Local news and weather for Las Cruces, El Paso, Alamogordo, Silver City, Ruidoso, Anthony, Cloudcroft, Deming, Truth or Consequences, Elephant Butte, and all of Southern New Mexico and Far West Texas.

CARES Act money was distributed last year to keep businesses open during the pandemic, to help people pay rent, and even to help local governments stay afloat. But for the country’s indiginous tribes, who are among the most vulnerable, getting those dollars took extra work and more time. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona recently asked Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez what it took to get their stimulus and disaster relief payments and how they’re using the money to help people on the reservation. 

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed over 100 bills this week, inking changes in taxation, healthcare, education and voting. One tax bill being signed Tuesday expands rebates and tax credits for working families by increasing benefits and broadening eligibility. A healthcare bill prevents hospitals from suing broke patients. A round of education bill signings will reduce paperwork for home school and community college students pursuing a four-year degree. And when it comes to elections, voters can expect major changes in 2022. Like other states, New Mexico will draw new lines for voting districts. Lujan Grisham is signing a bill that sends redistricting to a non-partisan commission.

  NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A divided federal appeals court's has effectively struck down key parts of a law governing adoptions of Native American children. Tuesday's ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court finding that the Indian Child Welfare Act's preferences for Native American families in adoption cases are unconstitutional. It also said some of the provisions of the law “unconstitutionally commandeer” state officials' duties in adoption matters. The 1978 law has long been championed by Native American leaders as a means of preserving Native American families and culture. Opponents of the law include non-Native families who have tried to adopt American Indian children in emotional legal cases.

  SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials on Tuesday announced 181 additional COVID-19 cases and 8 deaths. As of today, there are 82 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico. This number does not include New Mexicans who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been transferred to a hospital out of state.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The first day of standardized testing in Texas has been canceled for thousands of students across several public school districts due to widespread technical issues.

The technical glitch Tuesday morning caused a variety of problems for students taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, also known as STAAR. Students were being kicked out of test or experiencing slow response times from the site.

Increase to Las Cruces Natural Gas Bills to Begin in May

Apr 6, 2021

  Beginning with the April billing cycle, Las Cruces Utilities’ (LCU) customers will notice a small increase in their monthly bills. LCU will begin to recover the costs from the historic “arctic freeze” of winter storm that affected the Southwest in mid-February. While the cold snap disrupted gas supplies throughout the region, the city-owned utility did not experience a loss of service but did experience the sudden price increases in gas commodity cost.

LCU will begin recovering the costs from the February freeze with the April billing cycle, marginally increasing the commodity cost for gas service on customer bills at a time when gas usage typically decreases in the Spring among residential customers, thus reducing gas usage and costs.

  Codes Enforcement officers spent part of their Tuesday morning pulling weeds and picking up trash along the property line of a 94-year-old Las Cruces man who – for no lack of effort – is simply unable to fully maintain his parcel of land.
About 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 6, eight Codes Enforcement officers gathered at the man’s home near the corner of Missouri Avenue and Ralph Drive. They spent more than 90 minutes and gathered two full-size truck loads of trash and debris. Much of the rubbish came from an overgrown cactus plant that adjoins the man’s property and attracts litter along the busy Missouri Avenue.

Josh Bachman / NMSU

  New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service and New Mexico Department of Health will host webinars about COVID-19 vaccine education April 13 and April 14. The free, one-hour event will begin at 6 p.m. on Zoom.
The webinars will feature Kathryn Hanley, NMSU Regents professor of biology, and topics will include the science behind COVID-19 vaccination development; science behind vaccinations in controlling COVID-19 spread; and efficacy of available vaccines in preventing COVID-19 hospitalization and death in clinical trials. A public interest question and answer session also will be part of the presentation.

Nash Jones / KUNM

Santa Fe--The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) announced on Tuesday that the state has now invited more than 99% of Phase 1 registrants for vaccine appointments.

“DOH has been prioritizing invitations to early-phase vaccine registrants - and we will continue to reach out via text, email, phone calls, and other methods until everyone who wants a vaccine has received it,” said DOH Cabinet Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins.

State Police Investigate Homicide in Valencia County

Apr 6, 2021

  Los Lunas, NM -On Monday, April 5, 2021, around 5:00 p.m., the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to 4235 State Road 314 in Los Lunas, for a domestic violence call.

When deputies arrived on scene, they located a female with a gunshot wound and a deceased male victim on the property. The female was transported to a hospital in Albuquerque where she is being treated for her injuries. The male victim was pronounced deceased on scene by the Office of the Medical Investigators. The male victim was later identified as Tyler East (30).    

  The Las Cruces City Council unanimously adopted a Resolution at its April 5 regular meeting that supports the transition of City government’s fleet to zero-emission vehicles and will encourage citywide clean transportation options.  Here is a statement from the City:

The Resolution pledges that 50 percent of the City’s fleet, of approximately 1,000 vehicles, will be electric vehicles by 2030. The transition will begin with the City ordering as many as four vehicles during the 2022 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The City’s commitment to climate action has been demonstrated at all levels – from its support of the Paris Climate Agreement to the City’s Sustainability Action Plans, Renewable Energy Future Resolution, and the Climate Action Plan. These plans accelerate the deployment of clean technologies, new economic markets, and important public health and equity practices and are fortified by federal, state, and local legislation and funding.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in New Mexico have launched a search for a person or people responsible for a fatal shooting that killed one man and injured another at a Santa Fe commuter train station. The Santa Fe Police Department said officers responded to reports of shots fired on Monday around 3:45 p.m. at the South Capitol Rail Runner station. The department said one man was pronounced dead at the scene and another was taken to a hospital. His condition was not immediately known. Police had not released the names of either men. Police Capt. Anthony Tapia said the agency had no suspects.

