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Debate Highlights Three-Way Senate Race, New Mexico Touts Tourism As Key Economic Driver

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Debate Highlights Three-Way Senate Race In New Mexico -Associated Press

Three candidates for a U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico are preparing for their first public debate after the start of early voting.

The televised debate is scheduled for Friday evening as incumbent Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich seeks a second term in office, casting himself as a defender of endangered federal health care and retirement programs.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is running for Senate under the Libertarian banner as an alternative to partisan extremism and a proponent of balancing the federal budget.

Albuquerque contractor and political newcomer Mick Rich is the Republican nominee. He has highlighted his steadfast support for Donald Trump, support for greater restrictions on immigration and opposition to abortion.

Johnson's failed 2016 bid for president won 9 percent of the vote in New Mexico.

New Mexico Touts Tourism As Key Economic Driver -Associated Press

State officials say tourism accounted for a $6.6 billion boost to New Mexico's economy last year.

Gov. Susana Martinez says that represents the seventh consecutive year of growth for the industry and its largest annual economic impact to date.

She released the 2017 numbers during a visit Wednesday to Albuquerque, which is hosting one of the state's most popular events — a weeklong balloon fiesta that draws tens of thousands of spectators.

Martinez described tourism as a key economic driver for New Mexico, saying more dollars find their way into the state's communities as more people visit.

The three largest sectors for visitor spending in 2017 were lodging, food and beverage and retail. Recreation also saw growth.

Visitor spending in 2017 generated $662 million in state and local taxes.

$1.6 M Settlement Reached In Española Teacher Abuse Lawsuit – The Albuquerque Journal, The Associated Press

Espanola Public Schools has reached a settlement in a lawsuit alleging a teacher sexually abused female students.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the $1.6 million settlement comes just as another lawsuit was filed against Gary Gregor for abusing additional students he taught in Santa Fe.

Gregor is in jail facing criminal charges that he inappropriately touched girl students and the New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority has already paid out over $7 million dollars in settlements related to allegations against him from two other Española students.

The new lawsuit also names Santa Fe Public Schools and the school principal who was serving at Agua Fria Elementary School at that time of the alleged abuse in 2004, saying that she failed to notify the state after receiving reports of Gregor’s inappropriate behavior with students.

  

NMSU Inks Agreement With Chinese Tech University -Associated Press

New Mexico State University has teamed up with Changchun Institute of Technology to increase opportunities for Chinese students to pursue graduate studies in engineering.

The schools recently signed a memorandum of understanding. The focus will include electrical engineering and automation, particularly on the development and use of smart grids and electrical generation and distribution infrastructure.

University President John Floros says such work will address global problems.

Officials at the institute in northeast China say this marks the school's first educational collaboration in the U.S.

Under the partnership, NMSU will introduce its curriculum to the institute, help develop core courses and provide training for instructors.

Officials say the standardization of curricular requirements ensures that students earning bachelor's degrees at the institute will be prepared to enter the graduate program at NMSU.

Rio Grande Ruling Challenged As Drought Persists - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Environmentalists are challenging a court ruling over whether water from the Rio Grande is properly accounted for and being used in beneficial ways as it flows through New Mexico's most populated region.

They say the state's top water manager needs to do more to reduce use in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, but irrigation officials say they're already doing the best they can as years of drought have strained resources.

The latest federal drought map shows the area of the U.S. being hit the hardest covers portions of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. That includes the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

Officials say this was the one of the lowest spring runoff seasons in decades. Federal and local water managers have had to broker agreements to keep the river flowing in some stretches.

Taos To Begin Direct Charter Flights To Texas Cities - Associated Press

A new charter flight service will soon link the northern New Mexico tourist destination of Taos with Dallas and Austin.

Officials announced Thursday that Taos Air will begin Dec. 20, in time for what many hope will be a solid ski season across the region.

Taos Ski Valley Inc. is among the stakeholders in the venture, having purchased a 30-passenger plane. The company signed an agreement with Ultimate Jet Charters to operate the service in and out of the Taos Regional Airport.

The announcement also follows the airport's recent opening of a runway that resulted from a multimillion-dollar project that spanned years.

Taos Mayor Daniel Barrone says the community is committed to positioning the airport as an economic driver for Taos County and the rest of northern New Mexico.

Tropical Storm Sergio Hits Mexico, Weakens To DepressionThe Associated Press

Tropical Storm Sergio weakened into a tropical depression Friday after soaking the Baja California Peninsula, crossing the Gulf of California and then continuing to lose punch over mainland Mexico.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said tropical storm warnings were discontinued as Sergio's maximum sustained winds decreased to about 30 mph. It was forecast to degenerate into a remnant low-pressure system today.

But the Hurricane Center said Sergio and its remnants were still expected to produce total rainfall of 3 to 5 inches over northwestern Mexico and 1 to 3 inches in parts of New Mexico and Arizona, potentially causing dangerous floods.

Video Shows Officers Fatally Shot Man As He Lunged For GunThe Las Cruces Sun-News, The Associated Press

Authorities say a man who led officers on a foot pursuit had several chances to put his gun down before being fatally shot by police.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Las Cruces Police Chief Patrick Gallagher said Thursday that Juan Angel Pinedo refused to listen to at least a dozen commands from officers before being shot on Sept. 27.

Gallagher says Pinedo jumped over a fence onto Las Cruces High School's campus while being chased by police officers. Police say that's when Pinedo dropped a handgun he was carrying.

A screenshot from an officer's lapel cam captures the moment before officers fatally shot Pinedo. Police say Pinedo was lunging for the handgun he dropped.

Pinedo was wanted by police after he was suspected of pointing a handgun at his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend.

Netflix Production Hub Incentive Package Clears First HurdleThe Associated Press

A $4.5 million incentive package offered to Netflix for locating its new U.S. production hub in New Mexico has cleared its first hurdle.

The Albuquerque Development Commission voted unanimously Thursday to recommend that the City Council approve the deal. A vote could come next week.

Netflix announced this week that it chose Albuquerque and was negotiating to purchase a sprawling studio complex on the city's southern edge that includes sound stages, offices and a back lot where it will produce original series and films.

It will mark the company's first purchase of such a property. Work there and elsewhere around the state is expected to result in $1 billion in spending over the next decade.

Incentives also include an additional $10 million in economic development funding from the state.

New Mexico 17-Year-Old Arrested In Killing Of Michigan ManThe Associated Press

Police in Santa Fe have arrested a 17-year-old boy in the Sept. 26 shooting death of a Michigan man who was visiting the city.

Police say the boy was already in custody on unrelated charges when he was served Thursday with an arrest warrant accusing him of murder and tampering with evidence in the killing of Richard Milan of Kalamazoo.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juvenile crime suspects.

Police said Milan was in Santa Fe with his wife and walking the couple's dog when he encountered a group of young people, leading to a verbal altercation that escalated into the shooting.

Police said they've identified other teens who were at the scene but who fled before police arrived.

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