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3 Of 4 UNM Health Sciences Deans Depart, Las Cruces Activist Eyes Southern NM Congress

Arianna Sena
Creative Commons

3 Of 4 University Of New Mexico Health Sciences Deans Depart – Associated Press

The University of New Mexico has some hiring to do after three of its four Health Sciences Center deans have decided to accept jobs at other colleges.

Deans Lynda Welage and Nancy Ridenour are leaving for the University of Minnesota and Barnes-Jewish College in St. Louis, respectively, and dean Deborah Helitzer is going to Arizona State University, The Albuquerque Journal reported.

The last dean remaining, Health Sciences Chancellor and School of Medicine Dean Paul Roth, said the departures are unlike anything he's ever seen. Roth conducted an exit interview with each of the three women, and none of them had one specific reason for leaving, he said.

"This is the first time we've had all of this happening at the same time," said Roth, who first came to the university in the late 1970s as a medical resident. "We kind of categorize when people leave: Is it that they're being pushed out of the institution? Or are they being pulled places? And I think it would be very easy to say that in all of these cases, it's a combination of both."

Roth said it's satisfying to see all advance professionally, and that the university has identified capable interim deans to limit any possible disruptions.  He aims to hire a new nursing and pharmacy dean before the 2018-19 academic year, though he will likely hold off on a population health leader, he said.

Roth called the rash of losses painful. He said it speaks to larger issues facing the university and New Mexico.

"It's very hard for an academic or really any kind of executive leader to be in an environment that is so restricted in resources — particularly in the state of New Mexico where the need is so great but the ability to respond effectively to those needs (is) so much less than other states," he said.

New Mexico Tribe Closes Access To Cultural LandmarkAssociated Press

A northern New Mexico Native American tribe has shut down access to a cultural and geological landmark amid concerns of "visitor abuse."

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Cochiti Pueblo recently closed access to La Bajada that includes an abandoned stretch of Route 66 and El Camino Real, the Spanish colonial road linking Mexico City and Santa Fe.

Jacob Pecos, the pueblo's natural resources director, says the tribe wants to protect its borders from the deterioration.

But the closure has upset nearby residents who visited the area to hike or take photographs.

Pecos said he expects the area to remain closed indefinitely but the tribe might issue permits for select users.

Las Cruces Activist Eyes Southern New Mexico Congress Seat Associated Press

A Las Cruces activist and veteran says he is running for New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District seat now held by Steve Pearce.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Tony Martinez announced this weekend he will seek the Democratic nomination for a seat Pearce may give up to run for New Mexico governor.

Martinez, a co-founder of the group WE'RE IN: Las Cruces Indivisible, says the outcome of the 2016 election compelled him to find a way to stand against Republican President Donald Trump and his policies.

The Democrat primary is expected to draw a number of candidates.

Pearce is reportedly considering vacating his House seat to run for governor in 2018.

Salinas Pueblo Missions To Host July 4th Citizen Ceremony Associated Press

A group of new U.S. citizens will be sworn in during a special July 4th ceremony at the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Office Director Jesse Mendez is scheduled to administer the Oath of Allegiance to 15 citizenship candidates. Officials say the new citizens are from Guatemala, Kosovo, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Spain, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

The Cellicíon Traditional Zuni Dancers are slated to perform for the new citizens.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is welcoming around 15,000 new U.S. citizens in more than 65 Independence Day-themed naturalization ceremonies across the country.

State Veterans Agency Takes Over Management Of Memorial Associated Press

Management of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in northern New Mexico is being transferred from the State Parks Division to the state Department of Veterans Services.

Officials are gathering at the memorial near Angel Fire today for a ceremony to mark the transition. Veterans and their families were also invited.

A bill was passed during the recent legislative session based on an agreement among Gov. Susana Martinez's office and the two state agencies to pave the way for the change.

The State Parks Division has owned and managed the memorial since 2005, but supporters say the premise is that the memorial isn't a park but rather a sacred place of reflection.

The Veterans' Services Department plans to construct a federally supported national veterans' cemetery adjacent to the memorial in the coming years.

Fourth Of July Holiday Brings Mixed Feelings For Minorities Associated Press

As many in the United States celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, some minorities have mixed feelings about the revelry of fireworks and parades in an atmosphere of tension on several fronts.

How do you celebrate during what some people of color consider troubling times?

Blacks, Latinos and immigrant rights advocates say the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, recent non-convictions of police officers charged in the shootings of black men, and the stepped-up detentions of immigrants and refugees for deportation have them questioning equality and the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the United States.

Filmmaker Chris Phillips of Ferguson, Missouri, says he likely will attend a family barbecue just like every Fourth of July. But the 36-year-old black man says he can't help but feel perplexed about honoring the birth of the nation after three officers were recently cleared in police shootings.

Albuquerque Police Say Driver Rear-Ended Chief's Car Associated Press

Albuquerque police say a driver is under arrest after he rear-ended the state police chief's car.

Police say Andres Salazar initially blamed the crash on bad brakes but later said that he had two beers and a shot of vodka before hitting Chief Pete Kassetas' car Friday at a stoplight.

Police say the 68-year-old man failed two field sobriety tests. According to the criminal complaint, his breath test was at or over 0.08, the presumed level of intoxication.

Salazar was arrested and charged for careless driving and driving while intoxicated.

New Mexico Brush Fire Temporarily Closes Campground Associated Press

State park officials say there were no serious injuries during a brush fire at a Navajo Lake State Park, north of Albuquerque.

A brush fire broke out near the Cottonwood Campground at the west end of the park on Saturday. Officials say one camper was treated for smoke inhalation and was later released.

State Parks Director Christy Tafoya says the campground was closed after the brush fire and will reopen in five or six days.

She said in a news release that there were a few areas that were still smoldering.

The campers that were evacuated from the campground will receive four free nights of camping.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Navajo Nation President To Sign Coal Plant's Lease Extension Associated Press

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye is scheduled to sign a lease extension that will allow a coal-fired power plant in northeastern Arizona to continue operating through December 2019.

The tribe's council approved the extension earlier this week, and Begaye is expected to sign the lease Saturday afternoon.

It means at least 700 jobs at the Navajo Generating Station near Page and the coal mine that supplies it won't be immediately lost.

The lease for the 1970s-era plant is set to expire in two years.

The plant's owners announced in February they would close it because cheaper power from natural gas is readily available

They told the Navajo Nation Council that they'd shut it down this year if they didn't get an extension.