July 27th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

In response to a complaint filed by former New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission Director Norm Gaume, the New Mexico Attorney General determined that the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity violated the New Mexico Open Meetings Act. In a July 12, 2016 letter sent to NM CAP Entity attorney Pete Domenici, Jr., Assistant Attorney General Dylan Lange concludes that the NM CAP Entity violated the Open Meetings Act during meetings it held on January 14 and March 1, 2016.

The New Mexico Department of agriculture is inviting farmers, ranchers, processors, and others with stake in the state’s Organic Program to attend a series of meetings across the state to discuss the program’s funding and future.  The Organic Program offers nationally accredited organic certification for farmers, ranchers, and food processors throughout New Mexico, as well as application and marketing assistance.  The Department of Agriculture wants to hear on which program best meets stakeholders’ certification needs, as well as their ideas on how to operate the program in the future.

In a news release today, Governor Susana Martinez announced that more people are visiting New Mexico’s state parks than ever before.  Last year, the state parks welcomed more than five million visitors – one million more than in 2014.  The announcement comes on the heels of the Governor announcing record-breaking tourism numbers for the fourth consecutive year.

The US Environmental Protection Agency today moves to reduce exposure to formaldehyde vapors from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States. The agency worked with the California Air Resources Board to help ensure the final national rule is consistent with California requirements for composite wood products.

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July 26th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The final update regarding the Black Range Complex Fires was released this morning by the Gila National Forest office.  The Kline, Cooney, Corduroy, and Boiler Fires burn within pre-determined management areas and are currently a combined 4,297 acres.  Fire Management will be transferred back to the Black Range Ranger District on Wednesday morning.  Fire line personnel continue to be demobilized, and fire crews are scouting the Cooney and Kline Fires for rehabilitation.  The Boiler Fire remains in monitoring status.  All temporary Area Closure Orders have been lifted within the area of the Black Range Complex Fires.

The Silver City District is rescinding the entire Silver and Signal Fire Emergency Road and Trails Closure Order, effective today, July 26th.  The areas to be open were initially closed due to hazardous trees, dangerous falling rocks, flooding and debris on roads and trails from the Signal Fire in 2015 and the Silver Fire in 2013.  These hazards have been mitigates along roads and trails only.  Visitors need to be aware hazards may exist within the interior burn scar.  The down and dead wood left behind is available with a free use permit.

Last month, The Imagination Library of Grant County received three grants for their early literacy program totaling $2000 from Walmart, Albertsons, and the Town and Country Garden Club.  Beneficiaries of the Imagination Library include the 1340 Grant County children who receive personally addressed books in the mail each month, their families, and the community as a whole.  Surveys indicate the program is having an impact on reading proficiency and the parenting skills of families receiving books.

Yesterday, New Mexico Economic Development Secretary John Barela announce St. Claire’s Organics, a Colorado manufacturer of candy and cough drops, is relocating its facility to the Village of Santa Clara and will create 10 manufacturing jobs.  St. Claire’s will purchase an existing facility in the Santa Clara Industrial Park.  The building needs remodel and expansion to convert from woodworking to food product manufacturing.

The New Mexico Lottery celebrated its 20-year anniversary on April 27th.  Since 1996, the New Mexico Lottery has raised $697 million for education, and more than 100,000 students have attended college on Legislative Lottery Scholarships.  Now, the New Mexico Lottery is testing a new pilot program which allows players who purchase gas with a debit card an opportunity to purchase Powerball and Mega Millions tickets at the pump when fueling up.  “Play at the Pump” is intended to maximize revenues for the lottery scholarship fund, and in-store lottery purchases have increased by 4% in other states that have launched the program, including California, North Carolina, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

The Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit and sought a temporary restraining order against New Mexico Attorney Joshua R. Simms and a group of non-attorneys who the Attorney General alleges take advantage of consumers in financial distress and who are trying to avoid a foreclosure on their homes.  In addition, Office of the Attorney General alleges that the non-attorneys engages in the unauthorized practice of law by giving homeowners legal advice and pleadings to file in the homeowner’s foreclosure case.

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July 25th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Black Range Complex Fires on the Black Range Ranger District, located 65 miles northwest of T or C, are currently 10% contained.  Today, the Black Range Complex Fire will begin demobilizing fire line personnel.  Dozer operations are being considered for road repairs and a reconnaissance flight will occur to remove communication equipment from the fire line.  The Boiler Fire remains in monitoring status.  All temporary Area Closure Orders have been lifted within the vicinity of the Black Range Complex Fires.  As conditions warrant, future closure orders could be reposted if additional fire activities increase within the Black Range Complex management area.

The Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) will be implementing the Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice (MOON) program nationwide. This will impact Medicare patients placed in “observation status” in a hospital for more than 24-hours. During this time, a patient will receive the best care possible, including any necessary diagnostic tests or lab work, and will be designated as an “Outpatient” for insurance purposes while their health status is monitored. After 24 hours of observation, a doctor is required by law to inform the Medicare patient of their “observation” status.

Senator Howie Morales has asked Attorney General Hector Balderas in a letter to investigate the June 11 traffic stop of Sixth Judicial District Attorney Francesca Estevez. The letter indicated three issues with what happened during the traffic stop; including Estevez’ alleged preferential treatment, the possible tarnishing of her office and potential abuse of power that could force her resignation.  Morales also wants Attorney General Balderas to look at what protocols need to be changes and what additional education of officers is needed.

The Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service are seeking comments on El Paso Electric’s Arizona Interconnection Project 34 kV transmission line.  El Paso Electric has authorization from the BLM and US Forest Service for the existing transmission line and has applied to amend their right-of-way to include access and structure work locations.  El Paso Electric needs the access routes and structure work locations to facilitate necessary transmission line maintenance activities on public lands in Catron, Sierra, Socorro and Luna Counties.  There will be a 30-day public comment period from July 27 to August 25.  The public may review the documents here: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/nepa_register.do.


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July 22nd, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Gila National Forest, Silver City District is rescinding portions of the Silver and Signal Fire Emergency Road and Trails Closure Order effective Monday, July 25, 2016.  The Silver portion of the closure remains in effect in its entirety.  The areas to be open were initially closed due to hazardous trees, dangerous falling rocks, flood and debris on roads and trails from the Signal Fire in 2014.  Hazards from weakened trees, rocks, and tree roots have been mitigated along roads and trails within the closure.  The entire closure order can be found at http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/gila/alerts-notices/?aid=25954.

98 personnel are currently assigned to the Black Range Complex Fires.  Yesterday, Cooney and Kline Fire personnel conducted road and trail assessments for rehabilitation purposes.  The Boiler Fire remained in monitoring status with minimal fire activity, awaiting management action decisions.  The Black Range Complex Fires received 2/10” of precipitation across the fires, accompanied by lightning.  All fire personnel continue to be removed from fire line operations for their safety as storms increase in intensity over the fire perimeters.

Outgoing members of the Hidalgo Medical Services Board of Directors were honored recently for their past leadership.  Mike Martin, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Western Bank, has served on the HMS Board of Directors since 2005.  Kim Garrison, retired Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Western Bank has served on the Board of Directors since 2008.  New members of the HMS Board of Directors were also recognized.  Barbara Guber brings over 40 years of healthcare and nursing experience.  Betsy Ward retired from the Animas School District after 30 years of service to the community.

US Senator Tom Udall’s measure to solidify Southern New Mexico’s position as a leading testing center for unmanned aircraft systems, commonly referred to as drones, was signed into law as part of the bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration.  NMSU’s UAS Flight Test Center was the original UAS test center.  Udall said “this amendment will create jobs in New Mexico by attracting business from innovators and the federal government alike.”

Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced an additional $3.5 million investment in New Mexico’s Early Pre-K pilot program, bringing the total investment to more than $10.5 million over the last two years.  Additional funding will now be available at childcare centers in Luna County, among others.

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July 21st, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

The Black Range Complex Fires on the Black Range Ranger District consist of four fires: the Kline and Cooney Fires started July 8, the Corduroy Fire on July 17, and the Boiler Fire on July 18.  These lightning-caused fires are located in the Black Range Mountains, 65 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences.  The Black Range Complex Fires are currently 10% contained.

The New Mexico State 4-H Conference was held in Las Cruces on July 11th through the 14th.  Grant County 4-H competed in events such as Hippology, Horitculture Judging, Impromptu Speech, Land Judging, Livestock Judging, Livestock Skill-a-thon, Wildlife and the Talent Contest.  Congratulations to the Grant County 4-H youth who competed at the state Conference.

New Mexico State Police officers investigated a single-vehicle crash on San Diego Road in Columbus on Tuesday night.  The initial investigation indicated a Ford pickup, driven by a fifteen year-old female, was traveling at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control and rolled onto the west shoulder of the roadway.  A twelve year old passenger was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.  Neither the driver nor passenger were wearing a seatbelt.

Public access to Campus Rec facilities at Western New Mexico University has been updated to accommodate for more flexibility to community members accessing the fitness center, pool and other facilities.  Effective August 15, monthly memberships will be replaced by a swipe system at the same cost. For $50, a community member can purchase 25 swipes allowing for greater flexibility when choosing when to use the swipe throughout the semester.

Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced a new targeted initiative to improve access to services and benefits for women veterans in New Mexico. The Governor also announced that Melanie Suazo, a retired New Mexico Army National Guard non-commissioned officer, will lead the effort.

New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller announced meetings around the state with community members and advocates on sexual assault evidence kits, commonly referred to as “rape kits.” The meetings will take place in the areas that have been selected for the Office of the State Auditor`s audit that aims to identify the causes of the statewide rape kit backlog.

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July 20th, 2016: Local Headlines

Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

At the Silver school board meeting on Tuesday, Vice President Tony Egan announced that as of 5 pm, he would be resigning from the board.  Former board member Tom Laws said he could now withdraw his support for the recall, and Billy Billings, another former board member said this gave the community the opportunity to find a suitable replacement and allow the board to rebuild itself.  The ending of the recall could save the district up to $30,000.  Egan said of his resignation, “People who were calling for the recall can now work with the new board setting up committees for the (superintendent) search.”

District 3 Councilor Jose Ray Jr. Is moving forward on a plan that would allow ATVs on City Streets.  Ray said he would propose that no one under 18 be allowed to drive them, that they have insurance, street-legal tires, and that they be registered.  He is hoping to at least be able to try the plan for a year, and points out that especially the elderly are for the idea.

Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a Scam Alert to warn New Mexico businesses and the public about a new phishing scheme. The scammers are sending emails to businesses claiming to be with the Office of the Attorney General and claiming that there has been a complaint filed against the business. The business owners are then asked to click a link to see the “complaint” and that they have ten days to respond. The Office of Attorney General will not, and does not, send emails like the ones being used in this scam which hit New Mexico this week.

US Senator Martin Heinrich recently announced growing bipartisan support for the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act, a bill he introduced earlier this month to prohibit the exporting of sacred Native American items and increase penalties for stealing and illegally trafficking tribal cultural patrimony.  US Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Tom Udall, John McCain of Arizona, Jon Tester of Montana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Steve Daines of Montana have signed on as cosponsors of the bill.

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Clay Gala to be Held July 28th

Clay Gala Poster

The Clay Festival Gala will be held July 28th from 6 to 9 pm at the Seedboat Center for the Arts.  Visit www.clayfestival.com for more information.

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July 20th, 2016: Black Fire Update


The following information is from a News Release by the Gila National Forest:

Fire crews will continue to do repair work on fire suppression lines on the Black Fire, but most resources have been reassigned to other fires.  The Silver City Ranger District extends their appreciation to surrounding communities for their support in the rapid response and suppression of the Black Fire.  All information posting boards will be removed today.  Lightning strike fires continue to appear after evening thunderstorms, and fire personnel continue to assess and respond to each fire report accordingly.

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July 20th, 2016: Cooney Fire Closure Map

Cooney Fire Closure-3

The following information is from a News Release by the Gila National Forest:

A closure order in the area of the Cooney Fire is also in effect.  The closure area includes the area south of Highway 59, south and east of County Roads 21 and 24 to Double Springs, east of Yellow Mountain Trail (#53), north of Greenfly Trail (#26), and west of Forest Road 150.  This area includes Wolf Hollow Campground and Trail, and the Gravel Pit area.

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July 20th, 2016: Kline Fire Closure Order Map

Kline Fire Closure Map - olor

The following information is from a News Release by the Gila National Forest:

A closure order is in effect on the Black Range Ranger District in the area of the Kline Fire.  The Continental Divide Trail between its junction with Forest Road 226A and Highway 59 is closed.  The detour runs west along 226A, then north on 226, and re-enters the Continental Divide Trail at Highway 59.  The purpose of this order is for public safety.  The order will be in effect until December 31, 2017 or until rescinded.  Violations of this closure order are punishable as a class B misdemeanor.

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