KUNM

Santa Fe Tobacco Co. Closing Office, Utility Investigates Failure At NM Plant

Mar 20, 2018

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco To Close Hometown OfficeThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. is closing its office in the New Mexico city where it was founded.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the business had maintained an office in the city despite being acquired years ago by North Carolina-based tobacco giant Reynolds American Inc.

This summer, the fewer than 20 people who work in Santa Fe must either move to North Carolina or leave the company. The bulk of Santa Fe Natural Tobacco's manufacturing and distribution has been centered in North Carolina since 1996.

The move will close a chapter on one of the more successful startups to take root in Santa Fe. The company built Natural American Spirit cigarettes into a bestselling premium brand.

The company was founded in a shed at the Santa Fe Railyard in 1982 by a group of investors.

Utility Investigates Coal Silo Failure At New Mexico Plant The Associated Press

One of the units at a coal-fired power plant that serves customers in the southwestern United States has been taken offline as officials investigate a structural failure in one of its coal silos.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico confirmed Tuesday that the failure over the weekend at the San Juan Generating Station resulted in a fire and some damage that was limited to an area around the silo.

There were no injuries and utility officials say customers aren't being affected.

The utility has plans to close the San Juan plant within the next few years as it works to eliminate coal resources from its portfolio.

Two other units at the decades-old San Juan plant were closed recently as part of an agreement to curb haze-causing pollution in the region.

Bernalillo County To Sell Recovery Home After ComplaintsThe Associated Press

New Mexico's largest county has abandoned plans to run a recovery home for homeless women after getting pushback from neighbors.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Bernalillo County recently announced it is selling the building that was meant to house the recovery home.

Bernalillo County spokesman Larry Gallegos says there was so much opposition from neighborhood groups that the building sat vacant for years.

The county had been granted the facility by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico.

Last month, the Bernalillo County Commission unanimously voted to approve the sale of the building. Proceeds from the sale of the building are going to the county's Metropolitan Detention Center Supportive Housing program, which provides housing vouchers for inmates.

Los Alamos Lab Finishes Treating Drums Of Nitrate Salt WasteThe Associated Press

LWorkers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have finished treating more than two dozen drums of waste that contained nitrate salts similar to one that caused a 2014 radiation release at the federal government's underground repository.

The U.S. Energy Department on Tuesday announced the treatment of the 27 drums.

The containers of nitrate salt waste had not previously been treated so over the last three months crews mixed the waste with water and an inert material to neutralize the combustible characteristic of the salts.

In the case of the one container that ruptured in 2014, that waste had been mistakenly mixed with organic cat litter, resulting in a chemical reaction and the radiation release that forced southern New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to close for nearly three years.

Federal officials say the latest treatment effort marks another milestone for Los Alamos.

Bernalillo County To Sell Recovery Home After ComplaintsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico's largest county has abandoned plans to run a recovery home for homeless women after getting pushback from neighbors.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Bernalillo County recently announced it is selling the building that was meant to house the recovery home.

Bernalillo County spokesman Larry Gallegos says there was so much opposition from neighborhood groups that the building sat vacant for years.

The county had been granted the facility by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico.

Last month, the Bernalillo County Commission unanimously voted to approve the sale of the building. Proceeds from the sale of the building are going to the county's Metropolitan Detention Center Supportive Housing program, which provides housing vouchers for inmates.

San Juan College Joins Other Universities, Raises TuitionFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Another New Mexico college is raising its tuition amid decreased funding from the state.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports San Juan College's Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase last week to generate more than $500,000 in needed revenue.

The board unanimously decided to increase tuition by $3 per credit hour for resident students and by $9 per credit hour for nonresident students.

Ed DesPlas, vice president of administrative services for the college, says San Juan College has seen significant decreases in funding over the past three years from general state funds, and from oil and gas production revenue.

He says the college last increased tuition in April 2015.

