Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT
Nevada counties face deadline to certify election results
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Several Nevada counties are facing a deadline Friday to certify results from the recent primary election. And one rural county opted Thursday to postpone certification of its results after county commissioners promised to hand count more than 300 ballots before the deadline so constituents would be assured about the voting process. The delay in Nevada's least populated county came a week after commissioners in New Mexico's Republican-leaning Otero County stalled before splitting their vote and approving election results. Officials there cited unspecified concerns with Dominion voting systems, which have been a target of widespread conspiracy theories since the 2020 presidential election.
Recent rain allows forests in US Southwest to reopen
ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Some national forests in Arizona and New Mexico are relaxing fire restrictions and reopening. That's thanks to a strong start to the annual rainy season in the southwestern U.S. The monsoon has delivered much-needed moisture to the parched region and relief from scorching temperatures. Two national forests that border New Mexico's most populous areas and a third in the southern part of the state largely will reopen Friday. Some pockets will remain closed because of active wildfires. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in eastern Arizona will rescind all fire restrictions. The rules vary across all public land on whether campfires are allowed.
Man gets life in prison for killing of Santa Fe prep star
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A man convicted of fatally shooting a Santa Fe High School star basketball player after a fight at a house party nearly two years ago has been sentenced to life in prison. A New Mexico district court judge gave 18-year-old Estevan Montoya the maximum sentence Wednesday for the August 2020 killing of Fedonta "JB" White. The judge says Montoya will be eligible for parole in 30 years. Montoya was 16 at the time of the fatal shooting. A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, unlawful possession of a handgun by an underage person and negligent use of a deadly weapon. White was set to play for New Mexico in the 2020-21 season.
Native American leaders push for boarding school commission
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says the federal government has a responsibility to Native American tribes, Alaska Native villages and Native Hawaiian communities to fully support education, language and cultural practices that prior boarding school policies sought to destroy. She testified Wednesday before a U.S. Senate committee on legislation to establish a national commission on truth and healing to address ongoing trauma stemming from the legacy of Native American boarding schools in the United States. Tribal leaders and advocates from Maine to Alaska and Hawaii joined Haaland in voicing their support. They say a commission would offer a path for many to have their personal stories validated.
Albuquerque woman gets long prison term for fatal DWI crash
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say an Albuquerque woman has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in connection with a fatal car crash in June 2020. A New Mexico district judge on Tuesday sentenced 42-year-old Bernadette Etsitty, who pleaded guilty in April on a charge of vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol. Prosecutors say Etsitty had consumed a 12-pack of beer and was driving 66 mph in a 40 mph zone at the time of the head-on crash that killed 18-year-old Roxana Saenz. According to the Albuquerque Journal, court records show Etsitty has been charged three times for driving while intoxicated including two offenses in 2006. The newspaper also reported that a third-offense DWI in 2018 for Etsitty was dismissed by a McKinley County magistrate judge in 2019.
Labor shortage compounds federal firefighters' staffing woes
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Firefighter groups are applauding steps taken by the Biden administration this week to temporarily raise wages for the men and women on the front lines of the nation's largest wildfires. But they say the temporary wage hikes won't be enough to combat staffing problems, as federal agencies compete with local fire departments and a tight labor market. The National Interagency Fire Center has grown less able to fill crew mobilization orders as climate change makes the U.S. West hotter, drier and more prone to wildfires. Labor experts, firefighter advocates and federal officials say the land management agencies that employ federal firefighters must do more to keep pace and compete with other fire departments and industries.
Massive New Mexico blaze blamed on miscalculations, errors
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Forest Service employees made multiple miscalculations, used inaccurate models and underestimated how dry conditions were, causing a planned burn to reduce the threat of wildfires to turn into the largest blaze in New Mexico's recorded history. The agency on Tuesday released the findings of an investigation into a fire that ultimately displaced thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of homes. It also forced a pause on the agency's prescribed fire operations nationwide. Anger and frustration have been simmering among residents and elected officials. The blaze has charred more than 533 square miles, and forecasters are warning of post-fire flooding threats amid summer rains.
Tribal leaders and feds reestablish Bears Ears Commission
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Federal officials and tribal nations have formally reestablished a commission to jointly govern the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. The agreement signed Saturday was previously set forth by the Obama administration in 2016. It marks one of the first times a national monument will be jointly managed by federal agencies and Native American tribes. The agreement was altered to the chagrin of tribal officials when President Donald Trump downsized the monument in 2017. The five nations are the Hopi, Navajo Nation, the Pueblo of Zuni, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.