Governor Names New Education Secretary, Navajo Nation Signs Deal With Albuquerque To Combat Racism

Aug 12, 2019

New Mexico Governor Names New Education Secretary - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has named a regional official with a national nonprofit group as the new leader of the state's public education department.

Ryan Stewart was introduced Monday during a news conference in Santa Fe.

Based in Philadelphia, Stewart is the executive director of the Partners in School Innovation mid-Atlantic region. The group focuses on increasing educational opportunities for low-income students of color.

He was previously head of the Philadelphia school district's improvement and innovation office.

The governor said Monday she has very expectations for the education department and that Stewart has energy and vision.

Stewart fills a vacancy created when Lujan Grisham abruptly fired the previous secretary, Karen Trujillo. The shake-up came as the administration deals with court-ordered mandates and a push to roll out extended learning times for students.

New Mexico Confirms First Human West Nile CaseAssociated Press

New Mexico health officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in the state.

The Health Department said Monday a 42-year-old woman from Doña Ana County contracted the mosquito-borne virus and is recovering after being hospitalized.

New Mexico has had cases of West Nile every year since the virus migrated to the state in 2003.

There were seven confirmed cases in New Mexico in 2018, including one fatal case. In 2017, there were 33 cases, with one reported death.

Officials say mosquito populations tend to rise following increased precipitation during the monsoon season.

Symptoms can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. Officials say people with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for weeks to months.

FBI Seek Sex Abuse Suspect Awaiting Trial In New MexicoAssociated Press

Federal authorities are searching for a defendant in a sexual abuse case who went missing from a halfway house in Albuquerque.

FBI officials said Monday that Jan Jay Moolenijzer was under strict pre-trial release conditions when he left the halfway house without permission on Aug. 5.

The 68-year-old's last known location was Tucson, Arizona.

Moolenijzer was arrested nearly a year ago in Albuquerque. He was indicted in March on four counts of aggravated sexual abuse stemming from incidents in 2001 and 2002 on tribal land in Cibola County.

According to the indictment, Moolenijzer, who is not Native American, is accused of inappropriately touching a boy under the age of 12.

The victim is a member of a tribe.

A federal warrant has been issued for Moolenijzer's arrest.

Carson Forest To Host Public Meetings On Management PlanAssociated Press

Numerous public meetings are scheduled across northern New Mexico as federal officials roll out a proposed management plan for the Carson National Forest.

The proposal outlines how more than 2,340 square miles of forest land across four counties would be managed.

Officials say the plan reflects changes in economic, social and ecological conditions since the last plan was approved during the 1980s. They also say it includes input from elected officials, Native American tribes, land grants and community members.

Some Hispanic ranchers have voiced concerns about whether the plan adequately protects traditional uses that date back centuries.

Forest Supervisor James Duran said Friday the revised draft recognizes the deep connection that rural communities have to the Carson forest.

The public has until Nov. 7 to comment.

FCC Awards $2.5M To Bring Broadband To San Juan CountyAssociated Press

Rural and underserved communities in northern New Mexico will have access to internet service thanks to federal dollars.

The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday that it has approved nearly $2.6 million to bring broadband to more than 500 homes and businesses in San Juan County.

Amarillo, Texas-based Plains Internet will use the funding over the next decade to establish high-speed internet service for hundreds of residents.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement that the funding is another step toward closing the digital divide.

To date, the FCC has earmarked more than $21 million for New Mexico to bring broadband to more than 8,500 households and businesses.

Rural and tribal areas have been the focus of the funding.

2 Education Groups Urge Caution On New Mexico Tests Revamp - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

Two New Mexico education advocacy groups are urging caution as state officials work to revamp a student assessment test.

NewMexicoKidsCAN and Teach Plus said last week they hope state education officials maintain rigorous standards for stability.

Last month, the state released results that showed around 80% of New Mexico students weren't proficient in math and 67% weren't proficient in reading. The results were from a "transition test" administered in the spring.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham scrapped a previous test amid pressure from teachers unions. A panel is helping create a new test despite criticism from some Republicans.

Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki told The Associated Press it was "incredibly outrageous" to ask if the administration was seeking to make the test easier to raise proficiency rates.

Navajo Nation, Albuquerque Sign Deal To Combat Racism - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

The nation's largest Native American reservation and New Mexico's largest city have signed an agreement aimed at protecting Navajo Nation members from discrimination.

The Gallup Independent reports the Navajo Nation and Albuquerque signed a memorandum of agreement last week that officials say will strengthen communication between the two entities.

The agreement comes after two Navajo homeless men in 2014 were beaten to death in Albuquerque by three non-Native American teenagers.

The Navajo Human Rights Commission says the latest agreement will help in addressing issues of racism and hate crimes in nearby cities.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller says the agreement will strengthen efforts to tackle crime, discrimination and homelessness and make the city more inclusive.

1 Of The Missing 'Moon Trees' In New Mexico Believed Found KOAT-TV, Associated Press

Officials believe they may have found one of the missing trees planted in New Mexico from seeds taken to the moon during the Apollo 14 mission.

KOAT-TV reports former New Mexico first lady Clara Apodaca and a naturalist identified last week a tree they believe to be one of those planted in the state four decades ago.

Apodaca and the naturalist say a Douglas Fir located in a grassy area north of the state capitol in Santa Fe is a moon tree. Apodaca helped plant it.

The discovery comes after the Albuquerque station reported that officials where the trees were planted decades ago said they have lost track of the trees.

Moon trees were grown from 500 seeds taken into orbit around the moon by former U.S. Forest Service smokejumper Stuart Roosa during the 1971 mission.

New Mexico Man Pleads Guilty In Delaware Swatting CaseAssociated Press

A New Mexico man has pleaded guilty to making interstate bomb threats against an elementary school and a Walmart in southern Delaware.

Twenty-nine-year-old Stephen Scott Landes of Roswell entered the plead Monday in federal court in Wilmington. He faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing in November.

Prosecutors say Landes falsely reported in May 2018 that he had planted bombs at the Georgetown school and the Walmart while claiming to be a Georgetown resident.

Such schemes, which cause police and SWAT teams to respond to fake emergencies, are known as "swatting."

Authorities say the Delaware incident stemmed from an online feud between Landes and a Georgetown man, who himself is accused of falsely reporting shootings and other emergencies at locations in five states.

Hearing Set For New Mexico Man In Delaware Swatting Case - Associated Press

A federal judge is holding a plea hearing for a New Mexico man accused of posing as another person to make bomb threats against an elementary school and a Walmart in southern Delaware.

A plea hearing was scheduled to be held Monday for Stephen Scott Landes. Prosecutors say Landes falsely reported in May 2018 that he had planted bombs at the Georgetown school and the Walmart while claiming to be a Georgetown resident.

Such schemes, which cause police and SWAT teams to respond to fake emergencies, are known as "swatting."

Authorities say the Delaware incident stemmed from an online feud between Landes and Rodney Allen Phipps, of Georgetown, who himself is accused of falsely reporting shootings and other emergencies at locations in five states.

Hotel Mistaken For Store With Anti-Immigrant Signs - Alamogordo Daily News, Associated Press

The manager of a southern New Mexico hotel says it's being wrongly identified as a convenience store that shares a similar name and has posted signs against immigrants and former President Barack Obama.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports Mayhill Cafe & Hotel manager Tammy Varbel said the case of mistaken identity has led to bad business reviews and online threats.

The convenience store is located near the hotel and got national attention after its owner erected the signs on store windows.

One sign read that immigrants in the country illegally were not welcome to shop.

Varbel says the hotel welcomes anyone regardless of race or religion.

"I don't care what he does over there, that's his deal," Varbel said. "But confusing the two is really upsetting because it affects our business, it affects what people think about us." 

New AMC Drama Follows Japanese American Internment Horror - By Russell Contreras And Terry Tang Associated Press

The second season of an AMC-TV drama series follows the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and a number of bizarre deaths haunting a community.

"The Terror: Infamy" is set to premiere Monday and stars Derek Mio and original "Star Trek" cast member George Takei as they navigate the forced internment and the supernatural spirits that surround them.

Mio, who is fourth-generation Japanese American, said he liked the idea of adding a supernatural element to a historical event like internment. He says he had relatives who were forced into camps.

Takei was in a camp as a child.

From 1942 to 1945, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were ordered to camps in New Mexico, California, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Texas, Arkansas and other sites.