Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Jul 22, 2021
  • New Mexico seeks restoration ideas after 2015 mine spill

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials are looking for ideas for restoration projects to repair damage caused by a 2015 spill that fouled rivers in three western states with arsenic, lead and other heavy metals. The state Office of the Natural Resources Trustee said Wednesday that the projects would be funded through a proposed $1 million settlement with Sunnyside Gold Corp. and its parent companies. The spill released 3 million gallons of wastewater from the inactive Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado. A crew hired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency triggered the spill while trying to excavate the mine opening in preparation for a possible cleanup.

  • 2 bodies recovered, 1 person missing in Albuquerque flooding

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two bodies were recovered Wednesday and the search continued for one other person swept into an arroyo after storms hit Albuquerque, authorities said. Firefighters pulled a man's body from the end of a diversion channel on Wednesday morning and a second man's body in the afternoon. The names and ages of the two victims were not immediately released by authorities. Crews initially responded Tuesday afternoon when three people were seen floating down the diversion channel in northeast Albuquerque after the area was hit with heavy rains. Swift water rescue units scrambled to the sides of the channel to attempt a rescue but didn't spot the three people over a two-hour period.

  • Navajo Nation: 21 new COVID cases, no deaths 4th day in row

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 21 new COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the fourth consecutive day. The latest numbers brought the total number of coronavirus-related cases on the vast reservation to 31,239 since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The number of known deaths remained at 1,366. The Navajo Nation recently relaxed restrictions to allow visitors to travel on the reservation and visit popular attractions like Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley.  The reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. While cases are down, Navajo leaders are urging residents to continue wearing masks and get vaccinated.

  • Chile harvest starts early for some New Mexico farmers

HATCH, N.M. (AP) — The aroma of fresh roasted green chiles is already wafting through southern New Mexico as some farmers are getting a jumpstart on the harvest. They say the season is shaping up to be a good one, with transplanted fields in Hatch among those where workers are busy picking peppers. Farmers say the plants seem to be happy and the fruit is growing fast due to perfectly timed rains and cooler temperatures. Instead of starting from seed, more farmers are planting seedlings that have sprouted in a greenhouse to get their fields going faster. They say it's another tool as water supplies shrink.

  • New Mexico sees rise in COVID-19 cases

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is seeing a noticeable uptick in COVID-19 cases. The state Health Department reported Wednesday that another 271 cases have been confirmed, marking one of the highest daily totals in months. The seven-day rolling average has increased to about 160 cases per day. That's a jump of nearly 25% over the previous week. The increasing numbers come as the vaccination rate has plateaued with just over 64% of New Mexico residents 18 and older being fully vaccinated. Nationally, health officials blame the delta variant and flattening vaccination rates for cases tripling across the U.S. over a two-week period.

  • Volunteer firefighter in New Mexico hit by fire truck, dies

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Police say they are investigating the death of a volunteer firefighter who was fatally struck by a fire truck. They say 59-year-old Janet Tracy of Caballo was at a crash scene south of Truth or Consequences on Tuesday providing aid and support to a victim. State Police say a fire truck driven by a 52-year-old-male who's also a Caballo volunteer firefighter was being repositioned. The driver says he didn't see Tracy and backed over her. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene by the Office of the Medical Investigator. State Police say the fire truck was not equipped with a backup camera and they aren't releasing the name of the driver.

  • Santa Fe hospital reaches settlement over fraudulent billing

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have reached a settlement with a Santa Fe hospital over claims of fraudulent billing. The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico announced Wednesday that Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center will pay nearly $564,000 as part of the agreement. Prosecutors say a doctor at the hospital caused fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs over a period of seven years. The hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Authorities say the hospital came forward about the billing concerns in early 2020.

  • Walmart to remove sales tax assessment on deliver groceries

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Walmart taxed the delivered groceries of at least two people in New Mexico even though a tax deduction governing such home deliveries took effect July 1. Walmart told the Las Cruces Sun-News that it was working to remove the tax assessment on delivered groceries after receiving clarification from the state. The company apologized. As delivered groceries became popular during the pandemic, New Mexicans noticed gross receipts tax charges on delivered groceries, which would normally be tax-free at stores. Previously, only food sold at stores could be deducted from gross tax receipts. New Mexico lawmakers amended the policy so that the deduction would apply to food sold by stores.