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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST

  • Navajo Nation hosting a memorial for late tribal president

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is hosting a memorial event to honor the memory of former tribal president Albert Hale. Tribal officials say the 70-year-old Hale died Tuesday because of complications from COVID-19.  Friday's event will be streamed live online and aired live on a Navajo language radio station. Hale served as the Navajo Nation's president from 1995 to 1998 and was in the Arizona Legislature, where he served in the Senate from 2004 to 2011 and in the House from 2011 to 2017. To honor Hale, tribal President Jonathan Nez has called for flags to be flown at half-staff through Saturday on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

  • New Mexico Legislature considers college tuition funding

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State Senators are considering giving $30 million in tuition assistance for students at two-year colleges and funding a pilot program to help college dropouts finish their degrees. The Opportunity Scholarship supports community college students before federal tuition funding is considered, meaning they can use any extra money to cover living costs. College officials fear the pandemic is leading to a drop in enrollment. There would be $4 million of the funds going to a pilot program aimed at former Lottery Scholarship recipients who left before finishing their four-year undergraduate degrees. Both measures are supported by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham who has lobbied the Legislature to make two and four-year colleges tuition free.

  • New Mexico State Police say officer shot, killed on highway

DEMING, N.M. (AP) — Officials say a New Mexico State Police officer was fatally shot on a highway Thursday and authorities chased the attacker, killing him in a shootout. KVIA-TV El Paso reports the slain officer has been identified as 28-year-old Darian Jarrott. Authorities identified the attacker as 39-year-old Omar Felix Cueva. Multiple law enforcement agencies pursued the suspect after the State Police officer was shot along Interstate 10 in southern New Mexico. They stopped him 30 miles away, where a Las Cruces police officer was shot in an exchange of gunfire that killed the suspect. Las Cruces police say that officer's wounds weren't life-threatening.

  • New Mexico health exchange schedules 3-month open enrollment

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Managers of New Mexico's health insurance exchange have scheduled a special open enrollment period from Feb. 15 through May 15 in response to a federal mandate from President Joe Biden. Nearly 43,000 residents of New Mexico rely on the marketplace for health insurance, with the promise of federal subsidies for consumers with low and moderate incomes who make too much to qualify for Medicaid. State health exchange CEO Jeffery Bustamante said Wednesday that the open enrollment provides a unique and streamlined opportunity for people to purchase health insurance amid the pandemic.

  • Navajo Nation reports 110 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials on Thursday reported 110 new COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths. The latest numbers raised the totals to 28,668 cases and 1,047 known deaths since the pandemic began. The Navajo Nation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The tribe has tribe extended its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew to limit the spread of COVID-19.   The Navajo Department of Health has identified 56 communities with uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, down from 75 communities in recent weeks. The Navajo Nation also is lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more vaccination events. The actions in the latest public health emergency order will run through at least Feb. 15.

  • New Mexico teachers union opposes bill extending school year

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico teachers union is opposing legislation that would extend the school year to make up for learning that was lost during the coronavirus pandemic. Union leaders say they support state funding for 10 to 25 extended learning days but disagree with requiring all districts to participate next year. School administrators say staffing has been the largest barrier to increasing instruction time, which has been shown to increase learning. Union leaders say their members need a break after a stressful year and don't want districts cutting into vacation time.

  • Albuquerque school district delays vote on school reopenings

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The largest school district in New Mexico has delayed the vote on how to move forward with schools reopening. It has planned to revisit the discussion at a coming meeting. The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education met Wednesday to discuss a plan presented by Interim Superintendent Scott Elder that would have allowed kids to return in phases starting Feb. 22. Elder is now expected to present a different plan that would likely focus on small groups of students. The district's next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 17. Meanwhile Thursday, New Mexico health officials reported 565 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 17 more deaths.

  • Airman sentenced to 5 years in prison in Albuquerque crash

ALBUQUERQUE, NM. (AP) — A U.S. Air Force court-martial panel sentenced a 22-year-old Kirtland Air Force Base airman to five years in a military prison on convictions stemming from a 2019 crash in Albuquerque that killed a pedestrian. Airman 1st Class Calvin Cooper was sentenced Wednesday after being convicted Tuesday of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and reckless driving in the death of Angelica Baca. The 39-year-old woman was standing in a median and waiting to finish crossing a street when she was killed instantly when struck by Cooper's speeding car.  Baca's mother, Rhonda Henson, said the conviction and sentencing would provide some closure.