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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MST

  • Bernalillo County on fast track to fill legislative vacancy

ALBUQUERQUE, N/M. (AP) — With the New Mexico Legislative in session, Bernalillo County commissioners are on a fast track to replace a Democratic lawmaker who resigned her House seat representing an Albuquerque district. A day after Rep. Brittney Barreras announced her resignation to focus on her mental health, the county announced Saturday that the County Commission will hold a special meeting Wednesday to appoint a replacement for Barreras. The county said the deadline to submit applications is 5 p.m. Tuesday. Barreras was halfway through her first term when she abruptly announced her resignation through a statement issued by the Democratic caucus. 

  • Officials: COVID a financial hammer on New Mexico hospitals

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico hospital officials say the pandemic is financially stressing to the health care providers because the money they get for treating COVID-19 patients doesn't keep pace with rising costs. New Mexico Hospital Association President and CEO Troy Clark said it's incorrect to think that hospitals are doing OK financially because they're full. Clark said that assumption doesn't take into account that federal relief provided hospitals hasn't made up for reimbursement shortfalls. University of New Mexico Hospital CEO Kate Becker said the hospital's expenses have outpaced revenues by $4.6 million for the fiscal year now half over.

  • Last Afghan refugees depart Air Force base in New Mexico

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.

  • Mexican gray wolf that tried to cross border shot in leg

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. 

  • Preproduction of Oppenheimer movie underway in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — 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.

  • Albuquerque mayor pleads with lawmakers to help with crime

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.

  • Albuquerque lawmaker resigns to focus on mental health

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. 

  • New Mexico governor backs $15 min wage for school workers

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.