Conservationists, federal officials and everyday citizen-water users in southern New Mexico are on alert this week as a proposal to divert water from the Gila River through a series of dams, pipelines and a reservoir comes up for signing and possible implementation by the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. Environmental watchdogs say the measure, which would ultimately move water to Deming, N.M., through a series of pipelines, believe that even if Jewell approves the two-phase multi-million dollar project, federal approval is no guarantee that the the water-diversion agreement will ever be implemented. Opponents of the measure, who say the project is overpriced and damaging, have rallied tens of thousands to protest by signing a petition against damming the Gila River in New Mexico. Additionally, former New Mexico poet laureate Hakim Bellamy chimed in about what's wrong with the plan, recording a song about the river. Meanwhile proponents such as the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission—who view the diversion as necessary to drought-bound southern towns and cities in our state—say environmental impact statements need to be completed before construction begins. The deadline for those reports is in 2019, officials at the commission report.
Alleged criminal is in and out
Aaron Lujan, an alleged local criminal whose scope of operations includes property crimes and robbery, was arrested again this past weekend. This time Lujan was accused of armed robbery. On Saturday, Nov. 21, an elderly woman reported she had been robbed at gunpoint. Later, she told police, the alleged robber telephoned her with an offer to return her property. APD officers met with the woman and were able to subdue Lujan and an accomplice named Summer Molina when the robbers appeared to meet with their victim at a local Target department store parking lot. According to Molina, the two planned to take the eldery woman back to her house and stage “a home invasion.” Though Lujan initially absconded from officers, he was caught hiding in a tree at a nearby park. This latest run-in with the law follows the events of the previous Thursday, when Lujan was caught breaking into a local residence—after bonding out on a felony drug charge the day before—and was subsequently held at gunpoint by property owners until police arrived. Lujan bonded out of the Metropolitan Detention Center following that encounter, setting in motion the events which ended in his final arrest on Saturday. After a Monday arraignment, Lujan’s bond in the second case has been set at $50,000.
Economic development in N.M.
As the state of New Mexico continues to face the consequences of a drawn-out, seemingly insurmountable recession, federal and state forces are marshaling their resources to empower the state's citizenry with answers that will provide for economic growth and stability as we head into the year 2016. The Stronger Economies Together Program (SET) is directed with providing substantive and actionable data to local communities and individuals in the state who are concerned about growth and sustainability. A partnership between New Mexico State University and the US Department of Agriculture, SET is designed to help find answers for struggling communities by providing economic information as well as initiating business and entrepreneurial strategies aimed at turning things around in central, south and northeast New Mexico. According to USDA official Terry Brunner, SET is busy at work in communities like Shiprock, N.M. and in Otero, Sierra, Socorro, Valencia and Catron counties.