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


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján says work on a potential COVID-19 relief bill may keep him away from an early October U.S. Senate debate against Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti. Luján's campaign told The Associated Press on Sunday that his work in Congress to pass a coronavirus relief package and rescue the U.S. Postal Service may prevent him from joining a scheduled October 5th debate on KOB-TV. Luján has agreed to two debates with Ronchetti but has not agreed to the KOB-TV debate. The station said it would still hold the debate with an empty podium for Luján. Ronchetti has accused Luján of hiding.


FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines is holding off on its decision to cut flights to Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Roswell, New Mexico. But the airline is warning that slumping demand and profitability in some markets are forcing the company to consider "difficult decisions to right-size our airline." The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline announced last month it was planning to drop flights to 15 smaller U.S. cities when a federal requirement to serve those communities ends. But the company said in a statement Monday they are deferring its decision on Roswell and Stillwater while conversations are ongoing with local officials.


LORDSBURG, N.M. (AP) — Firefighters in a southwestern New Mexico city have resigned en masse following a pay dispute with the officials. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the entire volunteer department of Lordsburg resigned last week amid a fight over how the city was paying the department. The city said Wednesday that the firefighters were required to fill out W-4 forms to report stipends paid to them by the city. That's a change from previous practice in which the chief would pay them and seek reimbursement from the city. Lordsburg Finance Officer Martha Salas has said that previous practice did not conform with the law.  


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Renovations to a historic home in Las Cruces will soon be complete, and some hope the century-old property becomes the first addition to the city's new historic register. The home is significant because it once belonged to Hiram Hadley, the first president of what's now New Mexico State University. Dr. Robert McBride, who established one of the first hospitals in Las Cruces, also lived there and it was once used as a dairy. Under the historic preservation ordinance approved in in December, property owners can apply for designation and be put on the city's historic register. Members of the Historic Preservation Commission have visited the home.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A new film is examining the effects of the construction boom in the American Southwest on Latino workers.  The VOCES/PBS documentary "Building the American Dream" dives into the lives of one Mexican immigrant family in Texas after their construction worker son dies while on the job. Salvadorian electrician couple is cheated out of wages and tries to force a contractor to pay. Meanwhile, advocates work to try to convince lawmakers to require companies to give workers water breaks. Director Chelsea Hernandez says she'd been working on the film since 2009 and it's a microcosm of the exploitation Latino construction workers face in the U.S.


New Mexico officials on Saturday reported 100 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases, including the second in a county that went months without any reported cases. De Baca County in thinly populated cattle country of east-central New Mexico on Thursday lost its status as the only county in the state without a confirmed COVID-19 case. The cases reported Saturday raised the statewide total to 26,661. Three additional deaths raised the death toll to 821. De Baca County stood alone without a reported COVID-19 case for two months after Mora County reported its first on July 10. As of Saturday, only two other counties, had case totals in the single digits.


PHOENIX (AP) — Navajo Nation officials say they will participate in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trials amid a steady decline in coronavirus cases. The American Indian territory once had the highest coronavirus infection rate in the country, but has since seen a substantial decrease in community spread. Navajo officials reported zero new confirmed cases on Sept. 8 for the first time since the pandemic began. As of Friday, there have been 9,952 confirmed cases and 530 deaths from the coronavirus in the Navajo Nation. The vaccine trials will be conducted at health care centers across the Navajo Nation. Participation is entirely voluntary.


MIAMI (AP) — Florida is the nation's leading presidential battleground, and there's mounting anxiety among Democrats that Joe Biden's standing among Latinos in the state is slipping. That could give President Donald Trump a crucial opening in Florida, a must-win for Republicans. Biden's campaign and its allies are shoring up its coalition of older voters, suburbanites and African Americans to make up for potential shortcomings elsewhere. Allies closest to the Latino community said there are reasons to worry. A Democrat running for the state Senate in Miami-Dade County,  Javier Fernandez, says the Biden campaign has work to do. Biden is scheduled to make his first visit to Florida as the Democratic nominee on Tuesday.