Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MST
- Las Cruces cancels results of bidding for pandemic aid funds
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — City officials in Las Cruces have canceled results of a process that solicited bids from organizations seeking federal pandemic aid, after an audit found procurement code violations and inconsistent project eligibility practices. The Las Cruces Sun News reports that a Feb. 17 email to bidders said the selection process had been canceled in the "best interest of the city." But the newspaper says the City Council still can act Tuesday to approve funding to nine recommended projects chosen from among 21 bidders. The newspaper says a city Internal Audit Office report in January found multiple procurement violations and little documentation from panel members since bidding began in September.
- Pastor, teacher from Vegas held as child sex case fugitive
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A 59-year-old church pastor and former elementary school teacher from Las Vegas has been arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on a warrant accusing him of sex crimes involving children. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Reynaldo Crespin was arrested Saturday and jailed pending an extradition hearing and his transfer in custody to Nevada. Court records in Las Vegas show that Crespin was named in a warrant issued Feb. 10 on multiple charges including sexual assault against children under ages 16 and 14. Reports in Las Vegas identify Crespin as a second-grade teacher from 2016 until this month and a pastor at New Horizon Christian Church.
- Albuquerque police officers shifting to a 12-hour schedule
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police officers in Albuquerque are shifting to a 12-hour schedule to help increase staffing levels on patrol. Police Chief Harold Medina tells Albuquerque TV station KRQE that the vast majority of officers support the 12-hour shift. As of December, the Albuquerque Police Department had 926 officers. The department has had a budgeted goal of 1,140 sworn-in officers since Mayor Tim Keller took office in 2016 when there were 833 officers. The department has 1,000 police officers last year. Keller made it a campaign promise that he would try and hire 100 officers every year of his term.
- Eastern New Mexico University searching for next president
PORTALES, N.M. (AP) — The president of Eastern New Mexico University has announced plans to retire this summer. Patrice Caldwell has spent more than four decades working for the university. She started as a faculty member, and served in various department leadership roles before becoming president. Caldwell told the Board of Regents on Friday that she will retire on July 1. The board says it already has started a nationwide search for her replacement. Nearly 5,000 students were enrolled at the university's main campus in Portales last fall. The university also has campuses in Ruidoso and Roswell.
- New Mexico to fund free college for more students this fall
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is expected to expand one of the country's most generous free college programs for nearly all adults. The state Legislature has planned $75 million to fund the program for a year in a bill expected to be signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The "Opportunity Scholarship" is intended to help adults return to college if they couldn't finish in the past. If the funding is expended beyond a year, the program's broad eligibility would make it possible for people to move to New Mexico, establish residency, and get a free degree. The program covers fees and allows students to use federal grants for living expenses.
- Navajo Nation maintains mask mandate as New Mexico drops it
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation says it will maintain a mask mandate even as the last of the states around it dropped the requirement. The tribe implemented a mask mandate early on in the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Residents and visitors on the reservation that extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona are required to wear masks in public. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made a surprise announcement Thursday to lift the state's mask mandate. Utah's requirement for most public settings was short-lived. Arizona never had a statewide mask mandate.
- Prosecutor: Agreement dismisses charge against undersheriff
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A special prosecutor says a northern New Mexico senior sheriff's official has agreed to retire in exchange for dismissal of a felony charge accusing him of ordering deputies to draw their guns against other officers. The charge accusing Rio Arriba County Undersheriff Martin Ray Trjujillo of solicitation to commit aggravated assault upon a police officer was dismissed Monday. Prosecutor Andrea Reeb said it can be refiled if Trujillo doesn't retire at the end of February as agreed. The 2020 incident in which Trujillo was charged involved a confrontation involving then-Sheriff James Lujan and officers attempting to seize his cellphone for an investigation.
- US land managers to host meetings on Chaco protection plan
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials have scheduled a series of public meetings to gather comments on the U.S. Interior Department's proposal to limit oil and gas development on federal land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Two in-person meetings will be held Wednesday in Farmington. A virtual meeting will follow Thursday evening. It's part of a process that aims to withdraw federal land holdings within 10 miles of the park boundary, making the area off-limits to oil and gas leasing for 20 years. New leases on federal land in the area will be halted for the next two years while the withdrawal proposal is considered.