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Local and State News

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

  • ALBUQUERQUE ZOO-GORILLAS

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials at Albuquerque's city zoo say they've said goodbye to one gorilla and welcomed another. Albuquerque BioPark officials said 35-year-old Marcus left in March to go another accredited zoo and that 19-year-old Kojo arrived this month from the Smithsonian National Zoo. Officials said the zoo which accepted Marcus will announce his arrival once he's ready to be moved into a public habitat after a quarantine safety period. According to the BioPark, Marcus' move was recommended by the species survival plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Zoo officials said Kojo "has a lot of personality" and is currently being introduced to females in the zoo's gorilla troop.

  • JILL BIDEN-SOUTHWEST

ST. MICHAELS, Ariz. (AP) — Students on the largest Native American reservation spoke with 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 the 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, N.M. (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 said his client isn't affiliated with any extremist groups and didn't commit any violence or vandalism or carry a weapon while inside the Capitol. 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 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. New Mexico has also lifted pandemic-based restrictions on attendance at houses of worship in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

  • 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. The Corrections Department said Friday the settlement resolves allegations against the agency, private prison operator GEO Group and affiliated personnel. Inmate Samuel A. Sanchez accused the state and GEO Group of negligence after a convicted serial killer persuaded an inexperienced guard to open a cell door, setting off chaos. The Corrections Department recently took over operation of the prison in the remote town of Clayton as the state re-evaluates partnerships with for-profit prison companies.

  • 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.