New UNM Hospital Plans Move Forward, Early Childhood Programs Net Mixed Results In New Mexico

Aug 16, 2017

University Of New Mexico Moving Forward With Hospital PlansThe Associated Press & The ABQ Journal

The University of New Mexico is one step closer to building a new and long-awaited hospital after its governing board decided to hire an architect to begin advanced design work.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the university's Board of Regents unanimously voted to bring on an architect to prepare plans for the first phase of the new hospital on Tuesday. The initial design would include space for 120 beds, six operating rooms and clinical offices. Officials say the new facility would eventually replace all of the current hospital's adult-care units.

Health Sciences Center Chancellor Dr. Paul Roth says the hospital is no longer large enough to handle statewide demand and has become out of date.

If the project stays on track, officials say the new facility could be open by mid-2022.

Early Childhood Programs Net Mixed Results In New Mexico – The Associated Press

Legislative analysts say the results are mixed when it comes to the effectiveness of New Mexico's programs for young children.

The Legislative Finance Committee has released an accountability report that covers spending and outcomes for early childhood programs across several state agencies. Members of the committee were scheduled to discuss the findings at a meeting Wednesday in Taos.

The report shows recurring funding for early childhood programs has been on the rise for the last several years, surpassing more than $350 million during the last fiscal year.

While funding for many services has increased even during lean budget years, the report highlights troubling indicators that show more work needs to be done to curb abuse and neglect and to get more children into early learning programs.

New Mexico Development Inches Ahead Despite Water ConcernsAssociated Press

The developers behind a massive planned community on the edge of New Mexico's largest metro area can move ahead in the process now that the Bernalillo County Commission has amended some conditions of the master plan.

The commission voted 3-1 Tuesday night to allow the developers of the Santolina project to negotiate a water agreement with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority later in the process.

County officials say the next step will focus on where housing, businesses and community services will be located within the development. That part of the plan will be considered later this month.

Environmental groups and other community activists have raised concerns about the development, saying it would need about 4.6 billion gallons of water a year to support its residents and businesses once the area is fully developed.

New Mexico Revises Outlook For State Government IncomeAssociated Press

New Mexico state economists are revising their outlook for government finances as the state emerges from a budget crisis.

Economists from the Legislature and three state agencies are providing a new forecast for state revenues on Wednesday. Members of the Legislative Finance Committee are meeting at the Taos Ski Valley to discuss the state's improved financial footing.

The state has quickly rebuilt depleted financial reserves to more than 5 percent of annual spending obligations as the oil and natural gas sectors stage a recovery.

New Mexico's credit rating was downgraded last year by ratings agencies amid faltering tax revenues. To shore up shaky state finances, the Legislature, which is led by Democrats, and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez agreed in May to tap into borrowed money from suspended infrastructure projects.

Grandparents Of Slain Albuquerque Girl Sue City And PoliceAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The maternal grandparents of a 10-year-old Albuquerque girl who was raped and murdered last August have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and some of its police officers.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday that the suit claims police failed to investigate child abuse reports prior to Victoria Martens' death.

The suit seeks policy change at the Albuquerque Police Department and compensation for grandparents John and Pat Martens over the loss of their granddaughter plus punitive damages.

They are the parents of Michelle Martens, who's awaiting a July 2018 trial in the death of her daughter.

Also charged in the case are Michelle Martens' boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, and his cousin, Jessica Kelley.

Gonzales is scheduled to go to trial in October 2018 and Kelley in January 2019.

New Lawsuits Allege Mormon Church Failed To Protect ChildrenAssociated Press

New lawsuits allege Mormon church leaders didn't do enough to protect children from sexual abuse in a now-defunct, church-run foster program.

The lawsuits were filed earlier this month on behalf of two Navajo women in tribal court and in Washington state on behalf of a Crow woman.

They are among a string of lawsuits in recent years that seek monetary damages, apologies and a guarantee that church leaders will report suspected abuse.

A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints didn't immediately return a message Tuesday seeking comment. The church has said it works to prevent abuse.

Thousands of American Indian children participated in the program from the late 1940s until it ended around 2000.

The people being accused are associated with host families, not church leaders.

