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Local and State News

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

  • Shutdown approaches for New Mexico coal-fired power plant

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.

  • Testing supplies run short for Albuquerque health providers

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.

  • Trump targets Albuquerque crime with security deployments

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. 

  • Navajo Nation extends closure of government offices

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.

  • Santa Fe school counselor accused of racism back at work

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." 

  • Congress passes sprawling plan to boost conservation, parks

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.

  • Hispanic activist wants Chicano Studies classes censored

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico Hispanic activist upset about the removal of Spanish conquistador monuments is pushing for the state to end its support for Chicano and Native American Studies. New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens executive director Ralph Arellanes wrote University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes on Monday that the state's largest university should dismantle both programs because they teach Latino students "self-hate" about their Spanish heritage. Arellanes says he is angry some classes teach students that Spanish conquistadors are linked to the genocide of Indigenous populations. New Mexico LULAC State Director Juan Garcia says the civil rights group does not support dismantling academic programs.

  • Trump deploys more federal agents under 'law and order' push

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he will send federal agents into Chicago and Albuquerque to help combat rising crime as he runs for reelection under a "law and order" mantle. Using alarmist language, Trump on Wednesday painted Democrat-led cities as out of control, even though criminal justice experts say the increase in violence in some cities defies easy explanation. The decision to dispatch federal agents to American cities is playing out at a hyperpoliticized moment in American politics. With less than four months until Election Day, Trump has been serving up dire warnings that the violence would worsen if his Democratic rival Joe Biden is elected in November.