Simon Thompson

Reporter/Producer

Simon Thompson is a reporter/producer for KRWG-TV's Newsmakers.  You can also hear his reports on KRWG-FM.  

Thompson is originally from Australia, where he graduated from Monash University with a B.A in Journalism and Politics.

After graduating, Thompson wrote features and worked as subeditor for a social culture magazine in his hometown of Melbourne.

Thompson came to the United States to travel and embark on a freelance career, sending articles to a string of publications in Australia. After realizing the gravity and extent of crucial issues begging to be covered, Thompson worked to extend his time in the U.S.

Thompson got his start in public media in Indiana at PBS/NPR stations WTIU/WFIU, shooting and producing in depth feature stories for TV and radio.

Thompson chose to come to the southwest during the polar vortex of 2013 – 2014 to report on life in the border region, master Spanish, and get as far away from any future polar vortex as possible.

As an Expat living in the U.S., Thompson has a natural inclination towards immigration issues and has focused his reporting on drug policy, education, and socioeconomic challenges in the region.

Follow Simon on Twitter @SimoThom  for story updates and news, or send him story ideas at simothom@nmsu.edu
 

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Regional
2:38 am
Fri June 5, 2015

City Councilor Nathan Small To Propose Enforcement Of Las Cruces Minimum Wage Law

  

Café or Communities in Action and Faith says it has received more than 100 reports of companies not paying the full Las Cruces minimum wage. But the lack of enforcement on a city level means those wage violation claims are not being addressed.

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Breaking
5:31 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

UPDATE: Doña Ana County Authorities Investigating Alleged Check-Cashing Scheme

Nadia Martinez worked as a document technician at the Dona Ana County Clerk.
Credit Dona Ana County Sheriffs Department

Three Dona Ana County Clerk employees were placed under arrest on Monday on charges of fraud, public corruption and identity theft.

It is the second in a series of arrests, following a federal investigation into a identity theft ring operating out of Mexico, that has allegedly been paying off Dona County Clerk employees to fraudulently notarize documents and cash thousands in stolen federal tax refunds.

District Attorney officials says it is one of the largest in investigation involving identity theft in the country.

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Regional
4:19 am
Mon June 1, 2015

Las Cruces Police Department Expands Body Camera Policy

More than half of Las Cruces Police officers will be wearing cameras following a department expansion of police in June.
Credit Simon Thompson

The Las Cruces Police Department has been using body cameras on a limited basis since 2012. An expansion of the program this June will outfit more than half of uniformed offices with the cameras.

In December 2014 Ross Flynn was taken into police custody on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a police officer and resisting or obstructing a police officer.

Cell footage shows Flynn with his arms handcuffed behind his back repeatedly being dragged, kneed and thrown into the cell’s concrete walls and floor by two former Las Cruces police officers.

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Regional
3:00 am
Mon May 25, 2015

For Southern New Mexico’s Best Spellers Competing Nationally Often Means Representing Texas

Native Las Crucen student Olivia Weinbaum holds the sign she wore while was representing Texas in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Credit Simon Thompson

Only twice has a New Mexican ever won the Scripps National Spelling Bee… 

And both times the victory ended up going to Texas.

A lot of New Mexico’s best spellers only get a shot at making the national spelling bee by crossing state lines and competing in a Texas competition.

New Mexico ranking second to last nationally in both reading and writing the trend might spell out a bigger problem for the state education.

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Regional
6:00 am
Mon May 18, 2015

Proposed Paving Of Dripping Springs And Baylor Canyon Roads Divides Some County Residents

According to the Bureau of Land Management the proposed road pavings with have "no effect" of endangered wildlife.
Credit Simon Thompson

In 2013, Dona Ana County received $9 million dollars in federal money to pave dirt sections of Dripping Springs and Baylor Canyon roads all the way up to the Organ Mountains. But some residents remain divided over the plans just months before the work is scheduled to begin.

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Regional
6:00 am
Thu May 14, 2015

Local Wilderness Painter Uneasy About Potential Development Near Tortugas Mountain

Las Cruces artist Meg Freÿermuth is painting a view of Organ Mountains that is likely to be blocked by a proposed retail development.
Credit Simon Thompson

Area residents are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument.  But some are concerned about how the surrounding area will be managed. 16 acres of land at the base of Tortugas Mountain is at the center of a long-running dispute.  The landowners are pushing for commercial zoning that could pave the way for retail businesses like fast-food restaurants.

