UNM Ranked 7th For Application Increase, ABQ Officer To Meet Trump

Jan 29, 2018

University Of New Mexico Ranked 7th For Application IncreaseThe Associated Press

The University of New Mexico is among 50 flagship universities seeing a large wave of applications.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that a recent analysis by The Washington Post looked at dramatic increases in applications experienced by state flagship institutions between 2006 and 2016 and ranked the University of New Mexico as seventh.

While the university has seen a 123 percent increase in applications, enrollment continues to fall.

New Mexico State University Vice President of Enrollment Management Dacia Sedillo says applications to Las Cruces university increased by 40 percent in that same time period.

Sedillo credits the increase to the internet making the application process easier and high school counselors encouraging students to continue with their education.

Albuquerque Officer Who Adopted Addicted Baby To Meet TrumpThe Associated Press

An Albuquerque police officer who persuaded a pregnant woman he found using heroin to let him adopt her unborn child is meeting President Donald Trump.

Officer Ryan Holets will attend Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday as one of the president's special guests.

Holets and his wife were praised last month for adopting a baby girl they named Hope after the addicted mom agreed to let the couple raise her baby.

Police say Holets found the homeless woman and a man using heroin near a convenience store in September. But instead of charging the couple with drug possession, he asked to adopt her child.

Holets and his wife have four other children.

Lawsuit Targets New Mexico's Two-Tier Identification SystemThe Associated Press

New Mexico is being accused of illegally denying driver's authorization cards to some residents after the state adopted a new system in 2016 to meet federal REAL ID Act requirements.

Civil rights and immigrant advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Monday in state district court in Santa Fe.

Under the state's two-tiered system, the Motor Vehicle Division issues two kinds of identification. One is a driver's license that meets tougher federal security rules and the other is the authorization card geared toward people who don't have the identity documents needed for a new license, including immigrants in the country illegally.

The groups claim the state has failed to fully and correctly implement the driver's license law and that requiring unnecessary documentation for the driver's authorization card is causing confusion.

Publicly-Funded New Mexico Spaceport Seeks ConfidentialityThe Associated Press

Operators of a taxpayer-funded spacecraft launch facility in southern New Mexico are seeking greater confidentiality for tenants that include aspiring commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic.

Top officials with the New Mexico Spaceport Authority that runs Spaceport America are scheduled to visit the state Capitol on Monday as they seek an increase in state funding. Spaceport America operators also want the Legislature to restrict public access to information about technology, security and customers at the facility.

A bill backed by GOP Gov. Susana Martinez and Democratic Senate President Mary Kay Papen would exempt a variety of spaceport records from the state's Inspection of Public Records Act.

New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Peter St. Cyr says the bill could interfere with appropriate public scrutiny of spaceport management and operations.

New Mexico Art Exhibit Highlights Presidents' Word ChoiceThe Associated Press

Past presidents dwelled on words such as "terror," ''emancipation" or simply "gentlemen" in State of the Union addresses.

The SITE Santa Fe art venue is highlighting word choices of past presidents in an exhibit that coincides with Donald Trump's first State of the Union address Tuesday.

Sixty-six prominently repeated words are listed for each past address, dating back to George Washington, in black-and-white type that shrinks away like the bottom of an eye test chart.

Artist and teacher R. Luke DuBois created the word portraits a decade ago. Trump's provocative language has infused the project with new meaning.

DuBois sees political discourse in 2018 as both frightening and an opportunity for artists. Another of his works involves a mechanical 1940s-era voting machine with levers for various human emotions and sentiments.

Hundreds Of New Mexico Inmates Held Past Parole Date - By Mary Hudetz, Associated Press

New Mexico prison records show the state has held hundreds of inmates past their projected parole dates under a practice widely known as "in-house parole."

A review of state records obtained through public records requests shows more than 1,000 inmates in the most recent fiscal year alone spent time on in-house parole. And in that time span, the state spent an estimated $10.6 million to incarcerate the inmates.

An expensive and long-running problem, in-house parole routinely has resulted in corrections officials holding inmates for all or part of their parole terms — often because they are unable to find or afford suitable housing outside prison.

Corrections spokesman Mahesh Sita says reducing the number of release-eligible inmates — the department's term for those on in-house parole — remains a priority.

New Mexico Lawmaker Seeks Funding For School SecurityAssociated Press

New Mexico public schools would have additional money to spend each year on security under a measure being considered by state lawmakers.

Supporters initially sought as much as $60 million for the effort but decided Friday to reduce the request to $25 million as lawmakers work on crafting a state budget.

The measure calls for funneling the extra funds to the Public Education Department for training school personnel to respond to armed threats or attacks, contracting or employing security personnel and installing security cameras and metal detectors.

The bill is expected to be discussed by the Senate Education Committee.

Gov. Susana Martinez in her State of the State address also called for more money to bolster school security in the wake of a deadly shooting at Aztec High School.

Navajo Plans Second Utility-Scale Solar Farm In KayentaAssociated Press

The Navajo Nation is expanding a solar energy farm in Kayenta.

The second phase will produce the same amount of energy as the first — about 27 megawatts, or enough to power 18,000 homes. It's expected to start operating next year.

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority is financing the $50 million project through loans.

Tribal officials say they'll sell the renewable energy credits to the Phoenix-based Salt River Project. SRP also will get energy equal to the amount generated at Kayenta.

The setup is similar for the first phase in Kayenta that went online last year.

The two utilities signed an agreement Friday to work together on future renewable energy projects, with a goal of 500 megawatts over the next five to 10 years.

FBI Says Bank Robbery Suspect Apparently Killed Himself In HomeAssociated Press

The FBI says a standoff involving a bank robbery suspect ended with the man's death when he apparently shot himself in his Albuquerque home.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher says 44-year-old Christopher Tracy Schlarb was alone at the time and that no law enforcement officers fired their weapons during the standoff Friday.

Fisher says FBI agents and Albuquerque police officers had tried to arrest Schlarb on a federal complaint charging him with Albuquerque bank robberies on Dec. 5 and Jan. 11.

According to Fisher, Schlarb refused to leave his home and that a single gunshot was heard after authorities tried to negotiate his surrender.

Fisher says an autopsy will be performed to officially determine the cause of death.

Holocaust Survivor To Speak In AlbuquerqueAssociated Press

A Holocaust survivor who fled Budapest to Mexico during World War II is scheduled to speak in Albuquerque.

Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico announced this week that Samuel Marein-Efron will speak at the center on February 9.

Marein-Efron was born into a wealthy Budapest family but was forced to flee after anti-Semitic laws were passed in Hungary. His family later ended up in Mexico City in 1941.

His father later helped refugees from Poland.

Odds Of Beating DWI Charges In Bernalillo County About 50-50Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The odds of beating DWI charges in Bernalillo County are about 50-50.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, 42 percent of all DWI cases resolved in Metropolitan Court last year were dismissed either by judges or prosecutors while 58 percent ended with a guilty verdict or plea.

In 2016, the percentages favored defendants with 55 percent of drunken driving cases being dismissed compared to 45 percent ending in pleas or convictions.

District Attorney Raul Torrez believes prosecutors are making progress.

Torrez tells the Journal that if prosecutors can get the case to trial, they can win.

But the problem is getting to trial, and Torres says prosecutors are in the process of fixing many technical issues that lead to the dismissals.

Albuquerque Hospital Lockdown Lifted; Shooting Victim DiesAssociated Press

A lockdown at a downtown Albuquerque hospital has been lifted as police continue to investigate a fatal shooting.

Officials at Presbyterian Hospital say the facility was placed on lockdown as a precaution shortly before noon Sunday after a gunshot victim was brought into the emergency room.

The man eventually died from his injuries.

His name hasn't been released yet.

Police say they're investigating the incident as a homicide.

The lockdown was lifted shortly after 1 p.m.

Dry Conditions Cramp New Mexico Water Supply ForecastAssociated Press

New Mexico's water resources could feel the pinch later this year thanks to dismal snowpack and a strengthening weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean that typically brings drier weather.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque issued an update Friday on the water supply outlook.

Senior hydrologist Royce Fontenot says drought has expanded across New Mexico in recent weeks. Severe conditions now cover 60 percent of the state.

He said some areas, particularly in the eastern plains, have not seen any moisture for the last 100 days or so.

He also said snowpack levels for all basins are well below normal and that will affect water supplies going forward.

Forecasters estimate New Mexico would need as much as 270 percent of normal precipitation in some areas to recover by the spring.

Public Hearing Upcoming On Los Alamos Chromium PlumeAssociated Press

The New Mexico Environment Department will be setting a date soon for a public hearing related to the cleanup of chromium contamination at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Agency spokeswoman Allison Majure said Friday a notice informing the public will come at least 30 days before the hearing.

In a recent ruling, the state Court of Appeals sided with a coalition of environmental groups, finding there was no evidence to support an earlier decision by regulators to deny requests for a hearing.

At issue is a state permit that allows Los Alamos National Laboratory to release treated wastewater as part of its efforts to address groundwater pollution.

The Communities for Clean Water coalition has concerns that discharging the treated water could end up pushing the chromium plume closer to drinking water wells.

Officials Say Flu Activity Increases Across New MexicoAssociated Press

The flu is continuing its march across New Mexico.

State officials said Friday the New Mexico Health Department has investigated 21 outbreaks in long-term care facilities since October. That's more than was reported during the entire 2016-2017 flu season.

Flu-related hospitalizations, especially in older residents, continue to steadily increase. There also have been 18 flu-related deaths and 72 pneumonia-related deaths in adults this season.

State Epidemiologist Michael Landen says there's still time for people to get vaccinated.

In the U.S., annual flu shots are recommended for everyone age 6 months or older. Last season, about 47 percent of Americans got vaccinated, according to federal figures.

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness. It can cause a miserable but relatively mild illness in many people, but more a more severe illness in others.

Unidentified Burned Body Found In Northwest Rio RanchoAssociated Press

Sandoval County Sheriff's officials say they're investigating a burned body found in northwest Rio Rancho.

They say the body is so badly disfigured that the gender can't be immediately identified.

Sheriff's officials say the body was found sometime Saturday afternoon and the incident is being investigated as a suspicious death.

There's no word yet if authorities have any suspects in the killing.