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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST


RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is on the verge of electing the nation's largest U.S. House delegation made up entirely of women of color, but the close race the state's southern district is grabbing the most attention. Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is seeking to hold her traditionally GOP-leaning seat against Republican challenger Yvette Herrell in a rematch of 2018 that will be decided by turnout. Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, one of the nation's first Native American females in Congress, is facing re-election against Republican challenger Michelle Garcia Holmes for the Albuquerque seat. Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez and Republican Alexis Johnson are vying to represent New Mexico's Democratic-leaning northern district.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A new Showtime sports documentary follows a Mexican League baseball team that plays on both sides of the border amid the tension around migration, divisive politics, and cartel violence. "Bad Hombres" centers around the 2019 season of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos, a binational professional baseball team with home stadiums in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Laredo, Texas. Players often cross the border by foot to each game with equipment in tow. Meanwhile, surrounding the players chasing dreams are the dangers of drug cartel violence and President Donald Trump's heated rhetoric about a border wall. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health and school officials can keep restricting in-person learning for the vast majority of young children based on county-wide coronavirus outbreaks. A federal judge denied a request for a sweeping injunction to allow in-person learning to return, saying plaintiffs likely can't sue the governor and that the regulations ordered by the state are likely to be upheld. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has allowed some in-person learning for special needs students and allowed districts with low coronavirus transmission to bring kids back to school two days per week. Parents in counties forced to remain closed have been angry over the restrictions.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest electric utility is breaking ground on a 50-megawatt solar field that will provide power to Western New Mexico University, the city of Albuquerque and other large users. Officials will gather Thursday on the Jicarilla Apache Nation in northern New Mexico for a ceremony. As the third largest solar project on tribal land in the U.S., the array will be capable of producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 16,000 average homes for a year. The project was approved in March by state regulators. It's part of Public Service Co. of New Mexico's Solar Direct program.


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A program that provides free coal to Navajos to heat their homes resumes this month. Many tribal members still use coal as a heating source, but accessing it became harder after a mine in northeastern Arizona shut down last year. The Navajo Transitional Energy Company expanded its coal resource program to help fill the gaps. Coal tickets can be obtained through Navajo Nation chapters in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. One ticket equals one ton of coal. It must be picked up at the Navajo Mine near Farmington, New Mexico. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's congressional delegation says some farmers and ranchers have been shortchanged on federal disaster aid. They also say Hispanic farmers who rely on traditional acequias to irrigate their crops have been told they're ineligible for assistance. The delegation is asking the U.S. Agriculture Department to monitor management of the disaster aid program in New Mexico given the concerns. They say the Farm Service Agency in New Mexico has been telling farmers and ranchers that drought is not an eligible cause of loss on irrigated lands despite most of the state experiencing either severe or extreme drought.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has shattered its previous record for confirmed COVID-19 cases amid fears the state is experiencing a second wave of the deadly virus. Health officials reported Wednesday that the state recorded 577 new coronavirus cases. That breaks last week's record for the U.S. Southwestern state when it recorded 488 new cases in a single day. The new cases come as Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday she would renew public health restrictions and warned that more stringent rules could be imposed because of a rise in cases. New rules limit gatherings to five people or less and reduced hotel capacities.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Former Navajo Nation legislative staffer LaShawna Tso has been selected to lead New Mexico's Indian Education division. Wednesday's announcement by the state Public Education Department marks the end of a months-long search. She will fill a key role in a state where 11% of the population is Native American. As assistant secretary of Indian Education, Tso will oversee New Mexico's compliance with a court order that stems from a sweeping lawsuit that accused the state of failing to provide a sound education to vulnerable children from minority communities, non-English speaking households, impoverished families and students with disabilities.