US House Approves Protections Near Chaco Park, NM Reading And Math Scores Below National Average

Oct 31, 2019

US House Approves Protections Near Chaco Park - Associated Press

The U.S. House has approved legislation that would prohibit oil and gas development on federal land surrounding a national park in New Mexico held sacred by numerous Native American tribes.

The vote came Wednesday to make permanent a buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico says there are some areas where drilling should not take place and that the area around Chaco is one of them.

Aside from prohibiting new permits and canceling any existing non-producing leases, the measure suggests additional studies and protective measures should be taken to address health, safety and environmental effects on nearby communities and tribal interests.

The area includes land belonging to the Navajo Nation and individual tribal members. The legislation does not affect those parcels.

Advocates For Students Revive Lawsuit Against New Mexico - Associated Press

School districts and parents are reviving litigation that accused the state of failing to provide a sound education to vulnerable children from minority communities, non-English speaking households, impoverished families and those with disabilities.

Two groups of plaintiffs filed motions Wednesday to revive a dormant lawsuit more than a year after a district court judge ruled that lawmakers and state education officials failed to ensure an adequate education.

The Democrat-led Legislature and first-year Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham have authorized a nearly half-billion dollar increase in annual spending on public education. They raised teacher salaries, channeled money toward at-risk students and extended academic calendars.

Center on Law and Poverty attorney Gail Evans says the money missed the mark and was soaked up by salaries without a long-term plan for transformation.

Teacher Vacancies In New Mexico Drop But Shortage Remains – KVIA-TV, Associated Press

Teacher vacancies in New Mexico have dropped, but school districts are still struggling to fill open positions.

KVIA-TV reports a 2019 New Mexico Educator Vacancy study recently found that teacher vacancies have declined around 13%. However, the report also found that school districts in Las Cruces, Gadsden, Deming and Hatch Valley saw a 59% jump in vacancies.

The report was compiled the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center at New Mexico State University. Researchers collected data from public schools throughout the state.

The state currently has a total of 1,054 educator vacancies, including the 644 teacher vacancies. Last year's report found 1,173 total educator vacancies.

Outreach Groups To Help Veterans Learn Agriculture Skills - Associated Press

Groups dedicated to tribal conservation and helping veterans transition from military to civilian life are getting federal funding to provide training in agricultural practices.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation announced the awards Wednesday.

The Not Forgotten Outreach organization will receive just over $200,000 for training and the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance will get more than $224,000 for outreach programs to improve access to tribal grant assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says supporting veterans when they come home from deployment is a priority that often lacks the proper financial resources.

He says tribes also face significantly greater barriers to accessing federal resources, so the effort will help bridge that disparity.

Police Cite Protesters For Trespassing At State Capitol - Associated Press

At least a dozen protesters voicing concerns about climate change have been cited for criminal trespassing and escorted out of the Capitol by New Mexico State Police.

Environmental activists thronged the entranceway to the governor's office at the Statehouse on Wednesday afternoon. It was the latest in a series of protests by the group Youth Unified for Climate Change Crisis Action urging Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to declare a climate emergency and place a moratorium on fracking for oil.

Group spokesman Josue Martinez said younger protesters left to avoid arrest as the building closed. Mostly elderly and middle-aged protesters declined to leave when instructed by police and were declared to be under arrest.

They were escorted out of the building without force and given trespassing citations at the exit.

New Mexico State To Start Developmental Men's Soccer Program - KRQE-TV, Associated Press

New Mexico State and University Degrees Abroad have announced they have agreed to establish a developmental men's soccer program at the university.

KRQE-TV reports the announcement Wednesday means New Mexico State will soon begin recruiting state, regional and international players to take part in the program.

Under the agreement, a European-style academy with a professional coaching environment will be established on the New Mexico State campus.

University Degrees Abroad operates a year-round developmental soccer academy in England.

The move comes after The University of New Mexico this year disbanded its men's soccer program amid budget concerns and controversies around overall athletic spending. It was among the school's most successful athletics program.

New Mexico Governor Creates Special Unit To Arrest Fugitives - Associated Press

The governor of New Mexico has created a special law enforcement unit to arrest hundreds of fugitives across the state.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday that the Fugitive Apprehension Unit would be responsible for finding people charged with violent crimes who have failed to appear in court.

