Judge Approves Settlement On Childcare Assistance, Students Use Drone To Map Dinosaur Tracks

May 6, 2019

New Mexico Reaches Settlement On Childcare Assistance RulesAssociated Press

A judge has approved a legal settlement aimed at providing more uniform access to childcare-assistance subsidies overseen by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

Maria Archuleta of the Center on Law and Poverty said Monday that the judge's order provides safeguards against arbitrary decision about eligibility for childcare assistance.

The order from state District Judge Matthew Wilson sustains the threshold for childcare assistance eligibility at twice the federal poverty line and sets out new disclosure requirements on how benefits are awarded.

The lawsuit against Children, Youth and Families was filed last year on behalf of childcare assistance recipients and the advocacy group OLÉ.

The lawsuit alleged that assistance and copayment rates were set arbitrarily by the state agency without advising parents of their rights to appeal.

New Mexican Among Those Killed In Russian Plane FireAssociated Press

A recent college graduate from New Mexico who had just landed a dream job was among those killed when a Russian plane burst into flames during an emergency landing in Moscow.

Jeremy Brooks of Santa Fe was remembered as a fly-fishing expert by his former boss, Ivan Valdez, owner of The Reel Life fishing shop.

Valdez told reporters Monday that the 22-year-old Brooks had recently graduated from Colorado College in Colorado Springs and was on his way to serve as a fishing guide in northwest Russia.

The Russian airliner that took off Sunday from Moscow was airborne for 28 minutes before returning for an emergency landing while still heavy with unburned fuel, which then ignited after a rough touchdown. Flames quickly engulfed the aircraft, killing 41 of 78 people aboard.

Sen. Moran Seeks Commitment From Amtrak On Train RouteTopeka Capital-Journal, Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is putting pressure on Amtrak to commit to continue running the Southwest Chief passenger rail service that connects Chicago to Los Angeles with stops in Kansas.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Moran recently delayed confirming three nominees to Amtrak's board of directors in an effort to push the national rail carrier to offer assurances that the line will operate for at least another year.

Amtrak's president, Richard Anderson, agreed to meet with Moran and other lawmakers about the rail service's future this month. Amtrak officials have considered suspending rail service from Dodge City to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and transitioning to buses.

The Republican senator helped secure $50 million in the federal budget for the Southwest Chief through September. Discussions in Congress about extending the grant are ongoing.

7 More New Mexico Counties Suing Opioid Makers, Distributors Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Seven more New Mexico counties have filed federal lawsuits against over two dozen other manufacturers and distributors of opioid medications.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Cibola, Valencia, Catron, Sierra, Curry, Lincoln and Socorro counties filed near-identical complaints late last month in U.S. District Court, joining other New Mexico counties and the Navajo Nation.

The lawsuits are the latest in roughly 2,000 cases that have been brought nationwide by states, cities and counties against opioid makers.

In 2017, the New Mexico Attorney General's Office sued major manufacturers and distributors over allegations that they exacerbated the state's drug addiction crisis.

Santa Fe, San Juan, and Mora counties also have sued, and the Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit last year, arguing that Native Americans suffer disproportionately from opioid dependency and abuse.

Meet The T. Rex Cousin Who You Could Literally Look Down On - By Seth Borenstein AP Science Writer

Scientists have identified an early cousin of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a pipsqueak that only reached the 3-foot height of a toddler.

The new dinosaur, found in New Mexico, is called Suskityrannus hazelae, a name that uses a Native American word for coyote.

Sterling Nesbitt, a paleontologist at Virginia Tech, said this dinosaur lived about 92 million years ago — millions of years before T. rex. It weighed up to 90 pounds, almost nothing compared to the nine-ton king of the dinosaurs.

Suskityrannus hazalae isn't the first or even smallest of the Tyrannosaurus family tree, but it provides the best example of how this family of modest-sized dinosaurs evolved into the towering horror of movies and nightmares.

The findings were announced Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

New Mexico Man Faces Up To Life Term For Texas AbductionAssociated Press

Prosecutors say a New Mexico man faces up to life in federal prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl he picked up last year at a Texas truck stop.

Royce Wade Lander of Continental Divide, New Mexico, was convicted of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Randall County records show the 32-year-old Lander remains jailed pending sentencing in Amarillo.

Investigators say Lander picked the girl up May 31 near Amarillo as she sought a ride into the city. Authorities say Lander had knife and instead drove to New Mexico and sexually assaulted the girl.

She escaped in Milan, New Mexico. A trucker gave her a ride to Sayre, Oklahoma, where she contacted police.

Lander was arrested last July in St. Michaels, Arizona.

Funeral Set In Texas For UNM Baseball Player Fatally ShotAssociated Press

The funeral for a University of New Mexico baseball player who was fatally shot outside an Albuquerque club will be held next week in his native Texas.

Jackson Weller was a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher from Keller, Texas who transferred to UNM from Gateway Community College in Phoenix.

School officials say Weller wasn't currently on the Lobos' official roster because of injury, but was still part of the program and hoped to play again in the fall.

