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.

Funding Cuts Put UNM's Specimen Collection At Risk

Apr 25, 2016

A museum at the University of New Mexico maintains the world's largest archive of frozen tissue samples, but a recent National Science Foundation decision put the specimens at risk.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the NSF last month indefinitely suspended a program that funds maintenance of biological research collections like the half-million specimens at UNM's Museum of Southwestern Biology.

StoryCorps: Bernadette and Gilberto T. Apodaca

Apr 25, 2016

Time now for KRWG’s StoryCorps which visited our area in January. Karen Trujillo (45) interviews her parents Bernadette Apodaca (68) and Gilberto T. Apodaca (69) about what it was like growing up in New Mexico in the 1950s, their New Mexican heritage, and the importance of education.

Monday Business Watch

Apr 25, 2016

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. This week, Jason discusses Solar Credits from the state are set to expire this year, but will likely run out by this summer.

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Five Companies run by student entrepreneurs at NMSU gave their best pitches to local investors at the “Aggie Shark Tank” in hopes of taking their businesses to the next level. Just about $80,000 was invested in total across the five companies.

The businesses that gave their pitches at the Aggie Shark Tank ranged from sports equipment, to retro gaming, to health technology. One of the day’s big winners was VR Health Journeys; the 4 sharks invested $30,000 for 20% of the company, and they also won cash prizes for being both the Shark Favorite and the Crowd Favorite.

NMSU photo by Jane Moorman

  Efficient use of resources is the key to a successful business. The same is true in agriculture, especially in raising livestock.

The value of cattle and calves in New Mexico amounted to $1.09 billion in 2014, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With the impact of drought on the semi-arid rangeland, New Mexico cattle breeders realize the importance of improving their herd’s genetic trait of efficient conversion of forage and feed nutrients.

UNM Cuts 16 Education Center Jobs Across New Mexico

Apr 24, 2016

   The University of New Mexico is cutting 16 positions across six education centers to save on operating costs.

UNM spokeswoman Dianne Anderson says the affected jobs are in Bachelor and Graduate Field Centers at education centers in Farmington, Gallup, Los Alamos, Taos, Valencia and Santa Fe.

Anderson says employees involved in recruiting, advising and operating the centers are not affected.

University officials say there will be a limited number of new roles to address some of those responsibilities.

More Than 800 Teens Register To Vote In New Mexico

Apr 24, 2016

Hundreds of New Mexico teenagers are capitalizing on a new state law that allows 17-year-olds who will be 18 the day of the election in November to vote in the June primary.

More than 800 teens in New Mexico have registered to vote with more than half registering as Democrats. The deadline to register to vote in state primaries is May 10.

New Mexico's new law, which takes effect on May 18, the day of the primary, puts the state among about 20 states that permit 17-year-olds to cast ballots in party primaries.

Mentally ill languish in jails due to few beds at hospitals

Apr 23, 2016

Hundreds of people who should be housed in state mental health facilities because they've been declared incompetent for trial are instead being held in county jails, a problem that continues to vex state officials.

More than 380 men and women are in county lockups, sometimes for months at a time, because there aren't enough beds available at state mental hospitals.

Feds: Victims felt traumatized after UNM sex assault probes

Apr 23, 2016

A U.S. Justice Department review of complaints alleging sexual harassment — including sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence — at the University of New Mexico has led to findings that the school failed in how it handled reports from students.

Findings from a 16-month Justice Department investigation released Friday include numerous cases in which authorities say school officials dismissed complaints from women without properly weighing evidence or showed insensitivity in their responses.

"Airport" For Model Airplanes Opens In Las Cruces

Apr 23, 2016

Crowds headed to a landfill in Las Cruces this weekend not because of spring cleaning but instead to celebrate the opening of an airport for model airplanes.

The model airplane facility opened Friday at the Las Cruces Foothills Landfill, with dozens of hobbyists arriving to perform their inaugural rolls, spins and loop-de-loops.

New Mexico Solid Waste Bureau Chief Auralie Ashley-Marx says the bureau has been looking for novel ways to repurpose and improve landfills and Las Cruces' approach is exciting.

Donald Trump Elementary School On Tap For Texas?

Apr 23, 2016 (donald trump)

A YU-U-U-GE name is the most popular suggested replacement name for a Texas elementary school named after the top hero of the Confederacy.

