UNM President Promises More Transparency, Solar Observatory Re-Opens After Mysterious Closure

Sep 17, 2018

UNM President Vows More TransparencyAssociated Press

The president of New Mexico's flagship university is promising to adopt further reforms amid an investigation into the school's athletics program and criticism over how regents voted to cut some sports.

University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes said Monday that she would work to make the school more transparent and has created a search committee to hire for key administrative positions.

In her first annual state of the university address, Stokes avoided directly mentioning the New Mexico Attorney General Office's investigation into the school's athletics program or the recent cutting of soccer.

But she acknowledged that the university "faces continuous scrutiny from many corners."

Stokes said she has formed advisory committees to offer recommendations on various subjects from ethics to Native American tribes to how to make school a more welcoming place.

University Of New Mexico President To Give Campus Address - Associated Press

The president of New Mexico's flagship university is scheduled to deliver the annual state of the university address Monday.

President Garnett Stokes, in her first 200 days in office, has wrestled with criticism from state lawmakers, city leaders and others for a decision to cut some sports teams as part of an effort to rein in spending within the troubled athletics department.

Stokes said in a statement ahead of the address that the university has much to celebrate, but it also has real challenges. She said long-term success will require thoughtful, strategic planning.

Stokes is also expected to talk about her statewide listening tour and how the university can serve other communities in New Mexico.

With its main campus in Albuquerque, UNM serves close to 25,000 students.

Las Cruces Priest Accused Of Sexual Misconduct On LeaveAssociated Press

The Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces has placed a priest on leave following allegations of sexual misconduct with adults.

Bishop Oscar Cantu said in a news release Monday that the Rev. Rogelio Martinez, a pastor at St. Genevieve Parish, is on administrative leave with pay while multiple allegations are investigated.

Cantu said the allegations "are serious in nature" and may involve clergy or church personnel.

Diocese officials are launching an internal probe. They say a review board will look at the results. If they are found to be credible, Martinez could receive sanctions.

The diocese has also reported the allegations to the office of District Attorney Mark D'Antonio for a possible criminal investigation.

There was no answer Monday when a call was made to a number listed for Martinez.

Trial On Child Sex Abuse For Religious Sect Leader To BeginKOB-TV, Associated Press

Jury selection will start in the trial for one of the leaders of a western New Mexico paramilitary religious sect accused of child sexual abuse.

KOB-TV reports the jury selection process will begin Monday morning in court in Cibola County in the case of Deborah Green.

Authorities raided a Fence Lake compound in August 2017 run by Green and her husband, Peter, leaders of the Aggressive Christian Mission Training Corps.

The Cibola County Sheriff's Office began an investigation after a 13-year-old boy died of an infectious disease.

Authorities believe the Deborah and James Green hid 11 other children found there because they had no birth certificates.

Deborah Green also faces charges related to evidence tampering.

Peter Green faces 100 counts related to child sexual abuse.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

Troubled New Mexico City Finally Gets Police Chief, AttorneyLas Vegas Optic, Associated Press

A northern New Mexico city plagued by lawsuits from former workers and infighting finally has hired a police chief and city attorney.

The Las Vegas Optic reports the city council of Las Vegas, New Mexico, recently voted to confirm Jerry Delgado as police chief and Esther Garduño Montoya as city attorney.

Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron announced last week she was appointing both.

Both positions have not had permanent appointees on duty since December.

The hiring delays came as Gurule-Giron clashed with city councilors over hires.

Three former city workers, including former city attorney Dave Romero, are suing Las Vegas over their terminations.

Virgin Mary Statue In New Mexico Reportedly 'Cries' – AgainHobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

A Virgin Mary sculpture in a New Mexico Catholic church is "crying" — again.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports parishioners say the bronze Our Lady of Guadalupe statue at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Hobbs was seen weeping for the firth time since May.

Devotees say the statue was seen weeping Thursday as parishioners prepared for a weekend family fair.

Parish office manager Judy Ronquillo says he saw the tears as volunteers moved the statue to a sanctuary.

The stories of the tears have brought visitors from around the American Southwest to the church and sparked an investigation by the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces.

The diocese says if the cause of the phenomenon is supernatural, the church "must discern if it is from God or from the devil."

Journal Poll Has Lujan Grisham With 7 Point Lead In Governor's Race - Albuquerque Journal 

A new poll has a Democrat securely in the lead in the gubernatorial race this year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham has a 7 point lead over Republican Steve Pearce among proven likely voters surveyed last week. Remaining voters said they were undecided or would not say who they’d vote for.

Brian Sanderoff says while the race is still competitive, Pearce will have to win the backing of undecided voters and some of Lujan Grisham’s supporters in order to win. He’s the president of Research and Polling, Inc. which conducted the poll. There was a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

New Mexico Observatory Closed For Security Reasons To Reopen - Associated Press

An observatory in the mountains of southern New Mexico that had been closed since early September because of an undisclosed security concern is scheduled to reopen Monday.

Officials overseeing the Sunspot Solar Observatory say that there is no longer a security threat to staff.

The officials with the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and the National Science Foundation said Sunday they have hired a temporary security team to patrol the observatory when it reopens.

Located atop Sacramento Peak, the observatory was established in 1947.

Officials said Sunspot's one-of-a-kind telescope produces some of the sharpest images of the sun available in the world.

Data from observations done at Sunspot are sent to New Mexico State University servers and can be used by researchers around the world.

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy released a statement saying the closure was due to "criminal activity" in the area. KOB-TV reports an employee at the observatory said the issue involved theft of expensive equipment.

Carlsbad Officials Preparing For Longer Drought Conditions - Carlsbad Current-Argus, Associated Press

Nearly every square mile of New Mexico has been mired in drought over the last several months, but Carlsbad officials say they’ve been largely protected. The city is fed by numerous underground aquifers and the Pecos River.

The Carlsbad Current Argus reports that could change next year after months of scarce rainfall this year.

Low rainfall also spells trouble for the Carlsbad Irrigation District's reservoirs and the local farmers and ranchers that depend on them.

Hundreds of farmers and ranchers got a full allotment this year from the district after healthy rainfalls in 2017 and adequate snow packs which fed reservoirs.

The district expects next year's allotment may be dramatically lower since there was less than an inch of rain between October 2017 and summer 2018.

UNM Asking Voters To OK $7M In Bonds For New ROTC Building - KOB-TV, Associated Press

The University of New Mexico is seeking $7 million in general obligation bonds for a new ROTC building.

Voters are asked every two years to approve general obligation bonds for projects around the state.

There are no tax increases associated with bonds, which are later paid back using state funds and revenue generated by the institution.

UNM currently is the only school in the state to host the Navy, Army and Air Force under its ROTC umbrella.

The Army's current ROTC building is about 90 years old and too dangerous to work out of.

The Army ROTC's senior enrollment officer at UNM told KOB-TV that the current building is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and that it doesn't give students the learning environment they deserve.