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.

Las Cruces – Two teenagers escaped from a southern New Mexico detention center after authorities say they tied up a female guard.

State police spokesman Sgt. Tim Johnson says the teens remain at large Thursday after fleeing from the J. Paul Taylor Center west of Las Cruces Wednesday. The teens are identified as 18-year-old Jesus M. Loera of Anthony and 16-year-old Joshua Hernandez.

Hondo, New Mexico – HONDO, N.M. (KRWG) A wildfire burning on part of a southern New Mexico ranch owned by veteran newsman Sam Donaldson is forcing residents to evacuate.

The fire nearly tripled in size over the past day to an estimated 45,000 acres Wednesday. It's burning in steep terrain.

Lincoln County sheriff's deputies and staff with the New Mexico Livestock Board are helping residents and their animals evacuate the Alamo Canyon area. Residents were advised the day before to be prepared to leave.

Otero County, New Mexico – WEED, N.M. (KRWG) A lightning-caused wildfire burning in the mountains of southern New Mexico has jumped containment lines, forcing the evacuation of more residents in Otero County.

Lincoln National Forest spokesman Joe Garcia says residents in the communities of Weed, Sacramento, Seep, Ehart Canyon, Agua Chiquita and the area around Camp of Tall Pines have been asked to leave their homes.

Officials estimate there are between 200 and 300 homes in the area.

San Juan County, New Mexico – FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRWG) San Juan County is about to start charging fees at its 12 transfer stations. County officials fear the higher fees may lead people to begin dumping trash in open county areas.

The county says more than 211,000 pounds of garbage was left at transfer stations in 2010.

The busiest transfer stations were Shiprock, Kirtland and Lee Acres.

It costs San Juan County about $1.3 million per year to operate the transfer stations.

Las Cruces – Las Cruces Police arrested a man who threatened two Sears store employees with a hatchet on Monday afternoon.

Michael E. Scott, 22, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Scott was transported to the Dona Ana County Detention Center with bond set at $10,000.

At around 4 p.m. Monday, June 27, Las Cruces Police were called to the Sears store in the Mesilla Valley Mall where two employees had been threatened by a man brandishing a hatchet.

New Mexico – ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRWG) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be in New Mexico and Arizona on Wednesday to talk about his department's efforts to help those affected by the wildfires ravaging the Southwest.

Vilsack is scheduled to stop in Albuquerque for a press briefing before traveling to areas recently damaged by fire.

New Mexico – SANTA FE, N.M. (KRWG) A federal appeals court has upheld a one-year prison sentence for a former Los Alamos National Laboratory technician for trying to steal plutonium-contaminated gold.

Alex Maestas pleaded guilty to theft of government property for taking a 2-ounce piece of gold from an area that reclaims plutonium from nuclear wastes. The gold was solder for repairing a device that melts materials containing plutonium.

A radiation monitoring alarm sounded when Maestas tried to leave the lab in March 2009.

Texas – The Mexican government has joined the legal fight to spare a Mexican national from execution in Texas next week.

Monterrey, Mexico, native Humberto Leal faces lethal injection July 7 in Huntsville for the 1994 rape-slaying of a 16-year-old San Antonio girl.

A petition from the Mexican government accompanies an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court from Leal's attorneys Tuesday.

Las Cruces – Authorities say a West Texas woman died while hiking in the New Mexico desert, apparently because of the extreme heat that has been affecting the area over the past weeks.

The El Paso Times reported Tuesday that 67-year-old Anne Lee Leahey died Saturday in Dona Ana County, just a few miles west of the Texas state line.

Leahey was on an excursion with her family but separated from the group and was found dead 45 minutes later.

Albuquerque – Federal land managers have decided to close the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument to support firefighting efforts in the Peralta Canyon area.

The Bureau of Land Management says there's currently no immediate threat to the monument from the Las Conchas fire burning in the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico.

Officials say firefighters working on the southern flank of the blaze will be using the road to the monument as one of their primary access routes.

Cloudcroft – New Mexico State Forestry officials say a lightning-caused wildfire has forced the precautionary evacuations of up to 250 residences near Mayhill.

The villages of Sacramento and Weed were evacuated Tuesday night, but authorities aren't sure how many of the affected homes are actually occupied but permanent or seasonal residents.

The so-called Little Lewis fire began shortly after noon Tuesday. It jumped containment lines and now is at an estimated 150 acres about 8 miles south of Mayhill.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – Air tankers with the 146th Airlift Wing are helping with the Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos.

The blaze has charred more than 60,000 acres of tinder-dry forest.

Fire officials say 30 structures have been destroyed, but the fire has not damaged any buildings in Los Alamos or at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Lt. Col. Bryan Allen is one of the pilots supporting the mission. He says the fire has grown at an alarming rate so he's glad to help.

Las Cruces, NM – Phillips Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, located on the corner of North Tornillo Street and Lucero Avenue in the Mesquite Historic District is among the top 100 preservation projects in the country chosen by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The chapel was built in 1911 and was even used as a schoolhouse during segregation in the 1920s and 1930s. In 2003, the chapel was nominated to the State Register of Cultural Projects and the National Register of Historic Places.

