KUNM

NM Increases Funding For Pre-K Program, US To Split Work For Producing Nuclear Cores

May 11, 2018

New Mexico Increases Funding For State Pre-K ProgramThe Associated Press

New Mexico will pump in an additional $10 million into the state pre-K program for the next school year, bringing the program to 11 school districts for the first time.

The state Public Education Department announced the additional funding Thursday, opening up more than 1,500 additional pre-K spots to make about 6,800 slots available statewide.

The department says the state pre-K program will be present in 65 school districts and six state charters.

The state pre-K system consists of half- and full-day programs for 4-year-olds. Some programs are part of an elementary school and others are housed in separate facilities.

The funding increase will bring pre-K funding to $33.6 million for the next school year.

US Plans To Split Work For Producing Nuclear Weapons' CoresThe Associated Press

The federal agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile is recommending that the production of the cores that trigger nuclear warheads be split between South Carolina and New Mexico.

The National Nuclear Security Administration's recommendation Thursday comes as the United States looks to ramp up production of the plutonium cores to 80 per year.

At least 30 of the plutonium cores each year will be produced at Los Alamos National Laboratory — the northern New Mexico site where the atomic bomb was developed decades ago.

But most will be produced at the Savanna River Site in South Carolina under the plan.

New Mexico's U.S. senators had pushed to keep the work in the state.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster expressed support for moving plutonium core production there.

Federal Jury Convicts New Mexico Man In 2014 Rape CaseThe Associated Press

Federal prosecutors say a New Mexico man accused of raping a woman and threatening her with a large samurai-type sword several years ago has been found guilty after a four-day jury trial.

A jury in Albuquerque returned a verdict on Thursday afternoon, finding Melvin Russell, of Fruitland, New Mexico, guilty of aggravated sexual abuse.

Authorities say the victim testified during the trial that she was at Russell's house in May 2014 when he became aggressive toward her, grabbing her around the neck and chocking her before threatening to kill her with the sword and sexually assaulting her.

She sought medical care for injuries the next day.

Russell has not yet been sentenced. His attorney said Friday they were disappointed in the verdict and were planning an appeal.

US Plans To Split Work For Producing Nuclear Weapons' CoresAssociated Press

The federal agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile is recommending that the production of the cores that trigger nuclear warheads be split between South Carolina and New Mexico.

The National Nuclear Security Administration's recommendation Thursday comes as the United States looks to ramp up production of the plutonium cores to 80 per year.

At least 30 of the plutonium cores each year will be produced at Los Alamos National Laboratory — the northern New Mexico site where the atomic bomb was developed decades ago.

But most will be produced at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina under the plan.

New Mexico's U.S. senators had pushed to keep the work in the state.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster expressed support for moving plutonium core production there.

Results Unclear As Federal Money Flows To New Mexico SchoolsAssociated Press

An analysis of public school funding in New Mexico shows federal financial support is on the rise without necessarily boosting student academic performance.

The report released Thursday by staff at the Legislature's nonpartisan budget office provides an exhaustive catalog of more than a half-billion dollars in annual federal funding that supports about 6 percent of the state's public school teachers.

Federal support varies widely by school district, and the evaluation found no correlation between school performance and per-pupil federal funding.

The evaluation recognizes efforts by the administration of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to direct state and federal money toward evidence-based initiatives including preschool for low-income families, teacher mentorship programs and an extended school year. School districts could potentially spend even more federal money on prekindergarten and a longer school year.

New Mexico Women Accused Of Kidnapping Oklahoma 14-Year-OldAssociated Press

Two New Mexico women are accused of kidnapping and molesting a 14-year-old Oklahoma boy.

Authorities say 35-year-old Kristen Aragon and 29-year-old Melissa Goelz drove 13 hours from Farmington, New Mexico, to Oklahoma's Pittsburg County in mid-April to pick up the boy and they then returned to Farmington with him.

