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NM Educational Funding At Stake, NM School District Faces Investigation

Aug 3, 2017

New Mexico Educational Funding At Stake In Two-Month TrialThe Associated Press

A high-stakes legal battle focused on the plight of New Mexico's most vulnerable public school students is headed toward the finish line.

After two months of testimony, a state district court judge may reshape the way public schools are funded and guided by the state. Testimony is scheduled to end Friday.

Parents, local school districts and advocacy groups have sued the state of New Mexico for failing to meet constitutional obligations to provide essential educational opportunities to all students.

The outcome could reshape funding and access to special programs for English-language learners, Native American youth and students from low-income families across a state with the highest second highest poverty rate in the nation.

Education officials under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez have defended state spending on classrooms as more than adequate.

School District Faces Criminal Investigation After AuditThe Associated Press & The Eastern New Mexico News

A criminal investigation into Dora Consolidated Schools is opening following the results of a June audit.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports the audit identified more than $100,000 in potentially mismanaged funds throughout a three-year period. The audit was conducted by the Office of the State Auditor.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Criminal Investigator Dan Aguilar told citizens at a Tuesday community meeting that the office is determining whether it or the New Mexico Attorney General will lead the investigation.

Superintendent Steve Barron could not be reached for comment.

Dora resident Shauna Wade says a group of concerned citizens will attend the Aug. 14 Board of Education meeting to ask Barron and board members to resign.

Track Work Extending Into Northern Outskirts Of AlbuquerqueThe Associated Press

Work to improve tracks used by New Mexico's Rail Runner Express trains is extended into residential areas in metro Albuquerque's northern outskirts.

The rail system says crews welding long pieces of rail together will generally work at night and Rio Metro Operations Manager Robert Gonzales says residents of the north valley shouldn't be concerned if they see sparks or hear work-related noise.

The welding is intended to provide a smoother ride, improve one-time performance and reduce track and equipment maintenance costs.

The system says no disruptions of Rail Runner service are anticipated.

Man Accused Of Deliberately Setting Fire At Rio Rancho RanchThe Associated Press

Federal authorities say a man is accused of deliberately setting a fire at a church in Rio Rancho.

Prosecutors with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives filed a criminal complaint charging 23-year-old Gordon Schuler with using fire to damage or destroy a building used in interstate commerce.

Authorities say the July 31 fire caused extensive damage to the Peace Lutheran Church.

ATF special agents say a business near the church had surveillance cameras that allegedly showed Schuler wearing a backpack and carrying a hammer.

They say those items were later found inside the church.

Schuler currently is in state custody and will be transferred into federal custody to face the charge in the criminal complaint.

 

If convicted, prosecutors say Schuler faces a prison sentence of at least five years.

New Mexico Educational Funding At Stake In Two-Month Trial The Associated Press

A high-stakes legal battle focused on the plight of New Mexico's most vulnerable public school students is in the hands of a state district court judge after two months of testimony in a case that may reshape the way public schools are funded and guided by the state.

Parents, local school districts and advocacy groups have sued the state of New Mexico for failing to meet constitutional obligations to provide essential educational opportunities to all students.

The outcome could reshape funding and access to special programs for English-language learners, Native American youth and students from low-income families across a state with the highest second highest poverty rate in the nation.

Education officials under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez have defended state spending on classrooms as more than adequate.

New Mexico Governor Links New Economic Growth To Tax Cutting – The Associated Press

Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is linking a spurt of local economic growth to the state's commitment toward cutting taxes and streamlining regulations.

Martinez on Wednesday highlighted a U.S. Department of Commerce report showing that New Mexico's gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent between January and March — a faster rate than all states other than Texas and West Virginia.

The oil, natural gas and mining sector was the top contributor to growth in the three leading states. Gross domestic product is the total market value of goods and services produced by labor and property.

Martinez has implemented a gradual reduction of state corporate income tax rates and supports state subsidies to train workers and help relocate or expand businesses in New Mexico.

Santa Fe Police Up Patrols Amid Motorcycle Gangs Tensions – The Associated Press

Police in New Mexico's tourist-popular capital are increasing patrols and 24-hours surveillance amid tensions between two motorcycle gangs.

Santa Fe police spokesman Greg Gurule said Wednesday patrols have been expanded around the area of a drive-by shooting by a member of the Vagos Motorcycle Club. Gurule says the home of a Bandidos Motorcycle Club member also is under 24-hour surveillance after his house was targeted in the shooting.

Gurule says police want to make sure residents and visitors feel safe.

The shooting late Saturday comes amid an ongoing tuft war in New Mexico between the California-based Vagos Motorcycle Club and the Texas-founded Bandidos.

That shooting forced a temporary lockdown at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center when Vagos members crowded an emergency room to visit an injured member.

Track Work Extending Into Northern Outskirts Of Albuquerque The Associated Press

Work to improve tracks used by New Mexico's Rail Runner Express trains is extended into residential areas in metro Albuquerque's northern outskirts.

The rail system says crews welding long pieces of rail together will generally work at night and Rio Metro Operations Manager Robert Gonzales says residents of the north valley shouldn't be concerned if they see sparks or hear work-related noise.

The welding is intended to provide a smoother ride, improve one-time performance and reduce track and equipment maintenance costs.

The system says no disruptions of Rail Runner service are anticipated.

Santa Fe Community College President To Retire The Associated Press

Santa Fe Community College President Randy Grissom has announced he will retire.

Grissom said Wednesday he will step down from his position October 31. The 68-year-old has led the college as president since 2013.

Under Grissom's leadership, the college has nearly doubled its graduation rate and forged a number of partnerships with four-year colleges and universities to offer bachelor and advanced degree programs.

The college also recently received support from Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The SFCC Governing Board will announce the process for selecting an interim president at a later date.

Albuquerque To Honor Fallen WWII War Correspondent The Associated Press

Albuquerque will honor an acclaimed World War II war correspondent who died before he was able to return home.

Ernie Pyle was known for publishing harrowing, firsthand accounts of the war and the sacrifices the young soldiers made, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. He was born in Dana, Indiana and had planned to move to Albuquerque before he was killed.

New Mexico has honored him since the legislature declared Aug. 3 as Ernie Pyle Day in 1945. Pyle's Albuquerque house was converted into the city's first branch library and is still in operation. The home was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2006.

An Albuquerque middle school is also named after Pyle.

Event organizers will celebrate Pyle's 117th birthday on Thursday with a keynote address by longtime war correspondent Joe Galloway and a speech by a University of New Mexico journalism professor. The annual celebration is important to ensure that Pyle's legacy is not forgotten, they said.

"You can only hope in each of the wars that comes along to this country that somewhere out there is someone like Ernie Pyle who will go out and risk everything to tell the stories of the soldiers and Marines, the infantry, the people on the ground who are fighting that war," Galloway said.

Event organizers and participants hope that Pyle will one day receive his own national holiday.

Zeak Lovell Williams, The 1st Black Mayor Of Hobbs, Dies The Associated Press

Zeak Lovell Williams, the first black mayor of Hobbs, New Mexico, has died.

The Chapel of Hope Funeral Home in Hobbs confirmed Wednesday that Williams died Monday. He was 73.

His son, Shawn, told the Hobbs News-Sun his father died in his Hobbs home of a sudden heart attack.

Williams was Hobbs' first black commissioner, elected in 1986 to the District 3 seat with 84.5 percent of the votes.

In 1988, during a time when the city commission circulated mayoral duties among the five commissioners, Williams became the city's first black mayor. He served two nine-month terms during his tenure.

Williams was once known as "The Fastest Man in New Mexico" after running the 100-yard dash in 9.3 seconds at the 1962 state track and field championships.

Santa Fe New Mexican Editor Leaving For Seattle Times Job – The Associated Press

The Santa Fe New Mexican has announced that editor Ray Rivera is stepping down.

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that Rivera has accepted a job as deputy managing editor for investigations and enterprise with The Seattle Times.

Rivera, who grew up in Raton, New Mexico, started his news career at The New Mexican and then worked at The Seattle Times, Washington Post and The New York Times before rejoining The New Mexican in 2013.

During his time at The New Mexican, the newspaper won numerous awards, including the E.H. Shaffer prize for General Excellence.

New Mexican owner Robin Martin says The New Mexican has done outstanding investigative work under Rivera.

Rivera is one of the nation's few top Latino editors.

"t@Gged" To Start Third Season Production In New Mexico – The Associated Press

A psychological thriller that follows three teenage girls is set to start production on its third season in New Mexico.

State Film Office Director Nick Maniatis announced Wednesday that AwesomenessTV's series "t@gged" will begin filming in early August. He says production will wrap mid-September in Albuquerque and Jemez, New Mexico.

Officials say the production will employ around 55 New Mexico crew members and 30 principal actors from the state.

"t@gged" is a psychological thriller that follows three teenage girls, who become connected after a series of violent videos are sent to them from an unknown user known as Monkey Man.

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