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.

NMSU Selected As A Top Military-Friendly University

Nov 7, 2015

  New Mexico State University has been named as a top military-friendly school for 2016 by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs, STEM Jobs and Military Spouse. 

This is the seventh consecutive year NMSU has been listed as a top institution in the country that supports military students, which will be featured in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools, special education issues of G.I. Jobs and Military Spouse magazine. 

Fire Marshal: Deadly El Paso Fire Caused By Griddle

Nov 6, 2015

Fire investigators say a deadly West Texas apartment fire that killed a woman and her two young daughters was caused by an overheated griddle left on a stove.

The El Paso Times reports that officials say the fire was accidental.

The Monday fire at the Las Casitas apartments inflicted severe burns on 32-year-old Magaly Mendoza and her two daughters, 11-year-old Andrea Garcia and 4-year-old Paulina Ortega. They died later at hospitals.

Man Accused Of Fatally Shooting New Mexico Girl Is Indicted

Nov 6, 2015

The man accused of fatally shooting a preschooler on a New Mexico freeway last month has been indicted by a Bernalillo County grand jury.

Prosecutors say 32-year-old Tony Torrez was indicted Friday on charges of first-degree murder, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and causing great bodily harm, and assault with intent to commit a violent felony.

Torrez was arrested Oct. 21, a day after the shooting that killed 4-year-old Lilly Garcia during what Albuquerque police have described as a road rage dispute.

Lilly was inside her father's truck when she was shot.

Border Patrol Accused In Decapitation Death In South Texas

Nov 6, 2015

Authorities say a U.S. Border Patrol agent has been charged in the death of a man whose decapitated body was found floating near Texas' South Padre Island.

Joel Luna remained jailed without bond Friday after being charged with capital murder, engaging in organized criminal activity and tampering with evidence.

Jail records didn't list an attorney for Luna who could comment on the allegations.

Military And Veterans Appreciation Week To Kick-Off At NMSU

Nov 6, 2015
Military and Veterans Appreciation Week

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Spaceport Master Plan Calls For New Hangar, Lease Space

Nov 6, 2015

It could be late 2017 before Virgin Galactic begins launching commercial space flights from the New Mexico desert, but state spaceport officials say they have a new master plan aimed at attracting tenants and boosting revenues.

The plan calls for building a new hangar at Spaceport America, developing the vertical launch area and offering about 300 acres for lease. Officials envision leasing parcels of various sizes to aerospace and other tech-related companies.

Owners Of Albuquerque Pool Hall Get Probation In Tax Case

Nov 6, 2015

Three brothers who own a billiards hall in New Mexico have each been sentenced to five years' probation after pleading guilty in a federal tax evasion case.

Prosecutors say 51-year-old Hrant Kostanian, 59-year-old Gayk Kostanian and 55-year-old Hrair Kostanian also were ordered Friday to jointly pay more than $263,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.

That's the amount of corporate taxes they allegedly evaded during tax years 2007-2010 by maintaining false books and records and filing false tax returns.

Man Accused Of Fatally Shooting New Mexico Girl Is Indicted

Nov 6, 2015

The man accused of fatally shooting a 4-year-old girl on a New Mexico freeway last month has been indicted by a Bernalillo County grand jury.

County prosecutors announced Friday that Tony Torrez has been indicted on charges of first-degree murder, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and causing great bodily harm, and assault with intent to commit a violent felony.

Torrez was arrested on Oct. 21, a day after the shooting that killed 4-year-old Lilly Garcia during what Albuquerque police have described as a road rage dispute.

Former Secretary Of State Vigil Applies For Appointment

Nov 6, 2015

Former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil is applying to be appointed back to her old job.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Vigil is one of nine people whose names have been mentioned for the position that Republican Dianna Duran vacated last month.

Duran resigned before pleading guilty to embezzlement and other charges in a criminal case stemming from a fraud investigation into use of campaign donations.

A special election will be held in 2016 to select someone to serve out the remainder of Duran's term, which ends in 2018.

Tax Department Spends Thousands On Unused Weapons For Raids

Nov 6, 2015

The Taxation and Revenue Department has spent thousands of dollars on weapons and ammunition that it is not legally allowed to use.

KRQE-TV reports that the department, which investigates tax fraud cases, does not have anybody on staff that has the police certification required to execute a search warrant — the dangerous part of their job that would require a weapon. Since Tax Fraud Investigations Division was established 10 years ago only two members have had the certification.

New Mexico Test Scores Lowest In Some Native American Communities

Nov 6, 2015

Small New Mexico school districts with large Native American populations have some of the lowest percentages of students testing proficient or better on new standardized tests.

A review of state data by The Associated Press found that Dulce Independent Schools, which serves students from the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, had no students score proficient of better in fourth-grade reading or in fourth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade math.

Meanwhile, Jemez Valley Public Schools had not fifth-graders test proficient or better in reading or math.

Albuquerque Police Monitor Provides Update On Reform

Nov 6, 2015

A team of independent monitors tasked with tracking reform within the Albuquerque Police Department says some changes to use-of-force policies are underway six months into a court-ordered overhaul of the beleaguered police department.

James Ginger, the court-appointed monitor of a consent decree between Albuquerque police and the Justice Department, and members of his monitoring team took questions Thursday night during the second in a series of community meetings hosted by the city and U.S. Attorney's office.

In May, Low Staffing levels at the Dona Ana County Detention Facility forced County Officials to close the Juvenile Detention Center and move detainees to a portion of the adult facility that was completely separated by both sight and sound. Six months later, the juvenile facility is still closed and community members are concerned.

Deacon Louis Roman ministers to incarcerated adults and children across Southern New Mexico. He says even though the juveniles in detention are fully separated from the adults, he has concerns.

Knife-Wielding Suspect Threatens Driver Before Stealing Pickup

Nov 5, 2015

Las Cruces Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information that helps identify the man suspected of holding a knife to a pickup owner’s neck and forcibly stealing the vehicle Thursday morning. Detectives learned that at around 8 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, a 67-year-old man drove his 2012 Dodge Ram pickup to the McDonald’s restaurant at 4810 Mesa Grande Dr. After the driver parked and got out of his pickup, he was accosted by a knife-wielding man who threatened him and demanded the keys to the truck. The victim was not injured.

Albuquerque Mayor Outlines Legislative Priorities

Nov 5, 2015

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says he'll push for measures in the next legislative session that would reform the state's bail bond system, create a new "three strikes" law for violent repeat offenders, and add attacks against police to the state's hate crimes law.

Mayor Richard Berry held a news conference Thursday to outline his proposals for the next legislative session in January.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the creation of The University of Texas at El Paso School of Pharmacy and the establishment of a new doctoral program in pharmacy during the regents’ meeting on Nov. 5 in Austin.


“It was obvious to me that the Board of Regents recognized that this was a necessary school to be approved in our region," said José O. Rivera, Pharm.D., founding dean of the school. "This is one more step to the realization of the UTEP School of Pharmacy."


Authorities: New Mexico Man Dies In Crash Near Flagstaff

Nov 5, 2015

Authorities have identified the person who died in a multi-vehicle crash north of Flagstaff as a New Mexico resident.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said Thursday that 26-year-old Marcus Richardson, of Farmington, died a day earlier.

A storm dumped heavy rain in the area Wednesday, making roads slippery. But authorities say the exact cause of the crash hasn't been determined.

Six land-grant universities in the Rocky Mountain region, including New Mexico State University, have partnered as part of the recently funded Western Regional Food Safety Training Center at Oregon State University. 

On Oct. 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the establishment of the $1.2 million center, which focuses on helping small and midsized farms and food processors in 13 western states to prevent foodborne illnesses. 

Man Pleads No Contest For Crash That Killed UNM Students

Nov 5, 2015

The driver accused of crashing a stolen pickup truck into a car carrying four University of New Mexico students and killing two of them has pleaded no contest.

The Albuquerque Journal reports  that 21-year-old Joshua Leal can expect a sentence of 12 to 18 years in prison after pleading no contest on Friday to charges of vehicular homicide and great bodily injury.

