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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

  • Low flows of Rio Grande threaten diversions near Santa Fe

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Water managers in Santa Fe say expected low flows along the Rio Grande will likely force the temporary shutdown of diversions as early as this weekend. Officials with the Buckman diversion project say the river's flow is expected to drop rapidly once the last of the water stored for irrigation in the Middle Rio Grande Valley has been used. They say river conditions at the Buckman diversion location north of Santa Fe will be monitored closely. If flows reach or go below 300 cubic feet per second, diversions will be temporarily halted.

  • Besieged New Mexico sheriff eyes smartphones as body cams

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A much-criticized New Mexico sheriff who has led an office facing racial profiling lawsuits and has refused to force deputies to wear body cameras says his office will instead use smartphones. Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales told reporters Wednesday he is looking to partner with a company so deputies can put smartphones in their vests and record video. Last week, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill requiring all law enforcement to wear body cameras. But Gonzales calls the current technology archaic and says it's too costly. Gonzales has faced criticism for refusing to force deputies to wear body cams amid a string of deputy shootings.

  • Michael Vigil takes oath as New Mexico chief justice

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Justice Michael Vigil has taken over as New Mexico's top judge.Vigil was sworn in for a two-year-term as chief justice on Wednesday after he was selected by his colleagues on the five-member New Mexico Supreme Court. The chief justice presides over Supreme Court hearings and is the top administrative officer for the New Mexico judiciary, including personnel and and budgets. He says in a statement that his first priority is to work on keeping courts open during the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping courthouse staff and visitors healthy. Vigil takes over as chief justice from Judith Nakamura, who remains on the court but plans to retire later this year. 

  • Tribal nations appeal ruling over federal virus relief funds

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Tribal nations are challenging a court decision that allows Alaska Native corporations to receive a share of $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding. The tribal nations filed a notice of appeal Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. A lower court judge had said the U.S. Treasury Department could release funding to the corporations if the tribes didn't move forward with an appeal then. The Treasury Department has set aside at least $162 million for the corporations, but it hasn't disclosed the exact amount. Tribal nations have argued that only federally recognized tribes should get the money.

  • University, public schools announce fall semester plans

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico has announced its reopening plan for the fall semester with coursework offered both in-person and remotely starting in August. University officials announced the plan at a regents meeting Tuesday. The fall semester begins Aug. 17. Officials say thermometers will be included in welcome kits for students, and any confirmed COVID-19 cases will be addressed with cleaning and contact tracing. Public school districts including West Las Vegas, Los Alamos and Las Cruces are opting for virtual classes to start the fall semester. Santa Fe schools are considering a similar plan. New Mexico on Wednesday reported an additional 330 confirmed cases.

  • Auditor seeks probe of Albuquerque police overtime 'abuse'

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's state auditor is seeking an investigation into what he calls potential criminal activity around overtime abuse within Albuquerque police. State Auditor Brian Colón said Wednesday he is asking New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to join him with a probe of the state's largest police department. Colón also says he has designated the city of Albuquerque for a special audit to examine the allegations of overtime abuse and policy violations. A spokesman for Albuquerque police did not immediately return an email.

  • New Mexico high school to drop Spanish conquistador name

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.

  • Demands for more virus testing

FARMINGTON, N.M, (AP) — Officials say a riot at a northwestern New Mexico jail sparked by demands for more COVID-19 testing and warm meals left one inmate injured and damage to the jail.  Authorities say the disturbance at the San Juan County Adult Detention in Farmington, New Mexico, began Monday after 35 inmates barricaded themselves and started a fire. Officials say the inmates also were armed with shards of porcelain from broken toilets. According to San Juan County authorities, inmates started demanding Sunday afternoon to speak to an administrator about their concerns for more hot meals and more coronavirus testing.