Expiring Law Could Hurt Route 66 Towns, Historic Motel Along Route 66 To Begin Redevelopment

May 23, 2017

Expiring Law Could Hurt Route 66 Towns – The Associated Press

Route 66, the historic American roadway that linked Chicago to the West Coast, soon may be dropped from a National Park Service preservation program.

A federal law authorizing the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is set to expire in two years and with it would go millions of dollars in grants for reviving old tourist spots in struggling towns.

Landmarks Illinois director Frank Butterfield says small communities could miss out on much needed economic development funding.

The program has helped finance projects like the El Vado Motel neon sign restoration in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Baxter Springs Independent Oil and Gas Station restoration in Kansas.

Decommissioned as a U.S. highway in 1985, Route 66 went through eight states, connecting tourists with friendly diners and motor lodges in small towns.

Redevelopment Of Historic Motel Along Route 66 To Begin Soon – The Associated Press

Redevelopment of another old motel along historic Route 66 will begin soon.

Albuquerque-based Construct Southwest was selected last July by the city of Albuquerque to bring the De Anza Motor Lodge back to life. The property has sat vacant for years.

The company tells the Albuquerque Journal that demolition of three buildings at the site is scheduled for next month.

The redevelopment project is expected to take about a year. It calls for turning the blighted motor court into upscale extended-stay units for business travelers and tourists.

The historic signs fronting the roadway and several buildings will be preserved, as well as some rare Zuni Pueblo murals.

The city bought the De Anza in 2003 for $891,000. The motel was built in the 1930s.

Jury To Hear Closing Arguments In Ex-Deputy's Murder TrialThe Associated Press & The Las Cruses Sun-News

Jurors are expected to begin deliberating in the case of a former New Mexico deputy who was accused of shooting and killing a fellow deputy during an alcohol-fueled dispute.

The judge gave jurors their instructions Tuesday before prosecutors and defense attorneys prepared to deliver closing arguments in the retrial of Tai Chan, who is charged with first-degree murder in the 2014 death of Santa Fe County Deputy Jeremy Martin.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the trial wrapped up Friday with Chan taking the witness stand. Chan claims he carried out the shooting in self-defense.

He's accused of gunning down Martin at a Las Cruces hotel where the two were staying after transporting an inmate.

The first trial ended last year in a mistrial when jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision.

Trump Administration Dropping Nuclear Waste Burial Test Plan The Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Energy says it's abandoning a test to determine whether nuclear waste can be buried far underground.

The agency said Tuesday that it doesn't intend to continue supporting the Deep Borehole Field Test because of changes in budget priorities.

It was meant to assess whether nuclear waste could be stored in approximately 3-mile-deep holes. Officials had stressed it wouldn't involve the use of actual nuclear waste.

Energy officials said in December that companies were exploring potential sites in South Dakota, Texas and New Mexico. Local officials in North Dakota and South Dakota had previously rebuffed test organizers.

South Dakota U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem applauded the Energy Department's move, saying that she was deeply concerned about testing in "our backyard" to see whether boreholes could store nuclear waste.

New Mexico Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Taos CitizensThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

The New Mexico Supreme Court has decided a former school board official will not be getting restitution for public outcry aimed at him in 2009.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Monday's ruling affirms a state District Court decision and overturns a state Court of Appeals decision.

Arsenio Cordova had been vice president of the Taos Municipal School District board when a group of school staff, parents and board members wanted to recall him.

The group applied for a hearing to determine if the recall would be warranted.

The hearing was supposed to happen within 10 days — but never did — and then the group withdrew its petition.

Cordova sued two days later, saying the group used the recall process to harass him and lacked legitimate complaints.

New Mexico Lawmaker Say Governor's Appointments Can WaitAssociated Press

The president of the New Mexico Senate says there will be no confirmation hearings for appointments by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez during a special legislative session that begins Wednesday.

Senate President Mary Kay Papen said Monday that the Democrat-led Legislature will be focused on restoring vetoed funding for higher education institutions and will not vet executive appointments.

Martinez has described continued delays in the confirmation process for state university regents as a violation of the Legislature's constitutional duty. She highlighted the concern in her decision to veto $745 million in general fund spending for state colleges and universities in the coming fiscal year.

Papen says the Senate Rules Committee will meet after the special session to review appointments to speed up the confirmation process when the Legislature convenes next year.

New Mexico Judge Defers Judgment On EducationAssociated Press

A lawsuit alleging that New Mexico's education system failed to meet its constitutional responsibilities is headed to trial after a judge denied requests for an early decision.

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said Monday that its main requests for summary judgment were denied so that the court can consider the state's response in greater depth.

Plaintiffs in the case wanted a state judge to declare that New Mexico's education system is failing to meet its constitutional responsibilities for Native American students, low-income students and those learning English as a second language.

Officials with Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration have denied the allegations and say funding on education has increased.

A trial is scheduled to begin in June.

New Mexico Counterfeiter Gets Up To 18 Years In NevadaAssociated Press

A 47-year-old New Mexico man with a 25-year-old criminal history has been sentenced to up to 18 years in a Nevada prison for counterfeiting.

Murry McKinley pleaded guilty in state district court in Reno in March to one count of uttering a forged instrument.

The Washoe County District Attorney's Office said in a statement Monday Judge Scott Freeman granted prosecutors' request for habitual criminal status at last week's sentencing. That means McKinley must serve a minimum of five years before he's considered for parole.

Police say Murry was part of a counterfeiting ring passing fake bills at stores in the Reno area. He was arrested last October after he was caught on surveillance video.

Deputy District Attorney Zelalem Bogale says Murry's previous convictions include 11 felonies.

New Federal Report Addresses Road Conditions On Tribal LandsAssociated Press

The federal government has released a report that casts a critical light on the poor condition of roads on tribal lands nationwide.

The General Accounting Office report released Monday says children are suffering from bad roads because they can't make it to school during bad weather.

The agency sent a team to do site visits at 10 different school districts and three reservations, where they evaluated bus routes by riding with students to school.

Reservation routes are often earth or gravel roads that become muddy and impassible after tribal areas are hit with adverse weather like heavy rainfall, strong winds, or snowfall. School officials say inclement weather compounded by already poor roads are a contributing factor to school absences of Native American youth on tribal lands.

The report highlights funding constraints, overlapping jurisdictions and bad weather as leading challenges.

Roswell Police ID Body Found Buried Outside A Vacant HouseAssociated Press

Police have identified the body of a woman found buried outside a vacant south Roswell house and continue to look for a suspect in the homicide case.

Roswell police investigators say the body found May 9 was that of Ambra Lynn Taylor, who was 41 when she disappeared in April 2016.

Police say they were able to make the identification based on the woman's tattoos and other information provided by the public.

Investigators believe Taylor came to Roswell from Albuquerque and had only been in town a short time before her disappearance and murder.

Police didn't say how Taylor died.

The body was discovered after police executed a search warrant.

They now are asking for help from the public for information that could lead to an arrest in the case.

Trump Seeks Reconsideration Of Sanctuary RulingAssociated Press

The Trump administration has filed court papers in an effort to have a judge reconsider his ruling blocking the president's order to cut funding from "sanctuary cities" that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

The U.S. Department of Justice asked U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick on Monday for permission to file documents asking the judge to reconsider or clarify his ruling in light of a new memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The memo reasserts the department's position that Trump's executive order applies to a relatively small amount of money. Orrick rejected that argument in a ruling in April that blocked the executive order.

Jet Owned By Elvis To Be Auctioned After Sitting 30 YearsAssociated Press

A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley is set to be auctioned after sitting on a runway in New Mexico for 30 years.

Elvis designed the interior that has red velvet seats and red shag carpet.

But the red 1962 Lockheed Jetstar has no engines and needs a restoration of its cockpit.

Liveauctioneers.com says the jet was owned by Elvis and his father, Vernon Presley.

It has been privately owned for 35 years and sitting on a tarmac in Roswell, New Mexico.

GWS Auctions Inc. says the plane will be auctioned May 27 at an event featuring celebrity memorabilia.

It estimates the plane's value at $2 million to $3.5 million.

Albuquerque Public Schools Passes $1.3 Billion BudgetAlbuquerque Journal

Anticipating flat revenue, the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education passed a $1.3 billion budget Monday as it waits for final funding numbers from the state this week.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the APS budget slashes $13 million by eliminating 52 positions at district headquarters and reducing some work days for top administrators and some maintenance and operations employees. Those earning less than $25,000 will be exempted. It will also tap into cash reserves for about $5 million. 

APS also plans to restructure a gifted education program and another for school computer technicians. Board member Peggy Muller-Aragon voted against the budget and member Analee Maestas abstained citing concerns about those program cuts.

The district had earlier anticipated a two percent cut from the state in funding. Lawmakers convene in Santa Fe Wednesday for a special session called by Gov. Susana Martinez to resolve a budget impasse. If there is a two percent cut to K-12 education, APS officials said they will have to cut more than $24 million from the budget.

Settlement Leads To Order On How Police Handle MisdemeanorsAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal

The police chief of Albuquerque has instructed officers to issue citations, instead of making arrests, for certain misdemeanor crimes as part of a settlement of a longstanding lawsuit over jail conditions and arrest procedures in Bernalillo County.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the settlement calls on police to take several actions, such as issuing an order explaining that people suspected of nonviolent misdemeanors, not including drunken driving, will be issued citations instead of being arrested "when there are no circumstances necessitating an arrest."

The order was issued on May 10 by Chief Gorden Eden.

It hasn't been approved by a judge or filed in court.

Crimes affected by the new order include drinking in public, marijuana possession, prostitution, some shoplifting offenses, littering, panhandling, criminal trespass and others.

Las Vegas Optic Names Iowa Editor As Its New LeaderLas Vegas Optic, Associated Press

The Las Vegas Optic has named the editor of an Iowa newspaper as its next newsroom leader.

The northern New Mexico newspaper announced that Jason W. Brooks started this month as the publication's new editor.

Brooks most recently served as editor at the Boone News-Republican in Boone, Iowa, near Des Moines.

A graduate of the University of New Mexico, Brooks started his journalism career as a sports reporter at El Defensor Chieftain in Socorro, then at the Valencia County News Bulletin. He then worked for publications in Nebraska and Iowa.

Brooks replaces Martin Salazar, who stepped down in February to take a job as a reporter with the Albuquerque Journal.

Landmark Community Newspapers Inc., the Optic's parent company, is based in Shelbyville, Kentucky.