KRWG

Madison Staten

Multimedia Reporter

Madison Staten is a Multimedia Reporter for KRWG Public Media.  You can hear her stories on KRWG-FM and watch on KRWG-TV's Newsmakers.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Madison spent her college years at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the institution.

 

Madison worked on a variety of shows for Arizona PBS during her time in college—including Arizona Horizon and the television magazine program Catalyst.

 

She is passionate about storytelling and public media, and believes in the the mission of public broadcasting: to educate and inform with depth and accuracy.

 

She strives to uphold the core principles of journalism, and looks forward to serving the region.

 

Madison joined KRWG in July, 2020

The New Mexico Legislature passed a $330 million COVID-19 relief bill during a special session on Tuesday.

New Mexico’s unemployed workers will receive a one-time $1,200 payment next month, following authorization of the legislature’s COVID-19 relief bill by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Grisham, who called for the special session, spoke about the need to get funds out to New Mexicans as soon as possible. 

“We spent the last several days working with legislators, both chambers, both sides of the aisle, to work on those details,” Grisham said. “And it's a tough time to ask legislators, as they're trying to be, and they are, effective local leaders—getting their counties ready, their cities and communities, families, but we want to get this relief out to New Mexicans. They need unemployment. They need housing assistance and businesses need grants.”

las-cruces.org

Las Cruces City Councilor Johana Bencomo is calling for further discussion surrounding Las Cruces Police Department policies following Monday's city council meeting.

“We have to be really serious, right, about the kind of tension that exists right now in our community, and how do we address that?” Bencomo said.

The council reviewed various policies as part of the settlement agreement between the city of Las Cruces and the Estate of Antonio Valenzuela. Valenzuela died after being restrained by a now former LCPD officer following a traffic stop last February.

The presentation noted the police department has already implemented the majority of the suggested policies. This includes a ban on all chokeholds and a requirement for bi-annual de-escalation training. Lieutenant Jeremy Story says the police department is working to offer more trainings in 2021.     

Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University has announced an alliance with the Small Business Administration that will provide local businesses with additional resources.

Arrowhead Center will now have access to local SBA events as well as the ability to host speakers provided by SBA.

Small Business Administration District Director John Garcia says the partnership will be extremely beneficial.

“It’s a Strategic Alliance Memorandum to develop and foster a mutual understanding and a working relationship between the SBA and Arrowhead Center in order to strengthen and expand small business development in our local areas,” Garcia said. “You know, we have 157,000 small businesses in the state of New Mexico…it's critical that we team up and work together.”

The New Mexico legislature is meeting in a special virtual session Tuesday to plan a path toward economic recovery for the state.  Second Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County Kat Sánchez says it showcases the dedication of state elected officials to step up in the absence of a federal stimulus package.

“They are looking at trying to secure an economy for New Mexico and trying to make sure that everybody has food on their table and is able to pay their rent or their mortgage,” Sánchez said. “Days before we get together around a table for Thanksgiving, our legislators are working hard to make sure that we can continue to feed, clothe and shelter our families. And I think that speaks volumes that we can come together, put things aside, and just make sure that we're doing right by our communities.” 

3,675 COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday in New Mexico, a new daily record.  Of those, 502 were recorded in Doña Ana County.

New Mexico Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase addressed the growing strain being placed on the state’s healthcare system during the governor’s most recent COVID-19 press conference. 

“We typically have about 2,500 general hospital beds. In New Mexico we are down to 60, in the 2- 3% range,” Scrase said. “This is a situation we are in with a lot of communities with no available beds.”

Memorial Medical Center, Las Cruces

The New Mexico Department of Health announced 338 new COVID-19 cases in Doña Ana County on Tuesday. Those cases are part of the more than 2,100 reported statewide, a new daily record.

Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces is working to keep up with the recent increase of COVID-19 cases. According to Chief Medical Officer Dolores Gomez, the hospital could reach capacity in the next few weeks if current trends continue.

“If we stay on our trajectory as of where we are, we could be looking at hitting a point where we have to worry about capacity issues within the next one to three weeks, but it's hard to say, and it's all going to depend on how sick somebody gets,” Gomez said. “We're continuing to see the number of positive cases continue to go up…you know when you see those numbers go up, you know that some of those people are going to be at our doorstep here at the hospital.” 

