$2M Deal Aims To Keep Rio Grande Flowing In New Mexico - Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press
The water utility that serves New Mexico's largest metropolitan area will lease water to the federal government to keep the stretch of the Rio Grande that flows through Albuquerque from going dry.
Utility board members voted late Wednesday to approve the $2 million deal.
It comes as our arid state grapples with an ongoing severe drought. After a historically low spring runoff and spotty summer rains, irrigation managers in the area are expected to deplete the last of their stored water within days.
Under the agreement, the federal Bureau of Reclamation will lease up to 20,000 acre-feet from the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority to preserve the flow through October.
The city of Santa Fe is also helping to mitigate losses to the river.
Federal officials plan to seek more funding next year for continued leasing.
Complaint Says US Officials Coerced Migrants To Sign Documents- Associated Press
U.S. immigration authorities coerced dozens of parents separated from their children at the border to sign documents they did not understand, according to a complaint filed Thursday.
In some of the cases, parents gave away rights to be reunited with their children when the non-English speaking mothers and fathers signed documents in English they could not read, according to the complaint provided to The Associated Press before it was filed with the Department of Homeland Security.
In other cases, parents who had been reunited were threatened with another separation if they didn't agree to be deported with their children, the complaint said.
The complaint was filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council, who say attorneys spoke with 76 parents who said they were asked to sign forms affecting their rights to reunify with their children.
All of them said they weren't allowed to ask what would happen if they signed the form.
Native American Activist Accused Of Assaulting 3 Women- Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press
A Native American activist accused of raping women has arrived at the Santa Fe County jail after losing a fight against his extradition from Phoenix.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports 41-year-old Redwolf Pope is accused of raping a Seattle-area woman while she was visiting Santa Fe in 2017.
According to a criminal complaint and search warrant affidavit, Pope's roommates told police that they found videos that appeared to show Pope sexually assaulting unconscious women.
Pope was arrested in Phoenix in July on suspicion of criminal sexual penetration and other crimes.
Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office spokesman Juan Rios says Pope was booked in the local jail Tuesday.
His lawyer Stephen Aarons has previously said that Pope did not rape the women shown in the videos.
Body Of Boy Found At New Mexico Compound Buried In Georgia- Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Associated Press
The body of a boy, whose remains were discovered at a northern New Mexico compound, has been buried in his home state of Georgia.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports it took just a few minutes Thursday for men to lower Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj's body — wrapped in white cloth — into a grave behind a mosque on the city's southside.
The child's mother said she took comfort in the thought that one day she would meet her son again in paradise.
Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj was reported missing in December. His father, Siraj Wahhaj, had said he was taking the child to a park, but never returned. Instead, prosecutors say, he brought his son to live on a compound in Taos County.
New Mexico State Government Is Awash In Money From Oil Boom – Associated Press
New Mexico's state government income is surging amid an oil boom that may give legislators an extra $1.2 billion to work with as they craft the next annual budget.
Economists from three state agencies and the Legislature on Wednesday predicted that tax revenue and other government income will surpass spending obligations by "an astonishing $1.2 billion" during the fiscal year that begins in July 2019.
General fund revenues for the fiscal year that ended in July increased by nearly 15 percent over the previous year — a growth rate the state has not seen in more than a decade.
The forecast warned that the new money stems largely from a volatile oil industry, and that income from taxes and royalties could quickly erode with a crash in energy prices.
Clovis Officials To Observe Anniversary Of Library Shooting – Associated Press
Officials in Clovis will hold a moment of silence next Tuesday on the one-year anniversary of a fatal shooting inside a city library.
Mayor David Lansford is scheduled to lead the 8 a.m. observance on the south lawn of the Clovis-Carver Library.
A 16-year-old high school student was charged in the shooting that left two librarians dead and four other people seriously wounded on Aug. 28, 2017.
City officials say $30,000 donated after the shooting will go to college scholarships in the names of the two librarians killed — Krissie Carter and Wanda Walters — along with donations to five high school libraries in Curry County in the women's memory.
In addition, portraits of Carter and Walters painted by a local artist will be displayed at the Clovis-Carver Library.
Funds Secured For Safety Upgrades To Commuter Rail System – Associated Press
New Mexico's commuter rail system has secured $60 million for safety upgrades required by the federal government.
The Rio Metro Regional Transit District secured enough funds for the safety upgrades after the state's congressional delegation announced Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $29.4 million grant to the Rail Runner Express.
The district expects to have a new safety system known as positive train control installed by the end of 2020.
The Rail Runner was expected to implement positive train control at the end of the year.
Officials hope to get an extension from the federal government and get approval to keep operating under its current schedule until the work is completed.
Racetrack With 'Moving Grandstand' Proposed In New Mexico – Associated Press
A Las Vegas casino executive is proposing a new racetrack and casino in eastern New Mexico with a "moving grandstand" that will allow an audience to travel alongside running horses.
Daniel Lee, president and CEO of the Nevada-based Full House Resorts, is vying for New Mexico's sixth racetrack/casino license and hopes his $200 million resort and racetrack with the shifting grandstand will set him apart.
Full House Resorts says the moving grandstand would travel at the same speed as the racehorses, circling the track.
The proposed "La Posada del Llano" includes a racetrack, casino, luxury hotel, 18-hole golf course, water park, and other amenities near the New Mexico-Texas border in Clovis.
It's one of five groups in intense competition to win the New Mexico racetrack/casino license.
Lawsuit Says New Mexico School Left Boy, 3, On Bus For 5 Hours – Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press
A New Mexico family is suing a school district after parents say their 3-year-old son was left on a school bus for five hours.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the lawsuit recently filed in state district court says a bus driver failed to spot a Los Niños Kindergarten Center student who fell asleep. Instead, the driver drove the bus home and locked the door in late May 2017.
The complaint says the boy woke up, found himself without food and water on a hot bus and couldn't open the door to get out.
Española Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Denise Johnston says the bus driver had a "perfect record" but was "not used to the little ones."
Officials say the driver was put on leave then retired in December.
The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
New Mexico Utility Seeks To Join Western Energy Market - Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press
New Mexico's largest electric utility is asking state regulators for approval to join a trading market that allows participants in several western states to buy and sell energy to better balance supply and demand.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is among those expected to join the energy imbalance market by 2020 while large utilities in Arizona, Nevada and Utah already are on board.
Public Service Co. of New Mexico wants to join by 2021, saying the move could save an estimated $17 million annually and ensure more efficient use of the region's renewable energy.
It would cost about $28 million to join. Annual expenses would be around $3 million.
The utility says it would seek to recover costs through customer rates but noted any savings would reflect on monthly bills.
Bond Requirements Added In New Mexico Child-Neglect Case – Associated Press
Two defendants arrested on child neglect charges in a raid on a makeshift compound in northern New Mexico are confronting new bail requirements for release from jail pending trial.
Magistrate Judge Ernest Ortega has set a cash bail requirement of $5,000 for Lucas Morton and Subhannah Wahhaj under new charges of criminal trespassing. An emergency appeal of the bond requirement was rejected Wednesday.
Morton and Wahhaj were among five adults arrested in early August at the compound where 11 children were found living in squalor on someone else's property. The badly decomposed body of a 3-year-old boy found at the property has been identified as the son of compound resident Siraj Ibn Wahhaj.
All five defendants remain incarcerated. Defendant Hujrah Wahhaj was charged with trespassing, but a different judge waived bail.
Ex-Albuquerque Policeman Gets Jail Term For Fatal DUI Crash – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press
A former Albuquerque police officer accused of fatally striking a woman in a wheelchair with his car while driving drunk has been sentenced to 364 days in jail.
Rodney Locke was sentenced Wednesday in the September 2016 death of Kay Moss-Freese.
Prosecutors told the Albuquerque Journal that the state didn't believe it could prove that Locke's intoxication caused the collision, which it would have to do to secure a vehicular homicide conviction.
Locke pleaded no contest in June to knowingly leaving the scene of an accident involving great bodily harm or death, aggravated driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.
Police found Locke at his home after the crash.
Prosecutors say Locke's blood-alcohol level was .18 percent three hours after the fatal collision.
Bandelier Officials Investigate Damage At Duchess Castle – Associated Press
Rangers at Bandelier National Monument are asking for the public's help as they investigate vandalism at one of the park's historic sites.
Authorities say extensive damage was done at Duchess Castle during two separate incidents. They declined to provide more details, citing the ongoing investigation.
They announced Wednesday that a reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the vandalism.
Duchess Castle is separate from the main park and includes what is left of a home and pottery-making school that date back about a century. The area also includes more than 150 archaeological sites associated with the ancestral pueblo occupancy of the Pajarito Plateau.