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Feds To Review Drilling In Chaco Region, More Voters Registering Online in New Mexico

US National Park Service
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Feds To Launch Expanded Review Of Drilling In Chaco RegionBy Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The federal government is planning an expanded review of public lands management in northwestern New Mexico to address concerns about oil and gas development surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

A World Heritage site, Chaco includes the remnants of an ancient civilization whose monumental architecture and cultural influences have been a source of mystery for years.

Native American groups, archaeologists and environmentalists have been pushing for years for the Bureau of Land Management to consider the historical and cultural significance of the area as it develops a new resource management plan for the region.

U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor announced Thursday that the agency and the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Navajo Regional Office are joining forces for the first time to look at management across federal and tribal lands.

Public meetings are planned next month.

More Voters Registering Online In New MexicoThe Associated Press

Online voter registration has gained in popularity in New Mexico since the system pioneered at the start of the year.

New Mexico Elections Director Kari Fresquez said Friday that about 108,000 people have gone online to register or update voter records this year in a state with nearly 2.1 million residents. More than 25,000 people used the online system in the last couple of days before the general election registration deadline.

Democrats account for just over 49,000 of the people using the online voter registration system. Republicans account for nearly 30,000. Others choose small parties or have no affiliation.

Those numbers roughly correspond with party affiliation among all registered voters.

About 44,000 people have registered online so far this year.

DOE Finishes Toxic Waste Cleanup At 4 Los Alamos SitesThe Associated Press & The Los Alamos Monitor

The U.S. Department of Energy says it has finished cleaning up toxic waste at four northern New Mexico sites.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports (http://bit.ly/2e7NjAE ) that soil at four locations on the south rim of the Los Alamos Canyon was contaminated with waste leftover from the Manhattan Project and early atomic Cold War research.

The cleanup began in June and was conducted by private subcontractor TerranearPMC. The DOE said in early October that it had removed about 133 cubic yards of soil from the area and sent it to a waste disposal site in Utah.

The agency says the project was finished under budget and ahead of schedule.

During the Manhattan Project, scientists worked to develop the atomic bomb later dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Isleta Pueblo To Celebrate Multimillion-Dollar SettlementThe Associated Press

Tribal and federal officials will be gathering on the banks of the Rio Grande at Isleta Pueblo to celebrate the settlement of a dispute stemming from one of the diversion dams along the river.

Officials said Friday the multimillion-dollar agreement grants the federal government easement for the dam for the next 100 years and resolves trespass issues associated with dam.

The pueblo also will receive a lump sum payment as well as support for sediment management, restoration projects in the wooded area along the river and other environmental work.

Through the negotiations, officials also ratified standard operating procedures for the dam and completed plans for data collection, dam operations record-keeping and sediment disposal.

Pueblo Gov. E. Paul Torres says Isleta recognizes the importance of the dam in that it delivers water to farmers and communities along the river.

New Mexico Jobless Rate Rises To 6.7 Percent In September – The Associated Press

New Mexico's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is up for the third straight month.

The Department of Workforce Solutions reports that the September rate was 6.7 percent as nonfarm employment dropped by 2,000 jobs from September 2015.

The state's unemployment rate was steady at 6.2 percent in March, April, May and June before rising to 6.4 percent in July and 6.6 percent in August.

Of the 13 industries measured in the state's economy, six added jobs, six lost jobs and one was unchanged from September 2015.

The largest gain was recorded by education and health services, up 6,100 jobs over the year, while mining lost 6,900 jobs.

Humanities Chairman To Celebrate Native American CultureAssociated Press

The head of the National Endowment for the Humanities is visiting New Mexico to celebrate and study Native American culture.

Chairman William Adams will be touring the School of Advanced Research's Indian Arts Research Center, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Institute of American Indian Arts while in Santa Fe.

He'll also stop by the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque, where he'll participate in a talk about the organization's Next-Generation Ph.D. program.

Adams and U.S. Sen. Tom Udall also will host a discussion on funding for projects that preserve and celebrate Native American culture.

To date, NEH has awarded $5 billion in grants to build the nation's cultural capital at museums, libraries, colleges and universities, archives and historical societies.

Isleta Pueblo To Celebrate Multimillion-Dollar SettlementAssociated Press

Tribal and federal officials will be gathering on the banks of the Rio Grande at Isleta Pueblo to celebrate the settlement of a dispute stemming from one of the diversion dams along the river.

Tribal officials say the multimillion-dollar agreement with the federal government transfers control of the decades-old dam to the tribe to resolve the pueblo's trespass claims.

The agreement also provides the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation with an easement going forward for the use of pueblo lands for the diversion dam.

Pueblo Gov. E. Paul Torres says Isleta recognizes the importance of the dam in that it delivers water to farmers and communities along the river.

Effort To Reveal Political Spending Comes With Own Price TagAssociated Press

New Mexico's director of elections is briefing state lawmakers on efforts to modernize an online campaign finance information system widely criticized for obscuring the complete sources and destinations of political spending.

Elections Director Kari Fresquez of the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office is scheduled to brief a legislative technology committee Friday on the estimated $985,000 cost for the project.

Funding has yet to be secured for the new online clearinghouse for information on political contributions and lobbying expenditures, as lawmakers cope with a state budget crisis. The project was approved without appropriations in February under legislation signed by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Recently completed modernization efforts at the Secretary of State's Office include online voter registration and a consolidated portal for business filings.

NMSU Looks To Improve Dropping Freshman Retention RatesLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Though freshman enrollment at New Mexico State University keeps rising, freshman retention has dropped and university officials are looking to change that.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that this year, 71.3 percent of last year's freshmen returned to NMSU compared to 73.1 percent in the Fall 2015 semester, or about 40 fewer students returned. The slight decrease comes after the university has invested in programs to help guide freshman and sophomores through their programs.

Executive Vice President and Provost Dan Howard told the Board of Regents on Wednesday that the university surveyed 181 first-year students who did not re-enroll this fall and found the majority of them reported they did not return for financial reasons.

Howard says he is working with university staff to combat this issue.

Acoma Pueblo Takes Property Tax Fight To Federal CourtAssociated Press

Acoma Pueblo has launched a legal fight, arguing that a more than century-old federal law prevents local and state officials from collecting property tax on tribally-owned land even if it's located outside of the tribe's recognized boundaries.

The tribe filed its lawsuit in federal court in Las Cruces earlier this month.

New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla and Cibola County Treasurer Geraldine Rael are named as defendants.

The pueblo received a delinquent tax notice in September, saying more than $30,000 was owed and that the land would be sold if the bill wasn't paid.

The tribe argues the county and state have no authority to collect taxes on two commercial tracts the tribe purchased in 2004. It points to a 1905 federal law, saying the land is exempt.

New Mexico Announces Latest Segment Of Rio Grande TrailAssociated Press

The newest segment of a 500-mile recreation trail that will one day stretch the length of New Mexico from Colorado to Texas is being dedicated in southern New Mexico.

Gov. Susana Martinez visited Las Cruces' La Llorona Park on Thursday to celebrate the addition of more than 4 miles to the Rio Grande Trail.

The governor in 2015 signed legislation creating a commission charged with defining the best routes and reaching the necessary agreements with local governments and property owners to build the statewide trail.

Officials envision the Rio Grande Trail as something similar to the Appalachian Trail or the Continental Divide Trail, an attraction for visitors from around the world.

The trail system already consists of more than 20 miles spanning six state parks.

Edgewood To Appeal Ruling In Shooting Information LawsuitAssociated Press

The town of Edgewood and other defendants are appealing a ruling that they must pay the widow of man killed by police for not giving her documents she requested quickly enough.

Erin Noll filed a civil complaint in Santa Fe District Court in November 2015 asking a judge to force the town, the Department of Public Safety and the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office to release records related to the shooting death of her husband, Ethan Noll. The sheriff's office was later dropped from the lawsuit.

Ethan Noll was shot and killed by State Police in April 2015.

A Santa Fe District Court judge last week ordered the defendants to pay more than $22,000 in court costs and legal fees to Erin Noll because they violated the Inspection of Public Records Act by not promptly releasing the records.

New Mexico Military Institute Celebrates 125 YearsRoswell Daily Record, Associated Press

This year's homecoming celebration at the New Mexico Military Institute is about more than just a football game. The school is marking its 125th anniversary.

To celebrate, the Roswell Daily Record reports that cadets will be representing each decade of the institute's history by wearing uniforms from those decades.

In 1898, 13 cadets made history by being the first women to enroll, including Edith Matthews. She'll be represented this weekend by her great-great-granddaughter, cadet Maddux Porter.

A memorial service was held Thursday for fallen cadets. Friday's events include a Hall of Fame reception and an alumni baseball game. Saturday will feature drill team exhibitions and a parade before the start of the homecoming game.

Known as "The West Point of the West," NMMI serves about 1,000 students.