Local News

  • Dow industrials drop another 1,000 points as selling spreads

    By MARLEY JAY, AP Markets Writer

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks plunged again Thursday, and for the second time in four days the Dow Jones industrial average sank more than 1,000 points.

    The two best-known stock market indexes, the Dow and the Standard & Poor's 500, have dropped 10 percent from their all-time highs, set Jan. 26. That means they are in what is known on Wall Street as a "correction," their first in almost two years.

    Stocks fell further and further as the day wore on and suffered their fifth loss in the last six days. Many of the companies that led the market's gains over the last year have struggled badly in the last week. Those included technology companies, banks, and retailers and travel companies and homebuilders.

    After huge gains in the first weeks of this year, stocks started to tumble last Friday after the Labor Department said workers' wages grew at a fast rate in January. That's good for the economy, but investors worried it will hurt corporate profits and that rising wages are a sign of faster inflation. It could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at a faster pace, which would act as a brake on the economy.

  • State Forestry: State could see worst fire season in decade

    DENVER (AP) — One of the most important reservoirs in the southwestern U.S. will likely collect less than half its normal amount of spring runoff this year because of a warm, dry winter across much of the region, forecasters said Wednesday.

    Lake Powell, which straddles Utah and Arizona, is expected to get 47 percent of its average inflow because of scant snow in the mountains that feed the Colorado River, said Greg Smith, a hydrologist with the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    Smith said there is only a 10 percent chance that enough mountain snow will fall during the rest of the winter and spring to bring inflows back to average. It was the seventh-worst forecast for Lake Powell in 54 years.

    “Things are looking pretty grim” along some of the tributaries that feed the Colorado River, Smith said during an online conference on the spring outlook for Lake Powell.

    Powell, along with Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona border, helps ensure the Colorado River system has enough water to get through dry years. The river supplies water to about 40 million people and 6,300 square miles (16,000 square kilometers) of farmland in seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

  • 2018 State Legislature: Gov. highlights budget needs

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday describing a House-approved budget as soft on crime in a push to increase salaries for State Police, corrections officers, prosecutors and public defenders.

    Her comment came as Senate lawmakers weighed amendments to a $6.3 billion spending package for the coming fiscal year.

    Disagreements over compensation for state law enforcement agencies boil down to less than $15 million — a fraction of the state general fund budget — but have emerged as a focal point of budgetary discord between the Republican governor in her final year in office and New Mexico’s Democrat-led Legislature.

    The Legislature has until Feb. 15 to send the governor a spending bill, which can be vetoed line-by-line or entirely.

    The House last week approved a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for all state employees, with an additional 4.5 percent increase for court personnel, state police, prison guards, parole officers and staff at district attorney offices.

    The Martinez administration has said the plan doesn’t go far enough in boosting law enforcement-related salaries, particularly at the largest district attorney’s office that oversees Albuquerque, amid acute concerns about urban crime there.

  • Libertarians shy away from governor’s race

    SANTA FE — The Libertarian Party did not enter a candidate for governor of New Mexico as a primary-election deadline passed, complicating efforts to maintain major party status in November elections.

    Libertarian Party activist and candidate for state Attorney General A. Blair Dunn said Tuesday that the party still has options open to protect its major-party status in fall elections.

    The Secretary of State’s Office says the party must win 5 percent of the vote in a gubernatorial or presidential election to maintain major party status. Agency spokesman Joey Keefe says a Libertarian candidate for governor still can file as a write-in contender.

    Libertarian candidates have ready access to the primary and general election ballot in New Mexico thanks to a strong showing in 2016 by failed presidential candidate Gary Johnson that provided major party status.

    Libertarians have registered to run for U.S. Senate, two congressional seats, secretary of state and state land commissioner.

    Governor candidates to file were Republican Rep. Steve Pearce of Hobbs, and Democrats Michelle Lujan Grisham, of Albuquerque, Jeff Apodaca, of Albuquerque, Peter DeBenedittis, of Santa Fe, and State Sen. Joe Cervantes, of Las Cruces.

  • SpaceX’s big new rocket blasts off

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX’s big new rocket blasted off Tuesday on its first test flight, carrying a red sports car aiming for an endless road trip past Mars.

    The Falcon Heavy rose from the same launch pad used by NASA nearly 50 years ago to send men to the moon. With liftoff, the Heavy became the most powerful rocket in use today, doubling the liftoff punch of its closest competitor.

    The three boosters and 27 engines roared to life at Kennedy Space Center, as thousands watched from surrounding beaches, bridges and roads, jamming the highways in scenes unmatched since NASA’s last space shuttle flight. At SpaceX Mission Control in Southern California, employees screamed, whistled and raised pumped fists into the air as the launch commentators called off each milestone.

    Two of the boosters— both recycled from previous launches — returned minutes later for simultaneous, side-by-side touchdowns on land at Cape Canaveral. Sonic booms rumbled across the region with the vertical landings. There was no immediate word on whether the third booster, brand new, made it onto an ocean platform 300 miles offshore.

