Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
- FIRE DANGER-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some New Mexico forests are rolling back bans on campfires as the summer rainy season sets in. Officials with the Lincoln and Gila national forests cited the onset of monsoons as the reason for rescinding fire restrictions on the southern New Mexico forests. Still, forest managers are warning people that they still need to be careful and to extinguish campfires before leaving a campsite. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque say a another round of showers and thunderstorms is likely for much of the state Thursday. All of New Mexico is dealing with some form of drought, with the northern border and spots in eastern New Mexico faring the worst.
- DEPUTY SHOOTING-ATTORNEY GENERAL
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's attorney general is taking over the investigation of whether deputies should face charges in the shooting death of a mentally ill woman. The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday that Attorney General Hector Balderas said the family of Elisha Lucero asked him to take over the review. Authorities responded to the family's home in July 2019 after a relative called 911 saying Lucero, 28, had hit her uncle. The relative told authorities Lucero was mentally ill. Lucero later ran out screaming with a knife. In response, three deputies fired their weapons. She was shot 21 times.
- RACIAL INJUSTICE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — President Trump is focusing on an open wound in the law enforcement community as he announces a surge in federal agents to cities including Albuquerque and Chicago in attempts to contain violent crime. Trump administration officials invoked the 2019 shooting death in Albuquerque of the mother of two New Mexico state police officers as he announced a surge in federal agents and grants for local police to fight violent crime. The announcement prompted immediate concerns among Democratic elected officials in New Mexico of federal overreach and the potential for new civil rights abuses.
- NEW MEXICO ENERGY FUTURE
PREWITT, N.M. (AP) — A coal-fired power plant in western New Mexico will be shutting down by the end of the year, and local officials are bracing for the economic consequences of the closure. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced the closure of the Escalante Generating Station near Grants earlier this year. Utility officials said during a virtual town hall that they're working with local officials, businesses and economic development groups to mitigate some of the effects on McKinley and Cibola counties. The plant has an annual economic impact of nearly $100 million and supports some 226 direct and indirect jobs.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials with major health care providers in Albuquerque say they are having to temporarily stop COVID-19 testing for people who are asymptomatic. That's because there has been an unanticipated disruption in testing supplies. University of New Mexico Hospital, Presbyterian and Lovelace health system locations will conduct testing only for patients showing symptoms. Presbyterian also will continue testing for those who have been exposed to someone with a confirmed infection. Nearly 490,000 tests have been done since the pandemic began. Health officials on Wednesday reported another 316 cases, bringing the statewide total to 17,828. The death toll has topped 590.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed an executive order Wednesday to keep parts of the tribal government closed through mid-August because of the coronavirus pandemic. The executive branch had been scheduled to reopen July 27 but now will stay closed until Aug. 16. Nez cited recent surges in coronavirus cases off the reservation. Most tribal government offices have been closed to the public or restricted services since the first COVID-19 cases were reported in March. On Wednesday, tribal lawmakers overturned the veto of a bill to cancel the tribe's primary election on Aug. 4. Chapter officials instead will be elected by plurality vote in November.
- COUNSELOR-RACISTS POSTS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Santa Fe high school counselor accused of sharing racist messages on social media is back at work. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Tuesday that Stephanie Sheldon has resumed her job with Santa Fe High School after being placed on paid leave more than a month ago. A Santa Fe Public Schools spokesman said "appropriate actions" had been taken against her. A Philadelphia man publicly decried Facebook posts by Sheldon during an online school board meeting last month. Among the posts was a comment from Sheldon likening protesters of George Floyd's death to "a bunch of animals."
WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan bill that would spend nearly $3 billion on conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands is on its way to the president's desk after winning final legislative approval. Supporters say the measure, known as the Great American Outdoors Act, would be the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly 50 years. The House approved the bill Wednesday, weeks after it won overwhelming approval in the Senate. The bill now goes to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it. The bill would spend about $900 million a year on land and water conservation and $1.9 billion on parks and other lands.