Lawsuit Contends Sexual Abuse By Priest, State Lands Federal Housing Grants

Dec 22, 2016

Lawsuit: Priest Sexually Abused Boy In New MexicoAssociated Press

Another man has come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against a former New Mexico priest who until recently was on the lam.

The claim was filed in court in Albuquerque on Wednesday on behalf of 65-year-old man and former University of Albuquerque student.

The man says The Rev. Art Perrault sexually abused him.

The lawsuit was filed against The Archdiocese of Santa Fe and Servants of the Paraclete, which were the target of dozens of lawsuits in the 1980s and 1990s alleging that priests were molesting children. Many cases alleged that pedophile priests came to New Mexico for treatment by the Servants of the Paraclete and were then sent to churches around the state.

Perrault vanished from his Albuquerque parish in 1992 and turned up in Morocco this year.

New Mexico OKs Reopening Troubled Nuclear Dump - Associated Press

New Mexico regulators have approved restarting normal operations at the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository, a major step for U.S. officials aiming to reopen the facility nearly three years after a radiation leak shut it down indefinitely.

Two letters obtained Thursday by The Associated Press outline the state Environment Department's findings from a recent inspection of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Regulators found two minor permit violations but said those were addressed immediately.

The site run by the U.S. Energy Department has been closed since a radiation release in February 2014 contaminated much of the underground disposal area. The leak stemmed from a chemical reaction inside a container of waste.

The shutdown halted the shipment of tons of Cold War-era waste from sites across the country, compromising the government's multibillion-dollar cleanup campaign and resulting in an overhaul of policies and procedures across the nuclear complex.

The price tag for mitigating the contamination at the site in southeastern New Mexico is expected to exceed a half-billion dollars, which does not include costs stemming from a multimillion-dollar settlement with the state for numerous permit violations.

All provisions of the settlement will remain in effect until they are fulfilled, Kathryn Roberts, director of the state's Resource Protection Division, wrote in one of the letters sent last week to Energy Department officials.

The state also noted that federal officials and the contractor that manages the repository must begin monitoring for volatile compounds when they begin moving waste into underground disposal rooms.

While state approval is key to restarting work at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, federal officials still need to address numerous issues identified as part of a separate readiness review done by Energy Department experts from elsewhere around the country.

Federal officials have pushed to resume some work by the end of the year, but it's not clear whether they will meet that deadline.

Albuquerque Planning Visitor Center Along Route 66Associated Press

The city of Albuquerque has purchased land for the construction of a visitor center along Route 66.

The $3.4 million project to build a visitor center atop Nine Mile Hill has been funded by the city, Bernalillo County and state Legislature.

City officials say the center is meant to celebrate Albuquerque's history along the historic route and offer motorists a place to take in the views of the Rio Grande valley and the Sandia Mountains.

Officials plan to hold community meetings to discuss design plans for the new building.

A timeline for when the project will be complete has not been released.

Officials Report Whooping Cough Outbreak In Eddy County Associated Press and the Artesia Daily Press

Health officials say there is an outbreak of whooping cough in Eddy County.

The Artesia Daily Press reports that according to the New Mexico Department of Health, there have been 20 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in Eddy County since Nov. 1, including 10 school-aged children.

Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher says whooping cough is highly contagious and can cause serious illness. Vaccines are the best way to prevent whooping cough.

Symptoms of whooping cough infection may include coughing fits followed by a loud "whooping" sound. The coughing may be severe enough to cause vomiting.

US Cities With Nativity Scenes Ignore Takedown DemandsAssociated Press

Annual disputes over erecting displays celebrating the birth of Jesus on public land continue to pit some residents against advocacy groups pushing separation of church and state.

But some communities that put up the Nativity scenes on public property are rejecting demands for them to be removed.

The historic Hispanic city of Belen, New Mexico has repeatedly insisted it will keep up its year-round Nativity scene despite threats of legal action from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

City councilors in Franklin, Pennsylvania voted last month to maintain its decades-old Nativity scene in a city park following a lawsuit threat.

The Florida-based Liberty Counsel that offers legal advice to cities that want to protect religious displays says municipalities are digging in to defend the displays.

New Mexico Wins Nearly $1.3M In Federal Housing Grants Associated Press

Three affordable housing projects in northern New Mexico will share nearly $1.3 million in grants.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan's office announced the funding Wednesday, saying the money will go to organizations that help with the purchase or construction of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families.

Lujan says the grants will help ensure neighborhoods in northern New Mexico can provide residents with a safe, stable and affordable place to call home.

The Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority will use its share to rehab 121 rental units at the Pasa Tiempo public housing community and another 116 units at the Villa Hermosa community. Both communities will serve low-income elderly residents.

The Santo Domingo Tribal Housing Authority received $287,000 to assist in the construction of 41 rental units to address overcrowding.

Lawsuit Targets Election Of Bernalillo County Commissioner Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The losing candidate for a commissioner's seat in New Mexico's most populous county is asking a state district judge to overturn the election results and declare her the winner.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the complaint was filed this week on behalf of Republican Patricia Paiz. It accuses "Breaking Bad" actor and commissioner-elect Steven Michael Quezada of failing to sign the paperwork needed to declare his candidacy in March.

Quezada said the allegations are false. His campaign released photos showing him holding up election forms as he posed for pictures with county staff.

Paiz's lawsuit includes an affidavit from a handwriting analyst who says Quezada's wife, not Quezada himself, appears to have filled out the declaration of candidacy.

Quezada won more than 60 percent of the vote in November.

Sandia Labs Project Aims To Improve Farmers' Crops Associated Press

Sandia National Laboratories is getting $2.4 million to help identify crops that are more environmentally friendly.

The project funded by the Department of Energy and by ROOTS, or Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration, seeks to find crops that use less water, reduce need for nitrogen fertilizer, trap carbon deep in the soil and improve soil quality.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced the project on Wednesday.

Heinrich said in a news release that the project could help farmers who deal with challenges of climate change such as drought. Udall says the project will help New Mexico farmers develop crops that are stronger in drought conditions and more environmentally friendly.

Artesia Murder Suspect Out On Bail For 2015 Fatal Shooting Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

A suspect police say shot and killed an Artesia man this week was out on bail for a 2015 fatal shooting of a New Mexico State University student.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports 22-year-old Daniel Aguilera is suspected of killing 21-year-old Otis Chavez on Tuesday.

Authorities say Aguilera already is facing a murder charge in the 2015 shooting death of New Mexico State University student Andres Rojo.

Rojo was killed in July in what investigators believed began as a physical confrontation at an Artesia home.

Court records show Aguilera was out on $100,000 bond.

In the latest shooting, police say Aguilera was shot during the confrontation with Chavez. Artesia Police says Aguilera is recovering at a nearby hospital and will be arraigned on a murder charge.

It was not known if Aguilera had an attorney.

Hawks Family Files Civil Rights Lawsuit In Police ShootingAlbuquerque Journal

The family of a woman killed by Albuquerque Police has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officer who fired the shots.

The Albuquerque Journal reports this is the third lawsuit filed by the relatives of Mary Hawks. The 19-year-old was killed in April 2014. This latest suit contends Officer Jeremy Dear violated Hawks’ civil rights.

The family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque and another over the Inspection of Public Records Act to get records related to the shooting. Those cases are currently in state court.

Dear’s attorney was unavailable for comment. Dear was fired following an internal affairs investigation regarding his use of his lapel camera, but a personnel board reinstated his job.

The lawsuit contends video of the shooting appears to missing or altered. A former records officer at APD said in an affidavit that APD had a practice of altering videos of shootings.

Weather System Delivering Snow, Sleet, Rain To New MexicoAssociated Press

A weather system carrying tropical moisture is combining with a cold front to set the stage for snow, sleet and freezing rain across northeastern New Mexico and heavy snow in northern New Mexico's highest mountains.

Forecasters say most of the state will get rain but a winter storm warning for northern New Mexico mountains about 9,000 feet until noon Friday predicts snow accumulations of between 10 and 20 inches.

Forecasters say travel impacts are expected only in the higher mountain passes and roads near ski resorts.

Lighter snow is expected in northern New Mexico's lower elevations, with the snow turning to rain by late Thursday and moving out of the state by Friday.

A second storm system is expected Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

1 Of Largest Food Banks Gave 32 Million Pounds Of Food Associated Press

One of the New Mexico's largest food banks says it distributed 32 million pounds of food through its partner agencies and provided food to an average of 70,000 people in 2016.

The Roadrunner Food Bank says it increased the number of meals for kids by over 300,000 more meals. That's a total of 1.4 million meals for kids this year.

Roadrunner says it also served an extra 3,000 seniors since launching its senior hunger initiative in 2015.

But the organization says next year will bring just as many challenges as child hunger and poverty continue.

Roadrunner is encouraging more donations. It announced on Wednesday that monetary donations made this month will be matched dollar-for-dollar for up to $80,000.