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Local news and weather for Las Cruces, El Paso, Alamogordo, Silver City, Ruidoso, Anthony, Cloudcroft, Deming, Truth or Consequences, Elephant Butte, and all of Southern New Mexico and Far West Texas.

The head of a key Texas business group says he doesn't trust the high school dropout and graduation rates provided by state officials.

Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond told The Dallas Morning News that public schools can manipulate the statistics they give to the Texas Education Agency, including the rates of students who opt for home-schooling.

But TEA spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said the state monitors the numbers it receives and requires documentation to avoid stat fixing.

The managers of the agencies that provide health care and disability benefits to New Mexico veterans say wait times for medical appointments and disability claims have improved.

Andrew Welch, New Mexico VA Health Care System director, and Chris Norton, regional director for the Veterans Benefits Administration, told the Albuquerque Journal that notable progress has been made in the past two years.

Welch says as of last month, the average wait time for a primary care appointment was about seven days.

Ninth-graders who were barely a month into high school when Texas' latest school finance trial began in 2012 are now entering their senior year.

There's no end in sight for the case, in which oral arguments begin Tuesday in front of the state Supreme Court.

Attorneys for the more than 600 school districts suing Texas argue that classroom funding is inadequate and unfairly distributed. The state has said it meets constitutional requirements.

Members of the New Mexico Military Institute's girls college volleyball team suffered minor injuries when their bus crashed following a tournament in Texas.

The Institute says all cadets and coaches who were hurt have since been released from various medical centers and should be back on post Sunday.

Institute spokeswoman Lt. Col. Colleen Cole Velasquez told KOB-TV in Albuquerque (http://bit.ly/1JENbTE) that the incident occurred Saturday around 7:30 p.m.

Velasquez says the team was heading back to Roswell after winning a volleyball tournament in Abilene.

tpr.org

A statue of Jefferson Davis has been removed from its place on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin after a failed appeal by a Confederate heritage group.

Crews could be seen Sunday morning removing the statue of the Confederate president from its place near the university's iconic clock tower.

University President Greg Fenves recently said the statue would be moved to a museum.

Strong Opposition To El Paso Electric Rate Hike

19 hours ago

  

It’s summertime in Las Cruces and increased air conditioner usage has many residents expecting high electric bills.  But those bills could be even higher next summer if a proposed rate increase is approved.

Unearthed Atari Games Bring In Over $100,000

Aug 29, 2015

A cache of Atari game cartridges dug up in a New Mexico landfill last year has generated more than $100,000 in sales in the last several months.

The estimated 850 games that sold on eBay has brought in close to $108,000.

Joe Lewandowski, a consultant for the film companies that documented the dig to retrieve the games, announced the figure at an Alamogordo City Commission meeting earlier this week.

Of the revenue, Alamogordo will receive about $65,000. The Tularosa Basin Historical Society will get $16,000.

EPA Moves Forward With Water Protection Measure Despite Court Ruling

Aug 29, 2015
imagebase.net

The Environmental Protection Agency says it is going forward with a new federal rule to protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands, despite a court ruling that blocked the measure in 13 central and Western states.

The EPA says a rule that took effect Friday in 37 states will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans.

Opponents, including farm and business groups, have pledged to fight the rule, emboldened by a federal court decision Thursday that blocked the rule from Alaska to Arkansas.

Abbott Pushing For More Abortion Restrictions

Aug 29, 2015
http://gov.texas.gov/

Gov. Greg Abbott is calling on the Legislature to approve several new abortion restrictions — even though Texas already has some of the nation's toughest limits on the procedure.

Lawmakers don't reconvene until 2017, unless Abbott calls a special session.

Still, in a statement Friday, the Republican said he'd like laws changed to make performing partial-birth abortions a state felony. He also wants to pull all state and local funding from Planned Parenthood, a group that's already a frequent target for legislators.

Donovan Maez

A Bernalillo County grand jury has indicted three suspects in the fatal drive-by shooting of an Albuquerque teenager two months ago.

The county District Attorney's Office says all three suspects were indicted Friday on first-degree murder and other charges and remain held without bond pending their arraignment hearings.

