Regional

Regional
5:15 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Re-Elected Navajo Leader Faces Criminal Charges

  A Navajo Nation lawmaker who secured another term in office has been accused of illegally authorizing nearly $34,000 in payments to his children.

Mel Begay faces nine criminal charges, including conspiracy to commit fraud and conflict of interest.

Prosecutors say, in one instance, Begay's daughter posed as a voter and requested money for heating costs and a new transmission for her car. She did not disclose her relationship. Prosecutors say she was 15 at the time, making her ineligible to vote and drive a car.

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Regional
5:03 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Group Moves Forward On Effort To Recall Three Las Cruces City Councilors

  A group organizing a recall campaign against three Las Cruces city councilors is moving ahead with its efforts.  

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Regional
9:22 am
Tue November 18, 2014

A Closer Look At The Lawsuit Against The Public Education Department

Deborah Romero was one of the teachers that rallied in front of Las Cruces City Hall in opposition to the Public Education Department's public education overhaul.
Credit Simon Thompson

They are calling it a war against teachers. Many New Mexico teachers say they are being demoralized by a rigid, one size fits all evaluation system that doesn’t accurately measure their performance.  Teachers are firing back with a national lawsuit filed against the New Mexico public education department by the NEA teachers’ union.

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Regional
8:24 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Lawmakers Back 'Timeout' On Pension System Changes

Some New Mexico legislators agree that there shouldn't be policy changes made to the state's big retirement system for public employees for at least five years.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a legislative oversight committee on Monday indicated support for a "timeout" proposed by the board that oversees the Public Employee Retirement Association,

It'd be up to the full Legislature to decide whether there actually would be a pause on changes to the retirement system's retirement and benefit guidelines.

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Regional
8:22 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Ex-Navajo Lawmaker Pleads Guilty In Criminal Case

A former Navajo Nation lawmaker accused of funneling nearly $25,000 in tribal funds to her family has pleaded guilty in a criminal case.

Orlanda Smith-Hodge entered her plea Monday in Window Rock District Court to a single count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

She had been charged with six counts of bribery, four counts of abuse of office and five counts of unauthorized compensation. Those charges will be dismissed with prejudice if she cooperates with prosecutors in similar cases against her onetime colleagues.

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Regional
8:20 am
Tue November 18, 2014

New Mexico Says It Is Working To Improve Teacher Evaluations

Education Secretary Hanna Skandera says New Mexico is taking steps to improve its system for evaluating public school teachers but that decreasing its reliance on students' test scores won't be one of them.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Skandera told a legislative study committee Monday that steps being taken include assigning a Public Education Department liaison to each school district and charter school and increasing training on how the system works.

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Regional
6:00 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Flu Shot Clinic Friday In Las Cruces

Credit New Mexico Department of Health

  The New Mexico Department of Health’s Las Cruces Central Public Health Office will be hosting a flu shot clinic onFriday, November 21 from 1:00 – 3:30 pm at the St. Genevieve Parish Hall, 1025 E. Las Cruces Ave. in Las Cruces, NM. There is no charge to those attending the clinic, but everyone should bring their insurance card, including Medicaid or Medicare, with them.   

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Regional
6:00 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Quilt Exhibit Coming To Las Cruces Gallery

  Las Cruces, NM —  The Tombaugh Gallery at 2000 South Solano Drive presents the “UU Bee Welcome” show, an exhibit opening December 7 featuring the work of this long-time quilting group and associated artists.

 

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Regional
6:00 am
Tue November 18, 2014

NMSU Student Wins Award From New Mexico Press Association

  A love of photography led New Mexico State University student Kyle Chancellor to make a career change during his second year of college. 

“I realized I didn’t want a career in engineering, and I saw journalism as a way for me to take my love of photography and apply it to a real career, photojournalism,” Chancellor said. “As I spent more time and classes in the major, I realized I want to be a writer and not just a photographer.”

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Regional
6:00 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Las Cruces City Council Moves Forward With Minimum Wage Increase

Las Cruces City Council decided to move forward with the public led minimum wage ordinance passed in September that will increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, repealing the other increase the city council passed in June.

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Regional
8:27 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

New Mexico Democrat To Lead Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

  House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has tapped Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico to head the party's campaign committee.

Lujan, who was elected in 2008, will succeed New York Rep. Steve Israel as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Lujan led the committee's Latino Council this past election.

Pelosi made the announcement through Twitter, saying Lujan's vision, energy and leadership will mean victory for Democrats in 2016.

Democrats lost at least a dozen seats in the midterm elections as Republicans romped.

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Regional
3:45 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Bond Reduced For Man Accused In Stabbling Death

  Las Cruces—Today, District Court Judge Darren Kugler reduced bond for Ismael Montoya from $100,000 secured bond to $15,000. Montoya is charged in the stabbing death of David Escamilla on October 19, 2014.

Montoya has pleaded not guilty to first-degree child abuse resulting in death, second-degree murder, and aggravated battery, a third-degree felony.

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Regional
12:44 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

CBP Processing Traffic At New Tornillo Facility

  TORNILLO, Texas -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection is processing northbound vehicular and pedestrian traffic at the new Tornillo international port of entry. CBP began routing traffic from the former Fabens port of entry inspection area to the newly built Tornillo port of entry primary inspection at 6 a.m. today.

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Regional
12:42 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Man Charged For Firing Shotgun Toward Las Cruces Officers

  A man suspected of firing a shotgun toward two Las Cruces Police officers was arrested late Friday evening.

Rick William Toombs, 40, of the 4600 block of Triumph Ct., is charged with two counts of aggravated assault upon a peace officer. Both counts are third-degree felonies.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14, Las Cruces Police were called to Toombs’ residence after he allegedly threatened to shoot his brother and sister-in-law who also reside at the home. Toombs’ sister-in-law reported to 911 that Toombs was intoxicated and armed with a loaded shotgun.

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Regional
12:40 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Report: 25+ Percent Of Fired Albuquerque Officers Dismissed For Use Of Force

  Records show more than a quarter of Albuquerque officers fired in recent years were dismissed for use of force.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that 17 Albuquerque officers have been fired since 2010 and that five of those firings involved use-of-force allegations.

Documents show that the 12 dismissals that didn't involve use of force included six officers fired for policy violations and four who were indicted in criminal cases. The final two officers were still in probationary periods, and they were dismissed without stated reasons.

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Regional
12:38 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

New Mexico Teacher Arrested For Pulling Knife On Student

Credit KRQE

  A middle school math teacher is in jail after he allegedly threatened a student with a knife for speaking during a test.

KRQE-TV reports that Bernalillo police plan to share more details Monday about the arrest of Benjamin Nagurski.

According to a family member of a 12-year-old Bernalillo Middle School student, Nagurski pointed a steak knife at the student Friday.

Family members say Nagurski told the class they could discuss the test problems with the person sitting next to them. But when the victim spoke, Nagurksi allegedly pulled out the knife.

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Regional
10:09 am
Mon November 17, 2014

NMSU President To Interview Athletic Director Finalists This Week

Credit NMSU President Dr. Garrey Carruthers

  This week, NMSU President Garrey Carruthers will interview four finalists for NMSU’s athletic director position. The finalists were presented to Carruthers by a 15-member search committee.

They include Rory Hickock, deputy athletics director at the University of Nevada-Reno; Gerard Koloskie, former deputy director of athletics/senior associate athletics director at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas; Mario Moccia, director of athletics for Southern Illinois University; and Ronald Prettyman, athletics director for Indiana State University.

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Regional
8:24 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Monday Business Watch

Every Monday at 7:51am on Morning Edition, Edmundo Resendez covers the week's top local business stories with Las Cruces Sun News Business Editor Jason Gibbs. 

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Regional
8:21 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Las Cruces Council To Meet On Minimum Wage Changes

The Las Cruces City Council is set to meet over a proposed repeal of a minimum wage ordinance.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that city councilors will have a first-reading Monday of the repeal as well as possible changes to a second minimum wage ordinance that passed in September.

In New Mexico, the current minimum wage is $7.50 per hour.

In June, the council voted in favor of raising wages to $8 per hour starting in July 2015 and then to $8.50 an hour in 2016. The second wage hike proposes a higher increase of $8.40 per hour in 2015 and $10.10 by 2017.

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Regional
8:20 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Santa Fe Judge Tosses Citations Under Old Pot Law

Credit facebook.com/Santa-Fe-NM-Government

Santa Fe's city judge is dismissing citations issued by police for misdemeanor marijuana violations because the City Council has decided that people possessing small amounts of pot should instead be charged with a civil infraction.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that city employees were caught by surprise when the council August approved a new ordinance outright instead of having voters decide the issue.

The new ordinance took effect in September, but city employees didn't have new forms ready to charge violators with a civil infraction instead of a criminal violation.

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Regional
8:18 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Force Figured In Some Albuquerque Police Firings

   

More than a quarter of the Albuquerque Police Department officers fired in recent years were dismissed as a result of an incident in which force was used.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that 17 Albuquerque officers have been fired since 2010 and that five of those firings involved use-of-force allegations. Other considerations also figured in the cases.

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Regional
6:00 am
Mon November 17, 2014

International Education Week At NMSU Las Cruces

  New Mexico State University will join hundreds of educational, business and governmental organizations around the world in observing International Education week. NMSU’s International and Border Programs will offer four days of events and activities Nov. 17-20 including screenings of documentaries and talks about the state of internationalization at NMSU and the role of global education in preparing the next generation.

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Regional
11:39 am
Sun November 16, 2014

Report: Hunting And Fishing Boost New Mexico Economy

   The New Mexico Game and Fish Department says the state's hunters and anglers spend more than $613 million on their recreational activities.

The department says they also contribute another $51 million to the state's economy in labor, income and taxes.

The dollar figures are highlighted in a study commissioned by the department to determine the amount of participation and subsequent economic impacts hunters and anglers have on the state and on individual counties.

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Regional
11:38 am
Sun November 16, 2014

Big Payday: UT Branch Provides Incentives Totaling $20 Million To Employees

A University of Texas medical campus in its last fiscal year gave more than $20 million in financial incentives to faculty, executives and others.

The incentives granted to employees of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston were based on performance and productivity.

Campus administrators say the incentives are necessary to attract and retain top talent in a competitive industry.

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Regional
11:35 am
Sun November 16, 2014

Atari Games Buried In Alamogordo Net $37,000 On Ebay

  What some have called the worst video game ever made has fetched thousands of dollars for a New Mexico city.

An old "E.T. The Extraterrestrial" game cartridge drew the highest bid among 100 Atari games auctioned on eBay by Alamogordo officials.

The games were part of a cache of some 800 Atari video games buried more than 30 years ago in a landfill and dug up in April.

Joe Lewandowski, a consultant for the film companies that documented the dig, says the online auction, which ended Thursday, generated $37,000.

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Regional
11:33 am
Sun November 16, 2014

New Mexico Boys Behind Girls In Academics

Credit Courtesy: US Dept. of Education

   New Mexico boys are falling behind girls in academic achievement.

The state Public Education Department has found that girls are graduating from high school at a higher rate statewide than their male counterparts.

The graduation rate for girls in 2013 was 74.9 percent, compared with 65.9 percent for boys.

Furthermore, the report has found that girls scored 9.9 percentage points above boys in reading on the most recent standardized test. The two groups were about the same in math.

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Regional
11:28 am
Sun November 16, 2014

Group Plans Effort To Recall Three Las Cruces City Councilors

  A group calling itself “New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow” has announced plans to gather petitions to recall three members of the Las Cruces City Council.

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Regional
5:16 pm
Sat November 15, 2014

State Teams Up With Mescalero Tribe For Restoration Project

  The State Forestry Division has teamed up with the Mescalero Apache Tribe to begin work on a 600-acre watershed restoration project in southern New Mexico.

The goal is to thin areas on the reservation to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and boost the health of the watershed.

The work is being funding with state severance tax dollars that were set aside during the last legislative session. In all, $6.2 million was approved for the treatment of thousands of acres in more than a dozen high-priority areas around the state.

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Regional
5:14 pm
Sat November 15, 2014

Navajo Lawmakers Approve Junk Food Tax

  The Navajo Nation Council has approved a tax on junk food sold on the country's largest reservation.

Lawmakers voted 10-4 on the last day of a two-day special session Friday to impose a 2 percent sales tax on items such as cookies, chips and sodas. If signed into law by President Ben Shelly, the tax would remain in effect until 2020.

American Indians and Alaska Natives as a whole have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among U.S. racial and ethnic groups, according to the American Diabetes Association.

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Regional
5:13 pm
Sat November 15, 2014

New Mexico Gets Flexibility From U.S. Education Law

Credit NM Education Secretary-Designate Hannah Skandera

  The U.S. Department of Education is granting New Mexico flexibility from some requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Federal officials notified Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera by letter Friday that New Mexico's request for a one-year extension of flexibility was approved.

Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle says flexibility from provisions has been effective in allowing the state to carry out reforms to improve student achievement.

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