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Saturday, May 27, 2017
Watch Lea’s urban population grow over 60 years

BuildZoom's new study looks into Urban Expansion across the country on a city by city bases. The urbanized metro area of Hobbs has expanded 19.65 square miles since 1940. Below is a breakdown of the decade by decade expansion of Hobbs and a map depicting this change: 

  • In the 1940s Hobbs expanded 0.51 square miles. 
  • 5.59 square miles in the 1950s
  • 2.82 square miles in the 1960s
  • 3.31 square miles in the 1970s
  • 1.70 square miles in the 1980s
  • 5.43 square miles in the 1990s
  • 0.30 square miles in the 2000s



The CORE breaks ground

The CORE breaks ground

Collaboration served as the core of the CORE, according to Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb.

Ceremonial groundbreaking for the Center of Recreational Excellence, formerly called the Health, Wellness and Learning Center, drew more than 300 people Monday afternoon.

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Woman arrested for DWI after son calls 911

Woman arrested for DWI after son calls 911

News-Sun Report

A Hobbs woman was arrested Saturday morning on a drunk driving charge after her 12-year-old child called authorities while riding in the car as a passenger.

Bobbie Sue Smith, 49, was charged with abandonment or abuse of a child, a third-degree felony; and driving while under influence of intoxicating liquor, a petty misdemeanor. Smith was booked at the Hobbs City Jail.

According to the criminal complaint, Hobbs police was dispatched 5:50 a.m. Saturday to the Gulf and Sanger intersection after a juvenile contacted the Lea County Communication Authority about his mother driving intoxicated. The juvenile reportedly told dispatch she had been “circling the block,” meanwhile Smith called dispatch saying she had consumed two tequila shots six hours before.

After police arrived at the scene, Smith agreed to undergo field sobriety tests and was placed under arrest afterwards. She allegedly denied driving "erratically" and said she drove fast because she was upset with her son. At the city jail, the complaint states Smith took a breath test with a 0.07/0.08 result.

Traffic crashes down in 2016

Traffic crashes down in 2016

Kelly Farrell


According to Hobbs police statistics, car crashes are down 27 percent citywide this year.

When comparing year-to-date number of accidents from January through July to last year's tally, the numbers reflect a decrease of 132 crashes — a drop from 487 during the same time last year to 355 this year. Hobbs police say it's a result of “hot spot” policing or increased visibility along areas with frequent crashes. For example, two crash “hot spots” last month were Joe Harvey Boulevard with seven accidents and North Turner Street with nine. The hot spots can vary month-to-month.

“That’s our goal to reduce crashes in the city and make it a safer motoring environment for our citizens,” Hobbs Police Chief Chris McCall said. “That’s the whole point of traffic enforcement — try to gain voluntary compliance and make for a safer traveling environment.”

There were a total of 34 crashes in July while HPD officers conducted 4,511 traffic stops and wrote 1,249 citations. There were 71 crashes reported in July 2015. 

McCall said the department is always looking to improve and acknowledged the decreases are not always significant each month. He added that it’s hard work for the traffic units to identify the areas and credited the "motoring public" as well.

“We’re happy with the reduction,” he said. “That means fewer injuries and less property damage, but our goal is always zero.”

In fact, traffic crashes have gone down in previous years too. There were 923 wrecks clocked in 2010 compared to 738 last year. The numbers are there, but is the decline discernible by police officers on the street?

Officer Travis Jackson works in the traffic unit and is a 13-year veteran with the department. He said they’ve noticed an improvement in driving behavior since the end of 2014.

“We do work almost all the crashes that come out during our tour of duty,” he said. “We went from probably four or five a day — where we would just go from one crash to the next — to we might have one or two a day.”

Jackson said Highway 18 (North Lovington Highway), Joe Harvey Boulevard and Grimes Street “constantly” make the list of the top places for crashes and injuries in town.

“It only takes 25 miles an hour to kill a person if they’re unrestrained, so when you're dealing with 40 and 45 miles an hour — the potential for injury goes way up,” he said. “The cost of the damage goes way up.”

In his position, Jackson has produced monthly reports on traffic crashes during the last two years and said he's seen a “steady decline” with occasional spikes. He attributed such spikes to other factors like weather or students let out for summer break.

“Some of the things that we have the biggest problems with is following too close and speed is a factor in almost every crash,” he said. “Folks don’t realize that if they’re driving just a few miles over the speed limit — that every second they do that — they’re feet closer to their crash. All of our crashes can be avoided with just an extra second and an extra few feet.”

Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb and District 2 Commissioner Jonathan Sena reacted positively about the decrease and mentioned the amended traffic ordinance that was unanimously approved August 1 by the commission. The ordinance raises traffic fines and goes into effect September 5.

“Well, I think it’s good news,” Cobb said. “That was one of the reasons that we wanted to increase our enforcement — to reduce crashes, which at the end of the day, saves people on their automobile insurance. There’s a direct savings to the taxpayer from police reminding people to drive a little slower and be more careful.”

