Non-Local News Releases

This category will feature news releases from out-of-area government agencies and representatives, as well as events that are not taking place in the four-county area of Grant, Catron, Hidalgo or Luna. For those events please visit Local News Releases.

be well nm logo

Though consumers can anticipate some changes, the process remains the same for the New Mexico health exchange

Albuquerque, NM – Open Enrollment for health insurance coverage in 2018 began on November 1, 2017. BeWellnm, New Mexico's health insurance exchange, wants to ensure the community is well equipped to enroll. Before deciding on a plan, beWellnm advises New Mexicans read these top six important things to know for Open Enrollment:

The 2018 Open Enrollment period is shorter than previous years
Beginning November 1 and extending through December 15, 2017, Open Enrollment for healthcare coverage in 2018 runs for 45 days only. Consumers are urged to plan accordingly and seek information about their options well in advance of the closing date.

Though premium increases have been approved, rates will vary
Regulators have approved increases for insurance premiums requested by the four beWellnm insurance carriers, but the average premium increase for 2018 will vary. Individual subsidies are also still available. Consumers are encouraged to compare a variety of plans to identify which fits their needs and budget.

New Work by Jen Pack at The New Mexico Museum of Art
and SCOPE Miami

It is an honor to have a new piece included in Contact: Local to Global, opening Saturday November 25th at the New Mexico Museum of Art, 107 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico, November 25, 2017 - April 29, 2018

Farmington, NM. -- New Mexico State Police has arrested a Kirtland man twice for suspicion of DWI, just days apart. 

Darrell Yazzie (39) of Kirtland, NM was arrested by New Mexico State Police on October 30, 2017 around 10:00 a.m. for suspicion of his third DWI offense. At the time of his arrest his blood alcohol content was 0.09.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2017– Green Cuisine, a San Fernando, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 36,854 pounds of chicken and turkey salad products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically hard silica and glass fragments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. 

The ready-to-eat chicken and turkey salads were produced from Nov. 4 - 15, 2017. The following products are subject to recall:

• 10.5-oz. clear plastic individual serving packages containing “TRADER JOE’S White Meat Chicken Salad with celery, carrots and green onions” with a “Use By” date of November 10 - 21, 2017.

• 11.0-oz. clear plastic individual serving packages containing “TRADER JOE’S CURRIED WHITE CHICKEN DELI SALAD with toasted cashews, green onion and a bit of honey” with a “Use By” date of November 10 - 21, 2017.

• 10.25-oz. clear plastic individual serving packages containing “TRADER JOE’S TURKEY CRANBERRY APPLE SALAD TURKEY BREAST MEAT WITH SWEET DRIED CRANBERRIES, TANGY GREEN APPLES, PECANS AND SAGE” with a “Use By” date of November 10 - 21, 2017.

SANTA FE, NM – The following legislative interim committees are meeting the week of November 20 through November 21, 2017

November 20 – 21, 2017 @ 9:30 a.m. – Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee (MVAC), State Capitol, Room 321, Santa Fe, NM
Agenda Items: 27th Special Operations Wing/Cannon Air Force Base Update; Base Realignment and Closure Update; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care in New Mexico-Update; Historic Preservation Division; Alamogordo Public School District; Veterans’ Services Department (VSD) Update; Consideration of Legislation
November 21, 2017 @ 9:00 a.m. – MVAC, State Capitol, Room 321, Santa Fe, NM
Agenda Items: National Guard of New Mexico Update; Holloman Air Force Base F-16 Training Flights

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have passed a Udall-Heinrich measure to strengthen the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Udall-Heinrich amendment requires the DNFSB members to report to Congress each year about whether the White House's budget request for the board is sufficient to fund the safety reviews the board members believe are necessary to ensure that operations at Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons sites are kept safe for workers and the community, including at New Mexico's Sandia and Los Alamos national labs and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. The final version of the NDAA will now head to the president's desk to be signed into law.

The DNFSB is an independent body of expert board members and staff created by Congress in 1988 to conduct safety reviews at DOE nuclear facilities and offer public recommendations to the president and secretary of Energy periodically on important projects and procedures needed to ensure workers and the public are protected from dangerous nuclear materials. The board's funding for its safety work has been relatively steady at just under $30 million per year in recent years, while the budget for DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration has increased by over 25 percent in the five-year period from 2012 to 2017 as work on modernizing the national nuclear stockpile and updated aging DOE facilities has continued.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 16, 2017) — Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the conference committee that negotiated the final bill, voted for the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Senator Heinrich secured key provisions in the legislation to benefit New Mexico's men and women in uniform, military installations, national laboratories, and job creation throughout the state.

