Here’s a look at today’s headlines:

President Obama announced that he would unilaterally set aside 12 million acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as wilderness. This announcement comes after last year’s designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument—that locked up nearly 500,000 acres of southern New Mexico. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02) issued the following statement in response: “This wilderness designation will prevent Alaska from safely developing natural resources that would create jobs, increase state revenue, and strengthen America’s energy independence.  In his State of the Union speech the President expressed his willingness to work with Congress, but once again has acted on his own accord, instead of listening to the American people. I will continue to fight this President’s repeated overreach by ensuring that the people who are affected most by these designations will have a say in the process,” Pearce said.

A contest was recently held for the best homemade reusable shopping bags. The Town of Silver City Office of Sustainability organized the contest to help promote the new town ordinance eliminating single use plastic bags from retail stores. Reusable bags that can be taken to the store with you provide greater benefits than relying on stores to provide paper or heavy-weight plastic bags.  The bags were judged based on their artistic merit, their functionality and their use of recycled materials. The best bag overall and most artistic was titled “Broken Hearts Bag” by Kathy Cole of Silver City.

The Silver City MainStreet Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of a new MainStreet Manager and election of officers. As of January 2 Lucy Whitmarsh was appointed manager. Whitmarsh brings a wealth of non-profit , MainStreet and economic development experience to the position. On January 21 an election of officers was held to fill vacant positions. Patrick Hoskins was elected president, Rudy Dominguez, vice-president, and Marcia Stout, secretary. The newly elected officers join current treasurer, Steve Townley and comprise the Executive Committee of the Board that also includes the immediate past president, Evangeline Zamora. Additional board members are: Ken Ladner, Richard Deaton, Georgia Bearup and Nancy Johnson.

In a brief visit late last week with Sen. Howie Morales, the Grant County Beat heard his main priorities for this 2015 60-day legislative session.  “As always, we want to accomplish a balanced budget,” Morales said. “Even with such little revenues, we think there is no need to cut programs. I want to increase funding to education through the whole spectrum, but especially K-12. Educators took a cut to get the state out of the recession. We’ll see what the revenue estimate is in February.”  He weighed in that he believes school policies on the state level are confusing and creating a burden to education. Morales said he feels frustration from the schools. “I want to continue to ensure that the 46 percent of the budget, which is funding for education, that the dollars are getting to the classrooms.”