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Local News

  • New Mexico political corruption trial details private talk

    SANTA FE (AP) — A former top-ranked New Mexico lawmaker told a jury he was confronted in his state Capitol office in 2014 by a senator for interfering with the proposed sale of a state-owned building.

    The sale of the building, over objections of then-House Speaker Ken Martinez, is the focus of a corruption trail in state district court against former Sen. Phil Griego.

    Griego is accused of using his elected office to help collect a $50,000 real estate commission without properly disclosing his involvement. He has pleaded not guilty to charges including bribery, fraud and perjury in a trail that began last week.

    Former House Speaker Ken Martinez testified Wednesday that Griego entered his office alone on April 9, 2014, and asked him, "Why did you screw up my deal?"

    Martinez says he did not initially understand the question about a decision that day by a state buildings commission to delay authorization of the sale of the building in downtown Santa Fe — but he quickly deduced that Griego was representing the intended buyers. Griego would eventually earn a commission of just over $50,000.

  • UNM-LA’s Nadler gets grant

    University of New Mexico-Los Alamos Instructor Kristy Nadler, adjunct faculty of Psychology and of University Studies, was awarded a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice.

    The OVW grant to “Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus” provides $300,000 over three years to organize effective sexual misconduct prevention, education, and response for the UNM-LA community.

    Nadler has worked in the area of sexual misconduct for over 10 years. Her dissertation in organizational leadership, which she will defend later this fall, focuses on the beliefs professors hold about sexual misconduct on campus.

    Nadler has been an adjunct instructor at UNM-LA since 2013.

    “Kristy is a popular, well-respected instructor, and clearly a very motivated individual,” noted UNM-LA CEO Dr. Cindy Rooney.

  • Federal judge sides with New Mexico ranchers in water case

    BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
    Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE — A U.S. court has sided with a New Mexico ranching family in a decades-long battle over access to water on national forest land, providing more certainty that state law allows for the protection of water rights dating back more than a century.

    The case of the Goss family has been closely watched by thousands of ranchers who hold grazing permits across the West. Attorneys and others say the outcome could have ripple effects on ranchers and rural communities that have often complained about federal land managers trampling property rights.

    The Goss family claimed the federal government violated its constitutional rights by not providing just compensation after condemning property – in this case water rights that had been established before Lincoln National Forest was created.

    U.S. Court of Federal Claims Chief Judge Susan Braden agreed. On Friday, she ordered the family and the U.S. Forest Service to determine whether alternative water sources are available that can allow the family – operating as the Sacramento Grazing Association Inc. — to operate a viable cattle business.

    Braden must still determine how much compensation the family is owed.

  • AG Balderas files brief to seek out-of-state taxes

    Attorney General Hector Balderas announced last week that he filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review and reconsider the court’s outdated “physical presence” rule, which restricts states’ ability to collect certain taxes from out-of-state retailers.
    “New Mexico is in a budget crisis and it’s critical that giant, out-of-state corporations pay their fair share of taxes to New Mexico municipalities and state government as they reap millions of dollars in profits from selling goods in our state,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas.
    Balderas was joined in the brief by the attorneys general of 35 states and the District of Columbia.

  • LAPD sgt. completes 10-week program

    A long-time Los Alamos Police Department official recently graduated from an intensive 10-week program that prepares law enforcement employees for senior positions.

    Sgt. Chris Ross graduated from the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety as a member of Class 420 of its

    School of Police Staff and Command. The school combines academic principles with practical applications, according to a press release from the Los Alamos Police Department.

    Ross, who started work at the department in 2009 and was promoted to sergeant in 2014, took courses in budgeting, contemporary policing, project management, as well as many other subjects, during the 10-week intensive program.

    Students who complete the program are expected to be better prepared for several modern challenges, such as thinking globally while remaining task-oriented, service deliver effectively and efficiently, as well mitigating legal exposure and develop systems of accountability, according to the press release.

    Ross is currently assigned as the supervisor of school resource officers, the community liaison unit and victim’s assistant with the department.

  • Students, staff gather to pay tribute to teacher

    More than a hundred Los Alamos High School students and faculty on Monday wore pink, waved plastic pink flamingos and stood on one leg for a moment – many with tears in their eyes – to recognize Joy Handsberry, a popular math teacher who died of ovarian cancer on Friday.

