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Local News

  • Local musicians get awards

    Juan Ortega is a household name among Las Vegas and New Mexico music lovers. He was recognized for his talents at the New Mexico Hispano Music Award ceremony this month in Española as he received the Hispano Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Ortega is best known for his song “Padre Querido” and one of the few songs that he didn’t write himself, “In the Misty Moonlight,” an old Jerry Vale song Ortega translated and sang as a bilingual tune.

  • Grazing lease deal questioned

    A top city utilities department official was the only bidder for a city grazing lease last fall. Now, some are questioning whether he had an inside track.

    In August, the city advertised that it would accept sealed bids for the grazing lease on Sept. 11, but the legal ad didn’t include any information about where the parcel was or how many acres it included.

    When the Optic requested all public documents related to the issue, none of them contained that information.

  • Multiple offender to get mandatory time

    A local man was sentenced Monday to a mandatory six months in the San Miguel County jail for what was legally considered his fourth DWI conviction. But officials say the jail may not be able to take him because of his medical problems.

    In November, Joseph Floyd Santillanes, 53, entered a plea agreement with prosecutors, admitting to drunken driving. It was actually the fifth time he had been convicted of DWI, but for the purposes of his sentencing, an 1989 conviction wasn’t counted because of a legal technicality.

  • Mayor: City to get names of candidates

    Mayor Tony Marquez said he hopes to get five or six names of city manager candidates within days.

    He said the city has contracted with Santa Fe-based Mercer Group to recruit a new city manager, a position that has been vacant since the sudden resignation of Sharon Caballero last month.

    Marquez made the announcement at a City Council meeting last week after Councilwoman Diane Moore urged the mayor to move as possible to fill the manager’s position.

  • Inoperable cars moved to site

    It’s an eyesore that perhaps not many Las Vegans see regularly, but plenty of out-of-towners do.

    Over the last couple of years, a growing pile of junk, including old buses, trucks, cars and assorted items, has developed on the west side of I-25 between the University and north exits.

    When using I-25, most residents either use the north or south exits, so they may not be aware of the growing eyesore.

  • Biker rally seeking more space

    Only in its fourth year, the Rough Rider Motorcycle Rally is suffering growing pains.

    Last week, the rally’s organizing committee requested the City Council allow it to use the city parking lot where Safeway grocery store once stood, across from Spic and Span on Douglas Avenue. That site would be in addition to Plaza Park, where bikers have held their activities the past three years.

    The rally committee said it would use the parking lot for entertainment, an annual blood drive and a barbecue. The committee also wants to use the site for a beer tent.

  • Top official placed on leave

    Mayor Tony Marquez placed Utilities Director George Du Four on leave without pay late Friday afternoon.

    It was a move that sparked harsh criticism of Marquez from two City Council members who have traditionally allied themselves with the mayor since he was elected in March.

    The mayor didn’t give any public reasons for his decision, and he’s not giving council members any justifications.

  • Police: Man who rams gate arrested

    Joe Abeyta apparently really wanted to get into the cemetery in Los Vigiles, state police said. And he did.

    Now, he’s facing the consequences.

    Around 12:30 p.m. Jan. 11, state police got a call that a man was ramming the gate to the cemetery. When officers arrived, they found that Abeyta, 45, of Las Vegas, had gotten in and was very drunk, state police Lt. Craig Martin said.

  • Student inquiries increase at HU

    Inquiries from prospective Highlands University students have increased 60 percent in academic year 2008-09, compared to those in 2007-08.

  • Woman sentenced for man's death

    A woman has pleaded guilty in connection with the death of an elderly man a couple of years ago.

    Jessica Livingston, 24, of Las Vegas entered a plea agreement last week with prosecutors in which she agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges. She was convicted in connection with the June 2007 death of Jose Apodaca, 83.

    She originally had been charged with felony murder, among other charges. Her plea agreement had her pleading guilty to the reduced charges of homicide by vehicle, robbery, tampering with evidence and conspiracy to commit the offense of tampering.