KRWG

Samantha Sonner

Multimedia Reporter

Samantha Sonner is a multimedia reporter for KRWG- TV/FM. You can hear her reports on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as watch them on Newsmakers. In addition to reporting, she also serves as an anchor for KRWG-TV/FM.

Samantha comes to Las Cruces from Long Island, New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. In Syracuse, she got her start in public media, working for WAER-FM.

Samantha is excited to experience the culture of the southwest and enjoys serving southwestern New Mexico and far west Texas. Feel free to follow her on twitter @SamanthaSonner for story updates and news, or to send her story tips and ideas. You can also email her at ssonner@nmsu.edu

Las Cruces Artist George Mendoza went Blind at age 15, and since then has competed running in the Olympics for the Physically Disabled, written books, and become an internationally known artist. He is now fighting to keep his home.

George Mendoza has been living with in his home since the 1970’s, first with his mother, and then with his own family.  He says while his mother was fighting dementia, her family had her sign a power of attorney removing him from her estate. That has led to a years long battle to keep his house.

The Dona Ana County Commission passed the Unified Development Code by a vote of 3-2.

The County Commission voted to pass the 450-page Unified Development Code after years of work and hundreds of public meetings. Commissioner Billy Garrett says passing the UDC is the right step for county planning.

Courtesy: NMFO

President Obama has used the Antiquities Act to designate 27 National Monuments, more than any other President. Now, Congressman Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah wants President-Elect Trump to overturn those designations, including one for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in Las Cruces.

Courtesy: NMFO

United States Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited Las Cruces and the Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks National Monument as part of a nationwide tour highlighting the Interior Department’s efforts during the Obama Administration.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior started her day in Las Cruces with a morning hike at the Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks National Monument listening to highlights from the area since the monument designation.

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The New Mexico Film Business Alliance held a networking event in Las Cruces Thursday to help area businesses; artists and film professionals learn new ways to get involved in the film industry.

Matt Rauchberg, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Albuquerque Studios and Director of the Film Business Alliance of New Mexico says the alliance formed earlier this year includes every studio in New Mexico, individual film professionals and small businesses that cater to the film industry to help show how the industry can help economic development in New Mexico.

On “Mitten Tree Day” kids gathered at Las Cruces Museums to hear a story about giving back and start decorating a tree for the city. Stephanie Abdon with the Las Cruces Museum of Art says the story has a good message for kids.

The New Downtown Master Plan was approved by city council by a vote of 6-0. The new plan includes plans for mixed-use development, a form-based code, and economic development that focuses on retail, residential, and hotel and hospitality markets.

City Councilor Greg Smith says new plan gives the city an idea of what it can do to help grow development downtown.

Las Cruces City Council voted to allow city staff to negotiate for a building that can be turned into a potential Film and Media Soundstage by a vote of 5 to 1.

Las Cruces City Council voted to give the city manager the authority to negotiate the purchase of a building to be turned into a Sound Stage reallocating $4 million for the project. $3 million from the Hold Harmless GRT Bond Funding, and about $1 million in state appropriated funds.

City Councilor Greg Smith says this could bring new economic development to Las Cruces.

https://www.facebook.com/NMSUCAMP

The College Assistance Migrant Program at NMSU held their ninth annual poster expo, highlighting CAMP student experience in research, study abroad and internships.

Sophomore Joaquin Chavarria showed off research he did during a summer internship, and talked about his experience in the CAMP program. He says the program was instrumental in helping him complete his first year successfully.

New Mexico’s Public Education Department is working on a plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, and held the last of a series of regional meetings Tuesday in Las Cruces to get input from various stakeholders.

New Mexico First helped facilitate regional meetings for New Mexico’s Public Education Department. Pamela Blackwell, Economic Policy Director for New Mexico First says town halls are important to hear from stakeholders.

The Jewish Federation of New Mexico held the first Southern New Mexico- Israel Economic Forum in Las Cruces Monday. Samantha Sonner has more on the potential benefits of increasing trade with Israel.

Zachary Benjamin, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico says New Mexico already has a successful trade relationship with Israel.

Bands played and hundreds gathered to honor and support veterans throughout Southern New Mexico. Veterans said Veteran’s Day is a special day to recognize those who should be honored all year.

“As far as the Vietnam Veteran’s,” Robert De Herrera said. “We didn’t have no parades, or nobody said thank you or anything like that. We didn’t have any benefits, and everything has changed. And I’m so proud of these people that showed up today.”

stuart ed-las cruces city manager

This week, Stuart Ed started as the new city manager for the City of Las Cruces. He sat down with Samantha Sonner to talk about what he hopes to achieve in the city.

Stuart Ed, is a former Army Officer, who’s held various jobs at the city of El Paso, and worked for Goodwill Industries. Ed says he hopes to bring his background and experience to Las Cruces.

The Dona Ana County Commission voted to publish the Unified Development Code by a vote of 3-2 with a scheduled vote on December 13th.

