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FEEDING HOMELESS-LAWSUITS

Albuquerque settles lawsuits over feeding homeless

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Albuquerque is paying $98,000 to settle lawsuits by people arrested or given citations for giving food to the homeless in the downtown.

KRQE-TV reports that all of the criminal trespassing cases were thrown out.

City Attorney David Tourek says the officers were acting in good faith to ensure that the food code was being enforced.

DEPUTY-PEDESTRIAN KILLED

New Mexico deputy accused of vehicular homicide

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - A 22-year-old Dona Ana County sheriff's deputy is accused of vehicular homicide in the death of a pedestrian struck by the deputy's cruiser as it reportedly was traveling over 100 mph during a nighttime emergency call.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that a criminal complaint filed by New Mexico State Police says Deputy Eden Terrazas was driving 114 mph as she approached a curve on N.M. 192 at about 8 p.m. on April 1.

Terrazas lost control of her cruiser on the curve, crossed the opposite traffic lane and struck 44-year-old Mesquite resident Natividad Nunez, who was walking on the dirt shoulder.

Terrazas also is accused of misdemeanor reckless driving charge of not wearing her seat belt.

It's not clear whether from court records whether Terrazas has an attorney.

ALBUQUERQUE POLICE SHOOTINGS

Community input sought on Albuquerque police dept.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Justice Department is seeking community input on possible reforms for the Albuquerque Police Department over its use of force.

The federal agency recently issued a scathing report on what it called excessive force and a culture of abuse and aggression at the Albuquerque Police Department.

Albuquerque officers have shot at 37 men since 2010, killing 23.

The report also criticized the city's oversight system and limited powers in investigating cases of questionable police conduct.

The Justice Department now is organizing meetings for the week of April 28.

Federal officials will meet with Albuquerque community stakeholders, police officers, and police and city officials to gather insights and recommendations on how the police department should be reformed.

DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT

Pay bias lawsuit by former state lawyer dismissed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which a former lawyer for the New Mexico Attorney General's Office alleged she was a victim of pay discrimination based on her gender.

The Albuquerque Journal (http://ow.ly/vVlhc ) reports that U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera on March 28 ruled that Lesley Lowe hadn't proved that her work for the office was sufficiently similar to that of higher-paid male attorneys.

Lowe worked for the office from 1987 to 2010 as an assistant attorney general. Her 2010 suit was dismissed when Herrera granted a pretrial motion by the office.

The office has settled out of court with two other plaintiffs who also are either current or former assistant attorneys general.

Attorney General Gary King had denied pay inequity in the office.

EARLY EDUCATION

Legislative report touts prekindergarten benefits

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A legislative committee report concludes that prekindergarten delivers a greater return on investment for New Mexico than taxpayer subsidized child care.

The Legislative Finance Committee staff report says prekindergarten's benefits outweigh the costs, although that's not the case for child care provided through registered homes and some state licensed programs.

Prekindergarten provides services through public schools and other locations. It costs about $3,000 for each student. But report says research shows prekindergarten's benefits include improving student achievement through the third grade.

New Mexico will spend about $231 million on early childhood programs in the next budget year - a nearly 13 percent increase. About $98 million is for childcare assistance for about 20,000 children, and $37 million is for prekindergarten to serve more than 10,000 children.

LAS CRUCES-BODY FOUND

Death of homeless man in Las Cruces called natural

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico State University police say the death of a homeless man whose body was found in an Interstate 25 drainage tunnel in Las Cruces in January has been determined to have been from natural causes.

Police say the Office of the Medical Investigator determined that 55-year-old Richard Livsay had various medical conditions and that he likely he was dead before a fire in the tunnel led to a discovery of his body.

Arson investigators determined that the fire started accidentally from a candle that ignited other materials and spread a mattress.

PECOS-WATER RELEASE

Feds to release water from Santa Rosa dam

SANTA ROSA, N.M. (AP) - The Pecos River south of Santa Rosa will be flowing a little faster next week.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will begin a routine release of water from Santa Rosa Lake and Dam starting Wednesday morning.

The release follows a request by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Carlsbad Irrigation District for 30,000 acre-feet of water. The extra flows are expected to last through May 4.

Federal officials say the release of water is expected to drop the lake's level by about 10 feet. However, they say there will be no effects on recreation activities at the lake.

Santa Rosa is one of three reservoirs on the Pecos River that will be making releases for irrigation operations and to meet water delivery obligations to Texas.

RIVER IMPROVEMENTS

New Mexico agency upgrading area on San Juan River

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Game and Fish Department is closing a fishing and hunting area along the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico while stream and access improvements are made.

The agency said the 80-acre Hammond Tract Wildlife Management Area will close until June 20. The area is about 14 miles downstream from Navajo Dam near the community of Blanco.

Workers will start next Monday to improve stream habitat, plant native vegetation, replace a boat ramp and upgrade a parking lot. The agency already has cleared invasive trees that grew thickly along the river, and it plans to create new wetlands for waterfowl.

The agency said boaters should exit the river before the Hammond Tract boat ramp because it's the last takeout above a diversion dam.

GOOGLE WORKSHOPS

Google to offer web site workshops

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Google officials are in Santa Fe Friday to help small businesses build an Internet presence.

Congressman Ben Ray Luján partnered with Google to host the event, where Google experts will help small business owners create their own websites. Businesses will also receive a customized domain name, free web hosting for one year, a local business listing on Google Maps, free tools, training, and resources. Google experts are also on hand to train the business owners on how to reach more customers online.

Last December, Luján partnered with Facebook for a small business workshop on connecting with customers through social media.

Businesses unable to attend the event can still get a free website and resources by going to www.NewMexicoGetOnline.com.

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