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

Nov 24, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state canvassing board has certified Joe Biden's win in New Mexico, delivering the state's five electoral votes to the Democrat. Approval came Tuesday as the board met remotely amid the surging pandemic. Biden's victory without a campaign visit to New Mexico extended a string of victories for his party in a state where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by 14 percentage points. However, Biden's margin of victory fell short of that margin because of significant Republican turnout in some parts of the state. New Mexico was one of several states due to certify the election on Tuesday.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An audit performed as part of an investigation into the conduct of Spaceport America's former chief executive details what officials call a severe breakdown of internal controls that resulted in possible taxpayer funding waste and abuse. The report was made public Tuesday by the state auditor's office after it was finalized in November by an independent forensic accounting firm. Former Spaceport CEO Dan Hicks was placed on administrative leave earlier this year and later fired after he was accused of circumventing internal controls and accounting procedures. He has declined to discuss about the allegations. State officials say they're addressing the transparency and oversight concerns.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico grocery stores and other essential businesses could avoid mandatory closures triggered by COVID-19 surges among employees if they agree to regularly test their workers and help with the state's contact tracing efforts. The state health and environment departments announced the voluntary program Tuesday. A business would have to submit a plan that details surveillance testing and contact tracing efforts for each of its locations. New Mexico on Tuesday reported an additional 2,107 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to nearly 86,500 since the pandemic began. Another 28 deaths were reported and more than 870 people were hospitalized.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican lawmakers are voicing support for a coronavirus relief package proposed in the Democratic-controlled New Mexico legislature. Bipartisan support emerging in the House signals that the $330 million bill will pass quickly. If signed this week, the state could distribute $1,200 stimulus checks to people who are unemployed or who have run out of unemployment this year. It would also provide smaller $750 checks for New Mexico residents who weren't eligible for the federal stimulus check this year, including dependents and immigrants who are in the country illegally. Most of the proposed spending will be made possible by federal relief funding previously assigned to New Mexico. 


More than 240k Navajos apply for tribal virus relief funding
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — About three-quarters of Navajos enrolled with the tribe have applied for financial assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic. The deadline to file an application is Monday. Already, more than 240,000 Navajos have applied. The Navajo Nation has about $90 million available for hardship assistance. The money comes from the tribe's share of a federal coronavirus relief package. More money could be added to the fund next month if other projects fall through. Tribes across the country have until Dec. 30 to spend the money. Many turned to financial aid programs to disburse the funding quickly.


CUBA, N.M. (AP) — The switch to remote learning in rural New Mexico has left some students profoundly isolated — cut off from others and the grid by sheer distance. In the village of Cuba, New Mexico, population 800, the school system is sending school buses to students'  homes over an hour away to bring them assignments, meals and a little human contact. On the fringe of the Navajo Nation, many families have no electricity, let alone internet. It is yet another way in which the pandemic has exposed the gap between the haves and have-nots in the U.S.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Netflix is pledging an additional $1 billion investment in its production hub in New Mexico. The company joined government officials Monday in announcing its plans. About 300 acres would be added to the existing campus on the southern edge of Albuquerque, making it what officials say will be one of the largest film production facilities in North America. Aside from construction jobs, the project is expected to result in 1,000 production jobs over the next decade. A total of $24 million in state and local economic development funding will be funneled toward the expansion, and bonds will help reduce some taxes for Netflix.


Man sought in New Mexico homicide believed to be in ArizonaSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say they believe a suspect in a New Mexico homicide has fled to Arizona. An arrest warrant accuses 60-year-old Leonard Francis Kieran of murder in the shooting death Saturday of 57-year-old Kathleen Lorraine Vigil at her residence in the San Ildefonso Pueblo area. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office said Kieren was last seen driving a white 2004 Dodge pickup with Arizona license plate CFT9569 and may be towing a camper trailer. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Kieren has an address in Buckeye, Arizona, and a wanted notice said he was believed to be in Graham County in southeastern Arizona.