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Local News

  • County seeks plan for the Valley

    SAN MIGUEL — Most people attending a meeting in the Valley this week agreed on at least one thing  — the importance of agriculture to their area.

    Nearly 50 people showed up at a public hearing organized by the San Miguel County government to get public feedback on the development of a comprehensive plan that is specific to the Valley.

    The county drafted a comprehensive plan in 2004, but it didn’t address specific areas.

  • State to evaluate districts

    The West and East school districts have been selected for a statewide study to help schools run better.

    Last week, an official with the Legislative Finance Committee told the West Las Vegas school board at a regular meeting that a program evaluation study of the district will have a big footprint, focusing on just about everything, including how the board itself conducts business.

    LFC program evaluation manager Charles Sallee said the evaluations will identify opportunities for improving district management, use of resources, and student performance.

  • Gay club says it got good response

    Members of the Las Vegas-based New Mexico Rainbow Club wanted to try something that no one could remember happening before — having a gay and lesbian float in the Fiestas parade.

    So they did. And the community’s reaction was generally good, members said.

    The club is a loosely knit social group of gays and lesbians and their supporters, and it has been holding monthly potlucks. But member Kathy Gould said the group is becoming more rights-oriented.

  • Judge rejects sex offender's request

    The attorney for a Mora County sex offender asked a state district judge on Tuesday to suspend the part of his sentence involving alleged crimes against a small boy.

    After a court hearing that included a tearful speech by the boy's mother, Judge Eugenio Mathis rejected the request.

    Last year, Clifford Gutierrez, 35, was sentenced to probation at the request of the victims' families, instead of a prison sentence, which is more typical.

  • Senator says he’s against divisiveness

    Sen. Phi Griego, D-San Jose, continued to defend remarks he made while speaking on a local radio show earlier this year.

    He spoke to members the local Independent Business Alliance gathering at the Ilfeld Ballroom at the Plaza Hotel on Tuesday.

    On KNMX in the spring, he told an interviewer that merchants in the Plaza area want to turn Las Vegas into a Santa Fe or Taos — a statement that was quoted in the Optic.

    Griego said his statements on the radio were misquoted, but didn’t explain how they were.

  • Ex-city cop convicted of fraud

    A former Las Vegas police officer has pleaded guilty to allegations that he defrauded city government, prosecutors say.

    On July 7, Shawn Montoya entered his plea in court to charges of fraud and filing a false claim, both fourth-degree felonies, District Attorney Richard Flores said.

    Under the terms of a plea agreement, Montoya is required to pay full restitution to the Police Department and to an insurance company to which he defrauded, and perform 100 hours of community service, Flores said. Montoya will be on probation for 18 months.

  • Rail Runner coming through town

    The New Mexico Rail Runner Express will be making a special trip north this weekend for open house events in the cities of Raton and Las Vegas. Members of the public will be invited to climb aboard the Rail Runner and check out the train first-hand.

  • 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.