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No. 1 Alabama tops preseason Top 25; Clemson, Georgia next

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In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Alabama head coach Nick Saban leads his team on the field before the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia, in Atlanta. The AP preseason Top 25 is out, and for the third straight year Alabama is No. 1. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Alabama will begin its quest for a second consecutive national championship with a rare three-peat.

The Crimson Tide is just the second team to be ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll for three straight seasons. Alabama received 42 out of 61 first-place votes.

No. 2 Clemson received 18 first-place votes. Georgia is No. 3 and Wisconsin is fourth. The Badgers received one first-place vote. Ohio State was ranked No. 5.

The preseason AP poll started in 1950 and since then only Oklahoma from 1985-87 had started No. 1 in three straight years until now.

Ring up another milestone for coach Nick Saban’s Tide dynasty. Alabama has won five national championships since 2009 and now has been No. 1 to start the season five times under Saban. Last season was the first time Saban’s team started and finished the season No. 1.

The Tide enter this season with a question at quarterback, but there appears to be two good answers from which Saban has to choose: Tua Tagovailoa won the College Football Playoff championship game for Alabama with a second-half comeback and overtime touchdown pass. Jalen Hurts has led the Tide to the national title game in each of his two seasons as a starter.

Whoever is quarterback, Alabama’s offense should be potent with running back Damien Harris working behind a powerful line anchored by tackle Jonah Williams.

The Tide’s always tough defense will have all new starters in the secondary, but defensive end Raekwon Davis and linebackers Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses are primed to be Alabama’s next All-Americans.

The machine never stops in Tuscaloosa. One again, everybody is chasing Alabama.

NO. 1 AT BEING NO. 1

The AP poll began in 1936 and Alabama is approaching the top of a very storied list:

Ohio State — 105 weeks at No. 1

Alabama — 104

Oklahoma — 101

Notre Dame — 98

Southern California — 91

Florida State — 72

Nebraska — 70

PRESEASON FAVORITES

This is Alabama’s seventh time overall being a preseason No. 1, matching USC for fourth most.

Oklahoma — 10 preseason No. 1 rankings

Ohio State — 8

Alabama — 7

USC — 7

Florida State 6

Nebraska — 6

THE OTHER CHAMPS

Central Florida was the only team in the country to go undefeated last season and — you might have heard — the school decided to declare the Knights national champions because why not? This is college football and nobody is really in charge.

UCF is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time to the start the season, coming in 21st in the preseason poll. The Knights are the highest-ranked team not in a Power Five conference, one spot ahead of Boise State from the Mountain West. If that ranking after going unbeaten seems unusually low, it is but it is not unprecedented. In the CFP/BCS era (1998-present), 19 teams have had unbeaten seasons. Three of those teams — 1998 Tulane, 1999 Marshall, 2004 Utah — were unranked in the preseason poll the next season. Not surprisingly, all those teams played outside of what were then called BCS automatic qualifying conferences. Five other teams were ranked outside the top 10, including three from outside BCS-auto bid leagues. Boise State in 2007 was No. 24 in the preseason. Utah in 2009 started 19th. TCU began 2011 at No. 14.

The only so-called power conference team to go unbeaten in the BCS/CFP era and be ranked similarly low the next season was Auburn — twice. After going 13-0 in 2004, the Tigers started 2005 ranked 16th. After Cam Newton led Auburn to the 2010 national title, the Newton-less Tigers were ranked No. 23 to begin 2011.

BUCKEYE QUESTIONS

Urban Meyer’s uncertain status as Ohio State coach cost the Buckeyes some points in the AP poll, and probably at least one rankings spot.

The AP asked voters whether Meyer being on administrative leave as Ohio State investigates what he knew about domestic violence allegations against a former assistant coach influenced how they voted in the preseason poll. Thirteen voters responded saying the uncertainty caused them to move Ohio State down.

“It’s hard not to bump Ohio State down a tick,” said Andy Greder of the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press. “It’s an undoubted distraction. I feel like going through fall camp without your head coach only adds to it. I gave Wisconsin a corresponding slight bump up.”

Ohio State had 1,256 points, 15 behind Wisconsin (1,271). No. 3 Georgia had 1,350 points.

The deadline for voters to submit preseason ballots was Aug. 13. The AP allowed voters to adjust their votes if any major news happened in college football from the deadline until Aug. 15 at noon ET.

NOTABLE

— No. 2 Clemson matched its best preseason ranking. The Tigers were No. 2 in 2016 and went on to win the national championship.

— No. 4 Wisconsin has its best preseason ranking since 2000, when it was also No. 4. The Badgers also had one first-place vote that year.

— No. 5 Ohio State is making it 30th straight appearance in the preseason rankings (1989-2018). Only Penn State (34) and Nebraska (33) have had longer streaks.

— No. 6 Washington has its best preseason ranking since 1997, when the Huskies were No. 4.

— No. 8 Miami has its best preseason ranking since being No. 6 to start the 2004 season.

— No. 18 Mississippi State has its best preseason ranking since 1981, when the Bulldogs were No. 14.

CONFERENCE CALL

Big Ten — 5 (all top 15)

SEC — 5 (3 top 10)

ACC — 4

Big 12 — 4

Pac-12 — 4

American — 1

Mountain West — 1

Independent — 1

Ex-New Mexico senator pleads guilty to embezzlement, perjury

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In this Nov. 14, 2017, file photo, former New Mexico state Sen. Phil Griego testifies at his own trial on corruption charges in Santa Fe, N.M. Griego, who is already serving a jail term for public corruption convictions, is scheduled to appear in court Monday, Aug 20, 2018, on separate charges dealing with spending from his campaign account. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Former New Mexico state Sen. Phil Griego pleaded guilty Monday to embezzlement and perjury charges for misspending and falsely reporting campaign account activity, lengthening his ongoing stay in prison.

Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Monday that Griego was sentenced to an additional year based on two felony counts of perjury and two felony counts of embezzlement.

Defense attorney Thomas Clark said Griego is likely to spend an additional six months in prison based on the new sentence with consideration for good behavior. He said the sentence resolves all pending criminal litigation against Griego.

Griego, 70, began serving an 18-month sentence in March on fraud, bribery and felony ethical violations stemming from allegations that he used his position as a lawmaker to profit from the sale of a state-owned building.

He is incarcerated at a state prison in Los Lunas that has special units for elderly inmates and those in poor health. He wore an orange prison uniform on Monday to a court hearing in Albuquerque.

The convictions against Griego, a Democrat, mark the latest in a string of high-profile corruption scandals involving public officials in New Mexico.

A former head of New Mexico’s Taxation and Revenue Department, Demesia Padilla, was charged in June with embezzlement and multiple corruption and ethics violations in her role as Cabinet secretary. She was an appointee of Republican Gov. Susan Martinez.

Former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a Republican, resigned in 2015 and served 30 days in jail on embezzlement and fraud convictions. She pleaded guilty to spending campaign funds on a gambling spree.

Univ. of New Mexico paid $600K in ‘fetal tissue’ legal bills

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico racked up more than $600,000 in legal bills as it navigated a special congressional committee’s investigation into how it procured fetal tissue for research, according to documents obtained by the Albuquerque Journal.

University officials say the expenses were necessary to protect the university, the Albuquerque Journal reports .

Documents obtained through a public records request by the Journal showed the university used the Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery, spending $611,446 on what the invoices call the “fetal tissue inquiry.”

In 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to convene the “select investigative panel” to investigate fetal tissue transfers and related matters. The Republican-led committee’s $1.5 million investigation ultimately alleged that UNM violated state law.

The committee sent what it called “criminal referrals” to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas in June 2016. Balderas announced earlier this year that his office’s review found UNM had not broken the law.

The same referrals were sent to the FBI headquarters and the bureau’s relevant field offices “for review and any action deemed appropriate,” according to a December 2017 letter from a U.S. Department of Justice official to U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce.

Pearce, who represents New Mexico’s southern congressional district and is running for governor, had last September asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “investigate wrongdoings” between UNM and Southwest Women’s Options, according to his congressional website.

But a UNM Health Sciences Center spokeswoman told the Journal last week that the FBI has never contacted the university as part of a fetal tissue investigation. The partially redacted McDermott invoices provided to the Journal do not mention interactions with the FBI.

Southwest Women’s Options is an abortion clinic in Albuquerque.

McDermott’s last billable activity on the fetal tissue inquiry occurred on Jan. 29, 2018, according to the invoices.

UNM’s fetal tissue research has attracted intense scrutiny from anti-abortion activists, and safety is one reason UNM says it was considered necessary to spend money on specialized counsel. UNM also lacked internal experience dealing with Congress, UNM spokeswoman Alex Sanchez said, noting McDermott’s help “preparing, presenting and meeting the expectations” of the panel.

More than 100 pages of invoices show the firm’s work on UNM’s behalf included communicating with the congressional panel and its staff; reviewing, preparing and redacting documents to submit to the panel; corresponding with and providing information to the state attorney general’s office; and helping UNM respond to media inquiries. Bills show regular coordination with UNM’s in-house attorneys and that the firm also updated UNM’s Board of Regents on the work.

“Appearing before Congress is an area that we at the (Health Sciences Center) are not as familiar with and we needed assistance from trained professionals,” Sanchez wrote in an emailed response to Journal questions.

