Regional

Regional
8:12 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Xcel To Open New Carlsbad Facility Next Month

Xcel Energy will open its new facility in eastern New Mexico next month.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the electricity provider will hold a ceremony July 8 to launch a 24,000-square-foot facility.

The property is located inside a Carlsbad industrial park and is estimated to have cost $4.8 million.

The company will employ 37 people full-time as well as additional contractors.

Xcel previously occupied a 50-year-old building that was little more than half the size of the new one.

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Regional
8:07 am
Mon June 16, 2014

UNM Planning Flat-Rate Tuition Proposal

University of New Mexico officials are considering several proposals designed to offer students guaranteed flat-rate tuition for the four years it takes them to graduate.

The plans are designed to remove the uncertainty of tuition increases during the time it takes a traditional student to earn a degree,

One of several plans officials are considering would offer the guarantee to the first 500 applicants and year, and a second would offer it only to scholarship recipients.

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Regional
8:05 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Portales Considers Freeze On Pay And Hiring

City officials in Portales are considering a hiring freeze and cutting scheduled pay raises for non-hourly employees.

The proposals from City Manager Doug Redmond are part of his plan to deal with a tight city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Redmond told the Portales News-Tribune that step increases for management and salaried employees scheduled after July 1 would be frozen. Hourly employees should get a 2 percent cost of living increase in January.

Raises that were planned for the budget year ending June 30 will still be awarded.

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Regional
6:00 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Mixed Reaction To Gila Travel Management Plan

Credit U.S. Forest Service

  The U-S Forest Service plan governing future travel inside Gila National Forest is drawing a mixed reaction from some conservationists.

Donna Stevens with the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance says an important element of the travel management plan is that it restricts motorized vehicle use to roadways inside the forest.  But Stevens says leaving more than three-thousand miles of open road, about the distance between New York City and Los Angeles, does not do enough to protect the forest. She says roads can have a negative impact on wildlife.

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9:39 pm
Sun June 15, 2014

Why Do So Many Young Teachers Quit?

Lead in text: 
A powerful letter from an award-winning teacher who left the profession resonates across the nation.
Josh Waldron is an award-winning teacher in Waynesboro, Virginia - or rather, was an award-winning teacher in Waynesboro, Virginia. In the following sobering post, Waldron explains why he made the "tough decision" to leave the classroom after six years, during which he won four teaching awards. It isn't that he didn't love teaching.
Regional
11:07 am
Sun June 15, 2014

More High Priority Wells Uninspected In New Mexico

The number of high-priority oil and natural gas wells on federal and tribal land in New Mexico has nearly doubled in recent years, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is racing to keep up with inspections.

Agency officials say they have nearly 650 wells in New Mexico that are considered high priorities due to production levels, contamination risks and other reasons.

They say they're on track to have them all inspected by September thanks to the creation of a special strike team.

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Regional
11:06 am
Sun June 15, 2014

Long Delayed Trial For Las Cruces Inmate To Begin

  A man accused of slashing a fellow inmate to death in 2006 at a Las Cruces jail will see his case finally go to trial.

38-year-old Dominic Martin Montoya is due to appear in state District Court on Monday.

Montoya is facing charges of first-degree murder, possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner and evidence tampering.

Dona Ana County Sheriff's investigators say Montoya is suspected of slashing 29-year-old Adam Avalos with a razor while being held on robbery charges in April 2006.

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Regional
11:03 am
Sun June 15, 2014

Black Lung Disease Tests This Week At New Mexico Mines

  A mobile testing unit for black lung disease will be making stops in New Mexico this week.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is conducting free screenings for the illness commonly associated with coal mine workers.

Officials say the screenings take about 30 minutes and include a chest x-ray, breathing test and health questionnaire.

They say miners are encouraged to make an appointment but walk-ins are welcome.

Medical professionals say there is no known treatment for black lung disease but early detection is important.

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Regional
11:01 am
Sun June 15, 2014

Texas Oil/Gas Regulator Bans Communication With The Media

  Texas' oil and gas regulator has instituted a blanket policy barring staff from doing media interviews.

The Railroad Commission's policy raises questions about transparency just as the state grapples with one of the largest energy booms in decades.

Other Texas agencies routinely allow staff to talk to the media.

The agency's three elected commissioners approved the policy in August, about a year after Milton Rister was named executive director. Since then all media inquiries have been funneled through a spokeswoman who responds via email.

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Regional
10:59 am
Sun June 15, 2014

Texas Congressman Wants U.S. To Help Mexico Secure The Border

  A Texas congressman is calling on the Obama administration to help Mexico secure its southern border to help stem an influx of immigrants from Central American countries.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar met Saturday with Border Patrol agents, immigrant families and unaccompanied children who entered the country illegally. Most of them are from Central American countries, such as Guatemala and El Salvador, and entered the United States after trekking through Mexico.

