Fugitive Priest Pleads Not Guilty To Sex Abuse – Associated Press
A fugitive priest suspected of child abuse decades ago in New Mexico has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of abuse.
Arthur Perrault entered his plea Friday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque following his arrest in Morocco and return to the U.S.
The 80-year-old Perrault is facing charges of criminal aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact in incidents that federal authorities say happened at Kirtland Air Force Base and Santa Fe National Cemetery in the 1990s.
Perrault vanished in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese alleging Perrault had sexually assaulted seven children.
Voter Registration Reminders Mailed To 55,000 In New Mexico – Associated Press
New Mexico election regulators are mailing nearly 55,000 postcards to eligible voters who are not yet registered.
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Friday in a news release that the notices include the Oct. 9 registration deadline to participate in elections that conclude on Nov. 6.
She said 17-year-olds who turn 18 by Nov. 6 were included in the mailing. Recipients are encouraged to register and update expired registrations online at NMvote.org .
Absentee voting begins Oct. 9.
New Mexico residents are electing candidates for governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, attorney general, the Legislature, Congress and U.S. Senate.
Also on Friday, authorities began sending ballots to the qualified voters living abroad who previously submitted absentee applications.
Public Comment Period Ends On Eyed Nuke Repository Expansion – Associated Press, The Santa Fe New Mexican
The public comments period has ended on a proposal to expand the amount of radioactive and hazardous waste allowed at an underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports critics, however, are accusing the state Environment Department of rushing the approval process.
The criticism comes after a petition by 21 environmental groups to extend the public comment period to 90 days was rejected.
The U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, a private contractor that manages the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, submitted a request early this year to change the way radioactive waste at the site is measured.
A measurement change could lead to a 30 percent increase in the amount of new waste allowed at the site.
Bloomfield Considers Combining Law Enforcement Departments – Associated Press, The Daily Times
Bloomfield is considering getting law enforcement and fire protection support from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office as the city's police department continues to struggle with recruitment and retention.
According to an emailed statement by Mayor Cynthia Atencio drafted after consulting with city councilors on Thursday, the Bloomfield Police Department has lost five officers since January, bringing the number of officers down to 13.
The Farmington Daily Times reports Atencio says combining the police department with the sheriff's office could reduce costs, develop economies of scale and reduce duplication of functions.
She also thinks the merger would allow for better training, recruitment and retention because it would provide more money for more officers.
She says the city will hold community discussions on the proposal once it finishes collecting facts and figures.
UNM Provost Warns Of 'Hard Decisions' After Enrollment Drop – Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal
The University of New Mexico's top academic official says "hard decisions" loom due to a steeper-than-expected drop in student enrollment.
The Albuquerque Journal reports interim Provost Richard Wood announced in an email this week that the university's main campus enrollment dropped 7 percent this fall. That means the school would make $9.7 million less than projected in tuition and fees.
Wood says university reserves would help buffer the financial impact and that the school would try to avoid across-the-board cuts that could jeopardize the academic mission.
But he said the school will make "hard decisions ... in the coming weeks and months."
The University of New Mexico's total student population dropped each of the last five years, sliding a cumulative 9.3 percent from 2012 to 2017.
New Mexico Observatory Closure Linked To Child Porn – Associated Press
An observatory in the mountains of southern New Mexico that mysteriously closed earlier this month sparking popular rumors of alien visitors appears to be linked to a child pornography investigation.
A search warrant filed in U.S. District Court in Las Cruces last week shows that the FBI began investigating after a wireless signal at the Sunspot Solar Observatory, located in the Lincoln National Forest, accessed child porn multiple times since January.
The warrant says the observatory's chief observer told agents he found a laptop with child porn in an empty office.
The FBI says an observatory janitor owns the laptop.
The warrant says the National Solar Observatory and the National Science Foundation shut down the facility after the janitor made veiled threats following federal agents' seizure of the computer.
No arrests have been made.