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

May 4, 2021

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has set a record for the highest monthly royalty earnings from oil and gas leases. The State Land Office says the nearly $110 million that was earned in April was more than any month in state history. Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said Tuesday that the revenue boon will benefit public schools, hospitals and other state programs that are funded by drilling, development and other activities on state trust land. The previous record for royalty earnings was nearly $109 million in February 2020. That record was set before a global price war and pandemic market forces disrupted the oil industry.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal monitor's latest report says the Albuquerque Police Department is making some progress on use of force but falling short in other ways. KRQE reports that monitor James Ginger's report said that years into reform efforts there are still too many instances of officers using unnecessary force and that the department apparently lacks "an appetite for taking serious approaches to control excessive or unwarranted uses of force. Police Chief Harold Medina said the department does take use of force seriously but faces a backlog of old cases that makes it difficult to review some matters promptly.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators have announced a July return to in-person committee meetings amid evidence of retreating coronavirus infections. Democratic House speaker Brian Egolf made the announcement Monday to a panel of leading legislators. Committee hearings have been conducted largely by videoconference since the spring of 2020. Democrats appointed a new task force on rural economic opportunity and shuffled top committee posts. First term Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill of Silver City and state Rep. Candie Sweetser of Deming will together lead the new task force to identify barriers to rural prosperity and bring forward proposals to ensure universal access to full indoor plumbing, electricity and internet service.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Monday reported three new confirmed COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths again. The tribe had six new cases and three coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday and six new cases and no deaths Sunday. Tribal health officials say the total number of cases since the pandemic began more than a year ago now is 30,522 on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah with 1,281 known deaths.  Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says more than half of the reservation's adult population has been vaccinated. But people still need to stay home as much as possible, wear masks and avoid large gatherings. 


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Intel will be investing $3.5 billion in its New Mexico plant to manufacture what executives say will fuel a new era of advanced computing as demands increase for the tiny microchips used in nearly all modern devices. Intel executives were joined Monday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other politicians at the plant in the Albuquerque suburb of Rio Rancho as they shared details of Intel's global strategy. Most of the world's chip manufacturing happens in Asia, but the company is looking to reclaim the top spot in the semiconductor sector. Expansions also are underway at the company's sites in Arizona, Oregon, Ireland and Israel.


SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration says four families that were separated at the Mexico border during Donald Trump's presidency will be reunited in the United States this week. The families represent what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calls "just the beginning" of a broader effort. Two of the four families include mothers who were separated from their children in late 2017, one Honduran and another Mexican. Exactly how many families will reunite in the United States and in what order is linked to negotiations with the American Civil Liberties Union to settle a lawsuit. But Mayorkas says there are more to come. ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt says he's happy for the four families but their reunifications are "just the tip of the iceberg." 


SHIPROCK, N.M. (AP) — Crews are still battling a brush fire that has charred an estimated 120 acres 5 miles northwest of Shiprock and led to some evacuations. Authorities say the fire broke out Saturday afternoon in Shiprock and its cause is unknown. It remains zero percent contained. At least one structure has been burned and multiple outbuildings are threatened or burning.  Authorities say the fire is burning brush, grass and salt cedar. Among the agencies fighting the fire are Navajo police, San Juan County Fire Rescue,  Navajo Nation Fire Rescue and Farmington Fire Rescue.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a driver who was going the wrong way on Interstate 40 is dead after crashing into the back of a semi-truck. Albuquerque police say the crash occurred early Sunday and closed part of the freeway for hours. They say the wrong way driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The name, age and hometown of the driver haven't been released yet. It was the second fatal crash on an interstate in the Albuquerque area involving a wrong-way driver in about 24 hours. Bernalillo County Sheriff's officials say an off-duty officer with the Cuba Police Department allegedly caused a head-on crash around 2 a.m. Saturday that left two people dead and another person hospitalized.