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Flooding Concerns Close National Recreation Area, Cellphone Ban At Rural Polls In NM Sows Strife

Michael Bently
Creative Commons via Flickr

Flooding Concerns Close Catwalk National Recreation AreaAssociated Press

Authorities in New Mexico say the Catwalk National Recreation Area in Glenwood will be temporarily closed until further notice due to concerns about flooding.

The National Weather Service issued warnings for heavy rains and flash flooding Friday.

More than 2 inches of rain is forecast to fall over the next 24 hours in the recreation area.

The Glenwood Ranger District will monitor weather conditions and river flow rates over the course of the next 36 hours and will reopen the Catwalk area as soon as it is considered safe to do so.

Cellphone Ban At Rural Polls In New Mexico Sows StrifeAssociated Press

One rural county's ban on the use of cellphones and "ballot selfies" at voting locations in New Mexico is prompting a backlash from advocates for civil liberties.

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter of advice Thursday to county clerks that run elections across the state. It urges them to lift or avoid restrictions on cellphone use and to allow voters to take photos of themselves casting ballots.

Rio Arriba County posts signs that say no cell phone usage during voting at all polling places and has for more than a decade. Elections Bureau Chief Michele Jordan says that ensures the privacy of voters.

New Mexico law does not address the "ballot selfie" issue explicitly. It says voters shall not show the contents of their completed ballots.

DA Says He'll Prosecute Officer In Drug-For-SexAssociated Press, Las Cruces Sun-News

A New Mexico district attorney says his office will move forward with prosecuting the case of a Las Cruces police officer who was fired in June amid allegations he provided drugs to a woman in return for sexual favors.

A spokesman for District Attorney Mark D'Antonio said Friday that local law enforcement sent the case to their office for review late last week. Prosecutors plan to take the case to a grand jury in the coming weeks.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Thursday that former Sgt. Alex Smith, the officer under investigation, was fired in June.

The newspaper reports that documents obtained last week indicate Smith gave drugs to a woman, who told an informant during a recorded conversation that she had performed sexual favors for him in exchange for the narcotics and information.

Former Police Chief To Avoid Jail Time For StalkingAssociated Press, Roswell Daily Record

A small southeastern New Mexico town's former police chief has accepted a plea agreement that will keep him out of jail but bars him from ever working in law enforcement in New Mexico again.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that after appealing his conviction to district court, former Dexter Police Chief Mario Contreras entered an Alford plea on Wednesday to one petty misdemeanor count of battery and one misdemeanor count of stalking, of which Contreras was found guilty of in May after a trial in magistrate court.

Under the plea agreement, Contreras will serve one year of unsupervised probation and can never apply for a peace officer position in New Mexico.

New Mexico State Police began investigating after women complained that Contreras stalked them, made crude gestures and touched them inappropriately.

University Of New Mexico To Vote On Seal Amid Racial FearsAssociated Press

The board of regents of New Mexico's largest university is considering revising its half-century old seal amid concerns by Native American students.

A University of New Mexico committee on Thursday voted to accept the recommendation to change the seal after months of forums and public input.

Native American student groups want the University of New Mexico to scrap the seal that depicts a rifle-toting frontiersman and a sword-carrying Spanish conquistador. They say it represents the frontier's violent era.

But some Hispanic activists oppose removing the conquistador since they say it represents the state's Hispanic heritage.

The altered seal would feature on diplomas and lecterns.

The full board of regents will consider the measure at its Nov. 15 meeting.

Tucson Utility Seeking Bids For New Solar Power FacilityAssociated Press

Southern Arizona's biggest electric provider is seeking bids for design and construction of a new solar facility to provide power for more than 21,000 homes.

Tucson Electric Power says the new solar array new facility would help it achieve its renewable energy goals and would begin producing power in early 2019.

TEP says the new facility would have up to 100 megawatts of capacity and could be built in the Tucson area or a location tied into existing transmission facilities.

The company also is evaluating proposals for a 100-megawatt wind-powered facility that would be built by a project partner.

TEP said previously it was looking for wind-powered projects that could tie into the company's transmission facilities located in the Four Corners region and along the Arizona-New Mexico line.