Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
- REFUGEES-NEW MEXICO BASE
ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — The last Afghan refugees have departed Holloman Air Force Base where they were temporarily housed while being resettled in the United States after being relocated following the U.S. military's withdrawal from their home country. Base officials said a tent city at Holloman sheltered a total of nearly 7,100 Afghans during the five months since the first arrived Aug. 31. The last refugees at departed Wednesday from Holloman where Aman Omid Village housed a rolling average of about 4,500 Afghan refugees. Holloman was one of eight U.S. military installations used for Operation Allies Welcome. Refugees remain at four of the bases.
- WANDERING WOLF-SHOT
SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) — An endangered Mexican gray wolf that drew media attention late last year after it appeared to spend five days pacing along the border fence separating New Mexico from Mexico has been found with a serious gunshot wound. The Center for Biological Diversity announced Friday evening that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used a helicopter to track the injured wolf and used a tranquilizer dart to sedate it. The animal called "Mr. Goodbar" was then taken to the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo and veterinarians planned to amputate part or all of its injured leg. Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity says the wolf will probably be released back to the wild after it recovers.
- OPPENHEIMER FILM-NEW MEXICO
Preproduction is underway in northern New Mexico for a film directed by Christopher Nolan about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist called the father of the atomic bomb for his leading role in World War II's Manhattan Project. Casting calls were scheduled Saturday and Sunday in Santa Fe and Los Alamos for people to portray local residents, military personnel and scientists. According to Alessi Hartigan Casting, additional extras are needed for academics, college students, drivers, executives and military wives. Los Alamos was the site of the secret base where bomb components were assembled for the 1945 test code-named Trinity at a desert location in southern New Mexico.
- NEW MEXICO-PRETRIAL DETENTION
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller made another plea to New Mexico lawmakers to help with the city's crime problem. He testified Friday before a House committee on legislation that would clear the way for the most violent defendants to be kept behind bars pending trial. Republican Rep. Greg Nibert said he has been working for years to fix what many have described as a broken system. He likened the current state of criminal justice to a slap on the wrist. But he said the state needs to ensure that any changes to its pretrial detention system are constitutional. Defense attorneys talked instead about improving pretrial supervision and other options.
- LAWMAKER RESIGNS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Democratic lawmaker who represents an Albuquerque district in the state House is stepping down from her seat and says she needs to focus on her mental health. Rep. Brittney Barreras was halfway through her first term in the House when she abruptly announced her resignation on Friday evening. In a statement issued by the Democratic caucus, Barreras said she had been honored to be trusted by her neighbors and community to represent them and did her best to serve the 12th District. She cited the "huge amount of pressure" she was feeling in her job and said it has taken a toll on her mental health. A replacement will be named by the Bernalillo County Commission.
- EDUCATION PAY INCREASE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham now supports a $15 minimum wage for school workers around the state after proposing a lower minimum to the Legislature earlier this month. The news came from her education secretary in a legislative hearing Friday. Fellow Democrats in the Legislature support a $15 minimum wage for school employees to help K-12 schools compete for workers amid an increasingly competitive labor market. In Santa Fe, for example, some unfilled food worker positions in the local school district start at just over $12 per hour, while a local McDonald's advertises a starting wage of $14 per hour.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge has sided with the Treasury Department in a case that challenged the distribution of coronavirus relief aid to Native American governments. Tribal governments had received $4.8 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act based on federal population data. Three tribes in Oklahoma, Florida and Kansas sued over the methodology, alleging they were shortchanged by millions of dollars. The Treasury Department ultimately revised the methodology and sent additional payments to some tribes. But two of them weren't satisfied with the amounts and continued their legal challenge. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled Friday that the Treasury's methodology was reasonable.
- MUSTANG ROUNDUPS-LEGAL CHALLENGES
RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge won't rein in the roundup and capture of wild horses in eastern Nevada — rejecting advocates' claims the federal government was needlessly and recklessly killing free-roaming mustangs in violation of U.S. law. Facing a deadline for federal land managers to complete what they call a drought-prompted "gather," U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in Reno said Friday she wasn't convinced groups trying to stop the process would win their underlying lawsuit. The federal Bureau of Land Management insists it must round up the mustangs foaling season begins March 1. The roundup ear the Utah state line is one of several operations scheduled on an expedited basis due to historically dry conditions on the Western range.