Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST
- ELECTION 2020-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Voters are flocking to early voting locations Saturday as New Mexico expands early balloting in the lead-up to Election Day. At an early voting center in Santa Fe, cars lined up hours ahead of the 10 a.m. opening time. Reports of slow mail and long in-person voting lines in other states motivated many voters to show up early. Scores of voting convenience centers opened Saturday amid a surge in early in-person and remote absentee balloting. Those centers accept voters from across their home county without regard to traditional precinct assignments. According to the Secretary of State's office, more than 180,000 ballots have been cast statewide as of Friday.
- CANNABIS PLANT EXPLOSION
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two men are in critical condition after an explosion at a cannabis manufacturing facility in New Mexico. The explosion Thursday at the New MexiCann Natural Medicine facility in Santa Fe was the second explosion that has injured workers at the plant in the last five years. The two men were transported by air ambulance to a hospital. Their identities were not made public. A state official says the incident is under investigation. Fire officials obtained two search warrants Friday for camera footage of dispensary.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials confirm that the state set another new single-day record with 819 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The state Department of Health reported new cases Friday. The previous record of 672 confirmed cases on Thursday already had eclipsed records set in recent days. The new cases of the novel coronavirus bring the state total to 35,770. In addition to the new cases, the state also reported that six more people in New Mexico died of the virus. The spike in cases comes as eight football players at the University of New Mexico and one assistant coach tested positive for the coronavirus. The positive cases announced Wednesday led state officials to step in and shut down all team activities.
- SPACEPORT CEO-NEW MEXICO
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The CEO of New Mexico's commercial spacecraft launch facility facing accusation he pressured a former chief financial officer to circumvent internal financial controls has been ousted. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Dan Hicks was terminated as Spaceport America's executive director and CEO with little public discussion on Friday. The governing board of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority met in a special session via video conference. The firing comes as Hicks has been on administrative leave since June while allegations of mismanagement and abuse of authority have been under investigation by the New Mexico State Auditor and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. Hicks did not immediately return phone messages.
- ELECTION 2020-HOUSE-NEW MEXICO
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Democratic U.S. House Rep. Xochitl Torres Small has kept a fundraising edge in a crucial House race in southern New Mexico that Republicans hope to flip. Federal election reports show the Las Cruces Democrat pulled in $2,247,575 during that third quarter, which ended September 30. She now has $1,869,189 cash-on-hand going into the final weeks before the election. Republican challenger Yvette Herrell saw a surge in fundraising during the same period and raised $1,013,687 _ one of the biggest fundraising quarters for a Republican congressional candidate in state history. The Alamogordo Republican reported having $514,096 cash-on-hand.
- MANSLAUGHTER PLEA
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a 22-year-old man who fatally shot another man while staying at his girlfriend's house has pleaded guilty to a voluntary manslaughter charge. The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico announced that Joshua Gutierrez entered the plea Friday in Albuquerque federal court. A news release from the U.S. attorney says Gutierrez was staying at a home on the Navajo Nation where his girlfriend and her father lived when the shooting occured on March 29 when he went to investigate an argument. The shooting happened on the Navajo Nation and Gutierrez faces 12 years in prison.
- PENSION FUND-PRIVATE PRISONS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A panel that oversees a multibillion-dollar pension fund for New Mexico teachers and other educational retirees is taking a step toward dropping investments in private prison companies. The Educational Retirement Board voted 4-2 with one member abstaining to amend its investment policies to exclude private prisons. Teachers' unions and immigrant activists have been pushing the board to do so for more than a year, saying divesting in certain companies would make a statement. Some board members reiterated their concerns during Friday's meeting, saying the board has to be mindful of constitutional mandates and statutory requirements that guide investment of the retirement fund.
- TEACHER OF THE YEAR
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque charter school educator has been named New Mexico Teacher of the Year. Alisa Cooper de Uribe is a bilingual first grade teacher at New Mexico International School. She's the second charter school teacher to win the award in its 57-year history. As Teacher of the Year, Cooper de Uribe will serve as an example to her peers and work with the state Public Education Department. She will represent her state in the national Teacher of the Year competition. She is receiving a $25,000 grant from the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association to support her professional development.