Las Cruces – Wildfires may be nothing new to the arid Southwest, but extremely dry conditions have led to several high-profile fires in just the last month, including the massive half-million-acre Wallow Fire in Arizona and the recent-and-growing Las Conchas Fire just outside of Los Alamos.

New Mexico – Regional officials have decided to close the wooded area along the Rio Grande in central New Mexico due to extreme fire danger.

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District announced Tuesday morning that the section of bosque from Pena Blanca south to the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is being closed to all users.

The closure includes the Rio Grande Valley State Park in Albuquerque.

Texas – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has dubbed all of Texas a natural disaster as the worst drought in decades persists across most of the state.

In a news release sent Tuesday, the department designated 213 counties directly impacted by drought as disasters and said the remaining 41 also qualified for assistance because they are contiguous.

The designation, which also applies to 32 counties in four neighboring states, allows ranchers and farmers to apply for low-interest emergency loans.

Albuquerque – The city of Albuquerque has agreed to pay the family of a man fatally shot by a since-fired police officer nearly $1 million.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the city on Monday agreed to pay the family of Roderick Jones $950,000 to settle a wrongful death suit.

Texas – Texas Gov. Rick Perry will swing through California this week for private meetings with Republican leaders and legislators that will stoke speculation that he plans to enter the 2012 presidential race.

It will be the Republican governor's second trip to the nation's most populous state in less than three weeks.

New Mexico – The state Supreme Court is allowing the family of two people killed in a car accident to sue a tribal casino that served them alcohol after they were intoxicated.

A ruling by the justices on Monday permits a lawsuit for damages to move ahead in state court against the Santa Ana Star Casino near Bernalillo.

Santa Ana Pueblo's casino had argued that the legal dispute should be handled in tribal court. The Supreme Court disagreed.

New Mexico – SANTA FE, N.M. (KRWG) A government watchdog group says New Mexico needs to revise part of its law for public campaign financing because of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Steven Allen of Common Cause-New Mexico said Monday's court ruling in an Arizona case will leave intact the heart of New Mexico's system that finances candidates for the Public Regulation Commission and state appellate courts who agree to limit their spending to public money.

The court invalidated a portion of Arizona's law.

New Mexico – ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRWG) University of New Mexico Regents' President Jack Fortner will chair the search for the next president of the university.

President David J. Schmidly has announced his intention to leave the presidency when his contract is completed in May 2012.

At a meeting Monday, Fortner named professor emeritus of history Jane Slaughter as vice chair of the search committee, which will also include regents Don Chalmers and Jamie Koch.

New Mexico – SANTA FE, N.M. (KRWG) Gov. Susana Martinez is asking New Mexicans to refrain from using fireworks because of the threat from wildfires.

Martinez said Monday that state law doesn't give the governor the power to ban the use of all fireworks statewide. Some local governments have imposed restrictions on certain fireworks during the upcoming July Fourth holiday.

Las Cruces – A 61-year-old man arrested in May on charges of raping and illegally touching a 7-year-old girl now faces several additional charges for molesting another child.

Guillermo Gonzalez, 61, of 3236 E. Missouri Avenue, was charged in May with four first-degree felony counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor and three third-degree felony counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor.

Las Cruces, NM – Healthy Kids Las Cruces is an initiative that was started four years ago with a mission to create collaborative efforts to empower Las Cruces children, youth and families to change eating and physical activity behaviors to those that promote health and prevent obesity.

Since its creation city officials, educators and local healthcare representatives have come together to create programs and educate children and their families.

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT, N.M. – Los Alamos County fire chief Doug Tucker says the fire that broke out Sunday has the potential to grow much larger than its current 44,000 acres and is within a half-mile of Bandelier.

The blaze already has forced the closure of the monument that's nestled among pine trees and canyons south of Los Alamos. Los Alamos itself was ordered evacuated on Monday.

Las Cruces – U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today announced that several New Mexico counties have been declared eligible for disaster assistance due to their proximity to Texas counties, which were declared disaster areas due to continuing drought.

As a result of the declaration, farmers and ranchers in Do a Ana, Lea, Otero, Curry, Quay, Roosevelt, and Union counties are now eligible to be considered for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Las Cruces – Every Monday, Fred Martino speaks with Las Cruces Sun News Business Editor Brook Stockberger.

Las Cruces – Las Cruces Police arrested an intoxicated woman who barricaded herself and two children in their home, and told relatives she thought she had killed the kids.

Jennifer Jones, 39, of the 4100 block of Calle Nuestra, is charged with negligent child abuse, a third-degree felony.

Silver City – Some Silver City residents say it's just too dangerous to set off fireworks because of the incredibly dry conditions.

But two fireworks stands are up inside city limits.

The Silver City Sun-News reports a dozen protesters stood on Highway 180 across from the entrance to a big retailer Sunday evening to protest a decision to allow a fireworks tent to be put up on store property.

Some of the protesters say they will boycott any business in Silver City that allows the sale of fireworks.

Texas – Texas lawmakers have approved a massive health care bill that includes new restrictions on abortions. The measure now goes to the governor.

The 185-page bill allows for new health care collaboratives that allow hospitals, doctors and insurers to work together in new ways. It also allows Texas to enter into interstate health care compacts for Medicaid. But the most controversial matters concerned new restrictions on abortions that divided Republicans.