  • NTSB cites pilot error in 2016 plane crash

    The National Transportation Safety Board has found that pilot error was the cause of a fatal aviation accident that killed two Los Alamos National Laboratory co-workers at the Ohkay Owingeh Airport March 11, 2016.

    The pilot did not have enough speed to get the lift under the plane’s wings needed to accomplish a turning maneuver near the airport, according to NTSB investigators.

    This caused the plane to stall and crash, killing Karen Young,. 46, an engineer, and her passenger Thomas Spickermann, 53, a scientist at the lab.

    “The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed while operating in the airport traffic pattern, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall at a low altitude,” said NTSB Investigator Andrew Fox in an accident report issued a Jan. 23.

    The toxicology results on Young came back negative for all illegal substances. Spickermann’s results came back with traces of blood pressure medication in his system.

    “Nothing out of the ordinary,” Fox said of the toxicology reports.

  • Early childhood ed. funding clears N.M. House

    SANTA FE — House lawmakers on Tuesday approved a plan to increase funding for early childhood education in New Mexico by distributing more money from a multibillion dollar state sovereign wealth fund.

    The House voted 36-33 on Tuesday in favor of the constitutional amendment to increase annual distributions from the Land Grant Permanent Fund by 1 percent.

    The measure now moves the Senate, where a similar measure stalled last year.

    Supporters say a substantial increase in state spending is needed to improve and expand preschool education.

    Critics say the plan risks drawing too much money each year from a fund seen as a trust for future generations. The fund receives royalties from oil and natural gas production on state trust land, while current distributions benefit public schools and hospitals.

    Approval by the Legislature would set up a statewide vote in November. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration is seeking more general fund spending for early childhood education but opposes greater investment withdrawals. Constitutional amendments do not require the governor’s signature.

  • Morgan earns Gen. Billy Mitchell Award

    Silas Morgan stepped into elite company Monday night when he was given the General Billy Mitchell Award in a ceremony held at Los Alamos County Airport.

    Morgan, 15, a member of the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, became one of only approximately 15 percent of CAP Cadets to achieve the award.

    “It feels pretty good knowing it’s hard to get this award,” he said. “I had a lot of help from a lot of people in the squadron and I’m really thankful for that.”

    The award, created in 1964, honors the late General Billy Mitchell, who was a pioneer in the field of aviation as well as an advocate of an independent air force for America.

    The CAP is an auxiliary branch of the United States Air Force with three primary missions: Aerospace Education of the American people, Emergency Services and the Cadet Program.

    The Cadet Program is for young people from 12 to 20 years of age. Those cadets, with support from the CAP Senior Members and the Air Force, take part in such programs as aerospace education, leadership, special activities, physical fitness and moral and ethical values through group and individual activities.

  • 2018 State Legislature: SB17 passes Senate

    A bill that would collect gross receipts tax from certain non profits met little resistance in the New Mexico Senate Saturday, sailing through with just a brief debate.

    The New Mexico Senate voted 31 to 4 Saturday to pass the bill, known as Senate Bill 17, onto the New Mexico House of Representatives.

    Sens. Brandt (R-40), (William Payne R-20, Minority Whip), Cliff Pirtle (R-32) and Sander Rue (R-23) voted against the bill.

    The bill, sponsored by Cisneros, is designed to preserve the millions of dollars the county and the state receives each year from the gross receipts tax the for-profit contractor that manages Los Alamos National Laboratory pays every year.

    New Mexico’s tax code currently exempts non-profit organizations from paying a gross receipts tax. While a for-profit contractor presently runs the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the management contract is in transition, with the possibility that the new contractor could be a non-profit.

    Cisneros, along with cosponsors State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) and Sen. Richard Martinez (D-5) want to make sure the millions of dollars the state and the county receives from the GRT tax continues.

    Cisneros said the bill first came up last year when Sandia National Laboratory’s contract was up for bid.

  • LANL employee shot during NM 502 road rage incident

    Area law enforcement agencies continued to search Tuesday for the driver of a Jeep who reportedly shot at a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee in an apparent case of road rage about 6 p.m. Thursday, while he was driving home to Santa Fe on NM 502 near Pojoaque.

    The man was found by Santa Fe Sheriff’s deputies in Pojoaque, bleeding from his head from a gunshot wound.

    The alleged shooter was driving a white Jeep Wrangler with a blue Marine Corps license plate. The Jeep had an after-market metal bumper, according to reports.

    The victim, a 40-year male, was able to call 911 from the Phillips 66 gas station at 67 Ogo Wii Road.
    When Santa Fe County Sheriff Deputy John Maylone arrived at the scene, he reportedly found the victim conscious and standing by his gray Dodge Avenger.

    Maylone said the victim had blood on his hands and blood on the back of his head.

    A CT scan later taken at St. Vincent’s hospital showed a bullet lodged between the scalp and the skull. A neurosurgeon at the hospital reported that the bullet did fracture the victim’s skull. The victim had surgery later that night.

    The victim told Maylone he first saw his attacker when he pulled onto NM 502. The Jeep Wrangler was reportedly in front of his vehicle and he was two to three car lengths behind.