The Las Cruces City Council voted to approve a contract with Axon Enterprise for body cameras and data storage services. Over 60 new body cameras will be added to the Las Cruces Police Department’s inventory, bringing the department’s total number of body cameras to 214. Rob Benavidez, with the Las Cruces Police Department, spoke to the council about the benefits of using Axon Enterprise.

“We have used this system for a very long time, and we have gone through a lot of heartache with other camera systems that we have tried,” Benavidez said. “Since we moved to this system, I can honestly tell you, since I've been involved with law enforcement here, which is a little close to 18 years, we have probably saved the city quite a bit because we have taken the steps to record our actions.”

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has placed the entire state of New Mexico under a two-week shelter in place order, requiring all non-essential businesses to cease in person operations.

“All New Mexicans are instructed to shelter in place. You should stay at home, except for only the most essential trips for health, safety and welfare,” Grisham said. “Notice we still want people to work to get their flu shots, that's critical for us in managing our healthcare situation and also for saving lives.”

Essential retail spaces, such as grocery stores, will be required to reduce capacity to 75 people or 25% of maximum capacity, whichever is smaller. Restaurants will be allowed to offer curbside pickup and delivery, but not on-site dining.

Governor Grisham emphasized the severity of the virus in New Mexico, saying the state cannot continue to sustain the current situation.

Over the course of the pandemic, more than 150 businesses have reached out to the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce in need of COVID related assistance. For Chamber of Commerce President Debbi Moore, it’s a heartbreaking sign of the times.

“They're just trying to go from day to day, keep the lights on, keep employees employed,” Moore said. “Are we working at home more? Yes. Are we navigating new waters? Yes. Do we know what the end is? No.”

Moore is in favor of additional government aid to help support local business. She stressed no matter what political party is in office, officials have a responsibility to step in.

“The people of this nation have spoken,” President-Elect Joe Biden said. “They’ve delivered us a clear victory. A convincing victory. A victory for ‘We The People.’” 

Biden delivered his presidential acceptance speech in Delaware, after neighboring Pennsylvania was called in his favor.

Here in New Mexico, local government officials are hopeful about the victory, including Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez who says the Biden victory is a huge win for the state.

“I think New Mexicans overwhelmingly voted in support of a Biden administration, and I think we're hungry for national change,” Vasquez said. “I think we have some terrific leaders at the state level and representing us in Congress…Acting seriously on climate change, racial justice and racial equity, economic development opportunities for rural New Mexico and helping to mitigate the impacts of COVID are all things that I am looking forward to under this administration.”

cdc

“I grieve for every single New Mexican that we've lost,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “We've lowered our flags to mourn.”

Grisham addressed the increase in COVID-19 deaths in the state during her most recent press conference, following a rise in cases that has led to over 1,000 COVID related deaths.

State Human Services Department Cabinet Secretary Dr. David Scrase is predicting that the number will continue to rise.

Zia Comics is filled with stories of heroes.

For many of its Las Cruces customers, it has been a necessary escape from the pandemic. But much like the antagonists inside the comic books, COVID-19 has been a villainous presence for owner Troy Stegner.

“We lost a lot of foot traffic due to COVID, and we were actually closed for two and a half months at the beginning,” Stegner said. “It really took a toll. I mean, there was a point we were deciding, you know, are we going to be able to continue, or are we just going to close the doors and turn this into something else? Because without revenue coming in, rent is still due, electric is still due, insurance, all those things you still have to pay and without revenue coming in it makes it a little difficult.”

Republican Isabella Solis was defeated by incumbent Democrat Joanne Ferrary.  Solis spoke about her experience talking to voters on the campaign trail.

 

“I’ve had some really good interactions,” Solis said. “Of course, you know, kind of socially distancing, but it was a really good communication. People were concerned about the, you know, the pandemic of course, but they were also concerned about their students getting back to school. Education seemed to be the biggest thing that people were concerned, and then the other was the social security for the elderly, or for the seniors, that double tax on social security was another big topic."

 

She also shared her hopes for the state to reopen and recover from the pandemic, emphasizing she does not want to be guided by fear. 

 

“We cannot lead our country or our state by fear, and sooner or later we're going to have to get back to normal," Solis said. "And I think that people are really looking for that normality. You know, they get really anxious, to be able to gather and just be with their families." 

   

Neomi Martinez-Parra / Facebook

Neomi Martinez-Parra stressed that healthcare and education should be top priorities for New Mexico.  She was defeated by Republican Crystal Diamond.

“Speaking to voters, the number one concerns that voters have had right now is COVID, and healthcare. And of course education, so I think we need to look at those,” Martinez-Parra said.  