More Closed-Door Meetings For Planned Regional Water SystemSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Santa Fe County, four pueblos and the U.S. Department of the Interior have scheduled more closed-door meetings this week about roadway disputes that threaten to impede funding for a planned regional water system in the Pojoaque Basin.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Bureau of Indian Affairs says some county roads trespass on tribal land.

County commissioners have voted against allocating the county's share of money for the planned multimillion-dollar regional water system until the road disputes are resolved.

The meetings suggest an intensified emphasis on reaching a resolution to the disputes as the Bureau of Reclamation prepares to begin construction on the water system next summer.

The deadline for substantial completion of the $253 million project is 2024.

Doña Ana County GOP Chairman Quits After Controversial PostAssociated Press

The Republican Party chairman of southern New Mexico's Doña Ana County has resigned after making comments on social media that referenced "violent, leftist protesters" following deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Roman Jimenez wrote in the Facebook post on the party's page Sunday that the protesters were responsible for creating a divide between races and genders and were "getting exactly what they asked for": a segregated society of groups.

Jimenez later told an Albuquerque TV station that the post was taken out of context and he regretted it was misconstrued.

The county's GOP Party said in a statement Tuesday that it had accepted Jimenez's resignation and Victor Contreras will serve as interim chairman until the county central committee convenes a meeting to elect a new chairperson.

Crews Removing Natural Gas Pipeline In Simon CanyonFarmington Daily-Times, Associated Press

For more than five decades, a pipeline has transported natural gas over Simon Canyon near Navajo Dam. In about a week, that pipeline will be gone.

The Farmington Daily Times reports Harpole Construction Inc. and Williams Companies Inc. are working to remove more than 2,000 feet of pipeline, which starts on the east side of the canyon.

The pipeline is suspended in the air for about 650 feet as it crosses Simon Canyon.

Williams Companies Inc. owns the pipeline, which has been transporting natural gas since 1959. Williams spokeswoman Sara Delgado says the work began Monday and is expected to take approximately one week.

Crews also will remove about 830 feet of 6-inch pipe that runs down the east hillside.

New Mexico Man Ignores Banishment, Trespasses On Tribal LandAssociated Press

A New Mexico man has been sentenced to a year of probation for trespassing on tribal lands despite being banished by Pojoaque Pueblo.

Prosecutors say 28-year-old Derek Hunt of Santa Fe was sentenced Monday in federal court in Albuquerque for a misdemeanor conviction of trespass and criminal damage to property.

Hunt was charged in February after he was found on the northern New Mexico pueblo on two occasions despite being banished. A criminal complaint alleged that in January, he used a rock to damage the windshield of a vehicle belonging to a woman from the pueblo.

Hunt pleaded guilty in May, acknowledging at the time that the pueblo had served him with an exclusion order the previous year.

Neutron Beams, X-Rays Reveal More About T. Rex RelativeAssociated Press

Researchers at a top U.S. laboratory have used neutron beams and high-energy X-rays to produce the highest resolution scan ever done of the inner workings of a fossilized tyrannosaur skull.

Los Alamos National Laboratory teamed up with paleontologists at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science to peer deeper into the skull of a "Bisti Beast," a relative of the monstrous killer T. rex that lived millions of years ago in what is now northwestern New Mexico.

The scientists on Tuesday unveiled the results of the scan.

They say the work is providing new information about how the predators evolved.

The images detail the dinosaur's brain and sinus cavity, the pathways of some nerves and blood vessels and teeth that formed but never emerged.

UNM Regents Approve First Steps For New HospitalAlbuquerque Journal

The Board of Regents with the University of New Mexico approved initial steps toward a new hospital despite controversy over the plan in the past.

The Albuquerque Journal reported regents gave the nod to the Health Sciences Center to hire an architect for the hospital’s first phase, which would have 120 beds. The final project would have 408 beds.

The estimated cost for the first phase would be between $230 million and $250 million. UNM has more than $200 million already for the hospital.

The State Board of Finance and the New Mexico Higher Education Department, in addition to the Regents, must approve the project. In 2012, the Board of Finance never held a vote on the hospital proposal.

At a meeting of the board in July, members and Gov. Susana Martinez questioned whether this was a good time to pursue the project.