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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 am MDT – KVIA El Paso

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NMSU-OPIOID EPIDEMIC

New Mexico university gets grant to tackle opioid epidemic

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University has received a $200,000 federal grant to grow the number of nurse practitioners who will fight the opioid epidemic in the state. The university said Thursday its School of Nursing will use the money to fund a project aimed at expanding the number of family nurse practitioners in New Mexico. The grant will provide funding for the NMSU School of Nursing faculty members in the Family Nurse Practitioner program to develop a curriculum that emphasizes integrated mental health and primary care. The program is delivered in a distance-education format, allowing nurses throughout New Mexico and the adjacent border region to earn degrees without relocating.

NEGLECT-DEATH

Police: Dad neglected adult son with muscular dystrophy

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — The father of a New Mexico man with muscular dystrophy who died being bedridden for an unknown amount of time is facing charges in connection with his death. The Hobbs News-Sun reports James Melvin Scott of Lovington was arrested Monday following a months-long investigation into the death of 23-year-old Brandon Logan Scott. Authorities say Brandon Scott died of neglect and hadn’t been washed in months. James Melvin Scott was charged with abuse of a resident resulting in death. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. It was not known if he had an attorney. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

New Mexico mayor vows to reopen city despite lockdown order

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The mayor of the small western New Mexico city of Grants has announced that he allow small businesses to reopen in defiance of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s order that’s keeping nonessential businesses closed. Grants Mayor Martin Hicks said Thursday he will allow the businesses to open their doors on Monday. He also says he’ll use the city’s police force to prevent State Police officers from issuing lockdown violation citations. Lujan Grisham last month ordered nonessential businesses to close to stop the spread of COVID-19. New Mexico has 2,379 confirmed coronavirus cases and 78 people have died.

TRIBES-CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUNDING

US position on tribal relief funds sets up court battle

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department has taken the stance that Alaska Native corporations are eligible for a share of $8 billion in coronavirus relief funding for tribes. The position outlined in court documents Thursday sets the stage for a court battle. More than a dozen tribes have sued the federal government to try to keep the money out of the hands of the corporations. They contend it should go only to tribes that have a government-to-government relationship with the United States. The Treasury Department says a plain reading of the CARES Act makes the corporations eligible. None of the funding for tribes has been distributed.

COAL MINE LAYOFFS

Western US coal miners laid off amid drop in electricity use

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Three hundred miners and other workers are being laid off as the struggling western U.S. coal industry contends with diminished electricity use during the coronavirus pandemic. Navajo Transitional Energy Company says 73 workers at the Spring Creek mine in southeastern Montana and 57 at the Antelope mine in northeastern Wyoming are losing their jobs. St. Louis-based Peabody Energy meanwhile announced Thursday it is laying off 170 at Wyoming’s largest coal mine, North Antelope Rochelle. Both companies cited economic conditions and declining coal demand. NTEC, a Navajo Nation company, acquired its two mines from Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy in a 2019 bankruptcy sale.

TROUBLED COUNTY-EX-OFFICIAL

Another official in Rio Arriba County facing charges

ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (AP) — Another official in a New Mexico county where its sheriff is facing charges is in legal trouble. The Albuquerque Journal reports the New Mexico Attorney General’s office says former Rio Arriba County Commissioner Barney Trujillo made over $100,000 from three contracts with Española Public Schools without a proper business license. The office says Trujillo also never disclosed that he contributed to the campaigns of two school board members, which is a violation of governmental conduct laws. In addition, investigators say the 39-year-old Trujillo ran illegal school board meetings, even though he wasn’t a member. He faces three counts of unlawful interest in a public contract and one count of failing to disclose campaign contributions. His attorney declined to comment.

OBIT-HELEN DAMICO

Damico, retired UNM Beowulf scholar, dies from COVID-19

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Helen Damico, a retired University of New Mexico English professor who founded the school’s Institute for Medieval Studies, has died from complications arising from COVID-19. The university said Tuesday she died April 14. She was 89. Damico taught courses in Old and Middle English at the university beginning in 1981 after completing her Ph.D. at New York University the year before. Damico was well known for her work on Old English and Old Norse literature, and above all, for her studies of Beowulf. In the late 1990s, Damico established another program around Viking mythology.

NEW MEXICO ENERGY FUTURE

New Mexico regulators concerned about replacement power plan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Replacing a coal-fired power plant that has served customers in the American Southwest for decades won’t be easy, and decisions made by New Mexico regulators will have ramifications for decades. Members of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission shared their concerns during a meeting Wednesday about the locations of the new generation stations and whether they’ll be enough to offset taxes and other revenue that will be lost with the planned closure of the San Juan Generating Station. The commission next week will make a final decision on whether to approve a pair of hybrid solar-battery storage units.

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