Associated Press

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Otero County authorities have arrested a Chaparral man on numerous animal cruelty charges.

The 156 counts against 44-year-old Felix Moriel stem from an investigation into malnourished, dead and injured dogs found at an animal sanctuary last September.

According to the Alamogordo Daily News, court records indicate that sheriff's deputies found piles of dog feces, dead puppies in a freezer, malnourished and injured dogs and at least 12 dead dogs in various stages of decomposition.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's unemployment rate remained unchanged last month at 6.4 percent.

The state Workforce Solutions Department said yesterday the unemployment rate in December was down from 6.6 percent a year ago.

The state agency says jobs have grown by 0.4 percent, a gain of 3,000 over the year.

The largest employment gains were reported in the financial activities industry, which added 3,100 jobs since December 2012.

Employment gains in retail trade rose to 1,900 jobs, its highest over-the-year increase since 2008.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposal to ban texting while driving has cleared an initial hurdle in the Legislature.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee unanimously endorsed the proposal yesterday to prohibit drivers from sending or reading a text message and email or making an Internet search from a cell phone or other handheld communications device. There would be a $25 fine for a first violation and $50 for subsequent violations.

Democratic Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe said texting distracts a driver and increases the chances of a traffic accident.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Belen man convicted in a 2006 fatal accident involving drunken driving has been arrested in Valencia County in another fatal accident.

Authorities say 27-year-old Jacob Williams is jailed in lieu of $20,000 bond on charges of vehicular homicide and aggravated driving while intoxicated.

The Associated Press reports that the Saturday accident instantly killed 51-year-old Daniel Sanchez and critically injured his 11-year-old daughter. They were thrown from a motorcycle into a roadside field.

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A financially troubled hospital in Gallup says its retrenching will include closing its behavior health program.

The Gallup Independent reports that the move by Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services means the hospital will no longer offer its 28-day alcohol detox service.

CEO Barry Mousa says the program has been losing money for years and that other agencies now have similar services.

Mousa estimates that between 15 and 20 employees will be laid off when the program shuts down at the end of February.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court says Texas can proceed with its lawsuit against New Mexico over management of the Rio Grande.

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says he's looking forward to telling New Mexico's side of the story. The court has given the state 60 days to file a motion to dismiss the case.

Texas accuses New Mexico of allowing illegal diversions of surface and underground water of the Rio Grande near the state line.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a measure into law to provide more than $5 million for costs of the 30-day legislative session.

The legislation, which is known by lawmakers as the "feed bill," was signed yesterday.

The measure also provides $16 million for the Legislature's year-round operations.

The governor used her line-item veto powers to eliminate a provision that would have provided flexibility to the Legislative Council Service and others, such as the Legislative Finance Committee, to make adjustments within their budgets next year.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The police shooting of an Iraq War veteran in 2010 will cost Albuquerque about $8 million.

The Associated Press reported that a tentative settlement for $7.95 million has been reached with the family of Kenneth Ellis IIII.

A jury reached a $10.3 million verdict in the cast last March, but the city appealed.

City Attorney David Tourek says the settlement is tentative because it requires a judge's approval.

He says it's in the best interest of taxpayers because there could have been attorney fees and interest on top of the jury award.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A longtime faculty professor at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology says the school has run aground, with faculty members leaving amid low morale and disjointed leadership.

Former geophysics professor Richard Aster' resignation letter says there's been a steady erosion of collegiality at the Socorro school known as New Mexico Tech.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico Tech President Daniel Lopez, acknowledges there are morale issues. He blames state budget cuts resulting from the Great Recession.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill introduced in the New Mexico Legislature would impose government oversight of art auction houses and change the way some do business.

Sen. Tim Keller says his bill is a response to reports of questionable auction practices that distort prices for expensive pieces of art.

Keller's bill would authorize the Attorney General's Office to regulate art auctions and act on consumer complaints. It also mandates certain disclosures, such as minimum prices.

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — A 23-year-old Texas woman is dead as a result of a skiing accident in southern New Mexico.

Lincoln County Sheriff Robert Shepperd says 23-year-old Jackueline Caballero of El Paso died Saturday afternoon when she lost control and struck a tree while on an intermediate slope at Ski Apache near Ruidoso.

Shepperd says the state medical investigator will determine the exact cause of death.

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Students from a Colorado high school who experienced a recent school shooting have visited a New Mexico middle school where a 12-year-old recently opened fire.

The Roswell Daily Record reports students from Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., traveled to Roswell on Saturday to talk to Berrendo Middle School students about coping with the shooting.

