Earthquake Hits Northern New Mexico, Man Is Indicted In ABQ Officer's Death

Dec 23, 2016

Magnitude 4.5 Quake Hits In Northeastern New MexicoThe Associated Press

The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting a magnitude 4.5 earthquake in a remote area just south of the New Mexico-Colorado border.

There were no reports of damage from the quake, which occurred around 12:30 p.m. Friday. The epicenter was about 17 miles northwest of Cimarron and about 90 miles northeast of Santa Fe.

The front desk at the famous St. James Hotel in Cimarron did not feel anything, but an employee at Ted Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch further to the north reported a brief shuttering, as if the building had been hit by a very strong gust of wind. There were no guests at the park at the time.

The region has had a couple of less intense quakes reported over the last several months.

Grand Jury Indicts Man In Albuquerque Officer's DeathThe Associated Press

A man suspected of fatally shooting an Albuquerque police officer last year has been indicted on murder and other charges.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office says a Bernalillo County grand jury returned the indictment against Davon Lymon on Friday. He's accused of shooting Officer Daniel Webster during a traffic stop in October 2015.

Lymon, who has a lengthy criminal history, was convicted earlier this year in federal court of being a felon in possession of a firearm. 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.

Webster was a highly decorated officer and former Army Ranger. He died from his injuries eight days after the shooting.

Border Patrol: Agents Rescue Immigrants Abandoned In DesertThe Associated Press

The Border Patrol says agents rescued 18 migrants abandoned by smugglers in cold and wet weather in the southwestern New Mexico desert near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The agency's El Paso Sector office said the migrants told agents that smugglers who abandoned them Thursday morning said they should find authorities to get help.

According to the Border Patrol, the migrants' clothing was soaked by water and they were rapidly taken to a Border Patrol facility to get them out of cold rain, sleet and strong wind gusts.

The Border Patrol says the migrants were evaluated and that none required further medical assistance before they were processed for immigration proceedings.

The National Weather Service office in El Paso, Texas, doesn't have a monitoring station in the area where the rescue occurred.

Feds Authorize Contractor To Resume Work At Nuke DumpThe Associated Press

The U.S. Energy Department is authorizing its contractor to resume the disposal of radioactive waste at the federal government's underground repository in southern New Mexico.

Agency officials said Friday the approval confirms that numerous corrective actions identified during a recent review have been completed. They say the first container of waste is expected to be moved below ground in early January.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been closed since February 2014, when a radiation release contaminated a significant portion of the repository.

The incident forced shipments from around the country to be halted and hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into recovery efforts and policy overhauls.

The corrective actions ranged from paperwork and documentation issues to procedural inadequacies regarding new requirements for accepting waste from national laboratories and other defense sites around the country.

Watchdogs Concerned About Push To Open Nuke Dump Associated Press

Watchdog groups are concerned the federal government is rushing to reopen its underground nuclear waste dump after a radiation leak, saying numerous safety violations have yet to be addressed.

The U.S. Energy Department is one step closer to resuming some operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico after state regulators gave their approval following an inspection.

Letters from the state say two minor violations were found, including the location of a safety shower and the need for clear labeling on waste containers. Regulators said they were quickly fixed.

Don Hancock with the Southwest Research and Information Center says the state Environment Department should have looked closer at the implications of inadequate ventilation and the accuracy of air monitoring underground to ensure worker safety.

He also pointed to a recent federal report that found vulnerabilities in the facility's radiological protection program.

Luna County To Break Ground On $12 Million Jail Expansion Deming Headlight, Associated Press

Luna County is ready to break ground on its new $12 million jail expansion project.

The Deming Headlight reports that groundbreaking for the retrofit and expansion of the Luna County Detention Center is scheduled for Thursday followed by a meet and greet between the general contractor and businesses interested in working on the effort.

Luna County officials are working to ensure the project uses as much local labor and supplies as possible. They are seeking electricians, plumbers, fencing companies, hardware stores, hotels, equipment companies, concrete suppliers and others to help out.

