A "Vote Here" sign at the Otero County Fairgrounds in Alamogordo.

2022 General Election certified, two recounts upcoming

The New Mexico State Canvassing Board certified the 2022 General Election at their Nov. 29 meeting. The election results were certified after a third-party auditor declared no findings and the election results were sent to the canvassing board for certification. “Our office worked closely with our county clerks across the state of both political parties to ensure we all had the information and the tools necessary to conduct a successful election,” New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse-Oliver said. “This was absolutely a team effort.”

The Nov.

A row of mailboxes off Riata Road near Tularosa.

Public safety 911 enhancements discussed

App-based businesses such as food delivery and ride-share companies use GPS to find their customers. But the New Mexico 911 Program does not have that technology to do that yet. The Next Generation 911 is expected to bring the current analog 911 system into the 21st century. “The New Mexico 911 Program works to provide a best-in-class 911 system that facilitates efficient and reliable public safety response to best serve the communities of New Mexico,” Stephen A. Weinkauf, bureau chief of the E-911 Bureau’s Local Government Division, Department of Finance and Administration, said at a Rural Economic Opportunities Task Force meeting Nov. 21. 

Enacted in March 2022, the New Mexico 911 Program was established by the ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004, or the Ensuring Needed Help Arrives Near Callers Employing 911 Act of 2004, which sought to upgrade the nation’s 911 system in the post-9/11 years.

NM Supreme Court upholds constitutional amendment changing PRC to an appointed body

Despite arguments that voters did not understand that they would lose the ability to elect state utility regulators, the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the constitutional amendment that changes the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission from an elected body to an appointed body. The court heard oral arguments on Monday and, after a brief recess, the judges returned to the room and announced their decision. A written opinion will be issued that explains the reasoning. The change goes into effect in January and a nominating committee is currently considering about fifteen candidates. The nominating committee meets Friday and is expected to choose which names to submit to the governor for consideration. 

The Indigenous groups argue that the appointment rather than election of PRC commissioners will disenfranchise them by potentially eliminating representation.

Researcher says ancient agricultural fields are threatened by oil and gas near Chaco

When the ancestral Puebloans lived in the Chaco Canyon area, they chose to locate their great houses in areas with high agricultural productivity, according to a new study in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. 

Lead author Wetherbee Dorshow said these ancient agricultural fields can be hard to identify. And encroaching oil and gas development in the region could threaten the fields. “There are a lot of areas there that have never been surveyed and we don’t know a ton about,” he said. “There’s also a lot of oil and gas in areas that are highly sensitive.”

He said the fields aren’t lined with stone fences like the masonry walls that have been used in Zuni Pueblo. Dorshow’s team used GIS—or geospatial imaging—to identify areas that the ancestral Puebloans may have farmed during the time period archaeologists refer to as the Great House period, which stretches from 850 A.D. to 1200 A.D.

Dorshow said there are a variety of different ideas about the role that Chaco Canyon played in the ancestral Puebloan society.

A parrot now lost in the United States may have been part of the pre-Columbian bird trade

About four years ago, John Moretti, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, was digging through animal bones found at the Bonnell archaeological site in southeastern New Mexico when he found one that stood out. He later identified this bone as belonging to a parrot that was once native to New Mexico, indicating that the people who lived there may have captured or traded the unique, high-elevation parrot species. He said these bones were essentially in Ziploc bags and had never been identified or cataloged. They’d been removed from the site in the 1950s. “It was really a mundane task,” he said.