Summer Rains Could Be Later But Heavier In SW, School Districts In NM On The Hunt To Fill Jobs

Jun 25, 2018

Summer Rains Could Be Later But Heavier In Southwest US- Associated Press

Forecasters say the summer rains that fall on the Southwestern United States each year are on track to be slightly later but a little heavier than usual.

Brian Klimowski, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Flagstaff, Arizona, said Monday the rains will likely start between July 6th and 9th. He says they could be 5 to 10 percent heavier than average in some areas.

A recurring weather pattern called the North American monsoon brings rain from the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California into Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Klimowski says the monsoon historically provides between 10 and 50 percent of the region's annual precipitation during July, August and September.

Even an average monsoon would be welcome in the region, which is suffering through a long, severe drought.

Ex-Doña Ana County Jail Director Pleads No Contest To Charge- Associated Press & Las Cruces Sun News

The former longtime director of the Doña Ana County Detention Center has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.

The Las Cruces Sun News reports that three other marijuana possession charges against Chris Barela were dismissed as part of the June 13 plea deal.

Under the plea, Barela's marijuana possession charge will be dismissed and no conviction will appear on his record if he successfully completes his probation.

Authorities launched an investigation of Barela after receiving a tip that he was regularly buying marijuana.

Detectives set up a sting in which Barela allegedly bought marijuana from undercover operatives.

Barela was placed on leave from the detention center and resigned in September.

He had been the head of the jail since December 2005.

School Districts In New Mexico On The Hunt To Fill Jobs- Associated Press & Albuquerque Journal

School districts in New Mexico are on the hunt to fill positions for the coming 2018-2019 school year in response to a teacher shortage.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Albuquerque Public Schools has the highest overall need in the state, with 380 teacher and 90 educational assistant job openings for a student body of about 84,000.

Las Cruces Public Schools has 79 postings, including 21 for special education teachers.

Santa Fe Public Schools has 84 openings, but the district didn't break down the data by subject.

And Rio Rancho had about 66 open positions. The district says 26 positions were in the application process at the time and were likely to go through, potentially dropping the district's vacancies to 40.

New Mexico Residents To Testify On Atomic Bomb Fallout - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

Residents of a New Mexico Hispanic village near the site of the world's first atomic bomb test are expected to share their stories with Congress.

The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium is scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C., this week and testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about the effects of the Trinity Test on generations of Tularosa residents.

Members of the consortium say many who lived in the area weren't told about the dangers and were diagnosed with rare forms of cancer. They say they want acknowledgment and compensation from the U.S. government.

Scientists working in the then-secret city of Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. The bomb was tested in a stretch of desert near towns with Hispanic and Native American populations.

US Navy Identifies Pilot Killed In A-29 Crash In New MexicoAssociated Press

Authorities have released the name of a U.S. Navy pilot who died in the crash of an A-29 jet north of Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Navy officials say Navy Lt. Christopher Carey Short of Canandaigua, New York was killed in Friday's crash over the Red Rio Bombing Range.

The range is part of White Sands Missile Range located about 65 miles north of Holloman.

In a statement Sunday, Navy officials say the cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The Holloman Air Force Base is about 200 miles south of Albuquerque.

The Historic Taos Inn In New Mexico Is Up For Sale For $7.1MAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The Historic Taos Inn is up for sale.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the 44-room hotel, bar and restaurant that spans two acres and is comprised of several 19th century adobe buildings is on the market for $7.1 million.

The current ownership group has had the hotel for 30 years.

The Taos Inn was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

It opened in 1936 as the Hotel Martin — named after Dr. Thomas Paul "Doc" and Helen Martin, who came to Taos in the 1890s.

The doctor had his practice in what is now the restaurant and the couple purchased the surrounding buildings.

When her husband died, Helen Martin enclosed a plaza in the center of the properties and turned it into a hotel.

Aztec City Attorney Cites Political Differences In ResigningFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

The city attorney in Aztec is resigning after making a questionable comment during the presentation of a Pride Month proclamation.