The project is expected to be completed in mid-2018 and includes a security retrofit of the current facility, removal of the shipping containers that were converted into jail cells, and a 288-bed expansion

Albuquerque Eyes Security Cameras On Route 66 Crime Area KRQE-TV, Associated Press

The city of Albuquerque is considering adding security cameras and more lights to a section of the historic Route 66.

KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reports Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said this week the plan would help police in a high crime area.

Officials say the security cameras would be able to change direction and Albuquerque police can pull up a live feed of areas if needed.

Officials don't know how many cameras would be needed nor do they know the cost yet.

City council could approve the final phase of the street light project at the beginning of next year.

Albuquerque is home to the largest urban stretch of Route 66.

Decommissioned as a U.S. highway in 1985, Route 66 goes through eight states.

New Mexico Health Exchange Wrote Letter In Governor's Name By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

A letter praising President Barack Obama's health care law and circulated widely in recent days was purported to be sent by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

But Martinez did not write the letter or know about it. The head of New Mexico's health care exchange office said Thursday her office wrote it without Martinez' knowledge or approval.

A spokesman for Martinez says the governor never would have signed the document because the Republican governor wants the law overturned.

BeWellnm interim CEO Linda Wedeen says the letter never was reviewed by the governor before it inadvertently got out and was obtained by media outlets that published its contents.

Breach Expected To Cost Navajo Farming Firm $4M Daily Times, Associated Press

A break earlier this year in the water delivery system that serves Navajo Agricultural Products Industry is expected to end up costing the tribal business more than $4 million in lost revenue.

The Daily Times reports the breach in May left the 80,000-acre farm without water for nearly a month.

The estimate includes losses from the potato harvest. A representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a NAPI insurance agent determined potato rot was caused by the water problem and heat stress on the crop.

NAPI expects to recoup about 60 percent of its loss from the potato harvest through an insurance claim.

Officials Report Whooping Cough Outbreak In Eddy County Artesia Daily Press

Health officials say there is an outbreak of whooping cough in Eddy County.

The Artesia Daily Press reports that according to the New Mexico Department of Health, there have been 20 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in Eddy County since Nov. 1, including 10 school-aged children.

Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher says whooping cough is highly contagious and cause serious illness. Vaccines are the best way to prevent whooping cough.

Symptoms of whooping cough infection may include coughing fits followed by a loud "whooping" sound. The coughing may be severe enough to cause vomiting.

Restaurant That Sickened State Employees Lacked PermitSanta Fe New Mexican

A Santa Fe restaurant that catered a holiday luncheon where numerous state employees became ill did not have a permit for the event according to state regulators.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Kick Ass Sandwich Shop was cited by the New Mexico Environment Department. The business did not have a permit to cater the lunch at the Department of Health offices.

The restaurant owner said the company did not cater the event and their food was served alongside dishes brought by employees. But NMED officials said the business prepared the food and served it and thus needed a catering permit.

About 70 employees with the Department of Health, which is tasked with ensuring food safety at restaurants, complained of gastrointestinal illness after the lunch.

The restaurant could face a $500 fine.

Judge Gets Reappointed To New Mexico Court Of Appeals Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has reappointed Court of Appeals Judge Stephen French to another spot on the appellate court.

French will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Michael Bustamante. French was among the two sitting judges and five lawyers who applied for the spot.

French is a Republican now serving on the court by appointment. He ran unsuccessfully for his current seat in the Nov. 8 general election, losing to Democrat Julie Vargas.

The governor's office says French has a combined 35 years of public and private-sector legal experience. He served as an assistant district attorney in New Mexico's most populous district — Bernalillo County — before becoming a founding partner at Walz & French.

French also is a past president of the New Mexico Defense Lawyers Association.

New Mexico Students To Make Manhattan Project Park Exhibits Associated Press

Some multimedia exhibits for the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park will be created by New Mexico students.

Highlands University announced this month students from the northern New Mexico campus will develop exhibits using technology like 3-D videos and computer modeling. The students also will create an app and text and graphic panels for a walking tour.

During the World War II-era Manhattan Project, scientists in the then-secret town of Los Alamos worked to develop an atomic bomb later dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is managed through a partnership between the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Energy. The new park contains three sites: Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington.