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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) — A civil rights lawsuit says a man was brutally beaten by corrections officers in New Mexico and denied medical treatment at a county jail after guards mistook dentures for contraband. A watchdog group for improving prison conditions in the state filed the federal lawsuit this week on behalf of former inmate Marvin Silva. The New Mexico Prison and Jail Project says Silva was beaten by guards and released with severe injuries and no transportation home. Administrators at the Valencia County Adult Detention Center could not immediately be reached for comment. The jail's health care contractor declined to comment but said the allegations are being reviewed.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A legal battle is brewing in New Mexico over what power state education officials have over local school boards and what limits there are to that authority. The fight stems from the Public Education Department's suspension this week of a rural school board for opting to make masks optional for students when they return to class. The agency also has filed a complaint in state district court seeking the permanent removal of the board. An attorney for the Floyd school board says the state agency is overstepping its authority. He says the case goes to the basic tenant of education governance — that local officials know best about the needs of the local community.


DURANGO, Colo. (AP) — The owner of an inactive Colorado mine that was the source of a 2015 spill that fouled rivers in three Western states has sued the U.S. government. The lawsuit filed this week seeks nearly $3.8 million in compensation for use of his land in the federal cleanup. The Durango Herald reports that Todd Hennis claims the Environmental Protection Agency hasn't paid him for using land near the Gold King Mine since the blowout. A EPA-led crew inadvertently triggered the spill during excavation work. It sent a bright-yellow plume of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals into rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The EPA didn't immediately comment on the lawsuit.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Thursday reported 43 new COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the fifth consecutive day. The latest numbers released by tribal health officials pushed the total number of coronavirus cases to 31,529 since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll remains at 1,377. The Navajo Nation reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — The head of a national teachers union is visiting New Mexico as part of a nationwide campaign to encourage parents to send their kids back to public school. The effort comes as more parents are voicing concerns over mask mandates. Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers. She said Thursday that she believes masks are among the precautions school districts can take to ensure students can safely return to in-person learning. New Mexico health officials say nearly 40% of 12 to 17 year olds in the state have been fully vaccinated. The state also reported Thursday the highest daily total of confirmed COVID-19 infections since March.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Lt. Gov. Howie Morales says the state is stepping in to ensure a timely chile harvest after growers and producers raised concerns about an inadequate supply of labor. Morales says the state will funnel up to $5 million in federal pandemic relief toward enhanced wages for farmers who harvest New Mexico's renowned green and red chile crop in the late summer and early fall. Republican State Sen. Crystal Diamond on Thursday applauded the move to help farmers. Some Republican state legislators blame the labor shortage on generous unemployment benefits, while Morales says the problem predates the pandemic.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A former Rio Arriba County commissioner faces up to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced on a conviction for violating the state's procurement code. A state District Court judge ruled this week that ex-Commissioner Barney Trujillo of Chimayo violated the procurement code when he failed to disclose contributions he'd made to an Española school board member's campaign. Trujillo, who had a $50,000 annual marketing services contract with the Espanola school district, was required to disclose any campaign contributions he'd made to public officials. Trujillo didn't disclose that he made an in-kind contribution of signs to the campaign of Yolanda Salazar, a successful candidate for the Espanola Public Schools board.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Even before the pandemic, student experiences over the summer divided heavily on socioeconomic lines. As school districts and community organizations respond to increased demand and need for summer programming, part of that work is focused on overcoming persistent barriers to access for families. An infusion of philanthropic and public funding, including at least $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money, has allowed districts to invest in expanded partnerships with community organizations, to provide support services and to retain staff for the summer to address those challenges.