She also talked about her campaigning efforts, saying she felt that the campaign did everything they could possibly do to ensure victory, even highlighting the ways they campaigned during the pandemic.

“You know, we had to resort to other things like mail and Facebook and lots of other email,” Martinez-Parra said. “So it's been different, but we were able to do it, even in the primary, and the nice thing about it is that people are home. And so we've had some wonderful conversations with voters.”

Yvette Herrell / twitter.com

Republican Yvette Herrell has won the race in New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District, defeating incumbent Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. She says boosting the economy is the most important issue for the state.  

“My top priority is really the people of New Mexico. Certainly, we want to work on getting our economy reopened, pushing on the federal level to ensure the tools are available to our small businesses. They are the backbone of our economy,” Herrell said. “Let's really look at reforming health care, we can do so with protecting preexisting conditions, but we can put transparency in it and provide a free-market atmosphere where we know that companies and physicians will actually compete for our business.” 

The city will contribute approximately $400,000 dollars to support an economic development project with local business LaSen Inc., after a unanimous vote by the Las Cruces City Council. The business, best known for its aerial inspection and mapping services, will receive funding with support from the Local Economic Development Act.

City Business Development Administrator Elizabeth Teeters outlined the specifics of the project.

“The New Mexico Economic Development Department will contribute up to $750,000. The city will contribute $400,000 and be the fiscal agent for the project,” Teeters said. “The agreement states that LaSen will have 79 full time employees by December 31, 2026…with a capital investment of $8.5 million.”

Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima-City of Las Cruces photo

Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima’s emergency proclamation has been extended four more days, following a unanimous city council vote Friday.

All city indoor recreation facilities will remain closed, save for the Las Cruces Regional Aquatic Center and increased security will remain in place at the Las Cruces Farmer’s Market to enforce mask wearing. The proclamation also dictates the city will allocate resources to ensure compliance with state and city orders.  

New Mexico Human Services Department

The New Mexico Human Services Department held a press conference Thursday, outlining how COVID-19 is continuing to impact the state.

Dr. Jason Mitchell, the chief medical officer for Presbyterian Healthcare Services, stressed hospitals are predicted to reach full capacity in the coming months if no further action is taken to prevent the spread.

“You see, strikingly that mid-November, we would really be turning on the crisis standards of care,” Mitchell said. “We’d have to turn off all surgeries, turn off all elective care, brought everybody in. And by December, we would have so many cases we would be at that point where we're in MASH tents. You’d have outpatient people trying to do inpatient work. You’re sharing equipment.”

facebook.com/city of las cruces

In a special meeting Monday, the Las Cruces City Council reviewed current and future projects to be funded by tax increment development district funds.

Projects currently in the works include improvements to the parking lot located behind the Rio Grande Theatre, the implementation of an online permitting system and a redesign of Campo Street. 

The city is also using TIDD funds to light trees up and down Main Street for the 2020 holiday season. City Interim Destination Downtown Program Manager Liz Vega says the new lights will be put up in place of other decorations, such as the usual Christmas tree, due to the pandemic.

The Las Cruces City Council reviewed capital outlay projects they are seeking to prioritize, including an extension of Madrid Road, a septic system replacement and an expansion of Las Cruces International Airport.

The council reviewed a total of nine projects. They will work to approve a resolution by December 7 that narrows down the proposed improvements to a more manageable list of three to five for the state legislature to consider.

City Grant Administrator Amy Johnson emphasized the need for the council to consider the most important infrastructure needs first.

John Swicinski

Second grade teacher John Swicinski will be the first to tell you of the positive strides being made within the education system this year.

“I think the overall positive effect is COVID caused our administrators, our state, the government to start spending more money so that every single kid has a computer now,” Swicinski said. “Prior to that, I had five computers I shared with 20 kids, and rotated them every day. Now each child has their own computer.”

Yet, for all the new technology, the Truth or Consequences Elementary School teacher will freely admit to the struggles many in the teaching community have been facing during the pandemic.

Albuquerque Journal / Pool photo

New Mexico’s testing positivity rate has climbed to almost 6.5%, prompting Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to announce new pandemic restrictions.

“New Mexico has a third less hospital and healthcare capacity per capita than any other state in the country,” Grisham said. “That means we have to get it right. And we have to do everything we can to make sure people can get routine care.”

Effective this upcoming Friday, state-operated museums and historical sites must close their doors and all retail establishments must close by 10 p.m.

Food and drink establishments will be required to complete the state’s Safe Certification Training program by Oct 30 if they want to operate indoor dining at 25% capacity.

The Las Cruces City Council unanimously voted to establish a one-year contract with Alliance Transportation Group to further review the state of the city bus system.  

$100,000, a combination of NMDOT and local match funding, will be used to assess the performance of bus routes, identify gaps in service and recommend improvements as well as technology.

City Transit Administrator Mike Bartholomew highlighted some of the city’s transportation goals.

Representative Rebecca Dow - (R)

An ethics complaint filed against House District 38 Representative Rebecca Dow alleges she failed to disclose her elected position in state contracts benefitting the educational non-profit she founded, AppleTree.

The complaint was filed by her opponent in the District 38 race, Karen Whitlock. 

Dow, who has served in the state legislature since 2017, does not deny she marked “no” on documents asking about her status as a legislator.  But she says she was advised to do so by Legislative Council Services.

Director of Legislative Council Services, Raúl Burciaga, confirmed Dow did indeed seek clarification, but emphasized the council does not provide official legal advice to representatives, only guidance.

"It was probably a kind of conversation where she said, ‘Well, this is what I'm looking at,’ I'm sure it wasn't in person,” Burciaga said. “And as we went through it, it was like yeah, if you don't have 20% or more of ownership, and it's a not for profit business, then that doesn't seem to apply."

Diego Martinez’s art has always been the way he’s made sense of the world.

Best known for his creations featuring robots, the El Paso artist is one of the founders of Galería Lincoln. It’s not only an art gallery but also a place for local artists to express themselves and collaborate.

“For me, art in El Paso, it has been over 10 years in the making,” Martinez said. “This space has been years and years of daily drawing and painting and collaboration with my best friend Tino, you know, and so it all kind of just aligned.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham / Office of the New Mexico Governor

The message out of the state’s weekly COVID-19 press conference was clear — New Mexicans will need to be extra vigilant in the face of the virus as the number of positive COVID cases continues to climb. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham reported hospitalizations are up 74% this month.

“These are the highest levels we've been at, in a very bad way,” Grisham said. “So New Mexico has been leading the Southwest in low positivity rates, controllable transmission of COVID-19, and now we're in those columns where we're leading the country, if not in the number one position nearing it, for uncontrollable spread.”

Many think the electricity revolution happened more than a century ago—Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb; followed by a widespread implementation of electric power.

But the reality is the electricity industry continues to evolve, and there’s a new revolution happening right here in New Mexico.

Electricity stakeholders call it beneficial electrification. It’s a concept of using electricity as a replacement for direct fossil fuel in a way that lowers both cost and total emissions. It happened to be a central topic at Wednesday’s Electrify New Mexico event, a discussion about the future of electricity with state stakeholders hosted by New Mexico State University.

Memorial Medical Center, Las Cruces

The Las Cruces City Council will form a joint work group of city and county representatives to further review a proposal to amend the current lease agreement between Memorial Medical Center and the city.

One request of the amendment—a reduction in the hospital’s annual net revenue allocated to capital improvement. LifePoint Health, which represents the hospital, has proposed a change from 4% to 3%.  LifePoint Health Chief Financial Officer Steve Winegeart believes the reduction leaves room for greater flexibility.

Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham held a Coronavirus press conference Thursday, following the second-worst daily case count ever recorded in the state on October 7.

“A 9.7 positivity rate, while not our worst positivity rate since the beginning of the pandemic, it is well in that range. And it is a clear indication that the virus is spreading exponentially and rapidly in the state,” Grisham said.

The governor highlighted the need for youth sports to be postponed through the fall, prompting the Las Cruces Public School District to cancel all fall sports which includes volleyball, golf and cross country.

“The state is not updating its public health order,” Grisham said. “In fact, we didn't update the public health order to ever permit youth or K-12 games or competitions this fall. We were very clear about that. We didn't amend the order to do that.”

EDD

Held virtually, the Outdoor Economics Fall Forum was a chance for New Mexico leaders to discuss the importance of outdoor recreation and planning infrastructure to support it.

State Outdoor Recreation Division Director Axie Navas says the conference is designed to spur action in local communities.

“Our goal in a nutshell is to bring outdoor rec jobs to New Mexico, get more kids outside, create more sustainable access to these remarkable places and advance key conservation priorities, so these spaces remain accessible to future generations,” Navas said.

Pages