The Sheryl Williams Stapleton magical disappearing reserved state fair parking space

Courtesy of NM Watchdog
New Mexico WatchdogWhy does State Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton have a reserved parking space on the grounds of the State Fair?  Simply asking the question made it disappear.  Poof! It’s a simple question.  But Rep. Stapleton won’t provide an answer.  And now the State Fair tells us a special parking space reserved for the legislator can’t be found.
Like Geoffrey Rush’s wonderful line from Shakespeare In Love:  “‘Tis a mystery!”
We happened upon Representative Stapleton’s reserved parking space in August.  There it was, just steps from the door of the Sheryl M. Williams Stapleton African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall. “UNAUTHORIZED VEHICLES WILL BE TOWED AT OWNER’S EXPENSE,” the official sign warns anyone even considering pulling between the white lines that set apart several square yards of tarmac for its Rightful Occupant.
The Sheryl Williams Stapleton Memorial Reserved Parking Space was still there a month later when we passed by on our annual pilgrimage during the New Mexico State Fair for a chicharone and bean burrito in The Spanish Village. Read More News New Mexico


Pearce a champion for small business

Steve Pearce with Dan Danner
Last week while Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan were voting to scrap the work requirement in the welfare reform law passed during the Clinton Adminstration, Congressman Steve Pearce was voting to preserve the work incentive.
This week the National Federation of Independent Businesses presented Steve Pearce with their Guardian of Small Business award. “I am honored to be recognized by the NFIB,” said Pearce. “Small businesses are New Mexico’s job creators, and one of my top priorities in Congress is to protect our small business owners from burdensome taxes and unnecessary regulations.”
Dan Danner, president and CEO of the NFIB, thanked Pearce for his work, saying, “In the 112th Congress, Representative Steve Pearce proved that he is a champion of small Business.”
A former business owner himself, Rep. Pearce recognizes that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. In his nearly eight years in Congress, he has worked tirelessly for small businesses, fighting against unnecessary taxes and overregulation that make job creation impossible.

Spaceport America awards contracts

LAS CRUCES, NM - The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) Board of Directors approved the award of two new contracts yesterday, moving the spaceport closer to its grand opening in December 2013. The board approved the award of the runway modification contract to A.S Horner, an Albuquerque-based company that has been doing business for over 80 years. The NMSA board also approved a contract award to Ashbaugh Construction for its proposed site of the Sierra County Welcome Center.
The existing runway is 10,000 feet, and the new contract will extend the runway to 12,000 feet by July 2013. “It will provide additional safety for landing Virgin Galactic flights as well as make the Spaceport more attractive to other aerospace customers,” said Christine Anderson, Executive Director of the NMSA. The $8.4 million expansion is expected to begin shortly with design work already being completed. The Board also approved a contract award to Ashbaugh Construction for its proposed site for the Sierra County Welcome Center.

Las Cruces planning commission rejects strip club

Robin Zielinski/Sun-News
The planning and zoning commission in Las Cruces has rejected a proposal for the first strip club in the city.
The commission voted 3-1 Tuesday night to deny the application for a club called "The Bronx."
City planning staff had recommended approval because it met city zoning requirements.
But the Las Cruces Sun-News reports ( ) the commission heard two hours of testimony that was overwhelmingly opposed to the club.
Opponents including ministers and business leaders quoted scripture and warned of a moral catastrophe if the club was approved. They argued that the club would objectify women, damage the city's character and quality of life, increase crime, lower property values and erode the social fabric.


NM boy mauled by 5 dogs

A 12-year-old Chaparral boy is recovering in a hospital after being mauled by five dogs and suffering more than 50 bites.
Dona Ana County authorities say charges are pending against the owner of the German shepherds who hasn't provided proof of vaccinations yet for any of the animals.
The boy was walking home from a friend's house Sunday night when he was attacked. Witnesses in the area came to the boy's rescue and called for help.
The name of the boy hasn't been released. Authorities say the victim was in stable condition Tuesday.
County investigators say the dogs were allegedly running loose when the attack happened. Four of the five dogs have been captured and investigators still are looking for the fifth German shepherd.


NMSU study looks at drought impact on chile

A New Mexico State University researcher is trying to find out whether the pungency, color and yield of northern chile varieties are affected when crops receive less water.

Graduate research assistant Israel Calsoyas has been studying the effects of deficit irrigation on three northern New Mexico chile cultivars for the past two summers.
She says the region's chile is touted for its ability to withstand stressful growing conditions compared to commercial cultivars.
Chile growers in the north usually irrigate fields every seven days. Calsoyas used different watering cycles to see how they would affect the plants.
Preliminary results show the pungency of one of the varieties changed, but color and yield remained the same for the first test season.
Calsoyas says the second season of data is still being analyzed.



Santa Fe changes panhandling ordinance

The Santa Fe City Council on Monday unanimously approved an amendment to a city ordinance that changes the definition of panhandling to place new restrictions on non-vocal or “passive” solicitations.
The ordinance previously stated that “the act of passively standing or sitting, with a sign or other indication that a donation is being sought without vocal request, other than in response to an inquiry by another person” should not be subject to panhandling restrictions. That language has now been removed.
“It’s important to point out the ordinance permits panhandling,” said Alfred Walker, assistant city attorney. “It (now) makes no distinction between passive and active panhandlers.”
The amendment expands the ordinance to include written and other non-verbal solicitations, such as holding up a sign asking for help, in rules that limit how and where panhandling can take place.
The changes also prohibit panhandling within 15 feet of the entrance or exit to a public transportation facility and in off-street parking lots and structures, additions that were taken from Albuquerque’s panhandling ordinance...



10-year suspension in horse doping case

John H. Bassett
Prominent horse trainer John H. Bassett, one of three trainers whose quarter horses tested positive for an exotic painkiller at Ruidoso Downs in May, has been suspended from racing for 10 years, fined $10,000 and ordered to return any purse money won by the drugged horses.
In addition, the trainer for horses owned or partly owned by state Racing Commissioner Ray Willis and his wife, Lola, also was suspended and fined for doping.
Bassett, who has trained two winners of the racetrack’s prestigious $2 million-plus All American Futurity, was handed the sanctions Saturday by New Mexico Racing Commission stewards, following a hearing in Hobbs.
The sanctions reflect what had been the state’s maximum penalty for the use of the drug dermorphin, a potent painkiller derived from the skin of a tree frog native to South America. Each infraction carried a maximum penalty of five years’ suspension, a $5,000 fine and return of purse money.
Since the May infractions, the governor-appointed New Mexico Racing Commission has adopted more stringent regulations on horse doping, including harsher penalties. Under the new rules, owners can be held liable along with the trainers. Under the old rules, owners could not be penalized...


NMSU President on leave

Barbara Couture
The president of New Mexico State University is on leave, but a campus spokeswoman and the NMSU Board of Regents is not releasing any information about the circumstances behind her absence.
A university spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday night that Barbara Couture, NMSU’s president since January 2010, is on leave, but she declined to say more than that.
“The NMSU Board of Regents has no comment regarding President Couture, and no statement will be released at this time,” NMSU spokeswoman Minerva Baumann said in an email. “Dr. Couture is currently on leave. As a public institution, the Board of Regents will follow the rules of the Open Meetings Act regarding any personnel decisions.”
Several regents could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night.
The board has met twice behind closed doors in recent weeks, most recently on Saturday, to discuss unspecified legal and personnel matters. 


Replacement journalists


Report says NM infrastructure is inadquate

Engineers have concluded that repair and construction funding for New Mexico's infrastructure is inadequate and that some critical infrastructure such as flood control is deteriorating fast.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the American Society of Civil Engineers concluded the state's infrastructure is average.
A report by the group says deficiencies are largely the result of age and a lack of investment in improving and maintaining them.
The engineers recommended the state consider tolls, user fees and other methods to fund improvements.
The report says New Mexico's airports receive only about 66 percent of the funding they need and are experiencing a steady decline.
The group also says more than 70 percent of the state's dams are considered deficient or not in satisfactory condition.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal.


New caves discovered at Carlsbad Caverns

Caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park that are millions of years old are still being explored today.
Cavers just made a huge discovery there, and it's continuing to spark the curiosity of people around the world.

There are 117 known caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. When explorers ventured into Lechuguilla Cave this summer, they found new passages and climbed for days to discover one of the largest rooms in the cave.

"That was totally new, no one had ever seen that before," explained Stan Allison, cave technician for Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  "So it's really exciting to be able to go somewhere where no one has ever been before, ever."

And it's what volunteers from all over the world aim to do there. On an expedition in May, skilled cavers made a five-day climb to the top of a 535-foot dome, now known as the deepest pit at the park.

Volunteers spent a week in the cave gathering information and exploring.
"They came out with about a mile of new survey, which brings Lechuguilla Cave to a little over 135 miles of surveyed cave," said Allison.  That makes it the sixth-longest cave in the world, he added.

Allison said Lechuguilla Cave has been known since the early 1900s when cavers dug through the entrance area. Back then, the cave was considered to be about 500 ft. long...


Aircraft crashes at Double Eagle Airport

An aircraft has crashed at Double Eagle Airport near Artrisco Vista and Interstate 40.
A man was trying to land an experimental aircraft when it crashed. Authorities said the plane was blown off the runway. 
The pilot is expected to be OK, according to Sunport spokesman Dan Jiron. 
Albuquerque police, Albuquerque firefighters and state police are at the crash scene. 
There is a minor fuel spill in the area.