February 5th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

A recently released poll conducted by Third Eye Strategies for the Center for Civic Policy shows that while New Mexicans are divided on many issues, they come together in opposition to imposing a new sales tax on food.  Data from the poll shows that four-fifths (80%) of registered voters oppose taxing food and just 15% support it. When couched as part of a broader effort to lower the sales tax on all goods, opposition stays strong (62%) while support comes in at just 29%. Voters in all income groups oppose it similarly.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that $150 million of funding is available for the Conservation Stewardship Program, and ag producers need to submit their applications to their local USDA Service Center by the March 31st deadline.  The Conservation Stewardship Program is UDSA’s largest conservation program and New Mexico consistently ranks in the top 5 nationwide very year for acres obligated under the program.

Denver-based company Healthgrades has awarded both Presbyterian Hospital and University of New Mexico Hospital their 2016 Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award — an award that places both hospitals in the top 5 percent for clinical care in the country.

New Mexico teachers and some administrators at various levels would see minimum salaries increase under a pared-down proposal that cleared a Senate committee Wednesday despite objections about the push being an unfunded mandate.  The Senate Education Committee advanced the measure following a debate that centered on evaporating revenue projections for the next fiscal year.

In legislative action: the New Mexico Senate Public Affairs Committee today voted to move Senate Bill 191: Opioid Abuse Prevention and Assisted Treatment forward. The bill’s sponsors opted for a non-traditional presentation during yesterday’s hearing and demonstrated how one aspect of the Bill could be one step closer to helping solve New Mexico’s high rates of prescription drug abuse. New Mexico’s drug overdose death rate has been one of the highest in the nation for most of the last two decades. New Mexico’s death rate has more than tripled since 1990.  Senate Bill 191 will now move to the Senate Corporations Committee for a hearing next week. The House version of the same bill, House Bill 241 will be heard in the House Business and Employment Committee next week as well.

A New Mexico State Senator is trying for the third time legislation to end the diversion of taxpayer dollars to pay for general operating expenses at Spaceport America.  Senator Lee Cotter maintains that voters in the two counties supported an increase in their gross receipts tax to go towards repaying the debt for the construction of the Spaceport—which lies in Sierra County—over 20 years. But now he says they’re paying more.

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February 4th, 2016: Grant County Concert Presents Hits & Grins

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The Grant County Community Concert Association is pleased to present Hits &Grins at the WNMU Fine Arts Center Theater on February 2nd at 7 pm.  HitNashville songwriters Steve Dean, Victoria Venier and Broadcast Hall of Famer Bill Whyte serve up a mix of comedy and song.  Hits & Grins uses a unique instrumentation including gandolin, ganjo, cajon and more in presenting great stories, hit songs and loads of laughs.  Admission is $20 for adult non-subscribers.  Students to age 17 accompanied by an adult ticket holder are admitted free,  This concert is supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  Tickets can be purchased at Blackwell’s Antiques or Western Stationers in Silver City.  For further information and subscription or ticket purchases, go to www.gcconcerts.org or call 575-538-5862.

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February 4th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

Three Mustang Football players were named to the USA College Football All-American list on Friday.  Senior Larry Young II and Junior Zachary Andrews-Worline received second-team honors, and Senior Mitch Glassman earned an honorable mention.

Luna County staff recently finished a 50-week Risk Awareness Program designed to help protect county employees and citizens on courthouse property and to reduce the frequency and severity of claims.  The county was given two awards for achieving a positive claim trend and for five years of successfully completing the Risk Awareness Program.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, discussed the decision to open all ground combat units to women with U.S. Department of Defense officials during a committee hearing today. The hearing comes after the Department of Defense announced the decision to lift restrictions on combat positions for women.

In legislative action: bipartisan legislation to significantly reduce an employee’s workers’ compensation benefit when the employee’s death or injury resulted from being drunk or high on the job passed the House by a 55-6 vote. Currently, individuals are eligible for 90 percent of their compensation if drugs or alcohol are a contributing factor to the disabling incident. This legislation would allow for that amount to be reduced from anywhere between 90 to 10 percent, depending on the degree to which the worker’s impairment contributed to the injury.

The House of Representatives passed Bipartisan legislation today to protect victims of sexual abuse and assault from their abusers. House Bill 27, also known as “Rachael’s Law,” would create a new section in the Family Violence Protection Act to courts to grant permanent restraining orders to victims of rape and sexual assault. It would allow judges to base their decision to grant the order on the evidence and facts used to convict the offender, sparing victims the ordeal of having to face their abusers in court. The bill would also allow another person to appear on behalf of the victim.

Legislation to protect children from sexual predators who use their position of authority to prey on their victims passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 63-0.  The bill would remove the current requirement that an injury result an incident of abuse in order for an adult to be charged with criminal sexual contact of a minor. It would also align the victim age ranges defined in the criminal sexual penetration and criminal sexual contact statutes.  The legislation clarifies that all offenders who commit criminal sexual contact or criminal sexual penetration will be held accountable for their actions by eliminating the defined list of offenders from the statute.  If passed, prosecutors also would no longer need to prove that an individual expressly stated or leveraged their authority over to the victim in order to be convicted of criminal sexual contact with a child.

Legislation to ensure all New Mexico students make it to class passed the House Education Committee by a vote of 7-5. The bill, HB 240, is sponsored by Rep. Jimmie Hall It would establish programs to prevent truancy, and it would also allow driver’s licenses of habitually truant students to be suspended.  he bill would require school districts and charter schools to implement an early warning system that would identify students who are either habitually truant or at risk of dropping out. The early warning system would notify parents when their student has three or more absences. The proposal would also require the student and parents to meet with a truancy prevention team to develop an attendance plan when the student has five or more absences.

Kay Papen will be presenting Senate Bill 191: Opioid Abuse Prevention and Assisted Treatment, which addresses this critical issue. SB 191 will be presented to the Senate Public Affairs Committee urging the Committee to pass legislation requiring the Dept. of Health to post opioid overdose prevention information on its website, requiring certain health insurers to provide coverage for abuse-deterrent opioids, and requiring the Secretary of Corrections to consider using medication-assisted treatment for persons under the supervision of the Corrections Department.

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February 3rd, 2016: Local Headlines

Here is a look at today’s headlines: 2-3-16

Early this morning, local law enforcement responded to a shooting in Silver Ctiy in the 2200 block of Cactus Street.   Upon arrival, the authorities determined that a 23 year old man had been shot twice. The man has since been flown to an El Paso hospital for treatment, listed in critical condition.  The man reported he did not know who had shot him and the police are investigating.  If you have any information in the case, please call the Silver City Police Department.

The Silver Schools are preparing early for the test opt-out deadline requirements. Parents will be able to opt out their children from testing for both the Standard Based Assessment and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, if the opt out happens by Feb. 29th.  The testing weeks this year are April 4 through May 13 for the PARCC and March 7 through March 25 for SBA.  The Cobre District does not plan to have an opt-out deadline for this year’s spring testing.

Interesting highlights from the current session underway in Santa Fe.  proposed constitutional amendment aimed at reforming New Mexico’s bail bond system cleared the state Senate on a 29-9 vote Tuesday.  The measure now heads to the House for consideration, where a similar measure has yet to make it to the floor for a vote. If approved by lawmakers, the question of whether to give judges the discretion to deny bail to dangerous defendants would be put before voters during the general election in November.

In Silver City this Saturday, the loved Chocolate Fantasia is planned. To get tickets contact the Mimbres Region Arts Council. The event will be from 11 to 4 and participants will be able to indulge in handmade chocolates from many venues.

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February 2nd, 2016: Chocolate Fantasia This Saturday

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Chocolate Fantasia 2016 – Chocolate Fantasia Around the World


SILVER CITY, NM – The Mimbres Region Arts Council’s Chocolate Fantasia takes on a distinctly international “flavor” with this year’s theme—Chocolate Fantasia Around the World. Mark your calendar now for the annual pre-Valentine’s Day chocolate extravaganza, CHOCOLATE FANTASIA. Saturday, February 6, 2016 11a.m.-4 p.m.in downtown Silver City.

Travel the world without leaving Silver City as local shops and galleries transform downtown into a global village. Experience the creativity and whimsy of Silver City as you stroll the historic district with your loved ones, sampling 20 gourmet chocolates inspired by exotic locales. Tickets are $25 for 20 individual pieces of chocolate from over 30 Chocolate Stops. Chocolate Fantasia always delivers many surprises, so keep your eyes peeled for site-specific events, games, music, and children’s activities throughout the tasting area.

“This is one of the most fun events we have,” says downtown business owner Jeff Hawley, owner of the Raven’s Nest Boutique and Gallery, “and it’s great for business too.” Chocolate Stops open at 11 a.m. and stay open until 4:00 p.m. Event maps and empty candy boxes ($2.00 each for collecting your chocolates so you can save some for later!) will be available at Chocolate Fantasia Headquarters, The Family Karate Center, at 416 N. Bullard Street, open at 10 a.m.  Don’t forget to check out the Chocolate Fantasia merchandise also available at HQ.

A distinguished panel of local citizens will be judging the chocolates and host sites throughout the day in a number of categories. The ever-popular People’s Choice Awards is back again as well, so ticket holders can vote on the back of each ticket after all 20 chocolates have been collected. Awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Little Toad Creek Brewery, 200 N Bullard, at 4:30 pm, directly following the event. All are welcome and encouraged to attend the awards event.

Chocolate Fantasia is a delicious way to spend a day with your sweetheart or family!  Tickets make great Valentine’s Day gifts! Come for the day or stay the weekend. We guarantee a truly delectable visit. Contact the MRAC office. Chocolate Fantasia tickets traditionally sell out so purchase yours early.

 

For more information, tickets or the day’s events, call MRAC at 575-538-2505, or visit www.mimbresarts.org.

 

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February 2nd, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Town of Hurley officially posted the names of candidates for the upcoming Hurley Municipal Election to be held March 1st.  For the office of Councilor, four year term: Joseph E. Stevens, David N. Byington, Raul E. Salcido Jr., Richard R. Maynes, Rodolfo Montoya Pena, and Coy R. Lopez.  For the office of Municipal Judge, four year term: David J. Ramos.

Glenwood Ranger District personnel plan to burn slash piles around the Forest Service administrative site beginning Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 and continuing through mid-February. Smoke may linger at night and early morning in Glenwood and along portions of Hwy 180 during this time. Please drive with caution through this area.

More than 40 re-enactors from across the country will travel to Columbus for the Raid Day Centennial co-sponsored by the Village of Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Historical Society, Pancho Villa State Park, and the First Aero Squadron Foundation. This historic commemoration begins 10 a.m. Saturday, March 12, with a parade on the last 3-mile trek for the Cabalgata of its 341-mile trip that starts Feb. 27 from the town of Guerrero, Chihuahua Mexico.

In legislative action:  legislation that would give judges access to the full criminal histories of violent repeat offenders passed the House of Representatives. The bill, HB 72, is sponsored by Rep. Nate Gentry and passed on a unanimous vote of 65-0. It is also referred to as Jaydon’s Law, named after an Albuquerque teen who was gunned down during a drive-by shooting while at a house party.

A bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Nate Gentry and Democrat Rep. Carl Trujillo that would allow local governments to impose curfews on minors under the age of 16 from midnight to 5 a.m. passed the House Floor by a 44-21 vote. The bill, HB 29, is also supported by Albuquerque Westside City Councilor Ken Sanchez.

The future may be brighter for New Mexico students with the passage of Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 3 today by the Senate Judiciary Committee, quickly following the same positive action last Friday by the Senate Rules Committee.

Legislation to help address New Mexico’s DWI problem passed the House Judiciary Committee by a unanimous, 9-0 vote. House Bill 81, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, will toughen the punishment for DWI offenders who continue to get in the driver’s seat after their licenses have been suspended or revoked.

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines that would allow judges to impose stricter penalties on DWI felons passed the House Judiciary Committee today by a vote of 9-1. The bill, HB 82, would expand New Mexico’s Habitual Offender law to include DWI felonies.

Legislation to crack down on repeat DWI offenders by increasing penalties for fourth and subsequent DWI offenses passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 7-4 vote. House Bill 83 is sponsored by Representatives Sarah Maestas Barnes and Rod Montoya.

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February 1st, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

After months of detours and orange road cones, the NM 90/Hudson Street Bridge is once again open to traffic.  Crews still have a few weeks of work to do on the pedestrian walk and the path underneath the bridge, but the bridge is once again open to traffic.

