Thursday News Roundup: Santa Fe Faces Possible Bond Downgrade And More...

Jul 25, 2013

Ex-Astronaut Reappointed To NM Spaceport Authority - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has reappointed two members of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, including a former astronaut who's the veteran of two space flights.

Former astronaut Sid Gutierrez of Albuquerque and Truth or Consequences banker Jerry Stagner will serve four year terms expiring in 2017.

The nine-member authority is responsible for the state's commercial spaceport in southern New Mexico.

Gutierrez currently works at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. He piloted a 1991 flight of space shuttle Columbia and was commander of a 1994 mission of the shuttle Endeavor.

Stagner is president of Citizens Bank in Truth or Consequences.

UNM Vows More Conversations With City's Blacks - Associated Press

University of New Mexico President Robert Frank is promising to have more conversations with Albuquerque's black leaders.

School officials say Frank met last week with Harold Bailey of the Albuquerque NAACP and vowed to continue diversity training for faculty and staff.

Frank also promised to hire additional police officers and fund more educational presentations and speakers aimed at covering the city's communities of color.

In addition, school officials announced that Alfred Mathewson has agreed to continue as director of Africana Studies while a national search is conducted for a new director this fall.

Santa Fe Faces Possible Bond Downgrade - Associated Press

The city of Santa Fe is facing a possible downgrade of its bond rating. But the city disputes the reasoning behind the potential action by Moody's Investor Service.

The city says that it is on list along with 29 other local governments and school districts for a possible downgrade by Moody's. The city says a recent Moody's news release inaccurately reported that the pension liability for the City of Santa Fe and other Public Employee Retirement Association participants don't conform to requirements.

But city finance directors Marco Tapia says the city makes its contributions to PERA in full on a regular basis, in accordance with all requirements.

Santa Fe says it has an "AA+" rating by Fitch and "AA" by Standard & Poor's, both of which were recently reaffirmed.

Ponderosa Seedlings Available In Lincoln County - Associated Press

About 200 ponderosa pine seedlings are being made available to Lincoln County residents who are recovering from last year's devastating Little Bear Fire.

The seedlings are being donated by the Future Florists of Texas and New Mexico. The group's members, children ranging in age from 3 to 12, started growing the seedlings last year when they heard about the fire and the damage it caused.

The blaze was the most destructive in state history, having burned more than 240 homes and other structures. It also damaged the area's watershed as it burned through 70 square miles.

The group will deliver the seedlings to the Smokey Bear Ranger Station in Ruidoso on Aug. 3.

Residents will be able to pick up the seedlings from the community garden near the station's front office.

UNM Gets $6M Grant For Water Resources Research - Associated Press

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of New Mexico a $6 million grant for water resources research.

UNM will partner with the Nevada System of Higher Education and the University of Idaho to create a western consortium dedicated to advancing watershed science, education and workforce development.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the grant this week. The New Mexico Democrat says the money will help researchers better understand and address the environmental challenges facing New Mexico.

In light of three years of severe drought and recent wildfires, she says the project is more important than ever.

The researchers expect to create better models to understand how factors such as climate change, precipitation, vegetation growth, fires and runoff effect water storage, flows and water quality.