New Mexico Moves Up In Oil Rankings, Official Unsatisfied With College Board Ruling

Jan 3, 2018

New Mexico Moves Up In Oil And Gas RankingsThe Associated Press

Thanks to more barrels of oil being pumped monthly from the Permian Basin, New Mexico is among the nation's top producing states.

Industry officials in New Mexico are celebrating the latest figures released by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, saying billions of dollars of investment by energy companies in the state is paying off as production is reaching record highs.

The figures show monthly production hitting more than 16.3 million barrels of oil in New Mexico in late 2017, and experts say the state is on pace to set an annual record for the year.

New Mexico Oil and Gas Association director Ryan Flynn said the production boom will provide more revenue for the state, easing pressure on lawmakers as they set spending priorities for education and other government programs during the upcoming legislative session.

Official Unsatisfied With Committee's Take On College BoardsThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

A state higher education official is disappointed to hear that a committee did not recommend changes to the state's governance of its large array of colleges and universities.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday that Higher Education Department Secretary Barbara Damron will continue to push for additional research into possible consolidation among New Mexico's two-year institution.

Currently, there are 21 governing boards that manage the state's 31 public institutions.

After researching higher education systems in other states and considering various scenarios, the committee decided that centralizing the state's system would not save New Mexico more money and could possibly lead to complications.

It also dismissed the idea of a two-board model where one would be responsible for all four-year institutions while the other would handle only two-year institutions.

Albuquerque Man Gets 20-Year Prison Term For Bank RobberiesThe Associated Press

Authorities say an Albuquerque man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for a 2016 bank robbery spree.

Prosecutors say 37-year-old Christopher James Baum will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison term.

Baum had three prior bank robbery convictions.

He was arrested by the FBI and Albuquerque police in August 2016 on a criminal complaint charging him with robbing four banks and attempting a fifth heist.

Baum was accused of robbing the Albuquerque-area banks in a two-week span in August 2016 and waving a pistol at a bank teller in the final robbery.

He pleaded guilty in the case in November 2016.

New Mexico Supreme Court Puts Disputed Laws On HoldAssociated Press

The Supreme Court has placed a temporary hold on disputed legislation as it considers whether vetoes last year by Gov. Susana Martinez fulfilled legal requirements.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a stay that may delay full implementation of 10 laws that aim to expand high-speed internet access, allow hemp research and more. Two out of five justices opposed the action.

Leading lawmakers in the Legislature, which is led by Democrats, say Martinez missed veto deadlines and never explained the reason for vetoes as required. The governor says the Legislature is overstepping its authority in challenging the vetoes.

A state district court opened the way for the 10 disputed bills to become law in September. The Supreme Court has no timetable for a final decision.

Belen Women Is Arrested After Foster Child In Her Care DiesAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Valencia County Sheriff's officials say a Belen woman has been arrested after an 11-month-old foster child allegedly died while in her care.

They say 55-year-old Stephanie Crownover is being held on a no-bond hold on suspicion of child abuse resulting in death.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that in an autopsy report, a pathologist determined Ariza Barreras could have had pneumonia but Crownover didn't take seek medical care for the child.

It was unclear Tuesday night if Crownover had a lawyer yet.

Sheriff's deputies went to Crownover's house on Sunday after she reported Barreras wasn't breathing. The girl was dead when deputies arrived.

Crownover reportedly told deputies that she was a respite caregiver for foster children through the Children Youth and Families Department.

New Mexico Utility Grapples With Costs Of Closing Coal Plant - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

New Mexico's largest electric provider plans to get out of the coal business sooner rather than later and is proposing legislation that could ease the sting of closing a coal-fired power plant that has served customers around the Southwest for decades.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico wants legislative approval for a mechanism that would address how the utility recovers millions of dollars of remaining investment in the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station.

By financing undepreciated capital through the highest rated bonds possible, utility officials say they'll be able to save customers money as they move toward natural gas and more renewable energy.

Environmentalists say depending on how the legislation is crafted, it could help establish broader public policy for reinvestment in cleaner energy and in diversifying New Mexico's economy.

