State Land Office Issues Lease For NM Wind Farm, US Senate Approves NM Wilderness Proposal

Dec 25, 2017

State Land Office Issues Lease For New Mexico Wind FarmThe Associated Press

The State Land Office has issued a lease to a subsidiary of a California-based energy company to build a wind farm on trust land in New Mexico.

Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced the 50-year lease late last week, saying Cowboy Mesa LLC has plans to construct and operate a plant capable of producing 20 megawatts, or enough to power several thousand homes.

The project will cover more than 1,600 acres of state trust land near Corona in Torrance County.

As part of the lease, Cowboy Mesa will pay $3,295 per year in rent until commercial operations commence. Once operations begin, the base rent will increase to $107,222 per year.

The Land Office says Cowboy Mesa's parent company, San Francisco-based Pattern Energy, has a portfolio that includes 20 renewable energy facilities.

US Senate Approves New Mexico Wilderness ProposalThe Associated Press

A measure that would further protect thousands of acres within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico has won approval from the U.S. Senate.

The Cerro del Yuta and Rio San Antonio Wilderness Act passed the Republican-controlled chamber late last week with unanimous support. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

The measure would establish two new wilderness areas within the monument that would cover more than 21,000 acres .

Sen. Martin Heinrich says setting aside the areas as wilderness would further complete the vision of stakeholders who fought to protect the monument during a recent federal review. He said the legislation calls for preserving traditional practices.

Heinrich and fellow New Mexico Democrat Tom Udall first introduced the wilderness proposal years ago. They revived it earlier this year.

Chaves County Supports Plans For Regional Air AuthorityThe Associated Press

Elected leaders in one eastern New Mexico county are backing plans to develop a regional air authority to govern the city-owned Roswell International Air Center.

The Roswell Daily Record reports the affirmation of support from Chaves County commissioners comes as business and government leaders strive to boost jobs and revenues generated at the former military air base.

Even with the support of the county and the Roswell City Council, the creation of such a regional authority would still need legislative approval.

Supporters say an independent authority would reassure potential investors that decisions wouldn't be based on changing, local political priorities and that the authority would be able to hire experienced marketing and leasing experts.

They also say a regional body would be in a better position to obtain federal grants.

Head Of Santa Fe Indian Market Nonprofit Stepping Down Associated Press, Santa Fe New Mexican

The chief operating officer of the nonprofit Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, which presents the annual Santa Fe Indian Market, is resigning after more than three years at the post.

Dallin Maybee took over the nonprofit at a turbulent time and leaves after a contentious period. Changes to the application process and the elimination of a longstanding tenure policy rankled some longtime participants and former leaders of the storied 96-year-old art market.

Maybee, an artist and lawyer of Seneca and Northern Arapaho heritage, said he will not seek to renew his contract after it expires Dec. 31, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

The market draws hundreds of Native American artisans and an estimated 100,000 visitors to downtown Santa Fe each August for the city's busiest tourism weekend.

The decision to abolish tenure, which had allowed many senior artists and some younger prize winners to bypass the qualifying jury process, touched off a debate about whether the market was seeking new blood at the expense of accomplished masters of Southwestern Native art, some of whom relied on Indian Market sales and had been attending the prestigious summertime Plaza event for decades.

Suspended UNM Fraternity Shutting Down For GoodAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal

A fraternity at the University of New Mexico that has been suspended while the school investigates misconduct allegations will not re-open.

Graduate trustees of the 80-member Phi Gamma Delta chapter house at UNM decided Friday to shutter it permanently because recent behavior of members, "were inconsistent with the fraternity's high standards and values."

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Phi Gamma Delta is among three fraternities the school put on emergency suspension this fall due to various allegations. Investigations in all three cases are ongoing.

A university official has said that Phi Gamma Delta faced allegations related to alcohol and hazing.

UNM spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair said the office should complete the investigations by mid-January and has already lifted the suspension on one other fraternity.

Spaceport America Looks To Grow After Recording Busiest Year Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal

Spaceport America in southern New Mexico had one of its busiest years with more than a dozen vertical launches, a pair of balloon flights pulled off by Boeing Co. and flight tests of Virgin Galactic's mother ship.

All the activity this year demonstrated the spaceport's potentially magnetic appeal for the commercial space industry, said officials that manage the futuristic facility.

As competition among spaceports is increasing nationally and internationally, the state may need to take more aggressive marketing actions in order to attract more business, the Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday.

Spaceport CEO Dan Hicks said the country has 10 other licensed spaceports with applications pending for nine more. The spaceports are competing in a market that spent some $339 billion in 2016.

The spaceport expects to have more income next year without the state's help as Virgin Galactic's lease payments for its hangar will increase from $1.8 million to $3 million.

NM Lawmaker Wants Funds To Help Schools Report Abuse Associated Press

A Democratic state lawmaker wants New Mexico to allocate special funding to help boost training designed to help teachers and principals identify and report allegations of sexual abuse of students.

Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque says the $100,000 in new funding she is proposing in legislation would pay for experts to train school employees in how to detect and report dating violence and sexual assault.

State law already requires some training but Stewart tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that what she received during her 30-year teaching career was very thin and "almost non-existent."

She said it would be unfair for the Legislature to order the expanded training without also providing the state education department with the cash to carry out the new program. The Legislature convenes in January.

Police: Body Found In Arroyo Behind Homes In Four Hills Area Associated Press

Police in Albuquerque say they are investigating the discovery of a body in the Four Hills area.

They say two neighbors walking their dogs Saturday morning found the body in an arroyo behind some homes.

Police say the victim suffered massive trauma and the extent of the injuries is making it difficult to identify the victim or the person's gender.

They say there are not any suspects in the case yet.

2 Killed, 2 Injured In Crash Of Big Rig And SUV In Kirtland Associated Press

New Mexico State Police say two people have been killed and two others injured in a crash involving an SUV and a semi-truck in Kirtland.

The fatal crash occurred about 1:45 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of U.S. 64 and County Road 6500.

State Police say alcohol use appears to be a factor in the crash, which is under investigation.

They say the big rig was slowing while approaching a red light at the intersection when it was struck from behind by the SUV.

State Police say there were no signs of skid marks or braking before impact.

They say 34-year-old Dannon Jim and 11-year-old Shynoah Jim both were declared dead at the scene of the crash.

Two other family members were airlifted to an Albuquerque hospital with critical injuries.

Texas Man Critically Injured In New Mexico In Big-Rigs Crash Associated Press

A semi-truck driver from Texas remains hospitalized after two big-rig trucks collided head-on in New Mexico's Bernalillo County.

New Mexico State Police say 60-year-old John Paul Oneal of Foley, Alabama was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash Friday night on Interstate 40.

State Police say Oneal was a passenger in the freightliner driven by 52-year-old Jeffrey Gotreaux of Beaumont, Texas.

Gotreaux is being treated for critical injuries, but officials at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque didn't immediately provide a condition update Sunday.

State Police say the semi-trucks were traveling in opposite directions on Interstate 40 about 80 miles (128 kilometers) west of Albuquerque when the crash occurred.

The driver and passenger of the big rig that caused the crash had non-life threatening injuries and weren't identified.