News videos produced for broadcast television.
Campus Health Runs Low On Flu Vaccine
When flu season started, Dr. Benjamin Diven, Medical Director of NMSU's Campus Health Center ordered the usual number of the flu vaccines...about 600.
This year, that is going to be gone before the end of the season.
"By this time of year, it becomes very difficult to even get flu vaccine because everybody's used up their stocks."
This year's flu season has seen more cases of the H1N1 strain and an increasing number of people are being vaccinated.
A myth that comes back every year is that you can get the flu from the injected vaccine.
"The flu shot is inactivated...incapable of producing flu...can't get the flu from it."
After getting a flu shot it takes about 10 to 12 days to develop immunity to the virus.
The injected flu vaccine cannot give you the virus, but some people are concerned with the preservative Thimerosal. It's a mercury-based preservative used in some formulations.
The Food and Drug Administration says it has "worked with, and continues to work with, vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal from vaccines."
Dr. Diven says the health center has single and multi-dose vaccines. The single does not have thimerosal. The multi-dose has trace amounts.
"Well, we recommend it...especially in people...such as asthma...kidney failure...things of that sort...we recommend it just because it's such a miserable disease."
A shortage on campus means students wanting the vaccine will likely have to find it at a local pharmacy or their family doctor.
Funeral Held For 17 Unclaimed Bodies
Dona Ana County officials held a funeral Tuesday for 17 people who died in Dona Ana County. No one claimed the bodies in the two years each remained in a morgue.
St. Joseph's cemetery was the final resting place for these 17 people.
"I don't even know these people and it touched my heart," said Patricia McDaniels, who came to the funeral service.
"These people may have had family. They may not have had family. For some reason they got lost in the world."
'Grave marker 215' is how this cemetery sees this plot of land. But these are 17 individuals. Seventeen people who for two years had no one to claim them.
Rev. Jess Williams officiated the funeral.
"What we know is we have an obligation to say goodbye and to honor the fact that these are people who lived among us," said Williams.
People with stories, laughter and tears.
Williams is also the director of public information for Dona Ana County.
"The county elects to bear the cost -- the minor cost -- of burial."
For these 17 people to be cremated and buried, it was about $4,200.
"...And to have a service performed. We believe that that recognizes and honors the dignity of human life."
The law only requires that the county hold the remains for two years. There is no protocol for disposal.
"Dona Ana county feels it's important enough to pay for a burial, to pay for grave markers."
"I don't think a stranger going to a funeral can help but feel their own mortality tugging at their heart and to reflect back on the connections we all have, the friendships, the family and the finality of the moment of death," said Williams.
Patricia felt the connection as she stood by the grave, watching the dirt blanket these remains.
"Whether you're rich, poor -- we all come from the same place and you're all gonna go the same way," said McDaniels.
This desert soil may only be able to support silk flowers, but it's still a place where hope emerges.
"We're all the same. We're all God's children. And now it gives me peace to know that these individuals can finally rest in peace. They're not just wandering souls."
Six-Year-Old Watches As Two Moms Marry
Same-sex couples signed marriage licenses at the Dona Ana County Government building Wednesday after County Clerk Lynn Ellins announced his office would accept them.
One of those couples was Sarah Finke and Heather Oesterreich.
You could say Sarah and Heather have been engaged for eleven years.
"How long have you been waiting for today? -- My lifetime."
That's heather Oesterreich. She has been with her partner Sarah Finke these eleven years.
"She called me almost instantaneously...she said I have to finish the fire drill," said Oesterreich.
Sarah met her in front of the Dona Ana County Government building. Today would be Sarah's wedding day.
"We don't know whether to laugh, cry or what to do. It's just a wonderful feeling to be able to say this is my family."
They took their vows on the sidewalk under a palm tree.
In the shade of a palm tree outside the county center may not be the ideal place for a dream wedding, but for Sarah and Heather, it didn't matter. It was special anyway.
"We really wanted to get married in our church...there might be injunctions against this...so we went ahead and got our kiddo, who's been wanting us to get married for a long time."
Their son, Micah, is six.
"It's all about love and really big waves of love...and the waves are really big. They're like almost bigger than a hotel."
He stood by them, looking up at his two moms...now brides.
Same sex marriage licenses are not usually issued in New Mexico, but, right now, New Mexico will recognize such marriages performed in other states.
Dona Ana County clerk Lynn Ellins has been planning to issue these licenses for some time.... enough time to print new documents that no longer say husband and wife. Instead, blanks for spouse and spouse.
"I had the first couple this morning say they've been waiting 31 years to do this...and another 43 years...So, it's time to stop waiting."
Ellins hopes lower courts will present a case to the state supreme court sooner rather than later.
"I'm not inventing the wheel, hopefully I'm moving it forward...get it up to the Supreme Court so we can finally end it."
A wedding day a decade in the making turned into a morning as spontaneous as a first date.
Rangers Prefer Sunset Strolls To Search And Rescue
White Sands National Monument is a beautiful sight to see.
First-time visitor Bridget Becker came all the way from Minnesota.
"This is actually beautiful, beautiful weather. We are definitely on vacation here."
She came for one of the nightly sunset strolls, guided by a ranger.
"As far as the eye can reach stretches one unbroken waste...barren, wild and worthless."
Walking around the national monument is like a walk in the park...but don't be deceived.
"You really need to come prepared..."
Becky Wiles is the chief of interpretation at the monument.
"Sometimes folks are traveling on vacation. Going out with a with a ranger ensures that they will have a safe and enjoyable visit and be able to get back to their cars."
