Regional

Regional
3:29 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Lagging Pension Fund May Harm Texas Credit Rating

Credit State of Texas

  Budget analysts are warning lawmakers the state's credit rating could be harmed unless they do more to properly fund the retirement plan for Texas employees.

The outgoing leader for the Employee Retirement System of Texas says the plan's unfunded balance is about $7.5 billion. That number is projected to increase to nearly $10 billion by 2018 if the Texas Legislature doesn't immediately pursue reforms.

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Regional
12:36 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

25 States Now On Board In Texas-Led Lawsuit Over President's Immigraiton Order

  Tennessee is joining a multi-state lawsuit seeking to halt President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery on Monday notified the parties in the lawsuit that Tennessee will become the 25th state to join the legal challenge filed in federal court in Texas.

Slatery said in a statement that Tennessee "cannot sit on the sidelines of this case, when unlawful directives of this magnitude grant lawful presence and other rights like work permits to such a large number."

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Regional
12:34 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Records: Texas Has Enough Drugs For Five Executions

Texas has enough of the execution drug pentobarbital to carry out the first five lethal injections scheduled for 2015.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice records obtained by The Associated Press under an open records request show 12 doses of the powerful sedative in the prison system's inventory since the end of October, after the state carried out its 10th and final execution this year.

Two doses are required for each execution, plus another two in reserve.

At least 13 inmates have execution dates in 2015, including four in January.

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Regional
12:34 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Albuquerque Police Not Taking Extra Security Measures In Wake Of NYC Shootings

  Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico aren't taking extra precautionary measures following the shooting deaths of two New York police officers.

Albuquerque police spokesman Tanner Tixier said Monday that the agency is not employing any specific precautions like mandating two officers to a car or removing civilian personnel from daily duties.

He says officers have been reminded to constantly be aware of surroundings and to practice sound safety techniques.

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Regional
12:33 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Tribes Tread Carefully Into Marijuana Sale Discussions

   The Navajo Nation had bitter debates when it was deciding whether to allow casinos on the reservation and if alcohol should be sold in them.

The arguments focused on revenue and jobs on a reservation where half the workforce is unemployed. It's also a place where most arrests and pervasive social ills are linked to alcohol abuse.

The same divisive discussions have resurfaced with the federal government's announcement that American Indian tribes can grow and sell marijuana.

The split among Navajo leaders reflects divisions on reservations around the country.

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Regional
10:07 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Negotiations Underway For Sale Of Old Las Cruces City Hall

Credit www.las-cruces.org

   Negotiations are underway between the city of Las Cruces and federal government over the potential sale of the city's old City Hall building.

City Manager Robert Garza says the federal government is seeking bids for developing offices for federal employees associates with the courts.

In April 2010, the city moved its government offices from its older North Church Street location to a North Main Street address.

Since then, the old City Hall has relatively empty and unused.

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Regional
7:27 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Young Immigrants To Line Up For Driver's Licenses

Credit U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Many young immigrants who are protected from deportation under new Obama administration policies are expected to begin pursuing Arizona driver's licenses.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says it is anticipating a rush of immigrant applicants Monday and in the weeks ahead at Motor Vehicle Division offices statewide.

A preliminary injunction issued Dec. 18 by U.S. District Judge David Campbell bars the state from enforcing Gov. Jan Brewer's policy of denying the licenses to about 20,000 immigrants.

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Regional
7:22 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Some Albuquerque Police Officers Give Up Bonuses

  More than two dozen Albuquerque police officers are giving up retention bonuses that were mistakenly given to them by the city.

KOAT-TV reports that 27 officers with three years to go until retirement received a $6,000 salary boost last month.

City officials say the salary bump was only supposed to go to officers who are one or two years away from retiring.

Police Union President Stephanie Lopez says the union decided to allow the city to fix the error and officers returned the bonuses.

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Regional
7:21 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Valles Caldera Looks To Future As National Park

Credit https://www.facebook.com/VallesCaldera

  The management experiment at Valles Caldera National Preserve is coming to an end as the National Park Service prepares to take over the 140-square-mile property in northern New Mexico.

The transition is among dozens of public lands measures squeezed into the half-trillion-dollar defense bill approved by Congress and signed by the president last week.

The Park Service is taking on Valles Caldera and numerous other properties at a time when the agency is struggling with more than $11 billion in deferred maintenance at existing parks and monuments.

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Regional
6:00 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Hurd House Recognized, Thanks To NMSU Graduate

The Hurd House in San Patricio near Ruidoso was recently added to the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties. (Photo by Brittany Porter)

  Tucked away in a quiet corner of San Patricio in the mountains near Ruidoso, the 40-acre Hurd family home and studios might not be a destination everyone would immediately recognize. But thanks to a New Mexico State University student who received her master’s degree in December, the property of artists Peter Hurd and his wife Henriette Wyeth-Hurd is now listed on New Mexico’s State Register of Cultural Properties and has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. 

