Drug Overdose Deaths On The Rise In NM, $125M For NM Defense Projects Going To Border Wall

Sep 4, 2019

Drug Overdose Deaths On The Rise In New Mexico-Associated Press

New Mexico health officials say the number of drug overdose deaths in the state increased in 2018, largely due to methamphetamine use.

Wednesday, the Health Department reported that overall drug overdose deaths among residents rose more than 9% from 491 in 2017 to 537 in 2018.

That marked the second largest number of overdose deaths recorded in the state. There were 540 deaths in 2014.

Officials say methamphetamines were the driver for last year's overdose death rates. More than one-third of overdose deaths involved methamphetamines in 2018, up from 31 percent in 2017 and 12 percent in 2012.

Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel says her agency's work to address drug use is evolving and that the focus will include meth use as well as ongoing efforts aimed at prescription drug abuse.

$125M For New Mexico Defense Projects Going To Border Wall- Associated Press

Federal authorities want to divert $125 million from two planned projects at New Mexico military bases to help to build part of President Donald Trump's wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Members of the New Mexico congressional delegation were informed Wednesday of the Department of Defense's decision.

Funding is expected to be diverted from an $85 million project for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle training facility at Holloman Air Force Base and from a $40 million project for an information systems facility at White Sands Missile Range.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the use of $3.6 billion in funding diverted from 127 military construction projects to build 175 miles of the wall along the southern border.

New Mexico To Bolster Health Services, Medicaid PaymentsAssociated Press

New Mexico is moving forward with efforts to bolster access to a variety of health care and dental services by increasing rates for Medicaid payments to physicians and other providers.

The Human Services Department on Tuesday announced it would raise reimbursements to health care providers as soon as Oct. 1.

The plan relies heavily on federal spending to inject an additional $78.5 million into the health care sector. About $16 million will come from the state general fund under legislation signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

More than 800,000 residents are enrolled in the state's federally subsidized Medicaid program.

The majority of the new spending is directed at mental health, addiction treatment and other services that don't involve physical procedures.

New Mexico Seeks To End Ranching Lease To Jeffrey Epstein - Associated Press

New Mexico's commissioner of public lands is announcing plans to terminate livestock grazing leases to a holding company controlled by financier Jeffrey Epstein before his death last month.

First-year Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard scheduled a morning news conference on Wednesday to announce the cancellation of two leases to Cypress Inc.

Epstein killed himself in a New York jail cell Aug. 10 while awaiting his sex trafficking trial. He owned an isolated hilltop mansion and ranch in central New Mexico.

A small portion of the ranch extended across state trust land under a 1990s-era contract with the State Land Office that was renewed as recently as 2016.

New Mexico's attorney general says the state trust land was leased to provide privacy and barely if ever was used for grazing livestock.

Report Finds Oil Boom To Continue, More Infrastructure Needed - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

New Mexico's oil and gas industry is expected to keep growing at a record pace, resulting in more revenue for the state and billions of dollars in new infrastructure investments to get the commodities to market.

The predictions were presented to state lawmakers Tuesday. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and the American Petroleum Institute commissioned the study.

Analysts estimate it will take $174 billion of new infrastructure to keep pace with expected growth through 2030. That infrastructure would range from new pipelines and access roads to well construction, processing plants and refineries.

Ryan Flynn with the oil and gas association says he doesn't see it as an infrastructure challenge but rather natural growth in investment that will come from production hitting new highs in the Permian Basin.

Ex-Las Cruces School Chief Wants State Probe Of District - KVIA-TV, Associated Press

The former superintendent for Las Cruces Public Schools is calling for the state to investigate a school board member's alleged abuse of power.

KVIA-TV reports Greg Ewing recently filed a complaint to the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office and accused board member Maria Flores of interfering with the operations and management of the district while he was superintendent.

Ewing also alleged that Flores created a hostile work environment by gossiping about his sexual orientation.

Flores declined to comment on the allegations.

Ewing submitted his resignation via a letter dated Aug. 9 amid infighting with school board members.

The board later appointed Karen Trujillo as the district's interim superintendent. She was fired six months into her job as public education secretary by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Chile Farmers In Southern NM Say Weather Delayed Harvest - Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Chile farmers in southern New Mexico say extreme shifts in weather have affected the harvest.

Alonso Grajeda of Grajeda Farms says a cold snap early in the season and a later heat wave mean he won't have as much green chile as in previous years.

He tells the Las Cruces Sun News he had to replant, delaying the growth of his crops by about three weeks.

Duane Gillis of Gillis Farms says his chiles are about two weeks behind schedule. But, he says the best chile is being harvested now.

New Mexico is known for its green chile grown in Hatch, where a festival celebrating the state vegetable was held over the weekend.

Environmentalists Want New Mexico Mine's Return Blocked - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

Two environmental groups are asking a New Mexico appeals court to review a ruling that would allow an idle uranium mine in western New Mexico to become active again.

The Gallup Independent reports the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment and Amigos Bravos have asked the New Mexico Court of Appeals to review a lower court ruling that upheld the New Mexico Mining Commission's decision to permit the Mount Taylor Mine to return to active status.

In July, state District Judge Francis Mathew affirmed the decision.

The mine operated from 1980 to 1982 and from 1985 to 1990, prior to the New Mexico Mining Act.

Operator Chevron Resources sold the mine to Rio Grande Resources in 1991.

WNMU Freshman Wide Receiver Cruz Dies In Apparent Drowning - Associated Press

Western New Mexico University officials say freshman wide receiver Eddie Cruz has died in an apparent drowning.

Grant County Sheriff's officials say a New Mexico State Police dive team was called out to Bill Evans Lake north of Silver City around 3 p.m. Monday after multiple calls of a possible drowning.

Divers recovered a man's body about 4 1/2 hours later.

Sheriff's officials say the incident remains under investigation.

School officials announced Cruz's death Tuesday.

Western New Mexico President Joseph Shepard said in a statement that the university is devastated by the loss of "a phenomenal kid."

Cruz graduated in June from Eastwood High School in El Paso, Texas and was studying kinesiology in college.

The Mustangs are scheduled to open their season Saturday night in Arizona against Ottawa University.

Family Of Slain New Mexico Tejano Singer Start Memorial Fund - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

The family of a slain Tejano singer from New Mexico has launched a charitable fund in her memory.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports family members of Ernestine Saucedo have started a fund to provide scholarships to graduating seniors and donations for organizations that work to prevent domestic violence.

Police said 32-year-old Ernestine Saucedo, who performed Tejano-style music under her maiden name of Ernestine Romero, was fatally shot in July by her husband, 32-year-old Ernestine Saucedo. 

Authorities say he then killed himself.

Records show the couple had a prior history of domestic disputes, and police said they remained legally married but had been living apart several weeks prior to the shooting.

The memorial fund will be held at the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

Grant Aims To Boost Number Of Navajos Studying NeuroscienceAssociated Press

Researchers at the University of Arizona and Diné College are partnering to try to get more Navajo students into biomedical sciences.

The schools recently were awarded a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Kathleen Rogers and Roberta Diaz Brinton from U of A and Fred Boyd from Diné College will develop a training program for Navajo students to further their studies in neuroscience.

They say Native Americans make up 0.5% of the workforce in biomedical sciences — the lowest of any minority group.

The students will work with Navajo elders while learning science research methods. The researchers say the approach recognizes that Native American students might have different perspectives in trying to address health disparities.

New Mexico Not Yet Evaluating Who Will Coach VS Notre Dame Associated Press

A University of New Mexico spokesperson says the football team has not yet reached the point of making coaching decisions for the Lobos' Sept. 14 game against Notre Dame.

Coach Bob Davie, who is 64, had a "serious medical incident" Saturday following New Mexico's season-opening victory against Sam Houston State.

He said in a statement Sunday that he expects to fully recover. He thanked the UNM Hospital staff who treated him at a "critical time."

The nature of his medical episode remained unclear Tuesday.

New Mexico spokesperson Frank Mercogliano says the team is "not to the point" of making decisions about the game next week at Notre Dame.

Davie is a former Notre Dame coach. He's in his eighth season leading New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports there was no acting head coach at the Lobos' practice Monday. The coordinators ran practice for their squads.

New Mexico Borderscene Film Festival To Offer Online OptionLas Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Organizers say the Borderscene Film Festival is set to return for a second year in New Mexico with the option to view films online.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Monday that the festival in Las Cruces is scheduled to take place Sept. 6-9 at the Allen Theaters Cineport 10, Video 4 and Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces.

Organizers say the six-day festival's theme is "Overcoming Challenges."

Officials say they received 450 films from 48 countries and selected the top 15% for viewing.

Organizers say there are more than 75 films in the lineup. Most will be available for viewing online.

Passes for online-only viewing are being sold separately from regular festival passes.