New Management Takes Over At ABQ Lab, Parents Of Late Navajo Girl Push For Amber Alert

May 1, 2017

New Management Takes Over New Mexico-Based National LabThe Associated Press

The head of a new management team in charge of New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories says the mission of the sprawling weapons and research facility will continue to be national security along with the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

Director Stephen Younger discussed the lab's future during a news conference Monday that marked the takeover of the lab by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, a subsidiary of Honeywell International.

The U.S. Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration announced the $2.6 billion management contract in December.

Lockheed Martin had operated Sandia, located in Albuquerque, for the past two decades and was among bidders that lost out to the Honeywell team.

Younger called it a rapidly changing time and said Sandia will remain flexible to respond to the nation's needs.

Parents Of Late Navajo Girl Continue Amber Alert PushThe Associated Press & The Daily Times

The parents of an 11-year-old girl abducted and killed in a remote part of the Navajo Nation are continuing their push for a tribal Amber Alert system.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports the parents of Ashlynne Mike recently spoke at an event to mark the anniversary of their daughter's death and called on the adoption of a Navajo Nation Amber Alert system.

Officials say in May 2016 Ashlynne Mike was lured into a man's van near her school bus stop and found dead the next day in a remote area near Shiprock, New Mexico. Tom Begaye Jr. of Waterflow, New Mexico, is facing federal charges in her death.

An Amber Alert wasn't issued in New Mexico until around 2 a.m. the morning after Ashlynne's disappearance.

Officers Cleared In Death Of Knife-Wielding New Mexico ManThe Associated Press

Officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man in northwest New Mexico who police say was armed with two knives have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

The Gallup Independent reports Deputy District Attorney Earl Rhoads found the Gallup officers justified in their use of force against 29-year-old Alvin Sylversmythe. Rhoads informed police Chief Phillip Hart that the officers won't face criminal charges in a letter released Friday.

Four officers had responded in July to a report of a knife-wielding man threatening people to find Sylversmythe with a knife in each hand.

Rhoads says Sylversmythe ignored commands to drop the weapons and moved toward the officers before he was shot.

He says the officers' initial efforts to use nonlethal bean bag rounds against the 300-lb. man did not work.

Environmental Group Warns Against Foot Race In Bear Country – The Associated Press

Environmentalists are criticizing the decision to repeat a backcountry trail race after a long-distance runner was attacked by a bear last year at a National Park Service preserve in northern New Mexico.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Monday said the National Park Service is downplaying the threat of interactions between wildlife and participants in a 50-mile race on May 20 at the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

A mother bear with three cubs was euthanized last year by state wildlife officials after attacking and injuring a marathon runner as she raced through the Valles Caldera.

A National Park Service evaluation of this year's race describes a continued threat of human interaction with bears and bear cubs, while noting a positive influence on recreation and public relations at the preserve.

New Mexico Democrats Pick Santa Fe Man To Lead PartyThe Associated Press

The new chairman of the state Democratic Party has plans to heal divisions within the party stemming from last year's presidential election.

Richard Ellenberg of Santa Fe was selected to serve as state party chairman Saturday over outgoing Vice Chairman Juan Sanchez III, a 25-year-old from Belen.

Ellenberg is a retired lawyer and was previously the chairman of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party.

The 69-year-old told members of the state party's central committee that he would work to create a more unified party. He pledged to do that by bringing together supporters of ex-presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Ellenberg has also said he'll collaborate more with county parties around the state and deploy more resources to campaigns.

Ellenberg succeeds Debra Haaland, who did not seek re-election.

New Mexico Police Officer Fatally Shot Suspect In Patrol CarAssociated Press

Authorities say a Santa Fe police officer fatally shot a suspect who tried to drive away in a patrol car.

New Mexico State Police said Sunday that the shooting happened about 10 p.m. Saturday night in Eldorado.

Officers were attempting to arrest the suspect after discovering a stolen vehicle in the driveway.

The male suspect apparently got into the patrol car and put it in drive.

The Santa Fe officer was trying to remove the suspect from the driver's side door but ended up knocked down and pinned between the car and a tree.

Authorities say the officer fired one shot, striking the suspect in the abdomen.

The suspect died at the scene.

The officer, who hasn't been named, was treated and released at a hospital for a leg injury.

New Mexico Students Set Sights High At Rocket Launch Carlsbad Current Argus, Associated Press

High school teams from around New Mexico took part in an event this week in which they launched rockets into the sky near the town of Jal, including one that reached 2,400 feet into the air before descending.

The Current Argus reports participants in Discovery Education System's Go New Mexico rocket launching event included schools from Carlsbad, Loving, Hobbs, Lovington, Jal and Lake Arthur.

Each team launched one to three rockets, which stood at a minimum of 5 feet tall and were first inspected to ensure they were ready for takeoff.

New Mexico Sen. Gay Kernan attended Thursday's event. She says she's happy to see students engaging in educational activities outside the classroom.

The students say they enjoyed the experience and considered the launch of their rockets an accomplishment.

Students Sues Santa Fe Art School For Breach Of ContractAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican

Three university students are suing an art and design school scheduled for closing and its parent company.

The Albuquerque Journal and the Santa Fe New Mexican reported the lawsuit filed last week cites fraud and breach of contract after Santa Fe University of Art and Design decided to closing following the spring 2018 semester.

The school's closure was announced mid-April. Santa Fe attorney Ben Allison who represents the students says the action by the school shows their interest in profit over students. The lawsuit states that Laureate Education Inc., which owns the school, intentionally left students and faculty in a vulnerable position.

SFUAD spokeswoman Rachael Lighty could not comment on legal matters, but says a number of transfer agreements are in place.

It is unclear what amount in compensation for damages the lawsuit seeks.

New Mexico Universities Seek Tuition IncreasesAssociated Press

Student tuitions are on the rise at one of the nation's most affordable state university systems in response to New Mexico's state budget crisis.

Regents at New Mexico Highlands University were considering Friday a 7.5 percent tuition hike in anticipation of new state funding cuts. Fall tuition increases have been approved at a trio of state universities and a community college in Santa Fe as administrators grapple with major financial uncertainties.

All state spending on institutions of higher education has been vetoed for the coming fiscal year amid an escalating feud between Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and the Democrat-led Legislature over how to resolve a state budget crisis.

The New Mexico Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn that veto with input from state university presidents.

Roadway Analysis Finds 5 River Crossing As Most Packed RoadsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A roadway analysis shows five bridge crossings are among the most congested Albuquerque roads.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the latest Corridor Rankings from the Mid-Region Metropolitan Planning Organization put five crossings from U.S. 550 in Sandoval County to Bridge Boulevard in Albuquerque on top. The rankings are based on data from 2014.

Transportation Planner Willie Simon says the analysis shows that there is a lot of demand to cross the Rio Grande eastbound in the mornings and westbound in the evenings.

Senior Planner Nathan Masek does not think more river crossings with ease the traffic. Simon says improved traffic signal timing, better mass transportation options and road conditions phone apps may relieve some of the congestion.

Oregrande Mine Officials Say Garnet Prices Forced SetbacksSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A gemstone mine that was once billed as a big potential job creator in a rural area of New Mexico has yet to get off the ground despite projections that it was supposed to be open by 2016. The proposed Oregrande garnet mine was expected bring $160 million in economic development to Otero County and Alamogordo.

Businessman Daniel Burrell told the Santa Fe New Mexican Friday that the project was simply halted, and not abandoned as the Alamogordo mayor had thought. He says market issues related to the price of garnet forced the setback.

Burrell admits that communication with Otero County leaders has been lacking.

The project was expected to create 47 jobs that would pay an average wage of $58,000.

Saturday Storm Dumped Up To A Foot Of Snow In New MexicoAssociated Press

As much as a foot of snow fell in some parts of New Mexico following a spring storm that shut down highways and state museums.

The National Weather Service reports that 8 to 12 inches of snow fell Saturday in Albuquerque's East Mountain areas.

Los Alamos and Santa Fe to the north saw 6 to 8 inches.

There were also great amounts of snow in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near the Colorado border.

The weekend storm shut down roads, including Interstate 25 and Highway 64 near Raton.

Four state-run museums in Santa Fe also closed due to the severe weather.

American Cyclist Young Dies From Injuries Sustained In CrashAssociated Press

Promising cyclist Chad Young died from injuries sustained during a high-speed crash at the Tour of Gila, the first American rider to die in a prominent North American stage race in nearly two decades. Young was 21.

His team, Axeon Hagens Berman, said Young died late Friday in Tucson, Arizona.

The team said he was involved in a crash last Sunday during the queen stage (the most difficult stage) of the New Mexico race. Medics were on the scene within minutes and Young was airlifted to a hospital in Tucson, where he was initially listed in stable condition.

Young was downgraded to critical on Tuesday when the extent of his head injuries became clear.

The last American rider to die from injuries sustained in a major North American competition was Nicole Reinhart, who crashed during a race in 2000 in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Collegiate rider Randall Fox was killed last year during a race near Seattle.

Remote Areas Of Utah, Arizona Brace For Navajo Plant ClosureKSL-TV, Associated Press

Officials in remote areas of Utah and Arizona say the recent decision to shut down a coal-fired power plant in northern Arizona is expected to cause about 1,000 job losses in an area already struggling with high unemployment.

Owners of the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Arizona, voted earlier this year to close the plant and the coal mine that supports it by 2019.

The closing of the station, and the coal mine that supplies it, could hit small communities in the area, including the Navajo and Hopi tribes, whose members depend on the facilities for jobs, government revenues and coal for heating homes.

KSL-TV reports communities like Page, near Lake Powell, can fall back on tourism. Other areas, like the remote Utah town of Navajo Mountain, residents say they'll rely on livestock, farming and crafts to survive.