Maps and travelers can use the trip planning feature to pick the best route for getting to their destination.

The agency's regional transit system has 100 daily bus departures. There are routes serving Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Espanola and Los Alamos as well as between Moriarty and Albuquerque. Buses connect Las Cruces and El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces and White Sands Missile Range.

The buses also provide links to other transit systems, including the Rail Runner Express commuter rail service.

New Documentary Captures Life Of Chicano Poet - The Associated Press

A documentary based on a memoir by Chicano poet Jimmy Santiago Baca is set to debut.

"A Place to Stand" is scheduled to be screened in Santa Fe on Saturday and follows the life of Baca from Estancia, New Mexico, to his time in the Arizona State Prison in Florence, Arizona. It covers his rise from a nearly illiterate convicted criminal to one of the most recognized Mexican-American writers in the country.

Director Daniel Glick says he got the idea for the documentary after visiting a New York prison and reading Baca's memoir.

The film took more than three years to make and was produced after a social media campaign to raise money.

Baca is known for such collections of poetry as "Poems Taken from My Yard."

Dropouts Clustered In 25 New Mexico Schools - The Associated Press

Legislative auditors report that about 11 percent of high schools account for roughly half of the New Mexico students who drop out without graduating.

An audit released yesterday by the Legislative Finance Committee says New Mexico needs to better target its dropout prevention efforts.

About 25 high schools account for 52 percent of dropouts.

4.7 percent of students statewide dropped out in the 2013 budget year, up from 3.6 percent in 2008.

In 2013, nearly 7,200 out of 152,000 students in grades seven to 12 dropped out.

400-Year-Old Church To Reopen After Renovations - The Associated Press and KOB-TV

A 400-year-old New Mexico church is set to reopen after months of renovations.

KOB-TV reports that Old San Miguel Church in Socorro is hold a rededication ceremony Friday.

The San Miguel Church in Socorro shut its doors in 2010 when it was discovered the walls were collapsing. Services were moved to a newer facility.

The work includes remodeling part of an old church school to house a museum and gift shop.

A subsequent project will create a high-tech classroom for at-risk students.

The church used to be known as Nuestra Senora de Perpetuo Socorro, or Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Priests and Piro Indians built the church in 1615 and located it along El Camino Real, the old route from Santa Fe to Mexico City.