Arapahoe saw its own school shooting Dec. 13, when senior Karl Pierson shot student Claire Davis and killed her, before turning the gun on himself.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — University of New Mexico officials will soon start offering additional parking for disabled fans attending Lobo games.

KOB-TV reports the university will have an overflow parking lot at the Pit as well as golf cart shuttles for ticketholders with disabilities starting with Saturday's home game.

The school has received complaints from some disabled patrons who have to park farther away once all the other handicap parking spaces are taken.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is in southern New Mexico for a hike through a rugged stretch of desert.

She's also here to discuss federal legislation that aims to protect the Organ Mountains along with other scenic areas near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Jewell, officials with the Bureau of Land Management and New Mexico's two U.S. senators are hosting a public hearing on the proposal Friday afternoon in Las Cruces. Several hundred people are expected to attend.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — DNA evidence reportedly has enabled Santa Fe police to identify a suspect in a cold case involving a 1992 rape in the northern New Mexico city.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that DNA collected in 1992 when a 16-year-old girl was raped was stored and recently tested matches that of a 51-year-old Santa Fe man.

The man was required to give a new DNA sample on Dec. 30. He hasn't been charged so far in the rape case.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Lawmakers have an opportunity for a long weekend before the pace of work quickens in the 30-day legislative session.

The House and Senate aren't holding floor sessions until Monday, although some committees will meet.

The House Appropriations and Finance Committee plans to continue budget hearings on Friday, and the House Education Committee is scheduled to meet Saturday to listen to testimony from teachers and other educational workers.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are being inundated with requests for state funding to help pay for water infrastructure improvements.

From contaminated wells to a lack of storage for drinking water in Las Vegas, members of the Senate Finance Committee heard Thursday from state and local water officials and fellow lawmakers about the growing needs around the state.

The problem now is prioritizing which projects should be tackled first.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A planned hunt featuring the calling and shooting of coyotes in southern New Mexico is drawing fire.

The Southwest Environmental Center asked this week for the Dona Ana County Commission and Las Cruces City Council to speak out against the planned event scheduled for Feb. 6-8.

The hunt will coincide with a convention sponsored by the Utah-based group Predator Masters at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — House and Senate Democratic leaders are proposing an economic development package to help create jobs in the state.

House Speaker W. Ken Martinez said Wednesday the legislation is a product of a bipartisan Jobs Council that was formed last year.

Among the provisions is $10 million for a "closing fund" to attract companies to the state by providing them with needed infrastructure. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has made a similar proposal in her budget recommendations to the Legislature.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department says an Albuquerque man has died from injuries in a shooting.

The Sheriff's Department identifies the victim of Wednesday's shooting as 49-year-old Edward Hernandez.

His car was found in the area where he was found.

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — The identities of three Holloman Air Force Base airmen killed in a single-vehicle rollover accident are now being released.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that police say killed in the early Tuesday morning accident were 26-year-old Ryan Nicholas Loehr, 21-year-old Deshon Maurice Wartley and 19-year-old Lamont Keith Cullars.

Police Capt. Israel Trujillo says the preliminary investigation shows the vehicle went off the road and into the desert when it failed to negotiate a curve while traveling at high speed.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State officials have confirmed three more flu deaths.

The New Mexico Department of Health said Thursday a 79-year-old man and a 73-year -old man, both from Bernalillo County, recently died from the illness. In addition, the department says a 45-year-old man from Rio Arriba County also died from influenza.

The names of the victims were not immediately released.

A 76 year-old Santa Fe woman who died earlier this month was the first reported flu death this season.

CORRALES, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a Corrales police office has been injured in a crash involving a suspected stolen vehicle.

Corrales Detective Sgt. Frank Tomlinson said yesterday that Corrales officer Jeremy Romero was scheduled to go into surgery and is listed in stable but serious condition at the University of New Mexico Hospital.

Officials say Romero was injured early yesterday during a car chase with a suspect. Authorities say the suspect crashed into a wall while the officer's car flipped over.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Lawmakers are moving ahead quickly with a bill to pay for expenses of the Legislature's 30-day session.

A few hours after lawmakers convened yesterday, the House Appropriations and Finance Committee approved the measure to provide nearly $5.4 million for session costs, which include salaries for staff as well as the printing of bills.

Legislators aren't paid a yearly salary, but they receive $159 a day to reimburse them for expenses.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is recommending that lawmakers increase the starting salary for new teachers by about 10 percent next year.

The governor proposes to raise a beginning teacher's salary to $33,000 from $30,000. It's an initiative Martinez could find support for in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

A legislative budget panel has recommended boosting the starting salary to $32,500.

The salary measure was among the educational proposals Martinez outlined during her State of the State speech to the Legislature.

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