Native Las Crucen Meg Freÿermuth is a professional artist who paints abstract, color drenched portraits of natural landscapes mainly around Las Cruces and Dona Ana County.

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Regional
7:33 am
Wed May 13, 2015

Proposed Road Paving Puts Monumental Divide Between Dona Ana County Residents

  Should the two roads leading up to the Organ Mountains be fully paved?  That is a question that has put a monumental divide between many Dona Ana County residents.

In 2013, Dona Ana County applied for federal money to pay for the proposed road enhancements with the intention of improving public and tourist access to the Organ Mountains and public lands.

In a Tuesday night meeting at the Farm and Ranch Museum County residents got a chance to discuss the proposal.

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Regional
3:17 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Recommendation For Commercial Zoning Near Tortugas Mountain Voted Down

Dona Ana County Development staff revise the amendments that can be made to zoning classifications in the Extra Territorial Zoning area between city and the county.
Credit Simon Thompson

Owners of a parcel of land at the base of Tortugas mountain or ‘A’ Mountain near Las Cruces have been pushing for a commercial zoning that could pave the way for a shopping mall on the site.

But in meeting on Wednesday night the Extra Territorial Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend industrial zoning.  This is consistent with the current land use in the area, where mining companies have been located for years.

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Regional
10:58 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

Las Cruces School Board To Protect Locally Negotiated Teacher Leave, But Not This School Year

Las Cruces Public School Board Maria A. Flores says the board is willing to test the Public Education Departments threat to take over the school district.
Credit Simon Thompson

As part of a locally negotiated contract teachers in the Las Cruces Public Schools could take ten sick days and two personal days before absences started to count against their teacher performance evaluations.

The Public Education department says that the number of days teachers can take without being penalized should be no more than two days and they recently threatened to take over the Las Cruces Public School district if the district did not comply.

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Regional
6:04 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Some Educators Concerned Writing Proficiency Is Suffering As a Result Of Standardized Test Culture

Students at New Mexico State University work through writing tasks.
Credit Hugo Perez

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers…better known as the PARCC test…has been billed by the New Mexico public education department as latest and greatest in public school testing.  Officials say the test increases standards and will improve college and career readiness.  But some educators say the increased focus on standardized testing might be having the opposite effect.

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Regional
6:01 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Guero Loco: Bringing The Beat To Bilingualism

Bilingual rapper Guero Loco hyping up up the crowd of Deming High School students.
Credit Simon Thompson

A Michigan State University study says attending a bilingual school may improve reading and math test scores of native English speakers. Research also shows bilingual programs benefit those learning English as a second language.

Despite the benefits the state education department says only 17% of all New Mexico students are in bilingual education and districts are doing what they can to get more students into the bilingual programs. 

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Regional
6:21 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Ed Frank: LCPS-PED Dispute Over Teacher Leave Not Over

Las Cruces School Board Member Ed Frank

 

Teachers in the Las Cruces Public Schools receive ten sick days and two personal days as part of their contract.  But the state education department says those days should be included as absences on performance evaluations.   The Las Cruces School Board only wanted to provide the state with absence data that did NOT include the personal and sick days.  But some school board members appear ready to bow to pressure after Education Secretary Hanna Skandera threatened to take over the district.

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Regional
10:01 am
Tue April 21, 2015

NM Dental Health Care Professional Shortage Third Greatest in Nation

Anthony NM resident Maria Alvarez's insurance doesn't cover the dental care she needs. So she gets relief from her dental health issues using a home pain relief remedy- Cooking cloves soaked in water.
Credit Simon Thompson

    

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Regional
6:01 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Climate Change Scientist And Skeptics Both Preparing For Water Scarce Future

Mesilla Valley Pecan Farmer Greg Daviet says when surface water allocations are low he waters his farm with ground water.
Credit Simon Thompson

Mega drought, climate change or a combination of the two scientists and climate change skeptics may not see eye to eye on what’s behind dryer weather and increasingly scarce water supplies in New Mexico but many agree on the need to dramatically improve water management. 

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Regional
5:05 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Magdalena Water Use Reduced By More Than 50 Percent After Water Crisis

Magdalena Water Utility Manager Steve Bailey checks on the villages ground water wells. He now checks the villages three wells every single month to avoid the water crisis of almost two years ago,
Credit Simon Thompson

In June of 2013, a small New Mexico village ran out of water.  Magdalena is home to about a thousand people in the central part of the state. Hydrologists regard the village as a canary in the coal mine; a taste of what the future could hold for New Mexico if rising temperatures and scarce water supplies aren’t managed for the future. Almost two years Magdalena’s recovery is shaping the state’s ground water policy. 

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Regional
11:57 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Dona Ana Communities Concerned Dairy Waste Plan Does Not Go Far Enough To Protect Ground Water

Dairy cows get a feed at one of the farms on 'Dairy Row' just south of Las Cruces.
Credit Simon Thompson

According to New Mexico State University New Mexico dairies generate one hundred eighty million dollars in economic impact annually in Dona Ana County alone. But that might be coming at the expense of some communities scarce ground water resources.  

While a number of dairies in Dona Ana County will tasked with new ground water monitoring requirements- County residents are concerned they won’t go far enough to protect their drinking water. 

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Regional
5:59 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Job To Career Readiness Boot Camp Attacks Dona Ana Work Force Issues

Job seekers sign up for the Job to Career Readiness Boot Camp at Dona Ana Community College.
Credit Simon Thompson

Economic development projects throughout New Mexico and Dona Ana County- prioritize job creation- That’s usually done by convincing out of state companies to move in, set up and bring jobs with them. But that might be putting the horse before the cart. Companies operating in the region say they can’t find enough capable workers. Simon Thompson went to a Job to Career Readiness Boot Camp to report on what is being done to improve the quality of Dona Ana County’s workforce.   

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Regional
10:07 am
Fri March 20, 2015

New Signs Installed As Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Moves Towards Broader Visitor Engagement

Bureau of Land Management Las Cruces district officer Bill Childress cuts the ribbon on the first official sign in the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument.
Credit Simon Thompson

 

It has almost been a year  since President Obama designated the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument. In the lead up to the anniversary community groups have been working on projects to promote the site. Economists say these projects are key to the monument generating the projected 7.4 million dollars economic activity every year.

About 50 volunteers armed with shovels, rakes and wheel barrels met up at the foot of the Organ mountains for a working day in the weekend sunshine.

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Regional
7:27 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Is The City Of Las Cruces Effectively Enforcing The Minimum Wage Law?

Amber Care employs 318 people in Las Cruces.
Credit Simon Thompson

On January 1st of this year Las Cruces minimum wage workers saw a wage increase from $7.50 an hour to $8.40, At least they were supposed to.

Amber Care is an in home personal care provider for the elderly and disabled. Though the business is registered in Las Cruces, Amber Care has been withholding the full minimum wage from employees serving clients outside the city limits.  Instead of receiving $8.40 an hour they have only been getting $8 dollars.

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Regional
9:29 am
Mon March 9, 2015

New Mexico Data On State Water Supply Not Sufficient For Future Planning

A ground water well that is used to irrigate a pecan orchards south of Las Cruces
Credit Simon Thompson

New Mexico has been in a sustained drought since 2002 far longer than experts predicted.  And scientists from NASA, Cornell and Columbia University are warning if climate change continues the way it has the drought may get a lot worse.  As Simon Thompson reports some water experts say New Mexico is trailing far behind other southwestern states in developing strategies for sustained growth and water access.

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Regional
6:00 am
Tue March 3, 2015

950 Las Cruces Students Walk Out On PARCC Test

About 100 Mayfield High School Students walked out on the PARCC test in protest.
Credit Simon Thompson

Nearly one thousand Las Cruces students staged a walkout Monday protesting the increasing number and intensity of high stakes tests. They say an overemphasis on testing is ruining their education.

Students at Mayfield High School in Las Cruces walked out to protest a new standardized test being administered throughout New Mexico.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, known as the PARCC test.

About 100 students walked out at Mayfield. And 950 throughout the Las Cruces Public Schools.

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Regional
10:35 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Las Cruces Public School Students Walk Out On PARCC Test In Protest

Mayfield High School Students Protest PARCC Test
Credit Simon Thompson

Many Las Cruces students staged a walkout Monday protesting the increasing number and intensity of high stakes tests. They say an overemphasis on testing is ruining their education.

Students at Mayfield High School in Las Cruces walked out to protest a new standardized test being administered throughout New Mexico:  the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, known as the PARCC test.

About 100 students walked out at Mayfield.

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Regional
10:22 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Are New Mexico's Economic Initiatives Aimed In Wrong Direction?

Kitchen staff at Italian restaurant Bella Luca serve up the night's dinner menu. Economists say businesses with a stake in the local community like this one may have more economic staying power.
Credit Simon Thompson

According to MIT, mid-size companies, that’s businesses with 10 to 99 employees, generate 35% of jobs nationally.  And these companies are better at creating middle class jobs in high-skilled areas. New Mexico economic initiatives are not focused on supporting the growth of these companies.

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Regional
6:16 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Help Or Hindrance: Evaluating State Economic Incentive Programs

Chiuahaha Governor Horacio Duarte Jaquez, Senator Tom Udall and Governor Susana Martinez celebrate the opening of the Union Pacific Inter-modal facility in Santa Teresa
Credit Simon Thompson

Creating jobs and generating development in New Mexico has largely been approached by giving business incentives and tax exemptions. But some economists say those tools don’t offer a guaranteed return on investment.  Some lawmakers are proposing an end to wasteful programs with a way to evaluate incentives.

MVEDA; The Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance has what is called an economic base approach to generating jobs and economic growth. Davin Lopez is the CEO of the Alliance.  

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Regional
7:42 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Is Compulsory Voting The Remedy For Low Voter Turnout?

Dona Ana County Deputy Clerk Scott Krahling says compulsory or mandatory voting could address a lot of issues facing the US political system. But that Americans voters would take to it or that it could be implemented.
Credit Simon Thompson

In the November midterms, voter turnout in New Mexico and Texas was just below the national average of less than 37 percent, the lowest it’s been in the U.S in 72 years. 

It’s led many analysts to question the U.S. political system’s capacity to represent its people. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance ranks the U.S. 120th for voter turnout internationally.

The countries at the top of the list like Belgium, Singapore and Australia, which is number 1, all have compulsory voting policies. 

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Regional
6:27 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Developers Say Las Cruces Arroyo Plan Still Needs Further Review

A bulldozer prepares surface land adjacent to an arroyo for a residential development.
Credit Simon Thompson

Las Cruces is finalizing its arroyo management plan and the city council could vote on it in the coming months.  Despite almost a decade of delay some property developers say more research and discussion is needed.

It doesn’t rain often in Las Cruces but when it does it can really pour

Lupe Archuleta has lived in Las Cruces for 35 years, she says she had no idea how the nearby arroyo could damage her East Mesa home until a major downpour years after she moved in.

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Regional
6:07 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Regional Water Conservation Efforts Await Congressional Reauthorization

Texas Water Resources Institute hydrologist Zhuping Sheng says that the region is going to have to get more creative with water conservation if it is going to continue developing.
Credit Simon Thompson

Southern New Mexico and West Texas surface water levels are just slightly above hundred-year lows.   Meantime legislation that funds regional water conservation research and development is about to expire.

Elephant Butte, the area’s major reservoir is at low levels in the fall, it was less than ten percent full.

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Regional
8:14 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Fort Bliss Shooting Highlights Broader VA Dysfunction

El Paso Veteran Nick D' Amico passed away in 2013 while waiting for medical care from the El Paso VA .
Credit Simon Thompson

Every day 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide. The recent murder-suicide that took two lives at Fort Bliss is raising questions about the VA’s ability to manage ongoing mental health issues facing returning soldiers Simon Thompson reports.

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Regional
9:10 am
Mon January 19, 2015

A Fork In the Road: Keystone XL Pipeline Debate Mirrors NM Dilemma Over Future Energy Generation

The San Juan facility outside Farmington New Mexico Emits About 13,054,091 tons of Carbon Dioxide when running at full capacity (2006)
Credit Sierra Club NM

As many as 150 demonstrations, in 50 states protested House approval of the Keystone XL pipeline last week.  For many, even in states like New Mexico far from the pipeline route the debate represents a broader question over the future of energy generation in the US. 

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Regional
6:00 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Stand4KidsNM: State Education Policy Critics Gagged And Silenced

Credit Simon Thompson

Krazy Kathy Korte, that is what some are calling the Albuquerque mother and outspoken critic of education policies developed by the Martinez administration.

Korte’s advocacy group Stand4kids New Mexico has put education at the center of the November election. But a Republican lawmaker has filed a complaint against the group’s conduct with the Secretary of State.

Kathy Korte was elected to the Albuquerque Public School board, right after Susana Martinez became governor and began her campaign to overhaul public education.  

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