One of the suspects is 18-year-old Donovan Maez, who is the son of Democratic Rep. Stephanie Maez of Albuquerque.

Southern Heritage Group Loses Appeal Of UT Davis Statue Move

Aug 28, 2015

A Southern heritage group has lost an appeal to block the removal of a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis at the University of Texas.

A state district judge on Thursday rejected efforts by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to force the university to leave the statue near the campus's iconic clock tower.

Attorney Kirk D. Lyons said the group appealed that decision Friday to the Third Court of Appeals in Austin, but lost again.

University President Greg Fenves recently ordered the statue moved to a museum.

EPA: Soil On Navajo Nation Trending To Pre-Spill Conditions

Aug 28, 2015
JONATHAN THOMPSON HIGH COUNTRY NEWS

Federal officials say the concentration of metals in the San Juan River on the Navajo Nation is returning to what it was before the release of toxic sludge from a gold mine.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released new data Friday of surface water and soil samples from nearly a dozen locations on the reservation. The EPA says iron and other metals peaked in the week following the Aug. 5 spill at the Gold King mine but since have declined.

Secretary Of State Accused Of Embezzlement, Money Laundering

Aug 28, 2015
NM Sec. of State Dianna Duran / Official photo

New Mexico's Democratic attorney general has filed a complaint in state district court, accusing Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran of embezzlement, money laundering and other campaign-finance violations.

Attorney General Hector Balderas' office filed the 64-count complaint in Santa Fe late Friday afternoon.

According to the document, the attorney general's investigators say they uncovered behavior that included the transferring of large amounts of cash from Duran's personal and campaign accounts as well as cash expenditures at casinos throughout the state.

Suspect Sought In Drive-By Shooting Investigation

Aug 28, 2015

  A warrant was issued late Thursday for the arrest of an 18-year-old Las Cruces man who Doña Ana County Sheriff’s detectives say is a suspect in a series of drive-by shootings last week east of Las Cruces.

According to court documents, Eric Brooks, who lives in the 9100 block of Corona, is wanted on one count of shooting at an inhabited dwelling and two counts of shooting at or from a motor vehicle. The allegations are all fourth-degree felony charges.

New Federal Charges For Man Accused In Rio Rancho Officer's Death

Aug 28, 2015

A federal grand jury has filed robbery and other charges against a man accused in the fatal shooting of a police officer in an Albuquerque suburb.

A superseding indictment filed Friday says 28-year-old Andrew Romero carried out armed robberies at a CVS on April 6 and a gas station on May 26 in Albuquerque. The gas station robbery came in the day after authorities say Romero shot and killed Officer Gregg "Nigel" Benner in Rio Rancho.

Romero is charged in state court with first-degree murder.

  Technology is consistently changing. To keep up with the demands of the evolving technology, students can learn about useful tools needed in the field through New Mexico State University’s bachelor’s degree in information and communication technology. 

Texas Worker Gets Prison Time For Selling Driver's Licenses

Aug 28, 2015

A woman accused of selling driver's licenses to more than 28 illegal immigrants while working at the Texas Department of Safety has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.

The Dallas Morning News reports Gloria Adame was sentenced Thursday. She had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transfer identification documents produced without lawful authority.

Santa Fe Residents Concerned Over River Turning Green During Test

Aug 28, 2015

After a water drainage test in the Santa Fe River turned the normally clear water bright green many surprised residents are calling the city government for answers.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that on Thursday the New Mexico History Museum was trying to find where its emergency drainage system discharged water, causing the intentionally bright, nontoxic dye to seep into the river.

Stormwater inspector Dave Pike, who conducted the test, says he was just as surprised as many residents, as he didn't know it would drain into the river.

JONATHAN THOMPSON HIGH COUNTRY NEWS

Farmers in the northeast part of the Navajo Nation will soon be cleared to resume using the San Juan River for irrigation after it was contaminated by the Gold King Mine spill.  