Donald J. Trump Elementary was the most popular suggestion with 45 submissions out of 240 received, according to Austin Independent School District officials.

The second-most popular suggestion was 34 submissions to keep the present name. Other popular namesakes included author Harper Lee and artists Russell Lee and Elizabet Ney. Among those also receiving votes were Willie Nelson, Spike Lee and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

New Mexico Whistleblower Suing Over Termination

Apr 23, 2016

A state employee who was given notice while she was undergoing cancer treatment is suing, alleging she was targeted for being a whistleblower.  Heather Burke, who worked in the state General Services Department, is asking for damages for stress and violations of the state's Whistleblower Protection Act and for the Fair Pay for Women Act.

According to Burke, she expressed concern about lapses in digital security and about her pay compared to male colleagues.

She says supervisors then started reducing her duties and income.

A Las Cruces man out on bond for murder is accused of beating his 3-year-old son over broken video games.

Las Cruces police spokesman Danny Trujillo said Friday that 20-year-old Lawrence "Josh" Lucero has been charged with one count of intentional child abuse.

According to investigators, Lucero was watching the boy Thursday and told his wife he spanked him for breaking several X-Box games.

She took the child to a hospital for bruising on the face, eyes and lips.

She later notified authorities.

Off-Duty Silver City Police Captain Kills Girlfriend, Self

Apr 22, 2016

Authorities say an off-duty Silver City police captain shot and killed his estranged girlfriend before taking his own life.

New Mexico State Police say 41-year-old Marcello Contreras and 31-year-old Nikki Bascom both died at the scene of Thursday's shooting outside a Silver City home.

According to a male witness, Contreras and Bascom were in the process of ending their relationship.

Contreras showed up and allegedly pointed a gun at the witness and demanded to speak with Bascom, who was sitting inside a vehicle.

The Latest: University Of New Mexico Pans Sex Assault Report

Apr 22, 2016

The Latest on a federal investigation into the University of New Mexico's handling of sexual assault reports (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

The head of the University of New Mexico is criticizing how the U.S. Justice Department approached an investigation that found the school failed to follow federal law in handling sexual assault and harassment claims.

School President Robert Frank says the department report released Friday relied on an unscientific approach to collecting data. He also objected to conclusions that the school has a hostile campus.

Ex-Political Consultant Pleads Guilty To Child Porn Charge

Apr 22, 2016

A former New Mexico political consultant has pleaded guilty in Albuquerque federal court to a child pornography charge in a case stemming from theft of emails from Gov. Susana Martinez's campaign.

Jason Loera pleaded guilty Friday to receipt of a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. It was one of six pornography counts he faced under a federal indictment.

The 47-year-old former Albuquerque resident now lives in Los Angeles. He faces between 5 and 20 years in prison when sentenced.

Lawyer: Mother To Plead Guilty In Son's Death

Apr 22, 2016

The attorney for an Albuquerque mother says she will plead guilty to second-degree murder and other charges stemming from the beating death of her 9-year-old son.

Public Defender Todd Farkas says Synthia Varela-Casaus would serve a 40-year prison term under a plea deal first reported by the Albuquerque Journal on Thursday.

A plea date has yet to be scheduled.

Varela-Casaus' case had been set to go to trial in September after months of delays to determine whether she was mentally competent to stand trial.

New Mexico GOP Congressman Says He'd Back Trump If Nominee

Apr 22, 2016
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM 2)

New Mexico's sole Republican congressman says he will back any GOP presidential nominee over Democrat Hillary Clinton, even if that nominee is Donald Trump.

But U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce told The Associated Press on Friday he disagrees with some of Trump's proposals about the U.S.-Mexico border and will have no problem standing up to Trump if he believes those proposals will hurt the border region.

He says those proposals wouldn't get through Congress anyway.

  Santa Fe – The New Mexico Environment Department, along with the cities of Las Cruces and Deming, and Doña Ana and Luna Counties, is advising the citizens of Doña Ana and Luna Counties of the potential risks associated with dust storms.

A combination of weather conditions, features of the natural environment, and human activity can contribute to high levels of windblown dust, or dust storms.  High winds can raise large amounts of dust from areas of dry, loose, exposed soil.  In the Doña Ana and Luna County area, high winds are most common during the spring.

