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Poverty Advocates Parody State Tourism Campaign, Powerball Boosts Scholarship Fund

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'New Mexico Truth' Campaign Launched On Child Poverty Associated Press

A Catholic community health organization wants to draw attention to child poverty in New Mexico and is using a parody of the state's successful tourism ad campaign to do it.

CHI St. Joseph's Children this week launched a "New Mexico Truth" campaign consisting of a website and commercials about how children in the state suffer economically.

The organization's CEO, Allen Sanchez, says it's meant to parody the "New Mexico True" campaign that has been credited with boosting tourism in the state.

The poverty campaign uses a logo similar to "New Mexico True" and shares statistics of child poverty.

CHI St. Joseph's Children is part of a coalition of groups that is pushing for lawmakers to expand early childhood education by dipping into one of the state's permanent funds.

New Mexico Governor To Add Ethics To Legislative Agenda Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez will be adding some ethics bills to the agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

One measure highlighted by the governor's office would require legislators to disclose outside sources of income to protect against conflicts of interest.

There have been numerous calls for ethics and campaign finance reforms in the wake of a scandal involving former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who was prosecuted for misusing political donations.

House Minority Leader Brian Egolf sent a letter to Martinez on Tuesday, requesting she add a series of reform bills to the agenda. One would toughen a pension forfeiture law aimed at corrupt elected officials.

Martinez's office fired back, accusing Egolf of playing political games since some of the measures had been opposed by Democrats in the past.

Powerball Craze Boosts Lottery Scholarship Fund – Santa Fe New Mexican

The boost in ticket sales by people eager to win the massive $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot has helped replenish the Legislative Lottery Scholarship fund.

Lottery officials told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the Powerball frenzy has generated ticket sales of nearly $15 million, raising about $4.5 million for the scholarship fund.

Rising student enrollment and tuition costs have impacted the long-time health of the fund. The annual contribution from lottery ticket sales has been about $40 million, while the demand from students has risen to $64 million.

Senator John Arthur Smith noted the Powerball boost does not fix the long-term issues and may actually hurt efforts to fix the fund in the upcoming legislative session.

Last Year Was State’s 5th Wettest On RecordAlbuquerque Journal

New Mexico has struggled with drought, but last year brought some relief, making it the 5th wettest year on record.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the state logged a little over 19 inches of precipitation last year. The annual average is 13.25 inches.

El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean brought plenty of rain in May and June and a heavy snow in December. Kerry Jones with the National Weather Service told the Journal that this created more moist soil and that means when the snow melts in the spring it will feed rivers, creeks and reservoirs.

However, Jones added that snowpacks can disappear quickly with warmer weather and high winds.

Overtime For APD Increases To $11 MillionAlbuquerque Journal

Albuquerque police officers racked up $11 million in overtime in 2015.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that was a 16 percent increase over the previous year. City officials attributed the uptick to a shortage of officers and a salary increase.

About $1.5 million of that amount was overtime covered by businesses that pay for officers to work there. Other overtime happened when the numbers of calls for service were too numerous for regularly scheduled officers to respond in a timely manner.

More officers also made the top tier of city salaries, meaning they were paid at least $93,000.

Feds Charge Man Shot By Police After Bank Robbery Attempt Associated Press

A 47-year-old man who was shot and wounded by an Albuquerque police officer now faces a federal charge of attempted bank robbery.

A federal complaint accuses Darrel Salazar of Albuquerque of trying to rob a Bank of America branch late Monday.

An FBI agent's affidavit says Salazar was followed by a customer who called 911 after Salazar ran from the bank when he failed to get any money from a teller. The affidavit says a police officer shot Salazar drew a handgun and pointed it at officers.

Salazar didn't have an attorney when he appeared in federal court Tuesday. A magistrate ordered him held pending another hearing.

Police said the officer is on standard paid leave and that a multi-agency team is investigating the shooting.

New Mexico Council Oks Investment Funds For StartupsAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says a new program approved by the State Investment Council will give startup companies the capital they need to bring new innovations and ideas to the market.

Martinez and the rest of the council voted Tuesday to approve the program. She says it will be another tool New Mexico can use as it works to diversify its economy.

Under the program, a fund will be established using a combination of state, federal and private money. It will be used for small investments in for-profit micro funds around the state that provide seed money for startups.

The fund will be made up of $10 million from the state's Severance Tax Permanent Fund. Another $5 million each would come from the U.S. Treasury Department and private investors.

White Rhino Dies At ABQ Biopark Zoo In Albuquerque Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press 

A 38-year-old white rhino has died at a zoo in Albuquerque.

Officials at the ABQ BioPark Zoo say the rhino called Caroline died in her indoor enclosure Sunday evening from complications of a gastrointestinal condition as well as an adrenal tumor.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Caroline's death leaves the zoo with two rhinos — a 28-year-old female named Bertha and 3-year-old male named Chopper.

Caroline came to the ABQ BioPark Zoo in May from the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, Texas.

White Rhinos are native to Eastern and Southern Africa.

In the wild, they generally live into their late 20s, while in captivity their average lifespan is 34 years.

Roswell Moves To Name Recreation Center After Cesar Chavez  - Roswell Daily Record, Associated Press

Roswell's Parks and Recreation Commission has recommended that a new recreation center be named after the late California farmworker union leader Cesar Chavez, a move that may help a yearlong debate about honoring the civil rights icon.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that the recommendation, adopted Monday, will proceed to City Council committees for consideration.

The proposal to name the center after Chavez was broached last year after a proposal to rename a street after him failed to gain traction without the support of the Chaves County commission. Proponents of the name change accused those who didn't want a Chavez street of having racial bias.

League of United Latin American Citizens' spokesman Richard Garcia says naming the recreation center after Chavez is a means of reaching a compromise on the street renaming issue.

Farmington, San Juan Approve Join Sobering Center The Associated Press

Officials in New Mexico have approved a center that will provide temporary shelter for intoxicated people and substance abuse recovery services.

The Daily Times reports that the Farmington City Council on Tuesday approved a two-year agreement with San Juan County and local medical centers for a sobering center and intervention program.

The county is constructing two buildings next to Totah Behavioral Health to house those services. San Juan County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter says both buildings are on schedule to open in March.

Once open, the sobering house will be able to serve up to 40 people each day. The voluntary joint intervention program will also be able to accommodate 40 clients.

The city of Farmington is responsible for 47 percent of the services' annual costs.

New Mexico Considers New Tax On E-Cigarettes The Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers will consider a first-time tax on e-cigarettes along with increased levies on cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

The proposal for a 66 percent tax on e-cigarettes was introduced on Wednesday by Democratic state Senator Howie Morales of Silver City. Taxes on conventional cigarettes would increase by $1 to $2.66 and taxes on other tobacco products would rise from 25 percent to 66 percent of initial sales.

Several states are examining tax structures that account for the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and other alternative tobacco products. Electronic cigarettes use a small battery and a tobacco-based nicotine liquid to produce a mist or vapor with no tar.

The proposed legislation is endorsed by the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association and other public health groups.

New Mexico AG Seeks Funds To In Rio Grande Water Fight The Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says the legal battle with Texas over management of the Rio Grande is moving ahead and this is no time for the Legislature to cut funding.

Balderas testified Wednesday before the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, one of the key panels that will be crafting the state budget when the legislative session begins next week.

Legislative finance analysts are recommending $500,000 for Balderas' office to use for the ongoing litigation. Past funding has topped $2 million and Balderas had requested $3 million for the next fiscal year.

He says the funding is critical since the case is ratcheting up. He argued New Mexico's economy and rural communities could be affected.

Texas sued New Mexico in 2013, claiming the state failed to deliver water as required under the Rio Grande Compact.

Martinez To Meet With Dairy Farmers In Winter Storm's Wake The Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez will be visiting eastern New Mexico to meet with dairy farmers as many continue to dig out their livestock nearly two weeks after a massive winter storm.

Martinez has requested federal Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to issue an additional disaster declaration for the region to make more resources and assistance available to farmers and ranchers.

Martinez declared an emergency earlier this month after more than two feet of snow fell in some areas and strong winds helped to form drifts that overtook corrals, buried livestock and reached the eaves of milk barns and bunkhouses.

The governor on Wednesday will be visiting the Rajen Dairy in Clovis and the Three Amigos Dairy in Dexter.

Controversial Police Officer Sues Albuquerque For Promotion The Associated Press

An Albuquerque police officer who was involved in a wrongful death lawsuit that cost the city millions is suing for a promotion.

Court documents show Brett Lampiris-Tremba is suing Albuquerque police and the city, claiming he has passed all necessary tests and certifications to become a sergeant. He says the police department is violating its own rules by not promoting him.

Lampiris-Tremba is also asking for more than a year of back pay.

Albuquerque paid out roughly $8 million in a 2013 wrongful death lawsuit after Lampiris-Tremba shot Kenneth Ellis III in the neck while Ellis III held a gun to his own head.

Ellis III's father, Kenneth Ellis, Jr., called the idea of Lampiris-Tremba being promoted "ludicrous."

Lampiris-Tremba's attorney didn't return a message from KRQE-TV.

Santa Fe Teacher Accused Of Duct Taping Students' Mouths The Associated Press

Police are investigating a student's claims that a Santa Fe Public Schools fifth-grade teacher placed duct tape over the mouths of five students.

Santa Fe Police says the student made the claim about the incident, which allegedly happened in December, Monday at a parent-teacher conference at Cesar Chavez Community School.

The district has placed the teacher on paid administrative leave while police investigate.

Principal Tammy Hall in a letter to parents said officials have started an internal investigation and that it is a confidential personnel matter.

Department Of Health Monitoring Flu Cases Across New Mexico The Associated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health has created a system for tracking influenza across the state to detect changes in the disease as they occur.

The influenza surveillance system involves partners across New Mexico in clinics, hospitals, laboratories, at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and within the state health department.

The department maintains a network of 27 sites statewide that collect data on a weekly basis for patients seeking care for influenza-like illness.

The state participates in a system for monitoring residents hospitalized with influenza in 23 hospitals in New Mexico and Texas.

Data is collected to track the number of people who have died from influenza and related infections and to understand what other risk factors contributed to their death.