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Local News

  • Woman's charge reduced

    The district attorney’s office last week reduced the charge for a woman charged in the killing of a man.

    Bernadette Sanchez, 36, a resident charged in the stabbing death of Timoteo M. Jaramillo, never entered the courtroom for a scheduled preliminary hearing Thursday on the case before Magistrate Judge Chris Najar.

    Najar said the state had reduced the charge from second-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter and waived the charge of tampering with evidence.

    “So we will not be having this hearing today,” Najar said.

  • City to look at utility rates

    The city plans to hire a consultant to study rates for water, wastewater, solid waste and natural gas, the mayor says.

    Officials expect the study to include the creation of a water rate structure that would encourage conservation and a review of the basis for sewer charges, according to a city press release. It would also examine the controversial transfer of money from the utilities to the city’s general fund, which pays for everything from police to parks.

  • DA seeks inquiry into allegations

    District Attorney Richard Flores has decided to ask the state police to investigate county jailers’ allegations that a Las Vegas police officer threatened a woman in the county jail’s booking area.

    He made that decision after the Optic sent copies of the jailers’ reports to the district attorney’s office. Although the reports had been referred to Las Vegas Police Chief Gary Gold in March, the DA’s office had never seen them.

  • Students help out local animal shelter

    Gabriella Gonzales broke open her treasured piggy bank as second-graders at Union Elementary School began their quest to show that they could make a difference in their community.

    They had recently learned in a social studies class how other kids are giving their time and effort to good causes, and that they, too, could become citizen heroes.

  • Mayor tops in his fitness challenge

    It looks like Mayor Tony Marquez won at his own game.

    During last week’s regular City Council meeting, the city’s recreation center announced the winners of the Mayor’s 90-Day Fitness Challenge. And the top finisher was Marquez himself.

    But he declined all prizes associated with the honor, instead having the free annual pass to the recreation center go to the second finisher, Cristina Gonzales. The other winners got free monthly passes.

    The mayor lost 17 pounds and 3 percent body fat, while Gonzales shed 11 pounds and 3.5 percent body fat.

  • Man gets 18 years for sex crimes

    A local man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for molesting a girl at his home.

    Bobby McKenna, 54, pleaded guilty to criminal sexual penetration of a minor under the age of 13, a first-degree felony, District Attorney Richard Flores said.

    The charge stems from incidents dating back to January 2007. The victim and two younger girls would spend weeks at McKenna’s home, and that’s when McKenna, by his own admission, would have the victim perform oral sex on him, according to the district attorney’s office.

  • Cop faces drug charges

    A former Las Vegas police officer and his wife were arrested early Thursday afternoon on charges of distributing prescription drugs.

    Robert Ortega and his wife, Judith Ortega, were taken into custody after a lengthy investigation. He faces three counts of trafficking prescription medications, while she faces two counts, Police Chief Gary Gold said.

  • Hail hits Vegas

    Shoveling your walk in late May?

    That’s what happened for many in Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon after a hailstorm hit town around 1:30. It lasted more than an hour, and some areas of town were harder hit than others.

    The marble-sized hail took down with it many leaves on local trees, and it’s likely that many gardens suffered severe damage.

    Particularly hard hit were the the downtown areas of Old Town and New Town. Meanwhile, much of north Las Vegas was largely unaffected.

  • Sheriff criticizes county official

    San Miguel County Sheriff Benjie Vigil contends the county government isn’t giving his department the resources it needs. And he said that’s largely because the county manager controls the County Commission.

    The sheriff went public with his criticism of County Manager Les Montoya after the commission decided last week against Vigil’s request for high-voltage stun guns for his deputies.

  • State loosens scrutiny at West

    Nearly three years ago, the state put the West Las Vegas school district on a tight leash financially. But in recent times, the scrutiny has been loosened.

    The state Public Education Department placed the district under heightened financial scrutiny in August 2006 in response to information that West’s bilingual department held an invitation-only, adults-only nearly $10,000 party. And it was discovered that the program spent money on top-of-the-line furniture and a large refrigerator, among other items.