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New Mexico fires gain ground amid dry, windy conditions
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Another day of critical fire weather is hampering efforts by firefighters in New Mexico to get a handle on blazes that have prompted evacuations. Two new fires reported Tuesday afternoon in the mountains of southeastern New Mexico prompted immediate evacuations. Meanwhile, authorities confirmed one home and numerous outbuildings had been damaged or destroyed by a fire burning along the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque. About 200 structures remained threatened. In northern New Mexico, steep terrain and gusts up to 60 mph kept crews from directly attacking a fire near the community of Las Vegas. More evacuations were ordered there as the fire made a big push.
New Mexico hails expanded free college, but some remain wary
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Flush with tax revenues and federal aid, many U.S. states are increasing support for free college programs. Experts say the expansion of a program in New Mexico could serve as a model, with flexible attendance requirements and generous financial aid. It covers tuition and fees for all students. Paired with federal grants, it can pay gas or rent for low-income students. The program allows adults to pursue a four-year degree, even if they haven't been in school for a while. The $75 million program is funded mostly with one-time federal aid, leaving supporters concerned about how long the state can sustain the program.
Frustration grows over truck backlogs at Texas-Mexico border
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Protests over Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's latest border security measure are slowing down the flow of trade on the U.S.-Mexico border. Since Monday, Mexican truckers have blocked the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge in protest after Abbott last week directed state troopers to pull over and inspect trucks coming into Texas. Unusually long backups have also been reported elsewhere along Texas' 1,200-mile border with Mexico. Abbott says the extra inspections are needed to curb human trafficking and the flow of drugs. But critics question how the inspections are meeting that objective, and experts say grocery shoppers could notice shortages as soon as later this week.
New Mexico challenges effort to post voter rolls online
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico election regulators are resisting efforts by a conservative-backed foundation to post statewide voter registration information on a public website where it can be searched by names or addresses to view whether people voted in past elections and sometimes their party affiliations. The website does not list details of how people voted in any election. The Voter Reference Foundation hopes to add registered New Mexico voters to its website database that spans 20 states. New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said in an interview that the foundation's efforts violate New Mexico restrictions the use of voter registration data and worries about voter intimidation.
Strong winds fuel New Mexico wildfires, prompt evacuations
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Strong spring winds are fueling wildfires in New Mexico and prompting evacuations south of Albuquerque where some structures have burned. About 100 firefighters were battling the latest blaze that broke out Monday sent up a large plume of smoke that could be seen for miles in the Rio Grande Valley. A shelter has been set up at a community center in rural Belen. KOAT-TV footage showed at least one residence burning near Rio Communities. In northern New Mexico near Las Vegas, a larger interagency team with more than 170 firefighters assumed command of a prescribed fire that jumped containment lines last week and has burned about a square mile.
FBI offers reward in vandalizing of Santa Fe petroglyphs
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The FBI is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in the vandalizing of the Cieneguilla Petroglyphs in Santa Fe. The agency announced a $5,000 reward Monday for any details that could help locate a suspect or suspects. Authorities say the spray-painted graffiti was discovered on the petroglyphs back in January. The Bureau of Land Management oversees the property where the petroglyphs are. The petroglyphs, which date between the 13th and 17th centuries, draw visitors yearly. They are considered a precious Native American cultural resource.
New Mexico governor's mother, Sonja Lujan, dies at age 82
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's mother has died of natural causes. Sonja Lujan was 82. The governor's office issued a statement Monday, saying Sonja Lujan died Sunday. The governor had told reporters last week that her mother's health had declined and that she was in hospice care at the governor's residence in Santa Fe. In a statement, the first-term governor described her mom as "one of a kind." She remembered her as a dedicated advocate for children with disabilities. The governor said she was inspired by her mother's tenacity and determination.
Discovery of radioactive liquid pauses work at US nuke dump
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An area at the U.S. government's nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico was evacuated over the weekend after workers handling a shipping container discovered a small amount of radioactive liquid inside it. Officials say there was no indication of airborne contamination and that testing of workers' hands and feet turned up no contamination. It wasn't immediately clear where the liquid came from but officials did confirm that the shipment came from Idaho National Laboratory. The repository receives shipments from federal labs and defense-related sites around the country. The waste typically consists of lab coats, gloves, tools and debris contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements.