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Local News

  • Officers object to jail policy

    The county jail requires that anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs get a medical clearance from the hospital before being locked up — even if a suspect had a couple of beers beforehand.

    And the suspect must pick up the costs of an emergency room visit, even if the suspect is later found innocent, the jail’s warden said.

    Both city and state police officials contend the policy is unnecessarily burdensome.

  • Alta Vista CEO asked to appear

    San Miguel County Commissioner Nicolas Leger is still waiting for an update from Alta Vista Regional Hospital on its dealings with an employees’ union.

    Last month, he asked for Richard Grogan, the hospital’s CEO, to come before the commission to answer questions about the union.

    The county gives monthly payments to Alta Vista for providing medical services to the very poor. At Leger’s urging last year, the commission held back payments until a hospital official appeared personally to take questions.

  • Sheriff, commissioner in dispute

    San Miguel County Commissioner Albert Padilla, who has voted for the sheriff’s proposals during previous commission meetings, changed his tune last week.  

    In July, Sheriff Benjie Vigil gave Padilla’s son, Michael Padilla, a sheriff’s deputy, a letter of termination.

    Last week, the commission was asked to consider a proposal from the sheriff to seek state money to buy new cars. Albert Padilla was the lone commissioner to vote against Sheriff Benjie Vigil’s request.

  • Police look for robbery suspect

    Police are searching for a Las Vegas man who allegedly attacked and robbed another man last week.

    Magistrate Court has issued an arrest warrant for Joseph Garduño, 18, 614 Taos St. He is charged with robbery, aggravated battery, tampering with evidence and three counts of conspiracy.

    His uncle, Paul Garduño, 51, who is also accused in the attack, has been arrested on the same charges.

  • University gets 10-year accreditation

    Highlands University has received official notice of continued accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission’s North Central Association of Colleges and Schools following a comprehensive evaluation in 2009-10.

    The accreditation is for 10 years.

    Highlands University was first accredited by the Higher Learning Commission’s North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 1926, and has retained its accreditation since then. The university was last awarded accreditation in 2000.

  • County eyes new idea for wind rules

    Most of the debate about San Miguel County’s proposed law for wind farms has focused on a provision requiring a three-mile distance between wind turbines and homes.

    The industry contends such a rule would keep wind farms out of most places in the county. But wind-farm opponents argue that turbines would create nose and ruin the area’s scenic views.

    This week, however, county officials attempted to move the discussion away from the three-mile setback.

  • Police search for robbery suspect

    Police are searching for a Las Vegas man who allegedly attacked and robbed another man last week.

    Magistrate Court has issued an arrest warrant for Joseph Garduño, 18, 614 Taos St. He is charged with robbery, aggravated battery, tampering with evidence and three counts of conspiracy.

    His uncle, Paul Garduño, 51, who is accused in the attack, faces the same charges.

  • Highlands University proposes parking permit system

    When motorists are looking for a parking place, it’s always a great feeling to see an open space close to their destinations.

    But with a lot of new construction going on at Highlands University, parking is becoming a major hassle, some say.

    President Jim Fries told the Board of Regents at a recent meeting that the school’s master plan stresses the importance of a permit system for future parking on campus.

  • At 25, woman leads county ag office

    Samantha Ortiz joined 4-H when she was 5. At 25, she now oversees a lot of the organization’s local activities as the San Miguel County 4-H and Agriculture Extension agent.

    Ortiz says she, Mora agent Skip Finley and the fair board all have had their hands full in recent days preparing for the county fair, which begins today and runs through Sunday, but has been in the works since the end of the 2009 event.

    “The work really never ends on the 4-H side, as we guide the kids in the right way, for show-time,” Ortiz said.

  • Official, ex-queen asked to leave

    The embattled Fiesta Council, which began its meeting more than a half hour late Tuesday, closed its doors to the public.

    As a result, members told City Councilwoman Diane Moore, former Fiesta Queen Carmela Montoya and an Optic reporter to leave.

    On Wednesday, city officials expressed concern about the closed meeting.

    The Fiesta Council is an independent nonprofit group, but depends heavily on city’s help to put on the annual Fiestas de Las Vegas, which is held around the Fourth of July every year.