Cobb added the crash reductions are “good for everybody” and encouraged residents to be sensitive to the ordinance and not drive so fast.

“The fines are really not something that we think about as a revenue source for our community, but we do want it to be a deterrent to people that are not driving the speed limit for sure,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sena said he’s observed first-hand the work of Hobbs police’s partnership with the Hobbs City Commission and community to reduce reckless driving.

“We have worked so hard for so many years to make our streets safer,” Sena said. “We have to continue this. Our continued efforts coupled with our new traffic ordinance will only serve to make our community that much safer.”

He acknowledged there’s not one “silver bullet” to reduce reckless driving since it concerns humans with human behavior. However, Sena says a combination of traffic enforcement, engineering and education can make a positive impact.

One method of enforcement are those speed limit trailers around town that remind people how fast they're driving. McCall said the trailers possess a software that can be used to conduct traffic studies, and noted there have been “numerous requests” for trailers in residential areas. Citizens can request a trailer to be placed in their respective neighborhoods or report traffic concerns at 575-397-9284.

Kelly Farrell can be reached at 391-5437 or by email.

Is Hobbs’ housing market healthy?

Is Hobbs’ housing market healthy?

Levi Hill
Just how healthy is Hobbs’ housing market?
It is a question that lies at the center of the City of Hobbs’ housing incentive program and one that may have begged asking two weeks ago when Commissioner Marshall Newman quoted a figure of 269 homes on the market in Hobbs before voting against setting aside $400,000 in incentive funds for new homes under development at Zia Crossing subdivision north of Hobbs.

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Home explosion

Home explosion

Gas leak cause of home explosion



On Thursday, Victor and Alma Dominguez saw what was left of their home following Tuesday night’s explosion in South Hobbs.

“It was a sad thing to see,” Dominguez said. Hobbs Fire Marshal Shawn Williams was still conducting his investigation as HFD officials searched through the debris looking for a cause.

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Artesia officer involved in shooting former News-Sun journalist

BethNew Mexico State Police have identified the Artesia police officer who fatally shot an armed man last week.

Former Hobbs News-Sun reporter and current officer Beth Hahn shot and killed 36-year-old Juan Reynaldo Duran after responding to a call about shots being fired.

According to police, Duran pointed a firearm at Artesia police officers several times and ignored repeated commands to drop his weapons.

Duran died at the scene.

Hahn has been employed by the Artesia Police Department for more than two years.

The shooting remains under investigation.

Suspect ID’ed in Eunice shooting

Suspect ID’ed in Eunice shooting

The New Mexico State Police has released the identity of the suspect who was shot by a Eunice police officer Tuesday.

The NMSP preliminary investigation indicates that Eunice officers responded to a home on the 600 block of South Main in reference to a domestic violence call. One officer entered the home and found Roberto Granados Ocona, 41, armed with a knife. A struggle ensued that resulted in the officer shooting Ocona in the chest.

After two attempts for helicopter medical service, an ambulance took Ocona to Lea Regional Medical Center for treatment. He is currently listed in stable condition. Helicopter service was unavailable due to the large thunderstorm that his the Eunice area Tuesday afternoon.

The officer was not injured in the incident and has been placed on paid administrative leave while NMSP official investigate the incident. 

Eunice Police Chief Jimmie Jones didn't believe there was a threat of danger to anyone else outside of the residence. He said the placing of the officer on paid administrative leave is standard with an officer-involved shooting.

"His identity will be released once the investigation concludes," said Sgt. Chad Pierce, NMSP Public Information Officer. "Usually these investigations take about two weeks to conduct. The investigators will interview the officers involved and collect any data or evidence."

As earlier reported, Eunice dispatch received a 911 call at around 4:31 p.m. Dispatch logs indicate that an argument between Ocona and a female took place with the female stating, “why do you want to kill me? You just came to kill me.”

Ten minutes after the officer arrived, the ambulance was requested in reference to a subject with two gunshots to the chest. 

Jones, who has been with the Eunice Police Department for five years, believes the last officer-involved shooting in Eunice that he knows about occurred in the late 1980s or early 1990s when there was a bank robbery in downtown Eunice.

“It happened at the bank that is now our Wells Fargo bank at Main Street,” Jones said. 

Hobbs home explodes, cause unknown

Hobbs home explodes, cause unknown

'It shook the whole south side'

Todd Bailey


Raul Alvarado woke up late Tuesday night to the sound of shattering glass.
He thought the worst.
“All I heard was this big boom and I thought someone broke into the house,” he said. “I got my gun, went downstairs and saw the window was broken. Then I heard someone screaming for help.”

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Speeding fines to increase Sept. 5

Speeding fines to increase Sept. 5




You shouldn’t speed in Hobbs, but if you do, don’t do it after Sept. 5.
That’s when the city’s new traffic code goes into effect and the fines for traffic violations will increase almost threefold.
Monday night the Hobbs City Commission threw out the old traffic code and adopted a new one that is more in line with traffic fines across the state.

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