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

May 12, 2021

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A year after holding only drive-thru graduations, the school district for New Mexico's second most populous city has scheduled in-person graduation ceremonies at the district's soccer stadium for its six high schools. Las Cruces Public Schools scheduled ceremonies on May 21 for Onate and Mayfield high schools and Arrowhead Park Early College High School and on May 22 for Las Cruces and Centennial high schools and Rio Grande Preparatory Institute, Each graduating senior can invite up to 16 ticketed people, with the limit set due to the COVID-19 pandemic plus construction-related traffic. Social distancing and mask-wearing will be required for all attendees.


Farmington, N.M. (AP) — Farmington police say four officers responding to reports of a person firing a gun downtown shot and wounded a man who pointed a gun at one officer. Police on Monday released a video statement on the Sunday incident but did not release the identity of the man who was shot and then hospitalized or specify his injuries. According to police, the initial reports of gunfire prompted them to order people in the area to shelter in place. No officers were injured. The San Juan County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to take a closer look at two rare plants found only in northwestern New Mexico to see if they warrant protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Environmentalists are pointing to the small cactus and the flowering herb as more reasons oil and gas development should be limited in the San Juan Basin. They say federal land managers aren't doing enough to preserve the plants. The fight over drilling in the region has been ongoing for decades, with the driving force being protection of areas beyond Chaco Culture National Historical Park that are considered significant to Native American tribes.


SAN DIEGO (AP) — The number of unaccompanied children encountered on the U.S. border with Mexico in April eased from an all-time high a month earlier, while more adults are coming without families. Authorities encountered nearly 17,200 children traveling alone, down 9% from March but still far above the previous high in May 2019. Family encounters were also down. Overall, Border Patrol encounters topped 173,000, the highest level since April 2000. The numbers aren't directly comparable because many are expelled from the country under federal pandemic-related powers. Being expelled carries no legal consequences, so many people try to cross multiple times.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported nine new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the second consecutive day. Tribal health officials say the latest figures pushed the total number of cases since the pandemic began more than a year ago to 30,642 on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The known death toll remains at 1,285. 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. 


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Republican Party is moving their three-day convention this weekend to Amarillo, Texas, after speakers had concerns over New Mexico's COVID-19 restrictions. Party Chairman Steve Pearce says that hundreds have registered to attend the event, dubbed "Operation Freedom." Gatherings in New Mexico are still limited to 150 people or less in most counties. The state is planning to fully reopen once 60 percent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the state's mask mandate and other restrictions in March. Pearce said the event's workshops will look past the pandemic toward local organizing and problem-solving.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is joining several other states that have reinstated the work search requirement for people who receive unemployment benefits. Starting this week, state labor officials say people seeking the payments must verify that they have made at least two work search contacts per week in order to continue receiving the money. The requirement was waived during the pandemic as unemployment rates surged due to businesses closures and cutbacks. The change comes as all but two New Mexico counties now operate in public health safety categories with the least COVID-19 restrictions. The latest state data also shows 48% of residents over 16 are fully vaccinated.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The track record of global energy giant Iberdrola's U.S. subsidiary Avangrid has sparked concerns among utility regulators as the company seeks approval for a multibillion-dollar merger with New Mexico's largest electric provider. A hearing examiner with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission said Tuesday that utilities owned by Avangrid have been assessed a total of $25 million in penalties and disallowances for poor customer service in three states in the past 16 months. The official said Avangrid failed to provide information about the enforcement as New Mexico regulators consider its proposed merger with PNM Resources. An attorney for Avangrid said the company will provide the information requested by the examiner.