Albuquerque police say no suspects have been identified in the shooting early Saturday and their investigation continues.

Weller's funeral is set for 1 p.m. Monday at the Good Shepard Catholic Church in Colleyville, Texas.

His family has requested any donations made in Weller's honor be done through the Children's Cancer Fund of New Mexico.

University Of New Mexico Baseball Player Fatally ShotAssociated Press

University of New Mexico officials say a 23-year-old Lobo baseball player was fatally shot outside an Albuquerque club early Saturday.

Athletics Director Eddie Nunez said Jackson Weller's death was a "senseless tragedy" and called Weller "a very special young man whose absence will be deeply felt."

Police said no suspects were identified and that the investigation was continuing.

Athletics spokesman Daniel Gallegos said Weller was a right-handed pitcher who transferred from Gateway Community College in Phoenix and was from Keller, Texas.

Gallegos said Weller wasn't currently on the UNM team's official roster because of injury but was still part of the program and hoped to play again in the fall.

The New Mexico team postponed the remainder of its weekend series against the Air Force Academy.

State Police Say Village Police Officer Kills Man At House Fire - Associated Press

Authorities say an Angel Fire police officer responding to a house fire fatally shot a man who was armed with a knife.

Officer Ray Wilson, a spokesman for New Mexico State Police, says in a statement that the officer had been dispatched to a fire Sunday morning at 14 Mountain Lake Terrace in the village.

Wilson says: "At the scene, the Angel Fire Police officer encountered a man with a knife. During the encounter, the Angel Fire Police officer discharged his weapon."

The man was shot and later died in an ambulance. His name has not been released by authorities.

The State Police's Investigations Bureau is investigating the shooting, and the state Fire Marshal is working to determine the cause of the fire.

Wilson says the officer's name will be released later.

Small Plane With 2 Aboard Crashes Near Santa Rosa, FAA Says - Associated Press

The Federal Aviation Administration says a small plane with two people aboard crashed near Santa Rosa in central New Mexico.

The FAA says the twin-engine Beechcraft BE-60 crashed around 4 p.m. Sunday.

FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford says the plane was flying from Arlington, Texas, to Santa Fe Regional Airport when the pilot reported engine trouble. The aircraft was diverting to Santa Rosa when the accident took place.

Information about the condition of the people who were aboard the plane was not immediately available.

FAA investigators are headed to the site of the crash. Lunsford says the National Transportation Safety Board will be in charge of the investigation.

Sentencing To Be Held For Man Who Killed New Mexico Officer - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A man convicted of the shooting death of a New Mexico police officer will not be retried.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Friday that a retrial was possible for 38-year-old Davon Lymon because an alternate juror learned information about a witness that was supposed to have been kept from the jury.

Sentencing has been scheduled for May 7.

The sentencing was initially set to take place Friday, but was postponed until the issue was resolved by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Lymon was convicted April 12 of killing Albuquerque officer Daniel Webster in October 2015.

Authorities say Webster was trying to handcuff Lymon after pulling over the motorcyclist when Lymon shot him several times with a handgun.

State law requires a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Students Using Drone To Map Dinosaur Tracks In New Mexico - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico college students are using drones to help map the location of dinosaur tracks at a state park.

The Albuquerque Journal reported New Mexico State Parks is teaming up with Central New Mexico Community College students and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science to map out the footprints at Clayton Lake State Park.

The park located in the northeastern part of the state contained track sites that are around 100 million years old.

Central New Mexico Community College instructor Rick Watson says students will fly the drones from different heights in order to record a variety of details.

Once the project is complete, students will place the photographs, 3-D models, maps and other findings on a website.

Los Alamos Educator Named New Carlsbad Superintendent - Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

A Los Alamos educator has been named the new superintendent of Carlsbad Municipal Schools.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Gerry Washburn was appointed to the role during a special meeting Thursday of the Carlsbad Municipal Schools board.

The 63-year-old Washburn worked for nearly three decades in a variety of roles at Los Alamos Public Schools, including assistant principal and assistant superintendent. He left the district in 2015. He also held a superintendent post at a school district in Oregon.

Washburn was chosen over Acting Superintendent LaVern Shan, who also served as deputy superintendent until she was appointed to the top role on an interim basis in 2019.

Washburn says he applied for the job after researching Carlsbad.

Former ABC News Economics Editor Dan Cordtz 92, Dies - Associated Press

Dan Cordtz, a former economics editor and correspondent for ABC News, died Saturday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from cancer, said daughter Kay Cordtz. He was 92.

Cordtz worked for The Wall Street Journal and other publications before ABC hired him in 1974 as the network faced having to report on inflation in the 1970s.

He said in a 1984 Washington Journalism Review profile that he cared most about contributing to the public's understanding of how the economy works.

Cordtz until recently lived in Santa Fe, and daughter Kay Cordtz said he had been staying at her home in Albuquerque since his cancer diagnosis and died there.

Other survivors include daughter Wendy Eaton of New York City and son Jeffrey Cordtz of Atlanta.

Three marriages ended in divorce.