New Mexico State Police Conducts Traffic Operation in Luna County

Apr 6, 2021

  Luna County- On Wednesday, March 31st, 2021, New Mexico State Police Uniform officers from Deming, along with officers from the New Mexico State Police Motor Team, Tactical Team, K-9 Unit and the New Mexico State Police Aircraft Unit conducted a traffic safety operation in Luna County. Officers concentrated on the area of Deming, New Mexico.

During the three-hour operation, officers made 102 traffic stops and issued a total of 64 various traffic citations. Officers also made two arrests and investigated a crash.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is making her first official trip to her home state to meet with Indigenous leaders. She'll host a roundtable discussion Tuesday in New Mexico with the All Pueblo Council of Governors and other state officials.

The agenda includes the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating effects on tribal nations. She'll also highlight the federal government's latest COVID-19 relief package.

Alamogordo NOW

Apr 6, 2021

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Apr 6, 2021

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Apr 6, 2021

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

  AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declined to throw the ceremonial first pitch at the Texas Rangers' home opener. The Republican governor said Monday that he made the decision after Major League Baseball moved the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to Georgia’s sweeping new voting laws. It's the latest jab in an ongoing fight that's pushing corporate America into the political battle over voting rights. Abbott's decision came hours before the team was set to take the field against the Toronto Blue Jays in the Dallas suburb of Arlington. Major League Baseball and the Texas Rangers have not responded to requests for comment.

  SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials on Monday announced 96 additional COVID-19 cases and zero deaths. As of today, there are 85 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico. This number does not include New Mexicans who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been transferred to a hospital out of state.

  Following the announcement that schools across New Mexico will return to in-person learning, Las Cruces Public Schools are ready to welcome students and staff on Tuesday, April 6.  

The option to continue the school year remotely is still open to students, said LCPS interim superintendent Ralph Ramos, who added that some students and staff began the transition back into school buildings last month. Across the district, there are approximately 24,000 students. Of those, 60 percent have chosen to return to the for in-person learning.  

New Mexico Governor enacts Family Income Index

Apr 5, 2021

SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed legislation establishing the Family Income Index, an innovative strategy to direct additional funding to schools with concentrated poverty, which is known to contribute to low academic performance.  Here is a statement from the Governor's office:

“The Family Income Index is rooted in our desire to give every New Mexico student, no matter their family’s income status, an equal opportunity to the resources essential for a quality education,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “We know that when a school has many students in need, extra resources are needed for all. With this measure, we can meet that need with pinpoint accuracy.”

New Mexico State University’s Center for Latin American and Border Studies held a virtual panel to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on the U.S.- Mexico Border.

One challenge involves trade.

Double Fatal Head-On Crash on NM Highway 2 in Chaves County

Apr 5, 2021

  Chaves County, NM – On April 4, 2021 at approximately 2:30 p.m., the New Mexico State Police investigated a fatal head-on crash near Crockett Road on NM Highway 2, south of Roswell, NM. 

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday visited Aspen Elementary School in Los Alamos as more students, educators and school staff prepare to safely re-enter the classroom this week as part of New Mexico’s return to full in-person learning.  Here is a statement from the Governor's office:

“I was glad to have the opportunity to visit with students and educators today,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “I know so many all across our state are incredibly excited to safely get back to class – my granddaughter Avery was no exception this morning. I look forward to a continued successful and safe re-entry and want educators and school staff to know: This state will always have your back.”

DEMING, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say two young sisters in Deming who were the subject of an Amber Alert have been found safe. Deming police said Sunday that 3-year-old Abri Lujan and 4-year-old Adelina Lujan were found unharmed hours after going missing. Their father, Jose Luis Lujan, is accused of abducting them and threatening to injure them. Police said the girls were last seen earlier in the day around 2 a.m. No other details were released. It was not immediately known what charges Jose Lujan will face.

  DALLAS (AP) — The count of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Texas has continued to decline, even as state health official reported more than 1,600 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports 21 new fatalities from COVID-19 Sunday along with 1,465 confirmed cases of the virus and 219 probable cases. There were 2,817 people in state hospitals with the disease Saturday, the most recent day for which data is available. That’s fewest since June of last year. The lower hospitalization count comes as Johns Hopkins University data show more than 15% of Texans have been fully vaccinated.

StoryCorps Military Voices - Wendy Woodard

Apr 5, 2021
StoryCorps - Colonel Wendy Woodard and Scott Woodard

Air Force Colonel Wendy Woodard is interviewed by her husband Scott. This portion of their interview aired on KRWG-FM.

Hear the full interview with Air Force Colonel Wendy Woodard and her husband Scott Woodard.

A new dental school is ready to serve the borderland. Dr. Richard C. Black, who is the Dean of the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso shares more information on this week's episode. 

Monday Business Watch

Apr 5, 2021

Nash Jones / KUNM

SANTA FE - The Department of Health on Monday announced that all New Mexicans 16+ are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine. 

“President Biden directed states to make all adults eligible for vaccine by May 1. New Mexico will hit that target nearly a month early,” said DOH Cabinet Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins.

DOH will continue to prioritize vaccine invitations for Phase 1A, New Mexicans 75 years and older, and New Mexicans 60 years and older with a chronic condition. The Department has chosen to open Phase 2 - the final distribution phase - because providers in some parts of the state are no longer able to fill appointments within Phases 1A, 1B, and 1C. 

In addition, the CDC has indicated that states should expect meaningful increases in vaccine supply over the coming weeks.