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ABQ Mayoral Race To Focus On Crime, NM County Ambulance Service Accused Of Not Responding

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Gold King Mine Spill

Mayoral Race In New Mexico's Biggest City To Focus On CrimeThe Associated Press

State Auditor Tim Keller has officially declared his candidacy for mayor of New Mexico's largest city while rolling out a plan to tackle growing crime rates in Albuquerque.

Keller on Tuesday described crime in the city as being out of control, setting the stage for a recent rash of shootings, vehicles thefts and break-ins to be the focus as candidates compete for the city's top leadership post.

Albuquerque's beleaguered and understaffed police force has struggled to keep up as the city now ranks first in the nation for the number of cars stolen daily per capita. Downtown businesses also have complained about their workers feeling unsafe.

Keller wants to overhaul of police leadership and hire more officers. He's also proposing a drug treatment center and other programs to address homelessness and substance abuse.

New Mexico County Ambulance Accused Of Not Responding To CallsThe Associated Press & KOB

After a teenage boy died before an ambulance could get to him, Mora County Ambulance must now prove to the State of New Mexico that it's capable of responding to medical emergencies.

KOB-TV reported Tuesday more than a dozen other patients in need of emergency transport were also left stranded since last October. The Public Regulation Commission is keeping an eye on the county ambulance by demanding a monthly status report that will show the time and date of every ambulance call and response.

A frantic relative called 911 May 31 when 15-year-old Nazareth Lara was crushed under a truck at a work site. Lara died instantly and a Mora County ambulance never arrived. Instead, an ambulance from San Miguel County showed up nearly 40 minutes after the accident.

Elevator Contract Awarded For Carlsbad Caverns National ParkThe Associated Press

A California company has been awarded a $4.7 million contract to completely modernize the primary elevators at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

Tutor Perini Corp. will handle the project, which is expected to be completed by summer 2018.

The caverns' larger primary elevators went out of service in November 2015 when a motor shaft unexpectedly sheared off, leaving the empty elevator car hanging in the hoistway 600 feet down.

Park officials say the demolition part of the modernization will begin almost immediately, followed by installation of two new motors, elevator cars, sheaves, cables and controllers.

EPA: No Mine Spill Compensation For Groups That File SuitAssociated Press

The Environmental Protection Agency says it can't reconsider multimillion-dollar damage claims from the state of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation over a mine wastewater spill because both have sued the agency.

The EPA said Monday the law prevents it from reconsidering claims from anyone who has filed suit.

That could greatly reduce the claims eligible for compensation. New Mexico sought $130 million and the Navajos $162 million.

The EPA inadvertently triggered the spill at the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado, tainting rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The EPA initially rejected all claims for property damage and personal injury from the spill. The agency appeared to change course Friday, saying it would reconsider those claims.

New Mexico and Navajo officials didn't immediately return emails seeking comment Monday.

Plan Would Remove Mesilla Valley Bosque From Park SystemLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Officials are considering a plan to remove Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park in southern New Mexico from the state park system.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the plan calls for transferring management to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, which would move its southern headquarters to the park.

Game and Fish would continue the same kind of educational programs now taking place there.

Democrat Sen. Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces was among the primary sponsors of legislation that created the park more than a decade ago. While she has concerns about the proposal, it could mean more funding for the park.

Some argue more public input is needed before a decision is made.

The state agencies say the move will save about $20,000 a year.

Police: Suspect Faces Charges In New Mexico Freeway ShootoutAssociated Press

A man wanted in Texas and Colorado for aggravated robbery remains jailed in New Mexico after last month's shootout with law enforcement officers on Interstate 25.

New Mexico State Police say 23-year-old Lane Reed of Killeen, Texas, is facing charges in Santa Fe and San Miguel counties in connection with a July 25 pursuit in which he allegedly fired shots at officers at least three times.

The 25-mile pursuit began south of Santa Fe when a sheriff's deputy spotted a pickup stolen during an armed robbery at a business.

State Police say Reed is facing multiple charges of armed robbery; assault with intent to commit a violent felony; shooting at or from a motor vehicle; aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer; possession of firearm by a felon; and other charges.

Elevator Contract Awarded For Carlsbad Caverns National Park Associated Press

A California company has been awarded a $4.7 million contract to completely modernize the primary elevators at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

Tutor Perini Corporation will handle the project, which is expected to be completed by summer 2018.

The caverns' larger primary elevators went out of service in November 2015 when a motor shaft unexpectedly sheared off, leaving the empty elevator car hanging in the hoistway 600 feet down.

Park officials say the demolition part of the modernization will begin almost immediately, followed by installation of two new motors, elevator cars, sheaves, cables and controllers.

Hot Lotto Lottery Game To End In OctoberAssociated Press

Officials with the New Mexico Lottery say players will have their last chance with the Hot Lotto game at the end of October.

Tickets for the $1 game are sold in New Mexico and 13 other states but despite numerous updates over the years, the game's sales performance over the last decade shows a continual decline.

The last drawing will be Oct. 28.

A new $1 multi-state draw game is expected to be introduced later this year.

Hot Lotto sales began in New Mexico in November 2006.

To date, the lottery says players have won more than $23.6 million playing Hot Lotto. There have been six Hot Lotto jackpots, including a Rio Rancho couple who won $7.6 million in 2013 and an Albuquerque man who won $5.6 million in 2008.

Major Gas Producer BP Touts Productive Well In New MexicoAssociated Press

International producer BP is pointing to northwestern New Mexico as a possible significant new source of natural gas for the United States.

The company announced Monday that it brought online one of the most productive wells in the Mancos Shale that the San Juan Basin has seen in more than a decade. The basin spans New Mexico and southern Colorado.

BP says an average of nearly 13 million cubic feet of gas a day was pumped during an initial 30-day period.

Company officials say the recent test suggests the region could become one of the nation's leading shale plays. Some industry analysts want to see if new wells post similar results.

BP acquired thousands of acres in the region in 2015 in hopes of tapping the shale and expanding its position in the basin.

Interior Scraps Obama-Era Rule On Coal RoyaltiesAssociated Press

The Interior Department has scrapped an Obama-era rule aimed at ensuring that coal companies don't shortchange taxpayers on huge volumes of coal extracted from public lands, primarily in the West.

The Trump administration put the rule on hold in February after mining companies challenged it in federal court. Officials later announced plans to repeal the rule entirely. The final repeal notice was published Monday in the Federal Register and takes effect Sept. 6.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says repeal provides "a clean slate" to create workable regulations going forward.

He said Interior remains committed to collecting every dollar due, noting that public lands are assets belonging to taxpayers and Native American tribes.

Still, Zinke says repealing the rule will reduce costs that energy companies would otherwise pass on to consumers.

New Mexico Institutions Partner To Help Film StudentsDaily Times, Associated Press

San Juan College and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe are joining forces to help students interested in pursuing careers in the film industry.

The Daily Times reports the two institutions recently signed an agreement that allows students who earn an associate degree in digital media arts and design at the college to be admitted to IAIA's bachelor program for cinematic arts and technology.

San Juan College professor Luke Renner says the agreement makes sense because IAIA's program is known throughout the state. He says the campus also is near the Rio Grande corridor, where many film studios are located.

San Juan College has similar agreements with other colleges and universities, including the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology for computer science and engineering and the University of New Mexico for nursing.

New Mexico Man Found Dead In Arizona After Apparent SuicideAssociated Press

Authorities in northern Arizona say a New Mexico man has been found dead in Walnut Canyon National Park and it appears to be a suicide.

Coconino County Sheriff's officials say 49-year-old Christopher Preston of Santa Fe had an apparent gunshot wound.

They say the county Medical Examiner's Office will determine the cause of death.

Sheriff's deputies responded to a report of a suicidal person in the Walnut Canyon area on Sunday afternoon.

The man allegedly texted a friend that he could be found in a canyon east of Flagstaff beneath the island.

Deputies joined National Park Service rangers in the search for the man along with an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter.

Authorities say the man later identified as Preston was found dead a short distance from the Island Trail.

Behavioral Health Programs Being Implemented SlowlyAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Bernalillo County is slowly providing childhood programs funded with revenue from a measure that took effect more than two years ago.

The Albuquerque Journal reports eight organizations are sharing $3 million a year for two years to combat adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect and other trauma. The funding is coming from Bernalillo County's behavioral health tax, which went into effect in July 2015.

From those efforts to help at-risk children to mobile crisis teams that will soon respond to individuals experiencing nonviolent behavioral health crises, the county over the last year has started its quest to fill the gaps of New Mexico's fragmented behavioral health system.

But the launch of services has been slow, with few programs up and running.

Three Arrested Injured In ‘Gun Battle’ Near Albuquerque DaycareKOB-TV, Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Police officials say three people are in custody following what they described as a gun battle in the parking lot of a daycare center near Montgomery and Carlisle boulevards Monday evening.

KOB-TV reported one bystander was injured with a gunshot wound and a child was hurt by flying glass from a vehicle. A police spokesman said the gunshot victim is in stable condition.

Witnesses told the Albuquerque Journal they heard more than two dozen shots from the parking lot between an apartment complex and Noah’s Ark Children’s Center.

The shootout took place around 7 p.m. Witnesses told the Journal they saw suspects with a shotgun and rifle, but APD could not confirm if those weapons were found. It’s unclear what prompted the shooting.

Opioid Funding Goes To Treatment, Overdose Reversal DrugsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico has secured $9.5 million in federal funding to help in the fight against opioid and heroin abuse.

The Albuquerque Journal reports most of this year's funding will be used to buy more than 13,300 doses of overdose reversal drugs and to begin training for community workers and medical providers so more addicts get treatment.

The money is being funneled to New Mexico through the federal government's Opioid State Targeting Response Grant program.

Julie Salvador at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center is reaching out to clinics and addiction treatment centers around the state to set them up as hubs that will serve as training and resource sites for their communities.

Funding will be released to the hubs as they meet goals or complete certain training.

Bernalillo County Deputies On Leave Following ShootingAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Four Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies and one sergeant are on administrative leave after at least one opened fire while responding to a domestic violence call near Albuquerque.

Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said Monday that an armed man in his early 20s was shot Sunday and transported to University of New Mexico Hospital. No deputies were injured.

The sheriff says the suspect is expected to recover and will face one count of aggravated assault on a household member.

Authorities did not immediately release the man's name but said he had a criminal history.

Deputies arrived at the home after receiving a call about someone armed with a shotgun.

Gonzales says it's not clear how many deputies fired their weapons.

The Albuquerque Journal reports this is the fifth time since July 4 that Bernalillo County deputies have been involved in a shooting.

Navy Battalion Volunteers To Build Housing On Navajo NationGallup Independent, Associated Press

A Navy battalion is wrapping up its second summer of volunteering to build housing on the Navajo Nation for those who otherwise could not afford it.

The Gallup Independent reports the Navy New Mexico Construction Battalion 22, or the Seabees, partnered with the Southwest Indian Foundation and the Navajo Housing Authority to construct modular homes on the reservation. Qualifying individuals pay only the monthly utility bills for the homes.

Navy officials say the Seabees also benefit from the program by receiving additional training and learning construction trades that can translate into valuable skills after deployment.

The Navy began working with the foundation two years ago after they were handed the opportunity by the Air Force.

The program has built 261 homes on the Navajo Nation over the last 20 years.

EPA Awards Contract For Cleanup Of Abandoned Uranium MinesAssociated Press

The federal government has awarded a $3.85 million contract for excavating contaminated soil and related road-improvement work associated with two abandoned uranium mines in two areas of the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico's McKinley County.

The Environmental Protection Agency's announcement Monday says Navajo-owned Arrow Indian Contractors will clean up portions of the Quivira Mines located on the reservation's Coyote Canyon and Standing Rock chapters northwest of Crownpoint.

The EPA says funding for the project comes from a $1 billion settlement reached in 2015 for the cleanup of 50 abandoned uranium mine for which Kerr McGee Corp. and a successor, Tronox, have responsibility.

The Quivira Mines site consisted of two mines and was in operation from 1974 to 1985, generating about 1.2 million pounds of uranium ore.

Las Cruces Man Accused In Marriage Fraud Case Pleads GuiltyAssociated Press

A 31-year-old Las Cruces man faces up to five years in prison when sentenced after pleading guilty to charges stemming from an alleged conspiracy involving sham marriages and foreign nationals.

Santiago Aveles pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Albuquerque to conspiracy and marriage fraud.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for New Mexico says Aveles, four Chinese nationals living illegally in the United States and a naturalized U.S. citizen were charged April 19 in a conspiracy indictment.

Aveles and one of the Chinese nationals also were accused of participating in a 2016 fraudulent marriage.

The office says Aveles' role in the alleged conspiracy included arranging meetings between foreign nationals and U.S. citizens and helping foreign nationals get marriage licenses and other documents.

The co-defendants have pleaded not guilty and await trial.