NM Teacher Turnover Rate 2nd Highest In The Nation, Haitian Migrants Held In New Mexico

Nov 1, 2016

Study: New Mexico Ranks 2nd In US For High Teacher TurnoverThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal 

A think tank has found that New Mexico has the second-highest rate of teacher turnover in the country.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that according to the Learning Policy Institute, from the 2011-2012 to the 2012-2013 academic years, 23.2 percent of the New Mexico educators left their schools or the line of work, well above the national average. Only Arizona had higher turnover, at 23.6 percent. The lowest rate was in Rhode Island, where 7.4 percent of teachers left.

Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein says she isn't surprised by New Mexico's high rate of turnover. She says she often hears from teachers who love to teach, but don't love the profession of teaching.

State Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera says the problem is matching teachers to the right job.

100 Haitian Migrants Being Held In New Mexico County Prison – KVIA-TV, Associated Press

Volunteers say around 100 Haitian immigrants suspected of entering the U.S. illegally are being held in a New Mexico county prison.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement told KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas, last week the agency has detained the men in partnership with the Otero County Prison Facility.

Volunteers say around 130 men are believed to have crossed through California before being detained and sent to different facilities while they await deportation.

The advocacy group Haitian-Americans United is looking for French-speaking volunteers to help with counseling and legal services.

State Agency Launches Campaign Targeting Underage DrinkingThe Associated Press 

A stage agency is launching a new campaign targeting underage drinking in New Mexico.

The Department of Transportation says the "ZeroProof" campaign provides resources for kids, parents, teachers and others about the dangers of underage drinking.

The campaign is beginning with a website for teens and another for parents and teachers. They include stories and information about underage drinking, including the effects on brain development.

Plans also call for an app for students to upload and share selfies with others who choose to abstain from drinking.

The websites are accessed via http://zeroproofnm.com.

Fed Biologists Find Evidence Of Rare Mouse In New MexicoAssociated Press

Weeks of trapping and surveying in the mountains of southern New Mexico have provided federal biologists with enough evidence to say the endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse still exists in the Sacramento Mountains.

Sacramento District Ranger Beth Humphrey says confirming the rodent's existence provides hope that the species can recover over time.

The mouse was listed as an endangered species in 2014, prompting the U.S. Forest Service to fence off watering holes on the Lincoln and Santa Fe forests for the mouse. That spurred criticism that the federal government was trampling on property and water rights in New Mexico as it had in other Western states.

Humphrey says her district will be collecting public comments this fall on proposals for long-term strategies for recovering the mouse.

TV Series 'Midnight, Texas' To Film In New MexicoAssociated Press

State film officials say NBC's new television supernatural drama "Midnight, Texas" will be shooting in New Mexico through early next year.

Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Belen are serving as backdrops for the series, which is based on a collection of books by author Charlaine Harris.

Home to a vampire, witch, angel and hit woman, Midnight, Texas is a mysterious safe haven for those who are different until one of their own is murdered.

The cast includes Francois Arnaud, Dylan Bruce, Parisa Fitz-Henley and Arielle Kebbel.

While in New Mexico, the production will employ over 450 local crew members and about 1,800 local background talent.

The pilot episode was directed by Niels Arden Oplev. Other directors involved in the series include David Solomon, Steve Shill and Milan Cheylov.

Independent Voters Behind Registration Surge In New Mexico Associated Press

The number of registered voters in New Mexico has climbed to almost 1,290,000 in anticipation of the general election on Nov. 8.

Figures released Monday by the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office show an increase of 34,000, or nearly 3 percent, in registered voters since the 2012 presidential election. Independent and small-party registration account for most of the increase.

Democrats currently account for 47 percent of registered voters and Republicans for 31 percent. Independents represent 19 percent and minor parties have 4 percent.

Go back to 2000, and Democrats accounted for 52 percent, Republicans for 33 percent.

Registration is at its highest mark since voter rolls were purged of outdated information in March 2015 to comply with the National Voter Registration Act. That process culminates in odd years.

