March 27th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Farm owners and producers now have until April 7th to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, the safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill.  If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by the deadline, the farm’s current yield and base acres will be used.  If a program choice of ARC or PLC is not made, there will be no 2014 crop year payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage for the 2015 through 2018 crop years.  Producers need to contact the Farm Service Agency before April 7th.

Fire managers continue to evaluate current and forecast conditions in order to initiate the Bar Six Prescribed Fire on the Silver City Ranger District. This project is a 650-acre broadcast burn, less than one mile southwest of the Flying A subdivision and approximately 12 miles southwest of Silver City, N.M. off  Forest Road (FR) 851, also called Red Rock Road, and FR 118.  Operations may begin as early as April 1, 2015. Once the project is started, ignitions could continue two to four days.

The Silver City Town Council approved a bid to being the second phase of a reconstruction project on Silver Street that will run between Pine Street and Lamb Street.  The work is being funded through a Colonias Grant for $489,623.  Phase one of the project included Americans with Disabilities Act features, drainage improvements, and bike lanes, and covered an area from 32nd Street to Pine Street.  With approval of additional funding, the second phase may be able to extend to 19th Street.

County Commissioners will discuss the option to adopt a resolution expanding the size of the board from three to five commissioners.  The change would bring Grant County in line with the New Mexico Constitution.  The Commissioners will vote on the ordinance in July after public meetings in April, May, and June to give the public an opportunity to comment.

The Public Regulation Commission signed a resolution designating April as Safe Digging Month within the state of New Mexico.  The resolution won the support of all five commissioners from the Pipeline Safety Bureau, Transportation Division’s Pipeline Safety, the US Department of Transportation and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

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March 26th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) District One office along with Interstate Highway Construction continue with work on NM 90/Hudson Street Bridge.  The contractor will be establishing a detour in order for Griffins Propane to access their property. They will continue operations which will include the installation of the waterlines under the bridge. The Bridge is scheduled to be CLOSED on April 9, 2015 where motorists will be alerted to seek an alternate route. The NMDOT will have traffic control advising motorists that the county Truck Bypass route will be available.  The contractor will begin to remove the bridge on April 9th.

Governor Susana Martinez on Wednesday submitted a response to a petition filed last month by the Fort Sill Apache Tribe.  The Oklahoma-based tribe petitioned to operate a casino on land near Deming.  The tribe’s land hasn’t been federally approved yet for gambling.  Martinez is asking the state Supreme Court to reject the request, saying that the tribe first has to have eligible land in New Mexico.  The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that Martinez had to recognize the Fort Sill Apaches as a New Mexico tribe.

The state Senate this week passed a sweeping bill that would virtually eliminate the practice of civil asset forfeiture and on this issue leave New Mexico as the most Fifth Amendment-friendly state in the country.  The bill would basically require a criminal conviction before police can take property associated with a crime. “Civil” asset forfeiture, by definition, allows law enforcement to seize and keep property without a criminal conviction. It often puts the onus on the property owner to “prove” that he or she obtained the property legitimately, or that it wasn’t used for criminal activity.

The sixth annual “County Health Rankings” by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute has been released and ranks New Mexico counties by health.  The report bases its ranking on 30 factors that influence health; including education, housing, violent crime, jobs, diet and exercise.  Grant County is ranked 19th in overall rankings in Health Outcomes – which includes length and quality of life – and 7th in Health Factors – which includes Health Behaviors, Clinical Care, Social and Economic Factors, and the Physical Environment.

Reserve Ranger District fire managers plan to broadcast burn in the Sheep Basin Project area beginning April 2015 and continuing throughout the spring as conditions allow. The Sheep Basin project is approximately 3,000 acres ten miles southeast of Reserve, NM off Forest Road 141. District personnel have also conducted burns within the Eckleberger Project, 20 miles southwest of Reserve, NM and Forest Road 141, one mile east of Rainy Mesa Ranch. Pile burning is also on-going when conditions are favorable.

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March 25th, 2015: MRAC Presents Nelson Illusions this Saturday


The Mimbres Region Arts Council is pleased to present Nelson Illusions, the largest touring illusion show in the United States, a one-of-a-kind theatrical spectacle that combines rare and original illusions from around the world. The show features four Master Magicians, who together deliver a theatrical blend of mystery, music, drama, romance, comedy, and audience participation. The performance will be at WNMU Fine Arts Center Theatre, on Saturday, March 28, at 7:30 pm.

Nelson Illusions consist of four magicians: Jeff Nelson, Lynn Nelson, Sharii Nelson and Scott MacNeill. Jeff Nelson serves as MC, Director, Producer and chief Illusionist. He fell in love with magic at the age of 5 and has been performing ever since. Lynn Nelson, Jeff’s wife, performs in the show and is in charge of sets, props, costumes, and promotional artwork. Lynn is a skilled magician who hails from a long tradition of magic in her family. Daughter Sharii Nelson made her first stage appearance at the age of 18 months. Her performance skills have earned her a scholarship along with several awards. She is in charge of marketing and public relations. Scott MacNeill, performer, Stage Manager and Chief Technician, studied acting in college. His variety of experiences brings unique talent to the Nelson Illusions.

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March 25th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Slaughter Mesa Prescribed Fire in the Gila National Forest may be underway again this week as environmental conditions reach appropriate levels for managers to resume the project.  The 2,500-acre project is eight miles southeast of Quemado Lake on the Quemado Ranger District.  Fire managers plan to continue operation on Slaughter Mesa through April 30 pending favorable conditions.

Residents of Hanover Mutual Water Domestic Water Consumers Association recently asked the Bayard council to remove a $400 fee that Hanover pays for Bayard water since their well ran dry last year.  Despite having to cut the complaint short due to time constraints, Bayard Mayor Charles Kelly advised the secretary of the Water Association that she should call the City Clerk to set up a meeting to work through the problems with Hanover’s water situation.

Early Monday morning, Silver City Police Department responded to a man who flagged down the officer claiming that he had been robbed at knife-point.  The Copper Manor Motel Night clerk told the officer a man had demanded money out of the cash drawer and safe with the threat of slitting the clerk’s throat.  The man is described as a Hispanic male in his early 20s, over six feet tall, thin and clean shaven with a star tattoo on the right side of his neck and tattoos covering his arms.  Anyone with information relating to this case is asked to contact the Silver City Police Department at 538-3723.

The Silver City Town Council at its Tuesday night meeting approved a gross receipts tax increase of 0.25 percent, which brings the total GRT to 8 percent.  The increase is scheduled to being July 1st.  The tax increase will be used to maintain the present service and keep projects like the museum and library viable.  Mayor Michael Morones informed those in attendance that council members and staff heavily discusses the town’s services, staff, and projects but mentioned no cuts specific to the fiscal issues that precipitated the new tax.

The Grant County Commission heard several reports at their Tuesday work session.  GRMC CEO Brian Cunningham gave a report about the hospital’s finances and the partnership with a Family Practice under Dr. John Stanley and CNP Cindy Morena.  He also said the hospital was going through a request proposal process for Cancer Center providers, but that they plan to stay with New Mexico Oncology and New Mexico Hematology.

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March 24, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Grant County has been awarded $11,573 to supplement and expand emergency food and shelter programs.  This award is part of $120 million that Congress has appropriated for EFSP, and the award for this area is based on the total number of unemployed as compared to the total number of unemployed in all qualifying jurisdictions in the country.  The Phase 32 Local Board for Grant County will decide the distribution of the funds based on established priorities among community needs.  Funds go to non-profit organizations that meet the criteria in assisting the neediest with emergency shelter, food, and assistance with rents and utilities.

The New Mexico Department of Health and Project ECHO announced a new collaborative effort to treat TB patients in New Mexico.  Project ECHO, or the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, utilizes telementoring and knowledge sharing to build primary care capacity to treat complex conditions such as TB.  According to Department of Health data, there were 50 cases of active TB in New Mexico in 2014, which is a rate of 2.4 per 100,000, compared to the national rate of 3.0.  Tuberculosis is an airborne disease and is the second leading infectious disease killer in the world.

