New Mexico Gets $12M Federal Education Grant- Associated Press
Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico will receive an additional $12.5 million in federal money over four years to improve early childhood education. The money is on top of $25 million the U.S. Department of Education awarded the state last year through the national "Race to the Top" competitive grant program. Martinez said the money will be used to help improve early reading skills of students and ensure children are ready to learn when they enter elementary school.
NM Nuclear Lab Shows Underground Storage Vault- Associated Press
A tunnel and vault dug into a canyon wall in northern New Mexico that for years provided the federal government with a secret and secure place to store nuclear material during the Cold War is now a tour stop. Los Alamos National Laboratory says the facility known as the "tunnel vault" has been declassified and is being shown on lab tours for the news media and for families of laboratory workers. The tours are part of the lab's celebration of its 70th anniversary. The faculty was built in 1948 and 1949. It includes a 230-foot-long concrete tunnel leading to a large room with a bank-vault door. Inside, there are five storage areas protected with identical doors. Exterior security features include a hardened guard tower with gun ports and bulletproof glass.
NM Woman Pleads Guilty In Driver's License Fraud- Associated Press
A former public notary has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining hundreds of New Mexico driver's licenses for people living outside the country. Federal prosecutors say 38-year-old Veronica Diaz, of Portales, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of forgery, 32 counts of conspiracy to alteration or forgery of a driver's license and three counts of false evidence of title or registration. A judge suspended her 70-year prison sentence and placed her on five years of supervised probation after Diaz agreed to testify against the alleged leaders of the driver's license fraud ring. Authorities say the $30,000 per month operation also included human traffickers and mail collectors. They say Diaz signed false affidavits to obtain New Mexico driver's licenses for foreign nationals from Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil, Guatemala, Uruguay and Honduras.
New Mexico Governor Names 2 To State Parole Board - Associated Press
Gov. Susana Martinez has named a retired Albuquerque police officer and a federal probation officer to the state Parole Board. Miguel Carrion and Carl Cleland will serve on a 15-member board that can grant or deny parole for adult offenders. Their appointments are subject to confirmation by the state Senate. Carrion is a federal probation officer who supervises the presentence investigation unit at the U.S. Probation Office. He earned a bachelor's degree in social work from New Mexico State University. Cleland had a 23-year career in law enforcement and retired from the Albuquerque Police Department. The governor's office said both appointees were filling vacancies on the Parole Board and will serve terms expiring in June 2015.
2 Companies To Bring Jobs To Santa Teresa - Associated Press
Several dozen jobs are expected to open up in southern New Mexico now that two companies have announced plans to locate in the border community of Santa Teresa. Gov. Susana Martinez and state Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela were in Santa Teresa on Monday to help make the announcement. They say W Silver Recycling plans to hire about 20 workers and warehouse and distribution company Twin Cities will be hiring about 50 employees. Officials say both companies expect to grow and hire more workers in the future. Martinez says the companies saw a benefit in placing their operations in Santa Teresa. She pointed to efforts by her administration to make the state's tax structure competitive and focus on investing in infrastructure along the border.
Tropic Bird Goes Astray, Sparks NM Birding Frenzy - Associated Press
There's a frenzy erupting in the birding world, and the Rufous-necked wood-rail is to blame. For the first time, the species has been spotted in the United States. The colorful, chicken-sized birds are typically found along the coasts and in tropical forests in Central and South America. For the last two weeks, one of the birds has made itself at home at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in southern New Mexico. The sighting has prompted emergency plane reservations and impromptu road trips reminiscent of "The Big Year," the comedy that brought to life the annual competition among birders to identify the most species of birds in North America in a year's time. Refuge officials say the marsh boardwalk has been getting crowded during sunrise and sunset as birders try to get a glimpse of the bird.
Permit Denied For NM Horse Slaughter Company - Associated Press
The New Mexico Environment Department on Monday dealt a new blow to a Roswell company's hard-fought attempts to begin slaughtering horses next month, declining a request to renew Valley Meat Co.'s wastewater discharge permit. The denial came the same day that actor Robert Redford and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson joined the divisive debate, announcing formation of an animal protection foundation to fight a return to domestic horse slaughter. The NMED says it won't renew the permit without a public hearing, noting it has received more than 450 comments against letting the former cattle slaughterhouse open as a horse slaughter plant. Valley Meat Co. attorney Blair Dunn cried foul, saying the agency was unfairly targeting a small family-owned business. He says the plant can still open, but would have to haul its waste.