MON: NM Triples Spending On Census Participation, + More

Feb 10, 2020

New Mexico Triples Spending On Census Participation- Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers have ramped up state spending aimed at encouraging participation in the 2020 Census across remote rural landscapes where gaps in internet access pose a challenge to the federal population count.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation Monday that devotes an additional $8 million to promote census participation.

With the legislation, New Mexico moves up on the list of states including California and New York that are spending substantially to increase census participation. Lujan Grisham said her administration wants to ensure that the state receives its rightful share of funding for social programs and infrastructure that are underwritten by the federal government.

New Mexico Lawmakers Begin Push For Tuition-Free College - Associated Press

Adults who return to school to pursue professional certificates and two-year degrees are getting top priority under a proposal to provide free tuition to in-state students at New Mexico public colleges and universities.

A panel of House legislators advanced a bill Monday that fulfills a pledge by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The approach would begin after existing state scholarships are used up, and before federal grants and military aid kick in. That should allow students to stretch public funding to pay for rent, food and clothing.

U.S. Says Soldier From New Mexico Among 2 Killed In Afghanistan Attack - Associated Press, Albuquerque Journal, and KUNM News

U.S. military officials say two American soldiers, including one from New Mexico, were killed and six wounded in eastern Afghanistan when an Afghan dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire. 

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Sgt. Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28, died in the attack. The Albuquerque Journal reports Sgt. Rodriguez was a 2009 graduate of Mayfield High School in Las Cruces.

Sgt. Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, of Texas was also killed in the attack, according to the The Department of Defense. Afghan officials confirmed one Afghan soldier was also killed, and the gunman died in the assault. 

Six U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan this year.  Last year, 22 U.S. service personnel died from "hostile" action.

Albuquerque Councilor's $6K Trip To NYC, DC Raising Eyebrows- KOAT-TV, Associated Press

An Albuquerque city councilor's trip to three East Coast cities is raising questions over her $6,300 bill to taxpayers. KOAT-TV reports Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Peña recently took a trip to Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. to attend a conference for city council presidents in Philadelphia.

Records show Peña billed the city $3,290 for train tickets and another $2,082 for hotels. Peña told the station she took a train because she's afraid of planes. She also took her husband and two grandchildren and defended the move since she said the family rarely travels.

GOP House Hopeful In New Mexico To Launch 6-Figure TV Blitz -  Associated Press

A Republican candidate for a crucial U.S. House seat in New Mexico is launching a television advertisement blitz amid a GOP primary where hopefuls are trying to position themselves as the strongest supporters of President Donald Trump.

Claire Chase is scheduled Tuesday to release her first ad aimed at portraying herself as a political outsider and an avid anti-abortion activist. Another ad will highlight Chase's stance on border issues.

Chase is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-Las Cruces, for a seat that represents southern New Mexico. Torres Small won the Republican-leaning seat in 2018 by less than 3,000 votes.

Chase's six-figure ad buy comes less than a month before the New Mexico Republican Convention.

According to federal campaign records, Chase, an oil executive from Roswell, raised $261,417 during the last months of 2019 after a surge months before. She reported having $588,519 cash-on-hand.

Former state lawmaker Yvette Herrell reported raising $188,005 during the last months of 2019 and reported having $463,846 cash-on-hand. Los Cruces businessman Chris Mathys reported raising $1,835 during the same period. He previously loaned his campaign $250,000 and reported having $200,159 cash-on-hand.

Rain And Snow Expected Early This Week Over New Mexico And Arizona - Associated Press

Winter weather is returning to parts of New Mexico and Arizona early this week.

National Weather Service meteorologists say a storm system is expected to bring cold temperatures and snow to New Mexico on Monday and Tuesday.

Light snow Monday morning will produce up to three inches of snow for areas above 8000 feet.

Isolated thunderstorms will spawn over the southwest mountains and work their way northeast, but scattered showers will eventually become widespread precipitation by Tuesday morning. 

Authorities say driving will be difficult in eastern and northern New Mexico because of high winds, cold temperatures and moderate to heavy snow.

Weather Service officials say Arizona could see moderate to heavy rain Monday and Tuesday.

The snow level will drop to around 6000 feet on Tuesday in northern Arizona and a few inches of snow is expected to fall along portions of the Mogollon Rim.

