July 7th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

U.S. Border Patrol agents working in southern New Mexico rescue two individuals and seize nearly a quarter of a million dollars Monday.  The US Border Patrol is reporting that shortly before midnight on June 29th, Lordsburg Border Patrol agents stopped to assist a Hidalgo County Sheriff Deputy near the Arizona state line.  Four individuals who were determined to be in the country illegally were attempting to hide from view in a 2008 Dodge Charger.  A canine inspection revealed an additional two people trapped in the trunk of the vehicle.  The driver and all six undocumented aliens were arrested and transported to the Lordsburg Border Patrol Station.

In a new ranking on Thrillist.com, every state in America was ranked based on what they called ‘everything’, including their contributions to the county: such as inventions, food and drink, somewhat productive famous people, unique physical beauty, and much more.  New Mexico was ranked 23rd on the list for what the author called ‘pretty good skiing’ and Green chile.

While some other parts of the Southwest continue to suffer an exceptional drought, Northern New Mexico residents are experiencing wetter conditions than they have seen in recent years as the annual summer monsoon gets into full swing this week.  The New Mexican is reporting a majority of Grant, Luna and Hidalgo Counties have been lowered to Moderate Drought to Abnormally Dry.  The Eastern half of the state is experiencing no water shortages.  Compared to one year ago, when 100% of the state was experiencing Abnormally Dry Conditions or worse.

Several new laws went into effect July 1st.  The five laws include a new law that adds criminal charges for revenge porn, a law that allows New Mexico breweries and wineries to sell products from other breweries and wineries, a law that states your cell phone carrier is required to send you a free text message if there is an Amber Alert in the area, a lowering of the minimum age from 55 to 50 for drivers to take a driving class to get their insurance lowered , and the Forfeiture Act which states property can only be seized after a criminal conviction and the money from the sale of abandoned or forfeited property must go to the general fund.

Yesterday, Governor Susana Martinez and local leaders reminded New Mexicans that anyone who suspects that child abuse or neglect is taking place must report it.  Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect decline over the summer months, when children are not in school.  New Mexicans can easily report suspected child abuse or neglect by dialing #SAFE.

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July 6th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Orange cones are scattered throughout the 83-acre campus as beautification efforts are ongoing around historic buildings and walkways.  Light Hall, a registered historic building located on College Avenue, and the landscape area around the building are among the most visible areas of construction. Erected in 1927, Light Hall is now home to the School of Business. Remodeling of the building is in its third phase with updates to classroom space, restrooms and office space. The renovations also include interior finishes, insulation upgrades and installation of energy efficient HVAC system and controls. The exterior updates will include upgrades to stairs, rails and window repair to the two-story building.

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced more than $365,000 for the New Mexico Department of Transportation to help prevent drunk driving and improve safety on New Mexico roads. The funds will support local safety efforts including sobriety checkpoints, seat belt safety education and enforcement, and ignition interlock programs.  The department will receive four grants funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s State Traffic Safety Information Systems Grants program.  The funding includes $235,849 to support impaired driving countermeasures, $57,173 for the state’s traffic safety information systems, $6,464 to support motorcyclist safety, and $65,682 to support protections for vehicle occupants.

USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner announced that USDA-Rural Development is accepting applications for grants to help rural cooperative develop. The grants are being made available to non-profit corporations and institutions of higher education through the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program.

The New Mexico Restaurant Association, (NMRA), announces the 2015 Hospitality Industry Awards, (HIA), to be held on Monday, September 14th. HIA is a one of a kind awards ceremony celebrating restaurants and their employees across the state. Five awards including restaurateur of the year are given out the night of the event and nominations are now open!  Nominating someone in the restaurant business is a wonderful way to honor those who have demonstrated exceptional professionalism and dedication to the industry. It is an opportunity to honor a colleague’s hard work, great attitude, and exemplary customer service shown throughout the year. Recognize those ideals and actions that keep the restaurant and hospitality and industry thriving in New Mexico!


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June 30th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Gila Regional Medical Center Hospitalist Dr. Sherpa is the recipient of the Emergency Staffing Solutions Medical Director of the Year Award. She was chosen from 55 other ESS medical director nominees from across the country.  All nominees were reviewed by a panel of 15 directors and executives, 12 of whom voted for Dr. Sherpa. “We are pleased and proud to have Dr. Sherpa on our team,” stated Dan Otero, GRMC chief administrative officer, “we would like to congratulate her on this wonderful accomplishment.”

