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Fire Forces Evacuations In Otero County, Justice Ginsburg Will Speak At Legal Conference

Wake Forest University via Flickr
Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Otero County Fire Prompts Evacuation Of TownKOB-TV, KRQE-TV

A fast moving fire in Timberon southeast of Alamogordo has grown to 200 acres and destroyed two fire trucks and at least 10 structures, including homes.

KOB-TV reports there have been no injuries so far, but every structure in the small community is threatened. Residents are under evacuation orders and a center has been set up at Cloudcroft High School.

KRQE-TV reports the fire started around 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon and spread so quickly it took out phone lines, making a reverse 911 system to warn people useless.

Deputies with the Otero County Sheriff’s Office went door to door to evacuate residents.

10 Face Heroin Trafficking Charges After New Mexico ProbeThe Associated Press

Federal authorities say an eight-month investigation into a New Mexico drug ring has netted heroin trafficking charges against 10 people.

Authorities say the drug syndicate led by 67-year-old Raymundo Munoz distributed heroin in Dona Ana County, which is situated along the U.S.-Mexico border.

He and suspects Juan Francisco Rivera, of El Paso, Texas, and Blanca Elias Tovar were arrested Monday by the Drug Enforcement Administration after authorities say Tovar crossed the border and was driven by Rivera to a meeting with Muñoz.

The U.S. Attorney's office says six other suspects were arrested Thursday morning, and one remains at large.

A criminal complaint alleges Rivera regularly supplied Munoz with heroin smuggled across the border through El Paso, and Munoz distributed the drugs to other dealers from his home in Sunland Park.

New Mexico's Low Teacher Pay Hurts RecruitingThe Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

A New Mexico committee says the state's relatively low salary for teachers is hurting efforts to recruit and retain educators.

The New Mexican reports that an expert also told lawmakers on the Legislative Education Study Committee that teacher salaries nationwide are failing to keep pace with other professions, driving prospective teachers to look at other careers.

A report released by the committee Wednesday notes that New Mexico ranks 43rd in the nation for teacher pay levels. It says the national average pay for teachers is $58,064, while the average compensation in New Mexico is $47,163.

National Education Association chief economist Richard Sims told lawmakers that paying off student debt is a concern for teachers, who face lower starting salaries than most professions.

Fire At New Mexico Oil Site Being Allowed To Burn OutAssociated Press

Crews are monitoring a fire at an oil production storage site in northwestern New Mexico.

Tulsa, Oklahoma-based WPX Energy says the fire started Monday when 36 storage tanks caught fire. Seven tanks were still burning Wednesday, but officials say the extent of the fire had diminished.

The flames are being allowed to burn out, an approach the company says is being taken to protect responders. WPX says an investigation will determine the cause.

Crews were able to keep the fire contained on the five-acre site south of Nageezi, but some families have been displaced.

The tanks were holding either oil or produced water. Air quality is being monitored but environmentalists used the incident to push for a larger environmental study on the effects of oil and gas development.

Ginsburg To Keynote State Bar ConferenceAlbuquerque Journal

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be the keynote speaker next month at a legal conference in New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Ginsburg will speak at the New Mexico State Bar Conference on the heels of intense controversy sparked by comments she made about presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Ginsburg told the New York Times she could not imagine what the country would be like under a Trump presidency and said her late husband joked it would be time to move to New Zealand. She also told CNN Trump is a “faker.” She apologized for the remarks on Thursday according to the New York Times.

Some legal scholars have said that if there is a close election, such as the one in 2000, Ginsburg may have to recuse herself under federal codes of conduct for judges.

Ginsburg will speak on Aug. 19 after a session called “Gender and Justice: New Mexico Women in Robes,” which will feature the three women on New Mexico’s Supreme Court.

Cabela’s Plans To Open First New Mexico StoreAlbuquerque Journal

Outdoor recreation mega retailer Cabela’s announced it will open its first New Mexico store in Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the company plans to open a location in a new retail project at the corner of Interstate 25 and Paseo del Norte, probably in 2017. It’s expected to employ 150 full- and part-time seasonal employees.

The Nebraska-based company has more than 80 stores around the U.S. and Canada and offers hunting, fishing and other outdoor gear. The store will include an archery range and taxidermy displays.

The New York Post reported that Cabela’s is close to selling to Goldman Sachs and Bass Pro Shops.

Albuquerque Transit System Plans To Acquire Electric Buses - Associated Press

Albuquerque's transit system plans to start using electric buses.

A planned announcement Wednesday by Mayor Richard Berry of selection of buses that will be used follows a competitive bidding process.

Berry told the Albuquerque Journal that the planned purchases of 60-foot-long electric buses will give the city's transit system a chance to earn a top environmental rating and save the city money.

Officials say the 18 buses would cost $24 million. That's about $7 million more than diesel buses but operating costs over the buses' warranty period would provide net savings of $14 million.

The buses are to be used as part of a new transit project along Central Avenue.

Republicans Highlight Fundraising Efforts To Elect Governors Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says fundraising efforts by the Republican Governors Association are putting the GOP in a strong position ahead of 12 gubernatorial elections this fall.

Martinez is chairwoman of the political committee dedicated to helping elect Republicans to governorships. The Republican Governors Association announced Wednesday that it raised $17.3 million in the three months ending June 30.

The association says it has stockpiled $44 million in cash as of mid-year. Contributions this year include a $1 million donation from a private company controlled by billionaire conservative activists Charles and David Koch.

The group's political expenditures in the first half of 2016 exceed $7 million.

Martinez said in a statement that the funds will help ensure key states elect Republican governors. There are currently 31 Republican governors.

Ex-Colfax County Deputy Pleads Guilty In Drugs, Theft CaseAssociated Press

A former Colfax County Sheriff's deputy has pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking and theft of government property charges.

Prosecutors say 46-year-old Vidal Sandoval, of Cimarron, entered his plea Wednesday.

The FBI and the New Mexico State Police arrested Sandoval in March 2015 for allegedly trying to possess cocaine with intent to distribute in Colfax County the previous month.

He also was accused of stealing money belonging to the FBI.

While on duty in December 2014, Sandoval allegedly stole money from two motorists whom he believed to be drug traffickers.

Sandoval reportedly found $8,000 in cash in the motorists' vehicle during a traffic stop and kept all but $500 of it. He later learned the cash belonged to the FBI and the two motorists actually were undercover officers.

NMSU Announces Details On Budget, Job CutsAssociated Press, Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico State University president Garrey Carruthers has unveiled details about the school's budget problems, which will include jobs cuts.

Carruthers spoke Wednesday about the elimination of 89 open positions and 37 jobs currently held by employees. He says the moves are needed for the long-term fiscal health of the school.

Carruthers says the university will try to find jobs for those who will be laid off.

The Albuquerque Journal reports total staffing cuts since October 2015 amounted to 415 positions that have been eliminated.

The university is trying to make $12.1 million in cuts. An earlier estimate put the cuts at $10.7 million. NMSU saw a $9.1 million reduction in its $690.5 million operating budget for fiscal year 2016.

NMSU's main campus saw its student body shrink 14 percent this fall to 15,490 students from peak enrollment in 2011 of 18,024. As enrollment shrinks, so does university revenue.

Dozens Of Curanderos In New Mexico For Healing Conference Associated Press

Traditional healers and students of alternative medicine are at the University of New Mexico this week for an annual conference on curanderismo.

The healers from the United States and Latin America are meeting on campus for two-weeks for demonstrations and hands-on activities about traditions, rituals, herbs, and remedies.

Curanderismo is the art of using traditional healing methods like herbs and plants to treat various ailments. Long practiced in indigenous villages of Mexico and other parts of Latin America, curanderos also could be found in parts of New Mexico, south Texas, Arizona and California.

Anthropologists believe curanderismo remains popular among poor Latinos who didn't have access to health care.

State Department Of Health Warns Of Confirmed Wound BotulismAssociated Press

The New Mexico Department of Health is investigating a confirmed case of wound botulism in a 33-year-old woman from Rio Arriba County who remains hospitalized.

Health officials say the patient is a heroin user and the suspected source of infection is a soiled skin injection site, contaminated injection devices or contaminated heroin.

Botulism is a rare, but potentially deadly illness caused by a nerve toxin that induces paralysis.

Wound botulism is caused by the toxin produced from a wound infected with bacteria.

Signs and symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, muscle weakness/descending paralysis and difficulty breathing/shortness of breath.

If left untreated, the symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk with subsequent death.