Wednesday News Roundup: Legislators To Reconsider Navajo Gambling Compact

Feb 5, 2014

  Agriculture Secretary Announces Focus On Climate Change - The Associated Press

Some federal research centers around the country will be focusing on helping farmers and foresters deal with climate change.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is to announce Wednesday designation of seven regional climate hubs.

The hubs will be at U.S. Department of Agriculture facilities, such as the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis., Ore. Others will be in Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

They will assess local climate risks, such as drought and wildfire, then develop plans for dealing with them, such as improved irrigation techniques.

Bill Hohenstein, director of the Agriculture Department's climate change program, says the hubs will work with county extension agents and others to get the mitigation plans out to farmers, ranchers and foresters.

911 Call Released Linked To Home Of Dead NM Boy - The Associated Press

Police have released a 911 recording linked to an address where a 9-year-old Albuquerque boy was found dead six months later.

On the 911 call released Tuesday and recorded June 2013, a male is heard verbally abusing and using expletives at someone named "Omaree." A woman's voice also is heard screaming as a child cries in the background.

Albuquerque police later traced the call to the same site where 9-year-old Omaree Varela would be found dead in December.

The boy's mother, 38 year-old Synthia Varela-Casaus, was indicted on several charges last month after police say she repeatedly kicked the boy, resulting in his death.

Police say Albuquerque police officers were dispatched to the home in June but no report was written.

Authorities do not know who made the call and it's unclear if prosecutors will use it as evidence.

Legislators To Reconsider Navajo Gambling Compact - The Associated Press

Lawmakers are to take another look at a proposed gambling compact that would allow the Navajo Nation to open more casinos.

The Committee on Compacts is scheduled Wednesday to resume consideration of the gambling agreement negotiated by the Navajos and Gov. Susana Martinez's administration.

The Navajos have rejected a request to change the compact to limit the tribe to its existing casinos.

One option for the committee is to send the compact to the House and Senate without a recommendation on whether it should be approved.

The Navajos operate two Las Vegas-style casinos in New Mexico under a compact expiring next year and a third casino offers low-stakes gambling not subject to state regulation.

Other tribes and pueblos object that the new compact would allow three additional high-stakes Navajo casinos.

Contractor Clears NM River Channel Of Sediment - The Associated Press

State and federal officials are trying to keep the Rio Grande flowing.

The Interstate Stream Commission and the Bureau of Reclamation are working with a contractor to clear sediment from a 20-mile-long channel that leads to Elephant Butte Reservoir.

Officials say having the channel clear allows for more water to make it to southern New Mexico farmers and for the state to meet its water delivery obligations to Texas.

The maintenance is expected to continue through March.

The sediment in the river channel was deposited following last September's record rains. The contractor also plans to repair some levees.

The channel ranges from 150 to 300 feet wide and is a few feet deep. It's designed to convey river flows up to 2,000 cubic feet per second.