Another Winter Storm Headed For New Mexico, Nationwide Internet Outage Affects CenturyLink

Dec 27, 2018

New Mexico Cities Prepare For Major Winter StormAssociated Press

New Mexico cities are preparing for a major winter storm that will hit in the next few days.

The city of Roswell says public buildings, including a recreation center, library, bus terminal and museum will be open to anyone needing to warm up. They'll operate on normal business hours.

Weather forecasters say Roswell could get up to six inches of snow starting Friday morning. Temperatures are expected to be near or below freezing through Sunday.

The rest of New Mexico won't escape the winter storm. Weather forecasters say the state will see heavy snowfall and bitterly cold wind chills. Blizzard warnings were in effect in Albuquerque late Thursday.

The city of Rio Rancho announced a 2-hour delay Friday for government offices.

Winter Storm To Hit New Mexico Starting Thursday NightAssociated Press

Forecasters say a major winter storm will hammer New Mexico in the next few days with significant snowfall accumulations and bitterly cold wind chills, along with road closures and other travel impacts.

The National Weather Service encourages people traveling the region to prepare for dangerous winter weather conditions, and says driving in the mountains and plateaus could be difficult to impossible.

The storm was expected to strike the state Thursday night through Saturday, first taking aim at northern and central New Mexico. Heavy snow is expected on the eastern plains Friday.

Wind gusts in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas are expected to reach up to 60 mph, and cause blowing and drifting snow with whiteout conditions at times.

Retired New Mexico Brigadier General To Lead Veterans AgencyAssociated Press

Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham has named the first woman to ever be promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the New Mexico National Guard to serve as the secretary of the state Department of Veteran Services.

The incoming governor announced the appointment of Judy Griego during a news conference Thursday. She also appointed William Scott Carreathers to lead the Office of African American Affairs and Jen Schroer as the state tourism secretary.

Lujan Grisham will take the helm Jan. 1. Still pending are decisions on key agencies that oversee public safety, public education, health and the environment.

Lujan Grisham and Griego said they want to create a model agency that can bridge the gap between the state and the services for veterans that are provided by the federal government.

Nationwide Internet Outage Affects CenturylinkAssociated Press

Some CenturyLink customers across the country were without the internet as outages stretched from New York to California.

The company said in a statement Thursday that its network was "still experiencing a disruption" and that it was working to restore services. It provided no other details, including how many customers were affected.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a member of the Federal Communications Commission, said via Twitter that this was a "nationwide outage" and her agency needed to investigate.

It appeared that most of the trouble was in the West.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the internet problems led to the temporary shutdown of phone services at the Idaho Department of Correction and the state's Department of Education.

There were reports of ATM machines not working in Idaho and Montana.

Health Scholarships Open To Navajos At Fort Lewis CollegeAssociated Press

Navajo students pursuing degrees in health science at Fort Lewis College are eligible for new scholarships.

Outgoing tribal President Russell Begaye and college President Tom Stritikus signed the scholarship agreement Thursday.

Navajo students in health or exercise science can apply to receive $2,500 per semester in the 2019 calendar year. Students must be enrolled full time.

About 20 percent of students in the college's Health Sciences Department are Navajo.

The school in Durango, Colorado, waives tuition for Native American students. The scholarships funded by the Navajo Nation will help cover living expenses, textbooks and student fees.

Students who receive the scholarships must agree to serve the Navajo Nation for at least two years after graduation.

Begaye says the scholarships will help address gaps in the tribe's workforce.

Gray Wolf Arrives At New Mexico Zoo For Recovery ProgramAssociated Press

Albuquerque's zoo has received another Mexican gray wolf as part of an international recovery effort that includes breeding the endangered animals in captivity to ensure their genetic viability.

The ABQ BioPark said Thursday it received the wolf earlier this month from the Binder Zoo in Michigan. The animal will be a mate for a 4-year-old female wolf already at the Albuquerque zoo.

The transfer stemmed from a coordinated effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan, and the zoos holding Mexican wolves.

The wild population in Arizona and New Mexico has struggled to gain significant ground since the first release in 1998. About 114 wolves are thought to be roaming the two states.

Isabella, Noah Are Top Names In 2018 For New Mexico NewbornsAssociated Press

The top names for New Mexico babies born in 2018 are Isabella for girls and Noah for boys.

Isabella was fourth last year but this year pushed Mia down to second, while Noah supplants Elijah, which is ranked third among boys.

After Isabella and Mia, the other top names for girls are Sophia, Olivia, Emma, Sofia, Ava, Amelia, Camila and Mila.

After Noah, the top names on the boys list are Liam, Elijah, Logan, Mateo, Daniel, Mason, Sebastian, Benjamin and Julian.

The state Department of Health says Mia has been among the top two names for newborn girls in New Mexico since the department began releasing its annual list in 2014.

The department says Noah has been in the top two among boys for four of the last five years.

Canadian Man Arrested In US For Disturbing Flight CrewAssociated Press

A Canadian man is facing charges in the U.S. for allegedly interfering with crew members and attendants while on a flight from Ohio to Los Angeles.

The FBI said in a statement issued Wednesday that 49-year-old Ian Stewart Smallwood of Ontario was taken into custody after the plane was diverted to Albuquerque. It was not immediately clear if Smallwood had an attorney.

The charge stems from Dec. 21. According to a criminal complaint made public this week, Smallwood was accused of being verbally belligerent during the flight.

He allegedly intimidated one of the flight attendants while she was preparing service in the galley at the front of the plane. Other passengers were also seen out of their seats, asking Smallwood to move out of the way and sit down.

