Here’s a look at today’s news:
Anonymous donors recently contributed funds to the Western New Mexico University Foundation, establishing an endowed named scholarship to support Native American students. In addition to the scholarship, the donors created an immediate use fund to supplement the endowment while it grows. Endowed scholarships are created with gifts that total a minimum of $15,000, and this overall pledge amounts to more than $130,000 over the couple’s multi-year commitment. The supplemental scholarship will be awarded by the Foundation as soon as possible. On average, Western New Mexico University serves more than 100 Native American students each semester, and the proportion of American Indians in Western New Mexico University’s student body has grown by almost a full percent since 2014.
The White Sands Missile Range will soon be replacing it’s 56-year old communications center facility, that recently caught fire. Construction of the new 56,268 square-foot two story facility will begin in 2019 with a scheduled completion date of February 2020. The total cost is $72 million with $40 million going toward construction and $32 million for the state-of-the-art equipment. The new facility will house all the network communications on the post in addition to consolidating five current buildings. Over 120 employees will re-locate to the new building.
Absentee voting is now available at the Luna County Clerk’s office for the $10 million school bond election scheduled for February 6th. If approved the general obligation bond would be used for school building and grounds, computer hardware and software for student use, or matching funds for capital outlay projects. Absentee ballots will be accepted at the Luna County Clerk’s office, located at 700 South Silver Avenue, between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M., Monday through Thursday, up until February 2nd. The election takes place on February 6th with polls open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Voters are permitted to cast their vote at any of three “Voting Convenience Centers” in Luna County that include: The Mimbres Valley Learning Center at 2300 East Pine Street; the Holy Family Parish Hall at 615 South Copper Street; or at the Columbus Village Library at 112 West Broadway. Approval of the bond issue is the only question on the ballot.
Red and green chiles have been a part of New Mexico culture for over a century. The current popularity of these tasty peppers, the spicier cousin of the Anaheim chili, have caused the demand to exceed the supply. Many restaurants are having difficulty making it through the year with their locally grown supply, with some chile buyers looking to Mexico when the local harvest runs out. Drought does play a part in New Mexico’s limited supply, but the main issue is labor based because the chiles are delicate and must be hand-picked. According to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, farms in the state grew about 8,300 acres of chiles in 2015, compared to 86,000 acres that just one state in Mexico is using to grow chilies. It is hoped that one day a machine will be able to pick the delicate vegetables so New Mexico farmers can grow more to meet the demand.