Two Injured In Avalanche At Taos Ski Valley, Group Of Nearly 250 Immigrants Arrested At NM Border

Jan 17, 2019

2 Taken To Hospitals After New Mexico AvalancheAssociated Press

A New Mexico ski resort says two people are being taken to hospitals after they were pulled from an avalanche near its highest summit.

Chris Stagg, a spokesman for Taos Ski Valley, says no other skiers or snowboarders were believed to be buried in the snow after witnesses told authorities that they had seen two people on the slope when the snow collapsed Thursday.

However, he says, a search of the mountain was still underway as a precaution to ensure no other people remained trapped.

Stagg says both people who were rescued are males. Their conditions were not immediately known.

Taos Ski Valley says the avalanche happened at 11:30 a.m. on its K3 run. It was unknown what triggered the avalanche.

New Mexico Regulators To Provide More Info On Racino Process - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

New Mexico horse racing regulators are complying with a request by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for more information regarding pending applications for the state's sixth and final license for a racetrack and casino.

The Democratic governor, who took office Jan. 1, made the request for additional research in a letter sent to the commission Wednesday.

Commission Chairman Ray Willis announced during Thursday's meeting in Albuquerque that the panel had contracted with a company to conduct an independent study. That was completed in November, and Willis said it will be made available to the public.

Willis said the commission also is awaiting resolution of a petition filed in district court by one of the companies vying for the license. That company is seeking a temporary injunction, saying the commission hasn't done enough to study the issue.

Appeal Targets Permit Change For US Nuclear RepositoryAssociated Press

Watchdog groups are appealing a recent permit change approval by New Mexico regulators that could ultimately allow for more waste to be placed at the U.S. government's only underground nuclear waste repository.

The approval by the state Environment Department came in the final days of former Gov. Susana Martinez's administration. The change was requested earlier by the U.S. Energy Department and the contractor that operates the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The permit modification changes the way the volume of waste is calculated. Specifically, it excludes the empty space inside waste packaging containers.

The Southwest Research and Information Center and Nuclear Watch New Mexico argue the modification is unlawful.

Critics also are concerned the change could be a first step in expanding the repository's mission to hold other kinds of waste.

Government Shutdown Taking Toll On Wildfire Preparations Associated Press

The government shutdown is taking a toll on a wildfire fight that hasn't even started yet.

Wildfire training courses are being canceled, piles of dead trees are left untended in federal forests and controlled burns to thin fire-prone forests aren't happening.

The winter months are critical for fire managers who use the break to prepare for the next onslaught of flames and much of that work has ground to a halt on federal land because of job furloughs.

Wildfire managers are worried about hiring, training and forest management as the shutdown drags into a fourth week.

And although the furloughs only affect federal employees, the collaborative nature of wildland firefighting means the pain of the shutdown is having a ripple effect.

New Mexico Chief Justice Addresses Lawmakers, Defends Judges - By Mary Hudetz, Associated Press

New Mexico's chief justice is defending state judges against criticisms that they routinely release dangerous suspects awaiting trial onto the streets.

Justice Judith Nakamura also outlined proposals she said Thursday could attract a higher number of qualified candidates to the bench. Her remarks to lawmakers come as they weigh proposals aimed at streamlining the state's court system, which has more than 300 judges in nearly 200 courthouses across the state.

She says the judiciary has emerged from a dark decade in which courts often lacked funding to pay jurors and rent. With some stability, she says courts now are seeking to boost training for judges and transparency for the public.

She also called for extending how long newly appointed judges can serve before having to seek election to keep their seats on the bench.

Civil Cases Stall At US Attorney's Office In New MexicoAssociated Press

The U.S. attorney for New Mexico says most of his agency's civil-law division has been furloughed under the partial federal government shutdown.

U.S. Attorney John Anderson said Thursday that about 30 people from the civil division are on furlough.

That division handles a wide variety of cases on eminent domain, collection of student loans, debts from court judgments, bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures.

Anderson says activities at the U.S. Attorney's Office related to criminal prosecutions have not been interrupted.

The shutdown, already the longest ever, entered its 27th day Thursday. The standoff stems from President Trump's demands for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the Mexican border, a project that Democratic Congressional leaders call ineffective and immoral.

Governor Ends Fuss Over Morales' Senate Seat, Appoints RamosSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed Gabriel Ramos to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Lt. Gov. Howie Morales.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Wednesday's appointment puts an end to a battle within her own Democratic party and halts an impasse with Grant, Catron and Socorro counties.

Lujan Grisham had asked the counties to give her additional names of potential candidates, arguing state law appears to require each county to nominate different possible successors. But county leaders stood by Ramos, a Democrat.

While Ramos received the backing of the boards of commissioners in the three counties, environmentalists argued he has been too supportive of the Central Arizona Project and some Democratic activists said he is too conservative.

But Lujan Grisham, with no other options, told Ramos she would appoint him to the post.

Group Of Nearly 250 Immigrants Arrested At New Mexico Border - Associated Press

U.S. Border Patrol agents in New Mexico say a group of nearly 250 immigrants are in custody after turning themselves in to authorities at the Antelope Wells Port of Entry.

They say the group was located early Wednesday after being smuggled up to the New Mexico border and many claimed they needed medical care.

Border Patrol officials say a majority of the 247 immigrants are from Central America.

The group includes families with small children and unaccompanied juveniles.

Border Patrol officials say at least 24 large groups of immigrants have been trafficked by smugglers in the Lordsburg area of New Mexico since the start of the fiscal year.

Lawmakers Divided On Bills That Were Previously Vetoed By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

The state's Democrat-led Legislature on Wednesday placed bills that previously were vetoed by the state's former Republican governor on a track for reconsideration and approval.

The revived initiatives include bills to create breastfeeding and lactation policies for jails and prisons; help ensure cave explorers have access to caverns under private property, and to keep secret the names of people who report sexual assault-related crimes as victims or witnesses.

Gov. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has urged lawmakers to quickly send her a "rocket docket" of noncontroversial bills to sign that had been blocked by Susana Martinez, who left office on Dec. 31.

Bills that are placed on the fast track can be heard by just one House committee and one Senate committee before coming to a floor vote, said Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth. That is quicker than the standard two or three initial committee referrals.

Not every initiative vetoed by Martinez will be expedited.

At least two Senate committees will vet a previously vetoed measure to prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal convictions on initial employment applications. An identical 2017 bill from Democratic Sen. Bill O'Neill of Albuquerque and Republican Rep. Alonzo Baldonado of Los Lunas met with some resistance in the House, where it was approved 49-15.

The "rocket docket" could help legislative leaders claim immediate progress on long-stalled initiatives.

Albuquerque Mayor Says New Council To Coordinate, Help Homeless - Associated Press

Albuquerque is creating an advisory council to address homelessness in New Mexico's largest city.

Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement Wednesday that the council members will be tasked with boosting coordination among nonprofits, city agencies, businesses and Native American groups as the city carries out key initiatives.

Those initiatives include opening a year-round shelter and providing more housing vouchers to people seeking to move from emergency shelters to more permanent housing.

He says Albuquerque is facing a crisis with homelessness in the city.

As many as 40 people will serve on the advisory council.

Albuquerque Police Investigate Death Of 11-Day-Old Baby - Associated Press

Albuquerque police say they are investigating the death of an 11-day-old infant at a detox treatment center.

Police spokesman Simon Drobik said Wednesday that the Crimes Against Children unit was investigating the baby's death at the Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment center.

He did not provide additional details, saying an investigation is ongoing.

The investigation follows a string of other probes into child fatalities in New Mexico's largest city in recent weeks, including the death of 1-year-old Anastazia Romero.

Police say the girl's body was found in the backyard of an Albuquerque home after a dayslong search. Her parents face charges including child abuse resulting in death.

Police said the girl's father had told a relative in December that she drowned in a bathtub.

Man Sentenced After Escape From New Mexico Jail - The Eastern New Mexico News, Associated Press

A man who escaped from a New Mexico jail has been sentenced.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports Judge Drew Tatum on Monday ordered the state's recommendation of 16 years in prison and three years suspended for Victor Apodaca.

Apodaca, through an agreement signed late last year, pleaded guilty to each of his two fourth-degree felony charges stemming from a June 15, 2018, escape from the Curry County jail.

Apodaca, with good time credit, could serve only half of those 16 years in custody, but only after completing a 60-year term he recently started in Texas for a June 29, 2017, conviction of two counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer.