Smoke From Increased Wildfires Will Affect Millions, Driver Health May Be Issue In Fatal Bus Crash

Jun 25, 2019

Jump In Wildfires Means Smoke's Health Impact Will SpreadAssociated Press

Climate change in the Western U.S. means more intense and frequent wildfires churning out waves of smoke that scientists say will affect tens of millions of people and cause premature deaths to spike.

That's prompting people in cities and rural areas alike to gird themselves for another summer of sooty skies along the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains.

Wildfire smoke was once considered a nuisance except for the most vulnerable populations. It's now seen in some regions as a recurring public health threat.

Harvard University climate researcher Loretta Mickley says residents of Northern California, western Oregon, Washington state and the Northern Rockies could see the most increases in smoke exposure.

Microscopic particles in smoke can penetrate deeply into the lungs to cause coughing, chest pain and asthma attacks.

Sheriff Says Mom Abused Her Children, Boiled Puppies To Death - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

A New Mexico woman is facing charges she beat and tortured her children and forced them to watch her kill their pets.

Martha and her husband Timothy Crouch of Aztec were arrested Monday. Court records show they have not been assigned public defenders yet. Documents also say they had prior complaints in Missouri, Alaska, Kansas and Montana.

The investigation began after a San Juan County sheriff's deputy arrested an adult child of the Crouches on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

Court documents say one daughter told authorities stories of physical and emotional abuse. She said her mother boiled puppies and poisoned a kitten as punishment.

Martha Crouch was charged with child abuse and extreme cruelty to animals. Timothy Crouch is facing an obstruction charge.

El Paso Times Hires New Executive EditorEl Paso Times, Associated Press

The El Paso Times has tapped an award-winning veteran journalist to become its next executive editor.

The 138-year-old newspaper announced its hiring of Tim Archuleta on Monday. Archuleta will replace Zahira Torres, who resigned in early June for a managerial role with ProPublica.

The 55-year-old has been editor of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times since 2013. During his tenure, the Caller-Times earned Newspaper of the Year and other statewide awards. The Caller-Times was also part of the USA TODAY Network's group of journalists that provided reporting, research, photos and video for a series examining the impact of President Donald Trump's projected border wall. It won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2018.

Archuleta will continue working with the network to oversee news organizations in states including Texas and New Mexico.

Government Moves Migrant Kids After Poor Conditions ExposedAssociated Press

The U.S. government has removed most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 kids were detained there and caring for each other with inadequate food, water and sanitation.

Rep. Veronica Escobar said 30 children were at the facility near El Paso as of Monday. Her office was briefed on the situation by an official with Customs and Border Protection.

Attorneys who visited the station in Clint, Texas last week said older children were trying to take care of infants and toddlers, The Associated Press first reported Thursday. Some had been detained for three weeks, and 15 children were sick with the flu.

It's unclear where all the children have been moved. But Escobar said some were sent to another facility in El Paso.

Driver Health May Be Issue In Fatal Church Bus Crash - Associated Press

Colorado authorities on Monday were investigating what caused a bus carrying a New Mexico high school church group home from a weekend retreat to veer off a highway and crash, killing the driver and a man training to become a Catholic priest.

Investigators were looking into the possibility the driver had a medical issue that may have contributed to the crash Sunday that also injured 13 people, State Patrol Sgt. Blake White said. The coroner will make that determination about the driver, who the Albuquerque Journal reports has been identified as Anthony Padilla, a 36 year old employee of Follow the Sun Inc. charter bus company.

Jason Paul Marshall, a 53-year-old seminarian with the Albuquerque-based Archdiocese of Santa Fe, also was killed, the archdiocese said in a statement. He chaperoned the youth group that had attended a Catholic retreat in Denver.

White said four people remained hospitalized — one of them in critical condition. Nine passengers were treated for minor injuries and released, he said.

White said the bus operator, Follow the Sun Inc. of Albuquerque, was cooperating in the investigation. Telephone messages left with the company weren't immediately returned.

Methane Proposal Draws Fire From Environmental Groups - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants the state to craft its own rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas development as federal regulations remain stalled by legal challenges.

The industry says it has a roadmap that will help, but environmentalists argue the proposals aren't enough.

The battle lines are being drawn as regulators prepare for what could be a rancorous process in a state where government coffers ebb and flow with the pace of drilling and market prices.

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association released its plan for reducing emissions Monday, saying its members are willing to work with government to strike a balance that will result in reduced pollution while not compromising the industry's growth.

Some other states already have adopted their own methane rules.