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Regional
10:57 am
Sun December 21, 2014

New Mexico Hospitals Hit With Medicare Penalty

Credit NM Department of Health

  Nearly a dozen New Mexico hospitals will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicare payments because of hospital-acquired infections.

11 New Mexico hospitals are among more than 700 nationwide that have been hit with penalties for high rates of certain conditions brought on during hospitalization.

According to Kaiser Health News and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, hospitals will see a 1 percent loss in reimbursements for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.

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Regional
10:55 am
Sun December 21, 2014

Report: New Mexico Counties Not Spending DWI Funds Effectively

  New Mexico counties are not effectively spending funds from a DWI grant program to combat drunk driving, according to a state legislative report.

The Legislative Finance Committee study says counties are wasting money from the Local DWI Grant program on strategies such as media campaigns and outreach.

According to the study, officials should devote more funds to increased patrols and tougher prosecutions. Also, most counties are not funding treatment as required by state law.

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Regional
10:53 am
Sun December 21, 2014

UPDATE: Arizona Woman Dies In Las Cruces Multiple Vehicle Crash

  New Mexico State Police say an Arizona woman has died and four were injured in a multiple-car crash in Dona Ana County.

Authorities say a commercial motor vehicle going eastbound on Interstate 10 near Las Cruces on Saturday around 6 p.m. rear-ended a passenger vehicle.

The passenger car then struck the back of a flatbed of another commercial vehicle.

The first commercial vehicle continued traveling eastbound but struck another car, causing a chain reaction that led to three more cars getting hit.

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Regional
10:50 am
Sun December 21, 2014

Federal Oversight Of Immigrant Shelter Questioned

  A Texas congressman says he wants more information about a behavior treatment shelter for immigrant children near Houston that has received $13 million in federal funding.

Congress is pressuring the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to increase oversight of facilities such as the Shiloh Treatment Center.

State records show that children at Shiloh have made allegations of physical abused and painful restraints. A local prosecutor wrote to federal authorities in 2011 with concerns.

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Regional
10:50 am
Sun December 21, 2014

Neil Patrick Harris Among Stars Planning To Speak At NMSU

   Organizers of a New Mexico State University lecture series named after longtime professor and playwright Mark Medoff say some big names will appear in its inaugural year.

Coordinator Ross Marks says organizers are discussing dates for actors Kevin Costner and Neil Patrick Harris to be lecturers.

Costner starred in the 2008 movie, "Swing Vote," which was primarily filmed in New Mexico.

Harris, who is slated to host the Academy Awards in February, is an Albuquerque native.

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Regional
7:01 am
Sun December 21, 2014

I-10 Eastbound In Las Cruces Closed Until Mid-Morning Due To Fatal Accident

Las Cruces: Interstate 10 eastbound lanes remain CLOSED due to  a fatal crash that occurred on Saturday night near mile marker 148 south of Las Cruces. Motorists are advised to exit at Avenida de Mesilla or University Ave where they can access the frontage roads in order to enter back on to I-10 at Mesquite.  One person died in the multiple vehicle accident.

This closure will remain in effect until the mid-morning hours of Sunday December 21st as law enforcement completes their investigation, and the area is clear, and safe for the traveling public.  Please proceed with caution.

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Regional
3:30 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

Waiter Accused Of Drugging Woman Won't Be Tried

A man accused of drugging a woman nearly four years ago while he was waiting tables at an Albuquerque restaurant is no longer facing charges.

A Sandoval County judge dismissed the case Friday against Damon Morgan because prosecutors were taking too long to go to trial.

In his order, Judge George Eichwald wrote prosecutors had already taken an "excessive" amount of time.

Prosecutors say the case is complicated because the alleged victim is a Bernalillo County assistant district attorney.

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Regional
3:28 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

Dallas Stores To Begin Charging For Shopping Bags

Businesses and consumers in Dallas are preparing to comply with an environmentally friendly bag ordinance that takes effect Jan. 1.

The measure basically requires retail customers to pay a 5 cent fee per plastic or paper bag used.

The law approved in March requires retailers to charge for most single-use carryout bags. Exemptions include dry cleaning bags and most restaurant takeout bags.

Supporters say the measure will help limit the public mess associated with tossed plastic bags.

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Regional
3:26 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

New Mexico Wants Ballot Investigation In Colfax County

   The New Mexico Secretary of State's Office is seeking a judge's permission to investigate how initial election returns from one county were grossly miscalculated.

Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer wants to conduct a full audit and open locked ballot boxes in Colfax County.

County officials say a recount in the land commissioner's race showed Democrat Ray Powell had 84 fewer votes and Republican Aubrey Dunn had more than 100 fewer than what was first reported.

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Regional
3:25 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

Police Union Challenges Reform Deal With Feds

  The union representing Albuquerque police officers is challenging a settlement between the city and the U.S. Justice Department to overhaul police procedures, saying the deal undermines their own agreement.

The Albuquerque Police Officers' Association wants to argue in federal court for involvement in the settlement terms.

Union attorney Frederick Mowrer says in court documents filed Thursday that issues such as how officers will be disciplined for misconduct are in conflict with a collective bargaining agreement.

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Regional
3:23 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

Perry: Health Official Out Over No-Bid Contracts

Credit Texas Governor Rick Perry (R)

  A top state health official has resigned at the request of Gov. Rick Perry over $110 million in no-bid contracts that public corruption prosecutors say they will likely investigate.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission Inspector General Doug Wilson submitted his resignation Friday. Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed says the governor has lost confidence in Wilson as the fallout from lucrative deals with an Austin tech company widens.

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Regional
3:22 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

New Mexico Listeria Cases Include Three Newborns

A handful of listeria illnesses in New Mexico linked to prepackaged caramel apples include three newborn boys who were infected in the womb.

New Mexico Department of Health epidemiologist Paul Ettestad said Friday that the newborns from Bernalillo and Lea counties have recovered. A 9-year-old McKinley County boy and a 42-year-old Bernalillo County man also have recovered after being hospitalized.

Ettestad says the illnesses were reported between late October and mid-November. Officials haven't determined which brands of caramel apples are involved.

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Regional
3:20 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

Las Cruces Mobile Operations Center At Highland Elementary

  Las Cruces Police will park its Mobile Operations Command center near Highland Elementary School beginning Sunday. Officers will have an increased presence along the Sonoma Ranch Blvd. and Las Colinas residential area through December 24, 2014.

Offices will work out of the MOC and have around the clock patrols of the residential area along the Las Colinas and Sonoma Ranch Boulevard neighborhoods.

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Regional
3:18 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

Las Cruces Fire Displaces Four

  The Las Cruces Fire Department extinguished a fire in a southwest Las Cruces home Saturday.

Firefighters responded to the 1300-block of Branding Iron Circle just before 7:00 a.m. after neighbors reported smoke coming from the single-wide mobile home. Crews encountered heavy smoke conditions on arrival. The residence was quickly searched for occupants and the fire was brought under control within 20 minutes.

The residents were not home at the time of the fire.

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Regional
3:14 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

UTEP Cheerleading Coach Arrested For DWI

  Authorities say a cheerleading coach for the University of Texas-El Paso was arrested for driving while intoxicated the day before the team's New Mexico Bowl match-up.

KOB-TV reports that court records show David Vasquez was pulled over in downtown Albuquerque around 2 a.m. Friday.

According to the documents, Vasquez told officers he had consumed two drinks at Effex Night Club,

Police say Vasquez refused to take a Breathalyzer test and was booked on aggravated DWI charges.

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Regional
6:00 am
Sat December 20, 2014

NMSU Extension Program Helps Pre-Diabetics Make A Lifestyle Change

Registered dietitian Gaby Phillips, left, a program specialist with New Mexico State University’s Extension Family and Consumer Sciences department, shows off the latest weigh-in results of Barbara Dutton, 74, a participant in the National Diabetes Prevention Program. (NMSU photo by Amanda Bradford)

  When Barbara Dutton’s doctor told her last January that the 157 pounds she was carrying on her slight 5-foot frame put her body mass index over the line from overweight to obese, she knew she had to take action. Her father had been diabetic, and she didn’t want Type 2 diabetes to be part of her future.

Since then, the 74-year-old retired teacher has dropped 45 pounds – thanks, in part, to the National Diabetes Prevention Program offered by New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service, in partnership with Molina Healthcare.

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Regional
3:54 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Newsmakers 634 Education In Southern New Mexico

This program includes the following field reports:  A look at a National Education Association lawsuit against the New Mexico Public Education Department; some parents are refusing to allow their children to take some New Mexico standardized tests; a profile of the Mesquite Learning Center in Las Cruces. 

Regional
3:11 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Suspected Las Cruces Hit And Run Driver Charged

  The driver suspected in Monday’s hit-and-run crash on Picacho Avenue that injured two teenage girls has been arrested and charged with various offenses.

Rudalfo Villegas, 81, was arrested Thursday evening and is charged with two counts of failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, two counts of failure to render aid, one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury and one count of failing to immediately provide notice of an accident.

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Regional
3:06 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

NMSU Receives $853,815 Grant For Integrated Behavioral Health Training

  The New Mexico State University School of Social Work in the College of Health and Social Services has received a three-year Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Health Professionals Training grant, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 

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Regional
2:46 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Court: Texas "Stand Your Ground Trial" Unfair

  A Texas appeals court says a 49-year-old man who was convicted of murder after jurors rejected his "stand your ground" self-defense claim didn't get a fair trial and deserves a new one.

Raul Rodriguez was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 2010 slaying of a 36-year-old man during an argument over loud music in a rural Harris County neighborhood northeast of Houston.

The 1st Texas Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the instructions given to the jury in Rodriguez's 2012 trial, before deliberations, were too confusing.

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