According to the National Weather Service of El Paso, a High Wind Warning is in effect through 11 o’clock tonight.  The area affected includes most of southwest and south-central New Mexico and far west Texas lowlands, including the lower Gila River Valley, the bootheel, eastern Black Range foothills, including Lordsburg, Animas, Deming, Columbus and Hachita.

A strong Pacific Storm System has brought snow to much of southwest New Mexico.  Snowfall totals are expected to range from 4 to 6 inches around Silver City with up to a foot possible above 7500 feet.  Affected areas include the southern Gila Highlands and Black Range, including Silver City, Lake Roberts, Kingston and Fort Bayard.

On Saturday students from middle schools and high schools throughout the region competed in tests at Harlan Hall and in engineering feats at the Brancheau P.E. Complex at Western New Mexico University.  13 middle school teams and 17 high school teams took part in the competitions.

In sport action: WNMU Mustang Basketball lost to University of Colorado-Colorado Springs 85-73 on Friday night, and suffered a 60-100 loss at Metropolitan State University of Denver on Saturday.  The Mustangs will play at home against Colorado Mesa University at 7:30 on Friday, and Westminster College on Saturday night.

The Lady ‘Stangs also lost to University of Colorado-Colorado Springs by a margin of 65-80 on Friday, and lost to Metropolitan State University of Denver 55-99.  The Lady ‘Stangs will play at 5:30 before the men’s games this weekend.

The Western New Mexico University softball team opened the 2016 season on Friday and after falling in the opener to Lubbock Christian University, 11-0, the Lady Mustangs fought back and nearly defeated Midwestern State University before coming up just short, 11-8.  On Sunday, the WNMU softball team took a 9-5 win over Oklahoma Panhandle State University.  WNMU will now prepare for the Desert Stinger that will take place this Friday through Sunday in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In legislative action:  Legislation to improve student reading passed the House of Representatives on Saturday by a bipartisan 35-27 vote. The bill, HB 67, would provide early identification of struggling readers, make intensive reading intervention and instruction available to these students, and end the practice of promoting students who cannot demonstrate basic reading skills by the end of third grade.

Saturday, HB 145, a bill that would allow adjunct teachers, passed the House with bipartisan support on a 37-25 vote. The bill would allow New Mexicans with at least a bachelor degree to teach part-time without having to go back to school and get a teaching degree.  The proposal would help bring much-needed expertise back to the classroom and make it easier for dedicated professionals to invest in New Mexico students.

A veteran state lawmaker is back this session with another attempt to get a proposed Constitutional Amendment through the legislature that would ask New Mexico voters to legalize recreational marijuana.

New Mexico could soon be the first state in the nation to award veterans and active duty members of the military with college credits towards an actual degree, rather than simply “elective” credits, for their military coursework, training and experience.

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February 1st, 2016: Snow in Silver City

Pictures from Silver City mountain area (2) Windmill on property

A strong Pacific Storm System has brought snow to much of southwest New Mexico.  Snowfall totals are expected to range from 4 to 6 inches around Silver City with up to a foot possible above 7500 feet.  Below are pictures taken in and around the Silver City area during the storms this morning.

Pictures from Silver City area (9)Pictures from Silver City mountain area (3) Deer on property Silver City Snow

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January 29th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

BeWellnm, New Mexico’s Health Insurance Exchange, is warning the public to be aware of fraud scams that request personal information from people searching for health insurance plans online. Scam artists use phone calls, website forms, and other methods to obtain personal information and request payment through pre-paid debit cards.  In the most recent scam, individuals seeking to enroll into a health plan have provided their name and telephone number through a fake website www.bewell-nm.org. Soon after submitting their phone number, individuals are contacted via phone and asked personal information including social security numbers, full names and more. Scammers then request for the individual to provide payment for a health insurance plan in the form of a pre-paid debit card.

In legislative action: Legislation sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines allowing judges to impose stricter penalties on DWI felons passed the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee today by a vote of 5-2. The bill, HB 82, would expand New Mexico’s Habitual Offender law to include DWI felonies.  A DWI offense can be deemed a felony after the fourth conviction. Currently, individuals convicted of a DWI felony are exempted from the stricter penalties provided for in the Habitual Offender law. The legislation sponsored by Dines would make repeat drunk drivers eligible for sentencing under the Habitual Offender law.

