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Headlines: Severe Driving Conditions SE NM, Ceiling Collapse At WIPP...


Difficult Conditions Reported On Some New Mexico HighwaysThe Associated Press

Snowplows have been working to clear northern New Mexico highways of snow and ice from a major winter storm.

Difficult driving conditions are reported in much of northeast New Mexico and along I-40 east to the Texas line. Severe driving conditions are reported in the southeast.  See NMRoads.com or call 5-1-1 for the latest information.

Snow will continue across central New Mexico today spreading south through the morning.  Greatest amounts are expected across south-central and southwest mountains.

Lawmaker Misses Legislative Opening As Husband Sentenced - The Associated Press 

A northern New Mexico lawmaker has been a no-show during the opening days of the legislative session.

State Rep. Debbie Rodella did not vote for House speaker or participate in opening ceremonies because she was attending hearings involving her husband, former Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella.

The ex-lawman was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in federal prison for abusing a driver in a bizarre, off-duty traffic stop that prosecutors described as a fit of road rage.

U.S. District Judge James Browning said that after reading letters from the public, it appeared Thomas Rodella also abused his position in exchange for votes for his wife.

The Espanola Democrat did not respond to a reporter's question about the judge's comment.

She also did not say if she intended to stay in the New Mexico Legislature.

Suspect In Shooting Of Albuquerque Officer IndictedThe Associated Press

A homeless man has been indicted to charges related to the shooting and wounding of an Albuquerque police officer during a traffic stop.

The Second Judicial District Attorney's Office announced Thursday that a grand jury returned indictments against Christopher Cook in a shooting that garnered national attention.

The 36-year-old faces a number of charges, including aggravated battery on a peace officer.

He's accused of shooting Officer Lou Golson earlier this month after the officer pulled him over on suspicion of drunken driving.

Footage from Golson's lapel camera shows a man opening the vehicle's door and firing several shots at the officer. Golson was hit four times and fell to the ground before returning fire.

Cook previously pleaded not guilty to similar charges in Metropolitan Court.

Police say Golson is recovering at his home.

Another Group Pulls Out Of PNM's Power Plant ProposalThe Associated Press

A third group is withdrawing its support of Public Service Co. of New Mexico's plan to shut down half of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington.

Western Resource Advocates notified state regulators in a filing Thursday it could no longer support the plan.

The group was one of several organizations that signed off on a settlement agreement last October to back the plan to replace the electricity that would be lost by the closure of two units at San Juan.

Energy Industries Association and New Mexico Independent Power Producers backed out last week over concerns about the costs of PNM's plan.

Attorneys with Western Resource Advocates say they're concerned the utility or one of its affiliated companies could end up acquiring additional coal power to fill the gap.

State Of Indian Nations: Leader Calls On Congress For ReformThe Associated Press

The president of the National Congress of American Indians says tribes must insist that the federal government honor its commitment to Native people.

Brian Cladoosby touched on familiar themes in the annual State of Indian Nations address Thursday. He says too many reservations are plagued by high unemployment and dropout rates, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, and an epidemic of suicides.

He says the federal government must work with tribes to overcome those challenges, but not dictate solutions. Cladoosby is chairman of the Swinomish Nation in Washington state.

In the congressional response, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said he'll lead efforts as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to strengthen relationships with tribes.

NM Courts Overburdened And Underfunded, Top Judge Says - The Associated Press

New Mexico courts have requested a nine percent increase in funding over last year to address hundreds of thousands of cases that remain open.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Vigil asked lawmakers to fund the courts with nearly $172 million for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The courts were allocated $157 million last year.

Vigil says trial court judges presided over nearly 400,000 new and reopened cases in fiscal year 2014 alone, with an average of 2,300 cases per judge.

The additional money would fund new judges, court-appointed attorneys, drug courts and court interpreters, among others.

Vigil says magistrate courts are also severely underfunded and need more than $3 million to keep up with their caseloads.

Vigil delivered remarks to the state Legislature on Thursday.

Workers Discover Ceiling Damage At Nuke Repository - The Associated Press

Officials say a small portion of the ceiling at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has collapsed.

The damage was spotted by workers during an inspection last week.

Access to the area where the ceiling collapsed has been restricted since November, and no plant personnel were present at the time of the fall.

Officials say the ceiling can be repaired.

The repository has been closed since last February, when a container of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory ruptured and contaminated 22 workers and parts of the underground storage area.

Ex-New Mexico Sheriff Sentenced In Road Rage Case - The Associated Press

Former Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in a road rage case.

Rodella told the judge during yesterday's hearing that he had done good deeds during his tenure, but the court also received letters from community members who were critical of the former sheriff.

He was convicted in September of brandishing a firearm and depriving a motorist of his rights during a March traffic stop.

The former lawman had faced a mandatory seven-year sentence on the firearm count and as many as 10 years on the civil rights violations count.

Remains Of At Least 2 People Found Inside San Acacia Home - The Associated Press

Authorities say the unidentified remains of at least two people have been found inside a San Acacia home after a fire.

New Mexico State Police responded to the fire north of Socorro about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the fire.

It's unclear how many people lived at the home.

No other information was immediately released.

Authorities: Suspect Fires At Deputies After Crash, Arrested - The Associated Press

Bernalillo County Sheriff's officials say a man who allegedly shot at deputies after crashing a stolen vehicle in southwest Albuquerque is in custody.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Aaron Williamson says the suspect was arrested Wednesday afternoon without incident and is being interviewed.

The man's name hasn't been released yet.

Deputies tried to stop the vehicle near Isleta Boulevard and Rio Bravo Road around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Williamson says the vehicle crashed near Rio Bravo and Del Rio Road, where the man got out and fired multiple shots at deputies. They weren't injured.

Police say the suspect was located at an apartment complex and a nearly six-hour standoff ensued before he was arrested.

The man has been taken to a hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the shoulder.

Disabled Albuquerque Man Trapped In Apartment Fire Has Died - The Associated Press

Authorities say a disabled Albuquerque man who was trapped in his apartment during a fire last week has died.

Albuquerque Fire Department officials announced the death Wednesday, but the name of the man in his 60s still hasn't been released.

Firefighters responded within minutes of receiving reports of the fire at the apartment on Friday afternoon.

They found an unresponsive, wheelchair-bound man and his deceased service dog on the floor.

The man was transported to a hospital with breath difficulties and burn injuries.

Crews put out the blaze within 15 minutes.

Fire officials say the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

CBP: Nearly 14 Pounds Of Cocaine Seized At New Mexico Port - The Associated Press

Federal authorities say nearly 14 pounds of cocaine has been seized at the Columbus port of entry in New Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers asked if the driver of a car was transporting anything from Mexico. The driver said he was importing two boxes of joint cement.

Officers noticed an anomaly in the appearance of the packaging and that led to an exam.

While searching the cement, officers discovered a black wrapped package submerged in the cement.

Officers removed five bundles from the two boxes and authorities say the contents tested positive for cocaine.

The 13.6 pounds had an estimated value of $435,000.

The car's driver — 60-year-old Oscar D. Stella, of Las Cruces — was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents.