Local News

  • Ex-undersheriff found guilty

    A jury in Magistrate Court has found former Undersheriff Joe Robert Urban guilty of drunken driving.

    It also found him guilty of negligent use of a deadly weapon and not staying in his lane of traffic.

    Urban, 64, was arrested in February on Mountain View Drive after he allegedly crossed the double yellow lines. State police said Urban had a loaded .22-caliber Magnum handgun, which drew the negligent-use charge.

    He had retired just months before his arrest.

  • Fiesta Council member quits in protest

    A Fiesta Council member resigned Tuesday, accusing other members of using a “false reason” to close their meeting last week.

    Joselle DeMarco-Chandler, a local teacher, made the accusation in a letter of resignation to President Mathew Martinez.

    At last week’s meeting, Fiesta Council members except DeMarco-Chandler voted to close the meeting to the public. As such, they asked City Councilwoman Diane Moore, former Fiesta queen Carmela Montoya and an Optic reporter to leave.

  • West considers stricter policies

    West Las Vegas High School Principal Gene Parson wants new policies on tattoos, facial piercings and students with many unexcused absences.

    Parson said all sorts of things have been tried over the last couple of years to stop kids from skipping class.

    “We are often questioned about why students are allowed to pass with a huge amount of absences. It’s time we do something about it,” Parson said during a discussion on the student handbook at a recent school board meeting.

  • Study: Valley residents like things as they are

    Consultants hired by San Miguel County found out that most residents in the Valley want to keep things as they are.

    “They would like to see a continuation of the existing land use,” said Mariana Padilla, a consultant with Parametrix, which has an office in Albuquerque.

    Most of the land is now used for ranching and farming.

    Padilla said the residents like the agricultural character of the Valley and believe that any development should be in the already developed areas.

  • County vacates road amid protests

    The San Miguel County Commission decided last week to abandon a road in the eastern part of the county, but a couple of landowners at the meeting protested the decision.

    County officials said only one person used the 3.5 miles of County Road C-53B slated for abandonment. That road is in Maes, N.M., about 35 miles east of Las Vegas.

    The officials said the county hadn’t maintained the road in years and that it would cost at least $300,000 to bring it up to county standards. A committee of road viewers this summer recommended that the county abandon the road.

  • 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.