By Joshua Lee
County Officials Vote on Prisoner Resource Center
Last Thursday, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Government Commission voted in favor of the development and funding of the MDC Transition Planning and Re-entry Resource Center. Officials say the new center will help inmates re-enter society after their release from jail. If fully approved, the center will be located on the bottom floor of the Public Safety Center on Roma. Proponents of the plan point out that recidivism is a serious problem with inmates, noting that a lack of continuity in state-provided care could be a factor in their return to incarceration. Albuquerque resident Richard Diab also made a proposal to the Commission on Thursday about a program he says will help inmates find employment after their release, a hurdle that many of them have trouble getting past. He asked that the Commission hear his $250,000 proposal before voting on the resource center, but was turned down. The Commission did hear his proposal after the vote, though, and said they would consider it. The MDC center still needs to receive approval from the Bernalillo County Commission before the project can move forward.
Officials with the US Department of Energy announced in December that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad will be resuming some operations this month. The plant—a deep geologic repository for permanent disposal of specific nuclear waste left over from the US nuclear defense program—was shut down nearly three years ago, after a ruptured waste drum leaked radiation into the underground portions of the facility as well as escaping through an exhaust shaft and into the surrounding environment. Bringing the plant back online has been troublesome, as concerns over residual contamination and ventilation efficiency have had to be addressed. Last year, the DOE and WIPP signed settlement agreements with the N.M. Environment Department totaling $74 million to pay for dozens of violations related to the accident. Last month, state inspectors said the DOE had properly dealt with all the safety issues, and the plant could resume some functions.
WisePies Pays Second Half of Pit Bill
The second half of WisePies Pizza & Salad's payment to UNM for naming rights to the university's basketball arena was made last week. The $300,000 payment was due by Dec. 31, following an early payment of $300,000 made last month by Steven Chavez, co-owner of WisePies, as a show of good faith to fans. The arena, known locally as The Pit, was renamed the WisePies Arena aka The Pit after a $5 million agreement was reached between the company and UNM in 2014. The contract required payments of $100,000 in 2014 and 2015. The payments then rose to $600,000 in 2016 and for the remaining eight years specified in the contract. The last payment will be due on Dec. 31, 2023.
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