    Hansberry, 49, loved the color pink and the lawn ornaments. Several pink plastic flamingos decorated the grassy area in front of the high school’s administrative office throughout the day.

    Many wore pink t-shirts created a few years ago with icons showing peace, love and pi, to recognize Handsberry’s health struggle and to bring a smile to those around her, a fellow faculty member explained.

    There was also a nearly-life-size cutout photograph of Elvis – Handsberry was a fan – plus banners and photographs and drawings of pink flamingos.

    “We’re sad,” said fellow math teacher Ethan Honnell, who sported a pink wool ski hood.
    After a photograph was taken, many hugged and continued to weep.

  • Woman charged with 2 counts of aggravated battery after stabbing

    A Los Alamos woman allegedly left her sister’s boyfriend for dead after attacking him with a knife.

    Andrea R. Rivera, 30, was charged with two counts of aggravated battery, third-degree felonies, and one count of tampering with evidence, also a felony, following an alleged attack at an apartment on Canyon Road in Los Alamos late Friday night.

    Rivera appeared before Magistrate Judge Pat Casados Monday afternoon for the first hearing of the charges against her. Casados told Rivera she expected a motion for pre-trial detention – that Rivera would stay in jail until trial – would be expedited by the District Attorney’s Office.

    A hearing to consider her continued incarceration is scheduled for Nov. 14 in a district court in Santa Fe.
    Each count of aggravated battery carries a jail sentence of three years in jail and $5,000 fine; tampering with evidence carries an 18-month sentence and/or $3,000 fine.

    The details of the attack that sent Cory Kershner, 28, to an intensive-care ward in Albuquerque were outlined in a criminal complaint and a statement of probable cause filed Monday in Los Alamos Magistrate Court.

    Each count of aggravated battery carries a jail sentence of three years in jail and $5,000 fine; tampering with evidence carries an 18-month sentence and/or $3,000 fine.

  • Radioactive waste repackaged at US lab in New Mexico

    LOS ALAMOS (AP) — The U.S. Energy Department says workers have finished treating dozens of containers of radioactive waste that were inappropriately packed at one of the nation's premier nuclear weapons laboratories.

    It was a similar container from Los Alamos National Laboratory that ruptured in 2014, forcing a nearly three-year closure of the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository.

    The chemical reaction that caused the breach was spurred by organic cat litter that was meant to absorb moisture.

    The treatment process involved adding water and an inert material to 60 containers in question to stabilize them so they can ultimately be disposed of. The work started in May and was completed this week.

    Officials say the containers will be stored at Los Alamos until they can be shipped to the repository in southern New Mexico.
     

  • Candidate says New Mexico needs more millennials

    SANTA FE (AP) — A prominent Democratic candidate for New Mexico governor is outlining her economic agenda for the state.

    U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday announced a plan designed to foster sustained job creation, attract millennial-generation workers and stop the "brain drain" of talented professionals exiting the state.

    As she runs for governor, Lujan Grisham says she wants assemble industry leaders and entrepreneurs to address the state's economic difficulties, and for state universities to help more.

    The sole GOP candidate for governor, Congressman Steve Pearce, has yet to release a detailed state economic plan.

    Neither Lujan Grisham nor Pearce is seeking re-election to Congress.

    New Mexico has the nation's second-highest unemployment rate after Alaska. The state's oil- and tourism-dependent economy is showing some recent signs of expansion in terms of tax revenues.
     

  • NASA seeks nickname for tiny, icy world on solar system edge

    By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Heads up, armchair travelers.

    NASA is seeking a nickname for a tiny, icy world on the edge of the solar system that's the next destination for New Horizons, the spacecraft that surveyed Pluto.

    New Horizons whipped past Pluto two years ago. Now it's headed for 2014 MU69 — gobbledygook to even the most die-hard scientists.

    To lighten the mood as New Horizons aims for a 2019 flyby, the research team is holding a naming contest. The deadline is Dec. 1.

    MU69 is 4 billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) away and may actually be two objects, either stuck together or orbiting one another. If so, two nicknames would be needed. The nicknames will be temporary. NASA said Monday that a formal name will come after the flyby.