- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Attorney General's Office is considering a request by a state lawmaker to look into an Albuquerque rehabilitation center as part of the agency's ongoing review of health and safety concerns at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The office said Monday it received a request from Republican Rep. Gregg Schmedes to investigate the eviction of senior residents with disabilities at the center. All 54 patients were moved out in April as part of an agreement with state health officials to make room for coronavirus patients. New Mexico has nearly 6,100 COVID-19 cases, with more than half located in McKinley and San Juan counties.
- SANTA FE-BUDGET DEFICIT
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's capital city is forecasting a budget deficit of $100 million for the upcoming fiscal year. Officials said Monday the staggering shortfall stems from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Santa Fe's Finance Director Mary McCoy said during a virtual news conference that the expected deficit was unprecedented. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported it remains to be seen exactly how the city plans to make up the shortfall, and officials declined to say how residents and city employees might be affected. The projected gap for the upcoming fiscal year follows an estimated $46 million shortfall in the current fiscal year that triggered furloughs.
- WILDFIRE DANGER
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Weather forecasters are warning of record heat that is setting the stage for critical fire weather this week. The National Weather Service in Albuquerque says chances for dry thunderstorms will increase for portions of central New Mexico on Tuesday as the forecast calls for low humidity and gusty winds. State and federal land managers already are imposing fire restrictions for many parts of New Mexico. That includes prohibiting campfires on three of northern New Mexico's national forests starting Wednesday. Restrictions already are in place for the Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico.
- OUTDOOR GRANTS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Outdoor Recreation Division for the first time is offering what it calls equity grants to local governments, tribes and nonprofit organizations to get more young people outside. Officials say the Outdoor Equity Fund was created to foster stewardship for the state's natural spaces and its cultural heritage particularly among low-income youth who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to experience the outdoors. The application deadline is Aug. 1. The grants will range from $1,500 to $15,000 for entities with a plan to educate underrepresented youth about climate change and the environment.
As government orders shuttered public libraries to slow the spread of coronavirus, some have turned to official and unofficial book-sharing means to satisfy their desire for new reading material. In California's Yosemite Valley, a resident carts around donated books in the back of her car to serve as a mobile library. In Arizona, a teacher with a bookshelf she built in her yard says she's seen its use skyrocket. Little Free Library nonprofit executive director Greig Metzger says volunteers are reporting a jump in free small library usage. He says some people even are using the spaces to pass out canned goods and masks.
ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (AP) — Police have seized cellphones of a New Mexico sheriff accused of showing up drunk to a SWAT standoff. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Española Police Department executed a search warrant Thursday at the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Office for the personal and work cellphones of Sheriff James Lujan. The search warrants are part of an investigation into a misdemeanor charge filed against Lujan by Española police for resisting, evading or obstructing an officer. Police say officers reported Lujan smelled of alcohol and ignored commands to leave the "kill zone" in front of the barricaded house in March.
- REVENGE PLOT-TIRES
ARTESIA, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico woman is facing charges after police say she slashed the tires of her ex-boyfriend's father in a possible fit of revenge. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Natasha Atkinson was arrested Wednesday following reports of the tire slashing and an attempted stabbing last month. According to a criminal complaint, an eyewitness reported seeing the 38-year-old Atkinson crouching near the victim's passenger-side tires and slashing them. The complaint says the eyewitness told police he saw the victim confront Atkinson after the slashing. She was charged with injuring or tampering with a motor vehicle and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. It was not known if she had an attorney.
- OBIT-JORGE SANTANA
Guitarist Jorge Santana, the younger brother Carlos Santana and whose his guitar riffs on the band Malo's 1972 hit "Suavecito" became a Chicano anthem, has died. Carlos Santana announced on this Facebook page Friday that his brother died. He was 68. The family says he died Thursday of natural causes. Born in in Jalisco, Mexico, Jorge Santana began playing guitar following his brother's footsteps. He joined a San Francisco-based band that would later become Malo, which means "bad" in Spanish. Their 1972 hit "Suavecito" became a staple for Mexican American cookouts, weddings and quinceaneras for generations throughout the American Southwest. Santana later played with the New York-based salsa collective Fania All-Stars.