Gov. tightens control of capital improvement projects

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is tightening controls over capital improvement financing by requiring that local governments, school districts and others in New Mexico have a current audit before state money is released for a project.
 Martinez issued an executive order on Thursday to ensure that capital project financing goes only to governmental organizations that have completed their annual audits and corrected any problems identified by auditors. 
The administration developed the new guidelines after reviewing this year's $215 million in capital projects and determining that some were for governmental groups late in submitting financial audits required under current law.


NM Drought worst in the nation

New Mexico is currently experiencing the worst drought in the country according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

 In just the past week the percentage of New Mexico under extreme drought shot up from 4 percent to 25 percent. The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows the state blanketed in red. This is the third consecutive year of historic drought nationwide.

 In the southwest New Mexico and Texas have been hit the hardest. Average rainfall in New Mexico is down by more than half.

 For cattle ranchers that means high feed costs and reducing their herd size. Farmers across the region are switching to crops that require less water like cotton. 

Also the danger of wildfire will only intensify as high winds and hot temperatures combine in the coming weeks.


NMSU to announce new president Monday

New Mexico State University's next president is set to be announced next week.  
Regents plan tentatively to reveal their pick on Monday. 
Finalists include NMSU business dean and former Gov. Garrey Carruthers, former Texas Tech University president Guy Bailey, former University of Nevada, Las Vegas president David Ashley, former Texas A&M University president Elsa Murano and University of Colorado Denver Dean Daniel Howard
Regents chair Mike Cheney says the bulk of deliberations about the candidates will happen today.


Fire in Sandia Mountains

There is a fire burning in the Sandia mountains four miles southeast of Bernalillo.
 The fire, which has been named the Piedra Fire, is approximately 50 acres in size, according to Fire Information Officer Karen Takai. 
The fire, which began around 2:30 a.m. Thursday, is burning in ponderosa pine and fir. Several spot fires to the east of the main fire have been located. The cause of the fire is unknown. Officials say no structures are in danger and the cause of the blaze near the historic village of Placitas is unknown. 
Hotshot crews and Bureau of Indian Affairs crews are onsite, helicopters are making bucket drops, and two air tankers and two air support modules are at the fire. 
As a precaution, Loop Road has been closed has the Piedra Lisa trail at the south end off of the FR 333. 
Albuquerque health officials issued a health alert due to wildfire smoke until Friday morning.