Tuesday News Roundup: Southwest Retains Low Rankings In Child Welfare

Jul 22, 2014

Southwest Retains Low Rankings In Child WelfareThe Associated Press

The Southwest continues to earn dismal marks for child well-being, with New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada ranking in the bottom five of an annual national report card on education, health care and poverty.

New Mexico, which last year was in last place, moved back up to 49th in this year's Kids Count Data Book. The report cited a slight drop in child poverty, improvements in high school graduation rates and a drop in the teenage birth rate.

Mississippi fell back to the bottom in the annual report from Annie E. Casey Foundation. Nevada came in 48th, mostly because of the number of children living in poverty, and Louisiana ranked 47th despite a number of across-the board improvements.

Arizona rounded out the bottom five as the report says its rate of children living in poverty has increased and support for programs to help has dropped significantly.

$5M Bond Set For Teens In Homeless Beating Deaths - The Associated Press

Three Albuquerque teenagers accused of fatally beating two homeless men beyond recognition have been ordered held on $5 million bonds.

Police say they are also investigating claims by one of the teens that the trio had been terrorizing transients around Albuquerque for months.

Prosecutors requested a $1 million bond for each of the three during initial appearances yesterday, but Metropolitan Court Judge Linda Rogers set bond at $5 million. She cited the gravity of the alleged crimes and the suspects' potential to flee.

The teens, aged 15, 16 and 18, have been charged with open counts of murder.

Family and attorneys for the three declined comment after the court proceeding.

Man Pleads Guilty In Young Boy's Beating Death - The Associated Press

A 24-year-old northern New Mexico man faces 21 years in prison when he is sentenced in the 2011 beating death of the 3-year-old son of the man's girlfriend at the time.

Steven Gallegos of Pojoaque pleaded guilty Monday under a plea agreement that averts a trial for him in the killing of Leland Valdez.

Gallegos pleaded guilty in a Santa Fe courtroom to child abuse resulting in death and child abuse not resulting in death.

The boy's mother, Tabetha Van Holtz, previously pleaded guilty to child abuse and abandonment resulting in great bodily harm in her son's death.

The boy's father said he reported alleged abuse to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department months before his son died. The current sheriff has said more should have done.

Santa Fe Hospital Preparing For Possible Walkout - The Associated Press and Santa Fe New Mexican

Contract talks are continuing but Christus Saint Vincent Regional Medical Center says it's preparing to keep operating in the event of a possible strike by nurses and technicians at the Santa Fe hospital.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the union representing workers presented the hospital with a strike notice yesterday after workers voted overwhelmingly to reject a contract proposal.

The notice says a work stoppage is possible if a new contract isn't ratified before July 31. That's when the current contract expires.

The hospital's preparations include finding substitutes for workers who could walk out.

Negotiations between the hospital and the union are to resume Thursday. Staffing levels are a major issue.

More Immigrants Deported From New Mexico Center - The Associated Press

More Central American immigrants detained briefly in New Mexico have been deported.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says a plane took the immigrants from Artesia to Honduras, and another flight sent the women and children to Guatemala and El Salvador.

ICE officials say more of the 600 or so women and children at the Artesia center are scheduled to return to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador soon.

The deportations are part of an effort to quickly remove immigrants who were part of a recent surge along the U.S.-Mexico border.

New Mexico Not Deploying National Guard To Border - The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration says New Mexico isn't sending National Guard troops to the border to deal with an influx of children and families from Central America trying to enter the country illegally.

Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said Monday there's no immediate plan to deploy the National Guard to the border on a state mission.

His comments came after Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced up to 1,000 troops would be sent to the Texas-Mexico border.

Knell said Martinez does believe there's a role for the National Guard in protecting the border. He said the governor disagreed with federal decisions in 2008 and 2012 to stop funding programs that had National Guard troops supporting the Border Patrol with surveillance and other non-law enforcement duties to help deal with border violence.

Department: New Mexico Has 2nd Plague Case In 2014 - The Associated Press

A second case of plague has been reported in New Mexico this year.

The Department of Health says testing has confirmed that a hospitalized 43-year-old woman from Rio Arriba County had plague.

An environmental investigation will take place at the woman's home to look for ongoing risk to others in the area.

The first case of plague in New Mexico this year was reported in April. It involved a 57-year-old man from Torrance County. He's still recovering.

Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents and is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas.

It also can be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, wildlife and pets.

New Mexico Insurance Exchange CEO Starts In August - The Associated Press

A new CEO of New Mexico's health insurance exchange will take over running the online marketplace in late August.

The exchange announced yesterday that Amy Dowd had accepted its offer to become the exchange's top administrator.

Dowd has been the executive director of Idaho's insurance exchange.

Interim CEO Mike Nunez has been running New Mexico's exchange since it was created last year.

FAA Gives OK On Belen Airport Runway - The Associated Press

The Federal Aviation Administration has given the green light on a new runway for Belen's Alexander Municipal Airport.

The approval means the bidding process for construction can begin for the $4 million project.

Airport manager Robert Uecker says the runway is needed because the current runway can't be used when the wind blows in from the west.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen says the runway will bring a much needed economic boost to Valencia County.