July 1 First News: Diego Fire Burning In Jemez Mountains Expands (Listen)

Jul 1, 2014

The Diego Fire burning in the Jemez Mountains ballooned to more than a square mile by Monday afternoon, making it five times bigger than it was the day before. That prompted law enforcement officers to go door-to-door in the area around the small community of Jarosa urging residents to leave. The blanket of smoke hanging over northern New Mexico made it difficult to gauge how much ground the fire made as it moved through the tinder-dry forested area. As crews faced hot, dry conditions, the plume from the Diego Fire could be seen as far away as Albuquerque, some 80 miles to the south. It served as a reminder of the high fire danger that has plagued New Mexico and much of the West.

A change in the weather is forecast for northern New Mexico over the next day or two may be of assistance to firefighters. National Weather Service Meteorologist Kerry Jones telling KSFR that the period of hot and dry weather we’ve been experiencing will soon be replaced with a system bringing in more moisture. So, is it the monsoon? *****070114-Jones-3 (q: monsoon-like):27***** Jones says tomorrow’s weather is the first sign of the weather pattern that brings moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to us.

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates says eradicating malaria is easier than fixing the United States' education system. But what he really wishes he could do is write a check to eliminate biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Gates made the comments in a 45-minute talk Monday to employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was in northern New Mexico for a private tour of the nation's premier nuclear weapons facility. His foundation helps fund some research at the lab, including work on an HIV vaccine. Gates talked about his foundation's work distributing vaccines across the world. But he says making advances in education is the foundation's hardest challenge. Asked if he saw more areas for collaboration at Los Alamos, Gates joked that his foundation doesn't fund weapons. But he says non-proliferation is "super important."

New Mexico's highest court has upheld a state law that caps residential property tax valuation increases until a home changes ownership. The state Supreme Court on Monday said the law was constitutional. Critics of the tax limitation law contended it had improperly created a new class of taxpayers based on when someone bought a house. Under a state law that took effect in 2001, most people are subject to a three-percent limit on how much property values can climb each year for tax purposes. However, the cap doesn't apply when a home changes hands. Critics contend new homeowners can be hit by "tax lightning" because their property tax bills often are much higher than their neighbors when the valuation of the newly purchased house is reassessed for tax purposes.

New Homeowners: watch out! A bigger property tax bill has just been deemed Constitutional. KSFR's Tilcara Webb has the story.  *****Webb :29 q:STD *****

TEXT: They call it "tax lightning," the bigger property tax bill that can hit a new homeowner. Today, the NM SC said it was perfectly legal. When a home changes ownership, the new owners do not benefit from the 3 percent limit on residential property taxes that protects established homeowners. Once the new buyer absorbs the bigger jump in his property taxes, they are then covered by the 3% limit in future years. For KSFR, I'm Tilcara Webb. 

A reminder that the law banning texting while driving in New Mexico is state law, effective today. The law prohibits motorists from reading or sending text messages and emails except in emergencies. Internet use is also prohibited.  Violators face a 25-dollar fine that doubles for repeat offences. The city of Santa Fe currently has a one-hundred dollars fine for cellphone use while driving.

A planned 4th of July ceremony at Roswell's veterans cemetery should go just fine.  The reality TV show episode about it -- not so much.  KSFR's Dave Marash has the story. ***** q: std :58*****

TEXT:  The city of Roswell has learned a hard lesson about the so-called "reality" of TV reality shows. The Roswell Daily Record reports, the A&E show "Shipping Wars," did fulfill its promise to deliver a columbarium, a memorial urn for incinerated remains to the local veterans' cemetery in time for a 4th of July ceremony.  But added to the shipment was a tombstone for Roswell's celebrated aliens.   “I was very disappointed,” said Jason Bethany of Anderson-Bethany Funeral Home. “They told us they wouldn’t use the alien footage at all.”  But they did.  As the Daily Record put it -- the urn for the veterans "took a back seat" on the cablecast to the slab for the aliens.   As Burt Eldridge of the county cemetery board put it, "It was just crap."  For KSFR News, I'm Dave Marash.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today, with a high near 83and a 20-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms. Tonight: Mostly cloudy with a 30-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms, with the overnight low, 57. Tomorrow: Partly sunny with a 30-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms and a high of 81.