NM Officials Seek F-16s For Air Base, Officials Blame Abuse On Drugs And Poverty

Aug 31, 2016

Members Of New Mexico Delegation Seek F-16s For Air BaseThe Associated Press

A bipartisan contingent of the state's congressional delegation is urging the federal government to relocate F-16 squadrons to Holloman Air Force Base and expand training efforts at the southern New Mexico post.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Steve Pearce are asking U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff General David Goldfein for a meeting to discuss Holloman.

The Air Force plans to move F-16s from Hill Air Force Base in Utah to make room for new F-35s.

The elected officials say relocating the fighter aircraft to New Mexico would benefit the F-16 pipeline given that Holloman has unmatched restricted airspace, quality infrastructure, good weather and a welcoming community.

The lawmakers say the Air Force is planning a formal assessment of Holloman this fall.

Leaders Blame Drugs, Poverty For Child Abuse – Associated Press

Law enforcement and local school district officials in Albuquerque told city leaders that drug abuse and poverty are at the root of much of the violence that children in New Mexico's largest city may face at home.

The comments on Tuesday evening before a panel of city counselors and county commissioners came during a special meeting organized in response to the horrific killing last week of a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl who authorities say was found dead in the apartment she shared with her mother.

Three people are facing charges in the case, including her mother, the mother's boyfriend and his cousin.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Sgt. Amy Dudewicz with the special victims unit of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office said her department cannot respond to all the child abuse and neglect referrals it receives.

City and county officials called the meeting to address the brutal slaying in hopes of identifying opportunities for the community to better protect children.

Police: Water Bottle On Manhole Closes Albuquerque StreetsThe Associated Press

Albuquerque police say a suspicious device that was left on a road outside a courthouse and prompted authorities to close some streets was a water bottle.

It was left on a smoking manhole cover, prompting a scare that Officer Tanner Tixier says ended up being a false alarm.

Police said Wednesday morning that they were questioning a "suspect" as they investigated a potentially explosive device.

Tixier said the person who was being questioned had fled the area on foot. But it turned out, the man who was on his way to a meeting saw smoke coming from the manhole and placed a water bottle on it so that firefighters could find it after he was able to report his concern.

Smoke was coming out of the manhole because the city was testing its pipe systems.

Democrats File Financial Disclosure Complaint Against Barnes – The Associated Press & KRQE

The state Democratic Party's executive director has accused a republican state representative of failing to report her income as is required by financial disclosure law.

KRQE-TV reports that Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, says the complaint filed with the secretary of state last week is politically motivated.

The complaint says Barnes failed to disclose a $91,000 annual deal her husband has to rent space to the state Human Services Department. In Barnes's first two financial disclosure forms she did not include the agreement, which would have been listed under a questions asking if the elected official or their spouse has provided good to services to a state agency.

Barnes, who filed a corrected financial disclosure earlier this month, says her husband doesn't tell her the details of all of his business and that she reported it as soon as she became aware.

Judge Grants Warrant For US Tribal Shield Sent To ParisThe Associated Press

A judge has granted a federal prosecutor's request to issue a warrant for the return of a tribal ceremonial shield that had been sent to Paris for auction years after it was reported stolen.

Federal authorities and tribal leaders say the shield was swiped from an Acoma Pueblo home in New Mexico in the 1970s before eventually being sent to France, where U.S. laws barring the sale of tribal ceremonial items typically hold no weight.

Court documents do not indicate where the shield has been stored or held in the months since EVE Auction House pulled it from the auction block in May on the day it was set to go before bidders.

The judge's decision Wednesday comes a month after the U.S. attorney's office filed a motion requesting the warrant.

State Mental Hospital Leader To Focus On Reducing TurnoverThe Associated Press 

The new head of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute says she's going to strive to reduce staff turnover.

The Las Vegas Optic reports that 64-year-old Frances Tweed, herself only two weeks into the job as the 352-bed facility's executive director of administration, says the institute's 712 employees need to be stable for the facility to thrive.

Tweed replaces Dr. Troy Jones, who in April after seven years at the helm accepted an administrator's position with a state hospital in South Dakota.

After 13 years with the Hot Springs Boulevard hospital tweed says she's excited to carry on Jones legacy.

Southeastern New Mexico Unemployment Up Amid Oil Downturn – Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

The heart of oil and gas country in southeastern New Mexico is seeing unemployment jump and RV parks occupancy rates fall due to the oil downturn.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports that Lea County's unemployment rate is 9.9 percent compared to 6.9 percent last year.

According to RV parks around Hobbs, occupancy rates are way down from 100 percent capacities with long waiting lists to about 50-80 percent occupancy.

Hobbs Superintendent TJ Parks says the district is down 150 students as of Tuesday from the same day last year.

In Eunice, the count is down to 760 students from 791 last year.

The drop in oil prices has led to lower gross tax receipts for southeastern New Mexico communities and budget cuts.

Rio Rancho Voters Back $60M School BondAlbuquerque Journal

Voters supported a $60 million bond for Rio Rancho schools to fund a new elementary school, security upgrades, and technology infrastructure.

The Albuquerque Journal reports unofficial results indicate more 2,544 people voted for the bond sale and 827 against the bond sale.

The money will fund a new elementary school and an upgraded preschool that currently relies on portable buildings. There will also be funds for new playgrounds and gyms.

About $7 million will go toward technology upgrades and $3 million is allotted for a possible real estate purchase around Unser Boulevard for future schools.

New Mexico Official To Grant Right-Of-Way For New Power LineAssociated Press

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn has decided to grant a right of way for a proposed new transmission line between southern New Mexico and southern Arizona.

Dunn's announcement Tuesday says the Southline Transmission Project will improve New Mexico's electric grid and support the transmission of electricity to key markets while generating revenue for the State Trust.

He also says Southline is striving to use existing corridors and minimize the overall footprint on trust lands.

Developers say the 360-mile-long line would improve reliability of the electrical grid and help bring more electricity generated with renewable resources to regional markets.

Dunn says the New Mexico right of way for the project should be finalized by the end of the year.

Southline Transmission L.L.C. is a subsidiary of Hunt Power, L.P.

New Mexico Judges Disband Chaves County Grand Jury Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Judges in New Mexico say they have disbanded a grand jury in Chaves County because of a lack of funding.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that judges of the Fifth Judicial District disbanded the county's second grand jury, saying there wasn't enough money to pay jurors.

The district judges last year denied a citizen petition asking for an 18-month grand jury in Chaves County, but they did convene a grand jury in the county for three months. The second grand jury was created in May.

Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh called the dismissal of the grand jury disappointing and disturbing. He says he offered to discuss how Roswell could contribute to funding the jury, but says the judges didn't respond.

Alamogordo Oks New 'Low Flow Toilet' Rebate Policy Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

A southern New Mexico city is giving residents another incentive to conserve water with a new low flow toilet rebate policy.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that Alamogordo City Commissioners recently voted to make the policy official after city officials had been offering the rebate for years.

The move comes as New Mexico continues to see abnormally dry conditions throughout the state.

Officials say a high flow toilet is a toilet, which uses three gallons or more of water per flush. A low flow toilet uses 1.6 gallons or less per flush and typically manufactured or installed after 1994.

Customer service manager Mark Threadgill says the city is changing crediting the customer from $6 a month for 12 months per toilet to a one-time credit of $72 per toilet.

National Pediatric Group Urges Aggressive Action on VaccinesAlbuquerque Journal

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging states to eliminate non-medical exemptions that allow parents to avoid vaccinating their children, and said doctors can drop patients that resist required immunizations.

The Albuquerque Journal reports New Mexico law allows parents to invoke religious beliefs to avoid vaccination, but not philosophical reasons. A bill to do away with exemptions was unsuccessful last year.

Statewide about 0.8 percent of children between 4 and 18 are exempt, but there are pockets in Taos and Los Alamos where that rises to more than 3 percent.

The report, “Countering Vaccine Hesitancy,” also said pediatricians could discontinue seeing families who refuse to vaccinate their children. Doctors contacted by the Journal said they would continue seeing such patients, but they expect the report to prompt more discussions on strategies for working with parents who resist vaccines.