Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- EDUCATION LAWSUIT-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's plan to address the needs of underserved Indigenous students hasn't been shared with tribal leaders or the public despite promises to do so last year. Indigenous education advocates say they were expecting to provide feedback on the plan in October. The New Mexico Public Education Department promised to release the draft to the public Dec. 1, to provide time for public comment before the legislative session that begins in mid-January. But Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has yet to set a date for the release of the plan. The state is under a court order to address deficiencies with its education system.
- NEW MEXICO UTILITY MERGER
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state's largest electric utility is appealing a recent decision by regulators to reject a proposed merger with a U.S. subsidiary of global energy giant Iberdrola. PNM Resources announced that it filed its notice of appeal with the New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday. Company officials reiterated in a statement that they believe the multibillion-dollar merger with Avangrid would be in the best interest of the state. The Public Regulation Commission in its recent decision pointed to concerns about Avangrid's track record elsewhere when it came to reliability and customer service.
- ELECTION 2022-NEW MEXICO-CONGRESS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson says she's making another run for New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District. The northern New Mexico district has been a Democratic stronghold since it was created in the 1980s, but Martinez Johnson said during her announcement Monday that she was optimistic about the new boundaries that resulted from the redistricting process. Parts of Chaves, Eddy, Lea counties will now be part of the district, and said she would reach out to boost voting in McKinley County and on the Navajo and Jicarilla Apache nations. An environmental engineer, Martinez Johnson ran unsuccessfully for the congressional seat in 2020.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation reported 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and no deaths Monday, but tribal health officials said the first case of the omicron variant has been detected on the vast reservation. Based on cases from Dec. 17-30, the Navajo Department of Health has issued an advisory for 42 communities due to uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus. The latest numbers pushed the number of cases on the Navajo Nation at 41,657 since the pandemic began. The death roll remains at 1,590. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says health officials recommend wearing two masks in public due to how quickly the omicron variant has spread in other parts of the world. The reservation covers 27,000 square miles and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
- ALBUQUERQUE-RECORD HOMICIDES
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque has shattered its annual homicide record, marking 117 killings within city limits in 2021. The previous record of 80 was set in 2019. City officials and family members of many victims have pointed to a lack of consequences for repeat offenders as one of the reasons Albuquerque continues struggling with crime. In December, the city also named 14 people to its gun violence prevention and intervention task force. The group will be working on recommendations over the next year. Other U.S. cities also saw increases in homicide numbers. That includes Chicago, which marked one of its most violent years on record.
- NAVAJO POLICE-NEW CHIEF
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Daryl Noon has been sworn in as the Navajo Police Department's new chief. Window Rock District Court Judge Malcolm P. Begay administered the oath to Noon during a ceremony Monday at the offices of Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer. Noon succeeds Phillip Francisco, who resigned on Nov. 30 and now is the chief of the Bloomfield Police Department in New Mexico. Noon was born in Fort Defiance, Arizona, and previously resided in Shiprock, New Mexico. He has served as the Navajo Nation's deputy police chief since January 2019. Noon previously worked with the Farmington Police Department in several capacities, including deputy chief of police, for more than 23 years.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. officials say they have almost completed a lengthy project to dig up and remove radioactive and hazardous waste buried for decades in unlined pits at an eastern Idaho nuclear facility that sits atop a giant aquifer. The U.S. Department of Energy announced last week that it removed the final amount of specifically-targeted buried waste from a 97-acre landfill at its 890-square-mile site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory. The waste includes plutonium-contaminated filters, graphite molds, sludges containing solvents and oxidized uranium generated during nuclear weapons production in Colorado. Some radioactive and hazardous waste remains in the landfill that will be covered with an earthen barrier.
- ELEPHANT DEATHS-VIRUS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a second Asian elephant has died at an Albuquerque zoo due to a virus infection. Officials at ABQ BioPark announced Monday that 8-year-old Jazmine died Sunday from the effects of the elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus. BioPark officials say the virus was first detected in her bloodwork on Dec. 28 and Jazmine had round-the-clock treatment from medical and elephant experts from across the country. They say the virus also killed her 3-year-old brother, Thorn, on Christmas Day. BioPark officials elephants are most susceptible to the virus from 18 months to 8 years old. They also say EEHV is the leading cause of death for Asian elephant calves and can impact elephants in all habitats.