Governor To Hold Summit On Domestic Terrorism, Groups Seek To Protect Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

Aug 5, 2019

New Mexico Governor Plans Summit On Domestic TerrorismAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be convening a summit to discuss ways to reduce the risk of domestic terrorist acts in the wake of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.

The first-year governor announced Monday that she'll bring together state legislative leaders from both political parties as well as public safety officials from within her administration.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas also has been invited, and federal authorities are expected to give a briefing during the summit.

The event is scheduled for Aug. 14.

New Mexico Lowers State Flags To Honor Shooting VictimsAssociated

All New Mexico flags will fly at half-staff to honor the victims of the weekend's two deadly mass shootings.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order Monday for a mourning period for the 31 people killed in shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Grisham is calling for state flags to stay lowered through sundown Wednesday.

The Democratic governor also vowed to continue pushing for gun safety measures.

Authorities in El Paso, which is a short distance from the New Mexico-Texas border, announced Monday the deaths of two more shooting victims. The news brings the total number of those killed to 22.

Meanwhile, police say a gunman killed nine people in a popular entertainment district of Dayton, including his sister.

New Mexico Governor Says EPA Failing To Protect Public HealthAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing to protect public health and the environment by not helping the state in its legal battle against the U.S. Air Force over contamination at two military installations.

The governor took aim at the federal agency in a letter sent Friday to EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler.

The state in July had asked for the agency to pursue enforcement against the U.S. Defense Department for contamination at Cannon and Holloman air bases. The EPA responded that it isn't permitted to take legal action against another branch or agency of the federal government.

Lujan Grisham and New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney argue that the EPA in other cases has issued compliance orders forcing federal agencies to address contamination.

Judge To Rule On Texan Charged In Southwest Flight Dispute Dallas Morning News, Associated Press

A federal judge will determine whether a profanity-laced tantrum by a Texas man aboard a Southwest Airlines flight last year constituted a threat to the flight crew and passengers or was merely rude behavior.

Justin Riley Brafford was arrested and charged with flight crew interference after the Dallas-bound plane was diverted to Albuquerque, New Mexico, last October. A criminal complaint shows a female passenger complained that Brafford touched her and whispered unsolicited advances and she requested a seat change. Authorities say Brafford verbally attacked the woman and the flight attendant who granted her seat-change request.

A lawyer for the 29-year-old man from Denton filed a motion in June to dismiss the indictment, saying Brafford simply "acted rudely."

The Dallas Morning News reports that a ruling is slated for next week.

New Mexico Man In Stalking Case Arrested For Explosive - Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

A New Mexico man is facing charges after sheriff's deputies reported finding weapons and an explosive device in his car.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports Zachary Black was arrested last week in connection with four pending charges of aggravated stalking, domestic abuse and burglary against an ex-girlfriend.

Lincoln County Sheriff Robert Shepperd says the 26-year-old Black was detained following a complaint from the ex-girlfriend who told authorities she found the device in his belongings at their house in Carrizozo, New Mexico.

Authorities say other weapons were found at Black's house in Ruidoso Downs.

Shepperd said that under the conditions of his release for the pending felony charges, Black is prohibited from carrying or possessing firearms.

It was not known if Black has an attorney.

Federal Officials Help Endangered Minnow Amid Strong Rio GrandeAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A federal agency is taking advantage of high water levels in the Rio Grande to help a tiny minnow listed as an endangered species.

The Albuquerque Journal reports U.S. Bureau of Reclamation workers recently aided in creating more habitat for the Rio Grande silvery minnow on the Middle Rio Grande.

Reclamation crews worked from January to March of this year to lower and widen the riverbank on the southern end of private property near Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. They excavated 46,000 cubic yards of dirt to create water channels where minnows could escape the fast-moving river.

The tiny fish, listed as endangered in 1994, was once abundant throughout the Rio Grande Basin from Colorado to Texas and into Mexico.

Granddaughter Of Ex-Gov. Bruce King To Run For State House Seat - Associated Press

The granddaughter of a former New Mexico governor has announced she will run for a state house seat once held by her grandfather and uncle.

Rebecca "Becky" King-Spindle announced Saturday she will challenge Democratic Rep. Matthew McQueen of Santa Fe for a sprawling seat that covers four counties.

King-Spindle is the granddaughter of the late Democratic former Gov. Bruce King and the niece of former New Mexico Attorney General Gary King. Both Kings once held the seat.

The Moriarty, New Mexico, resident says she is running because politicians have politicized "everything from education to pork spending."

She currently is a Moriarty school board member and works as a rancher.

University Of New Mexico Eyes Jump In Freshmen Enrollment - KOB-TV, Associated Press

University of New Mexico officials are predicting a jump in freshmen enrollment after seeing years of decline.

KOB-TV reports school Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs James Holloway said that the university's enrollment has stabilized and officials are noticing a tiny upward trend.

Officials say 2,171 freshmen have signed up for school — 482 less than last year. However, officials said those numbers are five weeks from the deadline to enroll and they expect to see a small uptick in the final weeks.

Last year, freshman enrollment dropped more than 17% to 2,653.

Total enrollment has decreased steadily since 2012.

Despite a 3.1% increase in tuition, the university said it had received 10% more applications than last year.

Several New Mexico Football Teams Struggle To Find Players - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Declining student-athlete participation rates are hitting New Mexico high schools that are struggling to find football players to field teams.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the falling participation rates and the fact that some schools are canceling their seasons because of a lack of players have observers wondering if New Mexico high school football is dying.

In June, McCurdy Charter School in Española canceled its season after half of the 26 players were declared academically ineligible. Questa High School, which prematurely ended back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018 because of a lack of players, will not field a team this year.

The New Mexico Activities Association says 11 of the 113 schools expected to play football this year will do so as independents. That means they won't play in a district or compete in the playoffs.

United To Begin Flights From Denver To Hobbs, New Mexico - Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

United Airlines has announced it will begin direct flights to Denver from a southeastern New Mexico county airport in the heart of New Mexico's booming oil region.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the airline and Lea County officials say the flights from Hobbs will start Oct. 27. The announcement comes as  county officials seek to double the passenger holding area at Lea County Regional Airport.

Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb says the new direct flights show confidence in the robust and growing economy of the Permian Basin.

United's nonstop flights to Denver International Airport into the Permian Basin will be operated as United Express service six days per week.

United is also scheduled to continue to operate two daily nonstop flights from Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. There will be one flight that operates to and from Houston on Saturdays.

Environmentalists Seek To Protect Dunes Sagebrush Lizard - Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

A small lizard native to southeast New Mexico is the latest animal to spark a debate between environmentalists, the federal government and oil and gas operators.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports a federal report says the habitat for the dunes sagebrush lizard has shrunk to only about 655 square miles in the Mescalero Sands area. That's a region east of Artesia and northern Eddy County.

Environmentalist groups that have recently sued the federal government to force it to protect the lesser prairie chicken are looking at similar action to help the dunes sagebrush lizard.

The rare lizard remains unlisted as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service but is listed as endangered by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Rio Rancho Police: Teenage Boy Found Fatally Shot In Vehicle - Associated Press

Police in Rio Rancho say a teenage boy has been found dead in car with multiple gunshot wounds.

They say the victim was found in the driver's seat of a vehicle on Saturday evening.

First responders and people in the Enchanted Hills area neighborhood tried to save the teen, but police say he died at the scene.

Police say the teen is about 17 or 18 years old and it's unclear if he was carrying any identification.

Police say they don't know the motive for the shooting and no suspects have been identified yet.

4 Chicago Residents Die, 3 Others Hurt In New Mexico CrashAssociated Press

Authorities say four Illinois residents are dead and three others injured after a vehicle rollover in New Mexico.

New Mexico State Police say the crash occurred Saturday on U.S. 54 north of the small town of Vaughn.

They say the SUV crossed the highway's center line into the northbound lane for an unknown reason and then swerved back to the southbound lane before rolling.

State Police say six passengers were ejected and three were declared dead at the scene — 69-year-old Ramon Morales, 17-year-old Daniel Salazar and 10-year-old Natalie Salazar, all from Chicago.

They say 41-year-old Francisco Salazar died while being airlifted to a hospital.

State Police say the 39-year-old driver and two other passengers — a 15-year-old boy and 21-year-old woman — were taken to a hospital for treatment.

This story reflects corrected figures on the number of people who died in the crash from 5 to 4.