Cibola Forest Lifts Restrictions, NM Students Score Higher On Reading And Math

Jul 12, 2018

Cibola Lifts Fire Restrictions As Wildfire Danger Decreases- Associated Press

The Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands is lifting fire restrictions because widespread precipitation from the monsoons has substantially reduced the fire danger.

Cibola announced it will lift the restrictions at 8 a.m. Friday and that the decision resulted from consideration of moisture levels, recent and predicted rainfall and other weather conditions.

Cibola's lifting of fire restrictions follows recent moves by the Carson and Santa Fe national forests in northern New Mexico to reopen trails, campgrounds and other areas that were closed because of wildfire danger.

Officials say the monsoon season can increase the possibility of flash flooding, especially in areas that have been burned.

New Mexico Students Score Higher On Reading, Math Tests- Associated Press

Less than a third of all New Mexico students are proficient when it comes to reading and math. But state education officials said Thursday that the latest test scores show efforts to raise the bar and support teachers are paying off as thousands more students performed better on their annual assessments.

The new numbers released by the Public Education Department show more than 31 percent of students tested this spring are proficient or better in reading and more than 21 percent are proficient or better in math.

That marked jumps of around 2 percentage points from the previous year, and the gains are even more notable than in 2015, when students first began taking the standardized assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski said the improvements shown by New Mexico students are a decade in the making as the state first adopted higher reading and math standards under the previous administration. The bar was raised again when Gov. Susana Martinez's administration began administering the annual assessments.

Pension Board Withdraws Planned Raises For Top Executives- Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The Educational Retirement Board has withdrawn its plans for raises for top executives overseeing New Mexico's pension system for teachers and other educators.

The Albuquerque Journal reports two of the raises would have exceeded 40 percent.

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration refused to carry out the raises.

Educational Retirement Board Executive Director Jan Goodwin told state lawmakers Wednesday that her board has accepted the denial and is no longer pursuing the raises. She was one of four staffers in line for the increases, ranging from 9 percent to 49 percent.

Under the proposed raises, Goodwin's pay would have increased 46 percent, to $240,000 a year. The deputy director would have received a 49 percent pay increase, to $179,000.

Northern New Mexico City Sees Another Lawsuit From Ex-Worker- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A northern New Mexico city is facing another lawsuit from a former employee in yet another controversy involving its mayor.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Martin Gonzales, a former public works director of Las Vegas, N.M., is suing the city government, claiming he was fired after he refused to illegally hire contractors. In court documents, Gonzales says Mayor Tonita Gurulé-Giron wanted those contractors for certain city projects.

He claims that shortly after Gurulé-Giron was elected in 2016 she told him "to use a specific contractor for an upcoming public works construction project."

A Gurulé-Giron spokeswoman says the mayor is examining the lawsuit.

Earlier this year, former Las Vegas City Attorney Dave Romero and former City Manager Elmer Martinez filed their lawsuits over their terminations shortly after Gurulé-Giron took office.

Longtime New Mexico Homeless Advocate Jeremy Reynalds DiesAssociated Press

Jeremy Reynalds, a longtime advocate for the homeless in New Mexico and who founded the state's largest emergency shelter, has died.

Joy Junction, the shelter Reynalds founded more than three decades ago, announced in a statement Wednesday that he died after a long illness. He was 60.

Born in Bournemouth, England, Reynalds came to the U.S. in 1978 after attending a Bible college. He volunteered at a Christian prison ministry in Florida and later ended up homeless.

Reynalds moved to New Mexico in the 1980s and started the privately funded Joy Junction with the goal of helping those struggling with homelessness.

In a 2011 interview with The Associated Press, Reynalds said the U.S. was failing to commit to fighting poverty and he vowed to continue the fight until his death.

Reaccreditation Marks End Of New Mexico Highlands ProbationAssociated Press

New Mexico Highlands University has been removed from probation by an accreditation group.

The Higher Learning Commission has reaffirmed the university's accreditation after determining that it met certain criteria.

Under a new initiative announced Tuesday, Highlands President Sam Minner said he now wants to create a more vibrant and effective university by examining programs, correcting inefficiencies and removing obstacles to student success.

Minner has organized four groups to examine curricular offerings, student life, athletics and finances. As part of the review, the groups will look at potential partnerships with other institutions in New Mexico.

Highlands already is working on a memorandum of understanding with Northern New Mexico College to combine under-enrolled courses as part of an effort to streamline access to courses that students need.

Albuquerque Man Dies In Glider Crash Near Moriarty AirportAssociated Press

Authorities say an Albuquerque man is dead after his glider aircraft crashed east of the airport in Moriarty.

New Mexico State Police say 65-year-old Renard Rozzoni was flying his 2017 Ventus 3F glider aircraft near the Moriarty Airport when it crashed for unknown reasons.

They say Rozzoni was pronounced dead at the scene Tuesday night.

The crash occurred about three miles east of the Moriarty Airport on private land near Stage Coach Lane.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.

Palace Of The Governors To Close For 6 Months For UpgradesSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The Palace of the Governors in the heart of Santa Fe's historic district is scheduled to close for six months as part of an ongoing restoration project.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Museum officials announced this week that the building will close Aug. 1 while heating, air conditioning and fire-suppression equipment is installed.

New Mexico History Museum Executive Director Andrew Wulf says the work won't affect other parts of the downtown complex, including the area where Native American vendors sell jewelry.

Officials say the temporary closure means the palace's exhibits will be taken down. That will allow curators and educators to rethink the museum's interpretive plan. Some of the exhibits date back to the 1970s.

Exhibitions planned for 2019 will highlight the formation of the Old Spanish Trail and artwork by Native American artists who will address themes of revolt and reconciliation.

Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantú Leaving For California PostAssociated Press

The Vatican has announced that Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantú is leaving for California.

The Catholic News Agency reports that Pope Francis appointed Cantú on Wednesday to be coadjutor bishop of San Jose, California. He will assist the 73-year-old Bishop Patrick J. McGrath with the administration of the Diocese of San Jose, and succeed McGrath upon his retirement or death.

The 51-year-old Cantú has served as bishop of Las Cruces since February 2013.

Born in Houston, Texas, to a large Mexican-American family, Cantú has been an outspoken advocate for immigrants and refugees.

In 2015, Cantú joined a group of bishops condemning racism in the U.S. in light of national tensions over police treatment of African-Americans.

Dancers From Three Pueblos Will Perform At Santa Fe Opera- Santa Fe New Mexican

Tribal members from San Ildefonso, Santa Clara and Tesuque pueblos will present Corn Dances at the Santa Fe Opera as part of the production “Doctor Atomic.”

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the performance will be the first time Pueblo dancers have been part of a production at the Santa Fe Opera. “Doctor Atomic” is set in the 24 hours around the explosion of the first atomic bomb, which took place the Trinity Site in south central New Mexico.

The first dance will take place before the start of the opera and a second dance will happen during the opera itself. Opera officials said this marks the first time the three pueblos have danced together.

Members of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Association will also be on stage during part of the opera. These are residents who lived near the Trinity Site and were not told of the dangers of the bomb. They have been seeking compensation for years because of health effects they say they suffered from the blast.