01-01-10 Briefs

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By The Staff

Drug sniffing dogs forced to live in prison

LAS CRUCES — Two drug-sniffing dogs are no longer staying with their handlers and instead are taking up residence at the state penitentiary in Santa Fe.

The dogs normally work at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility west of Las Cruces.

For years the dogs stayed overnight at kennels at their handlers’ homes.

This year, the Corrections Department decided to enforce a 2005 policy requiring that all working dogs be housed at kennels on prison grounds.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Tia Bland said Tuesday the decision will not be reversed.

The specially trained dogs will spend three months getting acclimated to living away from their handlers.

The Corrections Department and the Governor’s Office are getting a lot of flak over the decision with some calling it “inhumane” treatment of the dogs.

Northrop Grumann delivers N.M. sub

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The nation’s sixth Virginia-class submarine has been delivered to the Navy.

Northrop Grumman Corp. said Tuesday that the 7,800-ton New Mexico was completed in 70 months, the shortest overall construction time of any Virginia-class submarine.

Becky Smart, the company vice president in charge of the submarine program, said the New Mexico was completed with 1 million fewer man-hours than its predecessor, the USS North Carolina.

The New Mexico was christened in December 2008 and is expected to be commissioned early next year.

Northrop Grumman says the New Mexico, named for The Land of Enchantment, is the nation’s newest and most advanced nuclear-powered submarine.

VA will offer swine flu shots  

ALBUQUERQUE  — The New Mexico Veterans Affairs Health Care System is holding walk-in clinics for veterans who want swine flu shots.

The clinics will start Monday.

In Albuquerque, the vaccinations will be given at the VA Medical Center.

Swine flu vaccine as well as seasonal flu vaccine also will be available to veterans at VA community-based outpatient clinics across New Mexico.

Volunteers work on float for parade

ALBUQUERQUE— About 50 New Mexicans and a few volunteers from other states are in California decorating New Mexico’s float entry for this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade.

The annual parade is held on New Year’s Day and begins at 9 a.m.

This is the fourth time in the past five years that New Mexico was represented by a float in the parade.

This year’s float will feature Pepe Le Pew along with a series of colorful hot air balloons.

Last year’s float starred Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner. It won the Bob Hope Humor Award for the most comical and amusing float.

Tourism Secretary Michael Cerletti says the float is aimed at piquing the interest of potential visitors and to create in them a curiosity to find out more about New Mexico.

Organizers welcome guns at rally

ALAMOGORDO  — The Otero Tea Party Patriots and two other groups are planning a rally in Alamogordo on Saturday for people who want to voice their dissatisfaction with health care reform legislation, big government and the Obama administration.

Aside from the usual poster board signs, participants are encouraged to bring their guns.

Police Lt. Hal Alton says a permit allowing the Otero Tea Party Patriots, the Alamogordo Second Amendment Task Force and the Sons of Liberty Riders to hold the weekend rally was approved Wednesday.

Alton says officers will monitor the rally, but he expects it will be a lawful assembly.