Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

Nov 1, 2019

RED RIVER, N.M. (AP) — Forest officials in New Mexico are ready to harvest a towering blue spruce that will serve as this year's Christmas tree in front of the U.S. Capitol.After nearly a year of planning, the tree will be cut down Nov. 6 during a ceremony in the Carson National Forest. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and forest officials will be there when the 60-foot (18-meter) tree comes down.Once cut, the tree will be lifted by cranes onto a trailer and secured for the first leg of its journey, which will include a statewide tour before being transported to Washington.Officials say the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree cutting and celebrations are made possible with cash and in-kind contributions from numerous companies and volunteers who provide their time and resources.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico woman is facing charges after her 5-year-old daughter told police her mother bit her because she couldn't find her shoes.Authorities say the girl told police that she was bitten by 32-year-old Monique Montellano, who was arrested Monday.A Las Cruces daycare called state authorities to report marks on Montellano's 3-year-old son. Police say the toddler told authorities his mother grabbed his neck and tried to strangle him.Police also discovered bite marks on her 5-year-old daughter's thigh. The girl told police that Montellano bit her because she couldn't find her shoes.Montellano faces three counts of felony child abuse. She is being held without bond. It was not known if she had an attorney.Montellano previously pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse in 2016.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An advocacy group that supports New Mexico's traditional energy industry has started a petition drive aimed at a new state law that mandates more electricity be generated from renewable resources.Power the Future rolled out its petition Thursday. The group's western states director, Larry Behrens, says he wants New Mexico's elected leaders to know that residents are concerned about what he described as job-killing policies related to the Energy Transition Act.The group contends the law was written by radical environmentalists and out of-state special interests.Environmentalists have fired back, saying Power the Future itself is funded by outside industry groups.Aside from mandating that utilities provide emissions-free electricity by 2045, the law charts a course for the closure of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington by 2022.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's fourth-grade and eighth-grade students' test scores in math and reading on the latest Nation's Report Card remain well below the national average.Results released Wednesday on the National Assessment of Educational Progress show fourth-graders in the state scored 12 points below the national average on math and 11 points below the national average score in reading.The report says about 29% of the state's fourth-graders are proficient both in math, and only 24% in reading. About 21% of eighth-graders proficient in math.Nationwide, a little more than a third of eighth-graders are proficient in reading and math. About a third of fourth-graders are proficient in reading, while more than 40% of fourth-graders are proficient in math.The nationwide test is given to a sampling of students in those grades every two years.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A jury has found a New Mexico father guilty of human trafficking for forcing his children to panhandle and using the money to buy drugs.Authorities say all three children of 39-year-old James Stewart Sr. testified against their father, who could face up to 51 years in prison.Authorities say Stewart has remained in custody in other cases including charges of sex trafficking. That case has yet to go to trial.Stewart's attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.Stewart was convicted Wednesday of three counts of human trafficking in state District Court in Albuquerque.He denied the charges during the trial and said he doesn't do drugs.


HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AP) — The Air Force says a pilot successfully ejected from an F-16 before the fighter crashed in southern New Mexico during a training flight.Holloman Air Force Base officials say the F-16 assigned to the 49th Wing at the base crashed Tuesday night about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of the base.Officials said in a statement that the pilot was taken to a hospital for treatment, but it did not provide information on any injuries to the pilot, whose identity was not released.The statement said a board of officers will investigate the crash and that its cause wasn't determined immediately.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Teacher vacancies in New Mexico have dropped, but school districts are still struggling to fill open positions.KVIA-TV reports a 2019 New Mexico Educator Vacancy study recently found that teacher vacancies have declined around 13%. However, the report also found that school districts in Las Cruces, Gadsden, Deming and Hatch Valley saw a 59% jump in vacancies.The report was compiled the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center at New Mexico State University. Researchers collected data from public schools throughout the state.The state currently has a total of 1,054 educator vacancies, including the 644 teacher vacancies. Last year's report found 1,173 total educator vacancies.


GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors say they intend to try a 15-year-old linked to a New Mexico skate park shooting as an adult.The Gallup Independent reports the McKinley County District Attorney's Office gave notice this week it will seek an adult sentence for the teen suspected of firing a gun during the Oct. 14 Gallup Skate Park shootings.Police say the shooting left three people with non-life threatening injuries.The 15-year-old suspect is facing charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and unlawful possession of a handgun.Police say 18-year-old DeShawn Yazzie is still wanted for his alleged involvement in the shootings.