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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT

  • LOS ALAMOS LAB-PLUTONIUM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials at one of the nation's premier nuclear labs are investigating the potential exposure of employees to plutonium. Los Alamos National Laboratory has confirmed that 15 workers are being evaluated after a breach involving a gloved box that was being used to handle the material. The incident happened in June. The lab says the area inside the plutonium facility was secured and there's no risk to public health or safety. The lab is preparing to resume and ramp up production of the plutonium cores used to trigger nuclear weapons. It's facing of a 2026 deadline to begin producing at least 30 cores a year.

  • WATER RIGHTS-MAPS

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University is working to digitize the state's water rights database and develop maps that will help with management of limited groundwater and surface water resources. The work is being funded with a grant from the Office of the State Engineer. The completion date is set for later this year. Some of the maps being used by state agency are 100 years old and all are in paper format. Associate geography professor Christopher Brown says proper management of New Mexico's water resources is not only important to the economy, but also the quality of life of residents.

  • HIGHLANDS-ENROLLMENT

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Highlands University says its summer enrollment has increased 3% despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Strategic enrollment management director Benito Pacheco said Monday the total summer 2020 enrollment at Highlands is at 1,095 compared to 1,066 in last summer. Officials credit a collaborative and targeted effort by many of the school's offices. Pacheco says officials used Zoom videoconferencing so a prospective student could click on a link to meet online with a success coach face to face, much as if they were walking into an office.

  • PECOS SCHOOLS-SUPERINTENDENT

PECOS, N.M. (AP) — Pecos Independent School has offered interim superintendent Debra Sena Holton a two-year contract to name her permanent school chief. The Las Vegas Optic reports the Pecos School Board recently voted to give Sena Holton the contract beginning July 1. Sena Holton had been the interim superintendent since March 17, the day after campuses closed across the state. Board President Darlene Ortiz says Sena Holton was one of three top applicants considered by the board. Sena Holton's appointment to the position comes after former Pecos Superintendent Fred Trujillo left to take the superintendent position in the Espanola Public Schools District. 

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The hybrid reopening of New Mexico public schools will come amid a statewide nursing shortage, adding to the anxiety of parents and teachers. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports guidelines released by the New Mexico Public Education Department released last month have turned the spotlight onto school nurses. Schools in New Mexico are reporting a lack of nurses. New Mexico health officials reported Monday an additional 253 coronavirus cases and two more deaths. That puts the statewide total of confirmed COVID-19 infections at 13,507 with the death toll at 515.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-SMALL BUSINESS LOANS-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Santa Fe Opera, the Meow Wolf art collaborative and the non-profit organization that puts on the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta are among the New Mexico businesses receiving loans from the U.S. government as part of the massive effort to support the economy amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Treasury Department on Monday identified the borrowers that got more than $150,000 each through the Paycheck Protection Program. The list in New Mexico also includes tribal casinos, private schools in Albuquerque, restaurants, breweries, oil companies, churches, a few rural hospitals and a consulting company co-founded by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham more than a decade ago.

  • SANDIAS KIDNAPPING DEATH

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Four people have been charged with the kidnapping and shooting death of an 18-year-old man in the Sandias Mountains. The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that 22-year-old Julio Rascon, 19-year-old Angel Ochoa, a 27-year-old man and his 30-year-old wife are facing a range of charges including murder in Isaiah Hill's killing. Arrest warrants have been issued for all four, according to online court records. A hiker discovered Hill's body May 26 on a dirt road near Sandia Man Cave, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed by the Sandoval County Sheriff's Office. Authorities say Hill was face-down, hogtied and had a gunshot wound to the back of the head. 

  • AP-US-ELECTION-2020-LATINOS

WASHINGTON (AP) — To win Florida and other pivotal swing states in November, Joe Biden is not only hoping to run up the score against President Donald Trump with Latino voters but also to push the community's turnout to levels far higher than when Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. A key to doing that is a deeper understanding of Latino voters' backgrounds thanks to new advancements in "micro-targeting." That means using data modeling of voter populations to produce ads and customize political outreach efforts aimed at individual ethnic groups within the larger Latino community. The Republican Party has also tailored messages to Latinos from different backgrounds.