Trial Beginning For Us Agent In Cross-Border Killing Of Teen - By Anita Snow, Associated Press

Prospective jurors have been called to federal court in Arizona for a rare second-degree murder trial of a U.S. Border Patrol agent accused of shooting across the international boundary into Mexico and killing a teenager five years ago.

Agent Lonnie Swartz is accused of killing 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. The teen was on the street in Nogales, in Mexico's Sonora state, just across the border from Nogales, Arizona.

An autopsy showed the unarmed youth was hit 10 times, mostly from behind.

Swartz's lawyers have said Elena Rodriguez threw rocks just before he was shot in an attempt to create a distraction for drug smugglers and that the officer was justified in using lethal force.

Opponents of U.S. border policies are expected to rally outside the courthouse.

New Mexico Delegation Suggests Name For New Nuclear SubAssociated Press

New Mexico's congressional delegation says the U.S. Navy's next nuclear submarine should be named "USS Los Alamos" in recognition of the community's contributions.

The delegation sent a letter to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Monday citing the founding of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the once-secret federal installation that helped develop the atomic bomb.

The letter refers to the heritage, service and scientific achievements of the northern New Mexico community.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the lab, one of the nation's premier nuclear weapons research centers. Aside from its role in the Manhattan Project, work at Los Alamos provided the technical understanding in nuclear energy that led to the Naval Propulsion Program.

The naming effort also has the support of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

Company That Leases Farm Land On Navajo Agrees To FineAssociated Press

An Idaho-based company that leases farmland on the Navajo Nation has been fined for failing to post information on pesticides and ensuring protective gear properly fits workers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Navajo Mesa Farms agreed to pay about $6,000 to settle four violations from 2013 and 2016.

The company has an office in Farmington and grows potatoes on tribal land.

The EPA says the company didn't post pesticide safety information for workers or indicate a buffer zone for fumigants that would keep bystanders from the area.

The agency says the company also didn't check that workers' respirators fit properly.

The settlement agreement was finalized late last month.

FBI Says Albuquerque Man Is Accused Of Robbing 2 Credit UnionsAssociated Press

FBI officials say an Albuquerque man has been arrested for allegedly robbing two credit unions in the city earlier this month.

They say 51-year-old James Patrick Verdream of Albuquerque was arrested last Wednesday by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Verdream was wanted on a federal probation violation charge.

The FBI says Verdream is accused of robbing the Nusenda Credit Union on March 9 and the Rio Grande Credit Union four days later.

Authorities didn't say how much money was taken in either robbery.

It was unclear Monday if Verdream has a lawyer for his case.

Gun Control Resolution Draws Crowd To Las Cruces City HallLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

The Las Cruces City Council postponed a decision on a resolution that would support restrictions on the sale and possession of semi-automatic weapons in New Mexico.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported several councilors supported the postponement as long as the discussion is revisited at a future city council session. The nonbinding measure requests that state lawmakers and the governor take action in the wake of a recent flurry of gun threats at schools.

The council chamber was packed Monday as the debate over the contentious proposal began.

Some protesters carried their guns openly as allowed under state law, but Mayor Ken Miyagishima said he wouldn't allow anyone carrying a weapon to speak. Other residents spoke against the proposal, calling it an attack on their constitutional rights.

Last Wednesday, many Las Cruces students walked out of class to protest for gun reforms and to memorialize the students killed last month in a Florida school shooting.

Trial Focuses On Public Land Access In Northern New MexicoAssociated Press

A trial over public access to prime hunting territory in northeast New Mexico is underway in Taos.

White Peak has been the source of legal and administrative fights for decades, and at issue in state district court is whether roads used to access the area are considered historic roads open to the public or private ranching roads.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Prosecutors with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office on Monday described the area as a checkerboard that includes state trust land and property owned by rancher David Stanley.

Stanley has argued that hunters and other members of the public have trespassed on private property for years to reach trust lands.

Prosecutors say federal statute more than 150 years old allows for rights of way.

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