NMSU To Detail Job Cuts, Dispute With Texas Over Rio Grande May Head To Supreme Court

Jul 13, 2016

NMSU To Announce Details Of Budget, Job Cuts Associated Press

New Mexico State University president Garrey Carruthers says he will unveil details about the school's budget problems, which will include jobs cuts.

Carruthers said he would give details Wednesday about the elimination of 89 open positions and 37 jobs currently held by employees. He says the moves are needed for the long-term fiscal health of the school.

Carruthers says the university will try to find jobs for those who will be laid off.

The university saw a $9.1 million reduction in its $690.5 million operating budget for fiscal year 2016.

NMSU's main campus saw its student body shrink 14 percent this fall to 15,490 students from peak enrollment in 2011 of 18,024. As enrollment shrinks, so does university revenue.

Ex-Colfax County Deputy Pleads Guilty In Drugs, Theft CaseThe Associated Press

A former Colfax County Sheriff's deputy has pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking and theft of government property charges.

Prosecutors say 46-year-old Vidal Sandoval, of Cimarron, entered his plea Wednesday.

The FBI and the New Mexico State Police arrested Sandoval in March 2015 for allegedly trying to possess cocaine with intent to distribute in Colfax County the previous month.

He also was accused of stealing money belonging to the FBI.

While on duty in December 2014, Sandoval allegedly stole money from two motorists whom he believed to be drug traffickers.

Sandoval reportedly found $8,000 in cash in the motorists' vehicle during a traffic stop and kept all but $500 of it. He later learned the cash belonged to the FBI and the two motorists actually were undercover officers.

San Juan County Oil Fire Contained But Cause Unclear KOB-TV, KOAT-TV

A massive oil field fire that began with explosions Monday night in San Juan County in northwest New Mexico is about 75 percent contained.

KOB-TV reports the fire burned 36 storage tanks that held oil and wastewater. No injuries have been reported and no homes were destroyed, but WPX Energy, which owns the site, is providing lodging for about 10 families.

Officials from the company, as well as the Farmington Fire Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are monitoring air quality in the area. WPX officials said the fire should be completely extinguished by the end of the day.

It is still unclear how the fire began, but a WPX official told KOAT-TV that information should be more clear in the next few weeks and the company will share that with the public.

Albuquerque Transit System Plans To Acquire Electric BusesThe Associated Press 

Albuquerque's transit system plans to start using electric buses.

A planned announcement Wednesday by Mayor Richard Berry of selection of buses that will be used follows a competitive bidding process.

Berry told the Albuquerque Journal that the planned purchases of 60-foot-long electric buses will give the city's transit system a chance to earn a top environmental rating and save the city money.

Officials say the 18 buses would cost $24 million. That's about $7 million more than diesel buses but operating costs over the buses' warranty period would provide net savings of $14 million.

The buses are to be used as part of a new transit project along Central Avenue.

Deadline Nears For Navajos In National Land Buyback ProgramThe Associated Press 

Deadlines are nearing for thousands of Navajos considering offers to sell off land interests as part of a nationwide program.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has made offers worth more than $260 million to about 26,000 Navajo landowners.

The buyback program is the second phase of the $3.4 billion Cobell class-action lawsuit over royalties the federal government held in trust for American Indians.

The voluntary program aims to buy land parcels owned by multiple individuals — sometimes hundreds or thousands of people — and turn them over to tribal governments.

Interior Deputy Secretary Michael Connor will be visiting the Navajo Nation this week.

The department says Navajo landowners have until Saturday or Aug. 22 to accept or reject offers, depending on when they received them.

Supreme Court To Consider Report On Rio Grande CaseAssociated Press

It will likely be up to the nation's highest court to settle a dispute between Texas and New Mexico over management of water from the Rio Grande.

Officials in both states have been waiting for nearly a year for a recommendation on the handling of the case that could dramatically curb groundwater pumping in some of New Mexico's most fertile valleys and force the state to pay as much as $1 billion in damages.

Now, a special master assigned by the U.S. Supreme Court is recommending the rejection of a motion by New Mexico to dismiss the case, meaning it can move forward as long as the court agrees.

Texas sued in 2013, claiming New Mexico failed to deliver water as required under a decades-old compact.

Albuquerque Chosen To Host 2019 National Senior GamesAssociated Press

Albuquerque has been selected to host the 2019 National Senior Games, an event that attracts thousands of competitors and spectators.

The Senior Games are played every two years and feature 19 sports for women and men age 50 and above.

Mayor Richard Berry announced the city's selection Tuesday. The Albuquerque Journal reports the event will bring about 10,000 athletes to the city with an estimated economic impact of $34 million.

Hosting the games will cost the city about $5 million and city officials earlier this year approved plans to build a $21 million complex of baseball and softball fields.

2 Cases Of Human Tularemia Cases In Bernalillo CountyAssociated Press

Authorities say two cases of human tularemia have been confirmed in Bernalillo County.

They are the first two laboratory confirmed human cases in New Mexico so far this year.

Albuquerque's Environmental Health Department, the New Mexico Department of Health and the Bernalillo County Health Protection Section say the cases involve a 74-year-old man and a 71-year-old woman.

Authorities say the woman is currently hospitalized but is improving. The man has fully recovered.

They say one of the two likely was exposed in the Rio Grande bosque area.

Health authorities say it's believed the illness was the result of a bite from an infected deer fly.

Tularemia is caused by bacteria found in rodents and rabbits and can be fatal if not treated properly.

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Courts Sanders Followers Associated Press

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is wasting no time in courting backers of Bernie Sanders after the Vermont senator endorsed former rival Hillary Clinton.

Johnson appeared Tuesday in a new YouTube video to urge people who are still "feeling the Bern" to consider the Libertarian Party option.

The former two-term New Mexico governor is urged Sanders supporters to "Google Gary Johnson" in the video highlighting Johnson's civil rights score card from the ACLU and Clinton's positions on the Iraq War and the bombing of Libya. Johnson makes only passing reference to Republican contender Donald Trump.

Libertarians including Johnson are pushing for reduced spending and taxes, saying the federal government has gotten too big across the board. Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld is the Libertarian vice presidential nominee.

Suspect Accused Of Shooting Into Homes Released Day After ArrestKRQE-TV, KOB-TV

Residents of a neighborhood in the Albuquerque foothills are on edge after a man police arrested after they say he fired shots into homes and cars was released from jail.

KRQE-TV reports police arrested Derek Foote late Monday night, but he was out on bond by Tuesday. He is to appear in court Wednesday and also faces previous charges of shooting at buildings and negligent use of a firearm.

Police said they will have extra patrols in the area. KOB-TV reports Foot could go back to jail if a judge raises his bond or revokes it.

Latest Installment Of 'Wolverine' Filming In New Mexico Associated Press

The final installment of Hugh Jackman's "Wolverine" will be shooting in New Mexico.

Under the working title "Juarez," the film begins principle photography this month and work will continue through August in the Albuquerque area, Abiquiu and Chama.

The New Mexico Film Office says the production will employ about 130 New Mexico crew members, two New Mexico cast members and about 600 background talent.

The feature is directed by James Mangold, who also directed "The Wolverine" in 2013. Producers include Hutch Parker and Simon Kinberg, both of whom also worked on "X-Men: Days of Future Past."

Nun Who Stood Up To Billy The Kid To Be Subject Of TV Series By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

An Italian-born nun who once challenged Billy the Kid and later opened New Mexico hospitals and schools will soon be the subject of a TV series.

An Albuquerque production company is scheduled Wednesday to announce a new project about Sister Blandina Segale.

Saint Hood Productions will oversee the production "At the End of the Santa Fe Trail" just as the Roman Catholic Church is examining the 19th-Century nun for possible Sainthood.

Segale, a nun with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and an advocate for Hispanics and Native Americans, founded schools in New Mexico and St. Joseph Hospital.

Her encounters with Old West outlaws became the subject of an episode of the CBS series "Death Valley Days," titled "The Fastest Nun in the West."

She worked as an educator and social worker in Ohio, Colorado and New Mexico.