Weekend News Roundup: Winds Fan 500 Acre Wildfire In Gila National Forest

May 11, 2014

Winds Fan 500 Acre Wildfire In Gila National Forest - KOAT-TV

Gusty winds are fanning the flames of a wildfire in the Gila National Forest north of Silver City near Signal Peak. 

KOAT-TV reports 100 firefighters are working to control the blaze that has grown to 500 acres.

A voluntary evacuation order has been issued for Pino Altos residents. 

Windy conditions are preventing aircraft from assisting with the firefighting efforts.

Mayor: Change To Come Soon To Albuquerque Police - The Albuquerque Journal, The Associated Press

Albuquerque's mayor says the city is not waiting for a formal agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to start instituting some changes to police procedures.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Mayor Richard Berry says there are changes to protocol that the city can implement rather than wait for negotiations with the DOJ to be resolved.

Berry says one policy that will be affected is the use of lapel cameras by officers but didn't give further details.

The Justice Department released a scathing report in April, revealing a pattern of excessive force by the Albuquerque Police Department.

The report also said officers were "highly inconsistent" with their use of lapel cameras

Berry says the city won't go too far before getting more feedback from federal authorities.

Dusty Albuquerque Under Health Alert - The Associated Press

Albuquerque officials have issued a health alert because of dust caused by high winds throughout the city.

The city Environmental Health Department's Air Quality Program put out an advisory Sunday, warning those with respiratory conditions to limit outdoor activity.

Officials say particulate pollution from dust could affect anyone suffering from asthma, chronic bronchitis or other respiratory and heart diseases.

Senior citizens and children should also consider activities indoors.

The department recommends keeping doors and windows closed and recirculating air.

The alert is in effect until 7 p.m.

I-25 Speed Limit To Be Raised North Of Albuquerque - The Associated Press

The speed limit along Interstate 25 between Albuquerque and Bernalillo will soon be raised.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation says the new 75 mph limit will take effect Monday as crews begin installing new signs along the busy corridor. The current speed limit is 70 mph.

Transportation officials say an engineering survey and traffic investigation determined the speed limit could be safely increased to 75 mph.

The survey and investigation looked at numerous factors that included traffic volume, lane and shoulder widths, pavement surface and sight distance. The studies also found that 85 percent of motorists on this stretch of road drive about 77 mph.

Postal Service To Remain In Downtown Santa Fe - The Associated Press

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation say the U.S. Postal Service has decided to shelve a plan to move the post office out of downtown Santa Fe.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan made the announcement Friday. They say the service will be keeping the post office at its current site on Federal Place, across the street from City Hall.

The delegation has been working to keep the post office open since questions were first raised about whether a move from the building would save money. They say the building is an important anchor for downtown Santa Fe.

Udall says the service never made a valid case for moving the post office and that moving it would have been devastating for downtown Santa Fe.

Albuquerque Boy Suspended For Making Campus Threat - KOB-TV, The Associated Press

An Albuquerque sixth-grader has been suspended from school after threatening to bring weapons to campus.

KOB-TV reports that the principal at LBJ Middle School sent a letter home to parents alerting them to the threat the student made Friday morning.

Officials say the boy told other students he planned to show up with weapons and the threat escalated into a rumor that scared many students.

School officials say they immediately reported the comments to Albuquerque Public Schools police.

They say the boy's parent has been notified and is cooperating with officials.

Principal Mike Bachicha says in the letter to parents that students have no reason to fear for their safety.

Bachicha also says children can speak with a counselor if needed.

Santa Fe Police Sees Largest Class Graduate - The Associated Press

Santa Fe police say the largest cadet class in its history has officially graduated to becoming officers.

The Santa Fe Police Department says 13 cadets graduated from the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy on Friday.

Lt. Sean Strahon, who oversees the department's recruiting, says the cadets are all hardworking but very diverse.

The graduates completed a 16-week course at the academy and must now fulfill 14 weeks in the field training officer program.

The department says the officers will become familiarized with Santa Fe city ordinances, the city's culture and current policies and procedures.

Gallup School District Accused Of Illegal Dumping - KRQE-TV, The Associated Press

Environmental regulators are monitoring the clean-up of what they say has been an illegal, toxic dumping ground in a Gallup school district.

KRQE-TV reports that the New Mexico Environment Department alleges the Gallup-McKinley County School District has been burying industrial equipment, chemicals and drums filled with powders and liquids behind a district building for years.

Benny Kling, a department investigator, says the state dug up the 35-foot-deep pit in 2012 but the investigation is not over.

Kling says the next phase of clean-up has been put on hold because the first-phase was expensive.

Officials say the clean-up cost for the district is at least $250,000.

District Superintendent Frank Chiapetti, who has been in the role for nearly a year, says he was not aware of the illegal dumping.

New Mexico Librarian Finds Letters From 1967 - The Associated Press

A New Mexico librarian discovered a blast from the past, specifically 1967.

The Farmington Daily Times reports Lola Delaney says she was recently cleaning the library of Hermosa Middle School in Farmington when she went through a cardboard box.

Delaney says inside were 31 letters all dated April 1967.

According to the letters, they were written by students and meant to be given to the class of 1987.

In the letters, the students touch on numerous topics including the Vietnam War, the space race and miniskirts.

Delaney says the students who wrote the letters have been invited to an annual celebration May 19 at the school, where the letters will be available to read.

She says she doesn't know if students in 1987 ever received them.