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In Brief - New Mexico News - Sept. 9, 2013

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The Associated Press

2nd West Nile death in NM

New Mexico has recorded its second death in 2013 from the West Nile Virus.
The state Department of Health says the person who died was an 84-year-old San Juan County woman who had encephalitis, the more severe clinical form of the disease.
The other fatal case in 2013 was an 83-year-old man from Curry County.
The department says New Mexico has had a total of seven human cases so far this year.

Fund earns 11 percent return

SANTA FE — New Mexico’s educational pension fund has grown by about $700 million during the past year because of strong investment returns.
The Educational Retirement Board reports that the pension fund’s assets were valued at $10.1 billion at the end of June. That’s up from $9.4 billion a year ago.
The fund had an investment return of 11 percent during the past fiscal year. It has averaged a 10.7 percent annual return over the past three years and 7.6 percent annually during the last decade.
The board has set a target of earning 7.75 percent yearly investment returns.
The educational pension program covers about 37,000 retirees and 61,000 workers ranging from public school teachers and principals to college faculty.

Udall highlights water scarcity

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says water scarcity is one of the most important challenges facing the West.
The New Mexico Democrat spoke Thursday at a conference in Albuquerque that explored ways to address future demands on limited supplies. Scientists and water managers from around the country attended.
Udall pointed to the Rio Grande, which cuts through the middle of Albuquerque. He says the river’s flow is one-sixth of what it used to be, and it’s now known as the Rio Sand in southern New Mexico.
New Mexico is in its third year of extreme drought. Stretches of the Rio Grande and Pecos River continue to dry and many reservoirs are at all-time lows.
Udall says he’s pushing legislation that would establish a new water acquisition program on the Rio Grande.

Firefighter found dead in forest

A firefighter missing for a week in a rugged New Mexico forest was found dead Friday atop a mesa, where he apparently had crashed his ATV, officials said.
Token Adams, a 41-year-old U.S. Forest Service fighter who disappeared Aug. 30 while checking a report of smoke, was found in a remote area not far from a road at about 11:45 a.m. Friday, authorities announced at an afternoon news conference.
Hundreds of volunteers, firefighters, search and rescue teams and the Civil Air Patrol had spent the past week combing some 50 square miles of mesa tops and steep canyons east of Jemez Springs for Adams.
State Police spokesman Manny Gutierrez said Adams appeared to have been killed in a crash of his ATV, but authorities declined to speculate on whether he died immediately or on  how long he had been dead.