Hearing For Pumping Water To Rio Grande In Works, NM Approves Facebook Power Plan

Aug 17, 2016

New Mexico Official Clears Way For Hearing On Water Proposal—Associated Press

Plans by a commercial venture to pipe billions of gallons of water from rural western New Mexico to more populated areas of the state are inching ahead again.

New Mexico's top water official has cleared the way for a public hearing to weigh the merits of the proposal being floated by Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC.

The company wants to drill more than three dozen wells capable of pumping more than 17 billion gallons of groundwater a year to supplement dwindling supplies in the Rio Grande Valley.

Developers contend no water mining would occur since infrastructure would be built to capture runoff for recharging the aquifer beneath the San Augustin Plains west of Socorro.

Critics are voicing concerns about the volume of water at stake. Some also describe the proposal as too speculative.

New Mexico Approves Facebook Power Plan - The Associated Press 

New Mexico state utility regulators have approved a power-supply plan for a proposed Facebook data center in the village of Los Lunas.

The social media giant also is considering a location in West Jordan, Utah, for the facility.

Members of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a power plan for the data center that would offset new electricity demands with solar energy.

Investor-owned utility Public Service Co. of New Mexico says it would build three industrial-scale solar arrays in central New Mexico if Facebook chooses the Los Lunas site.

Plans to lure the Facebook data center to Utah with $240 million in tax breaks hit a snag this week as the Salt Lake County council voiced opposition.

Group Tries To Get Second Republican On Ballot Against TrumpThe Associated Press

Republicans in New Mexico who don't want to vote for Donald Trump may have another option come November.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the group Better for America claims to have gathered enough signatures from registered voters to qualify as a minor political party, but the Secretary of State's Office disagrees, saying the group submitted too many invalid signatures.

Better for America is asking a state District Court judge to order the office to certify it as a minor party.

Better for America is backed by investment firm executive John Kingston III and is working to secure a position on ballots across the country. The group has not yet chosen a candidate, but is advocating against Trump.

Career Criminal Is Convicted Of More Charges In New MexicoThe Associated Press

A man already convicted on an armed career criminal charge has been found guilty on carjacking and firearms charges in New Mexico and is possibly facing life in federal prison.

Prosecutors say a jury in Albuquerque convicted 40-year-old Samuel Silva on charges arising from a one-day crime spree in April 2014.

Another federal jury previously convicted Silva on an armed career criminal charge in July 2016.

Silva was arrested in December 2014 and indicted on six offenses that occurred in New Mexico's Bernalillo County.

Prosecutors say Silva was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of numerous felony offenses.

They say Silva faces a statutory mandatory minimum term of 47 years to life imprisonment when he's sentenced.

A sentencing date wasn't immediately available Wednesday.

Judge Orders Corizon To Release Inmate Settlement DetailsThe Associated Press & Santa Fe New Mexican

A New Mexico district court judge has ordered Corizon Health to release settlement agreements it made with inmates who have filed lawsuits against the company.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that on Tuesday the judge sided with two newspapers and an advocacy group that the for-profit provider of inmate medical services was not protected by confidentially agreements made with the prisoners who had sued.

Until recently Corizon held a $37.5 million-per-year contract Department of Corrections to provide medical services at 10 New Mexico prisons.

In June, Corizon settled claims filed by 59 inmates at two New Mexico facilities for nearly $4.6 million.

The Santa Fe New Mexican, the Albuquerque Journal and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government had requested the settlements be made public.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Marijuana At Border Checkpoints —Associated Press, Deming Headlight

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit asking the court to stop U.S. Border Patrol from seizing medical marijuana at highway checkpoints near the southern border.

The Deming Headlight reports that Raymundo Marrufo of Deming filed the lawsuit in fall 2015. Marrufo said says there are no dispensaries in Deming and he must go to Las Cruces to fill his prescription forcing him to pass through a checkpoint with a drug-sniffing dog on the way home.

District Judge William P. Johnson granted the Border Patrol's request for a dismissal in April. He said Marrufo's argument for the injunction didn't have legal grounds but left room for the case to be re-filed in another form.

Vivian Moore, the executive director of a non-profit dispensary, says the ruling is "unfair" because it leaves the status quo unchanged.

Grants prison accused of putting 2 inmates in cells for 1 —Associated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

State prison officials have been packing two inmates in cells built for one person at Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Grants, violating population controls.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that a recent federal court settlement shows that the facility was "double-celling" prisoners, which violates terms of the Duran Decree, which was put in place after the bloody Santa Fe penitentiary riot in 1980.

Severe crowding was cited as a major contributor to the Santa Fe riot, in which 33 inmates died.

As part of Friday's settlement agreement, the Department of Corrections will stop the practice and remove any second bunks that were bolted onto walls of single-prisoner cells any time after 1991.

Deputy Secretary of Administrative Support Alex Sanchez says the double-celling was a temporary measure due to an air-conditioning issue.

Governor orders flags lowered for fallen New Mexico officer —Associated Press

Governor Susana Martinez has ordered flags across the state to be lowered in an honor of a police officer killed last week in Hatch.

Martinez says the senseless killing of Officer Jose Chavez during a traffic stop Friday is a tragic reminder of the dangers law enforcement officers face every day.

Flags will be flown at half-staff on Wednesday.

Funeral services for Chavez, who was 33 and a father of two, are set for Sunday in Las Cruces, his hometown.

Authorities say he was a two-year veteran of the Hatch Police Department.

Jesse Denver Hanes, of Columbus, Ohio, faces a first-degree murder charge in Chavez's death. Authorities say Hanes also is a suspect in Ohio in the death of a 62-year-old man near Chillicothe.

Utah plan to lure Facebook data center hits snag—Associated Press

A plan to lure a Facebook data center to Utah with $240 million in tax breaks is hitting a snag with a Salt Lake County decision to vote against it at a crucial meeting next week.

The unanimous council vote Tuesday places the county in opposition to project supporters in West Jordan, the Salt Lake City suburb vying against a New Mexico town to attract the facility that could go into service next year.

Critics say the cost is too high for a heavy water use facility that would create relatively few jobs. But supporters argue it would still generate significant tax revenue and carry the Facebook cache.

The project was largely developed in secret until an application to power regulators became public last month.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Colorado candy manufacturer to move to New Mexico —Associated Press

A Colorado manufacturer of candy and cough drops is relocating to New Mexico.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department recently announced St. Claire's Organics will move its operations to the village of Santa Clara located near Silver City.

Debra St. Claire, founder of St. Claire's Organics, says the decision to relocate was based on New Mexico's welcoming attitude and business friendly environment.

St. Claire's Organics makes brand mints, candies, and fruit tarts.

New Mexico will provide $100,000 in Local Economic Development Act funds to offset the cost of the land and building acquisition.