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Floods hit Albuquerque, towns; More storms eyed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Flood waters have struck parts of Albuquerque and other New Mexico cities as the state prepares for more severe weather.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms sparked damaging floods Tuesday in Albuquerque's South Valley and pockets of eastern New Mexico.

The National Weather Service says New Mexico should see a break Wednesday in severe weather following a string of days of heavy rainfall.

But forecasters say more storms should hit the state again Thursday and over the weekend.

Officials say the rain has made this one of the wettest Julys on record for New Mexico. For example, Albuquerque International Sunport has already reported 3.3 inches for the month, making it the airport's 5th wettest July on record.


Minimum wage proposal submitted in Las Cruces

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Las Cruces officials say supporters of a minimum wage proposal collected enough valid signatures on petitions to either have it put into law or submitted to city voters.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the proposal seeks to raise the minimum wage within New Mexico's second most populous city to $8.40 per hour in 2015, to $9.20 in 2016 and to $10.10 in 2017.

New Mexico's hourly minimum wage is $7.50.

City Clerk Esther Martinez-Carrillo says the City Council will first decide whether to certify the signature verification. The council then would decide whether to simply adopt the proposed ordinance or put it on a ballot.

The council voted June 2 to raise the minimum wage in Las Cruces to $8 in July 2015 and $8.50 in January 2016.


Official: City erred on signatures on pot measure

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A proposal to ease penalties for marijuana possession in Albuquerque now faces a higher hurdle to get on the city's ballot.

City Attorney David Tourek says the number of valid voter signatures needed on petitions to qualify a measure for the ballot is just over 14,200, not the just over 11,200 that city officials previously said.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Tourek says officials erroneously calculated the signature requirement, which is based on how many people voted in the last regular city election.

Supporters of the marijuana proposal submitted more than 16,000 signatures on Monday's deadline, but many petition signatures typically are invalidated because they're not from registered voters who live in the city.

Proposal supporter Pat Davis says it's not fair to raise the requirement at this point.


Santa Fe man gets prison time in cocaine case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A Santa Fe man has been sentenced to 6 ½ years in federal prison for his role in a crack cocaine trafficking conspiracy.

Federal prosecutor say 24-year-old Michael Jaramillo also was sentenced Wednesday to four years of supervised release after he serves his prison term.

Jaramillo was among five men indicted in April 2013 on narcotics and firearms charges as the result of a federal investigation.

Authorities say Jaramillo was part of an organization that manufactured and distributed crack cocaine in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties between March 2012 and April 2013.

Jaramillo entered a guilty plea in the case four months ago.

Two of the other defendants also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing while the other two have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.


Pepper spray used to quell jail disturbance

SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) - Grant County detention officers used pepper spray to subdue eight inmates during a confrontation in the jail.

The Silver City Sun-News reports that operations at the jail were back to normal Tuesday following the confrontation that occurred Monday night. No injuries were reported.

County officials said the confrontation began when inmates began kicking a door, banging on windows and throwing flip flops in the direction of an officer.

As officers from several law enforcement agencies secured the jail's perimeter, detention officers sprayed inmates who wouldn't comply with commands.

They were handcuffed and escorted to the recreation yard to be treated for the pepper spray exposure.


Carlsbad man sentenced to prison for robberies

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A Carlsbad man will have to spend nearly 11 years in federal prison after being sentenced for his part in a robbery spree in several southeastern New Mexico communities.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for New Mexico says 35-year-old Maurice Williams was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Las Cruces.

The office says Williams was among six Carlsbad residents prosecuted under a federal anti-violence initiative.

According to the office, various members of the group robbed stores in Artesia, Carlsbad and Hobbs and a restaurant in Artesia during late 2012 and early 2013.

Williams pleaded guilty to robbing a Family Dollar store in Artesia on Nov. 15, 2012, and to conspiring to rob a Family Dollar story in Carlsbad.

The five co-defendants remain in custody pending sentencing hearings.


Albuquerque police to get rid of armored vehicle

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The Albuquerque Police Department says it turns out it doesn't need a massive armored vehicle that the city obtained as military surplus and plans to dispose of it.

Albuquerque was among numerous law enforcement agencies across the country that obtained some of the many mine-resistant and ambush-protected vehicles that the military procured for the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Police Department spokesman Janet Blair says Albuquerque got its 14-foot-tall, 22.5-ton vehicle eight months ago but has not used it in the field.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Blair says the department has other armored vehicles it can use for SWAT team deployments instead of the mine-resistant vehicle.

Blair said the department will work with the state to find a new owner for the vehicle.


NM Corrections Dept. eyes blood drive in DWI fight

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The New Mexico Department of Corrections Secretary Gregg Marcantel is asking state residents to "shed blood" in the war against drunken driving.

Marcantel announced Wednesday the department was launching a statewide blood drive to call attention the physical pain DWI is causing the state. The drive drew various law enforcement agencies in New Mexico.

State records show there are almost 500 people serving prison time in New Mexico for DWI-related convictions. Around 100 of those were convicted of vehicular homicide or causing great bodily harm.

Marcantel said he got the idea for the blood drive after seeing the damaged patrol car of State Police Office Carlos Verdugo from a June DWI crash.

Verdugo survived but was he seriously injured and needed blood.


D.H. Lawrence ranch in New Mexico opens to public

TAOS, N.M. (AP) - A northern New Mexico ranch once home to famed English author D.H. Lawrence has reopened to the public.

The Taos Community Foundation and the University of New Mexico say the ranch about 20 miles north of Taos is open every Monday, Thursday and Saturday through October from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 160-acre ranch is owned by the university but hasn't been regularly accessible to the public for several years.

An agreement between the foundation, UNM and the D.H. Lawrence Ranch Alliance cleared the way for public visits to the ranch where Lawrence lived part-time during the early 1920s.

The ranch features Lawrence's memorial, two cabins and a home that was built by Frieda Lawrence after her husband's death.


Arizona wolf pups thrive in New Mexico pack

PHOENIX (AP) - Wildlife managers say two Mexican gray wolf pups from an Arizona pack are thriving with their new family in New Mexico.

Biologists in May transplanted a pair of 2-week old pups born in a large litter to another pack of wolves with a smaller litter and more rearing experience.

Wildlife managers have been troubled by the survival rates of wild-born pups. The goal with cross-fostering is to improve the genetic health of the endangered predators as they are reintroduced to the American Southwest.

The technique has worked with red wolves on the East Coast. This marks the first time it has been tried with Mexican gray wolves.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said this week that a trail camera photo shows that the pups are alive and doing well.

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