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NM Senators Want Buffer Around Chaco Canyon, One Death After ABQ Storm

May 22, 2018

New Mexico Senators Want Buffer Around World Heritage SiteThe Associated Press

Drilling across a swath of northwestern New Mexico's oil and gas country would be prohibited under legislation drafted by the state's two U.S. senators.

The measure being unveiled Tuesday by Democrats Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich would prevent any future leasing or development of minerals owned by the federal government within a protected radius around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

A world heritage site, Chaco and its outlying archaeological remnants are at the center of a fight over expanded drilling.

Environmentalists have long complained about pollution from fossil fuel extraction and coal-fired power plants in the region, and tribal leaders have joined in with concerns about the effects on cultural resources.

The legislation would effectively make permanent a 10-mile buffer around Chaco park, but some environmentalists say the bill doesn't go far enough.

Albuquerque Storm Sweeps Away 6 In Arroyos; 1 Death ReportedThe Associated Press

Authorities say one person is dead in Albuquerque after a thunderstorm dropped rain and hail, flooding arroyos and sweeping away six people in New Mexico's most populous city.

The Fire Department says a woman whose identity was not released apparently was the only person killed by the flash flooding Monday from a storm that ended Albuquerque's 54-day dry streak.

The other people swept away were rescued. Firefighters used a ladder to rescue three people from an arroyo near Interstate 40.

Fire Lt. Tom Ruiz says the people who were swept away were apparently already in arroyos when the storm hit and that they didn't have time to get out before being swept away.

The Fire Department stationed trucks and personnel at multiple locations to respond to emergency calls.

Teen Charged In Deadly Library Shooting Undergoes TreatmentThe Associated Press

The teenager charged in the Clovis library shooting is receiving mental health evaluations and therapy as attorneys prepare for his trial next year.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports 17-year-old Nathaniel Jouett had a few "behavioral outbursts" while in custody as treatment continues.

Prosecutor Brian Stover told that court at a status conference Monday that the outbursts were anticipated and they're being managed.

Defense attorney Stephen Taylor says it is not clear yet if the trial date will need to be altered.

Jouett is accused of killing two people and injuring four at the Clovis-Carver Public Library in late August.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes. It is identifying Jouett, however, because of the seriousness of the crime and because authorities are seeking adult sanctions.

Dry Conditions Force Fire Rules On Carson National ForestThe Associated Press

Carson National Forest officials have implemented harsher fire-prevention restrictions ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Stage II rules, which take effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, prohibit forest visitors from lighting or attending campfires, limit smoking to enclosed vehicles or buildings, and ban the use of fireworks.

The restrictions come as conditions throughout the region remain dry.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Denise Ottaviano says the forest is in "very high fire danger."

The federal agency says the restrictions "will remain in effect across the forest until conditions allow forest officials to change or lift" them.

Violating the restrictions is punishable by fines of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization. A violator also can be sentenced to up to six months in jail.

Video: Officer Tells Lawmaker He Can Smell AlcoholThe Associated Press

A New Mexico state lawmaker insists in video released by police that she hasn't consumed alcohol, but the officer who stops her says he can smell it.

Police on Tuesday released lapel video of the arrest of Republican Rep. Monica Youngblood of Albuquerque on aggravated drunken driving charge. She was detained early Sunday at a DWI checkpoint.

In the video, Youngblood complies with the officer's requests to balance on one leg and count forward and backward. She declines a breathalyzer test.

When the officer asks her education level, she tells him she has a high school diploma and real estate license. She also says she's a state lawmaker.

Later, she says she fights for police every chance she gets.

Police say Youngblood performed badly on a field sobriety test.

Trump Discusses Immigration Agenda With GOP Governors - The Associated Press

President Donald Trump dined Monday evening with Republican governors supportive of his immigration policies, including Gov. Susana Martinez, to discuss plans for border security and deporting people in the U.S. illegally.

Trump says the nation's immigration laws are the worst of anywhere in the world, particularly so-called catch-and-release policies, under which federal immigration officers release those detained for being in the U.S. illegally pending legal proceedings. Trump says, "We have to end it."

Trump says progress on a border wall is being made but called on Congress to provide more funding toward his signature campaign promise.

Govs. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Doug Doucey of Arizona, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, and Henry McMaster of South Carolina also joined the president for dinner.

Analysis Says New Mexico Nursing Homes Worst In NationAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A recent analysis says New Mexico nursing homes are the worst in the nation.

The Albuquerque Journal reports an analysis by the investigative journalism organization ProPublica showed that of 74 Medicare- and Medicaid-certified homes located in New Mexico, inspectors reported serious deficiencies in 36 of them between 2015 and April 2018.

Reports filed with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services indicate more than 2,217 infractions were reported in New Mexico-based nursing homes in recent years.

Reported infractions range from the relatively minor, such as failing to give adequate notice before switching roommates and not promptly delivering mail, to the potentially deadly, including improper fire safety precautions and abuse of residents.

A spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Health's Division of Health Improvement said in a statement that the department "take(s) seriously our role to protect New Mexico's elderly population."

Southern Plains Drought Continues Stress On Crops, RangelandAssociated Press

Lack of rainfall and above-average temperatures are prolonging the drought conditions that have stressed crops and rangelands and placed new pressures on groundwater sources across the U.S. Southern Plains.

New Mexico State Climatologist Dave Dubois said Monday that while some areas of the Texas Panhandle and southwestern Oklahoma have received plentiful precipitation in recent days, other parts of those states plus New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas have experienced only spotty precipitation since October.