Oklahoma officials say the boy's father reported him missing and investigators then tracked a cellphone signal and used other means to determine he was en route to Farmington, where police found him.

Officials say the women previously were in contact with the boy through an online game.

The women remained jailed Thursday pending extradition on fugitive warrants from Oklahoma they were charged May 4 with kidnapping and lewd molestation.

Court records don't list defense attorneys who could comment on the allegations.

Members Of Criminal Street Gang On Navajo Sent To PrisonAssociated Press

Three northern Arizona residents are going to prison for their roles in a criminal street gang on the Navajo Nation.

Prosecutors say members of the Red Skin Kingz are responsible for at least three murders, attempted murder, aggravated assaults, kidnappings and drug trafficking.

Authorities say the gang leader, 28-year-old Devan Leonard, and another gang member fatally shot two men in Lukachukai near the Arizona-New Mexico border in late 2014. Days later, Leonard and 26-year-old gang member Kyle Gray killed another person after a drug deal.

Leonard was sentenced in federal court this week to 50 years in prison. Gray received a 30-year sentence.

Prosecutors say a third defendant, Lucille Leonard, oversaw the gang's drug trafficking operation. The 48-year-old was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Construction To Prevent Carlsbad Sinkhole To Begin In AugustCarlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Work to fill a giant, man-made cavern that is on the verge of collapse in southern New Mexico is expected to begin in August.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the state hired the engineering company Amec Foster Wheeler last month to design and implement the project to shore up the brine well on the edge of Carlsbad.

Amec is planning to drill 26 boreholes around the site and pump in grout to stabilize the ground and seal the underground cavity.

The project plans are expected to be finalized by July with work to begin the next month. Construction is expected to be completed by January 2021. Amec will continue to monitor the site for nearly two years.

The backfill project is estimated to cost about $43 million.

Unions Rescind Political Endorsement Amid Harassment ScandalAssociated Press

An alliance of construction trade unions is rescinding its endorsement of a state legislator who is the focus of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.

The New Mexico Building and Construction Trades Council announced its decision Thursday to withdraw the endorsement of Santa Fe-area Rep. Carl Trujillo in a Democratic primary race until harassment allegations are investigated and resolved. The council represents about 10,000 craft professionals affiliated with 15 unions.

Trujillo has been accused by former lobbyist Laura Bonar of sexually harassing behavior several years ago as the two worked together on animal welfare legislation. He says the allegations are lies.

An investigative committee of four lawmakers has been appointed to determine if there is probable cause to pursue charges against Trujillo.

Trujillo is campaigning against fellow Democrat Andrea Romero.

Prosecutors Clear Las Cruces Officer In Deadly ShootingAssociated Press

Prosecutors have cleared a Las Cruces police officer of any wrongdoing in the deadly shooting of a New Mexico man suspected of homicide.

Doña Ana County prosecutors determined last week that officer Joseph Campa's shooting of 23-year-old Nathaniel Montoya in mid-February was justified under state law.

Montoya was accused of shooting and killing 29-year-old Abraham Gomez in Las Cruces. An officer spotted Montoya in a car a day after the shooting.

Police entered into a pursuit, which ended at a Las Cruces gas station where Montoya crashed. Police say Campa commanded Montoya to show his hands.

Police say Montoya raised a gun and Campa fired several shots. Montoya was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say a rifle was recovered from the car.

Police Says Clovis Man Accused Of Threatening To Shoot Up SchoolAssociated Press

Clovis police say a man reportedly angry over not being provided information about his child's school attendance is accused of threatening to shoot up the school.

Police say 33-year-old Carlos Anchondo was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of interference with members of staff and interference with the educational process.

According to police, Anchondo is not listed as a custodial parent for the student and that two schools attended by his children were placed on lockdown until he was located and detained by police.

Online court records don't list an attorney who could comment on the allegations.

Two people were killed and four others injured in an August shooting at the Clovis library. A teenager is charged in that case.

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