The NDAA sets the Department of Defense spending levels and policies for the upcoming fiscal year and authorizes funding for the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons programs at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, as well as the Department of Energy's environmental cleanup programs including the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

"Over several years on the Armed Services Committee, I have secured major advances in defense bills to strengthen New Mexico's military installations and to prepare them for missions of the future. I am proud to have authored a number of provisions in this year's defense bill that make critical investments and strengthen New Mexico's military bases, test ranges, and laboratories," said Senator Heinrich. "Whether it is bolstering our Air Force's flying missions, saving a major space mission at Kirtland, fighting for our national labs, increasing testing at White Sands Missile Range, or launching a new Directed Energy Weapons program, I am constantly working to keep our country safe, while creating jobs in the state. This bill will provide major benefits to our local economies and reinforce New Mexico's strong position as a leader in national defense. I will continue fighting for forward-looking investments and policies that will build a foundation for our military as a whole, and ensure our installations in New Mexico have strong, sustainable national security missions for years to come."

The following list includes many of the programs and provisions Senator Heinrich championed during the markup process and conference that were included in the NDAA:


New Mexico National Guard
$8.6 million to build a new National Guard Readiness Center in Las Cruces. The funding will help build a 35,000 square foot readiness center to serve the Army National Guard's C Company, 3rd Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, which operates and houses four UH-72 Lakota helicopters at the Las Cruces International Airport. The new building will be built on National Guard land near the airport and provide aviators a dedicated readiness center. The building will include additional hangar space and room for training.
Holloman Air Force Base

$121 million to welcome 2 additional F-16 training units to Holloman Air Force Base. The funding invests in live, virtual and constructive training ranges and ensures high quality and realistic training for our Holloman's newest Airmen. The funding supports training ranges, squadron operations, flying hours, and base operations support to accommodate the additional aircraft and personnel.

$4.25 million to build a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Fixed Ground Control Station Facility (FGCS). An adequately sized and configured facility is required to accommodate the installation of 10 new Block 50 FGCS and supporting equipment into a single facility. The facility will house each FGCS in its own mission room and provide communications rooms for connectivity to each squadron operations center.

Cannon Air Force Base
$42 million to build new facilities for combat arms training and maintenance (CATM) and a new cargo pad area. The cargo pad will be designed to support the loading and unloading of munitions simultaneously on two C-130s, or one C-5, C-17 or Boeing 747 aircraft. Construction of the new cargo pad requires the relocation of the current CATM facilities.

$8.228 million to build a new facility for Special Operations Forces C-130 Aircraft Ground Equipment (AGE). The AGE is required on the southeast side of the base to maintain all assigned powered and non-powered aircraft support equipment. The AGE facility must support all assigned C-130 aircraft maintenance and 525 pieces of equipment.

Kirtland Air Force Base
$9.3 million to build a new fire station that will replace the undersized, deficient, and outdated fires station built in 1955. The new fire station will include three high-bay drive-through apparatus stalls and will be capable of accommodating modern fire fighting vehicles and equipment. The proposed location of the facility will better serve the southeastern part of Kirtland Air Force Base and reduce response time to critical high-value facilities including Kirtland's underground munitions storage complex and the mission-critical hot cargo aircraft loading pad.


Los Alamos National Laboratory Plutonium Mission
Heinrich supported full funding and reasserted the Senate Armed Service Committee's strong support to maintain Los Alamos National Laboratory's (LANL) role as the nation's Center of Excellence for Plutonium Research. The bill authorizes $210 million—an increase of $25 million over fiscal year 2017—for plutonium research activities and an additional $181 million for construction related to replacing the outdated Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) building at LANL.

Requiring the Trump Administration to Justify Consideration of Shifting LANL's Plutonium Capabilities
The bill includes an amendment Senator Heinrich successfully passed with Senator Udall to force the Trump Administration to meet a number of necessary requirements, including certification from the Secretary of Defense, before it moves pit production to any location other than Los Alamos National Laboratory. Specifically, the Heinrich amendment requires NNSA's long-pending Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) on plutonium pit production to be reviewed by the Nuclear Weapons Council to ensure it meets the requirements of the Pentagon from a cost, schedule, and capability perspective. In addition, if a final decision is still not made 150 days after the president has signed the bill, the existing strategy to upgrade plutonium facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory will continue to be implemented as planned.

NNSA Albuquerque Complex Project
Heinrich authorized $98 million to start construction of a new Albuquerque NNSA Complex on Eubank Blvd to replace the existing outdated and inadequate 50-year old facility. The project is estimated to cost around $200 million and take about four years to complete. The new building will house up to 1,200 federal employees. To reduce contracting costs, the bill also includes Senator Heinrich's amendment that authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to use multi-year appropriations to award a single, incrementally funded, fixed-price construction contract. Construction is planned to begin early next year.

NNSA Employee Recruitment and Retention
The bill includes the amendment Heinrich authored that extends for an additional 10 years NNSA's personnel management system that has been used successfully on a trial basis for the past 10 years. The temporary personnel system has enhanced the recruitment and retention of federal employees of the Department of Energy's NNSA. NNSA needs to attract highly technical employees to manage critical national security programs, including about 800 based in New Mexico. Key advantages of NNSA's personnel system include helping attract and retain top talent by offering competitive salaries, reducing attrition rates, and properly rewarding high-performing employees.

Life Extension Programs
Heinrich supported full funding of $1.7 billion to continue the Life Extension Programs as executed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. The effort will maintain the existing weapons stockpile and assure safety and security.