New Mexico candidates clash on labor, business reforms

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor of New Mexico are offering contrasting visions for changing the state’s labor and business climate at a public forum.

Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce said Monday that businesses are showing an interest in expanding to counties in New Mexico that want to limit compulsory union fees by ordinance. Pearce praised right-to-work reforms as a way to give workers greater choice.

Rival Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham described right-to-work reform as a divisive, partisan issue that doesn’t address the state’s economic challenges.

New Mexico’s Democratic-led Legislature has consistently defeated proposals to outlaw compulsory fees for workers who decide not to belong to a union.

The winner of the November gubernatorial election will succeed Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

Colorado man charged with murder says wife killed daughters

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Frank Rzucek Sr. speaks during a news conference at the Weld County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in Greeley, Colo., in regards to the charges brought against his son-in-law Chris Watts, who has been charged with murder in the deaths of his wife and their two young daughters. (Joshua Polson/The Greeley Tribune via AP)

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado man told police that he killed his pregnant wife in “a rage” when he discovered she had strangled their two daughters after he sought a separation, according to an arrest affidavit released on Monday.

Colorado prosecutors, though, filed formal charges earlier in the day, accusing the former oil and gas worker of murdering his entire family days before he was interviewed by local television stations and pleaded for his missing family’s safe return home.

Christopher Watts, who is being held without bail, is due back in court on Tuesday morning to be advised of the charges filed against him.

District Attorney Michael Rourke declined to answer most questions about the case Monday but said his office has three prosecutors assigned to it. Rourke also said it was too early to discuss whether he will seek the death penalty.

Under state law, the top punishment for homicide is the death penalty or life in prison.

The arrest affidavit was sealed at prosecutors’ request until Monday, a frequent request in Colorado as prosecutors determine what charges to file after someone has been arrested.

After filing charges, prosecutors asked a judge on Monday to unseal it — revealing Watts’ confession that he had killed his wife and his accusation that she was responsible for the deaths of 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste. The document also says police confirmed that Christopher Watts was having an affair with a co-worker, something he denied in earlier conversations with investigators.

According to the affidavit, early on the morning of Aug. 13 Christopher Watts told his wife that he wanted to separate. She had returned from a business trip a few hours before their conversation.

Watts told police that he walked downstairs, leaving his wife in their bedroom. When he returned, Watts said he checked a baby monitor on Shanann’s nightstand and saw his wife strangling their youngest daughter. He said the monitor also showed their oldest daughter sprawled on her bed, looking blue.

Watts, 33, said he then “went into a rage” and strangled his wife.

He told police that he loaded all three bodies into his work truck, and then he buried his wife at an oil work site and dumped the bodies of Bella and Celeste inside oil tanks.

Autopsies have been completed but not released. A judge on Friday denied a request by defense lawyer James Merson to require the coroner to collect DNA from the necks of the children.

Watts faces three first-degree murder charges, two counts of murdering a child, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

The charges come a week after a friend reported Shanann Watts, 34, and the girls missing.

Before his arrest last week, Christopher Watts lamented in interviews with local television stations about missing his wife and daughters. He spoke in front of their home in Frederick, a small town on the grassy plains north of Denver where fast-growing subdivisions intermingle with drilling rigs and oil wells.

Police spoke with Watts several times before he was arrested late on Wednesday, according to the affidavit. It says Watts initially told police that his conversation with Shanann about a separation was civil but emotional. Watts later told police that both he and his wife were “upset and crying” and Shanann told him she was going to a friend’s house that day.

The bodies were found on property owned by Anadarko Petroleum, one of Colorado’s largest oil and gas drillers, where Watts had worked as an operator. He was fired on Wednesday. Court documents filed by Merson said the girls had been submerged in crude oil for four days.

The affidavit says Watts gave police an aerial photograph of the area and identified three areas where he placed the bodies. Investigators used a drone to search the area and spotted a bed sheet that matched other linens found in the family home, along with fresh dirt.

Family and friends have said they were shocked by the slayings, saying the family seemed happy and Christopher Watts appeared to be a good father. The social media accounts for Shanann Watts, who was from North Carolina, are filled with photos of the family smiling and playing and posts praising her husband and expressing excitement about the couple expecting their third child.

A June 2015 bankruptcy filing showed that the family was dealing with financial strain, including tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, student loans and medical bills totaling $70,000 in unsecured claims along with a sizable mortgage.

Trump elevates Brennan in proxy fight over Mueller probe

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In this May 23, 2017, file photo former CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the House Intelligence Committee Russia Investigation Task Force. Brennan says he is considering taking legal action to try to prevent President Donald Trump from stripping other current and former officials’ security clearances. Brennan said Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he’s been contacted by a number of lawyers about the basis of a potential complaint. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — With tweets and taunts, President Donald Trump is attempting to turn one of his most outspoken critics into the public face of the Russia probe that he has long worked to discredit.

In John Brennan, the blunt former CIA director, Trump believes he has found an unsympathetic foil — one with whom he can spar publicly as he seeks to bolster his public-relations campaign against special counsel Robert Mueller and a team of federal investigators.

Where Mueller’s disciplined silence creates a void, Trump is eager to fill that empty space with Brennan.

Trump has long been unable to resist a fight with a foe who publicly challenges him, particularly on television, and Brennan got under Trump’s skin with his declarations and innuendos about Trump’s fitness for office and ties to Russia. But White House aides and Trump confidants say Trump’s attack on Brennan is as much strategic as it is impulsive.

Goaded on by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has been fiercely critical of Brennan’s policy views and actions for almost a decade, Trump signed an order weeks ago to strip the career intelligence official of his security clearance. The president has told confidants in recent days that he views Brennan as a useful adversary.

In a decision he later spelled out on Twitter, the president began attacking Brennan not just as a critic but also as a face of the institutional government corruption he believes is driving the Mueller probe, according to two Republicans close to the White House who are familiar with Trump’s thinking. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.

One White House official, who likewise spoke on condition of anonymity, put Trump’s motivations more bluntly, saying the president simply doesn’t like Brennan.

“Many people don’t even know who he is, and now he has a bigger voice,” Trump told reporters Friday. “And that’s OK with me because I like taking on voices like that. I’ve never respected him. I’ve never had a lot of respect.”

Although many in the White House urged Trump to ignore Brennan, others in the president’s orbit labeled the former CIA director as the epitome of the deep state that they believe has conspired to undermine Trump.

Brennan’s loud criticism of Trump, including repeated accusations of “treasonous” behavior alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, has caused even some allies to roll their eyes.

“The common denominator among all of us that have been speaking up, though, is genuine concern about the jeopardy or threats to our institutions and values,” former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, himself a frequent Trump critic, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” ”But John and his rhetoric have become, I think, an issue in and of itself.”

On Monday, 175 national security professionals joined 75 others before them in signing an open letter protesting Trump’s decision to revoke Brennan’s security clearance but indicated there is not unanimous support for how Brennan has conducted himself either.

“Our signatures below do not necessarily mean that we concur with the opinions expressed by former CIA Director Brennan or the way in which he expressed them,” the letter stated. “What they do represent, however, is our firm belief that the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views.”

Trump’s fight with Brennan comes as the Mueller inquiry looks into the president’s conduct in office and as Trump devotes more of his public comments and private griping to trying to undermine the investigation. It also comes amid his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s financial fraud trial and as his lawyers engage in a back-and-forth with the special counsel’s office on a potential presidential interview.

“He has become nothing less than a loudmouth, partisan, political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country!” Trump tweeted of Brennan over the weekend.

“Everybody wants to keep their Security Clearance, it’s worth great prestige and big dollars, even board seats, and that is why certain people are coming forward to protect Brennan,” Trump said in a Monday tweet. “It certainly isn’t because of the good job he did! He is a political ‘hack.'”

White House officials are also preparing paperwork to revoke the security clearances of more than a half-dozen current and former national security professionals who have criticized the president or had a role in beginning the federal probe of potential collusion between Trump’s campaign and agents of the Russian government.

Some Republicans close to the White House noted that in elevating Brennan, Trump was seeking to exploit partisan fractures over some of the more controversial elements in his past.

While celebrated by former Obama administration officials for his role in the operation to kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, Brennan’s role in the previous administration’s drone program had made him a subject of some criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

The White House has not offered specific examples of Brennan improperly using classified information. But on ABC, national security adviser John Bolton argued Sunday that Brennan politicized his information when he served under President Barack Obama.

“It was my view at the time that he and others in the Obama administration were politicizing intelligence,” Bolton said. “I think that’s a very dangerous thing to do.”

Brennan, like other former Obama administration officials, has been a prominent face on MSNBC since leaving office. Bolton is a former Fox News contributor.

Michigan official faces manslaughter trial over Flint deaths

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Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, listens closely as Genesee District Judge David J. Goggins gives his decision during Lyon's preliminary examination on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 at Genesee District Court inin Flint, Mich. Goggins ordered Lyons to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in two deaths linked to Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area, the highest ranking official to stand trial as a result of the tainted water scandal. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Monday ordered Michigan’s health director to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in two deaths linked to Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area, the highest-ranking official to face criminal charges as a result of the city’s tainted water scandal.

Nick Lyon is accused of failing to issue a timely alert about the outbreak. District Court Judge David Goggins said deaths likely could have been prevented if the outbreak had been publicly known. He said keeping the public in the dark was “corrupt.”

Goggins found probable cause for a trial in Genesee County court, a legal standard that isn’t as high as beyond a reasonable doubt. Lyon also faces a charge of misconduct in office.

When the judge announced his decision, a woman in the gallery said, “Yes, yes, yes.”

“It’s a long way from over,” Lyon told The Associated Press. He declined further comment.

Some experts have blamed Legionnaires’ on Flint’s water, which wasn’t properly treated when it was drawn from the Flint River in 2014 and 2015. Legionella bacteria can emerge through misting and cooling systems, triggering a severe form of pneumonia, especially in people with weakened immune systems.

At least 90 cases of Legionnaires’ occurred in Genesee County, including 12 deaths. More than half of the people had a common thread: They spent time at McLaren Hospital, which was on the Flint water system.

The outbreak was announced by Gov. Rick Snyder and Lyon in January 2016, although Lyon concedes that he knew that cases were being reported many months earlier. He is director of the Health and Human Services Department.

Nonetheless, he denies wrongdoing. Lyon’s attorneys said there was much speculation about the exact cause of Legionnaires’ and not enough solid information to share earlier with the public.

The investigation by state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office is part of a larger probe into how Flint’s water system became contaminated when the city used Flint River water for 18 months. The water wasn’t treated to reduce corrosion. As a result, lead leached from old pipes.

“We’re not looking at today as a win or a loss. We’re looking at today as the first step and the next step for justice for the moms, dads and kids of Flint,” said Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely, who specifically mentioned the families of two men whose deaths the prosecution blames on Lyon — 85-year-old Robert Skidmore and 83-year-old John Snyder.

An additional 14 current or former state and local officials have been charged with crimes, either related to Legionnaires’ or lead in the water. Four agreed to misdemeanor plea deals; the other cases are moving slowly.

“Normally we don’t see government officials accused of manslaughter based on what they didn’t do,” said Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University law school in Detroit. “That does make it an unusual case, and it will make government officials be much more cautious. Maybe that’s the message here.”

Defense attorney John Bursch said the judge’s decision was “mystifying.” Goggins spent more than two hours summarizing evidence from weeks of testimony, but he didn’t specifically explain what swayed him to send Lyon to trial.

“We had 20 pages of argument in our legal brief that he didn’t address,” Bursch said outside court. “He didn’t talk about the law at all.”

A trial would be many months away after Snyder’s term as governor ends on Jan. 1. He said Lyon “has my full faith and confidence” and will remain as Michigan’s health director.

A courtroom spectator, Karina Petri, 30, of Milwaukee said sending a senior official to trial is “long overdue.”

“He withheld the truth. There’s no excuse,” said Petri, who wore a “Flint Lives Matter” shirt. “He could have changed hundreds of lives.”

Red Dirt Black Gold Festival

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William Clark Green to perform for the first time in Artesia. (Submitted Photo)

This year’s Red Dirt Black Gold Festival takes place on Aug. 25, starting at Artesia’s Eagle Draw with the fourth annual Oilfield Olympics and continuing at the Heritage Plaza with vendors, live music and the Red Dirt Black Gold cook-off competition.

This year, the event is going to be even bigger than last year with four live bands.

In the early morning hours, a public favorite is the Oilfield Olympics, where teams can test if they have what it takes to work in the oilfields. The event was included to incorporate the oilfield and have them be recognized. Last year’s Oilfield Olympics ended with a surprise. A latecomer, the Buffalo team, surprised the crowd and the judges. They claimed the first prize for the Oilfield Olympics 2017, beating the reigning champions of two years — Fat Fit — by only 15 seconds.

There are several stations where agility, strength and speed is required. A favorite for the teams is the cast-iron drill bit toss where each team member has to cover a certain distance as fast as possible. There is still time to sign up for this year’s competition. In the afternoon, the events continue at the Heritage Plaza with the judging of the Red Dirt Black Gold Oilfield Cook-Off. The best of the best oilfield cooks offer ribs and sausages, while others compete with southwest dishes and it’s not only for the judges. The public can vote to give the best dish the People’s Choice Award.

But what would be a fest without music? Headliners this year are William Clark Green, who will perform from 7:45  to 9:15 p.m. at the stage near Heritage Plaza.

Green had been to Roswell several times, but it is his first time performing in Artesia. His new album “Hebert Island” is going to be released on Aug. 10 and he is planning to perform a mix between his new songs and fan favorites. “I think every album is a chapter in my life,” Green said. “We work very hard at following our hearts through music and trying to advance our style. This album is no different. I think I figured out on this album that love trumps everything.”

Asked how Green finds his inspiration and style, he said, “It is my upbringing in music. My dad was listening to everything. I think that’s why my records are so scattered across the board because I grew up listening to different genres. It was never just one. I like playing rock ‘n’ roll, folk and country. ‘Wings’ is my favorite song on the new record.

“It was never a first career (for me), it just happened and started,” Green said. “I started writing in eighth grade playing guitar and it just morphed into a career eventually. It just was a very natural process. I hadn’t any dream, I just was doing it. I thought it would be something that I could pursue professionally and I felt that I could do it and here we are. It was like little leaps of faith.”

Green never had a classic education. “I never learned to play guitar to become a musician,” he said. “I play guitar because I wanted to learn how to play guitar. I just started writing songs. It is kind of weird how it happened. Maybe it is a natural calling, maybe it’s not. I feel like I am better in song writing than I am in anything else in my life.

“The ultimate for me is just continuing the music and having a tour scheduled. That’s all I ask for and that’s all we are expecting. Hopefully this record will continue our career for a few more years until the next record. That’s the goal for me,” Green said.

At 9:30 p.m., award-winning country singer Roger Creager takes the stage. Creager is hard to catch for an interview because — next to being a musician — he spends his time as an adventurer. He does not like to sit still while the world passes by. Whether it’s climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, jumping off his boat to snorkel with wild dolphins, snow skiing in the Rockies, catching tuna 100 miles from shore, piloting his airplane to far-off concerts, spear-fishing around oil rigs, SCUBA diving coral reefs, surfing in Costa Rica, or playing music through the Italian countryside, he tries to get the most out of what the world has to offer. His new EP “Gulf Coast Time” is certainly a slice out of Creager’s life and his love for the ocean. Also performing are JD and the Badlands Band and The Yarbrough Band The schedule was not set at time of publication. For more information and updates, visit artesiaacd.com/reddirt- black-gold or call 575-746-1117.

Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.

From South Fork to Lincoln

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Mescalero Apache Indian camp. (Photo courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico)

Its history, present appearance and beautiful location

The following article was in the “Rio Grande Republican” (Las Cruces, New Mexico). It is dated 15 March, 1884, Sat., Pages 1 and 4.

This article gives a close look at the life and times in Ft. Stanton, Ruidoso and Lincoln, in that year. It is wonderful to “take a look back” through someone else’s eyes, at what it was really like during this time.

Ft. Stanton

List of officers, number of troops and treatment of the men

From our

special correspondent

Leaving the Indian reservation on Friday morning February 29, your tramp reporter started fourth together in a crop of news. We were in good spirits, and rather frisky at the outset, feeling sure from the indications about the use of a large harvest of fun and facts.

Jury hunting

Bidding farewell to the agency, we mounted a dumpling of a pony under cover of a huge Mexican saddle, and started up the canyon towards Ruidoso, with Captain Branigan as escort. The Captain was on the warpath also, only he was hunting men to attend the Grand Jury, while we were simply on a hunt after news and subscribers. By the way, getting a jury in this country is somewhat different from the “Modus Operandi” in the States. There you can trot around in a peek mensuro and get one, while here you circumnavigate a large part of the globe to get your victims.

The scenery

Journeying up the road your “tinderfoot” reporter prepared himself for wild beasts; he got out his six shooter and looking down the barrel saw death and destruction to any wandering grizzly, mountain lion, or buffalo that might tamper with his feelings. But the wild, odd scenery around this soon softened our blood thirsty nature, and had the beasts then fell upon us, the story would have come to a sudden stop. Could anyone ride through such an assortment of natural beauties as we saw, and feel harshly towards a living thing? If they could, they would be as devoid of emotion as a marble statue; as soulless as a wheelbarrow.

On to Ruidoso

Fort Stanton, New Mexico–John J. Pershing 3 men in card game. (Photo courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico)

Passing through Dark Canyon, and listening to a continual rising and lowering of the murmur of the pines and hemlocks, is far sweeter than Adelina Patti’s high-priced notes, or even Strauss’ waltzes, however bewitchingly played. On nearing Ruidoso, or Dowlin’s Mills, we saw skirting the stream rich spots of land that we verily believe could raise anything from a peanut to a pumpkin. I am certain it would raise a mortgage off the property. Corn, wheat, oats and potatoes grow there profusely. There is occasionally a slight trouble from frosts, but this is scarcely worth mentioning. When we struck the brow of the hill overlooking Dowlin’s Mills we gazed upon a perfect picture of an Adirondack landscape; somewhat similar also to the Michigan pine forest camp.

A humming grist-mill, a sawmill, and a few log houses made up the village, lying in a small basin and guarded by mountains covered with trees. Far beyond, and visible from many points, we saw the famous Sierra Blanca or White Mountain, wearing her usual nightcap, which she never changes, for it always looks clean and spotless. The old lady is very top lofty, proud, and high toned, and looks as though she felt herself fully equal of her twin sister in New Hampshire.

Prairie dogs

After taking dinner, and one of Mr. Dowlin‘s primo Havanas, we started on towards San Patricio and Lincoln. On the way your wandering attaché saw many prairie dogs barking at us, and scampering back into their holes if we got too close.

Florencio Gonzales’ Ranch

Slowly cantering on a few miles further, your scribe wondering in the meantime why saddles were made so hard, and whether he would not that evening take his supper off the mantle piece, we came to the summit of a hill that looked down upon the most splendid panorama in New Mexico. It was the ranch of Honorable Florencio Gonzalez, a tract of land under thorough cultivation.

Lincoln

Casting many a “longing lingering look behind,” we pushed on to Lincoln, the county seat, and there met the amiable Colonel Cronin, B.H. Ellis, and Jimmy Dolan, who keeps a tip top store, and is well known all over Southern New Mexico. We noticed a strange, round stone tower there, which was used by the first settlers as a house of refuge. We also saw some scattered dirt mounds that were once part and parcel of the McSween mansion, where, during the Lincoln County War, were entrenched about 20 desperado men, among whom was the notorious Billy the Kid. It was “war to the knife” that terrible night, when the Murphy party charged and fired the house, and shot down the fleeing victims. Billy the Kid escaped, but McSween and six others were killed, and peace and tranquility were purchased at that terrible cost.

Fort Stanton

Again mounting our festive and fiery steed, we throw the miles behind us, and soon dashed into the parade ground of Fort Stanton, where we obtained accommodations for the night.

I was soon under the quilts, dreaming of black bears taking me up into the highest tree tops and then letting me fall to the ground. It is strange how many times we fell without getting hurt when we struck the ground; it was going through the air that troubled us.

Its history

On the morrow we learned that purely official and accurate detailed information concerning Fort Stanton‘s history from its foundation was not to be obtained. Many of its records were destroyed in 1861, when the fort was burned and abandoned; but all available information was freely and kindly rendered us by Major Van Horn and his officers and also by some of the old settlers in the neighborhood.

Ft. Stanton soldiers at attention. Photo dated 1885, one year after reporter’s visit. (Photo courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico)

In 1855, a small handful of troops came up from Texas and established a third-class fort at the foot of the plateau, and north east from the spot now occupied by the fort proper. It was named in honor of Captain Stanton of the Mounted Dragoons, and he probably was the first commander of the post. Its object then, as now, was protection to the settlers from Indian depredation, chiefly committed by Apaches, Comanches, and Navajos. No hard fought battle of any magnitude ever took place in its vicinity. Once it was surrounded by Indians, but they kept at a good distance, and did not have the nerve to make an attack.

A few years after, a new commanding officer, with a larger force of troops, moved to the camp up from the banks of the Rio Bonito, built additional housing room, and established the present excellent system of acequias, which run at right angles around the parade ground and supplies the fort with water.

With occasional not very destructive Indian skirmishes, nothing eventful happened until the tocsin of war sounded in the East. Then in 1861, Colonel Roberts burned the buildings and marched west towards Albuquerque. At that time Colonel Canby commended all the New Mexico Union troops, including Kit Carson‘s famous First Calvary. During the war, about a year after Colonel Roberts’ evacuation, some Texas Confederate volunteers under General Sibley re-roofed the buildings and occupied them a while. After their desertion Union troops again took possession, improved and increased the number of buildings, and it stands today one of the finest first class Forts on the frontier.

Discipline of fort

It is encompassed about by everything that Nature’s hand can bestow. Two green mountain chains run east and west apparently ending up against the White mountains, which seem to be two or three miles away, but are really 20. In the valley thus formed, on a plateau of several hundred acres, about 75 feet above the Rio Bonito, along the banks of which are the companies’ private gardens, are the various buildings which compose the fort. They consist of a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, large corral, and sheds for stock, a new hospital (replacing the old one burned down last March,) post trader’s store, and officers’ and privates’ quarters. These buildings completely surround the parade ground, which is also bordered by a row of fine cottonwoods and a stream of running water. There is also a signal service office, presided over by the clever and gentlemanly Dan Farnell, who considerably enlightened us in regards to the system. There are about 500 men in the signal service: and, considering their scholastic and mechanical acquirements, it does seem as though they should be commissioned and not enlisted men, ranking as high as lieutenants at least, and wearing a distinctive uniform from that of the private soldier — that is, as long as they are attached to the army, though we think it would be better to make a distinct department of this service.

Other buildings

There were other inferior buildings scattered about. An express line runs from the fort to San Antonio, 113 miles away, which carries freight for eight cents a pound. On the 1st July next, a money order office will be established. A sabbath school, under the supervision of Mrs. Lieutenant Kavanagh, holds its exercises on Sunday morning; and in the evening a singing school fills the surrounding camp with strains of divine melody. A day school is also conducted during the week.

Under the skillful guidance of Lieutenant Kavanagh, post adjutant, we were engineered in and around the various buildings, popping in and out of harness and carpenter shops, strolling through the long store houses, filled with innumerable bales of clothing and blankets, stocks of agricultural implements, etc. We visited the clean and well kept kitchens, and also the new hospital, which is now being built under the lieutenant’s directions. There is scarcely any need of a hospital, though, in this healthful climate; and at the present time there is but one soldier under treatment. Dr. Atkins, the pleasant and efficient acting assistant surgeon informed us that very few deaths occurred here, and those were mostly from diseases contracted elsewhere.

Troop B’s quarters

Being left to our own resources for a time we thought we would scout around in the enlisted men’s quarters and see if we could nose out any governmental abuses. So, with acute smellers and sharp eyesight, we went into troop B’s quarters, Captain Lawton’s company. Visiting the mess quarters first, we found that they had actual printed bills of fare, and glancing back over some old bills, we saw a very good line of eatables furnished. We tried the roast beef, bread, soup, coffee and raisin cake, and had to admit the quality was good. Of course, occasionally the quality of the beef or flour may be inferior, but the same chances are before us all. Troop B probably fares better than any other, having a fund of $350 in care of the Captain that it has saved by selling part of its rations, the vacancy being supplied by garden products, grown by themselves. Everything was clean and orderly about the mess quarters and barracks, and there was a gymnasium in the backyard. On questioning the men as to their treatment by their officers and the government, we found them unanimous in praise of the valiant Captain Lawton. Even the chronic faultfinders could say nothing but pleasant things of him and Lieutenant Welch. Many line officers care nothing for their men’s good opinions; but it is just as well to court it, as it is only necessary to behave decently to them. Many an unpopular officer has been shot by his own men in an engagement.

Treatment of the soldiers

On their treatment by the government there was not so much unanimity of feeling, though the majority said it was good enough. The minority mentioned several abuses which we are inclined to think should be looked into and corrected. Carrying a 30 pound stick of wood on the shoulder from sunrise to sunset for three successive days is too harsh a sentence for small offenses. Any punishment which impairs a man’s health and is liable to break him down constitutionally, should not be inflicted. It is outrages of this nature which, in our opinion, caused the 3,600 desertions last year. Some men of course are dissatisfied anywhere. One officer said that it was principally dissatisfied men who enlisted in the first place, and they were out of four kinds: one; the young fellow who enlists under age, and whose tastes have been vitiated by dime novel and highly seasoned reading, two; the habitual drunkard, who enlists while drunk; three; the man who has gotten into some scrape, woman or otherwise, and hopes to escape disagreeable consequences; four; the man who really likes soldiering for the relief it gives him from dueling with the question how to make a living. We give these views without comment. Let the soldier ponder over this presentation of the case on his spare evenings, and draw his own conclusions.

Card playing

There was one matter in Troop B’s code of morality that we doubt the wisdom of, i.e., allowing a man to run a game of cards for money on payment of a certain fixed sum into the company fund. The officers maintain, however, that it is best to let one skillful man get all the money, and then the balance can’t get drunk. It is rather a novel view, and may be more convenient to the officers by giving them less trouble; but we believe such a standing example of licensed gambling is pernicious and calculated to use up the soldiers’ small pittance which might be devoted to better uses if such a temptation were not continually before him.

Causes of desertion

We think also the private’s complaints should sometimes receive consideration from the line officers. Instances are known where, upon a slight provocation, a non-commissioned officer seized the gun and broke the stock over a private’s head, knocking out two teeth, and then giving him a month in the guard house; and the noncommissioned officer was not even reprimanded. The noncommissioned officer is frequently Uncle Sam’s own enemy; he actually encourages desertion among the men, and frequently, in hearing of all, tells men again that incur his displeasure that they had better “pack up and get out!” for he will make it “hot for them, as long as they stay there!” Such remarks ought to subject such an officer to a court-martial. Can you expect faithfulness to duty from the private under such irritating circumstances?

Calvary or infantry

Troop I was not faring as well as the other companies, we found; as they lived upon government rations soley, and do not have as good gardening facilities as the others, owing to the fact of being quartered over at the Indian Agency, where their opportunities were not as good. The two infantry companies, C and E, were generally contented and fairing well. Their quarters in line of fare showed up well under private inspection. They are more fortunate in some respects than their cavalry brethren, having less guard duty to perform. The cavalry companies have herd-guard to do, which the infantry escape. Why the enlisted cavalryman does not receive more pay than the infantryman we do not understand; the commissioned officers do. The care of the horses is an additional duty of no small proportion, there being many features attached to it that the public does not think of — such as teaching horses to swim, and practicing the pack drill, which is a drill of itself, and generally performed with mules. These duties entitle the men to a higher grade of pay.

On the whole, we thought the camp was in a very satisfactory shape and the discipline and deportment good. Major Van Horn, the commanding officer, seemed to be popular and liked by both officers and men. The officers, with one exception, treated us with uniform courtesy and kindness. To A.B. Bower, at headquarters and Lieutenant Fletcher, we extend special thanks for favors rendered.

List of officers

The following are the commissioned officers at present stationed there: Major Van Horn; Captains Lawton, Rogers, Pratt, and Wood, Captain Lee being absent on leave; Lieutenants Fletcher, Davies, Welch, Gail, and Smith, the latter being encamped at Indian Agency; Adjutant Kavanagh, A. A. A. M.; Surgeon Hubbard; Dr. Atkins, acting assistant surgeon; and Dr. Ewing, acting assistant surgeon, stationed at Indian Agency, with Lieutenant Smith.

Troop D

Returning to the agency we visited Troop D, which was situated up on a pretty hillside and looking far up the road. Dr. Ewing informed us that peace and quietness were the striking characteristics of the camp, and that his professional abilities were not at all overtaxed. There are about 66 enlisted men there, a rather large company.

Camp and

agency notes

Every man is eagerly scanning the horizon for the paymaster.

Mrs. Captain Lawton has nearly recuperated from her recent illness.

Lieutenant Benson is expected daily to fill the position occupied by Lieutenant Van Dusen.

Lieutenant Fletcher has charge of the target practice. There are many good shots at the fort.

Mrs. Lieutenant Kavanagh is regaining health and strength. She has been an invalid for a few weeks.

Lieutenant Van Dusen has been transferred from calvary to artillery, and gone to California to occupy his new station.

Janice Dunnahoo is an archive volunteer at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or by email at jdunna@hotmail.com.

Area schools receive grades from the state

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Reporter’s note: This article has been edited for clarity.

Christopher Ruszkowski, New Mexico secretary of education, spoke with the Roswell Daily Record on Friday about the New Mexico Public Education Department’s (NMPED) grades for the Roswell Independent School District (RISD) and surrounding districts in Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur.

An NMPED press release stated this is New Mexico’s seventh year assigning grades based on students’ academic growth. Ruszkowski said students and schools are rising to meet the increasing expectations from the grades. The release also stated the second year of the New Mexico True Straight-A Express tour was launched on Friday to celebrate high performing schools and listen to various districts’ best practice strategies. Ruszkowski said a Roswell visit is tentatively planned for mid-September as part of this tour.

The grades were posted to the NMPED website as of noon on Friday. The public can access the grades by clicking on the “families” tab and then the “school grades” tab. Ruszkowski said the schools’ deadline to appeal is Aug. 31, though very few grades have changed over the last seven years.

At the RISD board meeting on Tuesday, Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy said the district’s enrollment numbers are at 9,749, with a decline of 197 students from last year. McIlroy also said 500 of these students will be in a new Pre-K program. Jennifer Cole, RISD’s director of federal programs, said Roswell residents can contact the 10 neighborhood schools, Parkview Early Literacy Center, or the RISD federal programs office for more information at 575-627-2582.

Highlights

Sidney Gutierrez Middle School, a charter school, is one of eight statewide schools that has earned an A all seven years. Ruszkowski said it is harder to earn an A grade than even two to five years ago, but the state schools are showing more increases to A and B grades and decreasing on D and F scores.

Military Heights Elementary School is receiving its first-ever A. El Capitan Elementary School is also receiving an A and Ruszkowski said this has been a steady improvement each year from a D in the first year of grade implementation

Ruszkowski said Missouri Avenue Elementary School is receiving its first F grade and will need immediate attention from the school board and superintendent.

Other RISD schools

Robert H. Goddard High School and Early College High School have retained their C grades. University High School has gone from a B to D and Roswell High School has kept its D grade from the past four years.

For the middle schools, Mesa Middle School went from C to D, Mountain View Middle School D to B, and Sierra Middle School’s grade moved from D to F. Berrendo Middle School retained a C.

The other RISD elementary schools’ grades varied. Berrendo Elementary School retained a C and Valley View Elementary School retained its B grade. Del Norte Elementary School moved from A to B, East Grand Plains Elementary School went from a D to a B, and Monterrey decreased from a B to a D.

Nancy Lopez Elementary School transitioned from an F to a D. Pecos Elementary School improved from a D to B, Sunset Elementary School decreased from a B to a D, while Washington Avenue Elementary School transitioned from a B to a C.

Surrounding areas

For Dexter, the elementary school’s grade went from B to D, the middle school went from D to C, and the high school maintained a D.

In Hagerman, the elementary school received a B, the middle school went from D to F, and the high school maintained a C.

Ruszkowski said Lake Arthur has never earned an A and he believes in the leadership of Elisa Begueria, the new superintendent, to assist the district in improving. Lake Arthur’s elementary school went from a D to C, the middle school earned its second F, and the high school improved from a D to a C.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

City manager, finance director discuss city budget

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City Manager Joe Neeb answers a question from RDR editor John Dilmore (not pictured). Finance Director Monica Garcia listens to the explanation. On the table is her binder of information on the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget. (Alison Penn Photo)

Editor’s note: Roswell Daily Record staff recently conducted an in-depth interview with City Manager Joe Neeb and Finance Director Monica Garcia, asking more than 30 questions — many submitted by the public — about the city’s budgeting process. Today’s story is the first of two articles resulting from the interview.

Neeb and Garcia met with RDR staff to discuss the fiscal year 2018-2019 (FY 19) budget. A final budget summary; final revenue and expenditure worksheets; and a transmittal letter from Neeb to Mayor Dennis Kintigh and the ten city councilors were provided for informational purposes in preparing the article.

Garcia and Neeb confirmed that the city’s $140,729,733 budget was submitted to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) on July 31, and Garcia estimated the city will hear back within six weeks. The three main budgeted expenditure categories are:

• Capital expenses, $56,851,154

• Operating expenses, $41,517,974

• Personnel, $42,360,605

The city’s “end cash” — funds left over from the previous year — was $80,370,719 as of June 30, and for next fiscal year, it is estimated to be at $16,853,461.

Stating that the city of Roswell is, “not in the money of making business,” Neeb said that governmental finance is different from personal or even industry finance. He said that every dollar collected by the city goes toward a city service and the expense must be justified. Neeb and Garcia agreed that this past year was a challenge for many reasons.

“We’re very proactive in taking care of our people,” Neeb said. “We’re so much more proactive than we used to be. Those dollars are very tight and so it is really a prioritization of what can we get done.”

Garcia and Neeb shared one challenge involved implementing a new process after a former city employee — who ran the budget using a different system for 23 years — left the finance department recently. Garcia said this year was a year of learning and developing a process for the finance department.

Neeb said 46 percent of this year’s budget — $56,851,154 — is for capital projects.

Garcia said an upcoming Tyler Technologies software upgrade will show a bigger picture of the city’s finances. Neeb said the software will help justify the numbers better — since the current Open Government software system is limited.

“Give us a call,” Neeb said. “Staff will spend time with anybody that wants to learn a little bit more … We’ve got to start somewhere in order to help rebuild some of that trust and that perception of what is there. Staff is well aware anybody that has questions, we are going to answer those questions. If we can help with that, that’s our role.”

Gross receipts tax

Neeb said general fund gross receipts tax (GRT) is the primary fund for the budget, and is variable based on the economy. The FY 2018 final GRT amount for the general fund was $33,002,898 and it is budgeted at $33,282,072 for FY 19.

In terms of revenue, Neeb said the city makes educated guesses on GRT annually — and compared it to looking into a crystal ball. When the city receives GRT from the state, he said an excess amount can be allocated to a service, and if less is made the city must look at decreasing expenditures.

Neeb added that said property taxes are about 24 percent of the budget. He added that user fees for citizens have remained the same — except in cases where services or rates change.

Water revenues

The city initiated a $20 million bond to install and implement smart water meters; the bond is set to close out in 2037. Neeb said water revenue is expected to increase thanks to the new water meters. The old meters were estimated to only charge for 80 percent of the water being used. The new meters are more efficient, and will charge for 100 percent of water used.

Neeb said all the desired water department projects were funded this year and the city’s goal remains replacing and improving the water infrastructure with the general fund. Garcia said the water budget remains the same from last year, and she wants to see a full year of operations with the smart meters to see a financial trend develop. Estimated water revenue is $14,477,400, and expenses are at $25,528,465 for FY 19.

City’s bonds

Garcia said the general fund has about $62,000,000 in bonding capacity. Neeb and Garcia said the enterprise fund has a higher bonding limit. Neeb explained that bonding helps with leveraging resources faster and to cover needs.

“This council is a very conservative type council,” Neeb said. “They will not want to bond for everything that’s out there.”

When the city does use bond funding, Neeb said the council is selective and wants the revenues in place to cover the bonds. Garcia and Neeb said the city still holds a AA bond rating and is stable on a broad level financially.

Compensation Plan

Neeb said implementing a new compensation plan, approved in April, was one goal of this year’s budget process. Garcia said with the increases in payroll, the city the city is in a similar range as the rest of the state and compared to neighboring states, according to the city’s compensation studies.

Neeb said during discussions with three unions (Local 51 Utility Workers Union of America, Roswell Police Officers’ Association, and the Roswell Fire Department’s union) there were questions about why large amounts of money borrowed can be used for capital projects — like the recreation center — and not for salaries. He explained those funds are borrowed for a specific purpose and cannot go toward operational funds, like payroll.

Garcia said the city did not have a compensation plan prior to this one — but rather an out-dated grade and step scale for city employees. Garcia said the new compensation plan will move the city and is employees forward.

General Fund

Neeb said the general fund is the part of the budget the city struggles with, since it covers around 26 departments, contains the most personnel, and has many needs. In FY 19’s budget, the revenues are estimated at $41,004,460, and total expenses at $43,528,340. Neeb’s transmittal letter states that the FY 18 revenue was $33,002,898 and the projected revenue is $33,282,072.

Neeb’s transmittal letter also stated that no tax rate increases were included in this year’s budget.

“We’re financially stable but we have cash flow issues because of where the needs are coming from,” Neeb said. “You can see that with this year’s budget … The one that really suffers because there is so much impact, is the general fund.”

Neeb added the prioritization of projects in the general fund is challenging, because it has large departments with expensive needs, like streets and Parks and Recreation.

Reserves

Neeb said in 2016 the GRT was very low and the city decided to keep things as they were instead of reducing expenditures in that year. During this time the city used more of its cash on hand, also called reserves.

Neeb shared that the city council has requested to replenish and protect the cash on hand. At this time, Neeb said the city is moving toward this goal, through analysis of the reserves.

As required by the state, a city must have one-twelfth of its annual income in reserves, and Neeb said Councilor Caleb Grant and the city’s finance committee are adamant that they want to build the reserves to hold the equivalent of three months of the annual budget. Neeb said the city always carried more than one-twelfth in reserves.

“The reason for the reserves is, if no new money comes in, that it doesn’t destroy providing services until new revenue makes it, so the reserves are for that rainy day,” Neeb said.

Garcia said Roswell has to deal with many economic factors and does not depend on oil and gas as much as other municipalities that are able to hold more in the reserves. Neeb added that Roswell has multiple industries to depend on.

“Part of the conversations has been, do we want that much money sitting in the bank — or do we want to put it to work for our people, as to why we took their tax dollars in the first place?” Neeb asked.

Neeb said the enterprise funds — that include sewage, water, and sanitation — are “very strong.” He said that local dollars are generated to support these services.

After the Goliath Storm of 2016, Garcia said the state helped and Roswell got some federal funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). When natural disaster hits, Garcia and Neeb said there is a prioritization to keep funding in the most important areas. Neeb said funding public safety ranks high on that list.

Neeb said the city not allowed to spend the reserves to balance out the budget. He added that using reserves would require city council and DFA approval.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle

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Alethea Hartwell has been homeschooling her children for nine years. She feels it was the best choice she and her husband could have made. (Submitted Photo)

Homeschooling is demanding. Alethea Hartwell can tell you all about the commitment and the benefits. She has been homeschooling her children for nine years.

Raylene, her 14-year-old daughter, and Keaton, 12-year-old son, are bright, confident and socially comfortable. While it’s hard work, the potential growth for the children has been worth it for the Hartwell family.

“There are a lot of different reasons I decided to homeschool,” she said. “One reason is that I wanted a really close relationship with my kids. I had the opportunity when I was growing up, to watch other homeschooling moms and their kids. I loved the bond and relationship that they had and I wanted that type of relationship.

“Another reason is that my son is a kinetic learner. Public school is not typically geared toward kinetic learners. They tend to get labeled ADD or problem children because they’re constantly moving. I can teach him differently at home.”

For the Hartwell family, faith is one of the most important aspects of their lives. Homeschooling has made it possible to incorporate their faith in their children’s education.

“I wanted to be able to teach reading from the Bible,” Hartwell said. “And to teach morality from the Bible, so that was one of the reasons for choosing to homeschool. I’m allowed to bring biblical texts, even if we want to use it for analysis, and there’s no fear of reprisal. It’s nice to be able to stop and pray when they’re struggling.”

Hartwell appreciates being able to tailor her teaching to each child’s needs.

“A lot of the science we’ve picked for Keaton,” she said, “has been geared toward life sciences and animals because he loves them. He’s expressed an interest in being a veterinarian or a marine biologist. The nice thing about homeschooling is that when they have trouble with a subject, I can slow it down. I don’t have to bull through it for all the other students. I can keep it at their pace.”

Keaton’s kinetic learning program has proven effective.

“I’ve done a lot of out-loud reading,” Hartwell said, “while he’s playing with Legos or Play-Doh. It’s something he can manipulate with his hands while he’s listening. I’ve always required him to be in the room when I was doing Raylene’s lessons. So he’d be sitting at the coffee table playing with his Legos while I’m doing her lessons. Sometimes he can answer the questions before she can.”

After nine years it would be easy to think she had it all figured out.

“I was getting a good groove the last couple of years,” she said. “But now that my daughter is in high school, it’s a different ballgame. Per the state of New Mexico, I don’t have to keep any records. I don’t have to turn in lesson plans. But if I want her to be able to get a state diploma, I have to have a transcript. That’s not something I’ve had to do up until now. She can get a GED but there are some colleges that like seeing the diploma.”

High school has meant new interests. Fortunately, the public school system has some integrative programs for homeschooling families.

“I’ve known that they allow homeschool students to take part in music, clubs and sports,” Hartwell said. “I didn’t know how easy it was to get in. This year she wanted to learn the violin so I investigated. It was very easy. I drop her off at the time of class, sign her in, and pick her up when it’s over.”

One question that Hartwell has been assailed with is how she socializes her children.

“They’re socialized every day with adults, and other homeschooled children,” she said. “They take part in things like KAPS, the Kid’s Arts Programs. They get socialized in church. They’ve done soccer at the city leagues. They’ve done baseball at the city leagues. Something I like is that they’re socialized with all ages. They’re not segregated into just their grade. I think it gives them a broader socialization than public school.”

She has been able to work with them more closely on developing social skills, too.

“Just looking back at my school years,” Hartwell said, “there was bullying to deal with. There was a lot of feeling inferior. They still deal with that but at least I’m able to give them my viewpoint. When I was a kid I didn’t know how to talk to adults. My daughter comes to me with everything. That’s what I wanted.

“I think a lot of their manners came back to their socialization. For the first six years of their schooling, they went everywhere with me. They would be sitting listening to my conversations and they would learn from that.”

Hartwell will be the first to tell you that homeschooling, like anything worth doing, requires a very deep commitment.

“It takes a lot of time,” she said. “It’s hard. You’re stuck to a single income, which can be difficult. It’s a choice we made for our family because it felt like the right thing to do all the way around. It’s a lifestyle.”

Republicans celebrate opening of campaign office downtown

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State, local, congressional and judicial candidates were on-hand Saturday to mark the opening of the Chaves County Republican Party campaign office.

People interacted with each other, ate ice cream, heard from candidates and took part in a pie auction during the event at the former Copy-Rite Printing and Copies at 210 N. Richardson Ave.

Caleb Grant, a city councilor and chair of the Chaves County Republican Party, said the space is “a couple thousand square feet” and will be used for campaign events, party functions, party meetings and a place to store campaign signs and materials.

He said each election season the party looks for a campaign office for three or four months.

“This one kind of caught our eye — obviously a good location and great building, so it worked out good,” Grant said as voters and candidates mingled.

He added that the office will be staffed by volunteers and open evenings and a bit on weekends. Specific hours have not yet been decided.

Candidates also addressed the crowd, voicing a mix of enthusiasm and caution about the party’s chances come November.

Yvette Herrell, a Republican state representative running in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, said she thought the large turnout for the office opening was a good sign for the party in the upcoming elections.

“This does not look like a ‘blue wave,’” Herrell said, using a term commonly used to describe a good electoral environment for Democrats.

Herrell faces Democrat Xochi Torres-Small in the fall to represent New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, that includes Roswell. Republican candidate for governor Steve Pearce now represents the district.

Pearce has opted not to run for re-election and is instead a candidate for governor. He faces Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Herrell, who has been endorsed by Pearce, told the crowd she hopes to continue his work in Congress.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Herrell said. “We just have to build on what Congressman Pearce has already put into place.”

State Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, who is up for re-election, said it is crucial the party’s base plus another 5 percent of the electorate show up on Election Day.

“Things could get very, very lonely in Sante Fe for Republicans if we don’t squeeze out an extra 5 percent, make sure the base gets out, plus get all these other people out voting,” Nibert said.

Nibert faces a challenge from Libertarian Carl Swinney in his bid for re-election to House District 59, which includes Chaves County.

Pearce told the crowd that when he decided to run for governor, many people sought to dissuade him from doing so. He said they told him it would be hard for him to compete in the more heavily Democratic northern parts of the state.

He said that in past elections for the U.S. House, he has won heavily Democratic counties within the 2nd Congressional District, which includes a large Hispanic population.

Pearce said that in the past 12 days he has campaigned in Democratic enclaves in the more northern part of the state, including the Navajo reservation where he has received a positive reception.

He also touted the endorsements of former New Mexico Gov. Jerry Apodaca and Dorothy Runnels, the widow of former U.S. Rep. Harold Runnels, both Democrats. Apodaca’s son Jeff lost the Democratic nomination to Grisham in the June primaries.

“They are both lifelong Democrats that I have known for much of my life and they are supportive because they know me,” Pearce said.

Though Pearce said that he thinks he will perform strongly in Democratic areas, he said that it is crucial that voters in solidly Republican Southeastern New Mexico cast their ballots in November.

“Every vote we get here is one less vote we have to count on up north,” he said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

No siesta to win a Fiesta

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People stand up against a 2018 Ford Fiesta Saturday in the parking lot of the UFO McDonalds on North Main Street during the No Siesta for the Fiesta contest. Thirty people competed in the hands-on marathon for the car. The person who maintains contact with the car the longest wins the car. People were also encouraged to go online and purchase items for the contestants. Money raised for the sale of the items goes to the New Mexico Ronald McDonald House. (Alex Ross Photo)

Man suspected in June shooting arrested

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A Roswell man accused of shooting two other men outside a residence in south Roswell in late June was arrested Friday night in the southeast part of the city.

George Alley, 20, is charged with two counts of aggravated battery and one count of aggravated assault in connection with a June 27 incident in which he allegedly shot two 18-year-old men in the 90 block of West Byrne Street. The two victims survived.

Roswell Police Department officers located Alley inside a home in the 1000 block of South Mulberry Avenue shortly after 8 p.m.. Following a short standoff, Alley exited the home and surrendered. He was arrested and booked into the Chaves County Detention Center. Police found no one else in the home.

Prior to his arrest, RPD placed Alley on its Roswell’s Most Wanted list. Alley’s arrest on Friday made him the second fugitive on the local most-wanted list to be arrested within a period of three days this week. Victor Richardson Jr., 22, who is charged in connection with a separate non-fatal shooting of another man earlier this month, was arrested Wednesday.

Week Ahead

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Monday

Sidney Gutierrez Middle School Governing Council Special Meeting, 3:30 p.m., Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, 409 E. College Blvd.

Roswell Museum and Art Center Board of Trustees, 4 p.m., Bassett Auditorium, RMAC, 1011 N. Richardson Ave.

Tuesday

Eddy County Board of Commissioners Special Meeting, 9 a.m., Fire Service Complex, 1400 Commerce Drive, Carlsbad

South Park Cemetery Board of Directors, 4 p.m., Conference Room, South Park Cemetery office, 3101 S. Main St.

City of Roswell Planning and Zoning Commission, 6 p.m., Bassett Auditorium, Roswell Museum and Art Center, 1011 N. Richardson Ave.

Wednesday

Roswell City Council General Services Committee, 4 p.m., Large Conference Room, City Hall, 425 N. Richardson Ave.

Thursday

Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Authority, 5:30 p.m., Chaves County Administrative Center, 1 St. Mary’s Place

A day in the life of ‘Angry Birds’

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Aidan Rutley, 11, plays the Angry Birds Slingshot game Saturday during the End of Summer Health Center Celebration Luau outside La Casa Behavioral Health at 110 E. Mescalero Road. The Luau consisted of games, prizes, blood pressure checks and more. (Alex Ross Photo)

Charlie’s Angels Kim Castro honored

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Kim Castro celebrates her award with current and former Charlie’s Angels. (Silvia Hernandez Photo)

For Charlie’s Angels leader, Kim Castro, this is not what she signed up for when she started Charlie’s Angels 19 years ago. On June 12, she was given the Commitment to Youth Award by Leadership Roswell Alumni Association at New Mexico Military Institute VMW Hall for impacting the lives of youth today for the better.

Charlie’s Angels at Coyote Den this summer. (Silvia Hernandez Photo)

Also honored at the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association were: Tom Krumland – Outstanding Leader Award; Mike McLeod – Alumni Leadership; Don Anderson – Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Teen Leadership scholarships went to Logan Eaker, Allie French and Vincent Verciglio.

Castro has been about being able to do what she loves and bring dance to her alma mater, Roswell High School, and coach both her daughters, Ali and Desiree Castro along the way. Angels assistant coach Silvia Hernandez was there along with current and former angels to see Castro accept her award.

“I was excited about winning the award,” Castro said. “It means a lot to me. I’ve had kids tell me, ‘If we can get through being a Charlie’s Angel, we can get through most things in life.’ It is difficult, it’s tough being on my team. I have kids that don’t miss practice and they aren’t allowed to miss unless they are really sick or something comes up. On the whole, my kids are really dedicated. It means a lot that my kids (Angels) look back on this and it is one of their best memories. It makes me feel good that I have had an impact on them.”

Castro looks back

Castro reminisced about how the Angels were started in 2000, and her first years until she won her first championship. Castro went to the RHS Superintendent Dr. Fresquez and asked if she could have a dance team.

Castro felt like there were a lot of kids in the Roswell school district that wanted to dance. She continued to teach dance at Miss Minnie’s School of Ballet at the time. She knew there were other dance teams in Albuquerque and in other cities up north, but not any in Roswell at the time.

Castro’s oldest daughter, Desiree, wanted Castro to do something different and get a dance team started. Castro had been a cheerleader at RHS and always wanted to have a dance team, but they didn’t have one when she was in high school. Castro believes RHS had a dance team before she started Charlie’s Angels, but they were not a competition dance team.

First time at state

In the beginning, the dance team had to work around the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams’ practice schedules. Sometimes they had to practice at Miss Minnie’s Studio to get their routines in. The dance team finished in third place at state in 2001, their first year of going to state.

In her first time at state, Castro and her team were nervous. She felt like it was a learning experience. Her team was excited to place third but felt like they left there wanting to be No.1. Castro was driven in the early years to win. She watched a lot of film of other teams in the Angels’ class to get better.

Her whole goal was to win.

“I thought it was pretty impressive to finish third our first time in state,” Castro said. “I was just learning myself how to put it together. To place third our first time up there was a super huge accomplishment, but we left there knowing we wanted to win.”

Angels’ first win

The Angels continued to come close: in their second-year, they came in second place. In their third year, they dropped to third place and their fourth year they scored in second place again. It was in their fifth year the Angels won in 2005.

“I think the difference in 2005,” Castro said, “was that our technique started to get better and we started doing harder and harder routines. We just started doing more to win. By the time we won, I had had that group of kids for four years and I think they were super motivated — they could be possibly the hardest working group I ever had.”

Class misses out

When Castro finally broke through and won her first title, several of the kids had graduated and didn’t win a championship. Castro feels they were a part of the championship in that they laid the foundation for future Angels.

“I had a senior the year before that didn’t win,” Castro said. “She got second and I was sad for her because she was a really hardworking kid. I feel like the early kids helped build our program into what it is now even though they never won. They were the building block to what we do now. In the early years, those kids worked so hard even though they didn’t win. I’m still in contact with those kids from way back when.”

Favorite Memory

“I think my favorite memory is probably my first one (championship),” Castro said. “The reason is that we had never, ever done it and we had been trying so hard to do it. I have good memories of all of them (championships) in different ways. I think our first National Dance Championship (2016) would be up there as well. Anytime it’s a first time of something, it is pretty exciting.”

All of the Angels look alike, they comb their hair on the same side, they have the same makeup.

“People tell me that all the time,” Castro said. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘I’ve watched one kid the entire time and it wasn’t my kid and I thought it was.’”

Castro makes the team comb their hair the same way, and apply makeup the same way. They end up looking alike, but it’s not planned. Castro wants her team looking uniform and they practice doing everything the same so no one girl stands out.

“Our team should be completely uniform,” Castro said, “from our head to our feet. I’m always on them about not sticking out in a bad way. I’m on them if they color their hair because then they’re standing out in a different way and we don’t want to look different. I just want them to all look natural and uniform when they take the stage. I tell them if they stand out they are not performing as a team — we need to be looking like one.”

Castro believes in unity so much that if they wear makeup, it is all the same. If it is lipstick, it is the same color.

First tryout

Castro remembers the very first time they announced tryouts were going to be held on Saturday — she was shocked the turnout was over 50 girls. She had to do something she doesn’t like to do, which is making cuts. Castro brings in judges to help her shape the team as she did back in her first tryout.

To make the team now as then, she will give the girls a short routine to learn and have them do some technical dance moves to see if they are able to do them. Castro uses a score sheet and ranks the girls from highest to lowest. Each girl is scored on different dance skills.

Hernandez

Silvia Hernandez became involved in 2000. RISD had a rule that if a coach wasn’t a teacher or worked in the school, they weren’t allowed to be a head coach. That rule has since been changed. Hernandez worked at the school and Castro knew her from talking to her in the front office every day.

“I asked Silvia (Hernandez) if she would be interested in helping out,” Castro said. “It is really how we kind of met. Prior to that, I didn’t know her. We’ve always had a good partnership. She does a lot of behind the scenes work, she helps me with paperwork and discipline. She does a lot more than I ever expected her to do. We are a team. I think our program is strong because we have a lot to offer in different ways.”

Castro and Hernandez have been together so long and know each other so well, it allows Castro to have the freedom to do what she does best and that focuses on the dance part and workout routines. Hernandez handles the administration part of the program as well as being another set of eyes to see if a dancer is off. Both have been together as a team since the program started 19 years ago.

“I always say,” Castro said, “even though I do the dance portion, it would have been hard to do this — this well without her. We’re pretty much a team. We work together well and we both know our roles. We don’t ever compete against each other, we just do it as a team and we get along well together. I think I need her for all of the reasons she needs me. It has been a good team. Both of our positions as super valuable.”

Parents and role models

Castro believes in being upfront with the parents about what she expects. The Angels have a meeting at tryouts where she will tell the parents what to expect and what the program is about. Castro tells them it takes a lot of dedication to be on the team. Also, if they eat dinner together at 5 p.m., then this is probably not the program for you.

“If I don’t have the parents’ 100 percent support,” Castro states, “which I do. I have great parents. If I didn’t have it, then I wouldn’t have the kids’ dedication. I always say behind every great kid is a great parent. I really appreciate my parents, I have really good parents.”

I’ve had kids from all kinds of backgrounds. I’ve had kids that don’t come from a good home life and it was being an Angel that saved them and got them through. Castro thinks that being on the dance team has given the girls a source of pride and accomplishment in belonging to something that is not easy and the dance team is a family, which picks the girls up when they are down.

“I’m happy if I have been a role model,” Castro said.

Marriage

Castro has been married for over 30 years and her husband, Danny, is proud of her and all that she has accomplished and that she is living her dream. She believes that she spends more time during the season with the dance team than she does at home.

“It takes a toll,” Castro said. “Luckily, I’m married to someone that is proud of what I do and he encourages me.”

It is awesome that I’m recognized for giving something to the youth,” Castro said. “My dance teacher once told me, ‘It is a gift. When you give kids the gift of dance you’ve given them a gift in life.’”

As Castro accepted her award, those are some of the thoughts that went through her head as she gets ready for her 19th year as the leader of Charlie’s Angels.

Prescott solid, Dalton sluggish as Bengals top Cowboys 21-13

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks to throw against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half of a preseason NFL Football game in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys had another efficient preseason showing.

Andy Dalton bogged down a bit with his Cincinnati Bengals.

Prescott led a pair of scoring drives in three possessions, capped with a scrambling 6-yard scoring pass to Terrance Williams before the Bengals rallied after halftime for a 21-13 exhibition victory Saturday night.

The Bengals had just one first down in four Dalton-led possessions a week after he threw for two touchdowns with an offense that was revamped after finishing last in the NFL. The lone first down was on Dalton’s 13-yard scramble after the Bengals (2-0) started with a pair of three-and-outs.

A week after throwing a 30-yard touchdown to rookie Michael Gallup on his only drive of the preseason opener in San Francisco, Prescott was 10 of 15 for 86 yards. The TD drive for a 10-0 lead was kept alive by an 8-yard slant to Gallup, who reached out for a nice catch inside the Cincinnati 10.

The concern for the Cowboys (0-2) was the status of four-time Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin, who left early on what would have been his last drive with a knee injury. There was no immediate update on the severity of the injury, which happened when Martin bent down to block cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the open field on a run by Rod Smith.

Dalton’s final possession ended when Dallas defensive end Taco Charlton forced a fumble on a short completion to Tyler Boyd, with cornerback Byron Jones getting the recovery. Dalton was 5 of 7 for 41 yards.

The Cowboys forced two turnovers after getting three against the 49ers. The highlight was Chidobe Awuzie’s leaping interception , which he tipped to himself along the sideline late in the first half.

Cincinnati’s first points came on backup kicker Jonathan Brown’s 55-yard field goal in the third quarter.

The Bengals went ahead 11-10 when Tra Carson scored on a 2-yard run and Jeff Driskel threw a 2-point conversion pass to John Ross. Matt Barkley’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hill wrapped up the scoring midway through the fourth quarter.

LONG TIME COMING

Dallas defensive end Randy Gregory played for the first time since the finale of the 2016 regular season. He missed all of last season after getting suspended three times in 2016 for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Gregory didn’t show up in the defensive stats but pressured Dalton on a third-down misfire to an open A.J. Green on Cincinnati’s opening possession.

TALE OF TWO WORKLOADS

With star running back Ezekiel Elliott sitting again for Dallas, Smith had 13 carries in the first 18 minutes, finishing with 49 yards. His workload was helped by a nearly nine-minute drive to Williams’ touchdown. Bengals starter Joe Mixon got just four carries for 8 yards.

LEE SIGHTING

Dallas linebacker Sean Lee started and played a few snaps after finally going through a full practice for the first time this past week at training camp in California.

O-LINE OVERHAUL

The work in progress that is the overhauled offensive line for the Bengals remains that way, this time after fired line coach Paul Alexander was watching from the opposing sideline after getting hired by Dallas. Cedric Ogbuehi was at right tackle to start the second half when gave up a sack to Charlton while getting called for holding. Cincinnati running backs had just 7 yards on six carries before halftime.

NATIONAL ANTHEM

The Cowboys were standing for the national anthem in the first preseason home game, “toe on the line” as owner Jerry Jones declared they would be in his opening remarks at training camp last month. The Dallas players, with some coaches sprinkled in, were single file on the sideline, spanning about 50 yards. As usual, all the Bengals were standing.

INJURY REPORT

Bengals: Rookie CB Davontae Harris was ruled out with a knee injury in the first half. … TE C.J. Uzomah sustained a cut to his face early in the game, but came back with a 23-yard catch in the first half.

Cowboys: S Xavier Woods left with a hamstring injury. … Rookie RB Bo Scarbrough, a seventh-round pick out of Alabama, went to the locker room with a hip injury. … DE Datone Jones and S Jameill Showers left with knee injuries.

UP NEXT

For “dress rehearsal” week, the Bengals will be at Buffalo and the Cowboys will be home against Arizona. Both games are next Sunday.

Kurt Busch steals spotlight from younger brother at Bristol

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Kurt Busch makes his way around the track during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, in Bristol, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — Kurt Busch stole the spotlight from his younger brother Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway to snap a 58-race winless streak and grab an overdue short-track victory.

Busch won for the first time this season but sixth on the 0.533-mile bullring he once dominated. Busch once won three consecutive times on the Tennessee track and was considered the best in the business on the concrete oval.

Then his younger brother learned his way around the place, and Kyle Busch became the master of the track.

Kyle Busch has seven Cup wins at Bristol, 21 total across NASCAR’s national series. He’s so good that he chose the song “All I Do Is Win” by D.J. Khaled to play as he was introduced before the race. The crowd responded with a thunderous boo, and Kyle Busch’s eventful evening was off to a roaring start. He triggered a 15-car accident just two laps into the race, fell two laps off the pace, came back to race Martin Truex Jr. for second, and moved Truex out the way late in the race.

A frustrated Truex kicked his car in anger, and as Kyle Busch was tending to his wounded race car, older brother Kurt battled Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer for the lead. Kurt Busch was relentless on the restart and got his Ford to the front, then Kyle Busch spun to bring out a ninth caution.

Kurt Busch had a good restart but Kyle Larson, on fresher tires, was desperately trying to catch him for the win. Kurt Busch held him off and Larson, winner of the Xfinity Series race on Friday night, finished second in his bid for the Bristol sweep.

The victory was the 30th of Kurt Busch’s career, first since the Daytona 500 in 2017. It was his first Bristol victory since 2006.

“I love this place,” Kurt Busch said.

The ninth driver to win this season, he earned a spot in the 16-driver playoff field.

“It’s all about winning,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about not making the playoffs, so we could kind of treat these races coming up as free-for-alls, and we’re just going to keep going after it.”

The victory was the 13th for Stewart-Haas Racing since it joined Ford last season, and the 100th Cup victory for the Fusion.

Kyle Busch wound up 20th. He led the first 70 laps of the Xfinity Series race but wrecked with a flat tire, so his Bristol weekend was a bust.

“We probably finished where we should have anyways, as torn up as our race car is,” Kyle Busch said.

Other events from an action-packed Bristol race:

STILL SEEKING A BRISTOL WIN: Truex Jr. has never won on a short track and felt he had a chance to snap that streak at Bristol.

He was running second behind Bowyer when Kyle Busch tapped Truex’s rear bumper to cause Truex to wreck. Truex was so angry, he threw pieces of equipment to the ground and gave the side of his Toyota a hard kick.

“I just got hit in the left rear, pretty simple,” Truex said. “This place has been so hard on us. I can’t even explain to you how good we’ve run here in the past three or four years and crap like this happens every single time. It’s like just one thing after another.”

Truex was also frustrated with himself for not moving Bowyer out of his way and taking the lead. Had he done that, he wouldn’t have been in position for Busch to make contact with him.

“I should’ve knocked (Bowyer’s) butt out of the way because he held me up for 15-20 laps and burnt my front tires off screwing with him,” Truex said. “Played too nice and got the crappy end of the stick.”

UP NEXT: The Cup Series is off next weekend and races again Sept. 2 in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Denny Hamlin won last year’s race.

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