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Local and State News

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


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is investing in a study to see if blimps can deliver high-speed internet to rural areas. Officials confirm that a $3.2 million contract is in the works with Switzerland-based airship company Sceye (SKY'). It would launch airships rigged with internet devices from a hanger in Roswell and pilot them remotely. The New Mexico Economic Development Department says it's financing the study to find cheaper and faster ways to expand the state's weak broadband infrastructure laid bare by the pandemic. State officials estimate that traditional fiber cable expansion would take years and cost around $5 billion.


LAS VEGAS (AP) — A visitor from New Mexico won a $10.5 million slot machine jackpot at a Las Vegas casino. The South Point Hotel Casino & Spa said the Megabucks payout early Tuesday was Nevada's largest jackpot of the year. It came just hours after, and a few miles down the Las Vegas Strip, from where a tourist from Alaska won more than $2.1 million on a Monopoly Millionaire slot machine at The Cosmopolitan. Neither winner was publicly identified.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation reports five new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths. Tribal health officials say the numbers released Monday night bring the total number of cases to 30,467 on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The number of known deaths remains at 1,273. The Navajo Department of Health on Monday loosened some virus-driven restrictions and transition to "yellow status." Restaurants will be allowed to have in-door dining at 25% capacity and outdoor dining at 50% capacity. Parks will be permitted to open at 25% capacity but only for residents and employees. Navajo casinos will be able to open at 50% capacity, but only for residents and staff as well.


BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Interior Department officials have moved to reverse actions taken under President Donald Trump that they said hindered efforts by Native American tribes to establish, consolidate and govern their homelands. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued an order Tuesday that allows regional officials within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve the transfer of off-reservation land into trust for tribes. Under Trump, those decisions were made in Washington and critics said that effectively froze some land transfers. Putting land into trust gives the federal government legal title while allowing tribes or individuals to use it for their own interests and not have to pay state and county taxes.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Every New Mexico resident 16 or over who has signed up on the state's online coronavirus vaccine registry can now schedule their own appointments. The announcement Monday means residents between the ages of 16 and 40 now do not have to wait for the state to assign them a time. Only residents 40 and older were eligible to select the time and place for their inoculations before Monday's update from the state Department of Health. As of Tuesday, about 57% of residents 16 or older have been vaccinated with at least one dose, according to the state Department of Health database.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Las Cruces police say a man was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence-related charges after his girlfriend had her children give their school bus driver a note saying she was in danger. Police said Tuesday that the bus driver called 911 after being handed the note Friday morning and police then found the woman with multiple cuts, bruises and scrapes. Police said officers later arrested 40-year-old Erik Alvarado, on suspicion of three counts of aggravated battery against a household member and other charges.  Alvarado remained jailed Tuesday and online court records didn't list an attorney for him who might comment on his behalf.


OTERO, N.M. (AP) — A top-tier management team and additional tankers and ground crews have been assigned to a wildfire burning in the Sacramento Mountains of south-central New Mexico. The fire near the Three Rivers Campground and west of the Ski Apache ski resort had burned 6,100 acres with no containment around its perimeter as of Tuesday morning. That's according to a statement posted by fire officials. It said the fire was reported Monday and its cause was under investigation. No injuries or structure damage has been reported. Fire officials' statement said smoke was blowing into the communities of Alto, Capitan, and Ruidoso.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A new estimate shows that successive rounds of federal economic relief since the outset of the  coronavirus pandemic will deliver an estimated $18.9 billion in money and services to New Mexico. The Legislature's budget and accountability office published the estimate on Monday. A broader analysis will be presented to lawmakers later this week. The aid to one of the nation's poorest states dwarfs New Mexico's annual general fund spending of $7.4 billion. The tally of federal aid includes supplemental unemployment benefits, forgivable loans to businesses to support payroll, payments to healthcare providers, support channeled through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and more.