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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.

Police: Pilot Of Plane That Crashed Near Las Cruces Has Died

Aug 19, 2015
nmsp.dps.state.nm.us

The pilot of T-28 vintage Navy plane that crashed last week near the Las Cruces International Airport has died.

New Mexico State Police say 64-year-old David Tokoph of El Paso, Texas died Tuesday night of injuries suffered in last Friday morning's crash.

Tokoph had been hospitalized at University Medical Center in El Paso.

Police say the passenger has been identified as Angelo Edgard Cossi Sedjiro, from France.

Former Dona Ana County Worker Files Suit Over Termination

Aug 19, 2015
https://www.facebook.com/DonaAnaCounty

A former employee in the Dona Ana County Clerk's Office who was fired after alerting authorities to alleged wrongdoing within the office has sued the county.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Robert Hernandez alleges in his 19-page lawsuit that he was subjected to cronyism, harassment, retaliation, creation of a hostile work environment and outrageous conduct that adversely affected his employment at the county.

Hernandez worked as a temporary employee at the county office.

Expert: Convicting New Mexico Officers Of Murder A Challenge

Aug 19, 2015

Experts say it will be a challenge for prosecutors to convict an Albuquerque police officer and a retired detective of murder after they were ordered to stand trial in the fatal shooting of a homeless man.

Michael Benza of Case Western Reserve University School of Law says officers are rarely sent to prison for on-duty shootings because the law gives them protection based on their perceptions during dangerous encounters.

Benza says that if defense lawyers convince jurors that the officers felt afraid, it will be difficult to get convictions.

Hobbs Woman Facing 5 years In Prison For Drug Trafficking

Aug 19, 2015

A Hobbs woman has pleaded guilty to violating federal narcotics trafficking laws and is facing a five-year prison sentence.

Prosecutors say 46-year-old Ida Rodriguez entered her plea Wednesday in federal court in Las Cruces.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, Rodriguez will be sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Rodriguez was arrested in June on a criminal complaint charging her with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in Lea and Dona Ana counties.

New York Times Covers Las Cruces Church Bombing Story

Aug 19, 2015

The New York Times posted an in-depth piece on the Las Cruces church bombings investigation Wednesday.

Resolution Reached On Silver City Museum Trees

Aug 19, 2015
The Town of Silver City

The Town of Silver City has reached an agreement with the Lloyds, whose property is adjacent to the Silver City Museum. The agreement calls for the preservation of the large Silver Poplar tree in the Town of Silver City Museum courtyard. The Siberian Elm tree will be removed from the courtyard. The elm tree was examined by the Extension Service and determined to be infected with “slime flux” disease, which will eventually kill the tree and make it a public hazard.

Cause Sought In Deadly New Mexico Scaffold Collapse

Aug 19, 2015

Investigators are trying to determine what led to the collapse of a six-story scaffold outside a New Mexico hospital that killed one construction worker and injured seven others.

New Mexico Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials were at the Rio Rancho site Wednesday, a day after 21 feet of scaffolding buckled and collapsed from the top down.

Work on a second patient tower at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center has been going on since last year.

Economic Impact Of Kirtland Base Dips As Jobs Increase

Aug 19, 2015
kirtland.af.mil

Jobs are up even as local economic impacts dip by $500 million for Albuquerque's Kirtland Air Force Base.

The Albuquerque Journal reports 2014 impact data from the financial analysis office of the 377th Comptroller Squadron shows the base contributed $7.6 billion to the Albuquerque economy, about 3.1 percent less than predicted.

Base commander Col. Eric Froehlich said during a meeting of community leaders Tuesday that the base is up by 774 jobs, mostly at federally contracted Sandia National Labs.

Finance Chief Optimistic About New Mexico's Recovery

Aug 19, 2015
nmdfa.state.nm.us

New Mexico's top finance official says declining oil and gas prices will continue to cut into revenues but the state has enough money to follow through with education reforms and public safety mandates.

The head of the Department of Finance and Administration, Tom Clifford, updated members of the Legislative Finance Committee on the latest revenue outlook during a meeting Wednesday in Taos.

Clifford's agency says revenues from oil and gas are expected to be around $840 million for the 2016 fiscal year. That's more than 16 percent less than the last fiscal year.

New NMSU College Of Education Associate Dean

Aug 19, 2015

  Enedina García Vázquez, a professor in the Counseling & Educational Psychology Department of New Mexico State University’s College of Education, has been named the college’s associate dean of academic affairs.

