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Local News

  • Top judge says state courts struggling

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico courts are heavily overburdened and need millions more in funding, the state's top judge said Thursday.
    Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Vigil told legislators during the State of the Judiciary that courts need nearly $172 million in funding this upcoming fiscal year, which begins in July.
    That's about a 9 percent increase in funding over last year.
    "A strong court system improves the well-being and safety of everyone, particularly the poor and the downtrodden, and a judiciary that is able to resolve disputes in a timely manner attracts business investment and supports economic development," Vigil said.
    Trial court judges presided over almost 400,000 cases in the 2014 fiscal year alone, Vigil said.
    Vigil said magistrate courts are most heavily in need of more funding, saying they were in a "fiscal predicament." The magistrate court's funding was cut two years ago when an operations fee and bond revenues fell through, creating a $1.2 million shortfall.
    Magistrate courts hear preliminary hearings, misdemeanors, traffic violations and some civil disputes under $10,000. There are 49 magistrate courts around New Mexico with 67 judges.

  • Reps wait for fiscal forecast

    SANTA FE (AP) — Oil prices continue to drop and that's making New Mexico lawmakers a little uneasy as they prepare to hammer out a state budget for the next fiscal year.
    The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Democrat John Arthur Smith of Deming, joked during the floor session Wednesday that his committee wouldn't meet until the price of oil starts to rise.
    On Thursday, the panel is scheduled to hear from state finance officials.
    The 60-day legislative session began Tuesday and the big assignment for lawmakers will be approving a nearly $6.3 billion spending plan.
    How much new revenue they have to spend will depend largely on the state of the energy market and oil prices, which have dropped from over $100 a barrel last summer to less than $50.

  • GOP pushes new bill on immigration

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is moving toward a vote on a bill aimed at securing the U.S. border with Mexico, as majority Republicans seek to demonstrate that they can chart their own course on immigration — not just oppose President Barack Obama.
    The legislation passed the House Committee on Homeland Security late Wednesday on a party-line vote of 18-12 and party leaders said it would come to the floor next week.
    "For God's sakes, if we can't unite around border security what can we unite around?" said Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the committee's chairman.
    But it remained uncertain whether House Republicans would unite around McCaul's bill, as conservatives who have scuttled past attempts by GOP leaders to deal with immigration expressed concerns that the legislation does too little to stem illegal immigration.
    Several also groused that leadership was trying to rally support for the border security bill instead of making a strong stand against recent executive actions by Obama granting relief from deportation to millions.
    The border bill "is a show horse, not a work horse, and as such it is an effort to convince the American people that we are doing something substantive to secure the border when in fact nothing substantive is being done," said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala.

  • Board approves electric rate increase

    The Board of Public Utilities voted Wednesday to approve a modified version of a new electric rate ordinance.
    The motion passed 4-1, with Stephen McLin opposed. The ordinance will be introduced at council next Tuesday, with the public hearing at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 in council chambers.
    The board removed one key provision from the ordinance: a $0.44 cents per kilowatt charge dedicated to a rate stabilization fund.
    Board Chair Timothy Neal asked Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt to explain the risks of not having a rate stabilization fund.
    “It’s a fluctuating market and trends are toward upward costs of power,” Westervelt said, explaining that the $1 million dollar target for the fund was only half that recommended by the department’s consultant on the rate structure, Leidos.

  • Storm hits local area hard

    Wednesday’s snowstorm made a mess of things around Los Alamos County, but at least one entity was celebrating.
    Pajarito Mountain announced this morning that it plans to open Saturday and Sunday. Lifts will be operating starting at 9 a.m. both days.
    The ski area, which has seen lean times in recent years, hadn’t officially opened for the season prior to today’s announcement.
    “More than anything, there is a lot of excitement,” said Stacy Glazer, marketing director for the area. “We knew that Pajarito would open. We were just chomping at the bit for conditions to be right.”
    That was the good news that came out of the storm, which dropped as much as 6 inches in some parts of Los Alamos.
    Los Alamos Public Schools and Los Alamos National Laboratory were on a 2-hour delay this morning as crews cleaned up icy and snow-packed roads.
    Police reported there were four traffic accidents related to the weather Wednesday. No injuries were reported, and only one accident resulted in significant damage to a vehicle.
    One of the accidents occurred at Trinity Drive and Central Avenue and another one occurred at Diamond Drive and University Drive.

  • Pajarito Mountain to open Saturday

    Pajarito Mountain officials announced this morning that it will open for business Saturday morning.

    Pajarito announced that four lifts will be operating - Townsight and Spruce are the two that would not be running - starting at 9 a.m.

    The mountain was reporting 7 inches of new snow from Wednesday's storm.

    See today's Los Alamos Monitor for more information.

  • Today in history Jan. 22
  • Lab, schools, county delayed

    Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos Public Schools and Los Alamos County employees are under a 2-hour delay this morning due to road conditions.

    Also in the area, Espanola Public Schools and Pojoaque Valley Public Schools also have a 2-hour delay. Check LAMonitor.com for further information.

  • JJAB meeting for tonight at 6 p.m. cancelled

    JJAB’s MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR TODAY DUE TO THE WEATHER.  Next meeting will be Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.

  • State Briefs 1-21-15

    Difficult conditions reported on some state highways

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Difficult driving conditions are reported on some northern New Mexico highways as a major winter storm begins to drop heavy snow.
    Affected highways include Interstate 25 between Glorieta and Raton.
    The National Weather Service says snow levels will continue to drop Wednesday, with the most significant impacts expected overnight.
    According to the forecasters, areas along and east of the central mountain chain will be hardest hit by heavy snow Wednesday.
    Strong winds are expected to develop Wednesday night in the middle Rio Grande Valley the upper Tularosa Valley.
    The forecast calls for snowfall to increasingly hit southern New Mexico areas Thursday, and winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories will continue through Thursday.

    Cibola County jail guard accused of having sex with inmate