The local American Legion Post donated a brand new flag to the Santa Clara Cemetery this week.  Post member and Veteran James Knight, Jr. learned that the cemetery needed a new flag from Santa Clara Cemetery Committee member Elizabeth Esparza. She and her husband, Richard Esparza, have been working to clean up the cemetery over the past 11 years, since the death of their son, Richard Paul Esparza. Their son is buried in the Santa Clara Cemetery.

Thirteen states, including New Mexico and led by North Dakota, filed a lawsuit Monday challenging an Obama administration rule that gives federal agencies authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD) Cabinet Secretary Jon Barela announces 15 rural economic development projects were selected to receive Local Economic Assistance & Development Support (LEADS). The newly created LEADS program will leverage $176,260 to supplement the work of local communities in their efforts to diversify their economy and create good‐paying jobs that have a multiplier effect.  The Southern Luna County Economic and Community Development Corporation received $5,000.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that starting July 1, 2015, dairy farmers can enroll in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Margin Protection Program for coverage in 2016. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy operations when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. Harden made the announcement while visiting Wolfe’s Neck Farm and dairy school in Freeport, Maine.

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June 29th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The first class of Hidalgo Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency Program was honored at a graduation ceremony at Bear Mountain Lodge on Saturday afternoon.  Doctors Ben Cluff and Algele “Cid” Sumulong are the first residents to complete this training program in rural medicine, which was accredited in May of 2013. Both graduates will be moving to Las Cruces, where Dr. Cluff will enter a one-year fellowship in Emergency Medicine and Dr. Sumulong will begin work at La Clinica de la Familia in Anthony, New Mexico.  Dr. Cluff intends to return to Silver City after completing his fellowship in order to practice rural emergency medicine. Dr. Sumulong has a history of medical mission service, both overseas and with the homeless in downtown Los Angeles, California. He has advocated for state funding of primary care physicians in areas that are underserved and spent time encouraging the medical interests of middle and high school students.

After previously supporting an agreement concerning the PNM San Juan Generating Station, Attorney General Hector Balderas is now siding with environmental extremists in favor of higher utility rates for energy consumers across the state.  In a move that would jeopardize reliable electricity for all of our people, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the Attorney General pulled his support for an agreement that ensured PNM would be able to continue to provide competitive electricity rates to all New Mexicans.

New Mexico State Police say a Boy Scout on a camping trip with his troop has died after he and three other teens were swept away in a flash flood.  Sgt. Chad Pierce says eight Boy Scouts, three adult crew leaders and a scout ranger were on a 12-day trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch near the Colorado border on Saturday when the flooding hit.  Ranch employees rescued the other three boys.

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that counties across New Mexico will be receiving more than $34.5 million through the 2015 Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.  Grant County will receive a payment of around $1.9 million for fiscal year 2015, Hidalgo County will see nearly $687 thousand, and Luna County will receive around $1.7 million. PILT Payments are intended for schools, roads, and local police.

Last week’s Spaceport Visitor’s Center opening brought Virgin Galactic CEO, George Whitesides To Truth or Consequences. Last years crash in Mojave set Virgin Galactic back in their progress toward achieving commercial spaceflight. CEO George Whitesides says they remain committed to bringing space tourism to New Mexico.

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June 26th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Community Development Council recently presented awards to two southwest New Mexico Communities to the Town of Hurley Street and Drainage Improvements on Nevada Street, and to the City of Deming Street and Drainage Improvement on Buckeye.

The Bayard City Council announced at its June 22 meeting that the city would go to a residence and get one pickup truck load of yard waste free of charge from residents who contact City Hall to schedule the collection.  A temporary adjustment in monthly water service fees for the Hanover community, for the next six months, from $400 to $200 was also approved.

On Monday, June 22, 2015, the New Mexico Court of Appeals declared that the provision of the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act, NMSA §52-1-6(A), excluding farm and ranch laborers from mandatory coverage is unconstitutional.

The PNM Power UP Foundation has provided $20,000 that will be used to fund the next stage of upgrades for the John T. Waits Park, also known as Rabbit Park, on Deming’s north side.  The park was originally established as a sports park, but the residents of Deming have voice their desire for shade trees, places to walk and sit, and a covered pavilion shelter for events.

CNBC’s annual ranking of the top states for doing business boosted New Mexico to number 24 from 37 last year.  The ranking is based on 60 measures of competitiveness and data is grouped in 10 broad categories and weighted based on how frequently the states use each as selling points. New Mexico was ranked particularly high in infrastructure, workforce, and cost of living, but fared poorly in education and business friendliness.

The Silver Consolidated School Board met on Tuesday evening in a special closed session to address concerns regarding Superintendent Lon Streib.  The meeting lasted nearly three hours.  Board members also discussed negativity toward Silver High School principal Beth Lougee.  Some people in the community remain in support of the district and it’s administration, and others still believe something is inherently wrong.

The U.S. House passed H.R. 2042: the Ratepayer Protection Act. This legislation would suspend enforcement of the EPA’s rule to force the closure of coal-fired power plants until the resolution of the numerous legal challenges to the rule. The bill would also allow state governors to opt out of the rule should the governor determine the rule would have a significant adverse effect on electricity ratepayers or the reliability of the state’s power grid.

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June 25th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

There was minimal growth on the 4,000-acre Moore Fire in the Gila Wilderness on the Wilderness Ranger District Wednesday. Due to increased humidity and scattered rain showers over the fire, observed fire behavior was smoldering and creeping along the ground through grass and brush.   The most active parts of the fire were within scattered pine stringers throughout the management area.  Minimal growth occurred along the northeast perimeter near Tom Moore Canyon.  The Moore Fire was not aerially mapped on Tuesday as there was active lightning over the fire area late afternoon.

The Hog Fire grew about 1,200 acres during the past 24 hours. It moved northwesterly toward Skeleton Canyon with fire progressing slowly up the drainages, leaving behind a desirable landscape mosaic pattern that is very beneficial for the watershed.  Geronimo Trail Road remains closed where it enters the Coronado National Forest. Additionally the area closure, which extends north beyond Skeleton Canyon, remains in effect until fire suppression activities terminate.

Senator Tom Udall and U.S Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will speak at an event hosted by SMSgt Jessey Baca and his wife, Maria, to recognize the establishment of the federal burn pit registry. The burn pit registry is the first step toward providing medical care and research for service members and veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes from open air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The event will also welcome the passage of a bill in the New Mexico State Legislature, the Senior Master Sergeant Jessey Baca Military Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry Act, which was introduced by New Mexico State Senator Michael Padilla and will go into effect as law on July 1.

The Luna County Commission was scheduled to vote yesterday on whether to sign a Joint Powers Agreement to join the New Mexico CAP Entity that will be responsible for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed Gila River Diversion Project.  The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission approved a Joint Powers Agreement on June 9th as part of the Federal Arizona Water Settlement Act.

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June 25th, 2015: Wildfire Update

There was minimal growth on the 4,000-acre Moore Fire in the Gila Wilderness on the Wilderness Ranger District Wednesday. Due to increased humidity and scattered rain showers over the fire, observed fire behavior was smoldering and creeping along the ground through grass and brush.   The most active parts of the fire were within scattered pine stringers throughout the management area.  Minimal growth occurred along the northeast perimeter near Tom Moore Canyon.  The Moore Fire was not aerially mapped on Tuesday as there was active lightning over the fire area late afternoon.

Thursday, crews will continue to monitor and improve management boundaries on the southern perimeter and on the western perimeter along Trails #713 and #716.  Additional boundary work will begin along the Diamond Creek Road.

The lightning-caused fire started June 16, 2015. The incident is being managed by the Gila Las Cruces Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team. There are 107 personnel assigned to the incident including four engines, one crew, one camp crew, one water tender, support personnel and one helicopter.

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June 24th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Firefighters on the Pinon and Moore fires reported slower growth Tuesday and much less smoke than previous days.  The 3,200-acre Pinon Fire is located 13 miles east of Reserve, NM on the Reserve Ranger District with 40 personnel on scene. The 4,000-acre Moore Fire is located in the Gila Wilderness on the Wilderness Ranger District with 85 personnel on the incident.

The Hog Fire in the far southwest corner of New Mexico/southeast Arizona gained additional ground since the previous aerial survey the morning of June 21st. This morning’s survey showed the two previous mid-day burn periods have added another 3,000 acres to the fire’s total. The majority of the new acreage is now on the New Mexico side of the Coronado National Forest

At a special session of the Silver Consolidated School District on Tuesday, June 23, all board members were present. The board president, Frances Vasquez, called the meeting to order at 6:06 p.m. and after a brief roll call, she read the agenda for the closed session, which was stated as H(2) – limited personnel matters, regarding Superintendent’s evaluation and complaints against superintendent.

The Town of Hurley Council will have a Special meeting following the Workshop at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 29, 2015 at the Hurley Town Hall. A copy of the Agenda in its entirety may be obtained at the Town Hall during regular business hours by the Thursday before the scheduled meeting date.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of DamWatch, a new web-based application that provides real-time monitoring of rainfall, snowmelt, stream flow and seismic events that could pose potential threats to dam safety.  Vilsack also announced a new report on discoveries by USDA researchers that have led to new patents and inventions with the potential for commercial application and potential economic growth. USDA innovations included in this annual report range from USDA supported research that could offer solutions for millions who suffer allergies from peanuts and wheat to safe mosquito control that can help halt the transmission of diseases they spread, and others.

Governor Susana Martinez signed into law legislation to improve New Mexico`s tax incentive toolbox for economic development. House Bill 2, passed during a special session of the New Mexico Legislature and signed by the Governor on June 15, 2015, amends several existing New Mexico tax laws and creates additional tax incentives aimed at spurring job creation across a more diverse group of industries with a focus on small businesses and the technology sector.


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June 23rd, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Firefighters continue to manage several wildfires on the Gila National Forest that started by lighting over the past week. Three are being managed to achieve resource objectives. Two other fires are being managed under a suppression strategy.  The Pinon Fire is 3,100 acres located in Cox Canyon near Reserve; the Moore Fire is 1,700 acres on Tom Moore Mesa and the 200 acre Middle Fire is two miles northwest of the Moore Fire.  The 360 acre Woodrow Fire in the Gila Wilderness and the new Meadow Fire, which is less than one acre and detected 13 miles northeast of Silver City, are being managed with a suppression strategy.

In breaking news, the Moore and Middle Fires grew together today as activity increased.  The two will now be reported as the Moore Fire.  The Moore Fire is estimated at 4,000 acres.

The state Cultural Properties Review Committee unanimously decided to forward a National Register of Historic Places nomination to the National Park Service for Lordsburg’s early twentieth-century high school.  Although inclusion on the official US list of properties that should be preserved would not prevent the District from demolishing the brick school, it does draw attention to what is still one of Lordsburg’s most significant buildings.

Cobre school board met Monday evening, where they discussed finances, the cafeteria proposal, the Cobre and Snell handbooks and the athletic handbook. No actions were taken at that time.  At the regular session, 7:20. Superintendent Robert Mendoza recommended that the board approve the Snell Middle School 2015-2016 Policy Handbook, and the Cobre 2015-2016 Handbook, as well. Both actions were approved with the understanding that the Snell book would be reprinted with clearer pages, as the present one would be difficult to copy.  The second item, approval of the 2015-2016 athletic/activities handbook and code, was tabled for the next regular meeting.

House Bill 431, passed during the 2015 Regular Session of the New Mexico Legislature, went into effect over the weekend – making multiple changes to the process of applying for and renewing a concealed handgun license in New Mexico.

Sex offenders have to register online, now there’s talks in New Mexico of making animal abusers do the same. It all started with a recent post in a Facebook group for New Mexico animal lovers. The post brought up the idea of an animal abuse registry.

State leaders are again trying to implement work requirements for many New Mexicans to receive food stamps.

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June 23rd, 2015: Wildfire Update

Firefighters continue to manage several wildfires on the Gila National Forest that started by lighting over the past week. Three are being managed to achieve resource objectives. Dave Warnack, Acting Gila Forest Supervisor, says “These incidents are helping us return fire to the ecosystem and reduce hazardous fuels. The goal is to use these fires to lower the risk of future severe wildfires across the forest.”  Two other fires are being managed under a suppression strategy.

Pinon Fire – The 3,100-acre fire is located in Cox Canyon, east of Forest Road 94 on the Reserve Ranger District. Operations continue on the western side of the fire to prevent fire spread outside the intended boundary. The fire is moving in a northeasterly direction at a low to moderate pace. Approximately 42 personnel (four engines and one crew) are working on the fire representing the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and New Mexico State Forestry.

Moore Fire – The 1,700 acre fire is on Tom Moore Mesa in the Gila Wilderness. Firefighters are working along trails on the northern and southern boundaries of the planned management area for the incident. The Cobre Las Cruces Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team is managing this incident.

Middle Fire – This 200-acre fire and the Moore Fire are being managed together in the Gila Wilderness. The Middle Fire is just two miles northwest of the Moore Fire.

Woodrow Fire – The 360-acre fire in the Gila Wilderness is being managed with a suppression strategy due to resource concerns with the Gila trout population and habitat in this area. About 50 personnel are working on the incident from the BLM and US Forest Service. Steep rugged terrain is affecting containment efforts; there is no containment on this fire. Some precipitation has fallen on the Woodrow.

Meadow Fire – The fire is less than one acre and was detected today, 13 miles northeast of Silver City on the Silver City Ranger District. Personnel are taking suppression actions on this incident.

The forecast shows continued hot temperatures with a chance of isolated thunderstorms. These storms may produce gusty winds at times over the fires.

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