“I’m very excited to be working with our new dean, Donald Pope-Davis,” Vázquez said. “I look forward to working with students and faculty to develop new programs and new initiatives to advance the mission of the College of Education.”

  New Mexico State University honored its faculty at the 2015 fall convocation ceremony Wednesday, Aug. 18, at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts. Every fall and spring, convocation is held to honor excellence on campus.

Drunken Brawl Ends With Woman's Arrest

Aug 19, 2015

   A Doña Ana County Sheriff’s deputy, en route to assist on another call, was detoured by a woman who said her neighbors had allegedly engaged in a drunken brawl.

   The incident happened just after 5 p.m. Tuesday in the 5000 block of Ortega Road east of Las Cruces. The woman flagged down the deputy and said her neighbor, 54-year-old Delia Soto, was straddling her boyfriend and was allegedly beating the man in the face.

U.S. Dept. Of Interior To Lead Review Into Gold King Mine Spill

Aug 19, 2015

The Interior Department will lead a review of the Colorado mine spill that tainted rivers in three western states.

The review was announced late Tuesday after elected officials from both parties questioned whether the Environmental Protection Agency should be left to probe its own heavily criticized response to the disaster. EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater on Aug. 5 as they inspected the idled Gold King mine.

The Interior Department's report is expected to be released publicly in 60 days.

Nine airports across New Mexico will share more than $3 million in federal grants for runway expansions and other improvements.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation announced the funding Tuesday.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich say local airports serve as an economic engine for many New Mexico communities and the funding will help make them stronger while boosting commerce and increasing travel.

The city of Alamogordo is getting the lion's share — $1.4 million — to extend a runway to better accommodate local aircraft.

Former Doña Ana County Employee May File Lawsuit Over Termination

Aug 19, 2015
https://www.facebook.com/DonaAnaCounty

A former Dona Ana County Clerk's Office employee who was terminated earlier this year after alerting authorities to alleged wrongdoing within the office says he may sue the county.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Robert Hernandez, who worked as a temporary employee at the county office, sent a notice last week saying he has "causes of action" against county officials. The lawsuit would be in connection to alleged harassment and retaliation against him.

Hernandez had tipped off authorities to an alleged voter ID theft and check-cashing scheme within the office.

Youth Learn Gardening At NMSU Agricultural Science Center

Aug 19, 2015

  In five New Mexico counties, public gardens provide communities with teachable moments and public awareness of xeriscaping, water conservation, weed management, soil analysis, pest management, and healthy eating. 

Over the summer, the Youth Gardening Experience at New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science Center at Farmington provided a hands-on horticulture experience for members of San Juan County Girl Scouts Cadet Troop 10408 and Roadrunners 4-H Club. 

After a passing a tight budget, Doña Ana County Commissioner’s are working to understand one of the largest budget costs – personnel.

Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garret says after completing work on this year’s budget, it was important to make sure the staffing plan aligned with the county’s strategic plan.

(Flickr)

19 states and Washington D-C have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Across the country there’s an effort to expand these policies. 

Marijuana comprises more than half of all Texas drug arrests and 97% of those were for possession of 2 ounces or less.  An ounce makes about 60 marijuana cigarettes.

El Paso Police chief Greg Allen says those statistics hold true in El Paso. He says those arrested for marijuana possession usually have no prior drug convictions or criminal offenses.

Perry Asks Texas Court To Nix Second Felony Charge

Aug 18, 2015
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R)

Former Gov. Rick Perry's legal team has asked Texas' highest criminal court to toss the second and final felony charge against him.

Last month, a lower state court threw out a coercion of a public servant charge against Perry, but allowed an abuse of power charge to stand.

Perry's attorneys responded Tuesday by asking the Court of Criminal Appeals to quash the second charge. Perry left office in January and is running for president, but may yet face trial in a case he says is politically motivated.

NMSU Program Has Undergraduate Research Down To A Science

Aug 18, 2015

  The room whirred with energy and excitement for discovery as 16 New Mexico State University undergraduates eagerly gathered in O’Donnell Hall to present their summer research in a public poster session earlier this month. 

The students are NMSU’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute research and summer research scholars who have worked full-time since May on a research project alongside faculty mentors from various NMSU labs in the departments of biology, plant and environmental sciences, and animal and range sciences. 

Judge Grants Hearing On Federal Water Rule

Aug 18, 2015
imagebase.net

A federal judge in North Dakota has ordered a hearing on an effort to block a new rule that gives federal authorities jurisdiction over some state waters.

Thirteen states led by North Dakota are challenging the rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The states say the new rule illegally expands the jurisdiction of those agencies under the federal Clean Water Act.

The law goes into effect Aug. 28. The states want the judge to order an injunction to suspend the new rules.

Albuquerque Officers To Be Tried On Murder Charges

Aug 18, 2015

A New Mexico judge has ruled that two Albuquerque police officers must stand trial on murder charges in the fatal, on-duty shooting of a homeless man that sparked angry protest in Albuquerque and helped lead to reforms.

After a nearly two-week preliminary hearing, a judge said Tuesday there was probable cause for the murder case against Officer Dominique Perez and former Detective Keith Sandy to go to trial.

Las Cruces Man Pleads Guilty In Tattoo Parlor Bombing

Aug 18, 2015

A Las Cruces man has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from the 2012 firebombing of a tattoo parlor.

Federal prosecutors say 43-year-old Conrad Vasquez Salazar pleaded guilty during a hearing Monday to charges of conspiracy and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

As part of his plea agreement, he faces 20 years in prison. His sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

Clovis Man Gets Year In Prison For Hitting A Police Officer

Aug 18, 2015

A Clovis man has been sentenced to a year in prison after pleading no contest to hitting a police officer.

Prosecutors say 31-year-old Jose Gonzalez entered the plea Tuesday prior to opening statements in his one-day trial.

After a high speed pursuit in December 2014, Gonzalez jumped out of a Clovis Police vehicle and ran.

A female officer was able to tackle Gonzales, who then tried to punch the policewoman in the face before running away.

An arrest warrant was issued and Gonzalez was apprehended a few days later.

NMSU Professor: Gold King Mine Spill Cleanup Will Be Long, Complicated

Aug 18, 2015
JONATHAN THOMPSON HIGH COUNTRY NEWS

  The accidental release of an estimated 3 million gallons of waste from the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, on August 5 is now contained and controlled. However, testing and monitoring of the drinking water, irrigation water, public health, agriculture, fish and wildlife will be ongoing for some time, said Lambis Papelis, associate professor of civil engineering at New Mexico State University.

NMSU To Teach Lamaze Classes In English, Spanish This Fall

Aug 18, 2015

  For the first time this fall, the New Mexico State University School of Nursing will offer Lamaze childbirth preparation classes in both English and Spanish for free to pregnant women in their seventh to ninth month of pregnancy.

NMSU nursing faculty and students are teaching the educational classes to women. The first Spanish six-week course will start Oct. 7 in the School of Nursing of the College of Health and Social Services building. The course is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. every Wednesday night from Oct. 7 to Nov. 18. 

NMSU To Host Chile Field Day In Las Cruces

Aug 18, 2015

  Chile roasting season is here, and if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the pepper, the 2015 Chile Field Day is the perfect opportunity. This year, New Mexico State University’s Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center will host the field day from 8 a.m.-noonWednesday, Sept. 9, and registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Leyendecker is located eight miles southeast of Las Cruces on Highway 28. The event is free and open to the public. 

Albuquerque Teen Curfew Proposal Withdrawn

Aug 18, 2015

An Albuquerque city councilor has withdrawn his resolution to seek a change in state law that would give local governments the authority to impose teen curfews.

Councilor Ken Sanchez made the decision Monday after Gov. Susana Martinez announced that she would put the question on the agenda for the next legislative session in January.

The City Council was set to discuss the proposal during Monday night's meeting. Dozens of speakers still weighed in on the resolution.

Closing Arguments Set In Albuquerque Police Shooting Case

Aug 18, 2015
3/16/14 fatal shooting of James Boyd--Albuquerque Police Department video

Closing arguments are set in a preliminary hearing for a former and current Albuquerque officer facing murder charges in a homeless man's shooting death.

Special Prosecutor Randi McGinn is scheduled Tuesday to outline her reasons why Officer Dominique Perez and former Detective Keith Sandy should face a jury for the fatal shooting of James Boyd. McGinn says the two shot the 38-year-old Boyd even though he was surrendering.

Defense attorneys, however, say the officers shot the knife-wielding Boyd because he posed a danger to police and had threatened officers.

USDA Funds To Bring Broadband Services To Mescalero Apache Tribe

Aug 18, 2015

    

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week announced funding for Mescalero Apache Telecom, Inc. for the construction of broadband services in Southern NM.

USDA Rural Development State Director, Terry Brunner announced that $5.3 million would be made available for the construction of broadband services on the Mescalero Apache Tribal Lands in Southern New Mexico.

“This is a broadband loan to the Mescalero Apache Telephone Company, and they are going to get broadband service to about 800 homes in the Mescalero Apache Area,” says Brunner.

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