Weekend News Roundup

Aug 5, 2013

Cleanup Continues Following Severe Weather - The Associated Press

It's been a week since communities around New Mexico were slammed with strong winds, heavy rain and flooding, and the cleanup continues.

The American Red Cross has been working in Columbus in southern New Mexico to provide drinking water, tarps and air mattresses, while the Roadrunner Food Bank has been bringing in fresh produce and ready to eat meals.

Red Cross officials say they are still doing damage assessments of the dozens of homes that were damaged or destroyed by the severe weather.

About a dozen volunteers from Southern Baptist churches across New Mexico were in Corrales on Friday and Saturday to help with cleanup there.

In Albuquerque, city officials are offering a special refuse pickup schedule for residents who have had to clear tree limbs and other debris left behind by the storm.

WIPP Gets State Approval For Opening New Wing - The Carlsbad Current-Argus 

The New Mexico Environment Department has approved the start of operations in a new segment of the federal government's nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad.

The area known as Panel 7 was put through an extensive review and certification process before the state signed off on the opening of the new wing.

Officials tell the Carlsbad Current-Argus that the area underwent mining and outfitting, which included the installation of electricity, monitoring equipment and air regulating bulkheads.

Panel 7 will begin to receive defense-related waste, including such things as clothing, tools and other debris, once Panel 6 has been filled. Operations could start as soon as this month.

WIPP is authorized to mine one more panel. A request for any additional panels must be made to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Union Rep Questions Teacher Evaluation System - The Albuquerque Journal

Questions are being raised about the state's new teacher evaluation system.

The head of the New Mexico chapter of the National Education Association says the new system will take the responsibility off principals to be instructional leaders and put teachers in the position of having to evaluate each other.

Charles Bowyer says another concern is that principals could be allowed to sign off on an evaluation of a teacher they never observed.

State officials say that wasn't the intent of the proposed changes so the rule will be clarified.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the state is gathering comments on the proposed changes to the evaluation system, which is about to be launched.

Under the system, observations will account for a quarter of teacher evaluations. The rest will be based on measures of student learning.

Albuquerque Loses Ballooning World Record - The Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque no longer holds the world record for launching the most hot air balloons within an hour.

However, there was little concern among officials with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The fiesta's executive director, Paul Smith, tells the Albuquerque Journal that fiesta organizers didn't do anything special when establishing the record in the first place.

He says a typical mass ascension during the annual fiesta sees more than 500 balloons launch in 1 hour and 45 minutes. The hour record was set in 2011 with 345 balloons lifting off.

On Thursday, 408 balloons launched in an hour during the Lorraine Mondial festival in eastern France.

Albuquerque organizers say they have no plans to attempt breaking the record at this year's fiesta, which begins Oct. 5.