Officals Say 3 Pueblos Owe Casino Revenue, NM Forest Imposes More Stringent Fire Restrictions

Jun 22, 2017

Regulators Say 3 Pueblos Owe State Money Over Casino RevenueThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

Regulators say three pueblos owe New Mexico a combined $40 million under a long-disputed interpretation of an old agreement for sharing revenue from tribal casinos.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Tesuque, Sandia and Isleta pueblos have asked a judge to block the state from collecting what they argue would amount to an illegal tax.

The disagreement centers over free play credits that are given to entice gamblers to play slots.

Regulators used to argue credits should be included when calculating the revenue tribes must share with the state.

The tribes maintain it would violate federal law.

Under a 2015 agreement, the credits aren't included in tallying the revenue that tribes must share.

Regulators in April demanded a share of revenue from the credits.

New Mexico Forest Imposes More Stringent Fire RestrictionsAssociated Press

Persistent hot, dry conditions have prompted forest officials in central New Mexico to impose more stringent fire restrictions.

The Cibola National Forest says the restrictions apply to the Sandia and Mountainair ranger districts. The Mt. Taylor district in western New Mexico will enter stage-two restrictions later this week, which prohibit campfires and wood, coal and charcoal stoves.

The district that covers the Datil, San Mateo and Magdalena mountains entered stage-one restrictions Wednesday.

Officials say the restrictions are aimed at minimizing the possibility of human-caused fires as the fire danger increases due to weather conditions.

Fireworks are also banned and smoking is allowed only in a vehicle or building or areas such as parking lots where there's no vegetation.

There are fires burning in New Mexico but none are threatening any structures.

EPA Prepares To Dam Mine Waste In Southwest ColoradoThe Associated Press & The Denver Post

The Environmental Protection Agency is studying whether it can close a dam inside a southwestern Colorado mountain to stop a leak of contaminated mine water into the Animas River.

The manmade dam was installed in 2004 at the abandoned Red and Bonita Mine. That's near the site of the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster that released millions of gallons of toxic wastewater.

Some 300 gallons of toxic water are released each week from the site above the town of Silverton.

Closing the dam carries the risk of redirecting toxic flows emerging from the mountain through a maze of abandoned mine shafts or natural seeps and springs.

The Denver Post reports the agency hopes to shut the dam next year.

Feds: $2.7M In Grants Available For New Mexico BusinessesAssociated Press

Small businesses in New Mexico working on new innovations that could help the U.S. Energy Department will be getting a boost thanks to $2.7 million in federal grant funding.

The agency announced the grants this week. In all, officials say $116 million in grants will be awarded nationwide for research and development through a technology transfer program aimed at helping small businesses.

The projects in New Mexico range from the development of a special membrane to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions to research on soil, fuel cells, particle accelerators and high energy physics.

New Mexico Game Wardens Investigating Illegal ActivityAssociated Press

New Mexico authorities have seized 17 illegal game animal heads while serving search warrants at multiple locations in Farmington.

The state Game and Fish Department confirmed Wednesday that a Farmington man is facing multiple charges stemming from an investigation into what appears to be illegal activity.

Agency spokesman Ross Morgan declined to identify the man or list the charges, saying the investigation is ongoing.

The investigation began in early 2017 after trail cameras placed on private land resulted in images that concerned state game wardens.

The agency went on to say it's illegal in New Mexico to kill any game animal out of season and without a proper and valid hunting license. It's also illegal to pick up dead heads, road kill or any skull with antlers attached.

Section Of I-10 At New Mexico-Arizona Border Us Re-OpenedAssociated Press

A section of Interstate 10 near the New Mexico-Arizona border has re-opened after being closed for a few hours due to high winds and blowing dust in the Lordsburg area.

New Mexico Department of Transportation officials say traffic was diverted onto U.S. 70 after visibility became low in the Lordsburg area Wednesday afternoon.

A sudden dust storm Monday evening in the Lordsburg area resulted in a 25-vehicle pileup that left six people dead including a Phoenix couple and their 9-month-old daughter.

The high winds and limited visibility caused 18 commercial trucks and seven passenger cars to crash on westbound Interstate 10.

The stretch of highway near rural Lordsburg has seen other deadly crashes and closures due to similar conditions stemming from the desert landscape and a dry lakebed.

Man Accused In Deadly Fight Over Song Held Without BondAssociated Press

A New Mexico man accused of killing another man during an argument that started with a disagreement over song has been ordered held without bond.

Court records show 30-year-old Chris Owens is facing charges of murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm and tampering with evidence in the death of Tim Baca.

A preliminary hearing has been set for next week. It's not immediately clear from court records if Owens has an attorney.

Authorities say Baca was celebrating his wife's birthday when they met Owens early Saturday morning at a nightclub in Santa Fe.

A criminal complaint states that after the group visited another club, an argument over a song turned deadly when Owens fired two rounds at Baca, killing the father of four. Owens was later arrested at his home.

Police Investigate Discovery Of Dead Body In A Roswell AlleyAssociated Press

Police in Roswell are investigating the discovery of a body in an alley and are classifying the case as a suspicious death.

They say the deceased man was found in the east part of Roswell on Wednesday morning.

A woman who was taking trash out to a bin in the alley about 9:40 a.m. noticed the man lying in the alley and called police.

The woman thought the man had passed out.

Police say investigators have identified the man, but are not releasing his name and age yet.

They say it's unclear how long the body may have been in the alley and an autopsy will be conducted.

Southern New Mexico City Opens 'Cooling Stations'Associated Press

Officials in one southern New Mexico city have opened a handful of "cooling stations" where residents can find temporary relief from the heat wave.

Las Cruces officials say the stations at community and recreation centers around the city are designed to help the elderly and other high-risk residents who could be affected by the extreme temperatures.

The stations will be in operation only for certain times of the day.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service say temperatures across southern New Mexico's lower elevations are expected to top out about 10 to 15 degrees above normal Wednesday.

A heat advisory has been issue for the area. It warns that afternoon highs between 105 and 110 will be common across the region through Saturday.

An advisory also has been issued for parts of central and western New Mexico.

Scrutiny Intensifies Over Safety At US Nuclear Weapons LabAssociated Press

The safety record at Los Alamos National Laboratory is facing intensifying criticism as work ramps up to produce a key component for the U.S. nuclear weapons cache.

A series published this week by the Center for Public Integrity cites numerous internal reports and other documents outlining regulators' concerns about safety lapses over the years. The problems involved spilled plutonium and workers positioning plutonium rods in a way that could have had disastrous consequences.

In an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press, Los Alamos officials reassured employees that the lab's plutonium facility is operating safely.

The birthplace of the atomic bomb, Los Alamos has struggled for years to address management and oversight issues as well as more recent safety concerns about the handling of radioactive waste and plutonium used to make cores for nuclear bombs.