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Wilderness Area In New Mexico Is Now Publicly Accessible, Most New Mexico Parents Don't Get Literacy

Nov 10, 2017

Sabinoso Wilderness In New Mexico Is Now Publicly AccessibleThe Associated Press

For the first time, the Sabinoso Wilderness in northeastern New Mexico is accessible to the general public for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.

The 16,000-acre area contains some of the most pristine habitat in the country for elk, mule deer and other wildlife.

It was previously wholly surrounded by non-federal land, making it inaccessible to the public.

However, a donation of about 3,600 acres formerly known as the Rimrock Rose Ranch that are adjacent to Sabinoso Wilderness was accepted by Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management.

The Sabinoso now connects with neighboring BLM-managed land, making it publicly accessible for the first time since its congressional designation as a wilderness area in 2009.

State: Most New Mexico Parents Don't Get Literacy NoticesThe Associated Press

State officials say most New Mexico parents of students in first to third grade aren't getting required letters notifying them of students' lack of reading skills.

Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski said Friday the lack of notification is hurting parents with the decision on whether they should hold students back.

According to data released by the education department, 15,344 notification letters were sent last school year for the 27,143 students deemed not proficient in reading in first to third grade. State law requires school districts to send notification letters midyear to parents of students in those grades struggling with reading proficiency.

State data show that of those 27,143 students, more than 21,000 advanced to the next grade.

Land Managers Drafting Plan For New Mexico's Otero MesaThe Associated Press

Federal land managers are drafting a plan that will guide the management of resources and potential energy development in an area of southern New Mexico where environmentalists have sought protections for decades.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports the Bureau of Land Management is expected to draft a plan for the Otero Mesa area ready for public comment next spring.

Southwest Environmental Center director Kevin Bixby says the mesa has been used for centuries for hunting and ranching and that it would be ruined if industrial uses such as oil and gas drilling or mining were allowed.

The area includes about 600,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert grassland and thousands of petroglyphs.

Efforts over the years to secure wilderness or national monument status for the area have been unsuccessful.

Auditor Says Perks From UNM Athletics Went To 23 Non-DonorsThe Associated Press

A review by the New Mexico State Auditor's Office outlines a stark lack of financial control over public money at the University of New Mexico athletics department and its affiliates that resulted in overpayments to coaches, basketball suites that went unpaid and inappropriate perks such as golf and alcohol.

State Auditor Tim Keller on Friday said the university's comingling of public funds and donations could involve violations of the state's anti-donations clause and has created the appearance of impropriety.

The special audit says there were 23 recipients of so-called donor perks that include an international golf outing. Those people made no monetary contribution to the university or its related entities, such as the UNM Foundation, the Lobo Club that raises funds for athletics, an alumni association and booster clubs.

Hopis Reject Political Establishment In Vote For Top LeadersThe Associated Press

A small northern Arizona tribe chose new leadership Thursday as it faces the potential loss of coal royalties that make up a huge chunk of its budget.

Tim Nuvangyaoma received 969 votes in the race for Hopi chairman, beating out tribal lawmaker David Norton Talayumptewa's 642 votes.

Clark Tenakhongva was elected vice chairman with 949 votes. Tribal lawmaker Lamar Keevama trailed with 656 votes.

Turnout was low with 1,622 votes cast out of more than 11,000 eligible voters.

Economic development will be a major focus in the new administration. The Hopi Tribe will lose 85 percent of its budget if a coal mine closes as expected in 2019.

Nuvangyaoma says he's up for the challenge will reach out to Hopis for potential solutions.

3 Santa Fe High Students Arrested Over Threatening LetterAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Authorities say three Santa Fe High School students have been arrested for a letter that described plans for a school shooting.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the students told Santa Fe police that the letter was a joke.

Santa Fe Public Schools spokesman Jeff Gephart says students found the letter Tuesday and notified school officials.

The Journal says the letter had a list of student and teachers’ names that were intended "targets."

It also reportedly included a map of the school showing where the shootings would take place and noting the best location in the school to kill.

New Mexico Considers Limiting Access To Police Lapel Video Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are drafting legislation that would restrict public access to video recordings from police lapel cameras of people with mental illnesses.

Rep. Gail Chasey of Albuquerque said Thursday that the public availability of video recordings taken by police can discourage people from calling emergency services or interfere with the work of mental health crisis teams as frightened patients hold back information.

She supports changes to the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act to prevent the release of audio, video and photographic recordings of people with a mental illness without consent.

Rep. Jim Dines of Albuquerque cautions that broadly written legislation might interfere with public oversight of police. He invoked the fatal 2014 shooting by Albuquerque police officers of homeless man James Boyd that triggered public protests.

Land Managers Drafting Plan For New Mexico's Otero MesaAlamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

Federal land managers are drafting a plan that will guide the management of resources and potential energy development in an area of southern New Mexico where environmentalists have sought protections for decades.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports the Bureau of Land Management is expected to have a draft plan for the Otero Mesa area ready for public comment next spring.

Southwest Environmental Center director Kevin Bixby says the mesa has been used for centuries for hunting and ranching and that it would be ruined if industrial uses such as oil and gas drilling or mining were allowed.

The area includes about 600,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert grassland and thousands of petroglyphs.

Efforts over the years to secure wilderness or national monument status for the area have been unsuccessful.

Artesia Council Votes To Disinfect Water SystemArtesia Daily Press, Associated Press

Artesia city councilors have voted to move forward with disinfection of the community's drinking water system.

The vote comes in the wake of a series of boil-water orders that were issued due to E. coli contamination. The first order in July was followed by another alert two months later. In October, a sample again tested positive.

The Artesia Daily Press reports the sudden rash of positive samples has baffled the city's infrastructure department, particularly since the samples were isolated and located in different areas.

City officials say efforts to identify the source of the contamination have been unsuccessful.

Not all residents support disinfection, but officials say something needs to be done to guard against another positive sample.

Another public meeting will be held early next year to discuss treatment options.

Sabinoso Wilderness In New Mexico Is Now Publicly AccessibleAssociated Press

For the first time, the Sabinoso Wilderness in northeastern New Mexico is accessible to the general public for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.

The 16,000-acre area contains some of the most pristine habitat in the country for elk, mule deer and other wildlife.

It was previously wholly surrounded by non-federal land, making it inaccessible to the public.

However, a donation of about 3,600 acres formerly known as the Rimrock Rose Ranch that are adjacent to  the Sabinoso Wilderness was accepted by the Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management.

The Sabinoso now connects with neighboring BLM-managed land, making it publicly accessible for the first time since its congressional designation as a wilderness area in 2009.

Albuquerque To Participate In Facebook Business ProgramAssociated Press

Officials in New Mexico's largest city are excited about a new program announced by social media giant Facebook to help small businesses grow.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said Thursday he's hopeful the initiative will allow residents to gain more technical skills that will help them thrive in a digital world.

He's also hopeful the Community Boost program will lead to better job opportunities.

Officials say Albuquerque will be one of the first cities to participate in the program next year. Training on coding, building websites and using the social media site to bolster business will be offered in a total of 30 U.S. cities.

Facebook says more than 70 million small businesses use its service. Only 6 million of them advertise.

Environmentalists Target Methane Emissions In New MexicoAssociated Press

Environmentalists say methane emissions from oil and natural gas production in New Mexico are higher than what state and federal regulators have measured.

The Environmental Defense Fund released a report Thursday that aims to quantify the amount of methane intentionally released through venting or flaring processes as well as gas lost through unintentional leaks.

The report says New Mexico's producers are emitting 570,000 tons of methane annually, amounting to $27 million in lost tax revenues and royalties that could otherwise be used for government programs and services.

Last week, state regulators testified before a legislative panel that emissions have decreased over the past year thanks to advancing technology.

Industry officials pointed to the reductions and argued that regulations called for by environmentalists and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall would result in job and revenue losses.

Groups Appeal Dismissal Of Southwest Coal Plant LawsuitAssociated Press

Environmental groups are appealing a federal judge's dismissal of their lawsuit aimed at shutting down a coal-fired power plant and adjacent mine near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

The coalition said Thursday attorneys filed with the 9th Circuit appeals court, continuing their challenge of the 2015 approval of a lease extension for the Navajo Mine and the Four Corners Power Plant.

A judge tossed the case in September, citing tribal sovereignty. The judge argued the mine is owned by a corporation created by the Navajo Nation, making it immune to legal challenges.

Opponents of the lease argued the U.S. Interior Department and other agencies did not consider clean-energy alternatives or possible effects on endangered species.

The plant provides electricity to customers throughout the Southwest.

Sacred Shield Yet To Be Returned To New Mexico TribeAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico tribe is questioning why a ceremonial shield has yet to be returned nearly two years after it was taken off a Paris auction block.

Acoma Pueblo Gov. Kurt Riley told members of Congress on Wednesday that tribal elders are growing impatient waiting for the shield.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Riley was speaking at a hearing before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C.

Riley also talked about the need for the U.S. to have an explicit ban on the export of stolen artifacts.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich has introduced a measure that would prohibit such exports.

The shield was stolen from the pueblo's nearly thousand-year-old village decades ago before emerging recently in an auction house catalogue 18 months ago.

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