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Local News

  • Agency: Southwestern songbird to retain protected status

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A federal agency says a migratory songbird that breeds in vegetation along rivers and streams in Arizona and New Mexico will remain an endangered species.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's announcement Thursday says the Southwestern willow flycatcher will keep the protected status following a review of a 2015 petition in which industry groups argued the bird isn't a valid subspecies under the Endangered Species Act.

    The announcement says an "exhaustive review" of scientific information reached the conclusion that the flycatcher is a protectable subspecies.

    It also says some flycatcher populations "have made considerable progress toward recovery" but that threats still exist and warrant protection.

    A 2012 assessment estimated a population of only 1,629 breeding territories. Those are places where a male sings to attract a mate.
     

  • Law allows New Year's Eve exception for Sunday liquor sales

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A New Mexico law enacted earlier this year will allow New Year's Eve liquor sales to continue past midnight — the usual cutoff time for sales on Sunday.

    KOB-TV reports state Rep. Jim Trujillo introduced the bill that took effect in June, extending liquor sales when the last day of December falls on a Sunday.

    The law only applies to businesses with full liquor licenses, so certain restaurants or breweries will not be able to sell past midnight depending on their license.

    The law also does not apply to towns or counties that do not allow liquor sales at all on Sundays.

    The next time New Year's Eve falls on a Sunday is in 2023.
     

  • New Mexico ad warns teens, parents about online predators

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico officials are launching a new ad campaign to warn teens and their parents about online sexual predators.

    The Attorney General's Office says the ad called "Monsters" can be viewed on Facebook.

    Attorney General Hector Balderas says parents and teens must be on guard for online sexual predators who lurk behind the screens of computers, tablets and phones.

    Balderas' office says the Facebook ad was funded by a federal grant to the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which Balderas' office oversees.

    A similar ad is running on screens at theaters in Albuquerque and Santa Fe this holiday season.
     

  • Embezzlement case heads to court

    A White Rock woman accused of embezzling from a nonprofit children’s football and cheerleading league in September will have a hearing in First Judicial District Court.

    Tabatha Jones, 34, waived her right to a preliminary trial in Los Alamos Magistrate Court Friday. Jones was arrested Sept. 21 for allegedly embezzling $5,680. 89 from the Los Alamos Youth Football and Cheerleading League.

    Jones was president of the Los Alamos League at the time. According to court documents, Jones was the sole manager of the league’s finances from January 2016 through August 2017.

    According to Annmarie Villegas, executive director of league’s parent organization, the Northern New Mexico Children’s Football League, questions began when Villegas discovered the fees to join the Los Alamos league were a $100 more than the cost per participant in Santa Fe league.

    Upon discovery of the missing funds, the northern New Mexico league disbanded the Los Alamos league.

    However, the league was allowed to finish out the year.  At the time of Jones’s arrest, the Los Alamos League was in the fifth weekend of their 11-week season.

  • Lawmakers file dozens of bills; most will see no action

    SANTA FE (AP) — Lawmakers have filed more than 100 bills for their session that starts in mid-January.
    Most of those will see no action.

    That’s because the state constitution limits action in monthlong sessions to bills on the budget and taxes. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez also can place items on the agenda, and legislators can revisit bills that she vetoed in the past.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Martinez has indicated public safety will be a priority.

    Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says legislators expect a flat budget, which means extra spending will be limited, and proposals for new programs or initiatives might go nowhere.

    Bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and create a $15-an-hour minimum wage are among the items filed.

  • Dry winter could stress Arizona’s ponderosa pines

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Northern Arizona has missed out on a white Christmas, and if the lack of snowfall continues, scientists say there will likely be more far-reaching effects on the region’s pine trees.

    Without enough winter moisture, scientists tell the Arizona Daily Sun, the trees will be more susceptible to bark beetles and disease, all of which lead to tree mortality.

    “This is super dry for us, so if it continues there’s going to be a lot of concerns I’m sure,” said John Anhold, a forest entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

    The latest drought maps show drought and abnormally dry conditions have taken hold of significant portions of the Four Corners region of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. With the exception of Colorado, the other states are worse off now than they were at this same time last year.

    For Flagstaff, the below-normal precipitation expected for this winter will also affect the city’s water sources and supply balance going into next year, while the dry weather has already been a game-changer for prescribed fire operations this fall.

    On the Coconino National Forest alone, it has allowed crews to do low-intensity understory burns on about 50 percent more acreage than normal, said Victor Morfin, the forest’s fuels specialist.

  • NM missile range records nearly 5,500 missions in 2017

    WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. (AP) — A southern New Mexico missile testing range has logged nearly 5,500 missions this year.

    Those missions include firing missiles and rockets, laser tests and training in F-16 fighter jets on 3,200 square miles of the White Sands Missile Range.

    Test center commander Col. Eric Rannow says the missions allow the U.S. military to be prepared at all times with cutting-edge technology.

    The U.S. Air Force sponsored almost 1,615 training missions this year, with 458 of those involving the fighter jets.

    One of the biggest jobs at the missile range is ensuring that weapons work in the conditions where the military needs them. That means testing in nuclear environments and in varying temperatures.

    The test center also has taken missions on the road, doing tests in Europe and the Pacific Ocean.
     

  • New Mexico considers new nominating system for regents

    By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico would change the selection process for regents who oversee the state's public universities and flagship medical center under a newly proposed constitutional amendment.

    Democratic Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces and Republican Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque hope to ensure a broader initial search for qualified and energetic candidates to oversee the state's major public universities by creating bipartisan nomination committees. The committees would provide a list of candidates for the governor to choose from when nominating university regents.

    Steinborn said the current nominating system emphasizes loyalty to the governor and the governor's policies over prior experience in higher education and accountability to local communities.

    "We've got a lot of talented people serving on the boards of regents," Steinborn said on Tuesday. "We've also got people who don't necessarily bring a lot to the table other than support for the governor."

    New Mexico's public university system recently has been wrestling with declining overall enrollment, steep cuts in state funding and the erosion of in-state student scholarships linked lottery proceeds.

  • A fine day to be a horse
  • Deadly New Mexico shootings, politics make headlines

    BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
    Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE — Two deadly shootings in opposite corners of the state and a crime rampage that left five people dead across northern New Mexico are among the stories that made headlines in 2017.

    It marked another year in which violence spurred as many questions as calls for prayer and change as New Mexicans searched for answers.

    In Clovis, parents, children and others hid as gunfire erupted inside the public library on Aug. 28. The shooting left two dead and four others, including a 10-year-old boy, seriously wounded.

    The suspect, 16-year-old Nathaniel Jouett, pleaded not guilty to numerous charges. According to court records, he told investigators he was angry and initially intended to target his school.

    About three months later in northwestern New Mexico, shots rang out inside Aztec High School. Two 17-year-old students were killed before the 21-year-old gunman killed himself.

    Authorities say evidence left behind by William Atchison, a former student, indicated he carefully planned the attack and complained about work and life.

    In June, police say Damian Herrera killed his mother, stepfather and brother before killing a man who stopped to help him when he ran out of gas and another man he encountered hours later at a gas station.