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Local and State News

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

  • Education secretary: New Mexico needed more outdoor classes

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's outgoing education secretary says more schools should have used outdoor classrooms last year to increase in-person learning. Ryan Stewart, ending his two years as education secretary this week, says outdoor classrooms could make kids safer this year and reduce the time they need to wear masks. He says the Public Education Department tried to fund school districts to build outdoor classrooms last year, but none signed up for the pilot program. Stewart leaves his successor, a former Los Alamos superintendent, with a more computer literate teacher workforce, and an unresolved lawsuit brought by underserved Native American and Hispanic children.

  • US energy secretary meets with Navajo Nation in New Mexico

NENAHNEZAD, N.M. (AP) — U.S Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm met with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and other tribal leaders at a power plant in northwest New Mexico to discuss renewable energy initiatives. Nez says Thursday's meeting at the Four Corners Power Plant included discussions about a solar project and a battery energy storage system. Sen. Martin Heinrich, Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez and U.S. Office of Indian Energy Director Wahleah Johns also participated. Granholm and Nez said they share a commitment to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. The region is preparing for the closure in the coming years of two major coal-fired power plants.

  • Police: 3 Albuquerque officers shot responding to robbery

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — One Albuquerque police officer is in critical condition after being shot while responding to a robbery. Another is recovering from a gunshot wound to the forearm, and a third was saved by a bulletproof vest during Thursday morning's shooting on the city's northeast side. A fourth officer was hit in the eye with shrapnel. Police Chief Harold Medina expressed frustration during an afternoon briefing, saying the criminal justice system needs to come together to keep repeat violent offenders off the streets. Medina said the suspect believed to have fired at officers was shot and is in stable condition.

  • New Mexico scales down unemployment benefits, battles fraud

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State labor officials are warning that unemployment benefits are scheduled to come to a close for about 50,000 New Mexico residents in early September, as the federal government ends supplemental payments to people who lost jobs or self-employment income during the pandemic. New Mexico has rebuilt its unemployment trust fund to its pre-pandemic level thanks to federal relief money. Employers remain wary of the state's high unemployment rate that could lead to tax increases to sustain benefits. Fraudulent attempts to hijack benefits are surging in the closing weeks of the federal unemployment bonus.

  • US judge in Nevada: Felony deportation law unconstitutional

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A federal judge in Nevada has issued a ruling with potentially broad implications for U.S. immigration cases. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in Reno found that a criminal law that dates to 1929 and makes it a felony for a person who has been deported to return to the United States is unconstitutional. Her order issued Wednesday found the law widely known as Section 1326 is based on "racist, nativist roots" and discriminates against Mexican and Latinx people in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment. Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou in Nevada didn't immediately respond to messages about whether the government will appeal.

  • Pedestrian hit, killed by pickup on US 180 in New Mexico

SANTA CLARA, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico State Police is investigating the death of a 39-year-old man who was struck by a pickup truck while walking on U.S. Highway 180 near Santa Clara. The victim was identified Thursday as Daniel Palomorez of Santa Clara. An initial investigation indicates Palomorez was walking in the right lane of the highway at about 5:30 a.m. when he was hit by a westbound 2017 Ford F-150 pickup. A medical investigator pronounced him dead at the scene. The driver was not injured. His name has not been released. A police spokesman said alcohol does not appear to have been a factor in the accident.

  • Burning of Zozobra to be hybrid event amid pandemic

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The ritual of burning a giant, ghostly marionette in Santa Fe will be a hybrid event this year. Organizers of the Zozobra burning are planning to limit in-person attendance to 10,000 while also broadcasting the event on television and online. Donations from energy companies ensured the event can move forward Sept. 3. Attendees will have to prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or tested negative within 72 hours of the event. Organizers say they'll tweak plans as needed. The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe uses the event to raise money for youth charities.

  • Albuquerque police charge suspect in decades-old cold case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police have charged a suspect in the death of a University of New Mexico student who was stabbed near campus more than 30 years ago. The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday that 53-year-old Paul Apocada was charged with murder after he confessed to the killing of Althea Oakeley in July 1988. The newspaper says he was charged at the detention center where he had been held since last month on a probation violation. Police planned to provide more details on the case on what would have been Oakeley's 55th birthday Thursday. But they postponed a news conference after three Albuquerque officers were shot while responding to a robbery.