.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being signed into law:  “Five years ago today, hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans had no access to health insurance. Our state had one of the highest rates of uninsured, and among the highest rates for chronic disease. Many New Mexicans couldn’t afford to see a doctor when they or their children got sick. They didn’t have access to life-saving cancer screenings. Too many were one serious illness from bankruptcy.  Five years later, it’s clear the Affordable Care Act has been incredibly important to New Mexico. Over 230,000 more New Mexicans now have insurance, and — thanks to the law — health care is one of the strongest parts of our economy. Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. Children can stay on their parents’ health care policies until they turn 26. And people with pre-existing conditions have protection.

Deming Public Schools elected Ron Wolfe as president of the Board, with John Sweetser serving as vice president and Bayne Anderson as secretary.  After electing officers, the board put off a decision that would make Deming Public Schools year-round schooling.  Residents, staff, and students all turned out last week to learn more about the proposal, and to make their opinions heard during the public forum portion of the meeting.  A fifth grader gave a presentation to the board about why she believed the new calendar would negatively affect students, and her mother asked the members to consider all DPS students and “not just some poor demographic students” when making their decision.

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March 23rd, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The local Philanthopic Educational Organization chapters AG and BR announce their first Nancy Champlin P.E.O. Scholarship.  The scholarship will be awarded to a local Grant County High School senior girl who wishes to pursue higher education in the fall of 2015.  Applicants must have a 3.4 GPA or higher to apply.  Applications can be obtained from all Grant County high school guidance offices.  Application deadline is April 1st.  P.E.O. is an international philanthropic educational organization helping women pursue higher educations through grants, loans, and scholarships.

At the end of the legislative session:

Despite the uphill battle of getting bills passed in the Senate, there was some bipartisan support on bills that will now head to Gov. Susana Martinez. Those bills included:

  • HB 2 – the FY-2016 budget, which maintains fiscal responsibility while funding some of the state’s most important priorities at the highest levels. Among other things, the budget calls for more spending on education than ever before to improve New Mexico’s schools; increased funding into programs and initiatives to protect children; and more money into economic development programs to help diversify the state’s economy.
    · SB 233 – a worker’s compensation bill to cap the time someone could receive benefits at a reasonable level. This was a commonsense proposal to ensure people can receive worker’s compensation, but also protect our small businesses.
    · HB 213- legislation that would require child-proof packaging for all nicotine liquid products used in e-cigarettes.
    · HB 101- legislation that toughens penalties for soliciting child prostitution.
    · HB 174 – legislation that will require cell phone and pager companies to issue Amber Alerts to their customers.
    · SJR 19 – a gaming compact that will allow several American Indian tribes to continue operating casinos for another 22 years. The agreement promotes accountability and transparency and gives New Mexico’s tribes the tools they need to grow and thrive.
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March 20th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The New Mexico Department of Transportation is beginning work on the NM 90/Hudson Street Bridge Project.  Currently, the project is in its initial stages with placement of traffic control devices within the work zone.  The contractor is preparing for the demolition of the bridge, which is scheduled for the first week of April.  Motorists will be required to utilize the detour along the Truck Bypass route.  The NMDOT has made traffic control a priority throughout its stages in identifying a route, which was agreed upon by all governing offices as it would meet the requirements for types of vehicles traveling this route.  The NMDOT will continue to hold monthly public construction meetings, of which the next is scheduled for April 8th at 6 pm.

A suicide prevention and self-confidence building presentation will take place at the on-campus Center For Gender Equity on Tuesday, March 24 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Pandora Scooter and her show I AM ENOUGH follows the story of Pan, who struggles with rejection from her parents and friends for being gay and different.  I AM ENOUGH takes suicide head on, exploring and exposing the pain of those who struggle with suicide. The WNMU event is hosted by the Center For Gender Equity, located at 1211 N. Mississipi Street. The event is free and open to the public.