The Commission voted to publish the Unified Development Code giving residents 30 days to review it before a public hearing. Commissioner Ben Rawson tried to push back the vote on the Unified Development Code until after the Planning and Zoning Commission completes its latest review.

Throughout the election there has been a lot of talk of how millennial turnout could affect the presidential election, Samantha Sonner spoke with young citizens in Dona Ana County about the importance of millennial voting in local races.

Patrick Montelongo is 25, and worked on his first political campaign as treasurer for Scott Krahling’s Dona Ana County Clerk race. He says it’s important to teach young voters about the importance of voting in local races.

Democrats took back control of the State House of Representatives yesterday, and in Southern New Mexico many democrats upset Republican incumbents.

Nathan Small who defeated Republican Incumbent Andy Nunez in House District 36 says he’s happy to be a part of new leadership in the house.

“I’m very excited and I hope dearly that we do have different leadership in the House of Representatives,” Small said. “With a more clear focus, bringing ethics and accountability reform so that we can fight the corruption that holds us back.”

Democrats in Southern New Mexico won many state legislature races this Election Day, now they are looking toward Santa Fe.

Jeff Steinborn is moving from the state house of representatives to the state senate, beating incumbent Lee Cotter in Senate District 36. He said he’s looking forward to getting to work in Santa Fe.

Earlier this year, Las Cruces City Council voted to work on creating a combined Convention Center Expansion and sound stage, but Monday the City Council voted to separate the funding to create a stand-alone sound stage.

Las Cruces City Council voted to separate the funding for a project that would have constructed a sound stage in a convention center expansion. City Councilor Gill Sorg says both groups were concerned about sharing the space.

Hundreds of supporters greeted Vice Presidential hopeful Mike Pence at the Las Cruces airport.

Pence spent a lot of time discussing Democratic Opponent Hillary Clinton’s scandals with the support of the crowd.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall got a preview of future downtown plans, saw the completed Downtown Plaza, and met with business owners on Main Street.

Udall says he wants to help continue the downtown revitalization plans by supporting the Main Street program and federal programs that help people develop and grow their communities.

NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn visited KRWG last week; Samantha Sonner spoke with him about reaching out to millennials to grow the number of NPR listeners.

NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn says while at an NPR station in Alabama, he heard many stories about why millennials started listening to NPR.

NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn visited KRWG this week and spoke with Samantha Sonner about NPR’s place in journalism and ways public media can continue to grow.

Jarl Mohn joined NPR in 2014 and is working toward visiting as many stations as possible across the country.

Candidates discussed economic development and other issues at the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce and Las Cruces Home Builders Association candidate forum.

Two Candidates for the Dona Ana County Commission attended the forum. Isabella Solis, the Democratic Candidate for District 4 says the county needs to be more welcoming for small business.

Doña Ana County Commission voted to send the Unified Development Code back to planning and zoning commission for further revision and review by a vote of 3-2.

Dozens of people attended the Doña Ana County Commission meeting to address their concerns with Unified Development Code. Concerns ranged from properties being improperly zoned, the process being rushed, and the possibility of diminishing property values.

Jake Redfearn, a real estate developer in Doña Ana County says more time is needed for county residents to understand the code.

After the recent Special Session of the New Mexico Legislature, the city of Las Cruces is starting to focus on the 2017 legislative session.

Amid the New Mexico Budget crisis, Larry Horan, Lobbyist for the City of Las Cruces, says one of the biggest concerns will be potential changes to the cities hold harmless payments.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and organizations in Dona Ana County are working to raise awareness.

Silent Witnesses memorialized victims of Domestic Violence in Dona Ana County at a Candlelight Vigil organized by La Casa, Executive Director Theresa Armendariz says its events like this that help people understand the domestic violence problem.

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The South Central Regional Transit District rural bus service has been back in operation since February, The Dona Ana County Commission recently got an update on the progress the rural bus service has been making.

Community Groups in Las Cruces are working to turn Lynn Middle School into a community school with programs to benefit all community members that range beyond education. While, that effort is still in the planning phases, Las Cruces City Council and Las Cruces Public Schools are working together to open more facilities to the public.

Sonya Delgado, Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Las Cruces, says there isn’t enough indoor recreation space to meet the city’s needs.

Early Voting is underway in New Mexico and people in Doña Ana County are heading to the polls.

So far, there have been only six days of early voting in Doña Ana County, and according to County Clerk Lynn Ellins the county is averaging over 1,000 voters a day.  

“I just checked a few minutes ago,” Ellins said. “And we have 6,022 early votes, so far. And last Friday, we’d been open 4 days last week; we closed out with almost 4,400. So, that’s better than a thousand a day. And this is very, very heavy, much heavier I believe than it was 4 years ago.”

As part of the budget fix passed by the New Mexico Legislature during the special session, money from certain capital improvement projects was clawed back.

Interim City Manager David Dollahon says the city has approximately $7 million worth of state capital outlay funding from 2013 forward, and funding from only one project has been slated for a claw back.

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