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Around New Mexico

Sunland Park Votes in Mayor

SUNLAND PARK — Sunland Park has a mayor again after the City Council Wednesday evening voted 5 to 1, with Mayor Pro Tem Isabel Santos opposed, to appoint 25-year-old Javier Perea to the post.

Perea briefly held office after the council appointed him April 18 to fill a vacancy created because former councilor Daniel Salinas, who won the March election, was unable to take the oath of office.

Salinas is in jail facing extortion and other criminal charges.

Perea resigned one week after his April appointment after the Attorney General’s Office said the meeting when he was tapped appeared to violate the Open Meetings Act.

Meanwhile, Gerardo Hernandez, the candidate who came in second to Salinas in the spring election, said Wednesday he expects to obtain a court order declaring him the winner of the mayoral election.

Perea said he would resign office if Hernandez obtains the court order.

A judge this week ordered a Placitas man to perform 24 hours of community service for his role in a heated confrontation at the University of New Mexico during a lecture by an author known for views critical of Islam.

Paul Chacho, 64, was charged in June with two counts of misdemeanor battery for allegedly pushing or striking two protesters who interrupted a speech by author Nonie Darwish, who was invited to speak at UNM in February.

Bernalillo County Metropolitan Judge Victor Valdez on Monday agreed to consider dismissing the charges against Chacho in six months if he fulfills his community service, Metro Court spokeswoman Janet Blair said.

The confrontation took place Feb. 23 when 10 protesters began loudly reading a prepared statement during an event organized by the New Mexico Israel Alliance, the group that invited Darwish to speak at UNM.

Interim ER Chair Named

Dr. Steve McLaughlin has been named interim chair of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine department of emergency medicine, the school announced Monday.

He replaces Dr. Michael Richards, who recently became executive physician-in-chief for the UNM Health System.

McLaughlin now serves as vice chairman for education in the Department of Emergency Medicine. He also has served as the school of medicine’s interim associate dean for continuing medical education and simulation.

Most Cuba Firefighters Quit

CUBA — Almost the entire volunteer firefighting department in Cuba has quit, raising concerns about protection for the small northern New Mexico town.

KOAT-TV reported that 18 of the town’s 21 firefighters turned in their helmets Tuesday.

Some firefighters told KOAT they quit because of a lack of support. They say the city has refused their requests for new equipment and EMT training.

Sandoval County Deputy Fire Chief Jess Lewis said his department will respond to fires in Cuba. But he said with so few volunteers to help, response times will suffer.

Cuba’s mayor told KOAT he blamed the exodus on the hiring of a new fire chief for the town.

No Added Fluoride in Capital

The Santa Fe Public Utilities Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to stop adding fluoride to the local water supply. The subject has provoked controversy over the past month.

The City Council agreed to eliminate supplemental fluoride in July. However, the ordinance was rescinded after the city’s legal department advised the council that its vote wasn’t properly noticed under state law. The council voted under the auspices of an ordinance publicized as only proposing to align fluoride levels with standards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The issue is now making its way through a second round of City Hall committees. The entire City Council will vote on the ordinance on Aug. 28. There will also be a public hearing at the meeting.

The city spends about $34,000 a year supplementing the water supply with fluoride.

2 Want To Be Portales’ Chief

PORTALES — A police lieutenant and the Roosevelt County sheriff are eyeing Portales’ top law enforcement job.

Portales police Lt. Mark Cage and Sheriff Darren Hooker say they’ll apply to become chief of the department.

Current police Chief Jeff Gill says he’s retiring Sept. 21.

Cage has 18 years of experience as a Portales officer. Hooker began his law enforcement career in 1996 and took office as Roosevelt County sheriff in 2007. Applications won’t be considered until Aug. 17.

Corrections Officer Arrested

SANTA FE — A New Mexico corrections officer has been arrested in an off-duty incident.

Authorities said Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility officer Adam Balderama was taken into custody Saturday on suspicion of battery and public affray.

A Town of Mesilla marshal arrested Balderama. He bonded out of jail Sunday.

Balderama began his employment with the New Mexico Corrections Department in August 2006.

The Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility is located near Las Cruces.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal