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Local News

  • Hospital has fewer vacant positions

    The state hospital has brought down the number of vacancies in its workforce over the last couple of years, officials say.

    With 930 employees, the hospital — known formally as the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute — is Las Vegas’ largest employer. The hospital is authorized for 1,025 positions — with a vacancy rate of 9.3 percent. That’s down from 13.2 percent in 2006.

  • City to consider collections contract

    The City Council on Wednesday will consider a contract with a company to collect past-due utility accounts.

    The contract would be with Advantage Group, which would provide the city with the lowest rate, according to documents.

    For years, members of the City Council have called for more action on past-due accounts.

    The council will meet at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

    Hires

    • Dennis Maestas and Jose Jesus Montao as police officers.

    • Tony Martinez as purchasing officer, Anna Ortega as customer service clerk and Valerie Urioste as control clerk.

  • Murder trial delayed

    A district judge is delaying the trial for a woman accused in the killing of an 83-year-old man. The ruling is in response to concerns over pretrial publicity.

    Jessica Livingston, 24, is accused of an open count of murder in the June 2007 death of Jose Apodaca. She and Dolores Salazar, 19, were accused of robbing Apodaca and then killing him with their car.

    Salazar has already pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the case.

  • An over-the-top 'Over the Back Fence'

    If elected, mayoral candidate Fernando Smith says he would sue the mayor of Las Vegas, Nev., for stealing the name of this city. And so it goes in the play “Over the Edge” by Anne Bradford and Cynthia Riley, who created a cast of wacky characters visiting a morning radio talk show.

    KFUN’s “Over the Back Fence” was the backdrop for the comedy acted out by the Nat Gold Players during four soldout performances.

  • Utility seeks to settle with candidate

    An electric utility serving northeastern New Mexico wants to settle a lawsuit by holding another election for a seat on its board of trustees.

    Recently, the board for the Mora-San Miguel Electric Cooperative voted to hold another election within three months. That would be in exchange for Clayton’s dropping of a lawsuit he filed to challenge the District 4 election in May.

    In that election, Dan Romero took 34 votes in the San Juan-based district to Clayton’s 33.

  • Council wants to meet with federal housing official

    Floyd Duran, the top federal housing official in New Mexico, has a lot of say-so over Las Vegas’ housing authority.

    But the City Council as a body hasn’t heard from the Housing and Urban Development Department official directly. Council members often find about what he says second- or third-hand. And he won’t take questions from the media, referring inquiries to a HUD public relations official in Texas.

  • Teacher recognized nationally

    Robertson High School agricultural education teacher Gary Leger has led his students to state and national achievements.

    Now he has been recognized as one of the top five agricultural educators in the nation. That’s out of more than 10,000.

    “When you have a district and a community that are so supportive and when you have the best kids in the world, it’s easy to look good,” Leger said.

  • Las Vegas gets new ambulance service starting today

    Starting today, Las Vegas residents will have a new ambulance provider, with assurances in its contract for better service.

    The City Council this week approved a contract with Albuquerque-based Superior Ambulance, replacing the longtime local provider, Santa Fe-based Rocky Mountain EMS.

    In May, the council selected Superior based on a committee’s recommendation, but the city and Superior still had to negotiate a contract.

  • A speeding sheriff

    Guadalupe County Sheriff Robert Chavez was in an awful hurry last weekend.

    He took the trip on N.M. Highway 518 from Mora to Las Vegas. He passed an Optic reporter’s car just south of Mora and proceeded to go at least 85 mph last Saturday afternoon.

    No emergency lights. No sirens.

  • Offender now living in Las Vegas

    A plea agreement three months ago required that convicted sex offender Clifford Gutierrez move to Bernalillo or Sandoval counties.

    Last week, however, a judge gave the state Corrections Department the power to place the 34-year-old anywhere in the state. That includes Mora, where Gutierrez committed most of his sex crimes, although those involved say that’s unlikely to happen.

    These days, Gutierrez lives in the Camp Luna neighborhood just north of Las Vegas. He is registered as a sex offender at an address in that area.