Larry Thrower submitted his 30-day resignation notice earlier this month. He says he disagrees with other city officials on how to approach Pride Month.

The Farmington Daily Times reports that a live video stream picked up on Thrower's comment at a City Commission meeting. Thrower is heard using a word that can be derogatory toward the LGBTQ community.

The proclamation divided city officials.

Commissioner Austin Randall says it goes against his personal beliefs and values.

Mayor Victor Snover says it's important to highlight the challenges the LGBTQ community faces.

The city is searching for a new attorney. Thrower held the job for nearly 13 years.

Judge Drops Murder Case, Citing Speedy Trial ViolationAssociated Press

A murder case against a man accused of killing his roommate in Nambe has been dismissed.

A judge ordered Robert Mondrian-Powell set free on Friday. The judge said the state violated Mondrian-Powell's right to a speedy trial, although not intentionally.

Prosecutor Martin Maxwell said in court he's been working on the case since he got it. He declined comment on the judge's ruling.

Public defender Jennifer Burrill twice the court to drop the charges on different grounds.

Police have said the 59-year-old Mondrian-Powell confessed to shooting Elvira Segura in September 2016 after an altercation.

But the medical examiner's office couldn't pinpoint a cause of death because her body was severely decomposed.

Burrill says the 67-year-old Segura could have died from a heart attack or from ingesting rubbing alcohol and amphetamines.

Protests, Facility Visits Held Amid Immigration ConfusionAssociated Press, KOAT-TV

Demonstrators led rallies and protests Saturday around the country to decry the separation of immigrant parents from their children by U.S. border authorities, while Democratic lawmakers said they aren't convinced the Trump administration has any real plan to reunite them.

There were protests in several states, including Florida, Texas, California and New Mexico. KOAT-TV reports several hundred people attended a rally in Albuquerque hosted by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.

At the event Attorney General Hector Balderas pledged to sue the Trump Administration. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said what he saw during a border tour last week was inhumane.

More than 2,300 children were taken from their families in recent weeks under a Trump administration "zero tolerance" policy in which people entering the U.S. illegally face being prosecuted.

The demonstrations came days after the Trump administration reversed course in the face of public and political outrage and had authorities stop separating immigrant families caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

More protests are planned for this weekend in states from Connecticut to California, including a rally on June 30 at Civic Plaza in Albuquerque.

Group Says 'No Magic Bullet' To Family ReunificationAssociated Press

An official of a West Texas organization that's receiving around 30 immigrant parents who were separated from their children after entering the country illegally says "there's no magic bullet" to reuniting the families.

The released parents were arriving Sunday to El Paso's Annunciation House.

Legal coordinator Taylor Levy says she doesn't know where their children, including toddlers, are and the parents haven't been able to speak with them.

Levy says the group is working to locate the children and figure out if any are still in the El Paso area, but many may be elsewhere.

She said immigrants have only been provided a toll-free number for information but that callers "wait and wait and wait" for maybe 90 minutes. If they're fortunate to get an operator to eventually take information they're told the wait time is four or five days.

Grand Jury Indicts 62-Year-Old In 2015 Rape Of Teen GirlAssociated Press

A man has been indicted on charges he drugged and sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl three years ago at the state fairgrounds in Albuquerque.

Court records show 62-year-old Francisco Espinoza was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on multiple charges including criminal sexual penetration of a minor, distributing a controlled substance to a minor, and child abuse.

James Hallinan, a spokesman for the New Mexico Attorney General's Office, says Espinoza allegedly drugged and raped the teenager in October 2015 after offering her a ride and taking her to a trailer at the fairgrounds.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office cited a conflict in the case. As a result, the attorney general's office is now prosecuting it.

An attorney for Espinoza could not immediately be reached late Friday.

New Mexico Lawmakers Consider Revisiting Complex Liquor LawsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

State lawmakers are considering rethinking New Mexico's complex liquor licensing system in hopes that more local alcohol vendors can help revitalize downtowns in smaller cities like a brewery did for Truth or Consequences.