Yesterday, legislation to help address New Mexico’s DWI problem passed the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee by a 4-3 vote. House Bill 81, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, will toughen the punishment for DWI offenders who continue to get in the driver’s seat after their licenses have been suspended or revoked. A recent study ranked New Mexico 33rd in the country when it comes to the strictness of its DWI laws, highlighting the need to enhance the state’s DWI penalties.

Today, Rep. Nate Gentry introduced the Gender Pay Equity Act, legislation to provide a tax credit to business owners who can demonstrate 100 percent gender pay equity. The bill, HB 282, was co-signed by Speaker Don Tripp as well as Reps. Alonzo Baldonado, Sharon Chahchischillage, Kelly Fajardo, Sarah Maestas Barnes, Terry McMillan, Andy Nuñez, Paul Pacheco, and John Zimmerman. It is also supported by Sen. Mimi Stewart.

A proposal working its way through the New Mexico legislature would prevent cities and counties from enforcing their own labor laws on private employers.

A bill to provide stronger oversight of the Children, Youth and Families Department while it ensures kids in foster care receive better representation has passed its first Senate committee this session.

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January 28th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Grant County Community Health Council recently welcomed Cari Lemon as its new coordinator.  Lemon will supervise community efforts to enact the Grant County Health and Wellness Plan, a strategic model to better the quality of life for local residents.  Lemon previously worked at Western New Mexico University as Director of Alumni Affairs, and has been involved with the Virus Theater Company.

The Grant County Regional Dispatch Authority advised the Silver City Police Department on Wednesday of a call reporting a student at Silver High School had threatened to “shoot up the school.”  The threat was taken seriously, but investigators determined there was no viable threat of harm.  He also stated there was no list of names or a firearm associated with the possible threat found during the course of the investigation.

In legislative action: A bipartisan bill that would authorize local governments to impose curfews on minors under the age of 16 from midnight to 5 a.m. passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 9-4 vote. This bill would allow officers to detain minors, and it would provide guidelines on how law enforcement should handle children who are caught violating a curfew. This legislation would prohibit children from being placed in secure settings for violating a curfew.  The bill will also provide a variety of exemptions for children who have reason to be out during the regulated times, such as participating in a school function, attending an event with their parent or guardian, or attending a civic or religious function. This legislation excludes emancipated youth from its provisions.

Legislation would ensure that judges have a complete view of a violent criminal’s prior record passed the House Judiciary Committee today by a 12-0 vote. The bill would change the Criminal Procedure Act to allow judges to review an adult defendant’s prior record as a youth offender. The bill would not apply to juvenile offenses committed prior to the age of 14 or to juvenile delinquent offenses. It is targeted specifically at older juveniles found guilty of committing serious violent youth offenses such as second degree murder, aggravated battery and rape.

Today, a bipartisan compromise bill that will stop giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and bring New Mexico into compliance with the REAL ID Act passed the House Floor by a 39-30 vote. The bill proposes a compromise by giving those here illegally a driving privilege card while ensuring New Mexicans are able to receive a secure, REAL ID compliant license. It is a true two-tier compromise.  Under the proposal, two distinct forms of identification would be created: a secure license that is REAL ID compliant for citizens and residents with lawful immigration status, and a driving privilege card for illegal immigrants. The license would be valid for federal identification purposes and the driving privilege card would not.  Driving privilege cards would only be issued to individuals who cannot prove lawful immigration status, and it would only be valid for one year. To qualify for a driving privilege card, illegal immigrants would have to prove that they have resided in New Mexico for at least two years before applying or provide evidence that they have filed personal income taxes with the State of New Mexico for the prior year. Applicants would be required to successfully complete a driver’s education course, pass a written and road test and submit fingerprints.

Motorist who drink and drive with a child in their vehicle can face additional charges to their DWI offense. The new charge- “ DWI with a minor.” SB 45, sponsored by Senator Lisa Torraco, would make it a new misdemeanor offense to be drunk and drive with a child in the vehicle.

Senator Bill Sharer is introducing a bill this session on late-term abortions that bans the practice of elective abortions after five months until the day of birth in New Mexico. The late-term abortion ban bill has bipartisan support in both the New Mexico Senate and House.

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