KUNM News Update
Thu May 22, 2014
Thursday News Roundup: No Video From Policeman's Lapel Camera
No Video From Policeman's Lapel Camera – The Associated Press
The manufacturer of the lapel camera that an Albuquerque police officer was wearing when he was involved in a fatal shooting can't get any video from it.
Officer Jeremy Dear was involved in an April 21 chase with 19-year-old Mary Hawkes, who was suspected of stealing a truck.
Police say Hawkes pulled a weapon on Dear, prompting the officer to fire his gun.
A toxicology report later showed that Hawkes had a high concentration of methamphetamine in her system when she died.
Albuquerque police were unable to obtain video from Dear's camera and sent it to the manufacturer.
Police still won't say whether Deal's lapel camera malfunctioned or if he failed to turn it on.
Deal was put on administrative leave following the shooting and subsequently placed on administrative assignment.
Los Alamos Says Waste Containers Isolated – The Associated Press
Los Alamos National Laboratory says it is closely monitoring 57 barrels of waste that were packed with a type of cat litter suspected in a radiation leak at the government's underground nuclear waste dump.
The lab told state regulators Wednesday that the 55-gallon barrels on its northern New Mexico property have been secured in special containers and moved to an isolated area with a fire-protection system. They are being monitored 24 hours a day for any change in temperature, smoking or other abnormalities.
Officials have linked a Feb. 14 radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad to a waste container from Los Alamos that was packed with organic cat litter to absorb moisture. Officials are investigating whether a chemical reaction in the containers caused the breach.
Interior Boss To Visit NM's Newest Monument – The Associated Press
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is set to make another visit to New Mexico.
She'll be in Las Cruces on Friday to celebrate the designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. President Barack Obama proclaimed the area protected during a ceremony Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Environmentalists, sportsmen and tourism officials had been pushing for protections for the rugged desert landscape for a decade. Legislation that would have established the monument along with several wilderness areas repeatedly stalled in Congress.
New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, say they will continue to push legislation that would set aside the wilderness areas.
They say their proposal would also provide for a law enforcement buffer near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Border security has been a major focus of monument critics.
Irrigation Season To Begin In Southern New Mexico – The Associated Press
The irrigation season in southern New Mexico's Rio Grande Valley will begin this weekend.
The Bureau of Reclamation says an initial release of water from Caballo Reservoir is scheduled for Sunday. Releases from Elephant Butte Reservoir will begin Tuesday and are expected to continue at least through August.
Officials say Elephant Butte, the largest reservoir along the Rio Grande, is currently at 18.5 percent capacity due to a persistent drought. Thanks to low runoff this spring, projections show the reservoir will likely drop significantly again this summer.
Farmers in southern New Mexico and parts of Texas who depend on the river are expecting to get about 6 inches of water to irrigate each acre. That's double what they received last year, but only a fraction of a full allotment.
New Mexico Plans Seat Belt Crackdown On Motorists – The Associated Press
The state Department of Transportation says law enforcement agencies plan to crack down on motorists who aren't wearing seat belts.
There will be increased enforcement efforts through the Memorial Day weekend as part of a national traffic safety campaign called "Click It or Ticket."
About two-thirds of the vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes last year in New Mexico weren't wearing seat belts.
State law requires drivers and passengers to wear seat belts. Car safety seats requirements vary according to a child's age.
The department is airing a television ad through the holiday weekend to encourage parents to keep their children safe in cars. The agency also plans to provide baby outfits with a "BKLUP" logo to hospitals, which are to give them to parents of newborns.
New Mexico Wildfire Reaches 90 Percent Containment – The Associated Press
Some crews are being released as containment of a wildfire that has burned 9 square miles in southwestern New Mexico has reached 90 percent.
The human-caused Signal Fire started burning in grass and timber about 10 miles north of Silver City on May 11.
More than 700 firefighters and other personnel were assigned to the fire as of Monday. The headcount was down to 472 on Tuesday night and 282 by Wednesday.
Fire managers say enough crews will remain on hand to deal with any flare-ups and that management of the fire will be returned to the Gila National Forest Thursday.
Albuquerque Teachers To Get Pay Raises Under Pact – The Associated Press
A tentative agreement between Albuquerque's public school system and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation calls for teachers and other educators to get pay raises.
An announcement by the district and the union says teachers and other educators will get a raise of the greater of $2,000 or 3 percent.
The state budget for the upcoming fiscal year provides funding for minimum raises for all teachers but only required raises for entry-level ones.
The announcement by the district and the union says they agreed that all teachers and other educators need higher salaries.
With the raises, the minimum pay for the district's entry-level teachers will reach $32,000, while the minimum pay for the next two levels go up to $42,000 and $52,000.
The raises take effect in August.