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Regional
10:03 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

UPDATE: Two Wildfires In Lincoln National Forest

6/15/14 – 11:30 AM Fire Update – Firefighters are still engaged in mop up activities on both the South Fork and Raven Fires.  Firefighters continue work to improve the containment line around the South Fork Fire.

The Raven Fire was called “controlled” at 10:30 am today (6/15/14).  Several resources are being released , however, members of the Sacramento Hotshots will remain on the fire to continue with mop up operations.

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Regional
2:13 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

Hearing Scheduled For Former Martinez Campaign Manager

Credit Office of the Governor

  A federal court has scheduled a change of plea hearing for Gov. Susana Martinez's former campaign manager, whose trial was to start next month on charges of hijacking the campaign's email system after Martinez became governor.

The hearing for Jamie Estrada is set for Monday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lorenzo Garcia.

Estrada attorney Zach Ives said Friday he couldn't comment on whether his client had reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

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Regional
2:10 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

Border Patrol Arrests Four Mexican Police Officers

  The U.S. Border Patrol says it had arrested four Mexican police officers who mistakenly crossed the border into Texas while searching for a man who had been shot in the leg.

Border Patrol spokesman Agent Ramiro Cordero says U.S. agents found the wounded man on June 5 near a Texas farm not far from the Mexican border. Four other armed men were arrested when they crossed the border.

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Regional
2:09 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

Cornyn: Provide Funds To Mexico To Secure Border

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, says the United States should provide financial assistance to Mexico to help secure its borders and slow the flow of thousands of immigrants.

Cornyn says some 47,000 immigrants have been apprehended along the southwest U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year, and that the number is expected to exceed 60,000 by the end of September. In recent weeks, Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley have been overwhelmed by unaccompanied Central American minors crossing into the United States.

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Regional
2:08 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

El Paso VA Working To Correct Problems

   The Veterans Affairs health clinic in El Paso is taking steps to cut down wait times and resolve other problems found in an audit ahead of a plan to resolve issues found nationwide.

El Paso VA director John Mendoza, outlined the steps he will take locally to help reduce wait times for appointments and contact veterans still waiting to see a doctor.

A national audit of Department of Veteran Affairs clinics has found that more than 64,000 veterans nationwide have been unable to get a doctor's appointment.

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Regional
2:05 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

Drone Training On The Rise At Holloman

  Holloman Air Force Base is devoting more and more time to training pilots in the use of drones.

The number of students learning how to operate remotely piloted aircraft at the Alamogordo base has multiplied.

Holloman officials say more than 700 people are enrolled in the training program this fiscal year.

That is a significant increase from 136 graduates when the program first began in 2009.

Lt. Col. Calvin Powell, a training squadron commander, says the base still cannot meet the demand from the drones while maintaining enough air crew.

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Regional
2:04 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

Texas Sheriff Partners With Nonprofit To Patrol The Border

  A South Texas sheriff struggling to keep up with the demands of helping injured, lost and distressed immigrants slogging through his hot turf has partnered with a nonprofit to patrol the border.

The Brooks County Sheriff's Office will be working with Texas Border Rescue to halve response times to immigrants in distress.

The partnership will add 10 people to a search-and-rescue crew already bolstered by 15 new volunteer deputy sheriffs. This doubles the number of people patrolling the vast, hot terrain.

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Regional
2:02 pm
Sat June 14, 2014

Mesilla Basilica Reopens

A Roman Catholic church that's a popular stop for tourists in southern New Mexico has reopened with some much needed upgrades.

The Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla reopened Friday for 5:30 p.m. Mass after getting some cosmetic retouching.

Changes to the church include energy-efficient lighting and electrical systems, a better air conditioning system, new carpet and refurbished pews.

The church has been closed since May 7 for the renovation project.

The basilica was dedicated in 1908 but a church has stood on Mesilla Plaza since the 1850s.

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Regional
6:00 am
Sat June 14, 2014

New Mexico Museum Of Space History Is Local Spot For Nationwide Singing Of The National Anthem

New Mexico Museum of Space History curatorial volunteer, Hannah Earle, inspects this incredible 30’x50’ American flag as the museum prepares to put it on display for the June 14th All-American Picnic and Sing-A-Long being held at the museum in conjunction with the Smithsonian’s “Raise it Up! Anthem for America” celebration. Burt Broadcasting, Inc., is co-sponsoring the event which begins at noon on June 14th in the museum’s upper parking lot.

  New Mexico Museum of Space History and Burt Broadcasting, Inc., Partner with Smithsonian for a Nationwide Singing of the National Anthem to Celebrate Star-Spangled Banner Bicentennial

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Regional
4:09 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

GOP Immigration Debate Continues

Credit facebook.com/GOP

  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's startling primary loss illustrates how the GOP finds itself paralyzed by immigration reform. The policy most party leaders agree is best for the GOP's future is risky for most House Republicans seeking re-election in the fall.

