Recent winters hurting local wine production

From - By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - It's older than the state itself and even older than the good old USA: New Mexico wineries. It's a symbol of our history that goes back to the Franciscans in the 1600s. Corrales Winery has added to that history since 2000. Like most vineyards in the state, it has gone through some rough patches, including the recession.
     "The last thing people give up even in a down economy is chocolate and alcohol, so we're hanging in there," said Keith Johnstone, Co-Owner of Corrales Winery. He would never quit on the grapes that are beginning to bud, but cold weather has been tough on him recently, especially the last two winters.
     When Corrales got down to -17F, the winery couldn't yield a crop that year. The grapes are beginning to bud in Corrales. The same thing occurred last year, but Johnstone is concerned because in 2013 a couple of spring freezes destroyed the crops.
     "Every class of shoot that the grapevines sent out actually got frozen so 2013 was another year that we didn't get a crop," he said Johnstone is holding his breath for this year's crop since the grapes are budding already. As long as it doesn't freeze in the next couple of months, the grape crop could produce up to eighty percent of its potential. More

Seven legislators to retire from the House

Republican Rep. Bill Gray of Artesia is the seventh legislator to announce plans to retire from the 70-member House.

Gray said Tuesday he will not seek re-election. He says he's proud of his accomplishments but it's time to move on. He plans to spend more time with family. Gray has represented parts of Chavez, Eddy and Otero counties since 2007. He served on the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Legislative Finance Committee.

 Legislators previously announcing their retirement are Reps. Anna Crook, a Clovis Republican; Ernest Chavez, an Albuquerque Democrat; Nathan Cote, an Organ Democrat; Tom Taylor, a Farmington Republican; Henry Kiki Saavedra, an Albuquerque Democrat; and Rick Miera, an Albuquerque Democrat and House majority leader. 

Legislative candidates file for office on March 11.

NMSU's endowment sees big increase

The New Mexico State University Foundation's endowment is now valued at $197 million. 

University officials say the endowment saw an 11.4 percent increase in returns over the last fiscal year. That's slightly below the average total net return for institutions with endowments that ranged between $101 million and $500 million.

NMSU Foundation President Tina Byford says growing the endowment is critical for advancing the university's mission. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that manages and invests private gifts to benefit teaching at NMSU, extension research and public service programs. 

The university says the foundation's asset allocation model is heavily weighted to domestic stocks, international equities and fixed income. Less than one-quarter is invested in the alternative market.

Information from The AP.


NM health exchange rated as "high risk"

New Mexico was among the states rated as "high risk" after government security experts reviewed the vulnerability of computer systems being used to roll out President Barack Obama's health care law.  
Documents show more than two-thirds of states had potential security problems with systems designed to tap into federal computers to verify sensitive personal information. But officials in charge of implementing New Mexico's insurance marketplace questioned those findings Tuesday. 
They say New Mexico is still developing a state-run exchange for individuals, and the marketplace created for small businesses, employees and insurance providers isn't linked to the federal data system. New Mexico exchange spokeswoman Debra Hammer says there's still an opportunity to learn from the experience of other states as New Mexico prepares to bring its individual exchange online in October.
Information from The AP.