Local Roundup: Hearing to evaluate new Novak evidence

CNJ staff

The Air Force reopened an Article 32 hearing in the case of a Cannon Air Force Base airman accused of killing his wife in 2004, according to Cannon officials.

The hearing, which begins today, will evaluate new testimony and evidence in the case, officials said.

Airman Edward Novak II was charged with premeditated murder and child neglect in March 2006, more than a year after his wife, 20-year-old Kimberly Novak, was found dead in a military housing unit they shared.

In June, an Article 32 investigation was held that determined sufficient evidence against Novak warranted a trial. He could face life in prison if convicted.

Novak is serving a two-year, five-month sentence after pleading guilty in April to charges of child neglect.

$300,000 available for lakes restoration

Approximately $300,000 for playa lake restoration is available through the Central Curry Soil and Water Conservation District.

Playa lakes are a major source of recharge for the dwindling Ogallala Aquifer and also serve as wetland areas for many species of migratory and resident birds, as well as plants, insects and amphibians, according to Rachel Armstrong, Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist.

“Playa lakes are declining in numbers due to urban encroachment and farming,” Armstrong said. “Other factors such as sedimentation, filling, pitting, and overgrazing have compromised the manner in which playa lakes function.”

Landowners will be awarded 10-year contracts that will include an active playa management plan achieved through the installation of various conservation practices.

Signed applications will be accepted through June 15 at the Central Curry Soil and Water Conservation District, 918 Parkland Drive.
Information: 762-4769.

Extension granted in water decision

A decision on the proposed rate increase requested by New Mexico American Water is still pending before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

On April 24, the PRC requested additional time to consider and rule on the rate increase, extending the period for its ruling to May 31. A previous extension gave the PRC until April 29.

The water company asked for a 20-percent increase in May 2006 from its 2005 adjusted water service revenues, according to officials.

A PRC hearing examiner in February recommended a 12.6-percent hike, according to PRC documents.

Kathy Wright, New Mexico American Water vice president and general manger, said the recommendation if approved would result in an increase from $26.20 to $28.51 in the monthly bill of a customer using 6,000 gallons of water.