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

Sep 15, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials are giving the go-ahead for temporary storage of highly radioactive waste in west Texas. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted a license to Interim Storage Partners to build and run a facility that could take up to 5,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel rods from power plants and 231 million tons of other radioactive waste. That sets up a showdown with state officials. Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to ban storing or shipping high-level nuclear waste through the state. Environmental groups have also sued to block the project, which would be built about 350 miles west of Dallas, near the Texas-New Mexico state line.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Niagara Rockbridge has been crowned as Miss Navajo Nation. A virtual coronation ceremony was held Saturday at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock. The weeklong pageant included a sheep butchering contest, interviews and a traditional and contemporary skills talent competition. Rockbridge is from Pinon. The 22-year-old succeeds Shaandiin Parrish, who served an unprecedented two-year term as Miss Navajo Nation as the 2020 pageant was canceled because of the pandemic. Tribal officials say the role of Miss Navajo Nation is to be an ambassador of the largest sovereign nation in the U.S. The tribe's reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles. It covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court says that state law doesn't require vehicle tail lights must all work perfectly, only that they work well enough for their intended use. A ruling Monday stems from a man's conviction for violating a state law requiring that certain vehicle equipment be in "good working order." The case began when a sheriff's deputy pulled the man over because one bulb in a tail lamp didn't work though the rest of the lamp was illuminated. The man was convicted for driving a vehicle with defective equipment and for driving under the influence. The case goes back to district court for further proceedings.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported 50 more COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths. The tribe has seen 33,290 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,421 known deaths from the virus since the pandemic began. Based on cases from Aug. 27 to Sept. 9, the Navajo Department of Health has issued an advisory for 35 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. Navajo officials are urging people to get vaccinated, wear masks while in public and minimize their travel.  Officials say all Navajo Nation executive branch employees will need to be fully vaccinated against the virus by the end of September or submit to regular testing. The tribe's reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — State Rep. Debbie Armstrong has decided against running for reelection. The Albuquerque Democrat made the announcement Tuesday, saying she wants to focus on her family and other projects. Armstrong has served four terms in the House of Representatives and is the chair of the chamber's Health and Human Services Committee. She has played a role in expanding health care and prescription drug coverage during her tenure. Armstrong pointed specifically to the passage of legislation to legalize cannabis for recreational use and a law that provides a legal pathway for terminally ill patients to choose when and how they die.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police say preliminary information gathered indicates an employee of a Subway restaurant fatally shot a person attempting to rob the business early Tuesday. No additional information was released about the dead person. Department spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said officers were dispatched to the restaurant at about 5:20 a.m. in response to a report of an attempted armed robbery and a shooting. Gallegos said the investigation would include interviewing employees and searching the business. 


BERNALILLO,. N.M. (AP) — A former head of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department has been sentenced to five years of probation in an embezzlement case involving her accounting firm. A state judge last week sentenced former Secretary Demesia Padilla on convictions for embezzlement and computer access with intent to defraud or embezzle. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Padilla faced up to 18 years in prison but that Judge Cindy Mercer suspended all prison time. Along with the probation term, Padilla also must complete 200 hours of community service and pay over $25,000 in restitution to a Bernalillo family which owned a grading company that used Padilla's accounting firm.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Election officials are deploying ballot drop boxes across New Mexico for people who choose to cast absentee ballots without walking indoors during the upcoming Nov. 2 election for public offices, including for mayor of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver told a legislative panel Monday that county clerks are required to provide one drop box for every 25,000 voters and at least two per county. Exceptions can be made at the request of county officials. Ballots must be collected at least once a day from the boxes, video surveillance of drop boxes is required and recordings must be retained by county clerks.