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Local and State News

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


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration is visiting New Mexico this week as part of a tour of the nation's nuclear security operations. The visit coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Trinity Test, which marked the world's first atomic explosion in 1945. Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty is scheduled to lead a commemoration Thursday at the historic V-Site at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where early testing and some assembly of the atomic bomb took place. Gordon-Hagerty has been spearheading the federal government's recent efforts to ramp up production of the plutonium triggers for the nation's aging nuclear stockpile.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico high school named after a Spanish conquistador will be renamed following nationwide protests against racial injustice.. The Las Cruces School Board voted Tuesday to drop the name of Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar from a high school. Indigenous leaders convinced another New Mexico county to remove its statue of Oñate. New Mexico Pueblo members have long seen Oñate has a brutal leader who forced Native Americans into slavery. Numerous Confederate statues and monuments to American slave owners, as well as statues honoring Christopher Columbus, have been taken down by officials or torn down by protester in the weeks following the death of George Floyd.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A new campaign manager for Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is facing attacks from Republicans for once working on behalf of a gun control group funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Torres Small recently announced she had hired Emma Caccamo to help her win reelection in southern New Mexico. Caccamo previously served as deputy political director for Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonpartisan advocacy group that pushes for gun control. Michael Horanburg, campaign manager for Torres Small's Republican challenger Yvette Herrell, says the hire reeked of hypocrisy from the Democratic congresswoman who shot a rifle in a 2018 campaign ad.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials are reporting an additional 227 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to more than 15,500 since the coronavirus outbreak began. The latest figures released Tuesday show Bernalillo County, which includes the state's most populous metro area, added another 65 confirmed cases. Health officials also reported three additional deaths, bringing that total to 551. Those deaths include a McKinley County man and San Juan County woman, both in the their 30s, who had underlying conditions. New Mexico has been added to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut's quarantine list because it's among states with growing infection rates.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation reported 47 new cases of the coronavirus Tuesday and no additional deaths. The latest positive cases of COVID-19 on the sprawling reservation bring the total number to 8,290. The death toll remains at 401 people. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said that while data is improving, residents need to be mindful that many towns and cities near the reservation have seen significant increases in new COVID-19 cases. He says he's cautiously optimistic the recent July 4th weekend will not result in a spike of cases. The reservation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


Nakotah LaRance, a champion hoop dancer who traveled the world performing with Cirque du Soleil, has died at age 30. LaRance was Tewa, Hopi, Navajo and Assiniboine. His father, Steve LaRance, says he died Sunday after falling from a bridge in New Mexico's Rio Arriba County. Native American hoop dancing involves doing intricate footwork while twirling and throwing hoops in the air and manipulating them into shapes such as wings or spheres. LaRance began competing in the Heard Museum's annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest in Phoenix as a youth and earned the title of World Champion there three times. He traveled the world performing with Cirque du Soleil for more than three years and then returned to northern New Mexico, where he created a youth hoop dance group. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is going to have to dig out of a deep financial hole as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as gross receipts continue to crater and one in five workers has been forced to seek jobless benefits. The chairman of the Legislature's top budget committee is urging caution as lawmakers plan to gather later this week to talk about shuttered businesses, the pace of economic recovery and federal relief funds. Democratic Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming says restraint should be the theme for state spending given the uncertainty related to the virus and the volatility of the oil and gas industry. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico judge has postponed a murder trial after learning a defense attorney was in contact with people who contracted COVID-19. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported District Judge Maria Sanchez-Gagne called a mistrial after learning of the contact. Defense attorney Sheri Raphaelson says she was in contact with patients while working as a midwife. Mark Hice was charged with first-degree murder in connection with an October 2018 shooting that killed 18-year-old Cameron Martinez and wounded three others. Hice's trial was to be the first case in the state's First Judicial District since the start of the pandemic.