Almost all represent districts that are home to few minorities and are in greater danger of losing to a primary challenger than to a Democrat in the general election. That leaves little incentive for the GOP-controlled House to even touch immigration overhaul.

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Regional
4:08 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Martinez On The Fundraising Trail...And Visiting Mitt

Credit Office of the Governor

  New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is making a quick trip to Utah to raise money for her re-election and to attend a summit organized by former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Campaign spokesman Chris Sanchez said the governor traveled Friday to Park City, Utah for the fundraiser and summit. She is scheduled to return to New Mexico Friday evening.

Sanchez said the governor's re-election campaign will pay for travel expenses.

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Regional
4:07 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Christie Denounces Perry's Comments On Gays

  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is denouncing comments by fellow Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry comparing homosexuality to alcoholism in which people can choose to change their behavior.

Perry said earlier this week in San Francisco that people may feel "compelled to follow a particular lifestyle" but have the ability to decide not to do that.

Christie said Friday that he disagrees, saying it is not "an apt analogy and not one that should be made because I think it's wrong."

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Regional
3:28 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

New Partnership To Prevent Veteran Suicides

Would you know how to help a veteran who was having a mental health crisis?  That issue is being addressed through a new partnership involving the New Mexico Veterans Mental Health Advocacy Council and the Suicide Prevention Program of the New Mexico VA Health Care System (NMVAHCS). 

Under the partnership, the Council’s members will spread the word to private corporations, veterans groups, government agencies and other organizations that the NMVAHCS is available to present information to their members or staff about suicide prevention.

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Regional
3:13 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Excessive Wait Times Put Veterans Needing Mental Care At Risk

Melinda Russell (Left) and her late assistant and body guard Quincy J. Green (Right).
Credit Courtesy of Melinda Russell

In 2007 Melinda Russell signed up for a 15 month tour as a military chaplain.  

“Where ever the soldiers go you go and you help them and give them comfort you let them know hey you’ve got somebody that cares about you” she says.

Like any chaplain Russell organized the worship services, wrote sermons and gave spiritual guidance. As Russell’s Battalion deployed in Iraq her role intensified; soldiers turned to her for counsel in dealing with death, loss and the daily trauma of the battlefield and she took on the role of monitoring their mental health and stability.

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Regional
12:22 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Forest Worker Death Ruled Accidental

  Authorities say a Gila National Forest Service worker in southwestern New Mexico likely died in a fall while horseback riding.

The Silver City Sun-News reports New Mexico State Police have ruled the death of 62-year-old John Kavchar an accident.

Kavchar was last seen Saturday by his girlfriend before he left to go riding in an area where the Signal Peak Fire had been burning last month.

Searchers found his body and that of the horse the next day.

Police believe because they were on a steep slope, the animal fell on Kavchar and both died from the fall.

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Regional
12:20 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Jane Fonda Selling New Mexico Ranch

Jane Fonda's northern New Mexico ranch is up for sale.

The Swan Land Company of Bozeman, Montana, announced Friday that Fonda has listed her Forked Lightning Ranch just north of Santa Fe for $19.5 million.

The company says the actress purchased the ranch near Pecos, New Mexico, in 2000 and spent two years siting the home, known as River House.

The 9,600-square-foot dwelling was featured in the March 2014 issue of Architectural Digest.

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Regional
12:17 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Suspected Hate Crime In Albuquerque

Police say an Iraqi refugee who was assaulted in her Albuquerque apartment appears to be the victim of a hate crime.

Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik said a man forced his way into Seham Jaber's home last week, yelled obscenities about Muslims and punched her in the head and stomach. Investigators say the intruder then tore up her family's citizenship papers in the June 5 attack.

Jaber, who is Catholic, told police the unknown assailant also stole at least $20,000 in gold, which represented her family's life savings.

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Regional
12:16 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Pearce Seeks Transparency In VA Discussions

  U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce says the discussion about patient access and the quality of care within the Veterans Affairs health care system needs to be public and more transparent.

The New Mexico Republican, state officials and veterans met Friday with administrators for the VA system in New Mexico, where more than 1,000 patients had to wait three months or longer for initial appointments and 21 veterans died while on the waiting list.

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Regional
12:14 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Texas Border Agents Warned Not To Speak With Reporters

  Border Patrol agents trying to control an increasing flood of unaccompanied child immigrants along the border in southern Texas are being warned against a new threat: reporters.

Assistant Chief Patrol Agent Eligio "Lee" Pena warned more than 3,000 agents based in the Rio Grande Valley that reporters looking for information on what President Barack Obama has described as a humanitarian crisis, quote, "may try to disguise themselves." In an email sent to agents, Pena said agents should not speak to reporters, on or off duty, without permission.

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Regional
12:12 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

This Week In The Las Cruces Bulletin

   Every Saturday at 5:30pm on Images, Fred Martino speaks with Las Cruces Bulletin Managing Editor Brook Stockberger about the week's top stories and much more in the Bulletin.

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