Authorities say this unit would help reduce the more than 1,600 outstanding bench warrants for people charged with violent crimes.

Authorities say New Mexico has the second-highest violent crime rate in the nation.

Grisham says the unit would be made up of at least seven state police officers and at least seven state corrections department staffers chosen by Public Safety Secretary Mark Shea and State Police Chief Tim Johnson.

Grisham says the unit must make monthly reports to her documenting arrests.

Prosecutors To Try Boy, 15, As Adult In Skate Park Shooting - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

Prosecutors say they intend to try a 15-year-old linked to a New Mexico skate park shooting as an adult.

The Gallup Independent reports the McKinley County District Attorney's Office gave notice this week it will seek an adult sentence for the teen suspected of firing a gun during the Oct. 14 Gallup Skate Park shootings.

Police say the shooting left three people with non-life threatening injuries.

The 15-year-old suspect is facing charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and unlawful possession of a handgun.

Police say 18-year-old DeShawn Yazzie is still wanted for his alleged involvement in the shootings.

In-custody Death At Police Substation Under Investigation - Associated Press

Albuquerque police say an in-custody death is under investigation.

Police say a multi-agency task force is investigating the death of a person who was found unresponsive in a holding cell at a substation Tuesday night.

According to police, the person was arrested after being found in a vehicle with a stolen license plate.

That person and another in the vehicle also were the subjects of arrest warrants.

A police spokesman says the handcuffed person who died had been placed in a holding cell while officers completed paperwork.

United Begins Flights From Denver To Hobbs, New Mexico - Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

United Airlines has begun direct flights to Denver from a southeastern New Mexico county airport in the heart of New Mexico's booming oil region.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports the inaugural United Express SkyWest Airlines flight to Denver was Sunday, when Hobbs, New Mexico, leaders flew to Denver from the Lea County Regional Airport. The first direct flight from Denver International Airport to Hobbs also was earlier Sunday.

United's nonstop flights to Denver International Airport into the Permian Basin will be operated as United Express service six days per week.

United is also scheduled to continue to operate two daily nonstop flights from Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. There will be one flight that runs to and from Houston on Saturdays.

Group Starts Petition Against New Mexico Energy LawAssociated Press

An advocacy group that supports New Mexico's traditional energy industry has started a petition drive aimed at a new state law that mandates more electricity be generated from renewable resources.

Power the Future rolled out its petition Thursday. The group's western states director, Larry Behrens, says he wants New Mexico's elected leaders to know that residents are concerned about what he described as job-killing policies related to the Energy Transition Act.

The group contends the law was written by radical environmentalists and out of-state special interests.

Environmentalists have fired back, saying Power the Future itself is funded by outside industry groups.

Aside from mandating that utilities provide emissions-free electricity by 2045, the law charts a course for the closure of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington by 2022.

New Mexico Reading, Math Scores Below National AverageAssociated Press

New Mexico's fourth-grade and eighth-grade students' test scores in math and reading on the latest Nation's Report Card remain well below the national average.

Results released Wednesday on the National Assessment of Educational Progress show fourth-graders in the state scored 12 points below the national average on math and 11 points below the national average score in reading.

The report says about 29% of the state's fourth-graders are proficient both in math, and only 24% in reading. About 21% of eighth-graders proficient in math.

Nationwide, a little more than a third of eighth-graders are proficient in reading and math.

About a third of fourth-graders are proficient in reading, while more than 40% of fourth-graders are proficient in math.

The nationwide test is given to a sampling of students in those grades every two years.

Pilot Ejects Safely After Air Force F-16 Crash In New MexicoAssociated Press

The Air Force says a pilot successfully ejected from an F-16 before the fighter crashed in southern New Mexico during a training flight.

Holloman Air Force Base officials say the F-16 assigned to the 49th Wing at the base crashed Tuesday night about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of the base.

Officials said in a statement that the pilot was taken to a hospital for treatment, but it did not provide information on any injuries to the pilot, whose identity was not released.

The statement said a board of officers will investigate the crash and that its cause wasn't determined immediately.