MON: N.M. County Commissioner And Cowboys For Trump Leader Arrested In D.C. Over Capitol Riot, +More

Jan 18, 2021

Cowboys For Trump Leader Arrested Over US Capitol Riot - Associated Press, KUNM News

A New Mexico county official and founder of the group Cowboys for Trump who had vowed to return to Washington after last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol to place a flag on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk was arrested Sunday by the FBI.

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin was arrested on charges of illegally entering the U.S. Capitol. 

According to court documents, Griffin told investigators that he was "caught up" in the crowd, which pushed its way through the barricades and entered the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol, but he said he did not enter the building and instead remained on the U.S. Capitol steps.

A video posted to Griffin's personal Facebook page shows Griffin in the restricted areas, according to the affidavit. 

Griffin did not immediately respond to phone or text messages seeking comment. 

On Thursday, Griffin said he planned to travel with firearms to Washington, D.C., for Biden's inauguration. According to a statement by the FBI, he was taken into custody in the nation’s capital Sunday. 

"I'm gonna be there on Jan. 20 ... and I'm gonna take a stand for our country and for our freedoms," Griffin said during a meeting of the Otero County Board of Commissioners.

"I'm gonna leave either tonight or tomorrow. I've got a .357 Henry Big Boy rifle lever action that I've got in the trunk of my car and I've got a .357 single action revolver, the Colt Ruger Vaquero that I'll have underneath the front seat on my right side and I will embrace my Second Amendment," he said.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas in a letter Saturday called on Griffin to resign from the Otero County Commission. In the absence of Griffin’s resignation, Balderas says his office will seek to remove the commissioner from his post. 

New Mexico Reports 751 New COVID-19 Cases, 22 More Deaths - Associated Press

Health officials in New Mexico on Sunday reported 751 new COVID-19 cases and 22 additional deaths.

The latest numbers increased the state's totals to 163,637 cases and 2,932 deaths since the pandemic began.

Of the 751 new cases, 173 were reported in Bernalillo County, the state's largest county that includes Albuquerque. Doña Ana County had 106 of the new cases.

Navajo Nation Reports 189 New Covid-19 Cases, 7 More Deaths

Health officials on the Navajo Nation have reported 189 new cases of the coronavirus and seven more deaths as the reservation went into another weekend lockdown.

The latest figures released Saturday night increased the number of cases to 26,287 with 915 known deaths. 

Tribal officials say more than 222,500 COVID-19 tests have been administered since the pandemic again and about 13,500 people have recovered. 

Residents of the vast reservation are required to stay home from Friday evening until early Monday morning, except for essential workers and in the case of an emergency.

Lawmakers Seek Amendment To Ensure 'Environmental Rights' - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

Two New Mexico Democrats are seeking to strengthen protections for the state's environment and natural resources through a joint resolution that calls for amending the state constitution. 

If approved during the upcoming legislative session, the proposed amendment would go before voters to decide. 

Introduced by Sens. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and William Soules, the resolution reads that the state shall conserve, protect and maintain these resources for the benefit of all people and future generations. 

Environmentalists are calling it New Mexico's "Green Amendment."

It will be among numerous environmental proposals up for consideration during the 60-day session that begins Tuesday.

Other proposals involve the prohibition of using fresh water for hydraulic fracturing, more oversight of the wastewater produced during drilling activities, efforts to boost energy efficiency and clearing the way for the state to adopt environmental laws that are more stringent than those at the federal level.

Some Democratic lawmakers also have proposed revisiting New Mexico's landmark energy transition law to ensure that state regulators maintain their authority when it comes to decisions about how much money utilities can recover from customers for costs related to power plant closures. 

Biologists Combing Rugged Mountains To Count Gray Wolves - Associated Press

Biologists are combing the rugged mountains of the U.S. Southwest to find out how many Mexican gray wolves are roaming the wild. 

The annual count in Arizona and New Mexico started in November and is expected to run through early February. 