Gila National Forest officials say prescribed fires on the Quemado and Silver City Ranger Districts have been postponed until further notice due to recent precipitation across the forest.  The prescribed fires delayed include the Slaughter Mesa project and the Bar Six project.  Notice will be given when conditions allow fire managers to proceed with these projects.

In legislative action:

The Senate voted 28 to 10 to keep New Mexico on Daylight Saving Time as the legislative session starts to wind down.  If the bill passes the House and is signed by Governor Susanna Martinez, it would require approval from the federal government.  Then, New Mexico would be on Mountain Time from March through October, and Central Time during the winter.

A bill that would encourage the film industry to buy and hire locally has cleared the New Mexico Legislature. The measure was unanimously approved by the Senate last week. The House approved the measure Wednesday on a 51-2 vote.  Under the proposal, tax credits would be adjusted to encourage production companies to hire New Mexico crew members, patronize local sound stages and sets and purchase goods and services from local vendors.  The bill now goes to the governor.

A New Mexico Senate committee has approved a two-tier driver’s license bill, sending it on for a full Senate vote.  The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to approve the measure that calls for two distinct licenses, allowing people in the country illegally to still have driving privileges.

The New Mexico Senate passed SB 433 Thursday afternoon, which would ban the sale of e-cigarettes and nicotine liquid containers to minors.  The bill also prohibits the use of the devices by minors and creates penalties for people who sell e-cigs and liquid to minors. The liquid containers will also be required to be sold in child-resistant packages, and would prohibit the online sale of the devices and liquid to minors.

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March 19th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Silver Consolidated School Board of Education at their recent meeting swore in Mike McMillan.  Work session discussions of the meeting included an explanation of the Children’s Internet Protection Act, the planning of a retreat, and the inclusion of two public comment spots on the agenda.  The regular session began with reorganization of the Board – Frances Vasquez became president, Mike McMillan was named Vice President and Egan secretary.

The Copper Rose Assembly of Rainbow Girls have been assisting with the Kiwanis Free Easter Egg Hunt preparations for the April 4th Event.  Rainbow Girls have filled over 2,700 eggs with goodies.  Appreciation is extended to Ace Hardware and Wal Mart for their major donations. Additional thanks is given to Carson Insurance, Walgreens, Hester House, Kris’s Unique Boutique, and Girl Scouts for their donations.

PNM is offering Silver City residents the opportunity to receive a PNM Home Energy Checkup that can help them save energy and reduce electric bills.  Assessors will be in the Silver City area on Monday, March 23rd.  PNM urges customers to call 1-855-775-6491 to schedule their Home Energy Checkup.  Assessment and installation includes smart power strips, LED nightlight, programmable thermostat, CFL bulbs, faucet aerators, low-flow showerhead, and possibly an Energy Star qualified refrigerator.

In legislative action:

Rep. Nate Gentry, House Floor Majority Leader, released the following statement in response to Senate Democrats blocking HB 41, a bill that would end the failed policy of social promotion, which passes our children onto the next grade even when they cannot read.  “Tonight, Senate Democrats had the perfect opportunity to prove that our children are more important than petty politics. Instead, they proved that some things never change, and that is very sad.”

The New Mexico House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that cracks down on domestic violence by giving police officers 24 hours to arrest the offender without a warrant. HB 462, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Fajardo, passed on a unanimous 65-0 vote. It now heads to the Senate.  Under current law, someone who commits domestic violence can flee the scene, and an officer is required to obtain a warrant before arresting the suspect. If the legislation becomes law, police officers will have 24 hours to arrest the offender without having to attain a warrant. The bill will now go to the New Mexico State Senate.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1030, the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015with a bipartisan vote of 241-175. The EPA has been proposing, finalizing, and implementing far reaching and economically harmful regulations without releasing the science on which these regulations are based. Without transparency, independent scientists cannot review and verify the science nor can the affected public be certain that that the extra red tape and bureaucracy is actually necessary. Today’s bill prohibits the EPA from proposing or implementing regulations without first publishing the science on which they are based for independent review.