Las Cruces students compete in world robotics championship

Apr 22, 2016

  Middle- and high-school students from New Mexico are in Louisville, Kentucky, this week testing the mettle of robots that they designed and built in the 2016 VEX Worlds robotics competition. Six teams earned their place in the competition by taking top awards in the VEX State Championship this past February, hosted by the Engineering New Mexico Resource Network at New Mexico State University. Among them are four teams from Las Cruces.

  Finalists of the Launch competition sponsored by Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University will pitch their final presentations next week at the Launch Day event.

Arrowhead Center began offering the Launch proof of concept center, or POCC, in 2011. It offers NMSU innovative entrepreneurs with resources such as direct business mentorship, market analysis, demonstration-validation sources, cash investment and access to investment networks. 

Three Students Accused Of Rape Sue UNM Over Investigation

Apr 22, 2016

Two former University of New Mexico football players and a third man accused of raping a UNM student have filed a lawsuit against the university over the investigation.

Lawyer George Anthony Bleus says former players SaQwan Edwards and Crusoe Gongbay and community college student Ryan Ruff were the victims of a mishandled investigation by UNM and its police department. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages for affecting the men's lives.

A man who claims to be the biological father of the late boxer Johnny Tapia will need a DNA test to prove it.

A New Mexico judge ruled that week that Jerry Padilla must undergo a blood test to prove his claim after the fighter's widow demanded it in a legal battle.

The widow, Teresa Tapia and Padilla have been at odds since the 2012 death of the Albuquerque-born Tapia over use of the fighter's name and image. Teresa Tapia filed a lawsuit over the dispute last year.

Johnny Tapia won several championships in three weight classes.

Las Cruces Schools May See Staff Cuts Amid Tight Budget

Apr 22, 2016

Las Cruces Public School District may have fewer teachers next year due to a budget crisis.

The school board is considering a plan that would cut staff to close an estimated $2.9 budget shortfall. District officials say the cuts mean some retiring teachers won't be replaced and high schools may go to block scheduling.

Superintendent Stan Rounds says if cuts aren't made, staff could see a reduction in pay.

The cuts come after school districts across New Mexico received less money from the state due to falling oil revenue.

New Mexico Weighs Major Settlement In Pay-To-Play Scandal

Apr 22, 2016

Investigations into a pay-to-play scheme that preyed on New Mexico state investment and pension funds during the administration of former Gov. Bill Richardson have reached at a major crossroads as district courts hold hearings on a $24 million proposed settlement with a Chicago investment firm.

Your Weekend Pulse!

Apr 22, 2016

Time now for Your Weekend Pulse! your guide to what is happening in our area this weekend with Lorena Sanchez, Pulse Editor for the Las Cruces Sun-News and Edmundo Resendez. Today, they take look at a bike ride under the full moon in White Sands. 

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An educational psychology professor from the University of Iowa will be the keynote speaker at the 20th annual Multicultural Research Symposium at New Mexico State University.

The symposium is hosted by the NMSU College of Education’s Counseling & Educational Psychology Department, and will take place from4:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 28 at O’Donnell Hall Room 111.

Suspect in Las Cruces Hit-and-Run Arrested

Apr 21, 2016

  Andrew R. Aguilar, the driver suspected of Saturday’s hit-and-run crash that injured a 29-year-old man, was arrested Wednesday evening.

Aguilar, 25, was arrested before 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, near the 200 block of Three Crosses Avenue. He is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony count, and is incarcerated at the Dona Ana County Detention Center with a cash-only bond set at $50,000.

Aguilar also had three bench warrants for his arrest.

Flu Vaccinations Still Available in Deming

Apr 21, 2016

  The New Mexico Department of Health’s Luna County Public Health Office, 215 S. Sliver Ave. in Deming, NM will be hosting a flu shot clinic on Friday, April 29th from 8:30-11:30 a.m. There is no charge to those attending the clinic, but everyone should bring their insurance card, including Medicaid or Medicare, with them.   

Udall Advances Critical Transportation, Housing, Science And Law Enforcement Funding

Apr 21, 2016
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

Commentary: Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined the Senate Appropriations Committee in advancing two bipartisan bills to spur economic development and fund transportation projects, affordable housing, and other priorities important to New Mexico.