Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT

Oct 3, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A major oil company is encountering criticism and appreciation for its pledge to donate $1 to local school math, technology and science projects for every tank of gasoline purchased.Chevron said Wednesday it would make up to $75,000 available to support schools in three New Mexico cities through its “Fuel Your School” program.The company invests heavily in local oil production. Top state and district education officials were scheduled to visit an elementary school as new books are delivered under Chevron’s education initiative.High school senior Jonathan Alonzo of Albuquerque says that Chevron’s charitable efforts put cash-strapped communities in an awkward bind and fly in the face of recent mass student protests against oil dependency.Chevron corporate affairs manager Tommy Lyles says the company strongly supports technology and science education.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque man has been sentenced to 26 years in prison in connection with the killing of his grandmother in 2018.Prosecutors say 21-year-old Drake Bickett was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.The body of 65-year-old Marilyn Gandert was found by a passerby on a secluded road in Rio Rancho in January 2018.Sandoval County Sheriff's officials say Gandert was burned beyond recognition and had been bound, beaten and stabbed.Prosecutors say Gandert was killed days after she evicted Bickett, his 44-year-old mother Alissa Bickett and their 29-year-old friend Annie Rael from her northwest Albuquerque home for not paying rent.Alissa Bickett was sentenced in July to 30 years in prison.Rael is serving a 12-year prison term after also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in April.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Hundreds of hot air balloons will lift off from the New Mexico desert over nine days as part of one of the world’s largest festivals dedicated to the sport of ballooning.In its 48th year, the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is scheduled to kick off Saturday with a mass ascension.More than 580 balloons are registered, 17 countries are represented, and tens of thousands of spectators from around the world are expected to turn out for opening weekend.Elijah Sanchez will be among the youngest to launch. After years of crewing on the ground and hours of studying to earn his license, the 20-year-old pilot says he couldn’t be more excited.Albuquerque has hosted the fiesta since its inception in 1972.Troy Bradley, one of the ballooning world’s most prolific record-setters, said, “There’s just nothing like it in the world, to see that much color going into the sky.”


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Republican state senator wants New Mexico to allow college athletes to receive paid endorsements.Senator and former University of New Mexico football player Mark Moores of Albuquerque announced Thursday that he will be sponsoring a bill to legalize student endorsement deals.The proposal would follow in the footsteps of California’s first-in-the-nation law aimed at allowing players share in the wealth of big-money college athletics.The NCAA oversight organization for college athletics prohibits players from hiring agents and does not pay players in most cases. The organization is studying other ways players might make money.Moores says student athletes deserve the opportunity to enjoy the financial fruits of their labor.He said his bill would ensure student athletes are not barred from participation for promoting products and companies for payment.


CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) — Finland has agreed to return to Native American tribes ancestral remains and artifacts taken more than a century ago from what is now Mesa Verde National Park in the Southwest United States.The White House announced the agreement during a news conference in Washington on Wednesday. The agreement involves the remains of about 20 people and 28 funerary objects.The remains and items were excavated by a Swedish researcher in 1891 and later became part of the collection at the National Museum of Finland.U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt says President Donald Trump and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto acknowledged the sanctity of the items to the two dozen tribes that are culturally connected to the Mesa Verde region.That list includes tribes in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Texas.


BILLLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Navajo Nation company says it will retain 1,200 employees at three coal mines in Wyoming and Montana that it bought through a bankruptcy auction.The announcement Thursday came a day after a federal judge gave final approval for the transfer of the mines from bankrupt Cloud Peak Energy to the Navajo Transitional Energy Co.The purchase makes the Navajo company the third largest coal producer in the United States.It comes as the industry is reeling from closures of coal-fired power plants across the U.S. Utilities increasingly favor natural gas and renewable energy sources over coal.The deal covers Wyoming’s Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines Montana’s Spring Creek mine.Navajo Transitional Energy Co. Chief Executive Clark Moseley says the company has a “solid record of returning mines to profitability.”


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A northwestern New Mexico woman has announced she is running for an open U.S. House seat in New Mexico and wants to become the first Republican Native American female in Congress.Karen Bedonie recently filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to seek the GOP nomination for open U.S. House seat in northern New Mexico.The Navajo Nation businesswoman promises on her campaign website site to “lift the government burdens off our shoulders.” She also says a robust Second Amendment could address the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in the U.S.Bedonie joins a crowded field of Republican and Democratic candidates running for the seat.The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is running for U.S. Senate.


PHOENIX (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking potentially millions of dollars in damages on behalf of thousands of immigrant families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.The ACLU and other attorneys filed a lawsuit Thursday against past and present Trump administration officials in federal court in Tucson alleging the government violated immigrants’ rights and traumatized young children who were taken from their parents after crossing the border illegally.Most of the families were from Central America and many were asylum-seekers.Another ongoing lawsuit successfully sought to end the practice of family separations, a hallmark of the early months of the Trump administration which sought to deter families from coming to the U.S. by taking children away.The government still separates children from relatives if they’re not a parent or legal guardian.