General Plant Construction Projects at DOE Facilities
The bill includes a provision to help expedite small construction projects and facility upgrades at DOE facilities, including Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories and WIPP. The ceiling cost allowed for these expedited construction projects is raised from $10 million to $20 million.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Cleanup
The bill authorizes $191.6 million for soil and water remediation and removal of radioactive waste. Funding is included again this year to address the hexavalent chromium plume in groundwater in Los Alamos.

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
The bill authorizes $323 million, an increase of $25 million over last year, to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and to begin construction of additional ventilation for the mine. The Secretary of Energy is directed to develop a strategic plan for disposing of all of the transuranic waste currently expected to go to WIPP.

Requiring certification of sufficiency of Safety Board's Budget
The bill includes an amendment Senator Udall successfully passed with Senator Heinrich that requires the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to certify each year that the president's budget request is sufficient to conduct its congressionally required oversight and safety reviews.

Directed Energy Weapons System Prototyping and Demonstration Program
Heinrich included bill language (Section 215) in the final conference report that establishes a new program at the Pentagon to accelerate the transition of directed energy weapon systems to the military. Specifically, the provision authorizes a total of $100 million to be used only for the purposes of prototyping and conducting demonstrations of high energy laser and high power microwave weapons systems that are beyond the beginning stages of basic and applied research. The Heinrich provision designates the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Development as the official with principal responsibility for development of directed energy weapons at the Pentagon and that the official works with the Joint Directed Energy Transition Office to execute the program.

Heinrich has been the leader in Congress and the Senate Armed Services Committee in developing directed energy weapons and has argued for the potential of these systems as it relates to providing our military with new technologies that can offset the gains of adversaries. Heinrich has argued that laser weapon systems can help intercept inexpensive UAV's, rockets, artillery, mortars, as well as short and medium range ballistic missiles. Heinrich has also argued for accelerating the development of a boost-phase high-energy-laser missile intercept capability for adversary Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM's).

The state of New Mexico is home to significant research laboratories, industry, and test ranges that are leading the nation's effort to develop high-energy-laser and high-powered-microwave weapon systems.

Restoration and Modernization Funds for White Sands Missile Range
Heinrich successfully raised the percentage of funds to be used to replace aging infrastructure at White Sands Missile Range. Currently, Army installations receive a single pot of money for maintenance to be used as garrison commanders prioritize, but only 5 percent of that can be used for Restoration and Modernization (R&M), leaving little flexibility for older installations to replace and modernize infrastructure needed to be efficient and cost-effective. The amendment increases the percentage from 5 percent to 7.5 percent.

Operationally Responsive Space at Kirtland Air Force Base
Re-designated as the "Space Rapid Capabilities Office"
The final conference report re-designates ORS as the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, which will report to Air Force Space Command, headed by a Four Star General. In previous years, ORS had been reporting to a subunit of Space Command, Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) in California. The budget for the new Space RCO has also been significantly increased from $8 million last year to $87.57 million in this bill.

Heinrich previously saved the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) mission at Kirtland Air Force Base from elimination and has consistently worked to increase funding for the continuation of ORS, which is a critical small satellite mission. This year, Heinrich welcomed the Air Force's re-commitment to the ORS mission and continued responsive space efforts including the building of a cloud characterization satellite for the military.

Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base
The final conference report authorizes $25.39 million for the Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base. Since 1965, the Space Test Program (STP) has conducted space test missions for the purpose of accelerating Department of Defense space technology transformation while lowering developmental risk. STP serves as the primary access to space for the Department of Defense space science and technology community.

Senator Heinrich successfully restored $25,000,000 in the Conference Report for the continuation of the STARBASE program. The Trump Administration had proposed terminating the program. In New Mexico, the DoD STARBASE program is hosted by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base and has served nearly 8,000 5th grade students. STARBASE is a highly effective program run by our dedicated servicemembers and strengthens the relationships between the military, communities, and local school districts. The program allows students to participate in a 25-hour hands-on curriculum where they solve scientific challenges related to aerospace. Since its inception in 1991, over 825,000 students have benefitted from the STARBASE program, including 45,000 last year.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) applauded the inclusion and passage of their Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2018. This bipartisan legislation will encourage federal agencies to cut wasteful spending and modernize and strengthen government information technology (IT) and security to save taxpayers up to $20 billion a year. The MGT Act now heads to the president's desk for signature.

"Passage of the bipartisan MGT Act will save taxpayers many millions of dollars and strengthen our cybersecurity," said Udall. "This major legislation will finally bring the federal government's grossly outdated IT systems into the 21st century. As it stands, the federal government spends over $80 billion on IT – but 75 percent of that money is being spent to maintain old and legacy systems that date back to the time of dial-up modems and dot-matrix printers. The oldest were created in the 1960s. The MGT Act's flexible funding options will allow us to break out of that cycle, enabling federal agencies to move forward with long-overdue projects to replace these legacy systems, providing better services at lower cost. These upgrades will also enable federal agencies to tackle dangerous cyber vulnerabilities and better protect Americans' data from cyberattacks. This bipartisan, common-sense effort will help ensure that we're getting better service at a better value for the American people."

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Editor's Note

The Beat as a new column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

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