Climatologists and forecasters say drought conditions across much of the Southwest rival those during the disastrous Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Oklahoma State Climatologist Gary McManus says some climatological stations in the western part of his state have recorded less than 2 inches of rain since October, the driest months on record for those locations.

New Mexico Considers Limits For Overworked Public DefendersAssociated Press

Rules are being developed that would allow overburdened public defenders in New Mexico to refuse new cases rather than provide inadequate legal representation to poor criminal defendants.

The New Mexico Public Defender Commission gathered testimony Monday from local public defenders, national judicial experts and prosecutors as it considers how much work public defenders can shoulder before turning away indigent defendants who face jail time.

The state Supreme Court last year declined to intervene on behalf of public defenders who say they are overworked.

Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur says attorney caseloads often exceed national guidelines, undermining constitutional guarantees. The protocols for refusing cases would not apply to juveniles, homicides, violent felonies and sexual offenses.

Local district attorneys say the state does not have the authority to refuse legal representation.

New Mexico Senators Want Buffer Around World Heritage SiteAssociated Press

Drilling across a swath of northwestern New Mexico's oil and gas country would be prohibited under legislation drafted by the state's two U.S. senators.

The measure being unveiled Tuesday by Democrats Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich would prevent any future leasing or development of minerals owned by the federal government within a protected radius around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chaco and its outlying archaeological remnants are at the center of a fight over expanded drilling.

Environmentalists have long complained about pollution from fossil fuel extraction and coal-fired power plants in the region, and tribal leaders have joined in with concerns about the effects on cultural resources.

The legislation would effectively make permanent a 10-mile buffer around Chaco park, but some environmentalists say the bill doesn't go far enough.

Democrats Clash In Heated New Mexico Gubernatorial DebateAssociated Press

Three Democratic candidates for New Mexico governor are taking shots at each other as the primary race for the state's open gubernatorial seat heats up.

Sen. Joseph Cervantes and businessman Jeff Apodaca took turns during a KOAT-TV/Albuquerque Journal sponsored debate Sunday questioning Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham about profits she made from a health care consulting company she co-founded.

Lujan Grisham has faced questions about her consulting company and the circumstances of her resignation as Department of Health secretary under then-Gov. Bill Richardson in 2007.

The congresswoman attacked her opponents for not giving their campaign workers health care benefits.

Republican Congressman Steve Pearce is seeking the GOP nod in an uncontested primary.

The state's struggling economy and poverty remain top issues in the race.

Frontier Flight Makes Emergency Landing In AlbuquerqueKJRH-TV, Associated Press

A Frontier Airlines flight from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to San Diego was forced to make an emergency landing in New Mexico after flight attendants smelled an unknown odor.

KJRH-TV in Tulsa, Oklahoma, reports Frontier Airlines Flight 1839 made an emergency landing at the Albuquerque International Sunport late Sunday due to the unknown smell in the cabin.

In a statement, Frontier Airlines says the flight landed safely and no injuries were reported among the 129 passengers and six crew members.

The cause of the odor is under investigation.

Frontier reportedly gave passengers a $200 flight voucher, put them in hotels overnight, and rescheduled them on a flight Monday morning.

The flight is part of a new route from Tulsa International Airport to San Diego.

Woman Awarded $1.2M From Santa Fe Stolen Car, Police CrashSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A Santa Fe County jury has awarded an 80-year-old woman more than $1.2 million after she was injured in a crash involving a stolen car chased by Santa Fe police.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the jury late Friday decided that Arlena Jackson was entitled to damages following the April 2016 crash.

Jackson filed a lawsuit against the Santa Fe Police Department, the city of Santa Fe and a local Toyota dealership where police say 30-year-old Jeremy Chavez had stolen the vehicle.

Jackson's lawsuit argued that police acted negligently when they chased Chavez.

The lawsuit says the crash left her with eight fractured ribs, a fractured pelvis, bleeding in the lungs and other injuries.

Attorney Scott Hatcher, who represented the city of Santa Fe, says police were only doing their jobs.

City Of Aztec Facing Budget Crunch, Spend Cuts UrgedDaily Times, Associated Press

A northwestern New Mexico city is facing such a budget crunch it may end the fiscal year with only a few thousand dollars.

The Daily Times in Farmington reports Aztec finance director Kathy Lamb said last week the city could end fiscal year 2019 with just $4,000 in its general fund if does not cut spending.

The Aztec City Commission may approve a preliminary budget of $26.5 million — about $7.3 million coming from the general fund — when it meets Tuesday.

The dire fiscal outlook has commissioners working to triage scheduled community improvement projects.

Projects, including the North Main Avenue extension project, may be delayed amid the budget crunch.

Albuquerque Storm Sweeps Away 6 In Arroyos, Kills 1 -  Associated Press

Authorities say one person is dead in Albuquerque after a thunderstorm dropped rain and hail, flooding arroyos and sweeping away six people in New Mexico's most populous city.

The Fire Department says a woman whose identity was not released apparently was the only person killed by the flash flooding Monday from a storm that ended Albuquerque's 54-day dry streak.

The other people swept away were rescued. Firefighters used a ladder to rescue three people from an arroyo near Interstate 40.

Fire Lt. Tom Ruiz says the people who were swept away were apparently already in arroyos when the storm hit and that they didn't have time to get out before being swept away.

The Fire Department stationed trucks and personnel at multiple locations to respond to emergency calls.

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