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May 23 First News: Severe Weather Hits Northern New Mexico; Causes Multiple Car Wrecks (Listen)

Officials say severe weather and large hail has caused multiple car wrecks in northern New Mexico. The National Weather Service says the hail struck Las Vegas on Thursday and snarled traffic along Interstate 25. Meanwhile, eastern New Mexico remained under a "slight risk" for severe storms thanks to a storm system that brought "quarter-size" hail and damaging 60 mph winds. In addition, the Sangre de Cristo, Sandia and Manzano mountain chains in central New Mexico are expected to experience scattered thunderstorms.

The Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club is working to correct some misinformation resulting from President Obama’s declaration Wednesday of the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument. Club spokeswoman Camilla Fiebelman responding to claims by Dona Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison and a Utah Congressman that the declaration would foster illegal activity.  Fiebelman points out that U-S Customs and Border Patrol has stated that law enforcement activities will be unaffected by the monument’s designation. And she says that there’s been overwhelming support for it: *****052414-Fiebelman-1 (q: and the world) :30***** U-S Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is in Las Cruces, scheduled to visit the Monument today.

We’ve been hearing for some time that New Mexico’s “oil patch” is booming—and now the Census Bureau is saying it. Population estimates released Thursday show that Carlsbad's population grew about three-point-four percent from 2012 to 2013. That was followed by Hobbs, with three-point-one percent growth. Seven of the top 10 fastest-growing communities — large and small incorporated places — were in Lea and Eddy counties in the oil-rich Permian Basin of southeastern New Mexico. The state's largest city, Albuquerque, meanwhile, barely grew.

The New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens—or Lulac—is sponsoring a debate tomorrow between second district Congressional candidates Republican incumbent Representative Steven Pearce and his Democratic challenger, Roxanne Lara. Pablo Martinez, President of the Las Cruces Chapter, says the debate is part of LULAC’s85th annual New Mexico convention: *****052314-Martinez-3 (q: martinez) :28***** The conference begins today in Las Cruces and goes through Sunday. More information’s available at new-mexico-lulac-dot-org.

The Legislative Health and Human Services Interim Committee is meeting later this morning at the State Capitol. Among the issues on the agenda: child maltreatment intervention with representatives from the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

With Zozobra 2014 a little more than 3 months away, planning has begun for 2015. KSFR's Sophie Wickert has the story.  ***** (q: std) :49*****

Santa Fe Weather:  Partly sunny with a 50-percent chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms and a high of 68. Tonight: Mostly cloudy with a 60-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms and the low around 49. Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy with a 60-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms and the high 67. Right now, it's ____