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Local News

  • Project saving money

    As work on the Don Cecilio Martinez Elementary renovation project winds down, the architect says he once again had good news.

    “I know it’s difficult to believe when someone comes before you saying they have good news in the way of a change order,” Antonio Ortega told the West Las Vegas school board recently.

    He pointed to a summary from the state Public School Finance Authority that indicated that nearly $500,000 was left over on the additional available bonds for the Don Cecilio project.

  • Group seeking male mentors

    Alex Gonzales’ daughter has been in Big Brothers Big Sisters for the last five years, and by his account, the program has greatly benefited her.

    “It’s a very good program. It influences my daughter quite a bit. Her ‘big’ is a big part of her life. My daughter looks up to her,” the Las Vegas resident said.

    Big Brothers Big Sisters, which has an office in Las Vegas, is the nation’s largest mentoring organization for children 6 through 18. The group says there’s proof that it helps youths become productive citizens.

  • City raises deposit fees

    The City Council last week increased deposit fees for connecting to city water and gas and reduced landlords’ liability for tenants’ utility bills.

    At its regular meeting, the council revised its utility ordinances to take care of a longtime complaint from landlords that they were having to pick up their tenants’ unpaid bills. At the 11th hour, the council also decided to increase deposits to help offset any reduction in collections because of deadbeat tenants.

  • Kids put on play after six days’ practice

    Actor Caitlin Leyba and a cast of more than 60 kid-actors put on the 2009 Missoula Children’s Theatre stage production of “The Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe” over the weekend.

    The West Las Vegas High School 10th-grader came up through the ranks, performing in 10 Missoula productions at the historic Ilfeld Auditorium in her young acting career. Last year, Leyba played the second lead as the sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood.

  • County's roads official retiring

    Harold Garcia, San Miguel County’s public works supervisor, and County Manager Les Montoya go back a ways.

    Montoya hired Garcia at the city a quarter century ago, with Garcia fresh from architectural training at Luna Community College.

    At the end of this month, they’ll be parting ways when Garcia retires from government service.

    Garcia has been the county’s public works supervisor for much of the last decade, hired on after Montoya, a former city manager, went to the county.

  • Ex-cop admits paperwork mistakes

    A former Las Vegas police officer says he made administrative mistakes that got him in trouble with the law.

    Earlier this month, Shawn Montoya pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and filing a false claim, both fourth-degree felonies. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed 27 other counts against the former officer, and if he abides by the agreement, the court won’t punish him, in what is known as a conditional discharge. He will be on probation for 18 months.

  • Maestas is the new Luna chairman

    Jerry Maestas is the new chairman of the Board of Trustees at Luna Community College after a unanimous vote during a reorganization of officers.

    Maestas replaces Ambrose Castellano, who has served as chairman for the past five years. Member Frankie Tenorio, a Santa Rosa resident who was elected earlier this year, nominated Maestas for the top post. Trustee Levi Alcon was not present for the vote at the monthly meeting on Tuesday, nor did he attend the June 10 meeting held in Springer.

  • School gets new leader

    Longtime local educator Eddie King is the new principal of Robertson High School.

    Las Vegas City Schools Superintendent Rick Romero an-nounced the decision Thursday. King, Robertson’s assistant principal since 2007, was one of 10 applicants. A panel of administrators, teachers, parents and students interviewed five of the applicants.

    Romero said King has shown loyalty to the district, starting as an English and Spanish teacher at Memorial Middle School in 1981 and moving on to the high school as a teacher in those subjects in 1998.

  • Inquiry clears Vegas officer

    Authorities have cleared a Las Vegas police officer of any criminal wrongdoing in his handling of a suspect earlier this year.

    District Attorney Richard Flores announced this week that a state police investigation found that Officer Martin Salazar’s actions didn’t rise to the level of a crime — a conclusion with which the DA agreed.

    Flores said the state police conducted a thorough investigation, interviewing about 20 people, including jailers who alleged that Salazar threatened the female arrestee, Bernadette Varela, with violence.

  • Salazar may sue county

    A Las Vegas police officer is seeking more than $250,000 in damages from San Miguel County for releasing documents about him that he contends should have been kept secret.

    On July 8, Officer Martin Salazar filed a tort claims notice with the county, which is a warning that he may sue.

    He stated that he has suffered from emotional distress since stories have appeared in the Optic about county jailers’ allegations against him.

    A top county official counters that he and his employees have followed the law.