Deputies: Homeland Security Employee Stole $26K From GrandmaFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security employee is facing charges after authorities say she embezzled more than $26,000 from her New Mexico grandmother.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports 32-year-old Cassie Davis was recently arrested on embezzlement and forgery charges in connection with unlawfully signing checks.

An arrest warrant affidavit says Davis of Flora Vista, New Mexico, stole $26,800 from her grandmother and unlawfully signed six checks payable to herself from her grandmother's checking account.

Davis told San Juan County Sheriff's deputies she was being set up.

A motion on Davis' conditions of release to allow her to travel to Colorado for work says she is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security employee.

Her attorney, Steve Murphy, says he hasn't seen any of the evidence from the case.

New Mexico City Manager Resigns Amid Harassment AllegationsKOB-TV, Associated Press

The manager of a small southeastern New Mexico community facing sexual harassment accusations has resigned.

City councilors in Jal, New Mexico, recently announced that Bob Gallagher stepped down from his position following allegations of harassment.

The resignation came after KOB-TV reported that two women had accused Gallagher of sending them crude text messages and asking for sex.

Dadrianne White told the TV station Gallagher repeatedly sent her lewd text messages for two years after he helped get her out of jail.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Gallagher was the president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and also was chair of the New Mexico State University board of regents.

Gallagher denied in a statement last month all allegations of harassment from that accuser and said he believed he was being targeted. He says racy text messages he sent were "consensual."

Gallagher says he apologized to his wife and family.

Police Say Home Of Hospitalized Woman Burglarized 5 TimesKOAT-TV, Associated Press

Police say the home of an elderly Albuquerque woman hospitalized for a week has been burglarized at least five times, highlighting the city's rising crime rates.

KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reports police arrested two people on Sunday in connection with a break-in that followed a string of burglaries of the same home.

According to police, the woman's home saw two attempted break-ins on Christmas Eve. Police say another man was then arrested on Christmas Day after the woman's daughters found him in the house.

The homeowner's name has not been released.

Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik says investigators believe the woman's information was compromised by a staff worker or somebody at the hospital.

The city of Albuquerque saw a jump in property crime in 2016.

Police Seek Texas Man In Woman's Death, Abduction Of 2 GirlsAssociated Press

Police are searching for a 44-year-old man they've identified as a person of interest in the death of a woman and abduction of her two daughters.

Authorities say Terry Allen Miles is being sought for questioning in the death of 44-year-old Tonya Bates, whose body was found Sunday at the home they shared in Round Rock, north of Austin.

Round Rock police Chief Allen Banks said Monday that Miles and Bates were roommates.

He says it's not clear how long Bates had been dead before her body was found.

Banks says investigators believe Miles took the woman's 14- and 7-year-old daughters. An Amber Alert was issued Sunday for the girls.

The Hyundai Accent that Miles is believed to be driving was last seen in northern New Mexico or southern Colorado.

Officials Try To Stop Spread Of Chickenpox In State PrisonAssociated Press

State officials say two inmates at a southern New Mexico prison have come down with chickenpox, and authorities are trying to limit the varicella virus that causes the illness from spreading any further.

A New Mexico Corrections Department spokesman said Tuesday that the agency is consulting with state epidemiologists. It also is trying to determine which of the inmates exposed to the virus are immune to it and which of them are not.

Authorities learned Friday that the two inmates had become ill with chickenpox at the Otero County Prison Facility, a privately operated prison in Chaparral.

The department says that so far 135 inmates who may have been exposed to the virus have been offered blood testing to determine their immunity. Those who are not immune will be quarantined.

Prison staff also are being screened.

Navajo Nation's Economic Development Director Steps DownAssociated Press

The director of the Navajo Nation's Division of Economic Development has stepped down.

Tribal officials say Crystal Deschinny left the job Tuesday for personal reasons.

Deschinny was appointed to the position in March 2016 and brought a background in financial investment, investment management and diversifying economic development.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye praised Deschinny for her work and says she has helped the tribe to better place businesses in economically supportive locations.

The Department Manager for Project Development — Tony Perry — will serve as acting director for the Division of Economic Development until a new director is appointed.

The vast Navajo Nation covers parts of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico.