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KUNM News Update

Navajo Nation Approves Funds For Veterans Facility, Fire Threatening Homes In South-Central NM

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Navajo Nation Approves $2.4 Million For Veterans Facility – Associated Press

The Navajo Nation has given approval to help fund a veterans facility in New Mexico that will prevent patients from having to travel far for care.

Navajo Nation council members voted 19-0 this week to give $2.4 million toward the construction of a service center for veterans in the community of Thoreau.

The center, which will be about 33 miles (53 kilometers) east of Gallup, will offer physical therapy as well as medical services.

Thoreau Chapter Veterans Committee Commander Lester Emerson says they will work with the state Department of Veterans Services to hire a doctor to be based there.

Emerson says the hope is that veterans will no longer have to make the two-hour journey to Albuquerque for medical services.

The facility also will have a space for events and meetings.

Federal Funding OK'd For Dona Ana County Wastewater Systems– Associated Press

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation say the federal government has agreed to provide more than $14 million to help renovate wastewater systems serving two unincorporated communities in Dona Ana County.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich on Friday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded an $8 million grant and approved a loan of $6.2 million to improve systems for Mesquite and Brazito.

The senators' announcement says the funding provided to the Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority will pay for connections to eliminate the use of hundreds of septic tanks and reduce the possibility of groundwater pollution and contamination.

The two communities have 1,088 residential and 20 commercial users.

Water Managers Warn Of Rising Levels On The Pecos River – Associated Press

Federal water managers are warning that levels on the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico are expected to rise as the Bureau of Reclamation moves water downstream for farmers.

The release from Sumner Reservoir will begin Monday.

The Carlsbad Irrigation District has called for about 10,000 acre-feet of water to be released from storage. One acre-foot (1,233 cubic meters) is enough to supply a typical U.S. family for a year.

The release rate is expected to be between 1,300 to 1,600 cubic feet per second. It will last for about three days.

Officials say people should be cautious when working or playing along the river between Santa Rosa Lake and Brantley Reservoir through the summer. Water levels could change due to movement for irrigation, releases for endangered species or weather events.

Fire Threatening Homes In South-Central New Mexico – Associated Press

Authorities say a wildfire is threatening some homes and railroad tracks in south-central New Mexico.

Wendy Mason with New Mexico State Forestry says the fire began Friday afternoon and has charred an estimated 30 acres (12 hectares) north of Bernardo in Socorro County. She says between 10 and 15 homes are threatened.

The fire has also forced the closure of State Highway 116.

State forestry crews along with local fire departments from the area are fighting the flames.

The fire weather outlook for much of New Mexico remained critical on Friday as other parts of the state and neighboring Arizona and West Texas were elevated.


Krikorian, 'Giant' In National Security Science, Dies At 97 – Associated Press

Nerses "Krik" Krikorian, who escaped the Armenian genocide as boy and later became a legend in the once-secret New Mexico city where the atomic bomb was developed, has died. He was 97.

Officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory have confirmed that Krikorian died Wednesday at his home in Los Alamos.

Born on a Turkish roadside in 1921, he and his family eventually found their way to the United States. After earning a chemistry degree, he began what would be an illustrious career that spanned decades.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports that Krikorian was known for his science and security work and the impact he had on the lab and the community.

Lab Director Terry Wallace called Krikorian "a giant" in the world of national security science and said the lab is a better place because of him.

Albuquerque Revives Native American Homeless Task Force – Associated Press

New Mexico's largest city has revived a task force to address Native American homelessness after a homeless man was shot and killed last month.

Mayor Tim Keller announced Friday that he was resurrecting the Albuquerque Native American Homeless Task Force and would ask city councilors to pass an ordinance to expand its reach.

The task force was initially formed during former Mayor Richard Berry's tenure in response to the 2014 beating deaths of two Navajo men while they slept in a vacant lot.

In the latest case, police said two Hispanic teenage boys shot 50-year-old Ronnie Ross "for fun." Ross was from the Navajo community of Shiprock.

A criminal complaint doesn't identify a motive, but it says the teen suspects bragged to friends about the shooting.

Keller says he believes it was a hate crime.

The Latest: New Mexico Student Seek Answers On Gun Violence – Associated Press

Hundreds of New Mexico students are venting their frustrations and concerns about gun violence and safety at public schools in a public forum and rally at the state Capitol.

High school students peppered state lawmakers, law enforcement officials and local school representatives Friday with questions about how to ensure classroom safety in a wake of a December shooting at Aztec High School that killed two students.

Student organizers stressed that the event was focused on gun-safety and not necessarily stricter gun control laws.

Democratic House speaker Brian Egolf urged students to register to vote if they turn 18 before November general elections, highlighting the veto of a 2017 bill aimed at limiting gun access for people with permanent protective orders for domestic violence incidents. Republican lawmakers were invited but did not attend the forum.

Outside the building, the Beatles song "Don't Let Me Down" blared from a stage set up for student speeches and performances.

New Mexico Region Launches Outdoor Recreation Initiative – Associated Press

Officials in northwestern New Mexico are teaming up as part of an effort to diversify the economy in a region that has been dependent for years on the oil and gas industry.

The city of Farmington, San Juan County, Four Corners Economic Development, San Juan College and numerous other groups are backing the initiative to boost outdoor recreation.

The initiative plans to highlight the area's opportunities for fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking and rock crawling as well as locations such as the Bisti Wilderness and Lake Farmington.

Officials say the hope is to create more demand for guides, outfitters and outdoor recreation equipment manufacturing.

A community meeting is planned next Thursday at the Farmington Civic Center to discuss the effort.