Power Plant Closure Will Bring Big Economic Impact, UNM Professor Pay Among Nation's Lowest

Oct 1, 2018

Closing Generating Station Could Have Huge Economic ImpactsFarmington Daily Times, Associated

One of the biggest issues looming over a northwestern New Mexico county is the potential closure of a coal-fired power plant in 2022 — about 20 years before the end of its useful life.

The Farmington Daily Times reports the closure of the San Juan Generating Station, which provides electricity to an estimated two million customers in the Southwest, is expected to have severe economic consequences for San Juan County.

A study commissioned by Four Corners Economic Development estimates closing the San Juan Generating Station and the accompanying San Juan Mine will lead to more than $105 million in lost wages in San Juan County and nearly 1,500 lost jobs.

The city of Farmington, in addition to lost taxes and jobs, will have to replace the electricity that it receives from the generating station.

New Mexico Deputy Appears On Felony Battery ChargeAssociated Press

A New Mexico sheriff's deputy has made a first court appearance in Albuquerque on accusations he used excessive force when authorities say he kicked a suspect and fractured his face earlier this year.

David Priemazon, who is 48 years old and a 15-year veteran of the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office, has been charged with aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm, a felony.

Authorities say Priemazon in March engaged in a vehicle chase of a man suspected of driving a car with the wrong license plate. A criminal complaint says that when Priemazon kicked the suspect the act was not carried out for the "purposes of lawful arrest."

Another deputy reported Priemazon to the department.

His attorney Fred Martinez did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Hurricane Rosa Heads For Baja, Southwestern USAssociated Press

Tropical Storm Rosa soaked northwestern Mexico with heavy rains as it neared the Baja California Peninsula on Monday and was projected to extend into a drenching of the U.S. Southwest.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the center of Rosa, which was a hurricane until late Sunday, should hit Baja California and Sonora late Monday, bringing 3 to 6 inches of rain.

It's then expected to move quickly northwestward as it weakens, bringing 2 to 4 inches of rain to central and southern Arizona and 1 to 2 inches to the rest of the desert Southwest, Central Rockies and Great Basin. Some isolated areas might see even more precipitation.

The National Weather Service says rainfall is also possible in western New Mexico by Tuesday.

University Of New Mexico Professor Pay Among Nation's Lowest - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Salaries for professors at New Mexico's largest university rank among the lowest in the nation, which is hurting the school’s ability to retain teachers and attract new ones.

The Albuquerque Journal reports more than half of the engineering faculty at the University of New Mexico would need raises just to reach the 25th percentile for pay nationally.

And 80 percent of professors in the university's College of Fine Arts earn less than 25 percent of the national average.

University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes says those salary disparities leave the school particularly vulnerable to professor poaching.

Records show the school's assistant professor ranks have fallen by 26 percent since fiscal year 2015.

Stokes says the university would need $2.2 million in annual recurring funds just to lift its main campus faculty compensation to the 25th percentile.

New Mexico Trains Native American Interpreters For Election - Associated Press

New Mexico election officials say Native American interpreters are being trained for a series of official ads that will run ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

The Secretary of State's Office says the ads will air on radio stations that cover areas where tribes and pueblos are located.

The announcement followed a task force meeting Friday at Laguna Pueblo. The task force is made up of people who represent tribes around New Mexico, from the Navajo and Jicarilla Apache in the north to Mescalero and Fort Sill in the south.

Created in 2017, the task force is charged with finding ways to boost voter registration, education and election participation in tribal communities.

According to state election officials, Native Americans historically have some of the lowest voter turnout rates of any ethnic group in the country.

New Mexico University Gets Funding For Smart Grid Research - Associated Press

New Mexico State University's SMART Grid Center has landed a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation for more research aimed at developing sustainable systems for distributing electricity.

The center will use the five-year grant for research focused on micro-grids, cyber security and the relationship between power plants and customers. Testbeds are planned across New Mexico.

The university first initiated its smart grid research in 2014 with a $5 million award from the National Science Foundation, and university officials say they're looking forward to expanding the work.

The effort will link researchers and students from New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech and Santa Fe Community College with experts at Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Other organizations also will be involved.

Financial Analysis Raises Questions About Santa Fe Animal Shelter's Future Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A look at the financees of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Human Society has raised questions about the financial health of one of Santa Fe's most beloved and critical institutions.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the SFAS was flush with cash at the close of 2012, but it has been drawing down its investment accounts to help cover operating losses that have totaled more than $7 million from 2014 through 2017.

The shelter's executive director Jennifer Steketee and other members of the shelter's board of directors say they have also been cutting employee and other expenses so no services need to be eliminated, but they maintain the future of the shelter and the services it provides are not in doubt.

The shelter prides itself on being an open-admission, no-kill shelter, but former board members fear that without a fundraising strategy, the shelter could be in danger of closing.

Correction: This story has been edited to reflect that the Santa Fe Animal Shelter is not cutting employees, but rather "employee and other expenses" as was originally reported by The Santa Fe New Mexican. We've added more information from that original article about the financial analysis and what shelter officials said about the organization's financial stability. We've also updated the headline for this shorter version of the story with more attribution. Santa Fe New Mexican Editor Phill Casaus says they stand behind their reporting and their stories. The paper also published an op-ed written by SFAS Executive Director Jennifer Steketee criticizing the series.  

Pope Francis Names Temporary Leader To Las Cruces Diocese - Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Pope Francis has appointed the bishop emeritus of the Tucson Diocese to temporarily oversee the Diocese of Las Cruces.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Rev. Gerald Kicanas was named last week as the administrator for the southern New Mexico diocese until a new bishop is named.

Kicanas replaces Bishop Oscar Cantu who was recently reassigned as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of San José, California.

Kicanas was appointed coadjutor bishop of Tucson on October 2001, installed as bishop of Tucson in March 2003. He became bishop emeritus in November 2017.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces was founded in 1982 and encompasses the counties of Dona Ana, Eddy, Grant, Hidalgo, Lea, Luna, Otero, Sierra, Lincoln and Chavez counties.