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Rural Areas Get Broadband, National Guard Review ...

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By Laura from Satellite Beach, USA (New Mexico Uploaded by PDTillman) via Wikimedia Commons
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Project Brings Broadband To Parts Of Northern New Mexico Associated Press

More than two dozen communities in northern New Mexico will now have broadband service thanks to one of the largest communication projects ever funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development office.

The new system was recently dedicated during a ceremony in Taos.

Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner says before the project, many people in the mountainous areas of northern New Mexico didn't have access to broadband and high-speed internet.

The new network stretches 2,400 miles, linking more than 20,500 households, 3,600 businesses and two Native American pueblos to better communication services.

Financing for the project came from federal stimulus funds. Kit Carson Electric Cooperative will receive a grant worth more than $44 million and a loan for more than $19 million to pay for the new infrastructure.

Balderas: New Mexico Regulators Reject Study On Renewables The Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says state utility regulators have turned down his request to study the costs and benefits of renewable energy within the state.

Balderas made the request last month, asking the Public Regulation Commission to investigate the value of solar and wind generation.

He says the state's current electricity system is dysfunctional and that reforms are needed to ensure families can afford to pay their bills and that renewable energy makes up more of the state's portfolio.

The attorney general also had criticized a proposal for dealing with the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico. He wants the parties to return to the table.

The Sierra Club on Wednesday called on Balderas to formally withdraw his support for the San Juan plan.

Governor Orders Review Of National Guard Security PoliciesThe Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has called for a review of security policies at all the New Mexico National Guard recruiting sites and armories as a response to last week's deadly shootings at two Tennessee military facilities.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a governor spokesman says Brig. Gen. Andrew Salas will oversee the review and make recommendations about possible policy changes and security measures.

The Republican governor has yet to authorize members of the National Guard to carry weapons while on duty. Seven other GOP governors have called for such security in the days following the Chattanooga, Tennessee attacks that left four Marines and one sailor dead.

The New Mexico National Guard maintains five different offices around the state and 27 "readiness centers," including training sites and armories.

Pojoaque Pueblo Sues New Mexico Over Vendor LicensesThe Associated Press

Pojoaque Pueblo is accusing the New Mexico Gaming Control Board of illegally interfered with its casino operations since the tribe's gambling compact with the state expired last month.

Pojoaque has filed a lawsuit in federal court, asking that state gambling regulators be prohibited from taking any action against licensed vendors who do business with the tribe.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the tribe is also seeking millions of dollars in what it says could be lost revenue if the regulators fail to renew licenses for those vendors.

At a meeting last week, the Gaming Control Board voted to defer action on some gambling companies' license renewals because they weren't certain if those manufacturers planned to continue doing business with Pojoaque.

Gov. Susana Martinez's office calls the lawsuit baseless.

Albuquerque Woman Tracks Down Late Husband's Stolen TruckThe Associated Press

An Albuquerque, New Mexico, woman says she took the law into her own hands to find her late husband's stolen truck and help capture the alleged thief herself.

KOAT-TV reports Ana Dean boxed in the accused car thief Tuesday after driving around Albuquerque with her grandchildren in search of the stolen Ford F-150.

According to Dean, she loaded up her grandchildren, prayed that her husband's spirit would lead them to the truck and found it in a parking lot.

Dean says after she entered the key code into the truck's electronic lock, she used her own car to block the entrance to the parking lot and called 911.

Police arrived and arrested 25-year-old Jasen Mulvaney on a stolen vehicle charge.

It was not known if he had an attorney.

Albuquerque Settles Excessive Force Case For $142,000The Associated Press

The city of Albuquerque has settled with a car theft suspect who says he was the victim of excessive force for $142,000.

Officer John Doyle and officer Robert Woolever were accused of excessive force in connection with the February 2011 arrest of Nicholas Blume. A surveillance video of the arrest shows one officer on top of Blume while another kicks him repeatedly.

KOB-TV reports that a mayor's office spokesperson confirmed the settlement Tuesday.

The two officers were fired months after the arrest and have since been fighting their dismissal.

Navajo Nation Lawmaker Facing More Charges In Criminal Case Associated Press

Prosecutors have filed seven more criminal charges against a Navajo Nation lawmaker in an investigation of a now-defunct discretionary fund.

Mel Begay faces 16 charges in tribal court, including conspiracy to commit fraud, conflict of interest, and permitting a false voucher.

Criminal complaints allege that Begay illegally authorized payments to his children. Those include $1,800 for a school band trip that already was funded and more than $800 in costs for summer school tuition that didn't exist.

Regardless, tribal law prohibits nepotism. Prosecutors say Begay and his children never disclosed their relationship.

Begay's arraignment is scheduled Aug. 10. He has said the charges are unwarranted.

Criminal charges or ethics violations have been filed against nearly 30 others in the investigation, alleging misuse of more than $1.1 million.

Navajo Nation Leaders Sign Off On Priorities For TribeThe Daily Times, Associated Press

Leaders of the Navajo Nation have signed an agreement detailing a commitment to enhance the quality of life for Navajo people.

The Daily-Times reports that Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, Speaker LoRenzo Bates and acting Chief Justice Eleanor Shirley signed the agreement on Monday in Window Rock, Arizona.

The three-page document prioritizes nine areas for leaders to address during their terms in office. Among the focus areas are water rights, housing, education, and natural resources.

The final agreement came about following a series of meetings between tribal leadership and council delegates.

At Monday's signing, Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez delivered the State of the Nation address, which focused on the appointments of the attorney general, division directors, office directors and commission directors.

New Mexico Lawmaker Election To Civil Rights Board Draws IreAssociated Press

A New Mexico Democratic lawmaker has been elected to the board of the nation's oldest Latino civil rights group despite concerns over partisanship and bylaw violations.

Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero became national treasurer for the League of United Latin American Citizens last week at the group's convention in Salt Lake City.

Yet LULAC's bylaws prohibit elected officials from serving on the national board if they receive "wage compensation."

The Albuquerque Democrat is a member of the New Mexico House but receives no annual salary. However, she receives per diems and is eligible for a pension.

Former New Mexico LULAC state director Pablo Martinez says allowing Caballero to serve sets a dangerous precedent and she should resign.

In an email to The Associated Press, Caballero said she was in meetings all day and could not respond.

Fewer Credits Needed To Graduate From NMSUAssociated Press

New Mexico State University has shortened the amount of credits students need to receive a bachelor's degree.

Students will now need 120 credits instead of 128.

University officials say the move, made during a meeting on Tuesday, better aligns NMSU with other institutions around the country.

The reduced requirements will mostly affect general elective courses, a news release states.

The University of New Mexico has also reduced the number of credits required from 128 to 120.

New Mexico Unemployment Rate Rises To 6.4 Percent In JuneAssociated Press

New Mexico's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent in June, up from 6.2 percent in May but down from 6.6 percent a year earlier.

The state Department of Workforce Solutions said Tuesday the state added 12,700 jobs in June, a 1.6 percent increase since June 2014 as the state notched its 34th consecutive month of over-the-year job growth.

The education and health services industry led June's over-the-year job growth with 7,700 jobs, a 6.2 percent increase for the industry and 45 percent of the state economy's total over-the-year June job growth.

The other services industry shed 2,400 jobs in the largest over-the-year job loss.

Ex-Inmate Must Follow Judge's Orders In Santa Fe Prison DigAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A state judge has set limitations on an ex-inmate's search of a now-closed state penitentiary for evidence he says would prove that prisoners had been abused.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that under District Judge Sarah Singleton's order filed last week, Samuel Chavez and his search team will be given a 30-minute time limit and one shovel for their dig in the Penitentiary of New Mexico's recreation yard. Chavez has also been permitted to search the cells he may have been confined in.

Chavez, who was convicted of murder in Las Cruces in 1988, claims he buried evidence that proves the state conducted medical experiments on prisoners, tortured them and sold their organs and blood.

The Department of Corrections has denied Chavez' allegations.

Navajo Code Talker From New Mexico DiesAssociated Press

A Navajo Code Talker has died in New Mexico.

Kee Etsicitty was 92 years old when he died on Tuesday, the 23rd Navajo Nation Council said in a news release. He lived in the community of Chichiltah, about 25 miles from Gallup.

The Navajo Nation Council held a moment of silence for Etsicitty and flags will be flown at half-staff in his honor.

Etsicitty joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943, helping use the Navajo language to outsmart the Japanese in World War II.