The white sands look a whole lot like snow, but it's not usually that cold out here. Still, park rangers recommend taking a light jacket with you. It could mean the difference between shivering and comfortably watching the sunset.
Visitors sometimes venture off on their own. That's what one man recently did...getting back was another story.
"It was a photographer, so he was very well prepared and knowledgeable...had taken photos out here in the past."
He walked a few dunes over looking for the perfect shot...without a GPS or compass.
"Before he knew it, he was turned around, which is really easy to do out here. And he spent an unplanned night out."
He did have a cell phone, so he was able to call police.
"So we knew that he was out there...hot during the day, it does cool off at night...so unfortunately he got turned around and didn't have a GPS or a compass to be able to get back to his car."
With help from White Sands Missile Range, U.S. Border Patrol officers...even a drone from Holloman Air Force Base, the photographer was found safely the next day.
"I hear that he was very happy to see the rangers!"
The experienced hikers are sometimes the ones who get themselves in trouble. Even on her first hike here from Minnesota, Bridget seems to know what to do, though.
"Bring lots of water...gets pretty hot out here with the sun...elevation is something to get used to."
But, once you have the basics, there's a lot of fun to be had.
"If you were to come out here, definitely rent some sleds or bring your own -- just the plastic kind.... Super fun."
Another evening comes to a close. Becky Wiles and the staff at White Sands National Monument hope any stragglers left now are tourists getting that one last picture before heading, safely, back home.
600 Responders to Leave Silver Fire by Friday
Six hundred responders are set to leave the scene of the Silver Fire by Friday, bringing the number of responders to 100 while the fire is around 50 percent contained.
In a forest that's always green, this year, it looks like autumn came early.
The silver fire has left thousands of acres in the Gila National Forest destroyed. The flames turned the leaves of the evergreen trees brown and black.
The fire is beginning to die down, though.
"The fire's laying down. It's not making the big runs. It's not torching like it was."
That's iris Estes. She is a public information officer with New Mexico's Incident Management Team.
With the fire drawing back, so is the number of people who fight it.
"We're looking at about 700 people. Now we're going to be downsizing to less than 100...debrief with work that's left on the incident," said Richard Nieto, Deputy Incident Commander for New Mexico's Incident Management Team.
Richard Nieto is the deputy commander here at an elementary school outside Silver City that became incident command.
The number of responders is drawing back and so is the type. From type 2 who work on a mostly national scale, to a type 3, where most responders are from New Mexico.
"So with the type 3 team...any residual work...they'll work on that," said Nieto.
Commander Nieto, like others here, wears a purple ribbon on his shirt to remember the 19 firefighters who died in Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire. He knew one of them personally.
"I think first and foremost, inherently their families. Our heart goes out to those families. Whatever we can do to support them as well. They'd do the same for me and they'd do the same for everybody else," said Nieto.
It's eerie to say the least to be here in this forest with a charred tree behind me. And it smells like a campfire in the air. But it's anything but a campfire that ripped through here. It was a force of nature. And another force of nature is headed this way. Even as I stand here, I can hear thunder starting to roll.
Thunder that brings rain, but also what first started this fire -- lightning. The weather is always on the mind of those in command. Deputy commander Nieto...
"Best-case scenario is that the weather does indeed come in and we get measurable precip...we'll see how that happens. You know how that writher goes so well see how that plays out and get measurable precip, that's what we're looking at," said Nieto.
So far, injuries in this fire have been limited to blisters and dehydration.
"We had 6 minor injuries.... very good safety records given the conditions that we had the last ten days," said Nieto.
Public information officer Estes says most of those injuries were dehydration-related.
"We've had teams from all over the country...and they're not used to this dry that we have," said Estes.
It will take time, but the charred remains will come back to life.
The evergreens will again one day live up to their name.
Long before that, the change is here in the ranks, as one team hands the fire over to another team one-seventh its size.
Native American Pottery Collection Returns To Silver City
Thirty years ago, Dr. Cynthia Bettison was a graduate student sifting through the dirt on a ranch outside silver city. Studying archaeology, she was looking for what was left of the Mimbres Native American people.
Today, she is the curator of the museum at Western New Mexico University. She says, even then, she knew she'd be back.
"I said to my cohort...I'm gonna come back and fix this place...9 years later, the position opened up and everybody that heard me say that gave me the advertisement. I'd already applied, of course."
The Mimbres were a curious people. They lived from about A.D. 200 until the 1100's. Before they left, they swept the floors clean.
There was still plenty of evidence to be found, though. Mimbres families buried their ancestors close by...with a well-worn bowl placed on the head of the body.
"Someone would pass away...and a portion of the floor would be dug up...they would be buried underneath the floor."
The bowls were painted, some in two or three different colors. Dr. Bettison says they're called a polychrome -- she chose one with a rattlesnake neck and head and the body of a turkey for the symbol of the museum. She says the two animals probably represent the intermarriage of clans.
Academic researchers brought back all the material...a lot of material.
The tools and pottery of the collection are so vast that it takes several rooms to store it all. Not all of it is open to the public, so the museum has dedicated a couple of rooms to just store racks and racks of the pottery.
"Really what it did, it transformed our little museum that was known for...looted...Mimbres pottery into this incredible academic research museum...there will never be another collection like the NAN Ranch Collection."
That's because the excavation was performed on private property and before New Mexico law prevented moving any Native American remains, even for research.
Bettison says it could take decades to sort through everything here. For now, the material is waiting for a new generation of archaeologists to tell its story.