July 18 First News: Federal sequester cuts shutter 2 Santa Fe Head Start Centers. (listen)

Federal sequestration cuts are forcing the closure of two Head Start centers in Santa Fe County. The closures were announced by Presbyterian Medical Services which oversees the programs in four counties. Federal funding for Presbyterian's efforts has been cut by some $700,000. Shuttering their doors now are the Chimayó Head Start Center and another on the Institute of American Indian Arts campus. 10 other Head Start Centers in Santa Fe County are not affected.

A new federal tip line has been created by the U.S. Attorney's Office in our state that allows anonymous reporting of suspected drug trafficking in northern New Mexico.  Billboards displaying the TIP 411 texting number will now be going up throughout Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties where federal authorities say drug traffickers have set up shop. Española, just north of Santa Fe, suffers some of the highest rates of heroin abuse in the country.

An overall, improving economy has contributed to a rise in home sales in Santa Fe according to new data presented by Santa Fe Association of Realtors president, Victoria Murphy....***clip. Murphy also says current inventory is low and Santa Fe is entering a period for a good seller's market.

The State Board of Finance has greenlighted a $20 million loan to New Mexico's Spaceport America for the building of two downstate visitor centers. Today's Albuquerque Journal says the deal may be finalized within 30 days and construction could begin shortly thereafter. Spaceport will make repayment over 21 years at a 3.8% interest rate. The loan proposal received unanimous support at the Board of Finance's Wednesday meeting although there was discussion of concerns that the state could get stuck with the bill if the centers do not draw the 200,000 visitors a year as projected.

Wednesday's meeting of Santa Fe's Charter Review Commission saw some tweaking of their proposals to make the City’s mayoral post a full-time position with an annual salary of some $150,000. The Commission is expected to present its recommendations to City Hall at the end of the month. The changes to the mayor’s job could not take effect until 2018 as it would first have to pass muster with voters in a municipal election.  Those, by the way, are typically held in March with the Commission set to recommend they be moved to autumn.

New Mexico’s Family Infant Toddler Program--also known as “fit”-- has, for the third year in a row, received high marks from the US Dept. of Education. That agency ranks New Mexico among the top 25% of states successfully meeting requirements across 14 performance indicators. The FIT Program provides comprehensive early intervention services including developmental, speech, physical, and occupational therapy to more than 13,000 New Mexico children from birth to the age of three. 34 provider agencies statewide are supported by a blend of federal, state and private monies totaling more than $18.5 million for fiscal year 2014.

Weather for Santa Fe – partly sunny both today and Friday with highs near 80 degrees. There’s a 40% chance for afternoon and evening thundershowers today, increasing to 50% tomorrow. Overnight lows in the upper 50s.