Local News

  • New Mexico to select hopefuls for open Congressional seats

    By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press
    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico voters are set Tuesday to select candidates for two open congressional seats.

    Voters in the states central and southern districts will decide which Democrats and Republicans will run for two seats that could determine which parties control the U.S. House of Representatives.

    The seats are open because both Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Rep. Steve Pearce stepped down to run for governor.

    Former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez, former state Democratic Party chairwoman Debra Haaland, former law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, attorney Damian Lara and business consultant Paul Moya are seeking the Democratic nomination for Lujan Grisham's Albuquerque-based seat.

    The race has hinged on which candidate is the most liberal and who has the best ground game.

    Republican Janice Arnold-Jones, a former state lawmaker, is running unopposed in the GOP primary.

    In southern New Mexico, former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman, state Rep. Yvette Herrell and former Trump appointee Gavin Clarkson are seeking the GOP nod.

    Water attorney Xochitl Torres Small and U.S. Coast Guard veteran Madeline "Mad" Hildebrandt are vying for the Democratic nomination.

  • Justice Department assigns 3 new prosecutors to New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department says it is assigning three prosecutors to New Mexico under a plan to increase staffing in what it considers priority areas.

    Federal authorities said in a statement Monday that two of the prosecutors will focus on violent crime and one will focus on civil cases. U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson, who oversees prosecutions in New Mexico, says the prosecutor for violent crime will help address crime in New Mexico, including its tribal communities.

    The announcement comes a month after the Justice Department said it was allocating six prosecutors to New Mexico for cases involving on immigration enforcement.

  • NMSU scientists take inventory of desert monument

    LAS CRUCES (AP) — Scientists and geographers from New Mexico State University are helping to locate and record natural and cultural resources on the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

    The university says the work is funded through a five-year grant from the Bureau of Land Management.

    The information will be used to better manage resources across the monument and to create a database accessible to the public.

    The geologists on the team are interested in the area's volcanic formations. They say the Potrillo volcanic field was last active between about 1 million and 14,000 years ago.

    The scientists say the monument's volcanic history also contributes to the diversity of the soil and the plants being studied.

    Archaeologists will be studying cave sites and other evidence of past human habitation in the area.

  • Crews make some progress on New Mexico wildfire

    CIMARRON, N.M. (AP) — Crews battling a blaze burning in northeastern New Mexico are bracing for the return of hot and dry weather as they work to protect hundreds of homes.

    Authorities said Monday that the Ute Park Fire has burned more than 56 square miles (146 square kilometers) since being sparked last Thursday. The cause is under investigation.

    Evacuation orders remain in place for communities on the fire's flanks. Authorities estimate 550 structures in the Cimarron area are threatened along with 219 residences around Ute Park.

    No homes have burned, but some unoccupied buildings on the Boy Scouts' Philmont Ranch were charred last week.

    The fire saw some rain and higher humidity Sunday, but crews were prepared to respond to any new starts that result from lightning that came along with the weekend storm.

  • Jal OKs resolution against interim nuclear storage plan

    JAL (AP) — Another New Mexico community has voted to oppose bringing interim high-level nuclear waste storage in southeastern New Mexico.

    The Hobbs News-Sun reports Jal City Council voted last week not to support a plan to temporarily store tons of spent fuel from U.S. commercial nuclear reactors in and around Lea County.

    Holtec International has applied for a 40-year license with Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store thousands of metric tons of nuclear waste at the site.

    Opponents of the project expressed concern about the safety of transporting the fuel across the country as well as the project's effects on the environment.

    Albuquerque City Council also voted last week to oppose the plan.

    Information from: Hobbs News-Sun, http://www.hobbsnews.com

  • US unemployment falls to nearly 1969 levels; hiring solid

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Another month of strong hiring drove the nation's unemployment rate down to 3.8 percent — tantalizingly close to the level last seen in 1969, when Detroit still dominated the auto industry and the Vietnam War was raging.

    Employers added 233,000 jobs in May, up from 159,000 in April, the Labor Department reported Friday. And unemployment fell to an 18-year low.

    The report shows that the nearly 9-year-old economic expansion — the second-longest on record — remains on track and may even be gaining steam. Employers appear to be shrugging off recent concerns about global trade disputes.

    "The May jobs report revealed impressive strength and breadth in U.S. job creation that blew away most economists' expectations," said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West.

    With the unemployment rate so low, businesses have complained for months that they are struggling to find enough qualified workers. But Friday's jobs report suggests that they are taking chances with pockets of the unemployed and underemployed whom they had previously ignored.

    Roughly an hour before the employment data was released, President Donald Trump appeared to hint on Twitter that a strong jobs report was coming. "Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning," he tweeted.

  • 2 killed in crash of small plane in Midland

    MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — A racehorse trainer from Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico and his son were killed when the single-engine airplane they were flying crashed shortly after takeoff in Midland.

    In a statement Friday, Ruidoso Downs identified the dead as trainer John M. Cooper and his 16-year-old son, Gavyn Cooper.

    The Federal Aviation Administration says the Cirrus SR22 aircraft had just taken off from Midland International Airport about 7:20 p.m. Thursday and was banking left when it crashed and burned.

    No cause for the crash was immediately determined, and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

  • Wildfire burns empty Boy Scouts' buildings in dry New Mexico

    CIMARRON, N.M. (AP) — A wildfire raced across a swath of tinder-dry forest in northeastern New Mexico on Friday, sending up a thick plume of smoke that forced residents to flee their homes as heat and wind threatened to drive the flames.

    The blaze destroyed about a dozen empty buildings on the Boy Scouts' storied Philmont Ranch and threatened nearly 300 homes, officials say. The flames were first reported Thursday and ballooned quickly in a part of New Mexico hardest hit by a severe drought gripping the American Southwest.

    More than 60 percent of the U.S. West is experiencing some level of drought, the latest federal drought maps show, forcing national forests and other public lands to close because of escalating fire danger. The area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet is at the center of a large patch of exceptional drought.

    Dry, windy and warm weather was expected to make conditions worse as the New Mexico fire burned on state and private land, including part of the Boy Scouts' ranch, state forestry spokeswoman Wendy Mason said. Estimates put the blaze at more than 25 square miles (66 square kilometers). Its cause isn't known.

    Officials say no scouts were at the ranch and all staff members were accounted for. Employees who live in the nearby community of Cimarron were allowed to leave to care for their families.

  • U.S. Forest service closes 1.5 million acre forest to visitors

    As the severest drought conditions in recent memory tightens its grip on the northern New Mexico region, county and federal officials are shutting New Mexicans out of large portions of public lands in an effort to prevent wildfires.

    The Los Alamos Fire Department closed all unpaved trail systems within the county beginning today.

    Closures include Camp May. The only exceptions are Canyon Rim Trail, La Mesa Trail and the paved access to Overlook Point in White Rock.

    “Under current conditions, any fire could cause a catastrophic event. With such a dangerously high fire risk, the County wishes to take every precaution to protect our natural and cultural resources, and asks the public to cooperate with the new restrictions,” a statement from the Los Alamos Fire Department said.

    The U.S. Forest Service declared the Santa Fe National Forest, all 1.5 million acres of it, off limits to the public Thursday.

    “We are at historic levels for our indices we use for fire risk. We are at or above our 10-year maximums we use across the forest,” said U.S. Forest Service Supervisor James Melonas.

    Campgrounds, hiking trails, and all other types of forest recreation spots and roads are closed to the public.

  • Free fishing day Saturday in N.M.

    SANTA FE – Anglers can fish for free in New Mexico Saturday as the state celebrates National Boating and Fishing Week.
    Anyone can fish for free in public fishing waters throughout the state that day, but everyone must observe bag limits and all other rules and regulations.

    “This is a great time to take your family fishing and teach them a skill that will provide a lifetime of enjoyment,” said Kevin Holladay, conservation education coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

    Several fishing spots across the state will offer special opportunities Saturday.

    Monastery Lake in Pecos Canyon: The second annual Fishing Expo at Monastery Lake in will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. This family friendly, alcohol-free fishing derby will have booths, exhibits and over $1,000 in prizes for kids who catch tagged fish. This expo will have a food truck, free fly-casting lessons from Truchas Chapter of Trout

    Unlimited, aquatic bugs under microscopes to view, deejay services by Sider Esquibel, wildlife hides and skull table, spin-casting games for the kids and live birds of prey in the afternoon presented by the Santa Fe Raptor Center.