Education Officials Want Cultural Training For Teachers, State Holds Meetings On Hemp Regulations

Oct 29, 2019

New Mexico Wants Linguistic, Cultural Training For TeachersAssociated Press

New Mexico state education officials want public schools to become more attuned to the culture and linguistics of a heavily Hispanic and Native American population, as they outline priorities for the next school year.

Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart on Tuesday told a panel of state lawmakers that his agency hopes to better equip teachers to inspire children from households where an indigenous or foreign language is spoken.

He says that teaching tribal languages in the classroom can help Navajo children communicate with elders. He says textbooks have to be created from scratch to teach some indigenous languages that aren't widely spoken.

Lawmakers recently increased spending on teacher salaries, at-risk students and incentives to extend annual classroom hours by up to 20 percent.

Secretary Of State Quits 2020 Democratic Bid For Us Senate - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

New Mexico's secretary of state says she won't pursue the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, clearing a path for Rep. Ben Ray Luján as the party's candidate in 2020.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Tuesday announced in an email the end of her campaign and endorsed Luján's campaign to succeed retiring two-term Sen. Tom Udall.

Luján is the No. 4 Democrat in House leadership and has served six terms representing northern New Mexico. Two candidates who lost statewide election bids in 2018 are vying for the Republican nomination.

Toulouse Oliver cut a progressive profile in her short-lived Senate campaign. The former county clerk called for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump and rejected campaign cash from corporate PACs. Those positions later became part of Luján's platform.

Judge Withdraws From Consideration For District Court SeatAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A federal judge has removed his name from consideration for a U.S. District Court seat in New Mexico after the state's two Democratic senators withdrew their support.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Magistrate Judge Kevin Sweazea announced the decision in a letter to the White House last week.

Sweazea says U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich withdrew their support despite having submitted his name to President Donald Trump as a potential nominee.

Staff members for both Udall and Heinrich said Sweazea's confirmation would face serious hurdles in the Senate and that they are working to find other qualified candidates.

Sweazea says the two-year process also "adversely affected" his willingness to take on the job, instead he plans to continue as a magistrate judge.

New Mexico Man Sentenced To 25 Years For Family SlayingsAssociated Press

A New Mexico state district judge has sentenced Nicholas Ortiz to 25 years in prison for killing three members of an El Rancho family eight years ago.

State District Judge Francis Mathew sentenced the 24-year-old man Monday after he was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Authorities say Ortiz would be required to serve 85% of his sentence after getting credit for time served since his February 2015 arrest.

Authorities say Nicholas Ortiz killed Lloyd Ortiz, Dixie Ortiz and Steven Ortiz in their home in June 2011 with a large pickax.

Nicholas Ortiz, who is not related to the family, was 16-year-old at the time.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Padgett declined to comment.

Authorities say Nicholas Ortiz could appeal but there was no discussion about whether he would.

NM Governor Urges Probe Of Immigrant Processing CenterAssociated Press

New Mexico's governor is urging federal immigration authorities to open an investigation of conditions at a privately-managed processing center where Cuban migrants reportedly have attempted to kill themselves.

The office of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham released letters Monday calling for an internal investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of conditions at the Otero County Processing Center in southern New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham is requesting a probe by ICE's inspector general and urged acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to intervene. She describes signs of cruel conditions and despair at the processing center 30 miles north of the U.S. border with Mexico at El Paso, Texas.

She says ICE's internal watchdog found egregious problems with unannounced visits last year to holding facilities in four other states.

New Mexico Holds More Meetings On Hemp Regulations - Associated Press

New Mexico has developed a proposed final rule for regulating the hemp industry and it wants the public to weigh in.

The first meeting on the proposal is set for Tuesday in Santa Fe. Subsequent meetings are planned in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.

An emergency rule regulating the extraction, manufacturing and transportation of hemp and products containing hemp went into effect in August to protect public health and safety until a final rule was adopted.

The proposed final rule includes some minor changes.

Officials say it will likely be adopted during a hearing in early December.

The state Agriculture Department has issued 400 licenses to grow hemp since the crop was legalized. Officials say that means nearly 11 square miles in the state are dedicated to hemp production.

Man Charged With Killing 5-Year-Old Girl Appears In Court Associated Press

A New Mexico man charged with killing his ex-girlfriend's daughter appeared in federal court Monday, nearly two months after the 5-year-old girl vanished from her yard and was later found dead in the Rio Grande.

Malcolm Torres was arrested a day earlier in Pojoaque Pueblo, a tribal community between the cities of Española and Santa Fe, and he has been indicted on a second-degree murder charge.

Federal court documents do not provide details about the accusations against Torres, except to say he killed Renezmae Calzada with "malice aforethought."

Authorities say Renezmae was last seen in early September playing in her family's yard in Española. After a three-day search, authorities recovered her body from the river north of Santa Fe.

An indictment says the girl was killed on tribal land near Española and that she was Native American, though it does not list her tribal affiliation.

A hearing to determine whether Torres will be jailed as he awaits trial has been set for Tuesday.

Project To Fill Defunct Brine Well Facing $9M Shortfall - Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

A project aiming to stop a defunct brine well in southeastern New Mexico from collapsing is facing an estimated $9 million shortfall.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports New Mexico Energy Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said last week the anticipated budget shortfall for the remediation of the Carlsbad Brine Well is $8.9 million. She says the cost of the project rose during the engineering and design work.

The project, which would fill a 400-foot underground cavity below the intersection of U.S Highways 285 and 62/180, was first estimated to cost $43 million.

A collapse could interrupt a main thoroughfare for New Mexico's oil industry while also damaging the Carlsbad Irrigation District and train tracks.

Experts say a collapse could cost as much as $1 billion in damages, litigation and loss of life.

New Mexico Ranchers Deal With Dry, Cold Conditions - Associated Press

Drastic changes in the weather have left some cattle ill in parts of New Mexico as ranchers deal with cold, dry conditions.

The latest crop report released Monday by the U.S. Agriculture Department's statistics service said ranchers in Chaves and Union counties reported damage to plants and grass due to the recent frost.

Ranchers in Union County also indicated that some livestock were sick, most likely due to the quick changes in the weather.

Ranchers in many areas also are still hauling water to their herds, and the need for supplemental feeding has increased and is well ahead of last year.

The latest map shows prolonged dryness has resulted in the expansion of severe conditions into Catron County, while moderate drought now spans more than a quarter of the state.

Former New Mexico Officer In DWI Wants 911 Call Thrown Out - KRQE-TV, Associated Press

A former New Mexico State Police officer charged with drunken driving wants a 911 call related to her arrest tossed out.

KRQE-TV reports an attorney for Jessica Turner said in recently filed court documents the 911 caller is unreliable because he never left his name, and incorrectly identified Turner as a man.

Otero County deputies say they found Turner slumped over the wheel in February 2018 after receiving a call about a truck on Highway 82. The caller told police the driver almost hit him.

A police report says there was a smell of alcohol in the truck and she performed poorly on a sobriety test.

She resigned from New Mexico State Police a few months later.

Video Shows Transit Officers Beating Man Trying To Record ThemKOAT-TV, Associated Press

Two Albuquerque transit security officers have been on paid leave after video footage showed them beating a person who was trying to record them roughing up a detainee.

KOAT-TV reports the officers were placed on leave following the July 24 episode at the Alvarado Transit Center that prompted a police investigation.

According to police reports, the security officers attacked John Anthony Lopez while he tried to record the officers with his cellphone. Lopez says he told the officers they couldn't use physical force like that.

Video footage from a bus showed the security officers beating Lopez. He was later transported to a nearby hospital.

The transit security officers are not sworn or certified police officers.

Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office spokesperson Michael Patrick says the case is being reviewed.

School Board Members In New Mexico Accused Of Theft - Associated Press

Three school board members in a tiny Navajo community in New Mexico are facing federal charges amid accusations they claimed thousands of dollars in travel reimbursements for meetings that did not occur or that the trio did not attend.

An indictment filed against Hector Guerro, Bucky Apache and Steven Apache, of the Alamo Navajo Indian Reservation, includes charges of federal program theft and conspiracy.

Prosecutors say in court documents that the board members presented falsified receipts, meetings agendas and other documents to receive travel money.

Authorities say the district receives millions of dollars in federal funding from the Bureau of Indian Education and Indian Health Service.

Attorneys for the three board members did not immediately respond to voicemails requesting comment.

Volleyball Coach Of Top-ranked Team Placed On Leave - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press

A high school volleyball coach of a top-ranked team in northern New Mexico has been placed on administrative leave.

The Las Vegas Optic reports Robertson High School's head volleyball coach Stacy Fulgenzi was placed on administrative leave from coaching and teaching last week midway through the volleyball season. Las Vegas City Schools Superintendent Larryssa Archuleta told the Optic it was a "personnel matter" and declined to comment further on the subject.

Fulgenzi told the Optic she had not been given a reason for being placed on leave.

A recent coaches' poll ranked the Robertson volleyball team at the top of New Mexico Class 3A. The district and state tournaments are scheduled in the next few weeks.

Fulgenzi has been the head volleyball coach since 2016.

'Chile Capital Of The World' Gets Bus Service To Las CrucesAssociated Press

A southern New Mexico county is expanding its rural transportation service to a village known as the "chile capital of the world."

The South Central Regional Transit District began Monday bus service from Hatch, New Mexico, to Las Cruces. The service will also carry passengers from towns like Garfield, Salem, Rincon, Radium Springs, and the Village of Doña Ana.

Officials say the new service will provide access to work, school, and medical appointments.

The Green Route will operate four round trips daily, Monday through Friday. Its first trip from Garfield will begin at 6:10 a.m. and continue throughout the day until its final stop at 7:15 p.m.

In Las Cruces there will be stops at the Doña Ana Community College, Mesilla Valley Mall, and New Mexico State University.