New Mexico Picks Corrections Secretary After False Start - By Morgan Lee Associated Press
Career state corrections officer Alisha Tafoya Lucero has been named Cabinet secretary to oversee New Mexico's combination public-private prison system.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the appointment Wednesday and praised Tafoya Lucero for her toughness and dedication to the state prison system.
The governor initially appointed former Florida prisons chief Julie Jones to lead the New Mexico Corrections Department but saw Jones withdraw in February.
Tafoya Lucero began serving as a corrections officer in 2001 and later became deputy warden at the state penitentiary outside Santa Fe. She was promoted to interim corrections secretary in May.
The governor and Tafoya Lucero emphasized efforts to improve accountability at privately run prisons and expand inmate programs that can reduce recidivism. The state is limiting but not eliminating solitary confinement.
New Mexico Land Boss Concerned With Nuke Waste Proposal – Associated Press
State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard says southeastern New Mexico isn't the right place to build a temporary storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.
She sent a letter Wednesday to the New Jersey-based company that wants to build the facility, saying the proposed site would be in the middle of the Permian Basin — one of the world's most productive oil and gas regions.
Nearly 2,500 wells and other mine sites are operated by dozens of businesses within a 10-mile radius of the site. Garcia Richard contends that storing the high-level waste above active oil, gas and mining operations raises serious safety concerns.
Fellow Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also has voiced opposition to the plan by Holtec International.
The company is seeking a federal license for the proposed facility.
Only Nursing Home Serving Southern NM Community Set To Close – Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press
The only nursing home serving the southern New Mexico community of Lordsburg is set to close.
The company that manages Sunshine Haven says it's working to find housing and care for 28 residents before it closes Aug. 3.
The Las Cruces Sun News reports that the closure comes as the Texas-based company that owns the nursing home defends itself against complaints over staffing levels. Preferred Care Inc. and its subsidiaries also have filed for bankruptcy protection.
Neglect, understaffing and fears of retaliation were noted in recent federal inspection reports. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fined Sunshine Haven about $45,000 in 2016 and $26,000 last year.
The nursing home's management company declined this week to specify staffing levels but said they're above limits set by the state.
At 103, 'Hurricane' Hawkins Takes Titles At US Senior Games – Associated Press
At 103, Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins has cemented her title as the oldest woman to compete on an American track after finishing the 50- and 100-meter dashes at the National Senior Games in Albuquerque.
Event organizers say the Louisiana resident holds the world record for her age group of 100 and over in the 100-meter dash.
She didn't beat her previous time Tuesday but crossed the line in just over 46 seconds.
On Monday, she was clocked at 21.06 in the 50-meter event, which appears to be a new Senior Games record for the women's 100-plus age division. There's no record of a past female competitor in that contest.
The retired teacher says staying active keeps her sharp and she hopes she can serve as an inspiration to others.
Senate Panel Focuses On Missing, Slain Indigenous Women – Associated Press
A key congressional committee is holding a hearing on a slate of legislation aimed at addressing the deaths and disappearances of Native American women.
The bills before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs would require law enforcement to submit annual reports to Congress to give lawmakers a better handle on the number of cases.
New standards also are proposed for law enforcement's response to missing persons reports, especially on tribal lands.
Numerous Native American families have expressed frustration in testimony and interviews in the past year over officers' handling of the reports.
Officials with the Justice and Interior departments, which provide resources for law enforcement on reservations, are expected to testify during Wednesday's hearing.
Commissioners Name Nominees For New Mexico Senate Seat – Farmington Daily Times, Associated Press
Two former New Mexico county commissioners have been nominated to fill the seat of state Sen. John Pinto, who died last month at the age of 94.
The Farmington Daily Times reported Monday that the San Juan County Commission nominated its former commissioner Wallace Charley.
McKinley County commissioners nominated their former commissioner Carol Bowman-Muskett.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will choose one of the nominees or appoint someone else from the northwestern New Mexico district.
Pinto's term was set to expire next year, so the person appointed would have to run in 2020 election.
Pinto, a Democrat and a Navajo Code Talker in World War II, was the longest-serving state senator in New Mexico history.
Documents Claim 'Swatting' Suspect Engaged In Cross-Country Feud – Associated Press
Court documents say the Delaware man indicted by a federal court for "swatting" incidents had engaged in a cross-country feud with a man he'd met on the phone and who had called in hoaxes about him before.
The Delaware News Journal reports the unsealed documents say 29-year-old Rodney Phipps met 29-year-old Stephen Landes of New Mexico in a phone chat room in 2013. Their relationship reportedly turned hostile and investigators say Landes made emergency calls pretending to be Phipps in incidents that locked down a Georgetown, Delaware, elementary school and a Walmart in 2018.
Phipps was recently arrested for making similar calls between 2015 and 2017, causing police and SWAT teams to respond to locations across the U.S.
Landes has been in federal custody since last year. Phipps faces false threat charges.
New Mexico Requires Co-Prescription Of Opioid Reversal Drug - Associated Press
New Mexico is requiring that many opioid prescriptions for pain relief come with a second prescription that can reverse possible overdoses.
A law that went into effect this month requires co-prescriptions of opioid overdose-reversal medication such as naloxone to accompany any opioid prescription that last five days or more.
Lindsay LaSalle of the Drug Policy Alliance said Tuesday the law may save lives by increasing distribution of overdose-reversal medications that are unfamiliar to many people.
New Mexico already makes naloxone available at pharmacies without prescriptions. The new law takes a more aggressive approach by requiring safety briefings to first-time opioid patients about overdose risks.
Thom Duddy of Emergent BioSolutions that produces a naloxone nasal spray called Narcan says opioid prescriptions are likely to decrease in New Mexico as a result.
Nonprofit Oil Alliance Spends On Grant Writer For New Mexico - Associated Press
A nonprofit alliance of energy companies has spent $80,000 on a grant writer to help New Mexico's Transportation Department pursue federal grants.
The state's Legislative Finance Committee announced in a newsletter Tuesday the support from the Permian Strategic Partnership.
The partnership is an alliance of energy companies that operate in the Permian Basin that straddles the New Mexico-Texas state line. It has pledged to invest in community development projects New Mexico and Texas.
Surging oil and natural gas production in the Permian Basin has produced a windfall of income for New Mexico state government.
Lawmakers are attempting to diversify the state economy with financial incentives for film production, outdoor recreation and renewable energy.
Santa Fe School Board Extends Superintendent's Contract - Associated Press
The Santa Fe school board extended the contract for its superintendent and gave the former New Mexico secretary of education a pay hike.
The board voted Monday to extended Superintendent Veronica García's contract by a year to June 2021 and approved a 6% raise.
According to state numbers, test scores from the 2018 school year showed that district results in math and reading were below statewide averages.
The 67-year-old García dismissed the importance of scores from the state's standardized test, which the Public Education Department is revamping.
García served as the public education secretary under former Gov. Bill Richardson.
Albuquerque Police Department Roster Nears 1,000 Officers – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press
Albuquerque police are expected to number nearly 1,000 in the next few months after the department added 116 officers over the past year.
The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that about two-thirds of the new officers are already on duty, and the rest are expected to be on the streets by the end of the summer.
City officials have been working to boost staffing after the department's roster dropped to 821 officers in 2016. It had 983 officers in 2013.
The department is budgeted for 1,053 officers in the next fiscal year.
Albuquerque Deputy Police Chief Harold Medina says most of the new officers have been hired from other agencies, including the Santa Fe Police Department, the Rio Rancho Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office.
Power Project On Navajo Nation Connects 233 Homes To Grid - Associated Press
More than 230 homes on the Navajo Nation have been connected to the electric grid as part of a pilot project.
The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority worked with volunteer utility crews from across the country on the project that wrapped up last month.
The goal had been to connect 300 homes on the reservation where 15,000 homes don't have power.
Tribal utility spokeswoman Deenise Becenti said Tuesday the final tally was 233 homes.
The volunteer crews from 13 states also ran more than 50 miles of electric line from April through May.
The tribal utility worked with the American Public Power Association to design the project that both are hoping can be used as a model in the future.
Las Cruces Police ID Man Killed In Shootout With Authorities - Associated Press
Police in Las Cruces say they've identified a man who was killed in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officers.
Police say 35-year-old Francisco "Paco" Tarin was pronounced dead at the scene of Monday's incident.
Tarin, who lived in Las Cruces and Roswell, allegedly shot at a marked Las Cruces police unit.
He then allegedly shot at several officers who were attempting to take him into custody.
Officers from four law enforcement agencies returned fire at Tarin, who was hit multiple times.
Authorities say two Las Cruces police officers and a Doña Ana County Sheriff's deputy suffered minor injuries in the shootout.
They say the handgun Tarin allegedly used was recovered by police.
Parents Of New Mexico Teen Charged For Not Locking Up Gun – Associated Press
Authorities say the parents of a teenager accused of firing a gun at a New Mexico high school failed to lock up their firearm despite knowing their son had made threats to "shoot up the school."
The couple is facing a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A criminal complaint was filed this week in Sandoval County Magistrate Court.
Police have said the 16-year-old opened fire inside a high school in Rio Rancho, a suburb Albuquerque, in February before leaving the gun behind and running from the scene. No one was hurt.
The Associated Press is not naming the V. Sue Cleveland High School student because of his age. He is facing charges of attempting to commit murder and unlawfully carrying a deadly weapon onto school grounds.
Las Vegas Optic Names New Editor - Las Vegas Optic, Associated Press
The Las Vegas Optic has named former Los Alamos Monitor sports editor as the newspaper's new editor.
The Las Vegas Optic announced Sunday that Phil Scherer has been chosen to lead the 140-year-old newspaper. He replaces Jason W. Brooks, who has taken a position in Arizona.
The Missouri native takes over this week as editor of the Optic.
In Los Alamos, Scherer covered high school sports, worked doing color commentary on radio sports broadcasts, and helped with many other duties at the paper.
Pup Fostering Gives Genetic Boost To Wild Mexican Wolves - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press
A dozen Mexican gray wolf pups are being raised by wild packs in New Mexico and Arizona as biologists mark another season of playing matchmaker to bolster the genetics of the endangered species.
The foster program involves placing captive-born wolves into the dens of established packs as part of an ongoing effort to return the wolves to their historic range in the American Southwest.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Maggie Dwire says this marks the most pups to be fostered in a single season since the technique was first used in 2014.
A zoo in Kansas and breeding programs operated by conservation centers in Missouri and New York helped this year.
For fostering to work, the timing has to be just right. The pups are usually less than two weeks old when they're placed with a surrogate pack.