Local News

  • Judge asked to move case out of town

    A defense attorney wants to move the case involving the killing of a 6-year-old girl out of town because of emotional media coverage.

    Last September, David Levi Chavez, 21, was charged with an open count of murder in connection with the death of Jasmine Garcia, who had just graduated from kindergarten.

    Garcia was sleeping in her mother’s bed at 304 Union St. late on June 15, when a shot ripped through an outside wall facing the street, killing her. Authorities say that Chavez was aiming for Garcia’s uncle when he fired at the house.

  • Some question Cinder project

    San Miguel County officials want to add a 1.6-mile path for bicyclists and pedestrians along Cinder Road as part of a long-term plan to extend the city’s riverwalk.

    But some residents in the Cinder Road area have concerns about the proposed project.

    For the last few years, the county has been planning the path, which it hopes will extend all the way to Montezuma. The county’s portion would start 700 feet north of Mills, which is where the county’s unincorporated area begins.

  • Shop owner pleads guilty

    The owner of a local auto repair shop has pleaded guilty to attacking customers who owed him money.

    In plea agreements in January, Romero, 32, owner of Michael’s Precision Automotive, admitted to two counts of aggravated battery and one count of attempting to commit a felony, all of which are misdemeanors.

    As part of the agreements, prosecutors dropped charges of unlawful taking of a vehicle, robbery, kidnapping, extortion and intimidation of a witness.

    His attorney said this week that his client’s guilty pleas were a business decision.

  • Don Cecilio classes go to Union

    Union Elementary School is bustling as its student population doubled in January to accommodate kids from Don Cecilio Martinez Elementary, where one wing of the school is undergoing a complete renovation.

    Principal Delbert Saavedra said children from four classrooms in second, third, fourth and fifth grades made the move on Jan. 6, which effectively doubled the number of kids attending his school.

  • Mora County man accused in battery

    A Cleveland, N.M., man who went to his family’s house to talk out some of their differences ended up being arrested for allegedly attacking them.

    Robert Lawrence Romero, 22, was charged with two counts of aggravated battery on household members and criminal damage to property.

  • Luna says it’s improving hiring process

    A member of Luna Community College’s Board of Trustees says he appreciates that the school’s human resources department is developing a firm hiring process.

    “I have felt we have been too loosey-goosey in the past,” Trustee Abelino Montoya said at last week’s monthly meeting of the trustees. “I’ve had my doubts in the past about how we have hired people and how they came in.”

    Montoya said the school gets a lot of negative feedback on its hiring process.

  • Employees gone as result of inquiry

    Two employees of the state hospital are no longer working there as the result of an investigation, one of them said.

    They are Deputy Hospital Administrator Isaac Apodaca and Housekeeping Director Carlos Michael Lopez, Department of Health spokeswoman Deborah Busemeyer confirmed. The two had previously been placed on administrative leave.

    A third employee resigned after he was put on leave, Lopez told the Optic.

  • Agents arrest 3 in drug bust

    The regional narcotics task force says it has put a major drug operation out of business.

    On March 6, agents from the Region 4 Narcotics task force said they executed a “high-risk” search warrant at a house at 910 Gallinas St. Three men were arrested.

    Task force Sgt. Mack Allingham said agents discovered marijuana being grown inside the house, with the narcotics having an estimated worth of $7,500 to $10,000. They also found the necessary equipment, packaging materials and chemicals used to manufacture, sell and process marijuana, he said.

  • West works to clean up school

    Classrooms at West Las Vegas Middle School are being cleaned after a sewage backup affected a large portion of the west wing of the school.

    Superintendent Jim Abreu said classes would be held Monday, but the affected area will be undergoing a major cleanup for at least another three weeks by an Albuquerque company that specializes in cleaning flooded-out areas. He said students whose classrooms are in that area of the building would be moved to other classrooms at the school.

  • Luna sees another drop in enrollment

    Luna Community College’s enrollment has dipped again, and members of the school’s Board of Trustees want to know why.

    Luna had 2,113 students enrolled in the fall of 2007, but that number decreased to 1,959 last fall — a 7.3 percent drop.

    The fall enrollment is critical because the state bases its funding for community colleges on such numbers.

    Since 2003, Luna’s enrollment had been going up and down, reaching a high of 2,183 in 2005.