Morning Word

SFPD: Shooting Suspect Died

La Cienega/La Cieneguilla residents want answers on contaminated wells

Morning Word

SFPD: Shooting suspect dies

The Santa Fe Police Department yesterday announced it had been notified on March 12 that Rick Robert Chavez, 35, died at the hospital from the gunshot wounds he sustained last Sunday when SFPD and state police attempted to apprehend him. Chavez, at the time, had several outstanding warrants, including failure to comply with probation conditions related to drug trafficking and possession; aggravated assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon; aggravated fleeing from a police officer; and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, among others. Police first located Chavez at his father’s home on the 2800 block of Don Quixote, then relocated him on Rodeo Park Drive West where a chase began that ended on Vereda de Encanto west of Rodeo Road. There, Chavez exited his vehicle, a news release says, armed with a handgun and tried to flee in a car driven by George Anthony Theragood Jr., 42, who has been since charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated fleeing from police; harboring a felon; and disarming a police officer—the last charge stemming from Theragood’s attempts during apprehension to gain control of an officer’s “40 mm less lethal launcher.” At least one officer discharged their department firearm, striking Chavez and Theragood, with an SFPD officer hit as well. Theragood was treated and booked into the Santa Fe Adult Detention Center. The police officer is now in stable condition and has been released from the hospital. The incident remains under investigation, with the State Police investigating the officer-involved shooting.

La Cienega/Cieneguilla residents wait for answers on PFAS

Santa Fe County has a town hall planned for 6 to 8 pm this evening at Santa Fe Community College to address concerns related to Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS), aka “forever chemicals,” in the La Cienega and La Cieneguilla areas. Last year, evidence of PFAS turned up in tests the county ordered after the Air National Guard confirmed PFAS was present in the ground under its facility at the Santa Fe airport. The county reported in November that five of six groundwater wells sampled in La Cienega and La Cieneguilla showed the presence of PFAS—at levels between 1.8 ppt and 25 ppt for two compounds the Environmental Protection Agency has plans to regulate: PFOA and PFOS. La Cinenega and La Cieneguilla residents tell SFR this week they want answers about how their wells became contaminated. “I’ll keep saying this until I’m blue in the face,” Robert Romero, chairman of the La Cienega Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association, tells SFR. “We have less and less water and more and more contamination.” Just how much PFAS is below the Santa Fe facility, whether it actually came from the airport facility, and how much has moved to La Cienega and La Cieneguilla, however, remain among unanswered questions. New Mexico Environment Department representatives also plan to attend tonight’s meeting, and spokesman Jorge Estrada tells SFR the department is working to identify responsible parties because the New Mexico Hazardous Waste and Water Quality Act makes it illegal to release PFAS into the environment.

Let the sun shine

The Albuquerque Journal spotlights New Mexico Foundation for Open Government during Sunshine Week (March 10-16), an annual collaboration between journalism and many other groups highlighting the importance of public information, such as open records and meetings. The Journal talks to NMFOG Executive Director Melanie Majors about how the climate surrounding public information has changed over the last several decades; the existing “roadblocks” people face when trying to access public information; and FOG’s own efforts to enforce the state’s specific public information laws: The Inspection of Public Records Act and the Open Meetings Act. Majors says approximately 300 to 400 people annually contact FOG believing their rights to information have been violated. “We are not here for just reporters,” she says. “I have a lot of government officials who call me. Lawyers, business people.” SFR participates in Sunshine Week each year by publishing The Foilies, a collaboration between The Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock, in partnership with the Association of Alternative Newsmedia—of which SFR is a member—showcasing the year’s worst and most ridiculous responses to public records requests and other attempts to thwart public access to information. SFR also awarded its own award this year to NM Attorney General Raúl Torrez, whose office is charged with enforcing the state’s IPRA and OMA laws, but who has now taken close to a year (and counting) to respond to SFR’s OMA complaint against the Board of Santa Fe County Commissioners after it held an unannounced closed-door meeting on May 10, 2023.

Gov launches federal funding dashboard

Curious about how much money New Mexico has received through various Biden administration initiatives, such as the American Rescue Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law? Between both, Santa Fe County received more than $4 million, the bulk from ARPA, much of which it has yet to spend. This information and so much more comes from a new dashboard unveiled yesterday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office. “It is incumbent on government at all levels to make sure that every penny of this historic funding is spent on projects that transform New Mexico communities and improve the quality of life for those who live here,” the governor said in a statement. “This is a tool to illustrate the magnitude of projects being made possible through this funding, but also to make sure the public can hold state and local government accountable and track the progress of projects happening in their own communities.” The dashboard will soon also include data from the Inflation Reduction Act and Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act as those federal grants are awarded to state agencies. Dashboard users can use various filters to break down allocations by project, county, agency and more.

Listen up

To mark Women’s History Monthtoday’s 8 am Let’s Talk New Mexico’s call-in program focuses on “women who make history,” with a special eye to equity, diversity and inclusion. The show will include recognition for the trailblazers, but also asks listeners to participate live, email or record a message about the women in their lives, as well as share thoughts on moving toward “a more equitable future.” Guests include Umoja Abq Executive Director Chantal Muhumure; Kris Pettersen, program manager for the New Mexico Historic Women Marker Program; State Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces; and Wilhelmina Yazzie, education activist and a party to Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico. Call (505) 277-5866 to participate live during the show; email or record a voice message using the service on the first link.

Capturing NM

Collected Works Bookstore and Violet Crown co-host an author event and film screening in Violet Crown’s gallery space starting at 4 pm today for Oscar-winning cinematographer and photographer Sir Roger Deakins, who will sign copies of his book Byways in advance of a 6 pm screening of the made-in-New Mexico film No Country for Old Men (based, of course, on the novel by the late author Cormac McCarthy). On Friday, Obscura Gallery (225 Delgado St.) will host an exclusive exhibition of Deakins’ photography “that reflects a life spent looking and telling stories through images from 1971 to the present.” Deakins recently spoke to New Mexico Magazine about his relationship with New Mexico, where he filmed not just No Country for Old Men, but True Grit and Sicario as well, while also photographing the state at length. Specifically, he takes the magazine behind the story of three iconic New Mexico photographs, such as “Lightning Strikes,” depicting a bolt of lightning across the sky. “When we were first talking about Sicario, Denis [Villeneuve, the film’s director] and I were imagining skies that were quite bland,” Deakins tells the magazine. “We didn’t imagine dramatic New Mexico thunderstorms, and we didn’t imagine the sky becoming a character in the film. But we embraced it.”

Retire, relax, repeat

The Travel includes Taos in its list of 10 “off-the-beaten-path” US destinations to retire, spots with “moderate climates, diverse cultures, tax benefits and affordable living.” Taos, the story notes, offers both “profound Native American influence and renowned skiing.” Moreover, “amid adobe architecture and vibrant galleries, retirees can savor an eclectic culinary scene, immersing themselves in a cultural odyssey.” In a story for retirees and working folks alike, Afar magazine rounds up “14 dream hot springs worth traveling for,” with Ojo Caliente spa (the original) naturally making the list as a place for a “tonic treat,” whether you’re visiting New Mexico “for skiing or for a dose of Southwestern architecture, cuisine and culture.” Only in Your State tallies up options for eco-friendly Airbnbs, detailing seven across New Mexico, including La Chihuahua Casita in Santa Fe, an “earth-friendly 420-square-foot casita” located on 2.5 acres, with solar power and rainwater collection. “With shared outdoor spaces, you’ll be able to socialize with other guests,” writer Melissa Mahoney says. “There’s a natural swimming pool, trails, greenhouse, and gardens on the property as well.” Vogue magazine also has Airbnbs on the mind, specifically ones for bachelorette getaways, with Santa Fe earning a mention for “brides with a sense of adventure,” and a specific recommendation for Hacienda Rose for one’s pre-nuptial getaway.

March showers

The National Weather Service forecasts just a 20% chance for showers today after noon on an otherwise mostly sunny day, with a high temperature near 48 degrees and southwest winds 5 to 15 mph. Tonight, however, we have an 80% chance for precipitation, with a mix of rain and snow showers heading into Friday morning and straight through the weekend.

Thanks for reading! The Word finally succumbed and now knows what the Kate Middleton hubbub is all about. Unrelatedly, she will be off tomorrow to catch up on sleep paperwork; Morning Word returns Monday, March 18.

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