Man Charged With Impersonating Federal Agent To Be ReleasedAssociated Press

A federal judge in Oklahoma City says the spokesman for a group of armed civilians that patrols the U.S.-Mexico border and who has been jailed on charges that he impersonated a federal agent should be released to a halfway house.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Shon Erwin on Tuesday ordered 44-year-old James Christopher Benvie of Albany, Minnesota, to be released to a halfway house in Las Cruces once authorities find a place for him.

A grand jury in New Mexico indicted Benvie last week on two counts of impersonating a Border Patrol agent in Doña Ana County on April 15 and 17.

Erwin also ordered Benvie to find a job, wear a GPS monitoring device and stay at least 10 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border once placed at the halfway house.

Prosecutors alleged Benvie was a flight risk

Prosecutors Say Member Of Armed Border Group Is Flight Risk  - Associated Press

Federal prosecutors say that a man who served as a spokesperson for a group of armed civilians that patrols the U.S.-Mexico border is a flight risk and should remain jailed on accusations of impersonating a federal agent.

A grand jury in New Mexico indicted 44-year-old James Christopher Benvie last week on two counts of false personation of a U.S. officer or employee. The indictment alleges Benvie, of Minnesota, impersonated a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Doña Ana County on April 15th and 17th.

The civilian groups have been widely criticized after videos surfaced showing them detaining immigrants.

Benvie was arrested Friday in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Prosecutors say in court filings that Benvie is dangerous and should remain detained.

His attorney, Bill Earley, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. A hearing is scheduled today in Oklahoma City.

Albuquerque Joins Others To Use App To Spot Banned Fireworks - KOB-TV, Associated Press

New Mexico's largest city is joining a growing number of communities asking residents to use an app to report illegal fireworks on July 4th instead of calling 911.

KOB-TV reports city officials are directing residents to the "OneABQ" app so authorities can streamline complaints instead of dispatching first responders.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue spokesman Tom Ruiz says the app sends notices to fire enforcement units when a complaint is made instead of sending first responders going to 911 calls.

Officials say last year, when the app was used for the first time, 911 calls reporting illegal fireworks fell by 80% from the year before.

Three years ago, firefighting agencies from the Sacramento, California, area launched the "Nail 'Em" app to encourage residents to report illegal fireworks sales and usage.

Prisoner Transport Officer Pleads Guilty In Sex Assault Case - Associated Press

An officer for a private prisoner transport company who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in his custody has pleaded guilty to violating her civil rights.

Federal authorities say James Baldinger, of Minnesota, entered the plea Monday in Albuquerque. They say the 51-year-old had been working for Prisoner Transportation Services of America in July 2017 when he inappropriately touched an inmate while she was shackled.

U.S. Attorney John Anderson says the plea shows his office will hold people who violate inmates' rights accountable.

Baldinger is in federal custody.

Court records show prosecutors and Baldinger agreed to a two-year prison term under an agreement that must be accepted by a judge.

Half Of Private School's Students Got Vaccination Waivers - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Officials say more than half the students at a New Mexico private school have received state exemptions to required vaccinations.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that 119 out of 226 students at the Santa Fe Waldorf School were exempted for the 2018-19 school year.

Waldorf School spokeswoman Carole Cressman says the number of exempted students has remained steady over the past five years.

Cressman says the school doesn't track of how many of the vaccination waivers are for medical or religious reasons.

State Department of Health spokesman David Morgan says the department considers this density of unvaccinated children at a school a "risk to public health."

He says the more unvaccinated people grouped together, the more likely a preventable disease like measles will spread.

Booming New Mexico Oil Region May Get Daily Flight To Denver - Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

A southeastern New Mexico county airport in the heart of New Mexico's booming oil region may include Denver to its list of growing destinations.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports Corporation of Lea County board of directors chairman Finn Smith presented a proposal at a Hobbs City Commission meeting last week to add Denver to the United Airlines contract.

Smith told the News-Sun the county is in the process of negotiating an agreement with United to add that flight. He says it would be one flight a day, direct from Hobbs, New Mexico, to Denver.

He told the commission United Airlines is ready to start the new flight to Denver on October 28. Flights to Houston began in June 2011.

New Mexico Airports Get Federal Funds For Improvements - Associated Press

Several New Mexico airports have been awarded grants to make infrastructure improvements.

The funding was announced Monday by the Federal Aviation Administration as part of the agency's airport improvement program.

Nearly $500 million is being awarded nationwide in a second installment of grants.

Airports can receive a certain amount of improvement funds each year based on activity levels and project needs.

Roswell's airport will get about $740,000 to rehabilitate its taxiway. Airports in Moriarty, Las Vegas and Navajo Dam also will get money for taxiway work.

Lea County's airport in Jal will use its $150,000 grant for a guidance system.

In northern New Mexico, Springer's municipal airport will get funding for a perimeter fence and for a building to house its snow-removal equipment.