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Headlines: State Cuts Lottery Scholarship, Suspect In Officer Shooting Pleads Not Guilty...

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State Cuts Lottery Scholarship - KOB-TV

New Mexico college students attending school on the Lottery Scholarship will not receive 100 percent tuition this spring.

KOB-TV reports the state Higher Education Department notified universities last month there wasn’t enough money in the fund and to let students know.

But some students weren’t informed until this week that the Lottery Scholarship would cover 95 percent of tuition costs for the Spring 2015 semester.

Some schools are working to cover the difference for some students. Others will have to pay the balance.

Lyons Refuses To Recuse Himself From PNM Case - The Associated Press

Public Regulation Commissioner Patrick Lyons says he will not recuse himself from a case involving the closure of two units at a coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico.

Lyons denied accusations that he had any improper communication with PNM, the utility that operates the San Juan Generating Station. The environmental group New Energy Economy had sought his recusal.

Lyons said that he has not prejudged the case and will be able to make a fair and impartial decision.

The commission began taking testimony Monday on a proposal that calls for shutting down part of the station to curb haze-causing pollution and replacing the lost power with a mix of coal-fired generation, nuclear power, natural gas and solar.

New Mexico Attorney General Balderas Outlines Agenda  - The Associated Press

Newly elected New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas says he is reviewing the practice of allowing private lawyers to file lawsuits on behalf of the AG's office.

Balderas said Thursday that he was aware of a New York Times story in December that showed how more attorneys general are hiring private law firms to file lawsuits. The story, which featured former New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, reported that some of the private lawyers also donated to campaigns of attorneys general.

Balderas says he would examine whether the practice compromised the integrity of the office and will decide if his office should "reform any process."

He made his comments after announcing the creation of a criminal affairs division and unveiling improvements to the special victims and corruption prosecution divisions.

Balloon Pilots Wait Out Weather For Record Attempt - The Associated Press

A patch of rough weather over the Pacific Ocean has forced two veteran pilots trying to break a pair of records to delay the launch of their helium-filled balloon.

Albuquerque pilot Troy Bradley and colleague Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia planned to lift off from Saga, Japan.

Their team at mission control in Albuquerque said Thursday the pilots do not want to compromise their safety and are watching for a break in the weather.

The pilots are aiming for the shores of North America, an attempt that puts them on course to break the ballooning distance record of 5,208 miles.

They're also looking to break the flight-duration record set in 1978 when Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman made the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight.

Santa Fe Committee Advances Proposal On Electric SystemThe Associated Press

Santa Fe officials are moving forward with a proposal to create a publicly owned electric utility in the northern New Mexico city despite unanswered questions about how it'd be set up and run.

The City Council's public utilities committee on Wednesday voted 3-1 to send a draft ordinance to the full City Council.

A possible hitch surfaced recently when the city attorney said state law on electric utilities apparently doesn't allow cities to use condemnation to force a sale of an existing electric utility. Meanwhile, Public Service Co. of New Mexico as said its lines and other equipment in Santa Fe are not for sale.

Advocates for establishing a public electric utility in Santa Fe have argued that it would give community residents more control over how their electricity is generated.

Preliminary Forecast For Runoff Into Rio Grande Isn't Good The Associated Press

Winter isn't over but a new preliminary forecast says runoff from mountain snows spells trouble for New Mexico, which has been beset by years of drought.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the National Water and Climate Center's preliminary forecast is based largely on snowfall so far in the mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Runoff from that snow flows into the Rio Grande Valley during the spring and summer.

Forecaster Angus Goodbody with the climate center in Portland, Oregon, says even a wet spring may not be enough to allow New Mexico to avoid a fifth consecutive year of below-average runoff.

Another season of below-average runoff could be bad news for farmers in southern New Mexico and for other users of Rio Grande water.

Suspect In Shooting Of Albuquerque Officer Pleads Not Guilty - The Associated Press

A homeless man with a lengthy criminal record has pleaded not guilty to charges related to the shooting and wounding of an Albuquerque police officer during a weekend traffic stop.

Christopher Cook appeared in court with his attorney Wednesday afternoon.

Cook was arrested before dawn Tuesday after being spotted staggering along a road. Police Chief Gordon Eden said the arrest was a lucky break in a case that spurred a massive three-day manhunt.

Cook is accused of shooting Officer Lou Golson last Saturday. The officer remains in stable condition at an Albuquerque hospital.

Cook faces numerous state charges and a federal firearms charge.

Drought On Track To Continue For 5th Year The Albuquerque Journal

The drought forecast for New Mexico this year doesn’t look good.

The Albuquerque Journal reports based on snow pack data, there will be below average runoff in the Rio Grande, even if the spring is wetter than this winter has been so far.

This year would be the fifth year of drought and farmers in southern New Mexico who’ve been pumping groundwater to make up for the shortage have concerns about whether there’s enough water in aquifers.

It’s still early in the year and things could change if the El Niño weather pattern kicks in bringing more moisture to the Southwest.

New Mexico District Partners On Navajo Education Program The Farmington Daily Times, The Associated Press

A school district in northwestern New Mexico is teaming up with the Navajo Nation as part of a pilot program that will assess students' knowledge of Navajo life and history.

The Central Consolidated School District and the tribe's education department will be piloting the Dine Content Standards Assessment exam at five schools later this month.

Senior education specialist Maggie Benally tells The Daily Times the testing is the first phase of making sure the exam will fulfill the federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The four phases of the assessment study will take as long as two years to complete. It will be administered in all grant and contract schools on the Navajo Nation, which spans parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

Prosecutor: Fatal Shooting By Bloomfield Police Justified The Associated Press

San Juan County’s District Attorney says a Bloomfield police officer was justified in shooting a possibly suicidal man.

The Daily Times reports that the finding means that Officer Andy Darby won't face criminal charges in the fatal shooting of 61-year-old John J. Rogers last August.

The office told New Mexico State Police that evidence suggests that Rogers threatened Darby with a handgun before Darby shot Rogers.

A police report said the confrontation occurred after Darby was sent to Rogers' residence in response to a report of a possible suicidal person.

Rogers was under investigation for alleged child sexual assault at the time and had told relatives he would commit suicide rather than be arrested.

Darby didn't know of the investigation.

Flags Ordered At Half-Staff For New Mexico Lawmaker The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has ordered flags across the state to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset in honor of state Rep. Phillip Archuleta.

The Las Cruces Democrat died last month from complications of pneumonia. He was 65.

Archuleta was elected to the New Mexico House in 2012 after defeating Andy Nunez and Mike Tellez. His District 36 seat in southern New Mexico covered a large portion of Dona Ana County.

He missed the 2014 New Mexico legislative session due to poor health and lost re-election to Nunez.

Archuleta was known as a labor and civil right advocate.

A public memorial service is planned today at the State Capitol in Santa Fe.

Balloon Pilots Prepare To Break Long-Distance Record - The Associated Press

An international team led by two veteran pilots is preparing to break a pair of major ballooning records when it launches its helium-filled balloon this week.

Albuquerque pilot Troy Bradley and fellow pilot Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia say they anticipate launching early Friday morning from Saga, Japan.

The team's mission control will be located in Albuquerque at the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum.

The two pilots are aiming for the shores of North America. That will put them on course to break a distance record of 5,208 miles.

They're also looking to break the flight-duration record set in 1978 when Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman made the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight. That record of 137 hours in the air in a traditional gas balloon is considered the "holy grail" of ballooning achievements.