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.

KRWG News – SILVER CITY, N.M. (krwg) Gila National Forest officials say dry and windy conditions around New Mexico mean everyone should practice aggressive fire prevention until the summer rains.

At the start of March, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated severe drought across the southern third of New Mexico and all of southeastern New Mexico. Moderate drought exists across most of southern and eastern New Mexico.

Spring winds can push flames along and can pick up burning embers and sparks and start spot fires.

KRWG News – SANTA FE, N.M. (krwg) A state agency must rewrite regulations governing temporarily abandoned oil wells under a bill heading to the Senate.

Supporters say the regulatory overhaul is to give the oil industry more flexibility in decisions on whether to temporarily halt production of a well.

However, opponents warned that the proposal will get rid of current regulations protecting groundwater from leaking abandoned wells. The regulations govern the plugging of wells after production has stopped.

KRWG News – SILVER CITY, N.M. (krwg) New Mexico fire officials say a wind-driven wildfire that destroyed up to 15 homes has now grown to nearly three square miles.

New Mexico State Forestry spokesman Dan Ware says the blaze near the southwestern New Mexico town of Silver City had blackened about 1,770 acres, or about 2.7 square miles, by early Tuesday. That's up from 500-1,000 acres burned by Monday night.

Ware says an entire subdivision and 100 homes were evacuated as westerly wind gusts as high as 50 mph pushed the flames. No injuries were reported.

New Mexico – The Senate has approved a measure requiring financial information about school districts and charter schools to be posted on a governmental website known as the "sunshine portal."

If the legislation is enacted, schools will be required to provide data to the Public Education Department for online publication, including a yearly operating budget, monthly spending as well as a directory of school employees by name, title and salary.

Texas – The Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee has released the first political ad of the season with an attack on Republican-proposed budget cuts.

The radio ad blames Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican-controlled legislature for the current $27 billion budget shortfall. Republican-drafted budgets in both the state Senate and House call for laying off roughly 100,000 teachers.

Silver City – A wildfire being pushed by gusty winds is forcing some evacuations and has destroyed as many as 15 homes and is threatening more near the southwest New Mexico town of Silver City.

State forestry spokesman Dan Ware says a subdivision and other homes have been evacuated as wind gusts as high as 50 mph continue to push the flames. No injuries have been reported.

The blaze broke out at about 2:30 p.m. Monday in grass and oak scrub and had burned between 500 and 1,000 acres by nightfall.

Las Cruces – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced a 30-day extension of
the public comment period for the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental
Impact Statement (Draft Solar PEIS), a joint effort with Department of
Energy. The study is a comprehensive environmental analysis that has
identified proposed "solar energy zones" on public lands in six western
states that are most suitable for environmentally sound, utility-scale
solar energy production.

Las Cruces, NM – Twenty-two months remain in the current Congress and it will be the last months Senator Bingaman will serve. He announced late last month he will not seek a six term, but will retire.

Bingaman, 67, was first elected to the Senate in 1982 and says it's time to step aside and allow someone else to serve.

Bingaman says agreement on a range of issues will be the biggest challenge to overcome the last leg of his term.

SANTA FE, N.M. – If the legislation is enacted, schools will be required to provide data to the Public Education Department for online publication, including a yearly operating budget, monthly spending as well as a directory of school employees by name, title and salary.

Public education accounts for more than 40 percent of the state's yearly spending. Supporters of the legislation say the public should be able to easily access information showing how schools spend taxpayer money.

SILVER CITY, N.M. – State forestry spokesman Dan Ware says evacuation areas are growing as wind gusts as high as 50 mph push the flames. No injuries have been reported.

The blaze broke out at about 2:30 p.m. Monday in grass and oak scrub and has now burned more than 500 acres.

Grant County sheriff's deputies are evacuating homes along Quail Ridge Road south of Silver City and nearby areas.

SANTA FE, NM – Martinez was warden at the Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Grants before her appointment as the department's top administrator.

She is the first woman confirmed as a corrections secretary in state history.

Martinez has 25 years of experience in the department. She began her career as a classification officer and became warden at the Grants prison in 2009.

New Mexico – Former Republican Rep. Heather Wilson says she will run for New Mexico's open U.S. Senate seat.

Wilson announced her decision to seek the seat now held by Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman at an Albuquerque warehouse packed with supporters on Monday afternoon. Bingaman said last month he won't seek re-election in 2012.

Wilson says she's running for the Senate because she's deeply concerned about the country's future.

New Mexico – The House has approved a proposal requiring public employees and educators to pay more for their pension programs while government lowers its contributions.

The measure will cut government costs by nearly $111 million in the upcoming fiscal year to help the state balance the budget.

The bill passed the House on Monday on a 43-26 vote and goes to the Senate.

Las Cruces – New Mexico State University's Arrowhead Center will host the E3 Green Jobs Forum, designed for employers, educators and employees around New Mexico, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 22 at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum in Las Cruces. U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman will speak at noon. The event is free, but registration is required at

Las Cruces – The Mayor's Top Teens, a program which recognizes deserving teens, is now accepting applications for 2011-2012.

Applications are available on by clicking on the Mayor's Top Teens logo. You can either download the form or fill it out online. Applications are also available on the Mayor's Top Teens website at, those can be filled out directly on the website.

Las Cruces – Fred Martino speaks with Larry McDaniel of Silver City. The avid hunter and angler supports a Gila National Forest proposal to limit some access to the forest to protect the land. There is also organized opposition to the plan, including Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM 2), who spoke Friday on KRWG Radio.

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

Las Cruces – Dona Ana County Assessor Andy Segovia and his staff have begun a state-mandated door-to-door reappraisal program of all properties within Dona Ana County.

Appraisers will be looking for both positive and negative changes to property values resulting from age, demolitions, renovations, improvements and/or additional structures. Office records will subsequently be updated to better describe each property and determine an accurate assessed value.

KRWG News – EL PASO, Texas (krwg) An FBI investigator is expected to continue testifying at the trial of an ex-CIA operative from Cuba accused of fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice.

Omar Vega, the lead FBI investigator on the Cuban militant's case, said during his second day of testimony on Friday that more than 20 remittances were sent in 1997 to Central America under one of Posada's aliases. The prosecution aims to convince the jury that the money was used to finance a series of bombings in Cuba that year.

Vega is expected back on the stand Monday.

KRWG News – SANTA FE, N.M. (krwg) Former Republican U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson has scheduled a news conference in Albuquerque where she is expected to say she'll enter the race for New Mexico's open U.S. Senate seat.

A media advisory says Wilson will make an announcement Monday afternoon.

Two sources close to Wilson confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that Wilson would announce her candidacy on Monday. They say she'll run for the seat being vacated by Democrat Jeff Bingaman, who will not seek re-election in 2012.

KRWG News – SANTA FE, N.M. (KRWG) The Senate has approved a proposal to ban drugs that can produce a marijuana-like high.

The measure by Republican Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort of Albuquerque will make it a crime to possess or sell the chemicals used in herbals blends for synthetic marijuana, which are often marketed as "K2" and "Spice."

Supporters of the legislation say synthetic marijuana can cause unpredictable and potential dangerous side effects, including seizures.

The Senate approved the bill on a 31-5 vote on Friday and sent it to the House for consideration.

Las Cruces – The Las Cruces Fire Department extinguished a fire Sunday that destroyed a vacant duplex.

Firefighters were called to the Pioneer Mobile Home Park, located in the 2500-block of El Camino Real at 11:30 a.m.

Crews encountered heavy fire conditions upon arrival. The fire was brought under control in approximately 20 minutes.

The blaze destroyed the unoccupied structure which once served as a duplex apartment. The dollar value of the loss has not been determined.

Texas – Gov. Rick Perry can't quit talking about jobs.

He used the word 19 times in his recent state of the state address and has made it a top spending priority. But if Perry realizes his vision of a budget balanced through cuts alone, 100,000 teachers could lose their jobs.

That's about a third of the 333,000 teachers employed by Texas public schools.

Las Cruces – Violent crime in Las Cruces dropped 11 percent in 2010 from the year before and more were solved than the national average.

The city's 2010 crime statistics report also shows that nonviolent crime such as credit card fraud, bad checks, vandalism and trespassing went down 6 percent. The city's police force solved 23 percent of those reports, well above the nationwide average of 18 percent.

City police solved 68 percent of violent crimes, compared with 47 percent nationally.

Silver City – Supporters of a plan to close some roads in the Gila National Forest say it's a good compromise.

About 100 backers of the forest's travel management plan gathered Friday in downtown Silver City. Many are avid hunters, backpackers and hikers.

The plan would limit vehicles to designated roads and trails and restrict vehicle camping to areas along the sides of roads or near them.

Silver City – Saturday, an estimated 750 New Mexicans rallied at the Grant County Business and Convention Center in Silver City, New Mexico to oppose the Forest Service's proposal to close roads in the Gila National Forest.

New Mexico – Firefighters and weather forecasters are pointing to the fresh scar of a nearly 65,000-acre grass fire in southeastern New Mexico as a sign of what's to come in parts of the Southwest.

They say much of the region already has the ingredients needed for the makings of a grueling fire season dry and crunchy vegetation, above-normal temperatures, howling winds and little chance for any significant rainfall in the foreseeable future.

Las Cruces – Four college students and a professor have begun a volunteer effort to restore a room in a historic adobe hotel in downtown Las Cruces.

The restoration of a 400-square-foot room in the Amador Hotel is the start of a long-term revitalization for the building, which was constructed in the 1800s.

History buffs would like each of the eight side rooms on the building's first floor to be finished by Jan. 6, 2012. That will be in time to host a centennial ball for the 100th anniversary of New Mexico's statehood.

New Mexico – A jury has awarded $100,000 to a National Guard serviceman who claimed he was unfairly fired from his job with a New Mexico agency.

After a three-week trial, jurors in a Gallup court determined Friday that the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Family Department violated the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

The Gallup Herald says Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Ramirez served two tours in Iraq and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in April 2008.

Alamogordo – The storm that gripped the entire state and brought bone-chilling temperatures Feb. 1 through Feb.6 continues to effect communities throughout the state, including Holloman, almost a month after it has past.

The record-breaking low temperatures brought by the storm left tens of thousands of homes and businesses throughout New Mexico without electricity, water or gas for days.