US Makes Up To $110M Available To Tribal Crime Victims, Elephant Butte Gets Federal Funding

Jun 26, 2018

US Makes Up To $110M Available To Tribal Crime Victims- Associated Press

Federal officials said Tuesday they plan to make up to $110 million available to tribes seeking to support victims of domestic violence, assault, drug trafficking and other crimes amid an opioid crisis that has hit tribal communities especially hard.

U.S. Justice Department officials cited the high rates at which Native Americans are victims of violent crimes and die of drug overdoses.

Federal figures show a fivefold increase in overdose deaths between 1999 and 2015 among Native Americans — the largest increase for any group in that time span.

Meanwhile, more than half of Native American women in a National Institute of Justice survey released two years ago said they had been victims of sexual and domestic violence.

The appropriation for tribes was tucked into the $1.3 trillion federal spending bill approved by Congress earlier this year and expires in September. It allows for 3 percent of the multi-billion-dollar Victims of Crime Act fund to be set aside for tribes.

New Mexico Marks Record Pecan Production In 2017- Associated Press

The value of New Mexico's pecan crop inched up in 2017 to more than $220 million as production reached a record high.

Statistics released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture show pecan production in the state topped out at a record 92 million pounds last year. That's up 28 percent from 2016.

The value of the pecan crop was up 4 percent. The price per pound in the state was $2.40, slightly higher than the national average annual price of $2.33.

New Mexico is second only to Georgia when it comes to pecan production. Growers in that state reported an average year with 107 million pounds of pecans and negative impacts from Hurricane Irma.

Texas was a distant third with 38 million pounds.

Bernalillo County Deploying Mobile Voting Unit This Year- KRQE-TV, Associated Press

Bernalillo County says it will deploy a mobile voting unit for this year's general election.

County Clerk Linda Stover says the mobile unit will be placed near a different senior citizen facility each day during early voting. But it's open to all registered voters.

KRQE-TV reports that the unit will have 15 voting stations and is accessible to people with disabilities.

Stover says she'd like to see mobile voting units eventually used throughout the state.

Elephant Butte Gets Federal Funding For Drought Project- Associated Press

A southern New Mexico irrigation district is getting federal funding to help weather the ongoing drought.

The Elephant Butte Irrigation District will use more than $180,000 on a project to improve water flow, storm water harvesting and aquifer recharge.

The district will contribute a nearly equal amount.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman announced the funding Tuesday. The agency awarded more than $8 million to 13 projects in New Mexico, Utah and California.

The funding is part of the agency's drought response program.

New Mexico Democrats To Give Up Prison Firms' DonationsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Several prominent New Mexico Democrats say they will make charitable donations in the amounts of campaign contributions they received from two private prison companies amid debate over the Trump administration's child separation policy and other immigration-related issues.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the companies are GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic, which operate immigrant detention centers and private correctional facilities across the country.

Spokesmen for the two companies say they do not operate facilities for unaccompanied minors, and that their organizations do not advocate for or against immigration enforcement or detention policies.

GEO Group operates several private prisons and related facilities in New Mexico, and CoreCivic runs a private prison and a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Cibola County.

Share prices of both GEO Group and CoreCivic have risen in response to Trump administration immigration policies.

Most Of Northern New Mexico Forest To CloseAssociated Press

Most of the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico will be closing soon due to persistent dry conditions and the threat of wildfire.

The Camino Real Ranger District is already closed. Other areas that include the Questa, Tres Piedras, El Rito and Canjilon districts will close Wednesday.

Officials say the closure will remain in effect until the forest receives significant moisture and conditions have improved.

The Jicarilla district is exempt from the closure but fire restrictions will remain in place there.

The Santa Fe and Cibola national forests also are closed.

Violations of the closure orders carry a mandatory appearance in federal court and are punishable as a misdemeanor by a fine of $5,000 and/or imprisonment.

Route 66, Larimer Square On National Trust's Endangered List - Associated Press

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is identifying 11 places around the U.S. that it says are at risk because of development or neglect.

The National Trust list, released Tuesday, includes Route 66, African-American historic sites in Connecticut and Mississippi, and Denver's Larimer Square.

Route 66 is up for designation as a National Historic Trail, which the National Trust says would bring "recognition and economic development" to historic sites along the storied road.

The U.S. Senate would have to pass legislation for the designation to take effect and the president would have to sign it before the end of 2018. Route 66 opened in 1926, connecting eight states between Chicago and California including New Mexico.

Larimer Square is a thriving retail center but it's also Denver's oldest commercial block and first historic district. The National Trust says Larimer Square's history is threatened by proposals to build two towers and partly demolish several buildings.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private nonprofit. Its annual endangered places list can mobilize support for preservation.

But listings can also be controversial in cases where the Trust is proposing a halt to development and locals are arguing for economic growth.

Albuquerque Officials Plan $25M In Solar Panels For CityAssociated Press

Albuquerque officials say they plan to invest $5.2 million on solar panels for a dozen public buildings under a broader plan to make New Mexico's largest city more reliant on renewable energy.

Mayor Tim Keller announced the first phase of a $25 million solar project Monday, saying the panels will be installed this summer at four fire stations, a community center, golf course, and the Albuquerque Police Academy and Forensics Lab. The plan is to have the work completed in September.

The Albuquerque Main Library will have solar panels installed by February.

Officials say they want Albuquerque to reach a point where 25 percent of energy used to power city-owned buildings comes from renewable resources. Only 3 percent of the city's power currently comes from renewable energy.

Report Highlights Effects Of Tax Incentives In New MexicoSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers got their first look at a computer model designed to help them analyze the consequences of overhauling a tax system that many acknowledge is outdated and burdensome.

Experts with the national accounting firm Ernst & Young presented a report on the state's tax system and discussed the computer model Monday during a meeting of a legislative revenue and tax policy committee.

New Mexico hired the firm in 2017 to develop the model as proposed tax-law changes were fueling the debate on how to diversify the economy.

With the model finally in hand, some lawmakers say they will have more confidence in proposing tax changes during the 2019 legislative session.

The report indicates New Mexico's overall tax system doesn't appear competitive but that reliance on tax credits and other incentives help to level the playing field.

However the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that gross receipts tax revenue is not keeping pace with growth in the state’s gross domestic product. That’s probably due to exemptions and incentives that take a bite out of that tax revenue.

Drought Continues As Monsoon Season NearsAssociated Press

Climate prediction experts believe the upcoming monsoon season in the nation's Southwest could be wetter than normal, but even an exceptionally wet season is unlikely to lift the region's annual rainfall to average levels.

Weather forecasters said Monday sparse rainfall in the U.S. Southern Plains since autumn has caused drought conditions to worsen, especially in the Four Corners region of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

Brian Klimowski, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Flagstaff, Arizona, says the region should begin receiving monsoonal moisture during the first half of July, later than normal.

Becky Bolinger, Colorado's assistant state climatologist, says warmer-than-normal temperatures and sporadic rainfall has exacerbated wildfire conditions in the region. Fire restrictions are in place in all four states.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says moderate to extreme drought also persists in parts of Oklahoma and Texas.

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

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 JobsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

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.

US Official Says Fort Bliss To House Detained FamiliesAssociated Press

A federal official says the U.S. Army post Fort Bliss in El Paso will house families detained after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The official was not authorized to discuss the plans and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The official says Goodfellow Air Force Base will be used for housing for detained unaccompanied children. Goodfellow is located in the central Texas city of San Angelo.

Earlier Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted that the Trump administration's reversal in referring parents crossing the border illegally with children for prosecution is only temporary because the government is running out of resources.

Sanders spoke to reporters after the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said he has stopped referring cases involving children for prosecution.

Immigrant Parents Share Stories Of Separation – Associated Press

A group of mothers and fathers who were separated from their children after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border broke down in tears as they talked about the uncertainties of being reunited with their sons and daughters.

The five parents were among 32 who had been released from federal custody to the care of a charitable organization in El Paso, Texas.

Speaking Spanish and all wearing ankle monitors, the parents told reporters during a news conference Monday that they don't know when they might see their children again.

One mother from Guatemala was able to talk with a social worker in New York where her 4-year-old son was taken.

When she asked to speak with the boy, the social worker told her the child was angry and didn't want to talk with her because he believed his mother had abandoned him.

The woman said she would not have come to the U.S. had she known her child would be taken from her.

Albuquerque Police Arrest Man Who Doused Self With GasolineAssociated Press

Police in Albuquerque have arrested a man who they say doused himself with gasoline and made suicidal statements.

They say the man was taken into custody Monday afternoon and was being taken to the University of New Mexico psychiatric center for evaluation.

The name and age of the man wasn't immediately released.

Officers were called about a man who was trespassing at a business.

They found a man in a car and he wouldn't provide his registration and insurance information.

Police say as the officer went back to his car to issue some citations, the man poured at least a gallon of gasoline on top of himself from a container.

The man yelling at officers for several hours and flicked his lighter before being arrested.