The population numbers of the endangered predators will be released in March. 

A reintroduction program began in 1998. 

At least 163 wolves were counted during the last survey. That marked a nearly 25% jump in the population from the previous year and put wildlife managers about halfway to declaring the species recovered.

Biologists are looking for single wolves and wolf packs from the ground and air. The operation is more limited because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Any wolf that's captured will be fitted with a tracking device.

Former New Mexico Legislator Known For Wise, Calm Demeanor - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A former New Mexico legislator who was known for his advocacy in protecting people who are incapacitated and placed under legal guardianship has died. 

The New Mexico Senate Republican Caucus on Friday announced the death of Jim White. 

The Republican served one term in the Senate and lost a reelection bid in the June primary. 

White previously served in the state House. 

Senate Minority Whip Craig Brandt told the Albuquerque Journal that one of White's relatives found him at home. The cause of death wasn't known. 

His onetime colleagues in the Senate say they'll miss his “wise and calm demeanor.”

White was honored by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government in 2018 for his support in making the adult guardianship program more transparent.

Historic Downtown Fixture Returned To Las Vegas, New Mexico - By Ryan Lowery Las Vegas Optic

Since the 1920s, an electric clock has adorned the sidewalk along Douglas Avenue in downtown Las Vegas. That is, until 2013, when strong winds broke the clock free from its base.

Thanks to the hard work of many people in the community, the clock has now been restored and returned to its home near the intersection of Douglas Avenue and Sixth Street, the Las Vegas Optic reported.

The clock — original manufactured by Brown Street Clock Company of Monessen, Pennsylvania — was first installed by jewelry store owner R.G. Gordon in the late 1920s, according to historical information provided by the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation. The jewelry store was later purchased by Calvin Baker Sr. and his wife Alnita, and the clock bearing the Gordon's Jewelry name continued to greet customers for decades.

Baker's son Calvin "Rusty" Baker Jr. eventually took over the business, but in 2013, he decided to close the store and sell the business's assets, including the clock, which had become an iconic downtown fixture by then.

Longtime Las Vegas resident Bob Mishler, a former New Mexico Highlands University professor and founding chairman of the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation, feared the clock could be sold to someone who would move it from Las Vegas. Determined to keep it a part of the Meadow City, Mishler purchased the clock.

The clock had been saved, and for many more years it graced the streets of downtown, until a powerful windstorm toppled it in February 2018, according to Elmo Baca with the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation.

The 2018 windstorm left the clock unstable and in danger of falling so city crews removed it from its cast-iron base for safety reasons. With the clock gone, Baca and many people in town felt Vegas had lost a key part of its history.

"It was such a visible landmark on Douglas Avenue for nearly a century, and I think it's one of those icons of the community that everybody remembers. If you grew up here, you always kind of tipped your hat to the Gordon's clock or checked the time," Baca said. "When it was missing, it was like a little piece of Las Vegas was also missing."

After it was removed, the clock was taken to Mishler's home. He began replacing components, like the interior motor. He planned to restore the clock to its full glory.

Mishler died last May before restorations could be completed and before he could see the clock returned to Douglas Avenue. Mishler's estate donated the clock to the Community Foundation, and the board took up the restoration effort.

"The board of directors decided to complete the project as kind of a memorial to Bob, and also to restore it to its rightful place on Douglas Avenue, which was Bob's intention," Baca said.

With the help of community members like Philip Martinez from Franken Companies, Sapello Sign Company and artesian welder Manny Lujan, the clock was restored to working order and recently returned to its cast-iron base.

Installation of the restored clock was done in two phases, with the control panel and wiring in the cast-iron base being completed before the clock was reconnected to the base. Cindy Walker of Medicus Medical Billing and Consulting has agreed to supply the electricity needed to run the clock, ensuring it will greet visitors and locals for years to come.

"I hope it will give the community some pride," Baca said. "And especially during the pandemic, some hope that things are improving and that we have a brighter year ahead."