Local News

  • Owner of house offended by cutout

    Greg Olyphant is a registered Democrat and says he proudly supported Barack Obama for president.

    So he wasn’t happy to find out that someone hung a cutout of the president-elect with a noose around the neck on the front porch of a house at 909 Fourth St., which he purchased earlier this year.

    Olyphant, a professor of geology at Indiana University, plans to move into the house. Meanwhile, a contractor is doing improvements.

    Last week, the Optic ran a photo of the cutout, which seemed to harken back to the times when blacks were lynched in the United States.

  • City gets officers to patrol housing

    The housing authority has started paying city police officers to patrol public housing subdivisions.

    The officers are being paid from authority funds, and the patrols are separate from their regular duties.

    At last week’s City Council meeting, Lori Gonzales, the authority’s interim director, reported that the security program began Oct. 3 and the officers have patrolled a total of 69 hours. They have responded to 45 calls and have submitted five reports to the Police Department, she said.

  • Jerome Block Jr. wins in PRC contest

    ALBUQUERQUE — Jerome Block Jr. won a seat on the state Public Regulation Commission in the Democratic-leaning District 3, while Democratic PRC Chairman Jason Marks held on to his seat in a district that represents Albuquerque.

    Block took nearly 56 percent of the vote against Green Party candidate Rick Lass, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

    The District 3 seat in northern New Mexico drew unexpected interest when Lass filed for the seat at the last minute, then Block ran into trouble for finance reports.

  • No big surprises in local races

    As expected, San Miguel County Democrats performed well in Tuesday’s general election.

    Some thought state Rep. Richard Vigil, D-Ribera, who has served for a decade, was vulnerable because he faced two opponents in the Democratic primary and didn’t get past 50 percent.

    But Vigil proved his detractors wrong. In his District 70, which is made up of San Miguel and Torrance counties, he pulled in 70 percent of the vote against his Las Vegas Republican opponent, Mel Root, a retired educator who got 30 percent.

  • Woman charged with murder

    A Las Vegas woman is charged with murder for allegedly starting a fire that resulted in another woman’s death.

    Maria “Esther” Bartee-Ortega, 54, 106 Independence, is facing an open count of murder and four counts of arson. She is accused of killing Connie “Cuca” Vigil.

  • Woman loses everything in blaze, praises firefighters

    Lily Moser had been smelling smoke for a little while Saturday night at her apartment on Douglas Avenue, but she didn’t think much of it.

    But then she noticed a “bright light” in one of her window. She looked out and saw flames catching from a next-door house to her apartment on the second floor of her building.

    She knew she had to act quickly.

    “I ran out of the house and grabbed my cat. I didn’t take anything else,” said Moser, who works at Spic and Span restaurant. “I called 911.”

  • Mora County man found dead in truck

    A Mora County man was found dead last week in his truck, which was stuck near a river near Watrous.

    Marvin Montao, 46, had been missing for a couple of days, although no one had reported him as such to authorities, state police said.

    “The truck got stuck in the mud, and he was trying to dig it out. He exhausted himself and got in the truck and died,” state police Lt. Craig Martin said.

    Montao was working at a ranch.

  • Man is killed in accident

    A local man was killed last week when his car rolled over several times on Las Vegas’ south exit on Interstate 25, state police said.

    Jacob Romero, 22, died as a result of injuries he suffered after he was ejected from his car, police said. The accident happened around 2:15 a.m. Wednesday.

    State police said they found open containers of alcohol in his car, and they believe alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident.

    State police Lt. Craig Martin said Romero was apparently traveling at a high rate of speed before the accident happened.

  • Ex-mayor: We were misled

    In October 2004, local and federal officials gathered for the presentation of a blown-up check of $650,000 to pay for the Las Vegas housing authority’s demolition of a subdivision.

    At the time, city officials said they expected to get HUD money to build units to replace the demolished ones.

    At the check presentation, everyone posed for the camera to mark the moment.

    Their smiles faded soon after.

  • Tuesday's election includes very few contested races

    Las Vegas’ polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for local, state and federal elections.

    Perhaps the most-watched local race is that between Democratic incumbent Richard Vigil and Republican Mel Root for the District 70 seat on the state representatives. But Vigil, as is the case with every other Democrat in a contested race Tuesday, is favored in heavily Democratic northern New Mexico.

    District 68 state Rep. Thomas Garcia is facing Republican Sylvia Olson, but it appears as if Olson hasn’t made any effort in her campaign at all.