Walmart To Stop Selling Guns In New Mexico, State Postpones Hearing On Child Care Proposal

Jul 5, 2019

Walmart Plans To Cease Gun Sales At New Mexico Stores Associated Press

Walmarts in New Mexico plan to stop selling guns later this month after a new state law expanded background checks to nearly all gun purchases.

The law that took effect this week requires background checks on private sales between neighbors or friends. It also allows federally licensed gun sellers to offer to conduct checks for these sales.

Walmart spokeswoman Tiffany Wilson says the stores are not equipped to conduct checks for private sales.

She says employees and customers could be put at risk by people bringing in guns seeking checks on private sales.

Walmart plans to end gun sales on July 22. The stores will continue to sell ammunition.

Walmart and other gun sellers already perform federal background checks on their firearm sales.

Singleton, New Mexico Judge Who Ruled Over Major Cases, DiesSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says a retired judge who presided over multiple landmark cases in New Mexico has died.

Lujan Grisham announced Judge Sarah Singleton's death in an email Friday. A spokesman for the courts confirmed she died on Thursday. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Singleton died of cancer. She was 70.

The governor said she was "incredibly saddened by Singleton's passing," and called her a "dedicated jurist."

Singleton had been a judge in New Mexico's First Judicial District, which handles cases from Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties.

Singleton was remembered by the governor as being the first New Mexico judge to rule in favor of gay marriage in 2013.

Last year, Singleton ruled that New Mexico was not meeting its constitutional obligations to provide an adequate education.

National Lab To Study Water In San Juan BasinFarmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Federal land managers are partnering with researchers from Sandia National Laboratories to study how oil and gas development could affect water supplies in northwestern New Mexico's San Juan Basin.

The Farmington Daily Times reports the study recently started and that similar work has been done in the Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico.

Thomas Lowry with Sandia Labs says researchers will monitor water wells in portions of the San Juan Basin that are likely to see increased oil and gas development near them.

He says the team is also partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor two wells in Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Lowry says tests will help show the availability of water and how it's being used. He anticipates the results will be available in September 2020.

New Mexico Postpones Hearing On Child Care ProposalAssociated Press

New Mexico's child welfare department is reversing course on a proposal that would have tightened income requirements for families to begin receiving child care assistance.

The state Children, Youth and Families Department says a public hearing scheduled Monday in Santa Fe on the proposal to increase the program's minimum qualifications has been postponed.

The income threshold for aid recently became 200% of the federal poverty level after the agency agreed as part of a class-action lawsuit to raise the amount. Under the settlement agreement, the agency must hold public hearings before changing income requirements.

Officials have not said when a new rulemaking hearing will be scheduled.

The agency initially proposed increasing the eligibility requirements after it did not get the legislative funding needed to keep a higher limit in place.

Final Defendant Sentenced In Multistate Dog Fighting RingAssociated Press

The last of 12 defendants convicted of roles in a multistate dog fighting ring has been sentenced in New Jersey to more than four years in prison.

Justin Love was convicted last October on multiple counts including unlawfully possessing and trafficking in fighting dogs. The 39-year-old Sewell man received a 54-month sentence Wednesday and will have to serve three years of supervised release once he's freed.

The trial closes an investigation dubbed Operation Grand Champion. The phrase Grand Champion is used by dog fighters for animals with more than five victories.

Federal prosecutors say 113 dogs have been rescued due to the investigation.

Authorities have said the defendants participated in dog fights and trafficked in dogs for fights in New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois and New Mexico.

Veteran AP Newsman, Author Richard Benke DiesAssociated Press

Veteran journalist and author Richard Benke is being remembered for his tenacity and for his dedication to accuracy during a career that spanned decades in newsrooms in California and New Mexico.

Benke died June 18 of Parkinson's-related dementia at an assisted care facility in Nevada, his family said. He was one day shy of his 77th birthday.

His passion for reporting and editing was born from an early love of writing. After growing up in Southern California, he majored in creative writing at Northwestern University before returning to work at the Pasadena Star-News.