Prosecutors say Leal was driving a stolen truck late the night of Nov. 21 when it collided with a sedan carrying four students. Briana Hillard and Matt Grant were killed and two other students were injured.

A city councilwoman will host a meeting with the independent monitor of court-mandated changes within the Albuquerque Police Department on Thursday evening.

The meeting comes after the U.S. Justice Department announced early this year that Dr. James Ginger would oversee a settlement agreement with Albuquerque police to address officer training and use-of-force procedures.

Audit Questions Spending Of Taos Pueblo Grant

Nov 5, 2015

A federal audit questions how the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council spent part of a $5.7 million grant for the construction of a drug and alcohol treatment center in Taos.

The New Mexican reports that an audit made public Wednesday identifies $626,257 in matching funds as a questionable expense. Most of that is attributed to a $540,000 parcel of land, but auditors question whether the parcel was accurately valued and if it's a proper use of matching funds.

Study Finds Abandoning Rail Runner Too Expensive

Nov 5, 2015

It seems New Mexico is stuck with the Rail Runner Express, as a state Department of Transportation has found getting rid of the service would be a financial mistake.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the study, unveiled Wednesday, found selling the commuter train isn't feasible and switching to a bus service between Belen and Santa Fe would not save much money.

No Elevator Service At Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Nov 5, 2015

Officials at the national park in southeastern New Mexico say they've shut down the second of two passenger elevators so it can be assessed for repairs after it stalled in the hoistway between the surface and the caverns.

The caverns' other elevator also is out of service.

Park officials say visitors can enter the caverns by walking down through the Natural Entrance. That involves a 1.25-mile walk that park officials describe as "an enjoyable but steep hike into the cave."

Navajo Leader OK's Land Purchase In NW New Mexico

Nov 5, 2015

The Navajo Nation is moving ahead with the purchase of land in northwestern New Mexico for a possible health care facility.

Tribal President Russell Begaye approved a bill this week to finalize the purchase of 81 acres east of downtown Gallup.

The land is an allotment owned by a tribal member who offered it up for sale.

The tribe will use money from its Land Acquisition Trust Fund to buy for just over $163,000.

Mora School Board Distances Itself From Disgraced Ex-Chief

Nov 5, 2015

Board members of a northern New Mexico school district are distancing themselves from its disgraced former superintendent.

The Las Vegas Optic reports the Mora Independent School District board said in a statement this week the resignation of superintendent Charles Trujillo "brings to an end a fraud" against the district.

Silver City Report

Nov 5, 2015

Time now for the Silver City Report with Edmundo Resendez and Silver City Press and Independent reporter, Stewart McClintic taking a look at the recent PARC testing in Grant County. 

In a unanimous vote by the Las Cruces city council this week, council voted to give close to $300,000 to the non-profit Film Las Cruces in order to set up a film office in Las Cruces.

Film Las Cruces is a new non-profit, formally know as the Regional Film Development Advisory committee, and has been working to strengthen opportunity for the film industry in Las Cruces for the last 3 years.

Chairman of the board, and one of the founding members, State Representative Jeff Steinborn says the new funding from the city will drastically help their effort.

Google Pays New Mexico Nearly $1M For Titan Pullout

Nov 4, 2015

Google Inc. has repaid New Mexico nearly $1 million for an economic development grant the government made for infrastructure upgrades at the Moriarty Municipal Airport.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the upgrades helped pave the way for Google to build a 60,000-square-foot facility at the airport to house Titan Aerospace.

Titan Aerospace is a Google subsidiary that was developing a solar-powered drone at the airport.

But Google moved Titan's operations to California this summer, prompting New Mexico to impose clawback provisions to recover the state's money.

Houston Airport System, NASA Reach Spaceport Support Deal

Nov 4, 2015

The Houston Airport System and NASA have reached a deal to allow developers of Houston's proposed commercial spaceport access NASA assets and expertise.

Under the deal announced Wednesday, the two sides will collaborate on such items as safety training, facilities and technological capabilities to support commercial suborbital and spaceflight operations.

VIDEO: Las Cruces Mayor Talks To KRWG-TV

Nov 4, 2015