The storm system should leave Arizona by Wednesday morning.

Albuquerque Resident Found Dead In House Fire - Associated Press

Authorities say a person has been found dead after a house fire in NorthWest Albuquerque.

A spokesperson for Albuquerque Fire Rescue says crews responded to a single-story house fire at about 8 a.m. Sunday.

Firefighters arrived to find smoke and flames coming from the side, back and roof of the home.

They say a person and a dog were both found dead during an initial search of the house.

Authorities say the victim has not yet been identified and it's unknown how the fire started.

Police Offer Reward To Solve 1990 Bowling Alley Shooting – Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Police in New Mexico have offered a $30,000 reward for information about a shooting at a Las Cruces bowling alley in 1990 where five people were fatally shot and two others survived wounds. 

Authorities say Monday marks 30 years since police were dispatched to the bowling alley where investigators believe two men walked in, opened fire and stole about $5,000 in cash. 

Police say four people died that day and a fifth person died from complications years later. Police say the shooters were never located, but they hope to still solve the case. 

A movie about the shooting is being re-released with additional scenes on Monday in Las Cruces to mark the anniversary, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

"A Nightmare in Las Cruces," originally released in 2011, is scheduled to screen 7 p.m. at Cineport 10 inside Mesilla Valley Mall.

New Mexico GOP Headquarters Hit By Spray-Painting Vandal- Associated Press

A spray-painting vandal hit the headquarters of the New Mexico Republican Party. Surveillance video shows a man tagging the Albuquerque headquarters around 2:30 a.m. Saturday before fleeing in an SUV.

Today, officials discovered that the vandal had painted the words, "still traitors," in front of the building. New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce says the headquarters has been struck a number of times in recent months and the party has installed cameras. He says footage of the vandalism has been handed over the Albuquerque police. No arrests have been made. 

Farmington Man Gets Long Prison Term For 2018 Fatal Stabbing - Farmington Daily Times, Associated Press

A Farmington man convicted in a fatal 2018 stabbing has been sentenced to 18 ½ years in prison.

Prosecutors say Ronnie Garcia was convicted of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

Garcia was accused of killing 24-year-old Dion DeBarry of Farmington near a gas station in October 2018.

The Farmington Daily Times reports that a female witness told authorities the two men were in a verbal argument that escalated into a physical fight.

Authorities say Garcia stabbed DeBarry in the chest once with a knife.

DeBarry was found unresponsive at the scene and died from his injuries at a hospital.

Garcia got the maximum sentence for each conviction with 15 years for murder, along with one year and six months for tampering with evidence.

Garcia's attorney sought a sentence of six years with 10 years suspended and the sentences for the two convictions to run concurrently. 

But Garcia will serve the murder sentence, then the tampering with evidence sentence.

New Mexico House Backs Early Childhood Endowment Fund- Associated Press

A plan to create a $320 million state endowment for early childhood education programs won endorsement today by the New Mexico House of Representatives.

The 51-14 House vote follows approval of a similar bill by the state Senate.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a leading proponent of creating the trust fund whose investment earnings would be earmarked for a variety of early education and child well-being services.

Agreement by the House and Senate on a final version of the bills is needed to send the initiative to the governor.

The state is consolidating oversight of early childhood programs under a newly formed agency.

New Mexico is adding classroom time, expanded preschool and home visiting programs in efforts to improve public school education.

Man Charged In 2019 Killing In New Mexico Arrested In Nevada – Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

A 21-year-old New Mexico homicide suspect has been arrested in Nevada and awaits extradition, authorities said.

The Eddy County Sheriff's Office said Preston Thompson was sought in the shooting death of 26-year-old Carlie Overturff, who was found dead on a dirt road last September.

Clark County Detention Center records indicate Thompson is serving a jail sentence for grand larceny auto and that he now faces a hearing Monday in a court in Las Vegas on a fugitive warrant. 

Thompson is charged with murder in New Mexico where online court records don't list a defense attorney for Thompson who could comment on the allegation.

Thompson had been missing since September and Eddy County sheriff's Capt. Matt Hutchinson said investigators received information that Thompson had left Carlsbad and might be in Nevada, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.

Hutchinson said no motive was established for the alleged homicide.