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March 18th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Grant County’s only movie theater is experiencing growing support by the local community and region with donations and regular event bookings.  Chuck Johnson, a Silver City based State Farm Insurance agent, recently visited the newly renovated historic Light Hall Auditorium and subsequently donated to the University Foundation as a sign of support for the use of Light Hall as the only movie theater in the community.  Renovations to Light Hall Auditorium, erected in 1927, were completed in October 2014. The space is used each weekend as a movie theater, and is also used during the week as a lecture hall and special events space.

In legislative action:

The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan tax package that will help level the playing field for small businesses while at the same time help attract companies from out of state to relocate to New Mexico.  Some of the bills in the tax packages include a single-sales factor provision that simplifies the tax structure and aims to attract businesses to relocate their headquarters to New Mexico; a reduction in gross-receipts taxes for military manufacturing jobs; and increasing the Angel Investment Credit to help provide seed money for start-up companies.

The Senate Education Committee voted today to block legislation that would improve the teacher evaluation system by reducing the impact of standardized testing. HB 144, a compromise piece of legislation sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith, was the result of bringing teachers, principals and superintendents to the table. It passed the House floor in a bipartisan 42-26 vote.  The legislation would have reduced the weight of student achievement on a teacher evaluation from 50 percent to 40 percent. Teacher observation would also increase from 25 percent to 40 percent — a measure widely supported by educators across New Mexico.

A bill that would keep New Mexico on daylight saving time passed the Senate on Tuesday.  Supporters of the bill say it’s good for farmers, workers and families, giving them more time to be outdoors in the evening.  Opponents say it would have children going to school when it’s still pitch black outside.  The bill now heads to the House.  If passed there, it will head to the governor’s desk.  The federal government would have to sign off on the bill before New Mexico stops switching time.

A bill with bipartisan support requiring health insurance companies to help the state purchase vaccines for privately insured children in New Mexico has cleared the Legislature.  The legislation would require insurance companies to reimburse the Health Department for vaccines purchased for privately insured children.  Companies would be required to report the children they cover to calculate their share of total costs.

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March 17th, 2015: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

As part of a continuing program to reduce hazardous fuels, improve forest health and enhance wildlife habitat, fire managers are preparing to conduct a prescribed fire around the Bar Six area.  This is a 650-acre broadcast burn just southwest of the Flying A subdivision off Red Rock Road.  The project may begin either the week of March 23 or 30, depending on conditions.

In legislative action:

Senate boss Michael Sanchez is still refusing to act on a House bill that would end the failed policy of social promotion. With less than a week to go, it’s believed that Sanchez is trying to run out the clock and use his political muscle to stall key legislative priorities.  The House passed legislation to end the failed policy of social promotion in a bipartisan vote on Feb. 11. The Senate has not even given the bill a committee hearing — hoping that the legislation never sees the Senate floor.

The House will consider a bill that seeks to get credentialed teachers into the classroom quicker and earning a paycheck faster.  The bill, if passed, will encourage more students to enter the education field by reducing heavier-than-other degree requirements.  The bill cleared the Senate and the House Education Committee and is awaiting final action on the House floor.

Fully disabled veterans living in New Mexico would not lose the remainder of their property tax exemption on their primary home when they move during the course of the tax year if a bill that passed the State Senate unanimously becomes law.  The bill would make the property tax exemption disabled military veterans living in New Mexico receive transferable to their next primary home during the course of the year.  Currently when the vets move, they lose the remainder of the tax exemption.

A bill that passed the State Senate will put New Mexico in a better position to compete with adjoining states while it saves on wear and tear of New Mexico roads and highways.  The bill brings the concrete and dump truck load limit to the same weight as neighboring states.  On a special type of truck, it increases the limit from 66,000 pounds to 80,000 pounds.  A new section of law allows the trucks to get a special multiple-trip permit.  All fees go to the New Mexico road fund.


Have a safe and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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