Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT

Jun 26, 2020

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has erected its first-ever bilingual Spanish-English billboards at two lakes around invasive species. The state Department of Game and Fish announced this month officials posted two billboards at Elephant Butte Lake and a third at Caballo Lake. The signs inform boaters in English and Spanish to "clean, drain and dry" their watercraft and that watercraft needs an inspection when encountering an open inspection station. Inspecting watercraft is the first defense against accidentally transporting aquatic invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels into New Mexico waters. The bilingual signs are funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Efforts to open more of New Mexico's economy are on hold because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent days. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a briefing Thursday that there's a false sense of security that has developed among Americans and that people are not being vigilant about staying home, wearing masks when they go out and keeping their distance from others. She blamed lax social behaviors for the recent increase in New Mexico and noted the risks presented by the exponential growth in infections in neighboring Arizona and Texas. New Mexico has nearly 11,200 cases.


UPHAM, N.M. (AP) — Virgin Galactic is celebrating the second successful glide flight of its spaceship over Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. The space tourism company announced the completion of the test flight Thursday. Unlike the first glide test in early May, the pilots flew at higher speeds to help evaluate the ship's systems and performance in preparation for the next stage of testing. That will involve rocket-powered flights. While the company is in the midst of final testing and making modifications to the customer cabin, officials have yet to offer a date for the start of commercial flights.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — One of Albuquerque's most liberal city councilors who has made police reform part of his agenda is facing calls to resign over his 2004 shooting of a Black man as a Metropolitan Washington, D.C., police officer. The left-leaning ProgressNow New Mexico demanded Thursday that Pat Davis step down from his council seat and other positions. The call came following a blog post by former Albuquerque Chief Public Safety Officer Pete Dinelli that detailed a 2006 federal lawsuit filed by the African American man that Davis shot. Davis, who is white, dismissed those calls and said the man he shot later pleaded guilty to firearms charges.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The nation's largest Native American tribe and several environmental groups are waging a legal challenge to a revised federal rule that lifts protections for many streams, creeks and wetlands across the U.S. Critics say the rule, which took effect Monday, drastically reduces the number of waterways across the Navajo Nation and arid regions that are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Navajo Nation and environmental groups filed complaints this week in federal court. Some groups contend New Mexico is disproportionately affected because of the large number of small streams in the state that flow only during wet times of the year.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is launching a new anti-drunk driving campaign that also encourages people to wear face coverings and keep their distance from one another. Officials say this will mark the first time the state uses animation in its "ENDWI" television spots and social media posts. Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval says alcohol sales increased when people started staying home due to the coronavirus pandemic and the concern is there could be an increase in impaired driving as the state opens and people began socializing. Figures show there were 33 alcohol-related fatalities in New Mexico over the first five months of the year.


LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico undersheriff is facing charges stemming from a brawl at a Valentine's Day dance. The Las Vegas Optic reports San Miguel County Undersheriff Mike Padilla was charged with misdemeanor aggravated battery months after police say there was a fight involving two groups. Four others, including Padilla's wife and son, are also facing misdemeanor charges. Court records show that Padilla was not arrested, but instead issued a summons, a practice that has become more common since the coronavirus outbreak. Padilla's attorney, Marc Grano, says he is still reviewing the case.


NEW YORK (AP) — A fund of up to $630 million set up for victims of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is open for business. The fund's administrator said Thursday that well over 70 women who say they were abused by Epstein when they were as young as 14 were expected to apply. Administrator Jordana Feldman says the women will be applying for a cut of his estate. A judge in the Virgin Islands approved the fund this month. It compensates women abused by Epstein before New York federal prosecutors charged him last year with sex trafficking of women and girls in the early 2000s. He'd already been convicted of charges in Florida state court over a decade ago. The 66-year-old Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial in a Manhattan lockup last year.