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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is easing its self-quarantine requirements for some interstate travelers in advance of the Labor Day holiday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday that the state will waive quarantine restrictions on travel from more than a dozen states. The 14-day self-quarantine requirement still will apply to people returning or arriving from "high-risk" states based on coronavirus positivity rates and and per-capita infections such as Texas, Arizona, Utah and California. All out-of-state travelers still are encouraged to self-isolate and undergo testing for COVID-19 within five to seven days of arrival in New Mexico. Health officials announced 202 newly confirmed coronavirus cases statewide, with one new death.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO SCHOOLS

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Some grade schools in New Mexico will be allowed to have in-person learning next week, but it's unclear how many are signing up. The majority of counties have low enough COVID-19 case rates to allow for students to attend two days per week. But Public Education Department Secretary Ryan Stewart says the state will not mandate in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Many districts have decided to keep schools online-only through the end of the month. Albuquerque Public Schools, the state's largest district, has decided against nearly all in-person learning until January. Stewart says the situation is fluid, and some school boards could announce in-person learning plans for younger students as soon as Friday.

  • TRIPLE HOMICIDE-CONVICTION

TIERRA AMARILLA, N.M. (AP) — A Rio Arriba jury has found a man guilty of murder in a triple homicide case in northern New Mexico after less than three hours of deliberation. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that 36-year-old John Powell was found guilty Wednesday. He and his 35-year-old brother Roger Gage were accused of fatally shooting two men and a woman in 2018 in a small village home near Dixon. Both men were charged with three counts of first-degree murder along with burglary, conspiracy and tampering with evidence, authorities said. Trial dates for the case against Gage haven't been set. A sentencing hearing for Powell is expected in about 30 days.

  • ELECTION 2020-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is urging voters to request absentee ballots online and cast them by mail in the interest of safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email message sponsored by her campaign, the first-term Democratic governor said Thursday that voting by mail is safe, easy and contributed to record turnout across New Mexico in the June primary. State election officials have expressed confidence in the ability of the U.S. Postal Service to handle an increased volume of absentee ballots. Some local Democratic officials recommend handing off absentee ballots directly at county clerk's offices or voting locations.

  • SELF-DRIVING TRUCKS-TEST CENTER

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Daimler Trucks and allied vehicle software company Torc Robotics are expanding their testing of self-driving trucks to public roads in New Mexico along major long-haul freight routes. The companies have established a new testing center in Albuquerque, as they begin automated runs for 18-wheel vehicles with autonomous diving technology on the U.S. Southwest's highways — supported by a human driver and a safety conductor. Daimler's Autonomous Technology Group has taken aim at commercializing self-driving trucks within a decade, and the new testing location complements ongoing research on roadways in Virginia with milder weather and fewer steep hills.

  • NUCLEAR WEAPONS-LOS ALAMOS

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The National Nuclear Security Administration says it doesn't need to do an additional environmental review for Los Alamos National Laboratory before it begins producing key components for the nation's nuclear arsenal. The agency says it already has sufficient information. Watchdog groups are concerned about Tuesday's announcement, saying the plutonium pit production work will amount to a vast expansion of the lab's nuclear mission and that more analysis should be done. The government has set a deadline to produce 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030. The work will be shared between Los Alamos and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

  • STATE LAND-HUNTING ACCESS

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico land and wildlife managers say they have finished work that will result in more access to state trust land for licensed hunters. The Land Office and the Game and Fish Department made the announcement in time for the start of the deer and elk hunting season, which kicked off this week. The Game and Fish Department paid the State Land Office $800,000 for an easement that allows access to 8.8 million acres of trust land. The agreement also included $200,000 worth of projects that ranged from installing signs to road work and construction of a new campsite on Chupadera Mesa in Socorro County.

  • SPACEPORT AMERICA-INVESTIGATION

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The interim leader of Spaceport America says an investigation into the conduct of the organization's chief executive officer is ongoing and that initial findings are expected in the coming weeks. Scott McLaughlin testified Wednesday before a New Mexico legislative panel, saying the recent shakeup stemming from a whistleblower complaint filed in June has left the spaceport in a difficult situation. Dan Hicks was placed on administrative leave after being accused of circumventing internal financial controls and accounting procedures. State auditors are reviewing the spaceport's finances, and McLaughlin said all capital projects also are being assessed because of the open investigation.