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Local News

  • Utility defends cutting off gas during storm

    By Barry Massey
    Associated Press

    SANTA FE — Natural gas service was cut off to thousands of New Mexicans last week because utility officials feared losing control over the company’s distribution system and having potentially dangerous uncontrolled outages across the state, lawmakers were told Monday.

  • Program would put farm food in restaurants

    Submitted to the Optic

    A farm-to-restaurant program is coming to Las Vegas. The program, a project of MainStreet Las Vegas, is made possible by a  grant from the New Mexico Community Foundation.

    The project’s mission is to network local food producers such as farmers and ranchers with local restaurants, and to market and promote local restaurants that demonstrate a commitment to purchasing directly from local food producers.

    Many such programs are cropping up across the United States, from New Hampshire to California.

  • Las Vegas dodges gas shortage

    Las Vegas dodged the natural gas crisis that shook much of New Mexico late last week for one basic reason — the city gets its gas from Colorado, not western Texas.

    Still, the city didn’t go through last week’s cold-weather snap without a scare of its own. With last week’s heating demands, pressure in the city’s gas lines dropped dramatically, according to city officials.

  • Stuffed with Love

    Gabrielle Crespin and Arianna Duran want to make the upcoming Valentine’s Day extra special. The 10- year olds have for a few weeks been collecting stuffed animals to give to residents of Las Vegas’ nursing homes.

    “I’m doing this because it will make a lot of other people happy,” Crespin said of her goal to give every nursing home resident a stuffed animal. “I think it will make the people at nursing homes really happy.”

  • District looks to fill top job

    Las Vegas City Schools Board President Gabriel Lucero released the names of applicants for the school district’s top job. Eighteen people from across the nation are looking to fill the seat vacated by former superintendent Rick Romero.

    Four of the names are familiar within the school district, six others are from New Mexico, and the remaining eight applicants come from districts across the United States.

  • Police: Drinking leads to stabbing

    A night of drinking by two friends led to an alleged knife attack, say police.

    Michael A. Garcia, 32, of the 300 block of Washington Avenue in Las Vegas, is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in connection with the Jan. 27 incident.

    Garcia is accused of wielding a kitchen knife and slashing his friend with it during a fight in a Los Vigiles neighborhood (north of Las Vegas) on the evening of Jan. 27.

  • Cold weather blast hits hard

    A blast of winter weather that began Monday and continued into the week wreaked havoc over northern New Mexico in a number of ways.

    Schools closed, as did some businesses. Workers were able to remove most of the snow from the streets and roadways but the ice wouldn’t thaw. Trash collection schedules in Las Vegas were delayed because trucks wouldn’t start. And just as school officials figured they could resume classes on Thursday, with a two-hour delay, they couldn’t get school buses going in the subzero temperatures.

  • Above and Beyond: Fourth-grader thriving at Rio Gallinas

    Taran Franklyn-Atman says he likes Rio Gallinas Charter School, because they go about teaching a bit differently than a traditional public school.

    “Teachers are a lot calmer here. They only yell when they have to,” he said.

    The fourth-grader says he considers everyone in his class his friend. His teachers say the Rio Gallinas student is mild-mannered, kind and a critical thinker.

    Teacher Janice Ulibarri says he’s always prepared for class — and always thinking one step ahead of everyone else.

  • Drug plea nets 5-plus years for Benavidez

    An convicted drug dealer from Las Vegas has been sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison.

    Herminio “Ermie” Benavidez, 32, had pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine. The plea agreement came Nov. 6, 2009.

    A federal judge in the Albuquerque-based U.S. District Court sentenced Benavidez on Jan. 25.

  • East board getting a new look

    By Tom McDonald and Don Pace
    Las Vegas Optic

    A veteran member of the Las Vegas City Schools board has been defeated in his attempt for a six straight term in office.

    Ricky Serna, 30, earned his first four-year term on the school board by defeating Patrick Romero by only 59 votes. Serna garnered 41 percent of the vote to Romero’s 36 percent. Stephanie Salazar, a Las Vegas police dispatcher, got 23 percent of the vote in that race.