Thumbs - Our high country lowdown on the news

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By Optic Editorial Board

THUMBS DOWN! HOT AND DRY. As summer officially wound down last week (as of last Friday, we’re in autumn), a National Weather Service meteorologist said we’re on track for 2011 being the driest year ever in New Mexico. And one of the hottest, with only the summer of 1980 being worse in the temps category.

To make matters worse, forecasters see a La Niña weather pattern driving storm systems west and north of New Mexico in the coming winter months. Forecasts show a 40 percent probability of below-normal precipitation and a 50 percent probability of above-normal temperatures through at least the end of the year for much of the state.
We can hope the forecasts are wrong but, still, we’d better brace ourselves for a long, dry winter.

THUMBS UP! AT LEAST IT’S THE RIGHT DIRECTION. New Mexico’s unemployment rate has fallen for the sixth straight month. State labor officials announced last week that the jobless rate in New Mexico was 6.6 percent in August — down from 6.7 percent in July and 8.5 percent a year ago. State officials say the drop was again the result of workers leaving the labor force, not an increase in employment, though a year-over-year comparison shows a 0.8 percent increase in job growth, or 6,500 new jobs since August 2010.

THUMBS UP! FOUR IN A ROW! The Highlands University Cowboys, with their impressive 4-0 start to this football season, have already doubled their wins over last year. And even though we don’t know the outcome of this Saturday’s road trip to Gunnison, Colo., to take on Western State College of Colorado, we do know that next week’s homecoming is going to be a real celebration.

Of course, Highlands’ homecoming is always a big deal, but it’s even better when the ‘Boys are riding high.

THUMBS DOWN! ANOTHER WIN FOR THE ATTORNEYS. It’s been four years since the dispute broke out between Las Vegas and Luna Community College over natural gas billings, and still there’s no resolution. So now it’s headed into court. The city filed suit against Luna earlier this year in an effort to recover $81,000 it says the college owes the city, though Luna contends it settled the bill with then-utilities director George DuFour.

Might as well take it to trial, since it’s apparently not going to be resolved otherwise. It’s just unfortunate that it had to come to this.

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“People need to realize these bears are very dangerous. … They are very hungry because of the drought. It did not only affect us but also the animals as well.”
— Juan Ortiz, after a large bear was found and captured in his yard on Harris Road on Monday.