Authorities Seek Tips In Church Blasts, Secretary Of State Race Still Focused On Voter ID

Aug 3, 2016

Authorities Ask For Public Help In Probe Of Church BlastsAssociated Press

A year after small explosions outside two churches stirred a scare in Las Cruces, authorities have announced $40,000 in rewards for information leading to an arrest in the case.

The top FBI agent for New Mexico also made a public appeal on the one-year anniversary of the explosions Tuesday for anyone who believed they may be able to provide information in the case to come forward.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade says no tip would be considered too small as investigators try piecing together leads.

The explosions on Aug. 2, 2015, outside two churches caused little damage and no injuries, but authorities have said the devices could have injured people.

Privately-Run Prison In New Mexico Set To Close On Sept. 30 – The Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

A privately-run prison in northwest New Mexico that employs about 300 staffers will close at the end of next month.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan received notification earlier this week that its contract isn't being renewed.

The center houses about 1,200 minimum-security male inmates.

Employees are being given the option of transferring to other facilities run by the Corrections Corporation of America, a private company.

CCA runs two other facilities in New Mexico. One is in Grants and the other is in Estancia.

Inmates at the Milan correctional center are being transferred to other prisons.

Court Says Pre-Construction Work Can Continue On Transit ProjectAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A federal appeals court that halted work on an Albuquerque transit project said pre-construction work can continue.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing work such as surveying and putting up traffic control devices along Central Avenue, where a $120 million bus rapid transit project is planned.

City officials said they had a deadline to allow subcontractors to begin work ahead of the actual project to avoid re-bidding the work, which could cost more money.

Construction on project was scheduled to start this week after a federal judge declined Friday to issue an injunction stopping it. Opponents filed an appeal and the Appeals Court halted the project and said it wanted both sides to argue their cases before work could begin.

The project would build a system of express buses and canopy-covered stations.

New Mexico Lawmaker Disputes Conflict Of Interest Complaint – Associated Press, KRQE-TV

A New Mexico state representative is being accused of using his position to get funding for his brother's project, but the lawmaker says the charges are a "smear campaign."

KRQE-TV reports that a complaint filed with the Attorney General's Office Monday says Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco failed to disclose a conflict of interest in the funding of a private charter school in Rio Rancho.

The ProgressNow New Mexico complaint says Pacheco requested more than $1.2 million for the building of Ask Academy, which focuses on science, technology, education and mathematics. He ultimately secured about $230,000 in state funds.

The project was managed by his brother, architect David Pacheco.

Rep. Pacheco says he didn't originally know his brother was the architect and the whole thing was a coincidence.

Voter ID Still Issue In New Mexico Race Amid Court Decisions – By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

A voter identification proposal is still an issue in the New Mexico Secretary of State race even after recent federal court decisions.

Republican candidate Nora Espinoza says New Mexico needs a Voter ID law while Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver says the court rulings show such laws discriminate against minorities.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law was passed with "discriminatory intent" and blocked enforcement. Earlier in July, another federal appellate court ruled that Texas' voter ID law was discriminatory.

Espinoza says judges in the North Carolina case were "making stuff up so that they can prevent Voter ID."

Toulouse Oliver says Espinoza is only a "one-issue candidate" who doesn't want to discuss efforts to improve accountability and campaign finance reforms.

The Albuquerque Journal reports candidate forums for the race in three cities have been cancelled after Espinoza did not respond to invitations to participate.

Espinoza accused the organizer, the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, of supporting her opponent. League officials said it does not support or oppose candidates or parties.

Weather Service Issues Flood Watches For Much Of New MexicoAssociated Press

Flash flood watches have been issued for large parts of New Mexico due to monsoon rain and thunderstorms.

Forecasters warn that intense rainfall could flood low-lying areas and locations such as drainages, arroyos and small streams.

A watch for southwestern New Mexico is set to run from midday Tuesday until late Wednesday night while a watch issued for much of northern, central and northeastern New Mexico is to run from midday Tuesday until late Tuesday night.

New Mexico State Police Say Missing 3-Year-Old Found SafeAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal

Authorities have canceled an Amber Alert that New Mexico State Police issued for a 3-year-old girl, saying the child has been found safe.

New Mexico State Police said in a statement earlier Tuesday morning that the girl, identified as Merleah Guinn, was taken from her home in Santa Rosa, a small town east of Albuquerque. At the time, they said she had been taken by an "unknown abductor."

The girl's mother tells the Albuquerque Journal that she took the girl from her father's house because she was concerned about her.

She says the father may not have remembered that she had picked up the child because he was not fully awake at the time.

Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo says state police are continuing to investigate and will release details as they become available.

Grants Adds 'Route 66 Neon Drive Thru' Amid Tourist Push Associated Press

A western New Mexico city has added a new drive-thru roadside attraction on its Route 66 path.

The city of Grants is holding a ribbon cutting on Saturday to celebrate the completion of the "Route 66 Neon Drive Thru" in the heart of downtown.

Officials hope the 18-foot tall illuminated roadside arch will become a tourist hotspot for fans traveling through Route 66.

Grants partnered with the NMSU-Grants welding department to build the Neon Drive Thru and is one of many projects in the works to revitalize its downtown.