PNM Abandons Plans For $100 Million Gas PlantAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The state's largest electric utility says it's dropping plans to build a $100 million natural gas plant and pipeline in San Juan County because of low projections for energy demand.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Public Service Company of New Mexico filed a motion to withdraw its application for the project with the Public Regulation Commission on Friday.

PNM President Pat Vincent-Collawn told investors during a conference call last week that demand projections for the project haven't been as high as the company previously predicted.

The 80-megawatt plant was intended to replace energy lost from next year's closure of two units at the coal-powered San Juan Generating Station.

PNM spokesman Pahl Shipley says the company could still revive the proposal in the future.

Study: Next US President Must Act Fast On Colorado RiverAssociated Press

A university research group says the next president will have to act fast to help the Colorado River continue serving millions of city-dwellers, farmers, Indian tribes and recreational users in the U.S. Southwest.

A survey of decision-makers by the University of Colorado group concludes that the president who takes office in 2017 could face the prospect of Colorado River water supply cuts to Arizona and Nevada in January 2018.

The Colorado River Future Project surveyed 65 people including water managers, municipal and agricultural customers, conservationists and government officials at the tribal, state and federal levels.

The survey says most agree that contingency plans and water-use agreements must be firmed up for the seven states, including New Mexico, and Mexico that rely on river water.

The issue is complicated by an ongoing 16-year drought.

UNM To Cut Costs At Publishing HouseAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico is taking measures to cut costs at the school's UNM Press publishing house, which has racked up a cumulative deficit of about $6.3 million.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that President Bob Frank is moving the UNM Press from the school's academic branch to its administrative side. According to a memo from Frank obtained by the Journal, the publishing house came up short by nearly a half-million dollars in the most recent fiscal year.

Publishing house director John Byram said it would be irresponsible to speak with the journal before talking to his staff about the changes.

According to an economic impact report of fiscal year 2015 to 2016, UNM Press staff say it was never meant to be a self-supporting operation.

Audit Questions Las Vegas Community College Hiring, Pay – Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

A recently completed special audit of a Las Vegas community college is questioning the school's hiring practices.

The Las Vegas Optic reports that according to the report there were multiple instances of family members of the Luna Community College president and board members receiving jobs, promotions and substantial pay hikes.

Copies of the report are being forwarded to the Attorney General's Office and to the Office of the State Auditor.

The Higher Education Department, which conducted the audit, said Friday that the audit was completed in response to complaints voiced by college officials and staff.

A response submitted to the department by Luna College officials defends the hiring decisions, promotions and pay raises, calling them all reasonable and based on circumstances.

Los Alamos Gets Bear-Resistant Trash Containers – Los Alamos Monitor, Associated Press

Los Alamos is now equipped with bear-resistant trash containers at 10 locations throughout the city.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports that the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish provided the 13 cans after receiving complaints from the Los Alamos Medical Center.

The $31,500 cost of the project will be split between the department, the medical center and Los Alamos County.

The bear-resistant dumpsters feature heavy metal lids with two smaller access doors for people to use.

Feds Release Plan To Protect Western Sagebrush CountryAssociated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

Federal officials on Monday released an ambitious wildfire-fighting and restoration plan to protect a wide swath of sagebrush country in the intermountain West that supports cattle ranching and is home to an imperiled bird.

The 139-page plan is essentially a how-to guide that follows Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's five-page order in early 2015 calling for a "science-based" approach to safeguard the greater sage grouse while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the ground-dwelling, chicken-sized birds are found in 11 Western states, including New Mexico, where between 200,000 to 500,000 remain, down from a peak population of about 16 million. 

The Interior Department plan also identifies gaps in knowledge as scientists try to find the best approach to restore and protect about 500,000 square miles of sagebrush steppe.

Sage grouse numbers have plummeted in recent decades, and the federal government has been working to protect key habitat to avoid an Endangered Species Act listing.