Local News

  • Today in history Sept. 22
  • College enrollment in New Mexico drops amid reform push

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Colleges in New Mexico are seeing declining enrollment and administrators says they are trying to adjust to the changing landscape.

    New Mexico State University for example reported an enrollment drop for 2015, continuing a decrease over five years like other schools.

    According to New Mexico State University, its 2015 fall was 15,490. Officials say that's a 14 percent drop from 2011. Standard & Poor's recently lowered the school's long-term rating to 'AA-' from 'AA' citing falling enrollment numbers.

    NMSU Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Angela Throneberry says despite the enrollment decline the school saw a record number of first-time freshman in 2015.

    The state Department of Higher Education says latest numbers show New Mexico saw a 2 percent statewide enrollment drop from 2013 to 2014.

  • Today in history Sept. 21
  • New Mexico unemployment inches up to 6.7 percent

    New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in August 2015, up from 6.5 percent in July and up from 6.4 percent a year ago.
    The national unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, down from 5.3 percent in July and down from 6.1 percent a year ago.
    The rate of job growth for nonfarm payroll employment, comparing August 2015 with August 2014, was 0.4 percent. The state added 3,000 jobs over the year.
    This is the state’s 36th consecutive month of over-the-year growth.
    Five industries added jobs, seven posted losses, and one reported no change in employment from August 2014.
    Education and health services added 5,500 jobs.
    Employment in the industry increased by 4.4 percent, making it the fastest-growing industry in August.
    While this month’s gain was lower than the last two months’ record gains, it still represents the largest over-theyear increase of all industries.
    The industry’s employment gain made up just under 53 percent of the sum of all over-the-year job gains in August. Employment in leisure and hospitality was up 3,300 jobs, or 3.5 percent, this month.
    Though the industry has seen some large fluctuations recently, job growth has been trending upward since March 2009.

  • Silva-Bañuelos named park leader

    National Park Service Intermountain Region Director Sue Masica announced Thursday that Jorge Silva-Bañuelos has been named superintendent of the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
    Silva-Bañuelos, a native New Mexican, has served as executive director of the Valles Caldera trust since May 2014, but his familiarity with the preserve began much earlier.
    During eight years working for former Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Silva-Bañuelos drafted Senate Bill 285, the legislation Bingaman introduced to place the preserve under the auspices of the National Park Service. Silva-Bañuelos also oversaw policy matters and worked to secure funding for the preserve.
    From 2007-12, Silva-Bañuelos served on the staff of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where he handled New Mexico public land, natural resource and conservation policy.
    From 2012-14, Silva-Bañuelos was special assistant to the assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior.

  • Update positive on park transfer

    During Sen. Tom Udall’s recent visit to the Valles Caldera National Preserve, VCNP Trust Executive Director Jorge Silva-Bañuelos, who was named preserve superintendent Thursday, updated the New Mexico Democrat on the upcoming transfer from trust management to the National Park Service.
    “We are at the home stretch of the transition process to the National Park Service. It’s been a very interesting ride,” Silva-Bañuelos said.
    The official handoff is Oct. 1, but changes are underway for a seamless transition.
    The most significant change so far is the fee system. The new entrance fee is $20 per vehicle for a seven-day permit, a shift from what Silva-Bañuelos refers to as the former “à la carte system.”
    “If you were a family of four, if you wanted to come in for a two-day visit to the preserve, it’s $10 per person per day. You’d be paying $80 bucks to come here over a weekend,” Silva-Bañuelos said. “Now a family of four can now experience the preserve for seven days for only 20 bucks. And if you have a senior or a military member of your family – and now a fourth-grader – that entrance fee is waived and it’s completely free.”

  • Motion hearing set for Monday

    A documents request from attorneys representing a plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit against Los Alamos County will be heard Monday in Santa Fe District Court.
    Former Los Alamos Police Detective Paige Early is suing the county for alleged sexual discrimination when she was a detective on the force and Wayne Torpy was police chief.
    The complaint is part of a larger lawsuit filed by former LAPD Commander Randy Foster, who is suing the county for alleged wrongful termination for how he disciplined Officer Brian Schamber.
    Several years ago, when Schamber was still on the force, he allegedly started acting strangely.
    Schamber’s alleged erratic behavior while on the job was brought to Foster’s attention by Early, who was Schamber’s patrol partner at the time of the alleged incidents. Early and Foster are represented by Santa Fe attorneys Linda Hemphill and George Geran.
    Former LAPD Commander Scott Mills, also a plaintiff in the suit, alleges the county forced him into retirement over his role in how Schamber was disciplined.

  • New Mexico official could face prison time if convicted

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — One of New Mexico's highest ranking elected officials could face prison time and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted of charges that she allegedly misused campaign donations for personal gain.

    The possible punishment came into focus Friday after prosecutors filed an amended complaint against Secretary of State Dianna Duran in district court.

    They also submitted arguments as to why the case should be heard in Santa Fe after Duran's attorney challenged the court's jurisdiction.

    The two-term Republican is accused of funneling campaign donations into personal accounts, filing false campaign finance reports and withdrawing cash at casinos.

    She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    The dozens of misdemeanors she faces carry possible punishments of less than a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The more serious felonies carry three-year prison terms and $5,000 fines.

  • Metzger’s Mobil and Auto Repair to close

    Metzger Stores, LLC recently announced that it’s going to be focusing more on it’s retail hardware business, which means the Metzger’s Mobil and Metzger’s Auto Repair Shop at 1399 Diamond Drive will be closing Sept. 30.  
    “...as the needs of the community have evolved over the last few years it has become apparent that our focus should now be on our Metzger’s Do It Best Hardware stores,” said store owner Greg Metzger in a written statement.
    The Metzger’s in White Rock will remain open, but it too will stop selling gasoline, though it will continue to sell propane. Also, said Metzger, they plan on transforming the White Rock Metzger’s gas pump area of the store into an outdoor display area.
    “While this is bittersweet on one hand, Metzger said in a written press release, “we are excited about the opportunities this change will provide us going forward to grow our business as we continue to evolve to meet the needs of the Los Alamos and White Rock communities.”

  • LA to team with P&G in initiative on clean energy

    Clean energy manufacturing efforts will get a boost, thanks to a new national laboratory-industry collaboration pilot announced this week by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative.
    Los Alamos National Laboratory and consumer products company Procter & Gamble will form one of the seven ‘innovation pairs’ working to bring sustainable ideas from some of the nations top scientists into the day-to-day world of manufacturing.
    “Los Alamos plans to coordinate with P&G to explore industry-ready innovations and cutting-edge scientific capabilities that could benefit manufacturing within household brands such as Tide, Bounty, Pantene, and Pampers.  The goal will be to select tangible projects that will help P&G meet their long-term sustainability goals, ultimately improving the environmental footprint of the products their consumers use,” said Melissa Fox of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Applied Energy Program Office.