- EXCHANGE-OIL BOOM-WATER
LOVING, N.M. (AP) — State water officials have estimated that production of oil and natural gas uses less than 1% of New Mexico's total fresh water use. But as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has become the norm in the Permian Basin, the volume of water flowing through the oil fields has skyrocketed. The state is ramping up pressure to recycle fracking wastewater instead of using fresh water. Energy companies have responded by investing in recycling technology and infrastructure.
- NUCLEAR ENERGY-TECH CENTER
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A California-based nuclear energy technology company has chosen New Mexico's largest city as its home for a new engineering center to support the development of its reactor technology. Kairos Power LLC plans to take up residence at a master planned community on the southern edge of Albuquerque. State economic development officials say the company will invest up to $125 million on the campus and create more than 65 high-paying jobs over the next few years. The state and city of Albuquerque also have proposed pitching in millions of dollars in economic development funding for the project.
- ROUTE 66-VISITOR CENTER
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Elected officials in New Mexico's most populous county plan to spend another $1.5 million to further support the construction of a visitor center along historic Route 66. Bernalillo County commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the allocation during a recent meeting. The money has been set aside pending a comprehensive marketing analysis on the center. Officials have said the goal is to create a space that celebrates Route 66 while serving the local community. One of the first roads in the U.S. highway system, Route 66 ran through eight states, connecting tourists with friendly diners in small towns.
- BORDER GRANT-COUNTY COSTS
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Pima County's manager says a federal grant for border security costs is contributing to the county's excess pension obligation costs. The Arizona Daily Star reports that a county analysis found that Sheriff's Department employees are boosting their pensions by working more overtime before they retire. The overtime is funded by the grant but the pension is paid by the county. County Manager Chuck Huckleberry said the Operation Stonegarden grant program is a "financial detriment to local taxpayers" and he says the county shouldn't participate in the future without the federal government making changes. County Supervisors are split on Stonegarden while Sheriff Mark Napier defends continued participation.
- BORDER-BABY BOOM
COLUMBUS, N.M. (AP) — It was a busy night for officers stationed at a U.S. border checkpoint in New Mexico, where three women in labor turned up for help in a matter of hours. One woman arrived in a Mexican ambulance and officers at the Columbus port of entry provided an obstetrical kit for the emergency delivery. A U.S. ambulance crew was able to transport the second woman to a hospital before she gave birth. The last woman arrived before 5 a.m., only to drop to the sidewalk and go into delivery. Customs and Border Protection officers helped deliver the baby girl. The head of the Columbus port of entry commended the officers for their quick responses.
- SAUDI STUDENT ARRESTED
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Saudi Arabian student at the University of New Mexico was arrested Friday by federal authorities on accusations of illegal possession of a firearm as a student visa holder. Authorities say a search of his Albuquerque residence turned up a handgun. Court records show engineering student Hassan Alqahtani appeared before a federal judge Friday and remained in federal custody afterward. The FBI says it received a tip in August at its National Threat Operations Center that Alqahtani possessed a firearm and was creating a list of people he wanted to kill that included professors at his university. A defense attorney disputed that a seized gun belonged to Alqahtani.
- STATE SENATE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State Rep. Bobby Gonzales has been picked to fill a state Senate seat vacated with the death of Democratic Sen. Carlos Cisneros in September. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham nominated the Democrat from Rancho de Taos on Friday to serve the remainder of a term that runs through the end of 2020. Gonzales is a retired educator who has served in the state House since 1995. He voted this year for a defeated bill to overturn New Mexico's unenforced ban on most abortion procedures. He also is in favor of expanded background checks on private gun sales.
- CULTURAL AFFAIRS-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A top priority for officials who oversee New Mexico's system of museums and cultural offerings will be forming more partnerships with rural communities and Native American tribes over the next year. The secretary of the state Cultural Affairs Department recently testified before a legislative committee that oversees crafting of the state budget. She's asking lawmakers for more money, saying expanding access to arts and culture is the goal. New Mexico has enjoyed back-to-back revenue surpluses because of the ongoing oil boom. But legislative budget hawks are warning that spending should be kept in check to weather a future downturn.