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Morning Word: Fenn's Folly

June 20, 2017, 7:30 am

NMSP chief calls for halt to treasure hunt
"Stop this nonsense." Those were the words of New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas after rescue crews pulled a body from the Rio Grande near Taos this month. It's believed to be that of a Colorado pastor who was searching for Forrest Fenn's hidden treasure. It would be the second death of a treasure hunter in roughly a year. While Fenn says the deaths have hit him hard, he hasn't decided whether to reclaim the treasure and call off the chase.

Money. That's what we want.
New Mexico is poised to collect $130 million above state expenses when it closes the book on the fiscal year at the end of this month. That's according to a rough estimate presented to legislators yesterday. The increase is due largely to oil and natural gas prices, but gross receipts taxes are up, too. At least in the near term, the money serves to bolster New Mexico's cash reserves.

LANL safety under the microscope
In a jaw-dropping look back at the four-year shutdown of parts of Los Alamos National Labs' plutonium metallurgy facility, Patrick Malone at the Center for Public Integrity reveals just how close to a nuclear incident the lab has come in recent years. The cost of those shutdowns could easily eclipse $1 million a day in lost productivity. And nearly all of the engineers who were supposed to monitor safety at the facility quit over what they thought was lack of support for safe nuclear practices.

Former state senator faces 22 more charges
Perjury, embezzlement, fraud, filing false campaign reports and even using campaign money to pay for auto repair—after he resigned from office—those are the new charges, mostly felonies, against former state Sen. Phil Griego. A grand jury handed them up last week. They'll be added to nine counts he faces already that focus on his brokering the sale of a state-owned building near the Capitol. That earned him a $50,000 commission.

Air supremacy
Albuquerque's Mark Smith, a colonel in the Civil Air Patrol, will lead the 57,000-member organization as its chief executive and commander. The Civil Air Patrol assists with searches, especially for downed aircraft, as well as promoting civilian flight. Add that to former congresswoman Heather Wilson's post as Secretary of the Air Force and New Mexico's air chops are notable.

$881 flu swab miffs local family
And why wouldn't it? In the latest example of how well things are working in the healthcare and insurance world, a Rio Rancho family got a bill for $881 after what they thought was a routine test for the flu—something akin to the $85 they were charged for a strep test. The family is calling for greater transparency in medical costs, especially before they're incurred.

Dust storm closes Interstate 10 after pileup
A 25-vehicle pileup along I-10 near Lordsburg is being blamed on a massive dust storm rolling off the desert. Highway officials from both New Mexico and Arizona closed a 60-mile stretch of the highway because of the low visibility.

Hotter and hotter
Santa Fe will stay relatively cool today while the rest of state bakes in near-record heat. Highs in our fair city should be around 90, while Albuquerque could hit 100. Tomorrow, that's Santa Fe's fate, or close to it, as there's a chance for 99.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks China can stop messing with our weather now.

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