He was hired by The Associated Press in 1975, starting a long career with the news organization that saw him cover everything from breaking news in Los Angeles to illegal immigration along the southern New Mexico border.

Critics Want Embattled New Mexico Mayor Removed From Office - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A northern New Mexico mayor whose home and office were raided last week by state investigators is facing calls to be removed from her seat.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Las Vegas, New Mexico, city councilor Barbara Perea-Casey said this week she wants the full council to vote to remove Mayor Tonita Gurulé-Girón.

State attorney general's office agents raided Gurulé-Girón's offices last week to look for evidence of alleged bid-rigging.

Since coming into office she has been at the center of a series of controversies, including firings of key staff and lawsuits against her.

She also was the target of a special audit of the city's procurement process.

The city's charter gives the mayor and city manager the power to decide what is placed on the council's agenda.

Driver Dies After Being Struck By Rail Runner KOB-TV, Albuquerque Journal

A woman was killed when her car was struck by a southbound Rail Runner train Wednesday night around 5:45 p.m. at Candelaria and 2nd Street in Albuquerque.

KOB-TV reports investigators said 27-year-old Nicole Lopez did not stop as the rail road crossing arm was coming down. No one on the train was injured.

Lopez was coming home from work. Her family told KOB she leaves behind two sons, ages 3 and 7.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the crash delayed Rail Runner travel for several hours. The Rio Metro Regional Transit District, which operates the Rail Runner, will review footage from cameras on the train to get more information about the accident.

Albuquerque Blocks Homemade Skate Ramp Made From Man's Ashes - KOAT-TV, Associated Press

A homemade skate ramp made in part from ashes of a man shot and killed at an Albuquerque skate park is now blocked off.

KOAT-TV reports the city of Albuquerque this week temporarily blocked off access to the memorial because it was built without permission from officials.

Albuquerque Parks and Recreation director Dave Simon says nothing can be constructed on city property without prior authorization.

City officials say they want to assess the ramp for safety and structural integrity.

Cody Raver was shot and killed at Los Altos skate park in April.

Friends of Raver built the ramp at Los Altos skate park in his honor and mixed some of Raver's ashes in with the cement.

Shrinking Rural New Mexico Villages Putting Churches At Risk - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Shrinking populations in rural New Mexico villages are putting aging churches at risk since the buildings aren't receiving the same upkeep as previous generations.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Santa Teresita Church in Mora County is one of several participating in a fundraising project to benefit some of the state's "endangered" historic churches in an effort to save the structures.

Through cultural events starting this month, organizers of the Nuevo Mexico Profundo project hope to raise money to preserve the churches that sit in villages across the state.

Nuevo Mexico Profundo is the brainchild of Frank Graziano, an author and former professor of Hispanic Studies who lives in Chamisal.

His inspiration came from research and trips he made for his recently published book, "Historic Churches of New Mexico."

3 Gallup Officers Placed On Leave After Detox Center Scuffle - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

Three Gallup police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave in connection with a detainee who was injured in a scuffle with police.

The Gallup Independent reports Gallup Police announced this week that the three officers were placed on leave following a disturbance Friday at a detox center.

According to police, officers were dispatched to a J.C. Penney store after receiving a call about a man who was reportedly staggering.

The man, whose name has not been released, was transported to the detox center.

Authorities say the man became disorderly at the center and was injured during a struggling with officers. He was later transported to a hospital for treatment.

The man's condition is not known. The names of the officers placed on leave have not been released.

Police: 1 Injured At Early July 4th Event In Santa Fe - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Police say a volunteer suffered minor injuries at an early morning Fourth of July celebration in Santa Fe after cooking spray ignited.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports authorities say the volunteer was injured Thursday morning ahead of the annual Pancakes on the Plaza event.

Santa Fe Police Chief Andrew Padilla says emergency workers attended to the injured volunteer before she was sent home. He says the injured person's identity was not immediately available, and the injury appears to be minor.

Santa Fe New Mexican circulation director Mike Richard says he heard a loud bang on the Plaza around 7 a.m.

Lt. Michele Williams says the explosive sound was likely caused by water on the stove mixing with cooking spray.