Here’s a selection of our top local news stories:

After an historic volunteer effort, The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is fully signed. According to a release, “The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail  has long been known as the toughest long-distance trail in the nation. It sits at high elevations along the Continental Divide, traverses deserts and snowfields, and passes through areas so remote that hikers sometimes go an entire day without seeing another soul. But now, thanks to the efforts of volunteers, federal agencies, and non-profit partners like the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, there is one less challenge for those wishing to enjoy the CDT: for the first time in its 40-year history, the Continental Divide Trail is fully signed.” The CDT is one of the world’s premiere long-distance trails, stretching 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide. Designated by Congress in 1978, the CDT is the highest, most challenging, and most remote of the 11 National Scenic Trails.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that Thomas Laws, a certified public account in Silver City, has been charged with misappropriating over $1 million in investor funds. Stated in the complaint, Laws is the former CEO of the Santa Fe Gold Corporation, a publicly traded company. The suit claims that allegedly between 2016 and 2018, Santa Fe Gold transferred over $1 million in investors’ funds to Laws and a company owned by Laws. The suit further alleges that the funds were not used for corporate purposes and the actions were hidden by fabricating documents and various forgeries.

Earlier this month, The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish in partnership with the Gila National Forest released up to 800 Gila trout into Whitewater Creek in Glenwood. Visitors helped release some of the fish in addition to meeting Smokey Bear and learning more about the Gila trout as a native species. Since the Whitewater Baldy Fire burned much of the existing Gila trout streams, conservation efforts have focused to returning the trout to their native areas in the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness. Gila trout conservation is guided by the Gila Trout Recovery Plan, and the Gila Trout Recovery Team, which is comprised of professions from New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the University of New Mexico, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The Christmas in the Plaza annual event in Columbus was made unforgettable this year when Santa unexpectedly arrived via helicopter a block away from the planned location to visit the kids. Over 200 children received a toy provided by Luna County Toys for Tots and bag of candy. In addition, some of the adults were gifted with oranges and gift baskets that included toiletries and gardening items. The Christmas in the Plaza event in Columbus has been celebrated for approximately 30 years.