The Albuquerque Journal reports members of a legislative committee agreed this summer to review the licensing system and other ideas to help downtowns. Any proposed changes could be introduced in the 2019 session.

Lawmakers cited the Truth or Consequences Brewing Co. as an example of what local alcoholic beverages can do for a city.

Rep. Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences says after the brewery's opening, more businesses began staying open later to benefit from the extra traffic the brewery brought to the city's Main Street. The brewery has also become a venue for live music.

Border Patrol Says Heroin Seized At New Mexico CheckpointAssociated Press

The U.S. Border Patrol says its agents have seized more than $1 million in heroin at an immigration checkpoint in New Mexico.

The agency says authorities conducting an inspection at the checkpoint on New Mexico Highway 70 found the drugs Thursday in a black Honda that was being transported across the border on a tractor-trailer with other cars.

They say the Honda stood out because it was not in good condition, unlike the other vehicles. A canine also alerted agents to the vehicle.

In a statement, the Border Patrol said the heroin was wrapped in a bundle, along with a couple kilograms of cocaine.

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Fidel Baca said the driver would not be facing criminal prosecution in the case.

Additional details were not immediately available.

Congressman Says Kids At Center Get Good CareAssociated Press

Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall is returning from a visit to the Texas border saying that several hundred immigrant children detained in a center there are getting good care.

Marshall traveled Saturday to the El Paso area as part of a bipartisan congressional group to meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and to tour a center holding 400 young immigrants near the Tornillo port of entry. The immigrants are mostly teenage boys and housed in tent-like structures.

The Kansas Republican spent 90 minutes at the center and described it as a camp providing good food and medical care. He said he played soccer with some of the children.

He said 26 children were separated from their parents during a recent crackdown on illegal border crossings.

Immigration Facility In Texas Holds Teenage BoysAssociated Press

Three U.S. senators say a holding facility for immigrant children on the Texas border near El Paso is occupied by about 250 teenage boys mostly from Central America.

A contractor that operates the facility 30 miles southeast of El Paso briefed U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on Friday without letting the lawmakers enter holding areas or speak with detained minors.

The senators were told that most of the detained children arrived at the U.S. border unaccompanied by parents, though some were separated from family by U.S. authorities.

The senators say it is costing about $2,000 a day to care for each youth at the facility. They were shown a video of the captive teenagers playing soccer.

Border Agents Rescue Migrant From Top Of Train In New MexicoAssociated Press

U.S. Border Patrol agents say they rescued an immigrant who was stuck on top of a moving train in southern New Mexico.

Agency officials say agents on Thursday morning saw a man atop an oncoming train in Alamogordo making hand gestures indicating he was in distress.

The agents were able to contact the train's engineer, who made an emergency stop.

Agents helped the 34-year-old man down and determined he had injuries to his ankle and ribcage.

He was taken to a nearby hospital and treated.

Agents learned the man is a Mexican national who had crossed the border illegally on Wednesday in El Paso, Texas. He initially injured himself trying to get onto the train there.

He is currently being detained for processing.

Transport Officer Accused Of New Mexico Inmate Sex AssaultAssociated Press

A prison transport officer has been charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate in New Mexico.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for New Mexico said Thursday a grand jury indicted 51-year-old James Baldinger, of Minnesota, on charges he also used a firearm to carry out the assault.

Baldinger appeared in federal court from Duluth, Minnesota.

He is facing two counts of committing civil rights offenses that resulted in bodily injury, including aggravated sexual abuse and the use of a deadly weapon. He also is charged with knowingly possessing a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence.

A defense attorney listed for him did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.

Baldinger could receive a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of all charges.

New Mexico Governor Travels To TaiwanAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is traveling to Taiwan for a week at the expense of Taiwan's foreign affairs ministry.

Martinez spokesman Ben Cloutier said in an email that the governor departed Thursday and will return June 30.

In a statement, the governor's office says travel expenses are being paid for by Taiwan.

The purpose of the trip was unclear, with no immediate response to requests for more information.