Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment

Mar 11, 2019

New Mexico: More work needed to clean up jet fuel spillALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — After excavating thousands of tons of soil and treating millions of gallons of water, New Mexico regulators say the U.S. Air Force still has work to do to clean up contamination at a military base bordering the state's largest city.The state environment department has released a draft of this year's strategic plan for addressing the jet fuel contamination at Kirtland Air Force Base.The fuel leak — believed to have been seeping into the ground for decades — was first detected in 1999. The greatest concern was potential contamination of drinking water wells in Albuquerque neighborhoods that border the base.Environment Secretary James Kenney says 2018 data indicates groundwater extraction and treatment is having an effect on the plume.Under the proposed plan, that work would continue along with more modeling and monitoring.


Deadline set for abuse claims against New Mexico archdioceseALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A deadline has been set for victims of clergy sexual abuse to submit a proof of claim in the ongoing bankruptcy case filed by New Mexico's largest Catholic diocese.U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma approved the June 17 deadline in an order announced late Friday. He also spelled out a comprehensive claims process, which includes the Archdiocese of Santa Fe publishing notices in dozens of newspapers and other publications.The claims will be sealed and remain confidential unless the claimant indicates otherwise.The archdiocese dropped a bombshell in November, announcing it would seek bankruptcy protection after spending more than $50 million over the years to settle hundreds of lawsuits alleging child sex abuse by clergy members.Archbishop John Wester said he's hopeful mediation can begin following the claim deadline.


New Mexico's unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in JanuarySANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in January, up from 5.0 percent the previous month.State labor officials announced the numbers Monday, saying the private sector saw the largest gains in a 12-month period with 10,000 jobs, or an increase of 1.6 percent.Nationally, the jobless rate in January was 4.0 percent. That's up from 3.0 percent in December and down from 4.1 percent in January 2018.In New Mexico, jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector increased by 5,400 or 5.7 percent. Mining and construction employment grew by 4,100 jobs while construction was up 1,000 jobs, or 2.2 percent, over the year.Labor officials say New Mexico's trade, transportation and utilities sector was down 1,300 jobs, or 0.9 percent, from January 2018 to January 2019.


New Mexico Senate passes outdoor recreation billSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico would create a special division focused on outdoor recreation within the state economic development department under a measure pending in the Legislature.The New Mexico Senate unanimously approved the bill Monday, as lawmakers prepare to wrap up the session at the end of the week. The measure would need House approval before noon Saturday.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says New Mexico has some of the greatest outdoor opportunities in the West and the proposed office could attract new businesses and residents who hold access to the outdoors as a key factor in choosing where they live.Lujan Grisham said it could also build new opportunities for disadvantaged youth to experience the outdoors and help communities apply for funding opportunities to further develop the state's outdoor recreation infrastructure.


New Mexico poised to create new early childhood agencySANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is poised to create a new cabinet-level agency focused on early child education and care.State lawmakers over the weekend approved legislation that would establish the new agency, sending the measure to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her signature. She has advocated in favor of the legislation.The agency would oversee prekindergarten programs, child-care assistance and home-visiting programs, bringing services currently provided by four different departments under one roof.State and federal spending on early childhood programs has more than doubled to $313 million over the past several years, and supporters of the measure say the new agency would be better positioned to target those funds in hopes of changing the state's child wellbeing outcomes.Under the legislation, the new agency would be fully functional by July 2020.


Proposed budget includes $3.1M for state police body camerasSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Police officials are preparing for the possibility of equipping all officers with body cameras as lawmakers consider a budget proposal that would fund a $3.1 million purchase for the devices.The department with 650 officers already records highway encounters and other incidences with dashboard cameras on vehicles.But Capt. Ted Collins tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that only a few dozen body cameras have been provided to officers in the Albuquerque district.If state police obtain the cameras under the proposed budget, the department will join Albuquerque Police in requiring officers to use them.Advocates for the cameras say they increase transparency and improve officer safety.The 2019 legislative session's last day is Saturday.


Armed security guards to begin patrolling Rio Rancho schools(Information from: KOB-TV, http://www.kob.com)RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Rio Rancho schools will have armed guards on their campuses starting this week.KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports that retired law enforcement officers and ex-military members will be volunteering as security guards for Rio Rancho Public Schools beginning Monday.District officials say the additional security comes after six months of careful consideration.The guards will be heavily present at high schools but other schools will be covered.The extra security comes a month after a 16-year-old boy fired a gun inside a Rio Rancho high school. No one was injured.Other measures the district has taken include more cameras, improved fencing and electronic doors.___


Changes likely for dark-money in New Mexico electionsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The sources of independent expenditures to influence elections in New Mexico must be made public under a bill headed to the governor.The Senate gave final approval Sunday to the bill from Democratic Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe that requires the reporting of independent political expenditures to state election regulators that exceed $3,000 in a statewide election. The reporting threshold for non-statewide elections is $1,000.The bill seeks to provide the public with information on the origin of so-called dark money that is spent on elections without direct coordination with candidates and campaigns. New Mexico midterm elections in 2018 were replete with independent advertising and social media campaigns aimed at influencing voters.The legislation would require identification of people making independent expenditures and the purpose of the spending.