Census workers to resume delivering packets to Navajo homes
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Census workers will resume dropping off questionnaires at homes on the Navajo Nation this week. The tribe’s legislative branch says the work to deliver paper packets to more than 70,000 homes begins Thursday. The operation began in mid-March but quickly was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Census Bureau says it has trained staff in social distancing and given workers protective equipment. People who receive the packets can fill out the census using the paper forms, by phone or online. According to the Census Bureau, less than 1% of Navajos have responded on their own so far.
BEAR AND CUBS
Female bear and cubs returned to wilderness in New Mexico
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — A female bear and three cubs found raiding the neighborhood trash in Los Alamos have been safely captured and moved to a new, more appropriate hunting ground in the countryside of western New Mexico.T he New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says seven conservation officers worked around the clock over two days to capture and relocate the four bears. They were all healthy and had not been captured by the agency in the past. The agency says the bears were in danger of getting used to finding their food in neighborhoods where people live.
SLAIN SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER
Report: Bullet that killed woman fired from airman’s rifle
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities in Coconino County say a bullet taken from the skull of a woman was fired from a rifle owned by an Air Force airman charged in her death. Mark Gooch has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in the death of Sasha Krause. The 27-year-old woman disappeared from a Mennonite community near Farmington, New Mexico, in January. Her body later was found off a forest road near Flagstaff. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that state crime lab testing indicates the bullet matches a .22-caliber rifle that belonged to Gooch. An attorney for Gooch didn’t respond to a message left at his office Wednesday.
New Mexico governor wants voting reform, police body cameras
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s Democratic governor wants the Legislature to wade into potentially volatile issues of election procedure and police accountability during a special session next week that was initially scheduled for budget matters. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Wednesday that she’ll broaden the scope of the session to include possible election reforms amid concerns about ballot tally delays in New Mexico’s June 2 primary. She also called for Legislation to mandate body cameras for all law enforcement agencies amid protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
Agency to provide COVID-19 tests at offices for food workers
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State officials are setting aside time slots for food industry workers for COVID-19 testing at numerous New Mexico Department of Health field offices statewide. The Health Department says the testing each Monday morning will be for people who work at establishments such as restaurants, grocery stories, farmers markets, distribution centers and food manufacturing facilities. The department says the effort should help identify, isolate and trace new cases. The department’s announcement notes that many people infected with the coronavirus may not experience symptoms but still have potential to pass the virus. The state reported an additional 147 cases Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 9,250.
OIL AND GAS-PENALTIES
New Mexico issues penalties for dumping of drilling water
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators are penalizing two companies for illegally dumping produced water resulting from oil and gas operations. The state Oil Conservation Division says the water was dumped on state trust lands and on a road in Lea County. Windmill Trucking of Lovington and Houston-based Advanced Energy Partners Hat Mesa are accused of transporting the produced water without a proper license, dumping it on public land and failing to report the release to the state. The owner of the trucking company denies the allegations, saying he was surprised to learn of the state’s claims after having run his business for nearly a decade with no problems.
STATE BUDGET-NEW MEXICO
New Mexico governor seeks to sustain state spending, raises
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is urging state lawmakers to tap state reserves and federal recovery money to preserve some state spending increases, including a 2% pay bump for public school personnel and state workers. The comments on Wednesday came as New Mexico state lawmakers confront a harrowing decline in annual state government income linked to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. State government economists on Wednesday revised estimates for state government income downward by $439 million for the current fiscal year ending on June 30 and by just under $2 billion for the coming fiscal year.
AFRICAN AMERICAN AFFAIRS-DIRECTOR
Head of New Mexico’s African American Affairs office resigns
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The head of the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs is stepping down. Executive Director William Scott Carreathers didn’t provide a reason for his resignation. Carreathers’ move follows Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s recent announcement that she was forming a Council for Racial Justice in response to protests over the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. State Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, a member of the new council, told the Santa Fe New Mexican she believes Carreathers’ resignation was a result of miscommunication that somehow he was not informed about the council.