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Today's News

  • County closes LA Reservoir as fire danger looms

    The implementation of the Stage 3 fire restrictions by the Santa Fe National Forest means the closing of the Los Alamos Reservoir until the restrictions are lifted.

    While Los Alamos County owns the reservoir, the actual land around the body of water is owned by the SFNF and Department of Energy.

    Clay Moseley, an engineering project manager with the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities, said he’s as disappointed as anyone that the reservoir is now closed until the restrictions are lifted.

    “Nobody hates it worse than I do,” he said. “I coach kids, our family hikes, we run, ride mountain bikes … our whole life is open space and trails. So it’s pretty painful.”

    In the meantime, officials are taking measures to make sure access to the reservoir is limited to authorized vehicles only – even after the restrictions are lifted – by changing locks on the gate that’s meant to keep vehicles off the road to the reservoir.

    Moseley said he has heard reports – and seen pictures – of cars that had gained illegal access through the gate and driven up that road.

  • 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.

  • Lieutenant governor can make a difference

    BY BILLY GARRETT
    Lieutenant governor candidate, guest opinion

    Last October I announced my candidacy for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket. In the months since then I’ve been asked many times, “What does the lieutenant governor do?”

    The lieutenant governor has a complex workload based on a combination of statutory responsibilities, standing within the executive branch, and personal initiative.

    Statutory responsibilities are clear. The lieutenant governor serves as president of the Senate, sits on eight boards and commissions, and has been designated as the “Ombudsman of the People of New Mexico.” In addition, the lieutenant governor takes over as the state’s chief executive when the governor is out of state or the position becomes vacant.

    Serving as the Senate president is not the same as being an elected legislator. The Senate president does not serve on any legislative committees, introduce legislation, or vote – except to break a tie. Instead, the lieutenant governor ensures that Senate proceedings move smoothly and that all members are treated with respect. While the role can be seen as largely ceremonial, it provides a personal connection between legislators and the governor’s office that could be valuable on critical issues.