- STUDENT LITERACY GRANT
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is getting a $40 million federal grant to improve student literacy.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office announced the U.S. Department of Education's grant award, saying it will be paid out over five years.The announcement by Lujan Grisham's office says aid research clearly shows that a "high-quality, literacy-rich environment beginning in a child's early development" is a key factor in outcomes such as high school graduation, workforce readiness and success in higher education.
- STATE PATROL-SHOOTING
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a New Mexico State Police officer shot and killed a 22-year-old man during a traffic stop after the driver attacked the officer with a knife.State police say the officer shot Benjamin Diaz on Friday morning west of Alamogordo. Police say Diaz had emerged from his vehicle with the knife before the officer opened fire.Police say the officer was treated at a hospital for stab wounds and released. Chief Tim Johnson did not provide details on the officer's injuries.Johnson says Diaz was pulled over after driving nearly twice the speed limit in a 60 mph zone.Diaz is from Las Cruces and died at El Paso University Medical Center.Police say they'll turn over their investigation to a prosecutor when it's completed.
- NEW MEXICO-GOVERNMENT SPENDING
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico likely isn't getting the best bang for its buck since it lacks the personnel and technology needed for its purchasing division to adequately track nearly $2 billion in government spending.Legislative analysts have found that some state agencies are unnecessarily buying high-end vehicles, computers, drones and other goods and are forgoing bulk purchasing and additional negotiations that would otherwise result in discounts.The findings were presented Thursday to a panel of state lawmakers.The report also points to instances in which some agencies are taking advantage of loose rules that have resulted in lucrative contracts with former staff and the hiring of high-priced consultants without seeking other options.Among the recommendations, the analysts say the state purchasing division should require its specialists to conduct analyses of all spending.
- JEFFREY EPSTEIN-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A court battle over public grazing leases that New Mexico officials believe were used to help shield a remote desert ranch owned by financier Jeffrey Epstein is over.The State Land Office announced Friday that Cypress Inc., a company associated with Epstein, has dropped its claims over the agency's cancellation of two grazing leases.A portion of Epstein's Zorro Ranch in central New Mexico extends across state trust land, under the grazing contracts with Cypress. Epstein was accused of abusing young women there before he died behind bars.Cypress initially contested the move by the land office and asked a state district court to intervene. A hearing had been scheduled for next week.State officials say Cypress agreed to the cancellation and to drop the court case during settlement negotiations.
- STATE SENATOR-CAR CRASH-DWI
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico judge has rejected state Sen. Richard Martinez's request for a jury trial in a drunken driving case clearing the way for a trial scheduled to begin later this month.The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday that the Democratic senator was charged with aggravated DWI and reckless driving, both of which carry maximum 90-day penalties.Judge Francis Mathew says the court system has limited resources and criminal defendants in New Mexico can only seek jury trials if they face a potential sentence of more than six months in prison.Martinez pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the June 28 car crash in Espanola.The trial is set to begin Nov. 18.Martinez says he does not plan to resign from the Legislature, even if he's convicted.
- INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The numbers have been tallied, and organizers of the world's largest hot air balloon festival are calling this year's event a success.The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta drew an estimated 866,414 guest visits over nine days, as hundreds of pilots from around the world gathered to launch their balloons.In all, 588 balloons registered for the event. That included 104 special shaped balloons.Seventeen countries were represented, from Austria and Belgium to India, Colombia and Kenya.Organizers say views of Balloon Fiesta Live neared 741,000, and nearly all of the scheduled events —with the exception of the kickoff mass ascension and one of the evening balloon glows — went on as planned.
- CAPITOL CHRISTMAS TREE
RED RIVER, N.M. (AP) — Forest officials in New Mexico are ready to harvest a towering blue spruce that will serve as this year's Christmas tree in front of the U.S. Capitol.After nearly a year of planning, the tree will be cut down Nov. 6 during a ceremony in the Carson National Forest. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and forest officials will be there when the 60-foot (18-meter) tree comes down.Once cut, the tree will be lifted by cranes onto a trailer and secured for the first leg of its journey, which will include a statewide tour before being transported to Washington.Officials say the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree cutting and celebrations are made possible with cash and in-kind contributions from numerous companies and volunteers who provide their time and resources.
- MOM BITES DAUGHTER
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico woman is facing charges after her 5-year-old daughter told police her mother bit her because she couldn't find her shoes.Authorities say the girl told police that she was bitten by 32-year-old Monique Montellano, who was arrested Monday.A Las Cruces daycare called state authorities to report marks on Montellano's 3-year-old son. Police say the toddler told authorities his mother grabbed his neck and tried to strangle him.Police also discovered bite marks on her 5-year-old daughter's thigh. The girl told police that Montellano bit her because she couldn't find her shoes.Montellano faces three counts of felony child abuse. She is being held without bond. It was not known if she had an attorney.Montellano previously pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse in 2016.