LANL Future Uncertain After Fire, Former Inmate Files Lawsuit Against County Jail

May 29, 2017

New Mexico Lab's Future Up In The Air After Recent FireSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A recent fire has put the ability of the Los Alamos National Laboratory to operate safely into question.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board announced Friday that it will hold a hearing next month to discuss the future of LANL.

A fire broke mid-April at the lab in a section where the plutonium cores of nuclear weapons are produced. Lab officials said that the fire was put out quickly and caused minor injuries.

According to the report, the board is unsure if the lab is fit to continue to operate and handle increasing quantities of plutonium in coming years. The board will have the chance to get the opinion of a number of experts at its June 7 hearing.

Former Inmate Files Lawsuit Against County JailThe Associated Press & The Daily Times

A man claims he suffered permanent injuries after being deprived of medical care for months while detained at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

The Daily Times reports Elbert Anderson filed the lawsuit May 16.

Court records state the suit is against several defendants, including the county jail, the San Juan County Commission and the San Juan Regional Medical Center.

According to Court documents, Anderson, who was incarcerated at the county jail from March to December 2015, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from defendants and attorney's fees.

An arrest warrant was issued after he failed to check in with his parole officer shortly after undergoing surgery. Anderson was on probation after being convicted of an attempted child abuse felony charge and driving while under the influence.

Key Stretch Of Route 66 To Be Ready For Summer FestivalAssociated Press

Albuquerque officials say construction work related to a major public transit project is set to be completed at a key location in time for the annual Route 66 Summerfest.

The city of Albuquerque says sidewalk and median work will be finished in the Nob Hill district, where the festival will take place on July 22.

The Albuquerque Rapid Transit project has drawn much criticism from businesses along the historic highway since before the work began.

ART Project Manager Dayna Crawford says Route 66 Summerfest attendees will find wider sidewalks and new landscaping.

Los Lobos is the event's featured performer.

Stretch Of Cimarron River Reopens For FishingAssociated Press

State wildlife managers say a stretch of the Cimarron River in northern New Mexico is open to fishing again following restoration work.

A 1.5-mile stretch of the river along N.M. Highway 64 east of Eagle Nest was closed in December 2016 after a tanker truck overturned and spilled about 1,100 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel into the river.

Despite the restoration work, Eric Frey of the state Game and Fish Department is cautioning anglers not to eat more than three meals of fish per month from the spill area.

The affected stretch of the river passed through the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area and Cimarron Canyon State Park.

International Flamenco Festival Set To Mark 30 Years - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Dancers from across the U.S. and Spain will converge on New Mexico for the 30th anniversary of a preeminent international flamenco festival.

The gathering organized by the world-renowned National Institute of Flamenco will be held June 10th through the 17th in Albuquerque.

Flamenco is a form of Spanish dance and folk music that developed from Romani music and dance more than two centuries ago.

Festival Flamenco Internacional De Alburquerque will feature well-known flamenco dancers, along with workshops, history lectures and events for children.

NMSU Hopes To Not Close Agricultural Science CentersLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

New Mexico State University is not closing any of its 12 agricultural science centers in the state -- at least not yet.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported earlier this month that the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences conducted a self-evaluation of the centers as it grapples with less funding in the face of a statewide budget crisis.

College of ACES Dean Rolando A. Flores says closing any of the centers is a "last recourse."

Flores says the College of ACES needs to rationalize its funds and properly manage its resources.

New Mexico State has formed a committee to figure out ways to operate the centers more efficiently. The committee includes private industry professionals, as well as some agricultural science center superintendents, college department heads and faculty members.

ABQ Newscast Delayed After Man Tries Breaking Into NewsroomAssociated Press

An Albuquerque news station had to delay its Saturday night newscast after a man breached the back lot of the station and tried to enter the building just as it was about to start.

KOB-TV reports the man was first pounding on the front door demanding to be let in. The unidentified man then went through the back and tried to enter the building.

Newscasters said the man was yelling their names. They said Albuquerque police responded quickly and arrested the man on site.

Officers told the station the man may have had mental health issues.

The newscast was delayed by a few minutes.

Albuquerque Museum To Display Work Of Zuni CarversAssociated Press

The work of one of Zuni Pueblo's most famous fetish carvers will be going on display this summer at the Albuquerque Museum.

Officials say it will be the first retrospective exhibit of Leekya Deyuse's work.

His carvings began gaining notoriety in the early 1900s thanks to the marketing of regional traders in the American Southwest. By the 1950s, his work was sought out by museums and was part of private collections worldwide.

The exhibition — titled The Leekya Family: Master Carvers of Zuni Pueblo — will be on display from June 24 through Sept. 24.

