News Briefs: NM Wine Festival coming to an end

New Mexico Wine Festival
New Mexico Wine Festival

NM Wine Festival coming to an end

BERNALILLO, N.M. (KRQE) – Wine enthusiasts will no longer get to mark their calendars every Labor Day weekend.

The New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo has come to an end after 27 years.

The festival was founded in the 1980s to boost the wine industry and to draw tourists to Bernalillo.

Maria Rinaldi, executive director of the festival, is blaming “changes in the market.”

Police catch Christmas package thieves

SANTA FE (KRQE) – Police catch a pair of grinches they say were following UPS delivery men and snatching holiday packages.

Felipe Lujan, Hope Tapia
Felipe Lujan, Hope Tapia

Santa Fe police officers searched the area and found two people matching the descriptions UPS workers gave them.

Inside their car, officials uncovered not only stolen Christmas gifts, but two toddlers.

Felipe Lujan and Hope Tapia, both from Farmington, were booked on charges of child abuse and larceny.

The kids were turned over to their grandparents.

Almost 50 years later, NM vet’s family receives Purple Heart

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Nearly 50 years after a New Mexico man was killed in Vietnam, his family is getting his Purple Heart.

Private-first class Freddie Joe Roberts of Melrose was killed in combat back in 1968.

Forty six-years later, Butch Babb of Reno, Nevada bought Roberts’ Purple Heart from a homeless man for just $300.

Babb worked to track down Roberts’ family and this week he found his sister in Albuquerque. She told Babb she didn’t even realize the medal was missing.

Babb said he’d like to return the medal to her in time for Christmas.

Zoo’s baby siamang now named ‘Tika’

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s been a hot topic since the beginning of this year and we now know the name of a baby siamang in the Albuquerque BioPark.

Her name is now Tika.

People voted for their favorite name in an online contest. The name Mila came in close second followed by Bree.

Tika was born in January.

Proposed cell tower won’t go up

CLOVIS, N.M. (KRQE) – A 160-foot cell phone tower will not be going up in a Clovis neighborhood.

The company Cleartalk had asked city commissioners to waive height and setback requirements of the city’s zoning ordinance. They wanted to put the tower in the middle of the Hilltop Plaza neighborhood.

Commissioners said they received an overwhelming number of calls from residents opposed to the tower.

In the end commissioners voted six to one against it.

Lawsuit: Deputies falsely held Rio Rancho woman

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A woman suffering from mental illness says Sandoval County Sheriff’s deputies roughed her up and falsely arrested her for child abuse.

Attorneys for Kari Mantilla say in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court that deputies entered her Rio Rancho home without a warrant in April 2013 and arrested for child abuse after concluding her house was a mess. The lawsuit say deputies were there to serve an order to appear for domestic violence.

Court documents say a deputy slammed Mantilla onto the pavement causing her to suffer head injuries. An attorney for the county denied the allegations.

The child abuse charge was later dismissed.

This is the second federal lawsuit filed this month against Sandoval County over treatment of detainees suffering from mental illness.

Environment Dept opens comment period for KAFB spill clean-up

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is soliciting public comment on a draft Strategic Plan for Kirtland Air Force Base fuel spill clean-up activities in 2015. NMED and the Air Force also continue to fullfill legal requirements for public information and involvement. Comment period ends at 5pm January, 30, 2015.

Victim in fatal Hobbs car accident identified

HOBBS, NM (KRQE) – Thursday evening officers responded to the scene of an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle and a pickup at the intersection of State Road 483 and US 62/180, west of Hobbs, New Mexico.

The commercial motor vehicle driven was turning left onto northbound State Road 483 when a pickup stuck the rear portion of the trailer that the vehicle was pulling. The driver of the pickup was identified as Samuel Bruton, 23, from Monument, NM. Bruton sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the commercial motor vehicle was uninjured and still under investigation.

Military appreciation ski weekends announced for 2015

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE)Not Forgotten Outreach Appreciation Ski Weekend is offering $35 all day lift tickets for surviving families, veterans and active duty military and their families at two locations in 2015: January 23, 24, 25 at Taos Ski Valley and February 20, 21, 22 at Angel Fire.

New magistrate judges complete intensive orientation program

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Twenty-eight new Magistrate Court judges completed an intensive training program to provide them with a legal foundation for serving on the bench. The orientation program provides judges with what they need-to-know day one on the bench in magistrate court. Among those attending the orientation in late November and early December were judges who’ve been on the bench since their appointment by the governor but who won election for the first time this year. Judges on the magistrate court undergo training after their appointment but also must attend the next post-election orientation session.

New Mexico unemployment rate 6.4% in November 2014

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in November 2014, down from 6.5 percent in October and down from 6.7 percent a year ago. The national unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, unchanged from October and down from 7.0 percent in November 2013.

New Mexico lawmakers proposed minimum wage hike

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico Democrats are again proposing increases in the state’s minimum wage. One bill from would boost the wage to $8.30 an hour, another to $10.10 an hour. It’s currently set at $7.50. New Republican Majority Leader Nate Gentry says he’s open to an increase that keeps New Mexico competitive with neighboring states. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed an increase to $8.50 in 2013 but said she could support a smaller one.

“Game of Thrones” author offering to show “The Interview”

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin is offering to show “The Interview” at his theater in Santa Fe. Martin wrote on his blog this week that the Jean Cocteau Cinema would be glad to screen the film if Sony ever releases the comedy for theatrical exhibition. The movie was shelved following cyberattacks on Sony. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Martin hasn’t seen the film and doesn’t know whether it’s good or bad.Whether it’s the next “Citizen Kane” or the next “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” Martin says he’s astonished that a major Hollywood film could be killed before release by threats from a foreign power and anonymous hackers.

Lawsuit: Deputies falsely held Rio Rancho woman

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A woman who says she suffers from mental illness is suing the Sandoval County Sheriff’s department for false arrest. Kari Mantilla says a deputy slammed her onto the pavement, causing her to suffer head injuries. She was arrested on a child abuse charge, which was later dismissed.

New Mexico to receive federal payments next year

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico counties will be getting more federal money next year as compensation for the non-taxable lands within their borders. President Barack Obama signed legislation this week that included the funding. New Mexico counties rely on the payments to provide services, including improvements to schools, roads and public safety. Last year, all but one of the state’s 33 counties shared a total of $37 million. The program is administered through the Interior Department and compensates rural counties for hosting federal lands that can’t be developed, such as national parks, forests and some military bases.

New Mexico county offers online crime reporting

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) – The Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office is taking part of its criminal reporting system online. The sheriff’s office says victims can now file temporary online reports for lost property, vandalism, theft or larceny, telephone harassment or motor vehicle vandalism. The report can then be downloaded and printed. A sheriff’s deputy will then follow up with the victim. The sheriff’s office says the new system is not designed to take the place of calling 911 in serious emergencies.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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