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NMMI makes formal announcement of prep academy
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The New Mexico Military Institute has made it official that it intends to open a middle school preparatory academy this fall.

The concept of the day school has been in the works since 2019 and discussed at a couple of Board of Regents meetings. Now the Institute has issued a global news release indicating that it intends to accept sixth-grade students starting in August.

The NMMI Intermediate Preparatory Academy “will offer a unique and innovative academic program that emphasizes fundamentals while also incorporating immersive and integrated learning experiences,” Maj. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, NMMI president and superintendent, said in the news release issued Thursday.

NMMI staff, faculty and cadets are on spring break this week, and no response to an email was given by press time.

According to the release, the Institute once accepted sixth through eighth graders until the early 1900s. The academy will have up to 240 middle school students, at least in its early years, but will start by accepting sixth graders only. Seventh and eighth grades will be added in subsequent years.

A committee of parents, faculty, staff and educational advisors met for about six months to study the concept and develop plans, presenting a 28-page report to regents in July 2022.

NMMI officials have said that the academy will not only offer parents in the area another option for their children's education, but also will provide the Institute's academic and leadership development programs to more people, including middle school students who might choose to continue on to the Institute's high school and junior college, which operate as boarding schools.

Operational funding will come from distributions from land grant funding, as well as tuition and fees, with the NMMI Foundation expected to cover the costs of renovating the new building on West Country Club Road, just north of the NMMI golf course. Donations from individuals and grants are also expected. The July report estimated initial operating costs at about $2.1 million a year for 90 students. According to NMMI leadership, the academy's faculty and program will operate separately from the Institute's high school and junior college, but the school will be governed by NMMI.

NMMI was started in 1891 and now admits about 1,000 cadets a year from across the U.S. as well as from U.S. territories and 35 other countries.

In the Pecos Valley region, other institutions serving sixth through eighth grade include public middle schools, private and religious-affiliated schools, and Sidney Gutierrez Middle School, a public charter school. The NMMI report indicates that Roswell has an estimated 3,029 youth between the ages of 10 and 14 and that the average enrollment in public schools in Chaves County and Artesia serving middle-school-aged students is about 368. Private school enrollment of middle school students in Roswell averages about 166.

Revision of fees at Nancy Lopez Golf Course discussed

After several years going by with no fee increases at the Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River, a list of new prices for use of the course and its equipment is under consideration.

Members of the Parks and Recreation Commission discussed these new suggested fees when they met on Tuesday. The fee schedule was introduced to the General Services Committee in February and referred to Parks and Recreation this week.

General Services committee members will take it up in April. Members of this committee wanted to ensure there was a review of the proposal by people who were highly knowledgeable about golf and the 18-hole municipal golf course, said Councilor Juan Oropesa, who chairs General Services. He sat in on the Parks and Recreation meeting.

The golf course is asking for an array of increases of less than 10% in many instances, sometimes just about 5%, according to the staff report.

Monthly fees for single players would rise from $90 to $95 and couples would go up from $120 to $126. And regular green fees for both nine- and 18-hole play would go up $1 each to $14.25 and $20.25, respectively.

Some other changes being considered would be to allow seniors to play more. Senior singles and couples would be able to choose from either an “Anytime” or “Pay as you Play” membership. The Anytime price for a single player of $477 and for a couple of $595 would both be new. The senior single and couple weekdays-only memberships would be eliminated.

“Seniors should be able to play weekdays and weekends,” said Jessica Bennett, administrative assistant senior at the golf course.

And seniors who prefer to have monthly memberships would be able to play that way. Single seniors would pay $75 a month and senior couples would pay $105.

Players who are at least age 60 qualify as seniors.

Junior players, youth who are age 17 and younger or still attending high school, would be charged an annual membership of $150. Their memberships have been tied to couples’ memberships and this would no longer be the case. Couples alone pay $809 and those wanting to add a teen now have to add another $135 to their annual bill.

“An awful lot of money for kids and their families,” said Commissioner Becky Robertson.

Some parents who don’t play themselves have been signing up for memberships and not using them so their children could play.

That doesn’t “make sense,” Bennett explained.

These changes would also encourage more local youth to play golf, Bennett said.

Robertson also noted that participation in local high school teams is “dwindling.” She also noted that green fees are expensive and should be lower.

“What can be done?” she asked.

Green fees for juniors would be a more consistent $8.50 anytime and for both nine- and 18-hole games. However, it was pointed out that the decrease in interest among the young is not just because of cost.

“Nationwide attendance for that age group is declining,” said Colette Hall, the city’s recreation director. “(Youths) want something quicker.”

Robertson also asked why single people seem to be financially penalized when it comes to what they pay to play golf.

“Single people probably have less money,” she said.

City councilors will make the final decision about whether to adopt these fees.

Indoor pool update

Hall said mold damage to the indoor pool at the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center appears to be not as extensive as some had predicted.

More recent testing indicates the mold hadn’t spread as far as was thought.

She also said the plan is still to open the outdoor pool next month instead of in May. That will also require the bathrooms be cleaned up and ready for use.

Reporter Terri Harber can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 308, or

Legislative wrap up

The gavel fell at noon Saturday, bringing to an end a 60-day legislative session that featured everything from debate on contentious social issues to leadership shakeups to last-minute bipartisan agreements.

After weeks of committee meetings and floor debates, many said they were relieved to be back home.

“Sixty days is a long time and it's nice to get out and breathe a little air in southeast New Mexico and enjoy life,” Rep. Jim Townsend (R-Artesia) said. Most of those representing Chaves County in Santa Fe had mixed feelings about the session.

“It had its good points and its bad points,” he said. Nonetheless, he believed it was a productive session, with the House sending out close to 300 bills.

Two new lawmakers representing districts that include parts of Chaves County took office: Reps. Jimmy Mason (R-Artesia) and Andrea Reeb (R-Clovis). Reeb said she had a generally favorable impression about the work that was done.

“Overall, I thought it was a good experience. I got to look at...a lot of different areas that I wasn't familiar with previous to becoming a legislator,” she said.

The session was the first time the Legislature convened since last November's elections, in which Democrats retained full control of state government, including a 45-25 majority in the House. Those numbers allowed them to guide several progressive measures through on abortion rights, gender-affirming care, voting rights, gun safety proposals and the environment.

Life at the Legislature was also a contrast to other recent sessions. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, face coverings and social distancing were not required, and both parties in the House had new leadership at the helm.

Following the decision at the end of last year's session for then-House Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) not to seek re-election, Rep. Javier Martinez (D-Albuquerque) was elevated to the position of speaker. The longest serving member of the House, Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque), was tapped by her party to be House Majority Floor Leader.

Despite having only served in the House for one-term, Republicans picked Rep. Ryan Lane (R-Aztec) to lead their caucus. Less than two weeks into the session, the party sought to replace its second-highest member of leadership when Rep. Greg Nibert (R-Roswell) filled the vacancy created when Rep. Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho) stepped down from his position as House Minority Whip.

For Republicans from Chaves County, the change in leadership was welcome, with legislators now receiving some notice about what bills would reach the floor when.

“We have a speaker that is in tune to what the representatives are saying and doing,” Rep. Candy Ezzell (R-Roswell) said.

That in turn lessened the tension and disputes that local lawmakers said had become more frequent in the House in recent sessions.

“There has been less fighting, people have gotten along, the temperature has been reduced and I think that has been a concerted effort by people in leadership of both parties,” Nibert said.

Medical Malpractice

Some bipartisan deals were also struck, most notably a deal to stave off what many worried could be an impending shortage of medical providers in New Mexico, brought on by provisions in a medical malpractice law the Legislature had updated years ago that would have raised medical malpractice claims to $6 million, making it harder for independent healthcare facilities to afford malpractice insurance and doctors to practice within New Mexico.

"I've been getting emails and phone calls from doctors from all over the southeast corner of the state,” said Rep. Candy Ezzell (R-Roswell). The worry was especially real for rural New Mexico which already has a shortage of medical care providers.

Under the deal brokered by the governor and sponsored by the leadership of both parties in the House and Senate, payouts on claims brought against independent healthcare facilities which are members of the New Mexico Patient Compensation Fund would increase to a more modest $1 million starting in 2024.

Each year after, the cap would be automatically adjusted based on the previous three-year average of the consumer price index.

Tax reform

With a $3.6 billion surplus and extensive negotiations, the Legislature was able to secure support for a legislative package that overhauls the state's tax code.

Some provisions of the $1.2 billion package include changes that broaden personal income tax brackets while reducing rates for all New Mexicans, a cut of half a percent in the state's Gross Receipts Tax and one-time rebates of $500 for individuals who filed a state tax return in tax year 2021 and $1,000 for joint filers.

Many lauded the final product as sweeping reform which will reduce the burden on New Mexico taxpayers, boost credits to low-income and middle-class state residents, and help address challenges within the state related to crumbling infrastructure, the lack of health care providers in rural areas and climate change.

But lawmakers from southeast New Mexico felt that while the package contained provisions that they agreed with, what was in it was not enough to win their support. Some said too many restrictions were placed on capital gains income, while others argued more should have been done to ease the tax burden on middle-income earners and encourage investment in New Mexico industry.

“We need comprehensive tax reform and the tax package did not provide that reform,” Nibert said.


Before leaving Santa Fe, lawmakers sent a $9.6 billion budget to the governor for the coming fiscal year. It represents a 14% increase over the one passed last year and keeps state reserves at 30%. The high spending and reserve rates come as record oil and gas production has led to an influx in cash into state coffers.

Ezzell and many other Republicans nonetheless opposed the budget, saying it contains too many items that will require continued funding at high levels in future years when revenues coming into the state fall.

“We put things in there that we can't sustain,” Ezzell said.


Crime was a central focus when the Legislative session got underway.

In the House, Democrats pursued what they called a comprehensive approach to community safety that focused on treatment for substance abuse, mental health treatments, addressing homelessness, gun safety, in addition to changes in sentencing.

Legislation creating penalties for organized retail crime, a new state law that provides a penalty for knowingly providing a convicted felon with a firearm, and a measure that makes beastality a crime in New Mexico were all forwarded to the governor.

The budget also contains funds to recruit and retain police officers. But Republicans say they are disappointed more action was not taken.

“In the end, I thought we were way too soft on crime. We didn't do enough to curb the propensity of crime in New Mexico to make a difference,” Townsend said.

Reeb, a former district attorney and one of the leading House Republicans on crime issues, expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome.

“I did not think the session was great on crime,” she said.

Reeb said she is concerned about some measures that made it through the Legislation, such as doing away with sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders, and another bill that eases mandatory time for some drug crimes.

Pushes to amend the state's pretrial detention system and bills that would increase sentences for felons who unlawfully posses a firearm were among the slate of crime bills that were tabled.

Legislative modernization

A flurry of bills were floated early in the session aimed at updating the structure of New Mexico's Legislature.

New Mexico is currently the only state legislature in the nation that does not provide lawmakers with a salary or staff. The Legislature meets once a year for 60 days in odd-numbered years and 30 days in even-numbered years.

According to the Constitution of New Mexico, in 30-day sessions the only matters that can be taken up in legislation are budget, revenue and appropriations bills; those crafted pursuant to special messages from the governor; and those from the previous session that were vetoed by the governor.

Multiple bills and proposed Constitutional amendments were brought forth at the start of this session to revamp or study possible reforms to make the Legislature more professional. Some of these include paying lawmakers or providing them with staff. None of them won the approval of both the House and the Senate.

For now, Townsend says he does not see the most ambitious proposals gaining enough traction to become a reality.

“I don't think the public is ready for a full-time legislature. I don't think the public is ready for a paid legislature,” he said.

However, ideas about legislative reform have been floated in recent sessions, including changes to the number of days a session can last and what can be considered during sessions in odd-numbered years.

That ongoing conversation, Townsend said, makes it likely at least some modest reforms will be enacted.

“I think it's just inevitable that something sooner or later is going to happen,” Townsend said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or on Twitter at @alexrosstweets.