More than 350 works will make up the exhibit and will include pieces made by his contemporaries and descendants.

The family's story will be presented through the voices of his grandsons, Freddie and Francis Leekya, and his daughter, the late Sarah Leekya.

State Police: Wanted Person Fatally Shot By Officers Associated Press, KOAT-TV

Authorities say one person is dead following a shooting by police in Cibola County in northwestern New Mexico.

New Mexico State Police say the shooting occurred Friday at a residence in San Rafael near Grants when State Police and Albuquerque Police Department officers attempted to contact a wanted person.

KOAT-TV identified the man as Hector Gamboa, who was wanted for the murder of his girlfriend in Albuquerque. Authorities said he barricaded himself in a home and refused to comply with officers.

KOAT reports the fatal shots were fired by an Albuquerque police officer, who has not been identified. The incident is being investigated by the State Police Investigations Bureau.

Jet Owned By Elvis Auctioned After Sitting 30 YearsAssociated Press, KOB-TV

A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley has been auctioned after sitting on a runway in New Mexico for more than 30 years.

GWS Auctions Inc. says the plane sold for $430,000 on Saturday at a California event featuring celebrity memorabilia.

The auction house says Elvis designed the interior that has gold-tone woodwork, red velvet seats and red shag carpet. But the red 1962 Lockheed Jetstar has no engine and needs a restoration of its cockpit.

A previous owner disputed the auction house's claim the king of rock 'n' roll designed its red velvet interior to KOB-TV.

But a former GWS spokesman told The Associated Press the auction house is confident Elvis designed the interior, which photos show has red velvet seats and red shag carpet.

Liveauctioneers.com says the 1962 red Lockheed JetStar 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.

Jurors Discuss Ex-Deputy's Second Mistrial In Murder CaseLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Jurors deliberated the murder case of former Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy Tai Chan for less than four hours and were unable to reach a unanimous decision, leading to a second mistrial.

Defense attorneys for Chan said Tuesday that no juror agreed to a first-degree murder conviction in the shooting death of deputy Jeremy Martin during an alcohol-fueled dispute. But some jurors told the Las Cruces Sun-News said that statement was misleading.

Two jurors said three panelists believed Chan had killed Martin with deliberate intent, but the others weren't convinced. So, deliberations turned to second-degree murder.

Only five jurors supported that conviction, sending the deliberations to voluntary manslaughter. But after the jury voted 6-6 on that charge they informed the judge that they were deadlocked. A second vote also ended in a stalemate, then a mistrial was declared.

District Attorney Mark D'Antonio said he expected to make a decision next week on whether to seek another trial.

Archdiocese Tells Workers To Ask ICE Agents For WarrantsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A Roman Catholic Church diocese for Albuquerque and much of New Mexico is advising its workers to ask for a search warrant if federal immigration officers enter church property.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe sent employees a memo saying when church personnel must admit Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and when they can deny entry.

It also provides guidance on calling the archdiocese attorney and what employees can say to demand that agents leave the premises.

According to the memo, it was written in response to rumors of ICE raids of churches, schools and other locations.

However, Archdiocese Chancellor Tom Macken says he doesn't know of any actual ICE raids at church properties.

Las Cruces and Gallup dioceses oversee parts of New Mexico.

New Mexico Police To Watch For Drunken DriversAssociated Press

New Mexico state police officers are planning a series of sobriety checkpoints around the state.

Officials say the checkpoints and advertising highlighting the state's enforcement efforts are aimed at reducing alcohol-related fatalities.

Data from the state Transportation Department and the University of New Mexico shows 113 people have died in alcohol-related crashes in the first four months of 2017. That's less than the first quarter the previous year.

In 2016, a total of 175 people died in alcohol-related crashes. That accounted for more than 40 percent of New Mexico's traffic fatalities last year.

Officials say New Mexico's alcohol-related death rate has consistently been nearly twice the national rate for the past two decades.

State police says they'll also be checking driver's licenses and reviewing vehicle registrations and insurance during June's checkpoints.

Man Sentenced For Raping Women With Mental DisordersAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico man accused of raping three women with mental disorders will serve time in jail.

The Albuquerque Journal reports 76-year-old Benjamin Baca was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday. He pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal sexual penetration in February.

Prosecutors say Baca would drive past boardinghouse where patients released from a mental health institute lived. They say he got women to get into his car by offering them soda and cigarettes.

Some women say Baca forced them to have oral sex and intercourse.

His lawyer had previously asked the judge to sentence Baca only to sex offender counseling. The lawyer argued that due to Baca's old age, he was less likely to reoffend and would not do well in jail.