The Farmington Daily Times reports that Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye announced Thursday at a meeting with chapter officials that the Fruitland Irrigation canal, which delivers water to the Nenahnezad, San Juan and Upper Fruitland chapters will be opened. The chapters have been without water since the Colorado gold mine sent toxic sludge into the waterway on Aug. 5.

Swimming can be a form of recreation, exercise, and a competition sport. Many in Las Cruces are concerned that one of their favorite activities could soon be hard to come by.

Mary Ann Hendrickson tries to swim laps 5 days a week at Frenger pool in Las Cruces, she says it’s how she exercises and what helps keep her in shape.

PNM Wants Rate Increase Of More Than 14 Percent

Aug 27, 2015
pnm.com

  New Mexico's largest electric utility is renewing its request to raise rates, this time by more than 14 percent.

Public Service Company of New Mexico filed its request with the state Public Regulation Commission on Thursday. A previous attempt was rejected by commissioners earlier this year because the utility failed to provide enough information.

Voice Of The Public

Aug 27, 2015

  Today, most news websites allow you to comment on a story anonymously. Some say…that leads to problems….but others argue it attracts more people to share their opinions. 

Guests include…Las Cruces Sun-News Managing Editor, Sylvia Ulloa and District 33 State Representative, Bill McCamley.

Strong Storm Causes Flooding In San Juan County

Aug 27, 2015

Some homes remain without power Thursday, the morning after an intense thunderstorm downed trees and flooded roadways in San Juan County

The Farmington Electric Utility System says there are still outages in the community of Flora Vista and in the Bloomingfield and Farmington area.

According to the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management, Wednesday night's storm packed strong winds and heavy rains.

Resulting flooding has forced schools in Aztec to close Thursday.

Mayor Ken Miyagishima Seeking Re-Election This November

Aug 27, 2015

Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima announced that he will be running for re-election this November. If elected, this will be his third term as Mayor of Las Cruces.

Miyagishima will be up against City Councilor Miguel Silva, who announced he was running for Mayor earlier this month.  

Three city council seats are also up for election this year, two of which do not have an incumbent in the race. 

Board Punts Decision On Embattled Albuquerque Schools Chief

Aug 27, 2015
aps.edu

The board that oversees New Mexico's largest school district has decided to delay making a decision on the fate of its embattled superintendent after he hired an administrator charged with child sex abuse.

Albuquerque Public Schools Board President Don Duran announced the delay Thursday after board members met behind closed doors for more than four hours.

Duran didn't detail any of the discussion and said only that the board needs to review the matter further before determining whether Superintendent Luis Valentino will keep his job.

A Santa Fe lawmaker says he will sponsor a proposed constitutional amendment for the state's bail system, which he calls "broken."

Sen. Peter Wirth, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Thursday his bill will be introduced during the 30-day state legislative session that starts in January.

The Democrat's proposal puts forward two key reforms, one of which would allow judges to deny bail before trial for the most high-risk, dangerous defendents.

Study Abroad Grows at NMSU

Aug 27, 2015

   New Mexico State University students can share photos of their summer experiences on Instagram to become eligible to win bookstore gift certificates.

NMSU’s Office of Education Abroad is hosting the contest, which began Friday, through the end of the month. The top five participants with the most likes will be eligible to win a $50 or $25 gift certificate to the Barnes & Noble NMSU bookstore.

Darren Phillips, NMSU

  According to the Washington Monthly National Universities rankings for 2015, New Mexico State University is among the best colleges in the country.

This year, NMSU is listed at 114 in the national rankings. Washington Monthly ranks institutions based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, which includes recruiting and graduating low-income students, research and service. 

Film Office Announces "The Magnificent Seven" to Film in New Mexico

Aug 27, 2015

  New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis announced today that the feature film "The Magnificent Seven," produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment in association with LStar Capital and Village Roadshow Pictures, will be filmed throughout the state.
 The film stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, and Peter Sarsgaard.  The production will employ approximately 275 New Mexico crew members, nine New Mexico actors and approximately 60 New Mexico background talent.

JONATHAN THOMPSON HIGH COUNTRY NEWS

  Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new data trend graphs and additional public records on the Gold King Mine response.

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