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

  • JILL BIDEN-SOUTHWEST

ST. MICHAELS, Ariz. (AP) — Students on the largest Native American reservation spoke to first lady Jill Biden on Friday about challenges they've faced during the coronavirus pandemic, including poor internet access and feelings of isolation. The hourlong discussion took place at Hunters Point Boarding School, a small, aging grade school on the Navajo Nation. The handful of students were from schools in the surrounding area. Lesley Tohtsoni teaches U.S. history at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington, New Mexico. She says the students talked to Biden about ways to combat isolation and maintain their mental health. Biden told them help was on the way for broadband through her husband's administration.

  • CAPITOL BREACH-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A Santa Fe man who works for a defense contractor faces criminal charges for his acknowledged presence inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. Authorities say Matthew Martin told the FBI in an interview that he had gone to Washington after reading then-President Donald Trump's tweets about election fraud claims and acknowledged he was inside the Capitol building during the attack. Martin's attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington didn't respond to a request for the name of Martin's employer. Martin is the third New Mexican to be charged in the events surrounding the riot.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO SCHOOLS

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — At least half of New Mexico's K-12 students chose to attend school in person as of last week. State education officials say the vast majority of schools are offering in-person schooling, with the exception of schools under tribal health restrictions. Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said Thursday that only 17 of the state's 840 schools have had to close because of virus concerns since widespread reopening began on April 5. Meanwhile vaccinations are easier to get than ever in New Mexico, with all residents at least 16 able to schedule appointments. Education and health officials are working to get high school students vaccinated before summer.

  • PRISON RIOT-SETTLEMENT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Records show an inmate who survived having his throat slashed in a 2017 prison riot has reached a financial settlement with the state of New Mexico that provides him with $200,000. Samuel A. Sanchez accused the state and a private prison operator of negligence after a convicted serial killer persuaded an inexperienced guard to open a cell door, setting off chaos at Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Clayton. The Corrections Department recently took over operation of the prison as the state re-evaluates partnerships with for-profit prison companies. Attorneys for Sanchez could not immediately be reached, and the Corrections Department had no immediate comment on the significance of the settlement.

  • DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN BILL

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has referred former President Donald Trump's campaign to a collection agency over nonpayment of a bill related to security costs for a campaign rally he held in 2019. The costs include blocking access to parts of downtown and paying overtime for police officers. Mayor Tim Keller said he does not expect the collections agency to get any money from Trump. The Albuquerque Journal reported that the Trump campaign told Public Integrity in 2020 that the U.S. Secret Service — not the campaign – should get the bills for public safety costs associated with rallies. 

  • JILL BIDEN-SOUTHWEST

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Jill Biden spent her first day of a trip to the Navajo Nation listening to female leaders who she referred to as her "sister warriors" on the needs and priorities of the country's largest Native American reservation. The visit was Biden's third to the reservation that was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the tribe is outpacing the U.S. in vaccination rates while maintaining a mask mandate and other safety precautions. Biden met with Navajo officials in the tribal capital of Window Rock. Female leaders there talked about the need for more financial resources and a focus on families, language preservation and culture.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Thursday reported no COVID-19 related deaths for the 11th time in the past 12 days. The tribe also reported 15 new confirmed coronavirus cases on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The latest numbers bring the Navajo Nation's pandemic case total to 30,404 with the known death toll remaining at 1,263 after the death reported on Wednesday. Tribal health officials said more than 16,500 people have recovered from COVID-19 thus far. The tribe had been easing into reopening but that slowed somewhat after coronavirus variants were confirmed on the reservation. Tribal officials urged residents to stay vigilant.

  • STATE CAMPUS-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state of New Mexico is expecting multimillion-dollar annual savings on lease costs with the relocation of 160 child-wellness officials to a newly renovated campus in southeast Albuquerque. The General Services Department announced Thursday that 160 workers with the Children, Youth and Families Department recently moved into the five-building complex on Indian School Road near Carlisle Boulevard. The department estimates a shift of roughly 500 workers to the campus in recent years should result in savings of $3.1 million annually. The state has invested nearly $50 million in the property.