Sept. 19 First News: Chama River floods town north of Española. (listen)

  In Rio Arriba County, the Chama River has spilled into the town of Hernandez after heavy rains. A dozen or more homes were partially submerged by rising waters. The flooding began late yesterday about 10 miles north of Española near the junction of US 84 and 285. The Red Cross has established a shelter for all those displaced.  County officials say the heavy rains of last week caused channels to become clogged with debris, sending the Chama over its banks with Wednesday's downpours.

New Mexico is among the top states in the nation when it comes to having its eligible children covered by Medicaid. That from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which shows New Mexico with 90-percent of its kids signed up, among only 19 states with 90-percent or higher. Matt Kennicott of the state Human Services Department says the numbers reflect the Department’s efforts…..******clip   The state some time ago expanded the eligibility for kids up to 235-percent  of the federal poverty level – or-- just over 41-thousand dollars a year for a family of four.

Yet another case of West Nile Virus has been reported in New Mexico. The Clovis News Journal reports a 29-year-old Curry County man is among three new cases reported by the New Mexico Department of Health. Ten cases of West Nile have been reported thus far this season with two fatalities. The Health Department is concerned that standing water from recent rains will lead to more cases, as the illness is spread by mosquitos.

The US Department of Education has approved funding for Pell Grants at Santa Fe Community College for 17 additional courses of study.  That gives the college 21 career certificates total for which such funding is available. SFCC’s acquisition of the grants was based on meeting criteria that the programs successfully prepare students to be employed and whose coursework is applicable to an associate’s degree in the same area of study. The maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $5,645 a year which does not need to be repaid. SFCC gave out $7.7 million to more than 2,200 students in the last school year.

With heavy rains replenishing many of our state’s waterways and reservoirs, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission has shut down its pumping of groundwater to the Pecos River. The severe drought conditions of Spring have required pumping since March in order to deliver water supply for use by farmers in the Carlsbad Irrigation District as guaranteed by the 2003 Pecos Settlement.  Surface water supplies have now reached robust levels and groundwater well field pumping is discontinued through March of next year.

New Mexico 3rd Congressional district representative Ben Ray Luján will speak today on climate change and its impacts on America’s Latino communities. Lujan will be joined by Arizona representative Raul Grijalva, a colleague in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. They hold a media teleconference this afternoon hosted by the League of Conservation Voters. Surveys conducted by Public Policy Polling have indicated some 74% of Latinos believe climate change is a serious problem, a higher level than the 65% among all American adults.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has selected Severo "Vince" Martinez as its new chief of staff.  He was chosen from a field of six finalists for the $90,000 a year post. Martinez received a unanimous vote from PRC members at Wednesday's regular meeting. He has previously served as the PRC's Transportation Division Director.

Weather for Santa Fe – mostly sunny later today, highs in the mid 70s and a 20% chance for afternoon and evening thundershowers. Friday and the weekend much the same.