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FFA donates computer-designed sign to the city

Karen Bailey-Bowman — El Defensor Chieftain:  Socorro High School senior and Future Farmers of America member Greg Stover demonstrates how he uses the school’s Plasma Cam machine to fabricate decorative metal objects. A sign he created was donated to the city’s softball field at Sedillo Park last week.

As a part of the high school FFA's community partnership with the city of Socorro, FFA member and Socorro High School senior Greg Stover designed and fabricated a decorative sheet-metal sign for Sedillo City Park's softball field. The sign was installed last week.

SHS team top public school in Science Olympiad

Socorro High School's Science Olympiad team snagged third place overall in the high school division at the state competition at New Mexico Tech this weekend, topping all the state's public school competitors. Albuquerque Home Schoolers and Albuquerque Academy took first and second places, respectively. The winning team travels to Orlando, Florida, for the national competition in May.

Biggest Loser contest encourages community to get healthy

Karen Bailey-Bowman — El Defensor Chieftain:  Magdalena Biggest Loser challengers must weigh in once a week with contest organizer Alice Lawton. Pictured, Charity Ann Jacobs waits while Lawton resets the scale. Jacobs’ four pound loss won the Biggest Loser weekly contest; she received a hand-made ceramic painting donated by local artist Karen Waggoner.

Magdalena-area residents can now join a grass-roots "Biggest Loser" contest. The top loser will get a lot less than the $250,000 Rachel Fredrickson did, the controversial winner on the popular NBC show. On the other hand, Magdaleneans won't have to travel to California or even Socorro for personal coaching and healthy foods, according to organizer Alice Lawton.

Bosque work east of Socorro to begin

Starting in February, forestry division inmate crews from Los Lunas will be working on the "ribbon" east of town — the forested area between the low flow channel and the drain on the west side of the river.

Socorro tightens up on pet leash laws

Several more pet leash law signs were posted in January around the Tech campus area as a result of numerous complaints and one dog attack incident, according to Campus Police Chief George Murillo, Jr.

Irrigation odds same as 2013

Next year's irrigation season looks to be a repeat of 2013 — a gamble that mountain snow melt and summer rain will supply enough water to keep irrigation going until the usual November 1 closure date.

CO2 pipeline proposed for Catron, Socorro Counties

Photo courtesy of BLM.:  Kinder Morgan’s proposed route for a 213-mile, 16-inch diameter underground pipeline carrying liquid carbon dioxide crosses Catron and Socorro Counties before joining the company’s Cortez pipeline in Torrance County.

Hundreds of acres of private land will be condemned in three counties — Socorro, Catron and Torrence — for a pipeline carrying liquid carbon dioxide used to enhance oil recovery. The pipeline, snaking across the landscape and under two rivers, will be completed in 2015.

Insurance mandate looms

Beginning in 2015, the federal Affordable Care Act will require school districts employing more than 50 full-time staff members to offer a year of health insurance coverage to any employee working more than 30 hours per week on average during a school year, Superintendent Randall Earwood said at Monday's Socorro school board meeting. In 2015, the district will have to offer health insurance to some substitute teachers and temporary workers — such as coaches, he said. Once an employee accepts the coverage, the district must pay its share of the employee's premiums for the next 12 months. If the employee no longer works enough hours to afford his share of the cost, the district will also be responsible for that portion of the premium. In effect, the district may end up being a collection agency.

San Antonio ditches to carry water for Bosque birds this winter

Elva K. Österreich/El Defensor Chieftain: Fourth graders at Zimmerly Elementary School practice for the National Dance Institute Residency production, “Eureka!” to be performed at the Macey Center Friday.

Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District irrigation ditches are carrying drainage water from just above Brown Arroyo east of Socorro to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of San Antonio this fall and winter as a result of an agreement between the two entities that took effect after the regular irrigation season closed Nov. 1.

Friends of the Bosque celebrates 20th anniversary

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and the group has accomplished its goal — the San Antonio wildlife preserve is now considered "one of the crown jewels of the refuge system," according to refuge manager Kevin Cobble.

Computer woes hinder school testing

Elva K. Österreich/El Defensor Chieftain: Kindergartners at Midway Elementary School lead the Pledge of Allegiance for an awards assembly Nov. 7. According to principal Gilbert Peralta this was the first ever quarterly awards assembly at Midway.

Problems with the school district's Internet service and online student assessments prompted a lengthy discussion at the programmatic school board meeting held at Midway Elementary School on Monday night.

Conflict of interest issues rise at school board

Monday night's Socorro Consolidated Schools board meeting was dominated by discussion about conflict of interest issues affecting board members, board travel to workshops and conferences, and a resolution requesting the Public Education Department to give the district more time to implement accountability measures.

Magdalena Schools awarded $1.2 million

Magdalena Schools was awarded a $1.2 million Demonstration Grant for Indian Children from the U.S. Department of Education in September. The grant funds programs addressing the needs of Native American pre-school and high school students, according to Keri James, federal and state programs coordinator for the district. But all Magdalena students will benefit from the funding boost.