Albuquerque Police Identify Suspects Shot By OfficersAssociated Press

Albuquerque authorities have identified two men who were fatally shot by police officers in recent days.

In the first case, officers shot and killed a man who had been driving a stolen car. Police spokesman Simon Drobik says the man jumped out of the vehicle and started firing on officers. The officers returned fire.

That suspect was identified as 36-year-old Jason Scott Delgado Perez, who had a Roswell address but previously lived in Springfield, Missouri.

The next day, officers responded to reports of a man firing multiple shots into several rooms and the front office of a Motel 6.

A witness reported hearing 35-year-old Abdias Ucdiel Flores-Corado fire a shot from a rifle at officers and officers returned fire.

No one else was injured in either incident.

Departing New Mexico Governor Makes Judicial Appointment – Associated Press

Republican Daniel Gallegos has been appointed as a state district court judge in the Albuquerque-based second judicial district after losing election in November to the state Court of Appeals.

Departing New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez announced Wednesday the appointment of Gallegos to replace retired Judge Alan Malott for a term that ends at the end of 2020. Malott initially was appointed by former Gov. Bill Richardson in 2009.

Gallegos served as an appointed member of the Court of Appeals since January and lost election in November to Democrat Megan Duffy. He previously worked as a prosecutor for the U.S. Navy.

Martinez is making final appointments before leaving office after two terms. She will be succeeded by Democratic Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham of Albuquerque.

College Affordability To Be Focus In New Mexico – Associated Press

The former leader of the Taos campus for the University of New Mexico has been picked by Democratic Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham to lead the state's Department of Higher Education beginning next year.

The governor-elect announced the appointment of Kate O'Neill as secretary of higher education to oversee the state's network of community colleges and public universities.

O'Neill served as CEO of the University of New Mexico at Taos for a dozen years until 2016. She takes over an agency grappling with recent state spending cuts.

O'Neill and Lujan Grisham said affordability for students will be a top priority for the administration. They discussed the importance of the state's lottery-funded scholarship program while acknowledging that it's not currently sustainable.

Lujan Grisham also announced appointments for the departments of transportation, cultural affairs and information technology.

New Mexico Governor's Social Spending Gets Greater Scrutiny - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

An allowance for spending on social obligations by the governor of New Mexico is scheduled to undergo new scrutiny under a law that goes into effect Jan. 1.

The law allows for auditing of the so-called contingency fund for the first time and will automatically return unspent money to state coffers.

The law is among several that take effect Jan. 1 as Democratic Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham takes office.

The state supplies the contingency fund with $72,000 a year. The money has been used for decades at the governor's discretion through an unaudited account to pay for dinners and receptions, gifts for protocol meetings or spending on gestures of congratulations or condolences.

Termed-out Republican Gov. Susana Martinez published quarterly summaries of social spending by category without itemized receipts.

Rio Arriba County Deputy Struck While Investigating Crash – Associated Press

The Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Office says one of it deputies was hospitalized after being struck by a vehicle while investigating a crash caused by snow-packed and icy conditions.

Authorities say Deputy Cindy Garcia had responded to the crash along U.S. 84/285 near the northern New Mexico community of Hernandez around noon Wednesday.

She just got out of her patrol unit when a southbound vehicle lost control and slid into the crash scene, striking the patrol unit and then Garcia.

Major Randy Sanches with the sheriff's office says Garcia's injuries were non-life threatening and that she was listed in fair condition at an Española hospital. One of her legs was broken, but the extent of her other injuries wasn't immediately known.

Departing New Mexico Auditor Defends Efforts – Associated Press

Departing Republican New Mexico State Auditor Wayne Johnson says his elected successor is interfering with an inquiry into whether the state attorney general's office followed proper bidding procedures for a public contract awarded to a private law firm.

Johnson on Wednesday said his office has unsuccessfully requested documentation about a state contract awarded to the Albuquerque-based law firm Robles, Rael and Anaya where Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas and Auditor-elect Brian Colon have worked. Colon succeeds Johnson on Jan. 1.

Johnson says concerns about the contracting process were raised by an anonymous caller to a hotline for reporting government fraud, waste or abuse and that it is impossible to tell if state procurement rules were followed. Johnson said Colon is attempting to change the subject by threatening an investigation into his conduct in office.

Attorney General's Office spokesman Matt Baca says his agency is investigating complaints against Johnson originally filed with state campaign finance regulators.

University Of New Mexico Launches New Promotional Video – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico has launched a new promotional video titled "State of Minds" as part of a $2 million, four-year branding initiative campaign that started in 2015.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that university officials hope the rebranding effort will attract new students as well as motivate current ones to continue their studies with the university.

Years of declining enrollment and state funding reductions have brought a sense of urgency to the university's need to boost enrollment.

University administrators reported that fall semester enrollment slid more than 7 percent, meaning student tuition and fee revenue would come in $9.7 million lower than expected.

University Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Cinnamon Blair says the new video cost about $209,000.

Federal Shutdown Doesn't Keep Some From Visiting White Sands - Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

The federal government's partial shutdown hasn't stopped some people from visiting White Sands National Monument though the site in southern New Mexico is closed.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that hundreds of unauthorized visitors climbed over a fence to enter the monument since the shutdown started Saturday and that numerous cars were parked outside a perimeter fence Monday when people were seen playing on the dunes and taking selfies.

The visitors included Mihir Trivedi, who said he and his wife were on a trip from California to New Orleans and scheduled an overnight stop to visit the monument, which is 71 miles north of El Paso, Texas.

State highway workers were sent to the area Monday to erect "no parking" signs along U.S. 70 outside the monument.