ABQ Schools Approve Budget Cuts, Court Rules For Navajo Nation

Apr 5, 2017

Albuquerque Schools Approve Budget Cuts, Possible LayoffsThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

Albuquerque Public Schools has approved a plan that will reduce the budget through larger class sizes, reduced staff work days and possible layoffs.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Board of Education on Tuesday approved the budget reduction scenario in anticipation of possible cuts to state funding approved by the Legislature.

Gov. Susana Martinez has said she will veto the Legislature's $6.1 billion plan that slashes education funding, saying she will call for a special session to re-negotiate a final deal.

Despite the uncertainty, APS Chief Financial Officer Tami Coleman says she believes a 2 percent cut in funding, or $12.4 million for the district, is likely. The approved budget plan prepares for a cut of that size.

Turbines To Go Up At New Mexico's Largest Wind FarmAssociated Press

The installation of turbines will begin soon at what will be New Mexico's largest wind farm.

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced Tuesday the final phase of construction at El Cabo Wind Farm in Torrance County will start next week and that more workers will be brought on board to get the project done.

Dunn's office says a recent jobs report from Avangrid Renewables shows 300 temporary construction jobs have been filled and an additional 100 workers will be hired this month.

Once construction is done, Avangrid expects to hire 17 permanent full-time employees.

Avangrid has said it expects the $500 million wind farm to be operational by the end of 2017. It will be made up of more than 140 turbines just west of the community of Encino.

Court Rules For Navajo Nation In Funding Dispute With BIAThe Associated Press

An appeals court has ruled for the Navajo Nation in a dispute with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs over federal funding for the tribe's judicial services.

The tribe says the ruling by the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means the BIA owes the tribe approximately $15.6 million plus interest, an amount many times larger than the $1.3 million that the agency awarded.

The decision Tuesday said federal officials missed a deadline to reject the tribe's funding request and were wrong to contend they had additional time to decide because of a partial government shutdown in 2013.

The decision overturns a trial judge's ruling for the BIA.

Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote that the BIA had plenty of time to act after the partial shutdown ended.

Man Accused Of Killing Officer Sentenced On Weapons ChargesThe Associated Press

A man awaiting trial in state court in the 2015 fatal shooting of an Albuquerque police officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison on federal convictions for weapons crimes.

U.S. District Court Judge Christina on Wednesday sentenced Davon Lymon to two consecutive 10-year sentences for convictions of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

A Bernalillo County grand jury in December indicted Lymon on murder and other charges in the fatal shooting of Officer Daniel Webster during a traffic stop in Oct. 21, 2015.

Lymon was convicted of the federal weapons charges in 2016.

Federal prosecutors called more than a dozen witnesses and presented the fallen officer's lapel video as evidence as they sought to prove Lymon possessed the pistol used in Webster's death.

New Mexico Site Eyes License To Store Spent Nuclear Fuel Associated Press

Backers of a plan to build a temporary storage facility in southern New Mexico to house spent fuel from the nation's nuclear power plants are making the rounds in Washington, D.C., in hopes of gaining more support for their proposal.

Holtec International and its partners announced last week that they were finally submitting their application for licensure to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Company officials planned to discuss the application during a news conference Wednesday.

Holtec is the second company to apply. Waste Control Specialists submitted plans in 2016 for a smaller facility in West Texas, not far from the New Mexico border.

The licensing process could take years, and it's unclear how discussions of reviving the mothballed disposal site at Nevada's Yucca Mountain could affect the proposals for temporary storage.

Parks Service To Rehabilitate Historic Building In Santa Fe Associated Press

The National Park Service is planning a yearlong project to rehabilitate an historic building in Santa Fe.

The federal agency says it plans to replace the exterior stucco and roof of the Old Santa Fe Trail Building and reinforce its adobe walls to stand up to potential earthquakes.

The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the building in the 1930s, and the Park Service says it is considered a prime example of Spanish-Pueblo Revival architecture.

The building houses a collection of regional art as well as historic original furniture, fixtures and other furnishings fabricated by the CCC and Works Progress Administration.

Approximately 70 Parks Service administrative employees who work in the building will be temporarily relocated when work begins in 2018.

Border Turns Quiet Under Trump Amid Steep Drop In Arrests - By Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press

The first months of the new administration have seen a huge drop in the number of people being caught by agents on the U.S.-Mexico border, raising the possibility that a "Trump effect" is keeping migrants away.

Fewer than 12,500 people were caught at the southern border in March, the lowest monthly figure in at least 17 years and the second straight month that border arrests dropped sharply.

While the Trump administration has sought to take credit for that decline, those working in shelters and experts on migration say it will take several more months to judge whether any drop-off is lasting, and that the numbers could surge again as quickly as they've fallen.

Several shelters are reporting a fraction of the traffic they were getting last year.

Border Wall Contractors Prepare For A Hostile Environment - By Elliot Spagat, Associated Press

One potential bidder on President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico wanted to know if authorities would rush to help if workers came under "hostile attack."

Another asked if employees can carry firearms in states with strict gun control laws and if the government would indemnify them for using deadly force.

With bids due Tuesday on the first design contracts, interested companies are preparing for the worst if they get the potentially lucrative job.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the plans who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the details haven't been made public said four to 10 bidders are expected to be chosen to build prototypes.

They will be constructed on a roughly quarter-mile (400-meter) strip of federally-owned land in San Diego

New Mexico Governor Makes Quick Trip To Tennessee Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez is scheduled to return to New Mexico after a quick trip to Tennessee.

The governor's office confirmed that Martinez traveled to Nashville on Tuesday to speak at a law enforcement conference hosted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The focus of the two-term Republican was on encouraging women to take up leadership roles in public safety.

A former prosecutor and the nation's only Latina governor, Martinez joined officials from Minnesota, Michigan and elsewhere for the conference.

Martinez's travel was paid for by Tennessee. She was returning to New Mexico on Wednesday.

Albuquerque Police: Woman Found Dead On I-40 UnidentifiedAssociated Press

Albuquerque police say they can't identify a woman found dead on Interstate 40 last week and think she might have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

The woman's body was spotted March 29 on westbound I-40 between Juan Tabo and Tramway boulevards at about 3:30 a.m.

Officer Fred Duran says investigators are seeking information from residents or travelers about what happened but believe she was struck by a large truck or SUV.

The woman wasn't carrying identification and Duran says fingerprints and dental records haven't identified her.

She's described as white, in her 20s, 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair. She was last wearing a gray short-sleeve t-shirt, blue jeans and yellow shoes. She also had a black, fur-lined London Fog jacket.

Television Pilot 'Scalped' To Begin Filming In New MexicoAssociated Press

A television pilot adapted from the comic book series "Scalped" will begin filming this month in New Mexico.

The story is based on the critically acclaimed series written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by R.M. Guera. Horizon Scripted Television LLC is producing the pilot being filmed in Santa Fe and at Pojoaque and Laguna pueblos.

State Film Office director Nick Maniatis says it's an honor for New Mexico to have been chosen as the location where 'Scalped' creators will bring their project to life.

The project will employ about 120 New Mexico crew members, 15 principal actors from the state and some 350 extras. Directors are Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah.

The cast includes Alex Meraz, Gil Birmingham, Zahn McClarnon, Irene Bedard, Lily Gladstone and Chaske Spencer.