Delegation members: US official to visit Carlsbad

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation have announced that U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will visit Carlsbad on Aug. 12 to discuss the government’s underground nuclear waste dump.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been indefinitely shuttered in the wake of a Feb. 14 reaction that sent radioactive particles into the air above the repository and contaminated 22 workers with low levels of radiation. The release is still under investigation.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Rep. Steve Pearce last month invited Moniz to visit the facility. They want to talk with him about recovery funding, how the money would be spent and why it’s needed.

The facility is the nation’s only permanent repository for plutonium-contaminated gloves, tools and clothing from the federal government’s nuclear facilities.

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Prosecutors: MMA fighter won’t be charged in death

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors in southern New Mexico say a professional mixed martial artist won’t be charged in a fatal stabbing of an intruder during a suspected home invasion at the fighter’s home.

The District Attorney’s office in Las Cruces announced Thursday that a thorough investigation didn’t produce evidence to prove that Joseph Torrez killed 25-year-old Sal Garces on Jan. 1 without legal justification.

The office says its conclusion was based on evidence turned up by the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, which didn’t recommend prosecution of Torrez.

The District Attorney’s Office says it can’t discuss facts of the case because several people await trial on charges of aggravated burglary and other crimes.

Sheriff’s officials have said Torrez fatally stabbed Garces after Garces and two others forced their way into Torrez’s home.

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New Mexico tribe proposes ending gambling payments

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Pojoaque Pueblo has proposed a gambling compact to the federal government that would lower the gambling age to 18 from 21 and allow the tribe to stop revenue sharing payments to the state.

Pojoaque also proposes serving alcohol in casino gambling areas, which is currently prohibited.

The Interior Department has asked Gov. Susana Martinez and Attorney General Gary King to comment on Pojoaque’s proposals for casino gambling on tribal lands north of Santa Fe.

The pueblo’s compact with the state expires in mid-2015. The tribe is seeking a new compact through a procedure that would allow the Interior secretary to decide terms of a gambling agreement.

Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said the proposed compact would give Pojoaque a competitive advantage over its neighboring tribes.

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Most schools improve, maintain their A-to-F grades

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State officials say the overwhelming majority of New Mexico’s public schools improved or maintained their performance grade this year, and nearly two-fifths of schools received an A or B.

There were 332 schools with grades of A or B. That’s exceeded the 323 receiving a D or F.

The number of schools receiving a D or F increased by nearly 7 percent from last year while those getting A or B grew by about 8 percent. Schools getting a C dropped by 18 percent.

The Public Education Department said Thursday that 71 percent of schools improved or maintained their letter grades from last year.

The grades are based heavily on results of standards-based tests taken last spring by students and reflect other factors such as a survey of students.

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New Mexico legislator denies conflict of interest

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico legislator denies having a conflict of interest in voting for the state to sell a Santa Fe building and later getting a contract to broker its sale.

Democratic Sen. Phil Griego of San Jose tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that he didn’t get the contract until a month after the legislative session ended.

Other legislators say state officials told them the sale was necessary because the building cost more to maintain than it made for the state. The building formerly housed the New Mexico Conservation Corps.

The Inn of Five Graces had a lease with a right of first purchase and bought the property for $570,000, $70,000 above the appraised value.

The Santa Fe Reporter first reported Griego’s role in the sale of the building.

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 NMSU creates company to manage, develop assets

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University is creating a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation to manage and develop the Las Cruces-based university’s land, property and water assets.

According to the university, all of the Aggie Development Corp.’s net revenue will be contributed to the university, and NMSU President Garrey Carruthers says creating the corporation will make it easier for NMSU to produce revenue from its assets..

The corporation’s seven-member board of directors will include regents, university administrators and two people from outside the university.

The NMSU Board of Regents authorized creation of the corporation on Wednesday.

The effort to establish the corporation will be led by Ben Woods, NMSU’s special adviser to the president.

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Report to outline concerns from Espanola shooting

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — The Rio Arriba Community Health Council is set to release a report citing inadequate behavioral health and gun policies it says led to Espanola police shooting a teenager armed with a cap gun.

The council is expected to unveil the report Thursday at a Legislative Behavioral Health Subcommittee at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola.

Authorities say 16-year-old Victor Villalpando was shot by two Espanola officers June 8 after he called 911 using a different name. Police say he reported that the suspicious person was armed with a gun and hitting himself.

The report outlines what it calls flawed policies that made this shooting possible, along with recommendations designed to prevent future tragedies.

Rio Arriba County Health and Human Services Director Lauren Reichelt is slated to present the report.

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6 Mexican wolves released in Gila

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it has released six more Mexican wolves into the Gila Wilderness as part of its 15-year-effort to reintroduce the endangered predator to the Southwest.

Officials say the wolves were driven from the service’s wolf sanctuary in Sevilleta to the Gila Cliff Dwellings on Monday night, then packed into the wilderness for release on Tuesday.

The female wolf is one who was recaptured in May after becoming separated from her mate and having six pups with no experience in the wild. Two of the pups were put with another pair of wolves that had a smaller litter and more rearing experience. At the sanctuary, the mother and her four remaining pups were reintroduced to a former mate, who officials say adopted the pups as his own.

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ICE denies late night New Mexico deportation claim

ARTESIA, N.M. (AP) — Federal immigration officials are denying allegations that immigrants held at a New Mexico detention center were being deported in the middle of the night.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said Wednesday the women and children housed at the Artesia facility weren’t being pulled from sleep to board removal flights to Central America.

Immigration advocates who were allowed to visit the center said Tuesday that women there complained that children aren’t getting proper medical care and people are being deported at odd hours before they can see a lawyer.

Federal authorities say at least three planes have deported immigrants from the center.

ICE officials say more of the 600 or so women and children at the center are scheduled to return to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador soon.

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Police: Shot suspect wanted on illegal firearms

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials say a 33-year-old man shot by Albuquerque police was wanted by federal authorities for possible illegal firearms possession.

Albuquerque police said Wednesday the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was seeking to take Jeremy Joe Robertson into custody when Albuquerque officers shot him.

Authorities say Robertson fled plain-clothed officers from a gas station and had pulled a firearm from his waist.

Police say he also was facing charges of aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon stemming for a case earlier this year.

The shooting comes as the city of Albuquerque and the U.S. Justice Department are locked in negotiations over ordered reforms following a harsh report into the police department’s use of force.

Albuquerque police also have been under scrutiny for 41 police shootings — 27 of them fatal — since 2010.

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