$20M Investement At Key Border Station, Test Data Dropped From New Mexico Teacher Evaluations

May 4, 2019

Union Pacific Investing $20M At Key Border Station– Associated Press 

State officials say Union Pacific Railroad is undertaking a $20 million project at its Santa Teresa Intermodal Terminal and Refueling Station in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department announced Friday that the investment by Union Pacific Railroad will allow the company to add container blocks to passing trains faster and more efficiently.

Officials say the improvements also will mean more shipments and less downtime for customers waiting for merchandise along the railroad's 760-mile (1,223-kilometer) Sunset Corridor between El Paso, Texas, and Los Angeles.

The original 2,200-acre intermodal facility opened in 2014 as a geographically strategic location that allows the railroad to sort and move cargo along its routes in 23 states.

Test Data Dropped From New Mexico Teacher Evaluations – Associated Press

New Mexico education officials say results from student test scores will not be included in teacher evaluations this year.

Public Education Deputy Secretary Gwen Perea made the announcement Thursday a memo to superintendents and charter school leaders and said evaluations will be based on classroom observation, planning and surveys.

The change comes as a development team works to craft permanent changes to the state's teacher evaluation system.

Teacher unions, who strongly back New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last year, have been pressing officials to drop student test scores from evaluations.

Perea wrote that teachers who still use test scores to move up a licensure level can still do so by June 1.

Charles Goodmacher of the NEA-New Mexico called the changes a "step in the right direction."

Southeast New Mexico Has Top Rate Of Emergency Room Visits  – Associated Press,Hobbs News-Sun

Numbers show southeastern New Mexico has the highest rate of emergency room visits in the state.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the New Mexico Department of Health says the region in 2017 had a rate of 4,903 visits to emergency departments per 10,000 residents.

The total rate of New Mexican residents seen at emergency departments was 3,901 per 10,000 people.

The latest annual data available came from the state's 2017 Emergency Department Data Annual Report.

Officials say the southeast New Mexico Region consists of Quay, De Baca, Curry, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties.

The reason for the differences is attributed in part to diseases of the respiratory system as well as injury, poisonings and other medical issues more common in the southeastern part of the state.

Releases Of Water From Navajo Dam On San Juan River Planned– Associated Press

The federal agency that oversees Navajo Dam on the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico says downstream property owners should be prepared for water releases beginning in late May or early June.

The Daily Times reports there wasn't a spring release of water from the dam last year and that the planned 2019 release of 5,000 cubic feet (142 cubic meters) of water per second for five days will be shorter than 2017's month-long release and longer ones before that.

Bureau of Reclamation hydraulic engineer Susan Behery said property owners could notice flooding and that valuable items should be removed from the river banks.

The releases are intended to mimic natural runoff from snowmelt in the Colorado mountains and help reduce the dam's effect on endangered species.

Woman Pleads Guilty To Tampering Charge In Fatal Shooting– Associated Press

A 24-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence linked to the shooting death of a New Mexican teenager.

A spokesman for District Attorney Marco Serna says Savannah Martinez pleaded guilty to the third-degree felony on Friday.

She is accused of getting rid of spent shell casings after 18-year-old Cameron Martinez, of Espanola, was killed along a busy corridor in October.

Authorities say he was inside a vehicle that the shooters mistakenly targeted. Three others in the car with him were injured.

Authorities say Savannah Martinez has agreed to testify against the remaining suspects in the case, including three men who are accused of opening fire on the day Cameron Martinez was killed.

Her attorney was not immediately available for comment at his law firm in Santa Fe on Friday.

6 Harassment Complaints Filed At New Mexico State Capitol– Associated Press,Albuquerque Journal

Six harassment complaints have already been reported this year under the New Mexico Legislature's revised anti-harassment policy.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Legislative Council Service says none of the complaints, including three instances involving lawmakers, have triggered full-blown investigations and several were resolved internally by those involved.

The Legislative Council Service declines to disclose specific details or the identities of involved parties for complaints in which a review found no evidence to warrant formal charges of wrongdoing.

Both formal complaints and more informal reports can trigger an investigation under the revised policy, which was adopted by top-ranking lawmakers in January 2018 after a slew of sexual misconduct claims in New Mexico and around the nation.

So far, only one complaint under the revised anti-harassment policy has led to an investigation.

Experts warn New Mexico bears may still come to cities– Associated PressThe Santa Fe New Mexican

Wildlife experts are warning New Mexico residents that black bears' internal mechanisms are still operating as if the state is still under drought and may come to populated areas for food.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports hibernation season is over for northern New Mexico's black bears, and some may venture into cities and towns, looking for food.

Santa Fe National Forest wildlife biologist Daryl Ratajczak says bears are still used to coming out of their winter sleep and heading for places where they know food exists despite the healthy and wet run of winter in the northern part of the state.

The latest map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that around 46% of the state remains under abnormally dry or worse conditions.

Los Alamos Educator Named New Carlsbad Superintendent– Associated Press,Carlsbad Current-Argus

A Los Alamos educator has been named the new superintendent of Carlsbad Municipal Schools.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Gerry Washburn was appointed to the role during a special meeting Thursday of the Carlsbad Municipal Schools board.

The 63-year-old Washburn has worked for nearly three decades in a variety of roles at Los Alamos Public Schools, including assistant principal and assistant superintendent. He also held a superintendent post at a school district in Oregon.

Washburn was chosen over Acting Superintendent LaVern Shan, who also served as deputy superintendent until she was appointed to the top role on an interim basis in 2019.

Washburn says he applied for the job after researching Carlsbad.